MRM Franchise Feed: MacKenzie River Celebrates 25 with Rapid Growth and Crazy Pita Eyes National Expansion

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine’s Franchise Feed offers a glimpse at what’s new in the restaurant franchise environment.

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No Stopping the Flow for MacKenzie River

MacKenzie River is following up on a strong 2017 by kicking off its 25-year anniversary with a robust development plan. In the first quarter the brand will have two new restaurants under construction with more locations to come throughout the year.

In April, on the brand’s silver anniversary month, MacKenzie River will introduce a Throwback Menu featuring some menu items from the past; and on April 15, 2018 there will be a special menu featuring prices from 1993, the year the chain started in Bozeman, MT. 

“The month of April is all about celebrating our brand culture and heritage.  This will be a fun month for our team members and guests as we bring back some menu items and prices from the early days,” said Brad Ridgeway, president of Glacier Restaurant Group. “A 25-year anniversary is a big deal in our industry, and I appreciate all the hard work and passion our team and partners have put into the MacKenzie River brand.”

The MacKenzie River concept features gourmet pizzas, burgers, fish tacos and other offerings that are made from scratch recipes with fresh ingredients. In addition, they have creative specialty cocktails and have a great selection of draft beers, including the exclusive Driftboat Amber Ale™, brewed by Great Northern Brewing Company out of Whitefish, Montana, and enjoyed exclusively throughout MacKenzie River. 

Glacier Restaurant Group is a growing holding company operating five restaurant concepts differing in design, ambiance and menus, but alike in that they offer an outstanding place for food, drinks and fun with family and friends. With its headquarters in Whitefish, Mont., GRG employs more than 2,500 passionate and energetic people committed to providing an excellent guest experience through its concepts: MacKenzie River Pizza Grill & Pub, Ciao Mambo, Craggy Range Bar & Grill, Latitude 48 and Max & Erma’s.

Überrito’s Deep in the Heart of Texas

Überrito signed a Master Franchise Agreement that has the potential to bring more than 100 franchise locations throughout Texas.

Uberrito Arcadia

Ally Lakhpaty and SNL Franchise Development have signed a Master Franchise Agreement to develop locations across Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, including initial plans to develop three corporate locations in the Houston market.

This will be a family endeavor for the Lakhpaty family, including Mehboob Lakhpaty and sons Ally and Aniq. The family brings all-encompassing franchise and business expertise to the agreement with over 30 years of combined experience as a development agent and franchisee with Subway and Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream.

Responsibilities as a development agent with Subway included overseeing the opening of more than 200 Subway restaurants throughout the south Texas region. The Lakhpaty family provided guidance on site selection, lease negotiations, store design, financing, training and operational assistance. Additionally, they were involved in preopening and grand openings, and provided ongoing marketing support to increase sales for franchisees. The family has also successfully served as a development agent for Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream resulting in 17 new Texas locations.

“Having been in this industry for many years, our family is fortunate to have developed a sense for the type of franchises that are built to last,” said Ally Lakhpaty. “Überrito is establishing itself as the premier franchise concept in the fast casual Mexican food segment, and we are honored to have our family joining in their growth plans.” 

Ally and Aniq also brought experience in the management of multiple locations throughout Texas as franchisees with Sub Zero Area Development of Texas. Both Ally and Aniq gained complementary skills and experience prior to becoming franchisees. Ally worked as an auditor and accountant for several years and Aniq served as a chef for one of the top-rated steakhouses in the country. Aniq is also a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a Bachelor’s Degree from The University of Texas. A Certified Public Accountant, Ally graduated from The University of Texas with a Bachelor’s degree and a Masters in Professional Accounting.

“We are committed to creating relationships with highly experienced and talented groups across the country and partnering with the Lakhpaty family exemplifies that commitment,” said Peter Ortiz, Chief Development Officer for Überrito. “When you consider what is required to be a successful Master Franchisee we look for partners with experience in real estate, construction, restaurant operations, and onboarding franchisees – this family has it all. We are excited about our future together in this important market.”   

Überrito continues to seek experienced, multi-unit operators and franchisees to help grow the brand nationally. Single and multi-unit area development opportunities, along with master franchise agreements, are available. The company currently operates five Houston-area locations and two Phoenix locations, which includes four new restaurant openings since 2016.

Überrito is part of Mexican Restaurants Inc., which currently operates 43 Mexican restaurant locations across five brands: Überrito, Casa Ole, Monterey’s Little Mexico, Tortuga Mexican Kitchen and Crazy Jose’s. Additionally, the company includes ten franchise locations. 

Wayback Burgers’ European Expansion

Wayback Burgers forged a new master franchise agreement that paves the way for expansion into the Netherlands and Northwestern Europe. Stefan Boers and Jesse Heinhuis are the two Dutch businessmen bringing Wayback Burgers to the Netherlands.   Stefan has extensive background in the food service industry, rising through the ranks at McDonald’s, first as a crewmember at the age of 16, up to general manager of a location. Jesse earned his stripes in retail management.

