MRM Franchise Feed: Papaya King Franchising, Carl’s Jr. in Chile and Burgerim

Modern Restaurant Management magazine’s Franchise Feed offers a glimpse at what’s new in the restaurant franchise environment. Send items of interest to Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at

Iconic Papaya King is Now Franchising 

Papaya King, New York City’s iconic hot dog and tropical drink restaurant, is now franchising across the U.S. In 1932 founder Gus Poulos, wanting to serve fresh fruit juice, opened New York’s first juice bar on the corner of 86th and 3rd. The store eventually added frankfurters to supplement their already famous “Hawaiian Tropical Drinks.” Since then, Papaya King has become a New York City staple, with three locations across the city, one open on Paradise Road in Las Vegas and a second set to open on the Las Vegas Strip itself. The company is now ready to expand throughout the U.S.

Specialty franks such as the Upper East (pastrami, kraut, and pickle chips), and the Hula Hula (jalapenos, fresh pineapple, sweet peppers, sautéed onions, and pepper flakes) prove no restaurant seamlessly blends hot dogs and sides into creative and craveable concotions quite like Papaya King. The hot dog chain’s penchant for freshness extends to its healthy and delectable assortment of tropical drinks, fresh smoothies and fruit juices along with indulgent street food favorites like fried Oreos and Twinkies. It’s vintage designed merchandise has become a cult favorite.

“We’re excited to start franchising and can’t wait to share New York’s finest hot dog with the rest of America” said Wayne Rosenbaum, President of Papaya King. “It’s a big deal to introduce such a vital part of New York City to people who’ve never had it before. We’re looking forward to working with the Fransmart team to make this dream a reality.”

Papaya King is looking for experienced and qualified franchise partners in major U.S. media markets and has partnered with Fransmart for their expansion efforts. Fransmart is the franchise development company behind the explosive growth of brands like Five Guys Burgers and Fires and Qdoba Mexican Grill and will serve as Papaya King’s exclusive franchise partner.

Carl’s Jr. Opens in Chile

Global premium burger chain Carl’s Jr.® opened its first restaurant in Chile pursuant to a franchise agreement signed between Carl’s Jr. Restaurants LLC and Corachi SpA. Located in Santiago’s  Providencia district at Av. Nueva Providencia 2124, Providencia, the new two-story restaurant offers premium, affordable menu items including a line of 100 percent Black Angus Beef Thickburgers® and the Western Bacon Cheeseburger®  in an urban-contemporary design.

Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr.’s arrival in Chile bears special significance for both the brand and the country. The franchisee’s Managing Director Ron Santolaya, is one of Carl’s Jr.’s longest-standing and most respected franchise operators, having been with the company since the 1980s. He previously helped open the first Carl’s Jr. in Mexico with Junior Foods S.A. de C.V., and is credited by the company as having been instrumental in building the brand into a powerhouse in that country. Now, the Chilean-native returns home, and together with corporate partner Richycarls S.A. de C.V., is bringing Carl’s Jr.’s bigger, better burgers to Chileans.

“South America is one of our most important growth markets. We see tremendous opportunity here and we are poised to deeply invest in this region for years to come. That is why we’re thrilled to be bringing the Carl’s Jr. brand to Chile. We’re even more thrilled that Ron Santolaya, along with Richycarls S.A. de C.V., are the ones leading the charge,” said Ron Coolbaugh, Senior Vice President International Franchise Operations at CKE Restaurants. “Ron helped plant the flag and firmly establish the brand in Mexico over 25 years ago and we are confident that he will have the same success here in Chile.”

“Carl’s Jr. is embraced by burger lovers all over the world thanks to its bigger, better burger experience and variety of authentic, affordably priced menu items. I know Chileans will love our Black Angus Beef Thickburgers® that include mouth-watering varieties like Guacamole Bacon and Portobello Mushroom. Chile has long awaited a premium, iconic and global brand like Carl’s Jr. to enter the market and really set the stage for what an exceptional fast-food experience should be. We can’t wait for locals to see and taste the difference!” stated Santolaya.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2016, Carl’s Jr. has recently expanded its global presence into new markets such as Australia, Japan, Cambodia and now Chile. Carl’s Jr. and sister banner Hardee’s® have grown to almost 3,800 locations in 41 countries, and plan to continue to accelerate the expansion of their brand in 2017.

“We offer a satisfying and premium product that is made of high quality ingredients, made fresh to order and served at our guests table,” said Coolbaugh. “People around the world love Carl’s Jr., and we can’t wait to show the people of Chile our best-in-class products and warm, friendly service.”

Jack in the Box Franchise Association Adopts Strategic Initiative

The Board of Directors for the Jack in the Box National Franchise Association today announced the adoption of a new strategic initiative to forge a true partnership with the Jack in the Box Brand. This will allow Jack in the Box franchise owners to have better input on everything from strategic planning to marketing and building brand equity.

Leveraging the expertise and diversity of its membership, the Association (JIB-NFA) has ratified a new purpose statement focused on directing Board efforts toward supporting and fostering that partnership. In addition, the Association has retained attorney John Lewis as advisor and Stephen H. Coltrin of Coltrin & Associates, Inc. to advance communications.