Wayback Morocco

“The Netherlands is a small country, but it’s filled with people with good taste,” says Jesse. “The restaurant business has never been more alive, and it continues to grow stronger. We are entering a market containing strong competitors, but we are defining ourselves with great food, great service and beautiful and modern restaurants. We are forward thinking and highly adaptive, closely following the movements in the food industry and the environment, both of which are very important to the Dutch guests.”

The pair were looking for entrepreneurial opportunities when they discovered Wayback Burgers. Stefan says Wayback Burgers’ spectacular food and corporate culture perfectly aligned with their values.

“From the point of first contact, the connection we had with (Wayback Burgers Executive Vice-President) Bill Chemero was remarkable,” said Stefan.  “We decided to travel to the USA for a discovery day and taste the food which helped influence our decision. We had a discovery day and we were welcomed by the organization and the nice people in the corporate headquarters. When we combined the good food and the good people, the choice was an easy one to make.”

Wayback Burgers Director of International Development, Jason Murawski added that Stefan and Jesse are working hard to open new restaurants via area developer agreements in areas throughout the Netherlands.

“We are excited to work with Stefan and Jesse in the Netherlands,” said Murawski. “With their experience in food and retail, we know they have what it takes to manage Wayback Burgers’ expansion in Europe. Plus, we know they are committed to bring the best food and deliver excellent experiences to the Dutch people.”

Crazy Pita Goes Nationwide

Crazy Pita Rotisserie & Grill, a Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant, announced today it will offer franchise opportunities to markets nationwide. Beginning early 2018, interested parties will be able to submit an application to operate their own unique Crazy Pita Rotisserie & Grill location.  The Las Vegas-based restaurant chain will offer single and multi-unit franchise agreements in the United States.

Since 2006, Crazy Pita Rotisserie & Grill has consistently delivered flavorful Mediterranean cuisine in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere to the communities of Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin. With three locations in Southern Nevada, Crazy Pita’s high-quality food and service, community involvement, honesty, integrity, and authenticity has won the hearts and bellies of guests of all ages.

Over the past 11 years, the restaurant’s concept has thrived in the Las Vegas valley, and now strives to duplicate this success in locations across the country in hopes of spreading its positive impact which they have coined “Cooking with Kindness.”

 Crazy Pita has three locations in southern Nevada, including The District at Green Valley Ranch, Town Square Las Vegas, and Downtown Summerlin. 

Nestle Toll House Keeps Chipping Away

Nestlé® Toll House® Café by Chip® now has more than 150 units in 24 states and 10 nations across North America and the Middle East, with dozens more projected to open in the coming year. The premium dessert destination concept just completed another year of rapid growth across North America, as well as overseas. The chain opened 21 new cafés in established and new markets in the United States as well as 11 throughout the Middle East in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon.

“Thanks to our outstanding franchise partners here in the U.S. and in our international markets, we continued our strong growth pace over the past year,” said Rudy Frederico, Vice President of Franchise Development for Crest Foods, Inc., the franchisor of Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip. “We’ve also been successful in attracting outstanding new franchisees, which sets us up nicely for another excellent year in 2018.”

Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip is projected to open 16 more cafés in the Middle East, will open its first café in Quebec, Canada in May, and all total, expect to open up to 35 additional cafés system-wide in 2018.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip family,” said Ziad Dalal, Crest Foods Inc. founder and president. “Growth is strong, consumer demand is high and our franchise partners are prospering. I’m proud of the progress we made in 2017 and I see nothing but continued growth and success in the year ahead.”

The company executed a franchise development deal with Carole Carrier to open an initial three cafés in Quebec. The first café is planned to open on May 24, 2018 in an indoor amusement park in Val-d’Or.

“We have made a concerted effort to expand our bakery café concept throughout Canada, and thanks to outstanding franchisee partners like Carole, our vision is quickly coming to life,” said Rudy Frederico, Vice President of Franchise Development for Crest Foods, Inc. “I have great confidence in Carole and we look forward to working with her to introduce the people of Quebec to our amazing bakery café concept.”

Carrier is the co-founder and co-owner of the Groupe Mirault, a family business that she has been expanding for more than 30 years. With the recent acquisition of a 60,000-square-foot commercial building, Carrier is introducing a new project for an indoor children’s amusement center that requires a food court. This is what led her to contact Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip to establish its first franchise in Quebec.

California Tortilla Expands Footprint

 California Tortilla®, a fast-casual Mexican-inspired restaurant franchise, is expanding its brand footprint outside the mid-Atlantic region and will soon debut locations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Kansas. This growth is attributed to California Tortilla’s aggressive expansion efforts launched in 2017 to bring its fresh, made-to-order dishes and innovative restaurant concept to guests across the country. 

In the last quarter, California Tortilla signed 10 franchise agreements, which included a 5-unit agreement in Virginia, further establishing its dominance in the market, as well agreements in Wichita, Kan., Charleston, S.C. and Raleigh, N.C. California Tortilla will also continue to grow its brand presence in Florida in 2018, adding new locations to Orlando and Kissimmee in addition to its restaurant in Melbourne. 

Currently operating 48 locations across the mid-Atlantic region and two in Qatar, California Tortilla expects to open a total of 10 new units over the next year and hit 100 units by 2021. Momentum has been driven by the growing demand for fast-casual Mexican cuisine, coupled with the brand’s creative menu, fresh ingredients and unparalleled in-store experience. 

California Tortilla serves made-to-order burritos, bowls, street tacos, quesadillas and salads. Each restaurant is dedicated to serving farm-fresh, never frozen ingredients and everything is hand prepared in small batches daily in scratch cook kitchens. The menu, grounded in a foundation of Mexican cuisine, features 25 unique chef-created dishes, such as the Korean BBQ Burrito, Blackened Fish Tacos and California Sunset Bowl. Every California Tortilla features a Wall-of-Flame, a towering display of 75 distinct hot sauces, ranging from mild to tongue-melting, allowing guests to further customize the flavor and heat level of their meal.

“This year is already looking to be a strong growth year for California Tortilla, and we are thrilled to introduce our unique menu items and bold flavors to new areas of the country in 2018,” said Jim Tisack, Vice President of Franchise Development at California Tortilla. “We have built a great brand reputation and loyal following throughout the mid-Atlantic region. As people everywhere continue to want fresh, quality Mexican cuisine, we look forward to expanding our brand footprint.”

The total initial investment to open a California Tortilla ranges from $412,700-$708,800. California Tortilla seeks franchise partners in new markets and markets where the brand is already present for multi- and single- unit agreements. The brand is targeting growth in large metropolitan areas and suburban locations in strip malls. It also has several locations in non-traditional venues such as airports, college campuses and mall food courts and is looking for these development opportunities as well. 

Cowboy Chicken to Open in California and Debuts App Updates

 Cowboy Chicken, the fast casual concept known for its authentic, wood-fired rotisserie chicken and homemade sides, has lassoed plenty of fans since first opening in 1981. The fast-growing Dallas-based brand will soon be rounding up even more followers on the west coast when its first California restaurant opens at 10562 Craftsman Way in San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo community this spring.

“We’re excited to introduce our legendary wood-fired flavor to our friends and new neighbors in San Diego,” says Cowboy Chicken president and CEO Sean Kennedy. “I’m confident they’ll soon discover what our existing guests already know—that Cowboy Chickeen offers a unique dining experience you can’t find anywhere else.”

The new Rancho Bernardo restaurant will be approximately 2,000 square feet in size, seat 50-60 guests and employ around 30 people from the community. 

TEXACAL Foods owners and operations partners Kevin Roche and Phil Fontes, joined with Cal Capitol Investment Group, Daniel and Doug Shaffer, to bring the growing brand to the Golden State. Roche, an industry veteran and California native, experienced Cowboy Chicken in Texas while at lunch with a friend. He loved the great food and the friendly atmosphere. TEXACAL Foods and Cowboy Chicken have signed the largest franchise agreement to date with 30 Cowboy Chicken locations planned across California.

Cowboy Chicken also announced new updates to the fast casual rotisserie chicken restaurant’s Cowboy Chicken app, which was first launched in March 2017 and is available through Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The next version of the app consolidates important information in one place while also giving users more options for registering, paying and redeeming rewards.

Cowboy Chicken App

“Our passion for excellence extends far beyond our food, and we want our mobile technology to challenge the status quo just like the quality of our ingredients do,” says Sean Kennedy, Cowboy Chicken’s president and CEO. “We added app features and consolidated screens to give guests more options while also saving them time; ultimately, we want Cowboy Chicken’s guests to know just how valuable they are to the company.”

In an effort to remain an industry leader in the fast casual sector offering the latest and greatest app features, Cowboy Chicken has once again partnered with LevelUp, a Boston-based mobile engagement solutions company and creator of the Cowboy Chicken app, to further enhance the digital extension of the restaurant’s brand.

“Cowboy Chicken is implementing an entirely custom rewards screen designed to optimize the user experience for its guests,” says Allyson Klineman, LevelUp’s director of agency services. “Coupled with our contemporary home screen navigation style, Cowboy Chicken’s next app is very unique from a development standpoint.”

The new Cowboy Chicken app includes the following feature enhancements:

Custom Rewards Screen: The loyalty and available rewards are combined onto a single screen, and users are able to click into a status level screen rather than “swiping left.”

Facebook Login and Customer Registration: Facebook registration provides app users with an alternative method for registering for the app using their existing Facebook credentials.

Location Screen: A new location screen features a full map view with location indicators and a list view of locations, so users can tap into details for a location to view hours, place a call, get directions or begin an order. Users can also search for locations by entering a zip code, city or state, or find locations sorted in order of distance for the search query result.

Two-Touch Loyalty and Payment Toggle (Loyalty without Payment): Two-touch Loyalty functionality allows users to accrue and automatically apply loyalty discounts on purchases regardless of payment method.

Custom Preload and Reload Functionality: The option for users to preload funds (preload amounts are customizable up to $100) into the app and have value automatically reload (users can set their own threshold) has been added. Customers have the ability to request a refund of their preloaded balance at any time.   

Home Screen Navigation: The app’s navigation style has been switched from a bottom navigation style to a home screen style, providing a more contemporary and customizable navigation experience.