“The sum of these collective efforts will help our Board to be more effective in serving our members as well as helping our franchisor build a stronger, more viable brand,” said Anil Yadav, chairman of the board for the Jack in the Box National Franchise Association (JIB-NFA). “We are pleased to announce these new measures and look forward to working with the Jack in the Box leadership team as partners in our endeavors.”

The strategic initiative is being implemented immediately with next steps to include the appointment of an executive director, tasked with furthering the objectives of the partnership.

“The franchisees are independent business owners who have boots-on-the-ground expertise as well as the responsibility to implement and execute strategies that are coming from our corporate partner,” said Rabi Viswanath, Secretary, JIB-NFA. “We have insights and understanding that our corporate partner needs, therefore, we believe it is key to be certain that they have and understand our input in order to maximize the value of the brand.”

The Jack in the Box National Franchise Association is made up of 110 franchisees across the country, representing 100% of the Jack in the Box system.

NPC To Acquire 62 Wendy’s

NPC  entered into an agreement with Valenti Mid-Atlantic Management, LLC (Valenti) to acquire 62 Wendy’s restaurants for $52.6 million, plus amounts for working capital. NPC also agreed to acquire six fee property locations from Valenti Mid-Atlantic Realty for $3.6 million. As part of the transaction, NPC plans to remodel certain acquired restaurants in Wendy’s new Image Activation format.

This acquisition is expected to be funded primarily with available cash on hand and borrowings on NPC’s $110 million revolver. The restaurants will be owned and operated by NPC’s wholly-owned subsidiary, NPC Quality Burgers, Inc., which entered into the asset purchase agreement to acquire the restaurants.

The units to be acquired are located in south central Pennsylvania in and around Harrisburg and Allentown, Pennsylvania. According to information provided to NPC, the restaurants generated approximately $93 million in net product sales during the 52 weeks ended December 25, 2016. NPC expects the closing to occur in late April, subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of The Wendy’s Company.

Jim Schwartz, Chairman and CEO of NPC International, Inc. said, “We are excited to further our growth in the Wendy’s system with the acquisition of this unique market in the mid-Atlantic. This market will leverage our existing Wendy’s infrastructure and is a natural extension of our holdings in North Carolina. This acquisition will be our seventh acquisition in the Wendy’s system since 2013 and will increase our holdings to 246 restaurants with expected annual revenues exceeding $350 million, or approximately 30% of our total consolidated revenues.”

NPC International, Inc. is the world’s largest Pizza Hut franchisee and currently operates 1,152 Pizza Hut restaurants and delivery units in 27 states and 184 Wendy’s units in 5 states.

Burgerim Plans Further Expansion

Burgerim, an Israeli-based franchise that got its start in 2011 and features gourmet mini-burgers and unique customized menu concept, branched out with more than 80 franchises.

Burgerim opened up it’s newest burger restaurant in Memphis on March 4. Burgerim is the first restaurant built around customized mini-burgers where customers can play around with patty flavors, unusual toppings, and a vast array of sauces. Every burger is unique and there’s always more than one. Combos feature a duo, trio, or party box where hungry burger fans can feast on 2.8 oz. patties made from dry aged beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and many more options. Toppings range from traditional to completely unconventional. At Burgerim, the bite sized burgers are topped with pineapple, avocado, mushrooms, or sunny side eggs. You can mix and match flavors on every burger to create a new experience at each visit. Franchise opportunities are available in over 33 states including California, Arizona, and Colorado.

Mr. Gatti’s and Gatti’s Pizza Launch Aggressive Franchise Expansion

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza and Gatti’s Pizza launched an aggressive franchise expansion campaign designed to grow market share using both their family fast casual and family entertainment center platforms throughout 27 states.

It has been approximately 48 years since Gatti’s Pizza opened the brand to franchisees. Currently there are 42 franchisees operating under the Gatti’s brand in 76 locations throughout Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. In addition to continued growth in those markets, Gatti’s is targeting Alabama, Arizona,Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri,Oklahoma, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Utah and Wyoming.

Gatti’s Pizza features a buffet-style format while Mr. Gatti’s Pizza is designed around tableside service with an expanded menu featuring traditional Mr. Gatti’s items as well as new offerings such as  gluten free crust that  is more in demand among today’s diverse dining audience. Both concepts feature the beloved game room that includes both current and vintage options.

“We are eager to introduce a new generation of fans to our great pizza and family-friendly atmosphere,” said Michael Poates, president of Fort Worth-based Gatti’s Pizza, who will be speaking Tuesday at the Franchise Times Finance & Growth Conference in Las Vegas. “With the emergence of the new wave of pizza options sweeping the restaurant industry, the time is right to reintroduce the original Mr. Gatti’s concept and bring in new franchisees who are excited about the brand and its product.”

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza traces its roots back to the 1960’s in Texas. By the 70’s, the chain had experienced dramatic growth and become a household name. Almost 50 years later, the Gatti’s brand has expanded to include Gatti’s Pizza as a family entertainment concept, in addition to the Mr. Gatti’s restaurants.

During the last 18 months, Poates has focused a comprehensive revitalization and growth strategy for the Gatti’s brands. In 2016, Gatti’s Pizza “refreshed” the look of the original Mr. Gatti’s Pizza restaurants, bringing back many of the features that made it such an iconic brand in the 1970’s and 80’s. 