Claim Banking: This feature allows users who have unlocked rewards to save them for a future transaction by tapping a switch in their rewards list. Each reward, as well as gift cards and preloaded value, can be banked or unbanked independently, providing flexibility to customers to redeem claims when they prefer.

Cowboy Chicken

Once these updates are downloaded, app users can expect cleaner navigation from the home screen, more flexibility for billing preferences, more control when using Cowboy Chicken Rewards and increased comprehension of rewards and promotions available. “Merchants introducing app changes similar to the updates that Cowboy Chicken is implementing have seen increased customer satisfaction and higher app utilization,” said Klineman.

Additionally, these updates allow Cowboy Chicken to track more guest data than ever before, including purchase history, frequency and location of visits, promotion redemption, digital advertising efforts and how preloading/reloading funds affects customer retention.

Del Taco Accelerates Growth Across Florida

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. is continuing its aggressive expansion throughout Florida, seeking to partner with qualified multi-unit operators in this key growth region for the brand. Del Taco currently has two restaurants open in Orlando, with development agreements signed for Brevard and Palm Beach Counties for an additional 16 stores.

Del Taco’s accelerated growth plans for the state of Florida come on the heels of another banner year for the company, which included consistent, industry leading sales growth as well as opening a number of restaurants in key markets throughout California, New Mexico, Nevada, Georgia, Oklahoma and Michigan.

With more than 550 locations across 14 states, Del Taco is committed to offering its guests a unique variety of both Mexican and American favorites, such as burritos, tacos, burgers and fries, prepared fresh in every restaurant’s working kitchen. Del Taco’s meals are prepared to order with quality ingredients like fresh grilled chicken and carne asada steak, hand-sliced avocado, hand-grated cheddar cheese, slow-cooked beans made from scratch, and creamy Queso Blanco.

The company also delivers an unparalleled value with its Buck and Under Menu, featuring a wide variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, beverages and more, starting at just 69 cents.** In addition, Del Taco serves hot breakfast items made with fresh scrambled eggs, as well as hash brown sticks and coffee drinks.

Laura Tanaka, Del Taco’s Director of Franchise Development, will be traveling throughout the state during February, meeting with qualified multi-unit operators looking to expand with the growing brand, specifically in the Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville markets. With an established presence in Georgia and Florida, Del Taco’s aggressive plans for Florida are part of the brand’s overall franchise development strategy to grow its footprint across the Southeast. 

“We passionately believe there is a high market potential for the Mexican quick service category across the Southeast,” said Tanaka. “As consumers look to stretch their dollars even further, yet are unwilling to sacrifice quality, Del Taco is primed to continue its legacy of creating brand loyalists, and we’re excited to partner with multi-unit operators who would like to capitalize on that opportunity in the state of Florida.”

Tony Roma’s® Denver Opening Reignites Growth Plan

Romacorp, Inc., the parent company of Tony Roma’s®, announced the opening of its newest USA restaurant in Denver, Colorado.  This is Tony Roma’s second domestic restaurant opening in 2018, coming quickly on the heels of its West Palm Beach, FL opening just a few weeks ago. The new Tony Roma’s, owned and operated by Bruce Rahmani and 1480 CAFÉ, LLC, incorporates key elements of Tony Roma’s new prototype restaurant launched in Orlando, FL in October 2016, including a transformed restaurant environment, enhanced service approach, and Tony Roma’s innovative new menu. 

“We are excited to begin 2018 on such a strong positive note with openings in both West Palm Beach and Denver, our first new restaurant openings in the USA since 2014,” said Bradley Scher, President and Chief Executive Officer of Romacorp, Inc. “This is the beginning of a banner year of growth and development for the Tony Roma’s brand in both the USA and around the world.  With new franchisees like Bruce Rahmani and his 1480 CAFÉ, LLC team, we are confident that we are building the foundation for sustained growth for the iconic Tony Roma’s brand.”

The new Tony Roma’s is located at 1480 Arapahoe Street in the heart of the Art District of Downtown Denver, just steps away from the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DCPA), the Denver Convention Center and the 16th Street Mall.  The restaurant employs an innovative new menu highlighted by a renewed focus on rib innovation, a “Bones & Bites” small plates section where guests can customize their dining experience and create their own flavor adventure, and an enhanced beverage platform with modern cocktails and a broad selection of domestic, international and local craft beers. The restaurant boasts more than 108 seats, eight TV’s for watching the game, and outdoor seating providing the perfect atmosphere to celebrate any occasion. 

Tony Roma’s

“Tony Roma’s is a restaurant name fondly remembered by many from years past, and we are very excited to bring this iconic franchise back to Colorado,” said Bruce Rahmani, Managing Member of 1480 CAFÉ, LLC.  “We believe that this concept is going to be very different than other restaurants in Downtown Denver. Tony Roma’s offers midscale pricing that is attractive to downtown businesses as well as family members of all ages, and we look forward to great success from our new Downtown Denver restaurant.” 

PizzaRev Eyes Colorado Expansion

PizzaRev is challenging diners to expect more from their pizza with a new location in Fort Collins  opened on January 18, situated north of the Oval at Colorado State University at 649 S. College Ave. The new PizzaRev in Fort Collins empowers guests to fully customize their personal pizzas, combining this experience with a revolutionary 30-tap self-pour beer, cider and wine wall.

To mark the grand opening, the build-your-own artisanal pizza shop in Fort Collins hosted a “Pizzas for a Purpose” fundraising event with a suggested $8 contribution for guests benefitting the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Larimer County, with 100 percent of each guest’s first donation pizza going back to the organization.

Mark Venditto, a seasoned restaurateur, owns the location, continuing the brand’s growth in the state. It is the first of four franchise locations planned for northern Colorado.

“As we continue to expand, our priority is to bring experienced franchisees on board who have the tools to launch PizzaRev into a new community, and to continue growing them across the state like Mark has done in Colorado,” said Ed Yancey, director of franchising for Cleveland Avenue, parent company of PizzaRev. “Mark is a skilled entrepreneur who is turning PizzaRev into the new favorite of families and students alike in Fort Collins. Mark is an ideal franchisee we would like to find in every new market – an experienced multi-unit operator who will make PizzaRev a mainstay in his or her community.”

Most unique to PizzaRev, and what enables the restaurant’s unprecedented speed of service, is the custom-built, 900-degree stone-bed oven. Guests watch the dancing flames in the background as their pizzas are fired to a perfect, Roman-style crispiness in less than three minutes. Exposed ceilings, concrete floors and natural tones will offer a minimalist yet inviting atmosphere, where the focus is on providing guests with an interactive pizza experience unlike anything they’ve ever had.

PizzaRev is currently franchising, operating more than 45 locations with an additional 200+ additional franchises under development across Mexico and 17 states: CA, CO, FL, LA, GA, NV, NY, SD, TN, TX, VA.  

Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh Debuts in Illinois 

Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh entered the Illinois market. Located at 1401 W. Green St. on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, Garbanzo will be the first restaurant with Halal offerings on campus. 

“We are excited to introduce everyone in the area to a new dining option that is both delicious and nutritious,” said Franchisee Britton Wiedemann of Bonzos1, LLC. “At Garbanzo, we serve up love in every pita so our guests can feel brighter on the inside. The entire menu is Halal and the recipes are crafted using fresh, authentic ingredients, which is why every dish served is so flavorful. We’ve assembled a great team and we’re looking forward to becoming an integral part of University of Illinois’ campus.”

This is Wiedemann and his business partner Tom Weigand’s first Garbanzo location. The duo recently expanded into the fastest growing Mediterranean brand – Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh – after opening several Noodle & Company restaurants.

“We are excited to expand into the Illinois market and couldn’t ask for anyone better to lead the way than Britton and Tom,” said Garbanzo CEO James Park. “They are highly regarded in the franchising industry, so we are overjoyed to have them join the Garbanzo team.”

Illinois’ first Garbanzo marks the second location to open with the brand’s new prototype, featuring a simple, refined and fresh aesthetic. It’ll feature a stand-alone bakery area w

“We’re beginning to see a definite shift from Mexican to Mediterranean, and a transition from sandwiches to shawarmas,” said Park. “Mediterranean flavors have survived the test of time and now it’s become the food trend of the future. We just have to be sure not to mess with it too much because, at its core, it’s already darn close to perfect.”

Illinois’ first Garbanzo marks the 26th system-wide. 

Capriotti’s Expands 

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop signed franchise agreements that will bring multiple new restaurants to Colorado, South Dakota and Delaware in 2018. Growth in the coming months will be driven by multiple franchise agreements, which include:

Colorado – Restauranteur and long-time Capriotti’s fan Kevin Cornett is bringing the acclaimed sandwich shop to Colorado with a 12-unit development deal. Cornett plans to open the first two or three locations in 2019. The new restaurants will open in markets such as Denver, Fort Collinsand Boulder. Additionally, Cornett is developing six Capriotti’s restaurants in Northern Utah. 

South Dakota – South Dakota will soon be home to its first Capriotti’s thanks to entrepreneurs and husband and wife duo Aaron and Tonya Niewald. The pair plans to open three locations over the next three years.   The first of which is set to open at Lake Lorraine this summer. 

Delaware – Capriotti’s will be expanding in its founding market of Delaware by adding an additional three units over the next three years. The growth is fueled by entrepreneurial group David Carpenter, Jeff Kaczmarczyk and Penne Finkley. 

“We have made significant strides over the past year in improving operations, efficiency and technology, all while still providing our fresh, house made menu items,” said David Bloom, Capriotti’s Chief Development Officer. “This hard work is reflected by our onboarding of new, quality franchise partners and valued recognition in the industry. We’re looking forward to building on this momentum and bringing new Capriotti’s locations to people across the country in 2018.” 

The top 25 percent of shops average $1.1MM and have an initial average investment of $376,000. The brand is backed by a corporate leadership team that offers a continuous support program for franchisees, called CAPMastery. This online and field program provides significant support to franchisees for marketing, retail sales, operations and growth strategies through every stage of their ownership.