“While many brands are chasing the trends of the day or trying to hop on the latest fad, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza is taking a different approach,” says Poates. “We are defining our future by revisiting our past and reconnecting to its latency, at a time and place when the brand had optimal market share and name recognition.”

Four of the revamped Mr. Gatti’s Pizza restaurants have opened in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex with nine more in various stages of development across the region.

“Our goal in launching this new franchising effort is to reconnect the brand to a loyal and passionate customer base that have now become parents and, thus, use that original consumer to introduce the brand to a new generation of guests,” said Poates. “Since the introduction of new Mr. Gatti’s restaurants, we are hearing from guests who have great memories of Mr. Gatti’s when they were kids and are excited about being able to introduce their kids to one of their favorite childhood experiences.”

BurgerFi will Land in Ft. Lauderdale Airport

BurgerFi signed a franchise agreement with HMSHost for the operation of a BurgerFi restaurant at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. HMSHost will operate the brand’s first airport location. Propelled by the company’s ongoing expansion, and recent surge in franchise development, this new agreement demonstrates the BurgerFi brand’s growing strength and widespread appeal.

“We are excited to develop our first BurgerFi airport location with HMSHost, an established leader in the food service industry, which adds immense value to our growing franchise network,” said Corey Winograd, Chief Executive Officer of BurgerFi. “Over the past five years, the efforts of our dedicated corporate team and franchisees have propelled BurgerFi from a regional brand to a national, industry leader, poised for strategic growth, and we look forward to accelerating this momentum.”

HMSHost, which provides food and beverage services for 120 airports throughout the globe and 99 motorways in North America, will be opening the new BurgerFi at the bustling Florida airport’s Terminal One, with an anticipated opening date of May 31, 2017. 

This year, BurgerFi plans to open approximately 20 new restaurants, and is targeting Virginia, Washington D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and New York for domestic expansion. With global demand, and enormous development opportunities, BurgerFi is poised for another year of impressive growth. Established in 2011, BurgerFi is among the nation’s fastest-growing better burger concepts with a projected 100 restaurants to be open by mid-2017.

Boston’s Will Debut in North Dakota

Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar signed a development agreement that will debut the brand in North Dakota. The first location is expected to open this year in West Fargo, ND.

The North Dakota locations will be opened by operating partner Tyler Birkland, who also owns a Boston’s restaurant in Prince Albert, Canada. Birkland is a seasoned Boston’s employee, having started with the company in 2005 as a bartender with Boston Pizza in Canada. Along with franchise partners Gregg Most and Jim Werschler, the group currently operates 14 restaurants throughout Saskatchewan, Canada, and Birkland is spearheading development into the United States. They are targeting Bismark, Minot and the greater Fargo area for future development.

“The Boston’s experience is a fit for everyone, whether you’re looking for a casual place to catch the game or need a quality take-out or delivery option to cater dinner with your family – you can’t get that everywhere,” said Birkland. “It is clear West Fargo is the ideal place to introduce the brand in North Dakota, and we look forward to serving the community for many years to come.”

Boston’s in North Dakota will offer its guests a contemporary, sit-down family dining atmosphere with a separate sports bar, allowing for family and friend gatherings of all sizes. While Boston’s specializes in gourmet pizza and pasta, its menu features nearly 90 items including salads, sandwiches and a variety of sports bar favorites such as burgers, wings and ribs giving guests an offering of traditional American cuisine.

“It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm for the brand in Canada, a 390+ unit chain north of the border, continuing down into the states with sophisticated and passionate partners such as these,” said Eric Taylor, President of Boston’s U.S. “We look forward to establishing our brand in a new market and welcome the community of Fargo in with open arms.”

Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar’s U.S. operations are based in Dallas, and currently has 28 locations operating in 22 states. The company’s sister brand, Boston Pizza, has more than 400 locations throughout Canada.

Sonic Completes Refranchising

Sonic Corp. completed its previously announced refranchising initiative.

“We are pleased to have completed our refranchising effort ahead of schedule,” said Cliff Hudson, Sonic Corp. CEO. “We look forward to improved capital efficiency for our business, as well as increased growth of the brand. As a part of the divestiture, franchisees have committed to developing new drive-ins in refranchised markets, allowing us to continue to increase our systemwide sales and brand footprint over the next few years. Our franchisees’ financial commitment reflects their confidence in the Sonic brand and our differentiated long-term strategy to increase sales, profits and, in turn, shareholder value.”

Russo’s Plans Middle East Expansion

Russo’s Restaurants, parent company of Russo’s New York Pizzeria and Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen with locations in the U.S., UAE and Saudi Arabia, will expand throughout the Middle East over the next 10 years with an aggressive multi-unit franchise growth strategy. Russo’s Restaurants, founded by Chef Anthony Russo, focuses on authentic, hand-tossed New York-style pizzas and Italian pastas, soups and salads made with family recipes and ingredients like house-made mozzarella, imported artisanal Sicilian olive oil, cheeses from Italy and hand-crushed pear tomatoes from California.

“Russo’s concepts appeal to franchisees nationally and internationally because of the food quality – our recipes, our sourcing, our authenticity – that speaks to the way people the world over want to eat today,” said Russo. “We are growing because the appetite for our style of food is growing, and we’ve been doing it for 25 years with proven success.”