Captain D’s Sees Surge

Captain D’s signed franchise development agreements that will expand its presence in key markets throughout the Midwest and Southwest. This growth will bring new restaurants to the greater Dallas, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; and Columbus, Ohio regions. Captain D’s has experienced a surge in franchise and corporate development fueled by its ongoing success over the past several years, with 2017 marking another year of  growth for the brand.  “Captain D’s continued success has reinforced our position as the leader of the fast-casual seafood segment. Our outstanding business model and exceptional franchisee support have helped us attract new candidates as well as fuel growth from our existing franchise system. We’re excited to accelerate these development efforts further in 2018,” said Michael Arrowsmith, chief development officer of Captain D’s.  

The new and existing Captain D’s franchise agreements signed include:

  • Building on Captain D’s ongoing expansion in Texas is new franchisee Mohammad “Jimmy” K. Jamshed of Alaskan Ventures LLC, who has signed a franchise agreement to open a new restaurant in Stephensville. Jamshed has more than 20 years experience in multi-unit executive management, and will be opening his first Captain D’s location later this year. Captain D’s has continued to target Texas as a key market for development, and this agreement comes on the heels of new restaurant openings within the past 6 months in Houston, Dallas, and Garland. 
  • First-time Captain D’s franchisee Tom Durst has signed an agreement to open a new restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri. Durst has more than a decade of experience in the food service industry, and also operates three additional restaurant concepts throughout the region including a Dairy Queen franchise. This new restaurant will mark Captain D’s 19th location in the state, the second in the greater St. Louis area, and is slated to open this summer.
  • Existing Captain D’s franchisee Ike Khosla has signed a franchise agreement to develop one new restaurant in Chillicothe, Ohio, helping expand the brand’s footprint in the greater Columbusmarket. Khosla currently owns and operates Captain D’s restaurants in Goody, Kentucky and Logan, West Virginia, and his newest location is expected to open in early 2019.

“Texas, Missouri, and Ohio are each key regions in our overall growth strategy, as we geographically expand the footprint of our brand. We are thrilled to be developing new restaurants with such experienced franchisees who share our passion and commitment to providing an exceptional dining experience,” added Arrowsmith. 

Coupled with its ongoing menu innovation, Captain D’s credits its new restaurant beach design with contributing to the brand’s ongoing strong performance. To date, nearly 75 percent of all restaurants have been reimaged to the brand’s new coastal design. With these efforts, Captain D’s has remained true to what it does best — serving high-quality seafood with warm hospitality at an affordable price in a welcoming atmosphere.

With 533 restaurants in 21 states, Captain D’s is the fast-casual seafood leader and number one seafood franchise in America ranked by average unit volume. T

 Teriyaki Madness Love L.A.

Teriyaki Madness is targeting Los Angeles for expansion. With five existing units in the area, the company has announced plans to open 20-25 additional locations through franchise partnerships and strategic development over the next five years. The new locations will create approximately 500 new jobs in the Los Angeles community.

Teriyaki Madness’ California development is led by VP of Development, Brooks Speirs, formerly of Moe’s Southwest Grill. With a huge customer fan base and craveable recipes, Teriyaki Madness has a restaurant model with industry-leading, proven franchisee profitability and plans to open more than 100 locations across the United States in the next two years. Los Angeles, in particular, is a target market for Teriyaki Madness’ growth, as it already has an emergent presence in the market and customers are excited for more. “The Asian food trend has continuously grown over the past decade, and because we are increasingly receiving positive feedback from our Los Angeles customers, we are thrilled to expand here,” said Speirs. 

Teriyaki Madness shops are individually owned and operated by people with diverse sets of backgrounds that turn their operations into successful establishments. Teriyaki Madness includes an Item 19, which shows every Profit & Loss statement for each of the Teriyaki shops open 2+ years. Each shop has the opportunity for outsized profits on an average unit volume of $1,096,047* – a major reason why the company is ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious annual Franchise 500® list for a second year in a row and is featured as a member of the Inc. 5000. 

Speirs is actively seeking qualified franchisee partners to open their own shops in the region.

“Those who want a business with profits up to 26 percent* and are passionate about really flavorful food that happens to be healthy, would fare well with the ‘madness’ of the brand,” Speirs said.

ELAN Complete Buffalo Wild Wings Tech Upgrade 

Once you’ve installed complete control and audio/video solutions in seven nearly identical restaurants, it can start to seem like a cookie-cutter operation. For Union City, N.J.-based Serious Audio Video, however, the eighth ELAN control installation in a Buffalo Wild Wings location was anything but standard.

Due to the company’s corporate mandate to redesign and upgrade each restaurant every seven years, the high-revenue North Brunswick, N.J. location was scheduled to be overhauled in 2017. As any business owner knows, you don’t want to interrupt a profitable operation, which meant that closing the location for four or five weeks was out of the question. According to Casey Johnston, Owner of Serious Audio Video, the time constraints made this an extremely high-stress job that required going way above and beyond the normal working call of duty. Luckily, the job centered around the easy-to-install, easy-to-use ELAN control system, ensuring that installation and configuration would be completed quickly.