The company, with more than 50 new restaurants in development globally, recently opened its first Russo’s New York Pizzeria in Riyadh with franchisee Abdulrahman Al Arifi, who has an agreement to open three more locations and says he’ll build up to 60 in the next 10 years.

“We want to make Russo’s the first choice of pizza throughout the region,” said Arifi. “We want every pizza lover and non-lover to come in to our restaurants and taste the magic of our pizza and fresh ingredients that are unlike anything we have in Saudi Arabia.”

In addition to planned openings in Saudi Arabia, Russo’s is targeting new international markets such as Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt for franchise development.

Russo’s UAE franchise partner, Prime Hospitality, will also open the region’s first Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen concept at The Pointe in Dubai in Q3, which boasts a new prototype designed exclusively for Middle Eastdevelopment. This will be the seventh Russo’s location in the UAE, with plans for many more.

IRG Acquires Ben & Florentine

Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire substantially all of the assets of Ben & Florentine, a leading franchisor in the breakfast and lunch category with over 40 locations across Québec, Ontario and Manitoba. IRG is pleased to announce today the successful completion of the Ben & Florentine acquisition.

As previously announced, Lorne Cassoff, the founder and President of Ben & Florentine, along with key members of management, will continue to lead the brand and will join IRG’s executive team. Mr. Cassoff commented, “I’m excited for the Ben & Florentine brand and could not be prouder of our franchisee partners. I am confident that this new alliance with the Imvescor family will provide many new opportunities, both inside and outside of Québec, for the Ben & Florentine business.”

Frank Hennessey, President and Chief Executive Officer of IRG commented, “This transaction represents an excellent strategic fit for both companies, as Ben & Florentine complements our existing brands and consolidates our solid position in Québec. In combination with the 62 Toujours Mikes locations that serve breakfast seven days a week, we are now the largest server of plated meals in the breakfast day part in Québec.”

IRG has acquired Ben & Florentine for a total consideration of approximately $17.7 million payable at closing with an additional earn-out payment of up to$7.3 million payable in the first quarter of 2018 based upon the achievement of certain financial results driven principally by the successful opening of new restaurants. Ben & Florentine generated 9% growth in Same Restaurant Sales in 2016 and $35 million in System Sales and has plans to open an additional eight restaurants by 2017 calendar year end. The Ben & Florentine transaction is immediately accretive to earnings and creates a new growth oriented brand. IRG has financed the acquisition through a combination of cash on hand and its existing credit facility.

Captain D’s Accelerates Franchise Development

Captain D’s accelerated its franchise development efforts, signing agreements to expand the brand’s presence in Illinois, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. As part of this aggressive growth, the company will open two new restaurants in Illinois; three in Texas; three in Virginia; five in North Carolina; and five in Kentuckyover the next several years. This surge in franchise development is propelled by Captain D’s ongoing success, with six consecutive years of same-store sales increases and four successive years of record high system-wide AUV. 

“Year after year, Captain D’s has achieved compounding success by consistently investing in our people, products and processes, and our ongoing growth has caught the attention of franchisee prospects looking to partner with a strong fast casual concept,” said Michael Arrowsmith, chief development officer of Captain D’s. “The strength of our franchising pipeline will help drive Captain D’s presence nationwide over the next several years and accelerate our momentum even further as we continue to take the brand to new heights.”

Captain D’s new franchise agreements include:

  • Edward Stokes and Chris Benner, who currently operate 22 Captain D’s restaurants throughout Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky andVirginia, will be opening three new units throughout the Roanoke, Virginiamarket. Stokes and Benner are one of the largest franchisee groups in the Captain D’s franchise network, and will be opening their new locations over the next four years.
  • Nooralam Jan Erkin will open his first Captain D’s franchise in Tyler, Texas in 2018, with two additional locations slated to open in the state over the next several years in Longview and Jacksonville. Erkin has extensive experience in the restaurant and franchising industries, and also owns and operates Church’s Chicken restaurants.
  • GOALZ Restaurant Group, LLC signed two development agreements to open five new Captain D’s units in Charlotte, North Carolina and five in Kentucky, with Shawn Eby serving as the main operator.
  • First-time Captain D’s franchisee Bassam Ramadan will be spearheading the brand’s growth in Collinsville and Granite City, Illinois, with his first restaurant opening by the end of this year and an additional location slated to open over the next several years. Ramadan has been in the restaurant industry since 2009 and chose to pursue franchising opportunities with Captain D’s due to its proven track record of success.

“When looking for potential franchisee candidates who may be a good fit for our network, it’s important to us that they share our commitment to guest-centric values and have a passion for the Captain D’s brand. Each of our new franchisees fit this mold, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to the team,” said Arrowsmith. 

Coupled with its menu diversification and expanded array of offerings, Captain D’s credits its new restaurant beach design with contributing to the brand’s compounding success. To date, nearly 60 percent of all restaurants have been reimaged to the brand’s new vibrant, coastal design, with another 50 locations to be remodeled by the end of this year. 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 514 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. 

KFC Cooking School

KFC Canada opened its doors and letting customers behind the counter with the world’s first KFC Cooking School. 

Although KFC franchises around the world have allowed customers and fans behind the scenes in the past, letting the public cook their own meals is a KFC world-first. “We’ve heard our consumers say they want to know more about what they’re eating, so we’re giving them the chance to learn exactly what goes on in a KFC kitchen,” says Beverley D’Cruz, Marketing Director, KFC Canada. “Real cooks are at the heart of every KFC kitchen. They make our chicken from scratch every day, using real chicken sourced from farms across Canada, prepared with the same time and pride you would at home. We’re giving our customers the chance to find that out first-hand.”

Not only is the chicken served at KFC restaurants 100 percentreal, Canadian farm-raised chicken, but every single piece is hand-breaded and cooked with pride by real KFC cooks. In the past six months, every KFC cook went through recommitment training to ensure that they continue to take the care to hand-bread every piece of chicken, just the way KFC founder Colonel Sanders did in 1952. Now KFC is offering the same training to its customers, giving them the opportunity to sign up and learn from KFC’s own dedicated cooks the proper nine step, 30-minute process to cook KFC chicken from scratch. 

“I have met and watched KFC chefs in action, and I have so much respect for their dedication to what they do,” says Bob Blumer, celebrity chef and KFC spokesperson, who was in Toronto to help announce the KFC cooking school. “It’s not easy. The colonel’s way has stood the test of time, and these cooks are truly committed to following every step and delivering the perfect product every time. They take as much care as I do when I’m cooking in my own kitchen.” 

The KFC Cooking School is part of KFC’s larger scale recommitment to its heritage that began with Colonel Sanders and his passion for creating great-tasting fried chicken for over 60 years. Since 2010, KFC Canada has been actively improving its customer experience, which includes the revitalization of its stores, an awareness campaign surrounding it’s 100% real, Canadian farm-raised chicken and increased transparency about its cooks and their commitment to not only doing things the right way, but the Colonel’s Way when it comes to cooking KFC chicken.

A&W Adopts High Animal Welfare Standards

A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. (A&W), a leader in animal welfare in Canada, today committed to the adoption of even higher animal welfare standards for farm-raised broiler chickens.

These changes are based on the company’s philosophy of continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation of the humane treatment of animals. A&W works with farmers, industry and animal welfare experts to ensure animals are treated humanely throughout their lives. The company’s animal welfare standards consistently exceed industry guidelines. 

A&W is the only fast food restaurant in Canada that serves chicken raised without the use of antibiotics and fed a grain based diet without animal by-products. Chickens in Canada are not raised with hormones or steroids. Raising chicken without antibiotics means that all of A&W’s farmers have to ensure they employ the very best practices in managing every aspect of care for their chickens.

“We want to continuously raise the bar in animal welfare to ensure animals are treated with respect. Today, we have elevated our standards to include some new ones. It all adds up to a better life,” says Susan Senecal, President and Chief Operating Officer at A&W Canada.

Today, A&W works with farmers to ensure chickens are humanely raised in large barns with ample access to fresh air, food and water. Lighting, air quality and cleanliness are monitored and clean litter is provided for every flock.

Farmer Boys Completes Transition to Cage-Free

Farmer Boys® Restaurants completed its transition to cage-free California eggs across its 89 locations in just under one year.

Farmer Boys established a goal in early 2016 for its eggs to be 100 percent cage-free based on growing consumer support for animal welfare. The swift transition to all cage-free eggs was achieved through close collaboration with Hickman Farms, its long-time egg supplier.

“Our transition to cage-free eggs reinforces our commitment to quality,” said Kristy Foster, vice president of supply chain and research & development. “Farmer Boys will continue to evolve its menu to meet the needs of our customers and provide the tastiest, farm fresh experience.”

The company has been at the forefront of other industry trends including all day breakfast and providing guests an option for hormone-free, antibiotic-free, fresh never frozen beef through its Natural® burger line.  

“We commend Farmer Boys for completing its conversion to 100 percent cage-free eggs ahead of schedule,” says Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States. “This action demonstrates real leadership on animal welfare and is consistent with a philosophy of doing right by your customers.”

Today’s announcement includes shell eggs, hard-boiled, and liquid eggs used in recipes. Farmer Boys has been hand cracking eggs and cooking breakfast to order since 1981. Following the introduction of all day breakfast in 2008, Farmer Boys now hand cracks over 17 million eggs annually. Farmer Boys currently operates 89 restaurants in California and Nevada

Caribou Coffee Sets Clean Label Standards

Caribou Coffee has set a Clean Label standard for its U.S. locations making the coffee company the first national coffeehouse chain to offer beverages made with Clean Label ingredients.  Caribou’s Clean Label Commitment means the company will not add artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, MSG or high fructose corn syrup to its beverages and all beverages will be made with Clean Label ingredients by 2018.

The coffee company’s Clean Label announcement doesn’t come as a surprise given the brand’s history.  In 2010, Caribou started using real chocolate chips rather than powdered chocolate which many other coffeehouses currently use.  Caribou was the first national coffeehouse company to offer 100% Rainforest Alliance beans in 2012.  In January of 2016, the brand introduced real caramel sauce and real vanilla syrup, made with only four ingredients: pure cane sugar, water, natural vanilla flavor and Madagascar vanilla beans extract. This focus on real ingredients has been a core component of Caribou’s Clean Label commitment.

“Offering premium great tasting drinks for our guests has long been in our DNA,” said Michele Vig, President of Caribou Coffee. “Through our Clean Label commitment, all Caribou Coffee drinks will be made using only Clean Label ingredients by 2018.”