“This is the only job I’ve ever been on where we needed three shifts of three-worker crews, working 24 hours a day,” Johnston said. “Although the business isn’t prohibitively far from our office, we had nine employees staying in a hotel down the road because we only had two weeks to do four or five weeks’ worth of work. On top of that, it wasn’t just us installing new technology equipment, it was all the different contractors working on top of each other – carpenters, electricians, flooring installers, and painters — the list goes on. The building was stripped down to the studs and everything was replaced. It was exciting to see a big project move that fast, but it was a pretty crazy environment to work in.”

Such a rapidly moving and crowded construction site meant a lot of pre-planning was required, so Johnston worked for weeks ahead of time to ensure that every component was in hand, every drawing and design was correct, and every employee knew their role and responsibilities. And in this case, it was a major benefit that the team had installed several very similar ELAN systems for other Buffalo Wild Wings locations.

“I don’t know if we could have completed this job in the time frame required if it was a one-off project and we hadn’t already known exactly what the client wanted and needed,” Johnston added. “At this point we know pretty much everything that’s going to happen during the install, and we run a tight ship in regard to the order in which things are done, who does what, and everything we need down to the literal nuts and bolts. Also, we knew that using the ELAN system was crucial to the job’s success, because it’s so much easier to program and get up and running than some other control systems. Had we been using a competing product that’s more custom-code-based, it would have been a mad rush to get the thing actually working while the paint was drying next to us.”

Due to the new floorplan and interior design, the team had to relocate dozens of speakers and TVs as well as add 33 new Aquos display panels, mostly split between 60” and 80” models, plus four massive 90” models. Integrators know that uninstalling and reinstalling equipment is basically double the work. Six new Crown amplifiers replaced the existing equipment, and a Knoll projector paired with a 110” Dragonfly screen capped off the audio/video portion of the upgrade. For the control side, Serious Audio Video added a new ELAN gSC10 system controller, a S1616A Multi-Room Audio Controller, Xantech IR equipment, a Dell PC, an Apple iPort mount for an iPad with the ELAN app, and a 17” Planar touchscreen that provides an interface in the equipment rack.

“If this job had come from a new client, I might not have even bid on it,” Johnston confessed. “Fortunately we have a great relationship with this franchisor [BH1] [JP2] and have completed installations in several homes of family and friends in addition to every N.J. Buffalo Wild Wings. It will continue to be a good partnership for both our companies, even as other locations come up on their seven-year redesign milestones. While this kind of rushed installation isn’t recommended or fun, working with experienced team members and familiar components help to make it manageable. My crew really showed their stripes on this job, and we now know that with planning, dedication, and a simple, reliable backbone like the ELAN control system, anything is possible.”

Hot Head Burrito’s Selects PAR Technology

ParTech, Inc. (PAR) announced Hot Head Burrito’s (HHB) has deployed PAR’s cloud-based Brink POS® Software in all 72 locations. 

ParTech, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PAR Technology Corporation 

Being a franchise business, Hot Head Burrito’s was looking for a new POS solution that can be easily adopted by their franchise partners and help improve overall business operations. A cloud solution was the direction HHB decided to go in to support the growth of the business and allow them to implement online ordering capabilities for customers.

“Our partner, BMC-POS, assisted in determining that Brink is the best fit for our business. Having a franchise based business, it is important to us that all of our franchisees are pleased with the software in place so they can effectively run their restaurant and provide the best service to their guests,” said Ray Wiley, CEO, Hot Head Burrito’s. “With Brink fully implemented, we can now add online ordering for our customers, which has created a whole new revenue stream for our restaurants. The ability to pull more accurate live data has also allowed us to better monitor the business and plan for the future.”

BMC-POS, a value-added reseller, facilitated the process to identify the best solution for their needs.

With Brink in place, menus can be easily managed across all 72 locations, eliminating the need for menu adjustments to be made at each restaurant. Online ordering and loyalty features have also allowed Hot Head Burrito’s to reach more customers, track data, and reward their loyal customers.

“We are very pleased to welcome Hot Head Burrito’s to the Brink family,” said Paul Rubin, Chief Strategy Officer, ParTech, Inc. “Hot Head Burrito‘s was seeking a cloudbased technology that would support their business’ goals and growth plans, and also be flexible and intuitive to use for their franchise based business. Brink’s ability to integrate with Hot Head Burrito’s loyalty program and online ordering will streamline the business and provide the services their guests want.”

Dog Haus To Bring Absolute Würst To Belmont

Dog Haus Biergarten, the celebrated California-based concept renowned for its gourmet hot dogs, sausages, burgers and one-of-a-kind creations recently broke ground on its first location in the Silicon Valley market in anticipation of an early-March grand opening.

Located at 1000 El Camino Real, Ste. A, near Notre Dame de Namur University, the restaurant will be father-son Owners Robert Issai and Vahe Issai’s first franchise location with the emerging brand.

“Everything about Dog Haus is phenomenal – the team-oriented culture, freshly made premium food, fun environment and the commitment to outstanding customer service,” said Vahe Issai. “My father and I have been fans of Dog Haus for years so we are thrilled to bring one to Belmont. In addition to the great food, we’ll have an awesome Biergarten where our guests can enjoy their favorite craft beers and wine in a relaxed setting.” 