The Clean Label commitment at Caribou means creating handcrafted beverages without adding:

  • Artificial colors 
  • Artificial flavors 
  • Artificial preservatives 
  • Artificial sweeteners 

Caribou set its Clean Label standard by creating an “Off-Limit list” of 70+ ingredients which will not be added to its beverages.  Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial colors, aspartame and many others will not be added into any Caribou Coffee beverage. Caribou began working on a specific Clean Label plan in February of 2014. Currently 91 percent of Caribou Coffee’s handcrafted beverages are made with 100% Clean Label ingredients. The remaining 9% of beverages (those made with chai, sugar-free chocolate syrup, and two toppings) will meet Caribou’s Clean Label standard by the end of 2018 to bring its drink menu to 100  percent Clean Label. 

Dunkin To Remove Artificial Colors

Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc., the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, today announced plans to remove artificial colors from its products in the U.S. As part of the company’s ongoing efforts to offer guests great-tasting, high-quality products and cleaner menu labels, both the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins product development teams, in partnership with suppliers, have been working to eliminate synthetic colors from their food and beverages and replace the ingredients with naturally sourced colorings in the U.S. by the end of 2018.

Within the next two years, Dunkin’ Donuts will remove synthetic colors across its menu, including donut icings, fillings and toppings, as well as frozen beverages such as Fruit Smoothies and COOLATTA® frozen beverages, baked goods, breakfast sandwiches and coffee flavorings. Similarly, Baskin-Robbins will remove synthetic colors from its menu, including ice cream sold both at its restaurants and in quarts and pints at retail locations, as well as its syrups, sauces, sprinkles and beverages, including Cappuccino Blast®. The exceptions on both brands’ menus include select supplier-branded ingredients produced by other companies and used as toppings, ice cream inclusions or decorative elements. Additionally, Baskin-Robbins will take a longer period of time to find replacements for the decorative elements on its ice cream cakes. 

“We are pleased to announce our plans to eliminate artificial colors from our menus in the U.S. by the end of 2018,” said Dunkin’ Brands Chairman and CEO Nigel Travis. “This is a significant undertaking on the part of our product development teams and suppliers. However, we are committed to meet the evolving needs of our customers, including their preference for more nutritional transparency and simpler ingredients, while maintaining the great taste and the fun, vibrant colors expected from Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins products.”     

In 2014, Dunkin’ Brands conducted a comprehensive menu review that resulted in a new product development process focused on reformulating many of its products to enhance menu quality by simplifying ingredient labels and lowering sodium and sugar content without sacrificing taste.  Additionally, the company continues to offer products that broaden the nutritional choices available to consumers through the Dunkin’ Donuts DDSMART® and Baskin-Robbins BRight Choices™ menus. 

Wingstop Adds Madison Jobe 

Wingstop, with more than 1,000 locations worldwide, said Madison Jobe has joined the Company as Chief Development Officer.  Jobe will be based in Dallas and report directly to Charlie Morrison, Wingstop President and CEO. 

Madison Jobe

Jobe is an experienced senior development and operations executive, who rejoins Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison after the two had previously worked together at Rave Restaurant Group launching the successful Pie Five Pizza Co. concept.  Mr. Jobe has decades of experience with well-known brands such as Ruby Restaurant Group, Red Robin International, Rave Restaurant Group and most recently he was CEO/Founder & Principal of Development Strategies International, a restaurant advisory firm based in Dallas, TX.

“We welcome Madison to the Wingstop team, and know his extensive experience in franchising and development strategy will be a key driver in our quest to become one of the 10 largest restaurant brands in the world,” said Charlie Morrison.

Jobe holds memberships with the International Franchise Association, the National Restaurant Association and was a member with the International Council of Shopping Centers. He has served as a panelist, speaker and facilitator for a number of years at the IFA Annual Convention, and as a facilitator and speaker at the Franchise Leadership and Development Conference multiple years.

“I am excited to join Wingstop and to contribute to the Company’s domestic and international growth plans,” said Jobe. “Wingstop is an exciting and unique restaurant concept, and I look forward to expanding on this successful trajectory.”

Jobe succeeds Dave Vernon, Wingstop’s Chief Development Officer since 2012, who retired effective March 7, 2017.  Morrison added, “We want to wish Dave all the best in his retirement, and thank him for his outstanding work with Wingstop during his tenure.”

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Wingstop Inc. operates and franchises more than 1,000 restaurants across the United States, Mexico, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Glenn Lunde Joins Togo’s

Togo’s Eateries, LLC, the “West Coast Original” known for its big, fresh and meaty sandwiches, has named Glenn Lunde Chief Concept Officer (CCO). Lunde joins Togo’s with more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant and retail business. He will lead marketing, brand strategy, and concept development for Togo’s.   

“Glenn has a proven track record of building national franchises into sustainable, profitable operators that achieve long-term success. He will be a valuable leader for our brand repositioning and concept development efforts,” said Tony Gioia, CEO at Togo’s. “I envision Glenn’s role expanding over time, and it is my pleasure to welcome Glenn to the Togo’s family.”

A C-level marketing executive for the past 15 years, Lunde has led restaurant and retail franchises through turnaround situations, market expansions, and profitable growth. Before joining Togo’s, Lunde served as CMO at Grocery Outlet, a $1.8 billion grocery retailer with over 270 locations, each run by an independent owner-operator. Prior to that, he was CCO at Einstein Noah’s Restaurant Group, a 900-unit company where he led menu architecture, culinary innovation, store design, and marketing efforts. 

Earlier in his career, Lunde served as CMO of Panda Restaurant Group for more than seven years. His leadership in brand, menu, and concept innovation development helped grow the restaurant chain from 779 units to over 1,500 units, yielding nearly $2.0 billion in annual sales. He also served as CMO of Round Table Pizza and VP of Marketing at Taco Bell. He worked on numerous projects that continue to be a foundation of those businesses today.

“As a Bay Area native, I’ve been a huge Togo’s fan for decades, and I believe the brand has a ton of untapped potential,” said Lunde. “I am excited to work with the Togo’s corporate team and franchisees on identifying, testing, and pursuing new opportunities to grow our business and thrill customers.”

John Cywinski to Lead Applebee’s 

DineEquity, Inc., the parent company of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar® and IHOP® restaurants, said John Cywinski has been appointed President, Applebee’s. He most recently served as Executive Vice President of Strategic Innovation and Marketing at Brinker International, parent company of Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy. Prior to Brinker, John was at Yum! Brands from 2010 to 2014, where he was the President of KFC’s $4.4 billion, 4,400 restaurant  U.S. business. Before joining Yum! John spent four years as a franchisee himself, owning and operating  successful Dunkin’ Donuts and Sonic restaurants in Chicago; he has since sold all of his restaurants.

From 2001 to 2006, Cywinski served as the chief marketing officer of Applebee’s, where he led all aspects of brand strategy and positioning including, marketing, culinary and menu strategies, while spearheading innovative initiatives like Applebee’s Carside To Go, a 5-year alliance with Weight Watchers, and the “Eatin’ Good In The Neighborhood” ad campaign. Previously, he served as Vice President of U.S. Brand Strategy for McDonald’s Corporation, President of Buena Vista Pictures Marketing for The Walt Disney Company and led U.S. Marketing for Burger King. John started his career with Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago. 

“We are pleased that John is rejoining the Applebee’s team, this time as brand president,” said Richard J. Dahl, DineEquity’s Chairman and Interim Chief Executive Officer. “John is a highly-regarded industry veteran with more than 25 years of leadership experience, including leading quick service and casual dining brands. Importantly, he is in the unique position of being able to provide extensive industry experience and a fresh innovative perspective to the Applebee’s business, while already having a deep understanding and appreciation of the brand and strong collaborative relationships with its franchise community. Through his previous work with KFC and Applebee’s, John has proven his ability to work with franchisees to revitalize a brand, and we couldn’t imagine a better fit to lead Applebee’s turnaround.”

Continued Dahl, “Applebee’s is an iconic brand, number one in its category, with a broad footprint and sophisticated franchisee base. While the business, like the category, is going through a challenging period, we are confident that we can improve performance and drive long-term growth again under John’s leadership. DineEquity’s highly-franchised model continues to generate significant cash flow, which will enable us to make substantial investments in the brand, and we are thrilled to have John on board to guide our growth initiatives.”

“I’m thrilled to be back at Applebee’s, where I was previously part of a terrific senior team and franchise community that led the transformation of the company,” said Cywinski. “This is a very meaningful homecoming for me and I’m looking forward to partnering with Applebee’s franchisees as well as the Applebee’s and DineEquity teams to unlock the growth within this great brand. I am both proud and humbled to have this opportunity and I’m committed to working tirelessly with all partners to reestablish Applebee’s excellence and leadership in the category.”

Based in Glendale, California, DineEquity, Inc.,  through its subsidiaries, franchises restaurants under the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar brand and franchises and operates restaurants under the IHOP brand with more than 3,700 restaurants combined in 18 countries and three U.S. territories and approximately 400 franchisees.

Wendy’s Honors Employee Volunteerism

The Wendy’s Company supports employee volunteerism through the Community Ambassador Grant Program.  Each year, Wendy’s® employees are recognized for extraordinary community volunteerism and engagement with a $2,500 grant to the organization they support.  The Community Ambassador of the Year is selected from this group and awarded an additional $10,000 for their organization.  Matthew Esteves, a Wendy’s Restaurant Manager in Swansea, MA, has been named Wendy’s 2016 Community Ambassador of the Year for his leadership and long-term commitment to the Fall River National Little League in Fall River, MA.

“We were excited to see a record number of employees nominate organizations for a Community Ambassador Grant this year,” said Liliana Esposito, Chief Communications Officer.  “Our founder Dave Thomas taught us to Do The Right Thing and Give Something Back, and it’s inspiring to hear how passionate our employees are about living these values in their lives outside of Wendy’s, as well.

Company employees from across the Wendy’s family – from restaurant team members to regional field offices to corporate employees – are eligible to apply for a grant benefitting an organization they support with their time, talents, and resources.  Wendy’s is proud to recognize these 11 employees, from all areas of the Company, for their philanthropic efforts:

Matthew Esteves supporting Fall River National Little League, Fall River, MA (Community Ambassador of the Year) – Matthew played in the league as a child, began volunteering with the league in 2006 at age 16, and is currently the league President.  The league helps children ages 4-12 learn about baseball while also having fun and learning valuable life lessons.  Giving back is also a focus of the league, which hosts an annual Autism Awareness Tournament.  All of the money raised from the tournament is donated to Community Autism Resources, a local organization that supports families with autistic children.  Matthew is a Wendy’s Restaurant Manager in Swansea, MA.  