Dog Haus’ full menu in Belmont will include gourmet dogs, sausages, burgers, corn dogs, sides, premium shakes, 24 beer taps – two nitro – and four wine taps. Its signature all beef dogs, handcrafted sausages and 100% Black Angus beef burgers are made with hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and served on grilled King’s Hawaiian rolls. Haus Dog options include fan favorites like Sooo Cali, with wild arugula, avocado, tomato, crispy onions and spicy basil aioli; Downtown, featuring a smoked bacon wrapped dog topped with caramelized onions, pickled peppers, mayo, mustard and ketchup; and Cowboy, a smoked bacon wrapped dog topped with cheddar cheese sauce, crispy onions and bbq sauce.

Dog Haus Biergarten Belmont will be the 21st Dog Haus in California and the 30th currently open across the nation.

Melt Shop Moving Forward

Melt Shop reported today strong 2017 results following the launch of its domestic and international franchising efforts. The emerging franchisor signed three franchise agreements to develop 26 locations worldwide in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Staten Island, and the Middle East. To date, Melt Shop has nine locations open, with plans to grow to 100 locations over the next five years.

“We could not be more thrilled with the level of excitement and interest from prospective franchisees so soon after launching our franchise program. It’s truly a testament to Melt Shop’s proven business model and scalability, and our partners’ shared commitment to bring Melt Shop to the masses,” said Spencer Rubin, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Melt Shop. “We’re looking forward to continuing this momentum in 2018 and recruiting even more qualified partners to join the brand.”

Melt Shop recently announced it would open 18 locations across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware with new franchise partner Drew Smith, a seasoned multi-unit franchisee with Five Guys.

“Backed by fellow Five Guys franchisees, Melt Shop was the clear choice for me when I decided to diversify my portfolio,” said Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Rockham Melt, LLC. “Its smooth and efficient operations coupled with its focus on food quality and customer satisfaction make it a winning combination. I’m eager to begin this journey with Melt Shop and stand behind an emerging concept I love.”

Founded by Rubin in 2011, Melt Shop began franchising in 2017 after opening eight corporate locations throughout New York, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. The company signed a multi-unit deal to open seven restaurants in the Middle East, four of which will open by the second quarter of 2018. Several domestic locations will open in 2018, including in Delaware and Staten Island Mall in Staten Island, New York.

Melt Shop is seeking qualified franchisees to join the brand and currently has opportunities domestically in markets such as the Northeast, Midwest, and Florida, and in most international markets, including the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Japan, China, India, Mexico, South America, Canada, Western Europe, and Australia. Melt Shop has an estimated initial investment range of $368,240 – $698,800 for the first location, including a franchise fee of $35,000and a sales range of $1,016,984 – $1,640,406 (sale range based on Melt Shops’ six corporate restaurants open over 12 months as of the end of 2016, as referenced in Item 19 of the 2017 FDD).

Gigi’s Turns 10

Gigi’s Cupcakes, known for its signature “Gigi’s Swirl” of icing piled high and an incredible variety of gourmet, over-the-top cupcakes, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, capping a milestone first decade in business as new locations continue to open across the country.

Gigi Butler

Founder Gina “Gigi” Butler moved to Nashville in 1994 to pursue a career in country music, but after a decade of cleaning houses and singing in honky tonks, when it was clear that her dreams weren’t coming true, she turned her lifelong love of baking into a new business opportunity. With $33 to her name, on February 21st, 2008, she opened the first Gigi’s Cupcakes on Broadway, near Nashville’sfamous Music Row- soon, the line was out the door and Gigi’s was the talk of Nashville. 

Within two years, Gigi’s had grown from a single store to 35. In four years, that number had increased to 60 stores. Today, Gigi’s has grown to become one of the most sought-after cupcake and bakery franchises, with nearly 100 locations across 24 states. Utah recently became the 24th and western-most state to have a Gigi’s location, marking the brand’s continuing expansion. 

“It is incredible to see how one small cupcake shop has grown to nearly 100 locations,” says Gigi Butler. “I am humbled by the support from our customers across the country and blown away by the rapid expansion of this brand. The future looks very exciting for Gigi’s Cupcakes!” 

Now with the financial support of a private equity partner, a growing team at the support center headquarters in Fort Worth, and a strong network of vendor relationships, Gigi’s is on track to continue its aggressive expansion strategy, with plans to open 15-20 more shops this year, with large markets in the Southeast and Midwest being targeted for expansion. Gigi’s signed 10 new agreements in 2017, and currently have eight new stores under construction and set to open by the end of the year. 

While the cupcake is the signature treat, Gigi’s also offers a diverse menu designed to satisfy a variety of sweet-tooth cravings, such as mini-cupcakes, personal cheesecakes and fresh-baked cookies as well as coffee and tea in many locations. With a rotating menu of seasonal flavors, its signature flavor names are delightfully creative.

“Our seasonal favorites keep our guests looking forward to the changing of the seasons and the return of their favorites,” says Judy Renfrow, Gigi’s CEO. “We have a roster of rotating cupcake flavors, including gluten-friendly options, alongside our cheesecakes, cookies and cakes, giving anyone with a sweet tooth something that they can love. Americans consume 770 million cupcakes a year, and for Gigi’s customers, every day is a reason to celebrate with cupcakes.”