Jonathan Gall supporting Camp Quality Illinois, Frankfort, IL – Jonathan has been involved with Camp Quality—a camp for children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses—for 21 years, both as a camper and as a camp volunteer.  Camp Quality is 100% free of charge and gives children a week-long carefree camp experience.  As a former camper, Jonathan volunteers as a camp companion and serves as an inspiring role model to kids battling illness. He also assists with fundraising events throughout the year.  Jonathan is a Wendy’s Restaurant Manager in Naperville, IL.

Crista Miller supporting Ohio History Connection, Columbus, OH – Crista has been involved with the Ohio History Connection’s Ohio Village—a living history museum that provides a firsthand view of life in Ohioduring the American Civil War—for more than six years and volunteers with the Village’s historical-educational experience.  Crista began volunteering to celebrate her love of history and to put her sewing skills to good use by creating period clothing for the Village.  When she’s not roleplaying, Crista participates in sewing workshops, Village Cleanup Days, and annual holiday events.  Crista enjoys engaging with Ohio Village visitors while learning and exploring different parts of American history through interpretation.  Crista is a Senior Customer Care Advocate at the Wendy’s Restaurant Support Center in Dublin, OH. 

Dawn Schuler supporting Manorville Community Ambulance,Manorville, NY – Manorville Community Ambulance serves the residents of Manorville and surrounding areas 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.  Dawn is an active member of the organization and volunteers by answering emergency calls and assisting with CPR, first aid, and drug abuse awareness classes for the community.  She has received awards for being a top responder and was chosen as Probationary Member of the Year by New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle in 2016.  Dawn is a Wendy’s Training Restaurant Manager in Lake Ronkonkoma, NY. 

Joe Hippler supporting Easterseals Central and Southeast Ohio,Columbus, OH – Joe became involved with Easterseals Central andSoutheast Ohio in 2013, is currently Vice President of the Board of Directors, and will be appointed President in 2018.  He serves on several committees and enjoys volunteering at various fundraising events each year.  Through his involvement with Easterseals, Joe has seen firsthand the impact the organization is having on children with special needs and believes that every child with a disability is extra special.  Joe is the Vice President of Corporate Accounting & Financial Reporting at the Wendy’s Restaurant Support Center in Dublin, OH.

Bob VanVliet supporting Habitat for Humanity Mid-Ohio/Dublin Adopt-A-House Partnership, Columbus, OH – Bob started volunteering with Habitat for Humanity Mid-Ohio 18 years ago and has helped the partnership complete 19 homes for low-income families.  While he spends time onsite during construction season, Bob also serves on the leadership team, coordinates volunteers, leads fundraising efforts, and conducts training sessions for other volunteers.  Bob has worked for Wendy’s for 35 years and is currently a Project Manager for New Product Testing & Integration at the Wendy’s Restaurant Support Center in Dublin, OH.

Ernie Beneventi supporting Peace Ranch, Caledon East, ON, Canada – Peace Ranch provides supportive housing and rehabilitative services for adults who have serious mental illness, enabling them to live and work in a rural community atmosphere.  Ernie volunteers at the ranch by channeling his construction and woodworking skills to help build and maintain the residence and structures to support the animal farm. He has constructed and maintained items such as animal cages, organic farming supports and structures, post-harvest systems, and spice drying equipment.  He also interacts with ranch clients and has passed on some of his construction skills and knowledge in the process.  Ernie is a Construction Manager for Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada. 

Bry Roth and Mackenzie Sullivan supporting Homeless Families Foundation, Columbus, OH – Bry and Mackenzie both support the Homeless Families Foundation as volunteer reading mentors for the Foundation’s Dowd Education Center’s after school program.  They work with middle school students on reading skills and comprehension, and both have seen a significant jump in reading levels in the students they mentor.  Bry and Mackenzie both work on the Communications team at the Wendy’s Restaurant Support Center in Dublin, OH. 

Eva Rasnake supporting Wonder Lake Neighbors Food Pantry,Wonder Lake, IL – Eva approached Wonder Lake Neighbors Food Pantry about hosting a fundraiser at her Wendy’s restaurant and soon realized she also wanted to support the organization as a volunteer.  She spends her free time fundraising, stocking shelves with donated food, and assisting pantry clients with their shopping.  Eva has worked for Wendy’s since 1985 and is a Training Restaurant Manager in McHenry, IL.

Richard DiPippa supporting Mastic Beach Fire Department, Mastic Beach, NY – As the top responder for the past five years, Richard supports the Mastic Beach Fire Department as a certified interior firefighter and rescue diver.  His talents were invaluable during Super Storm Sandy, as his team completed multiple water rescues to save local citizens and their pets.  Richard also supports the department as a recruiter, trainer, and fire prevention educator.  Richard is a Training Restaurant Manager in Islip, NY. 
The Wendy’s Company includes more than 6,500 franchise and company restaurants in the United States and 30 countries and U.S. territories worldwide.

Perkins Honors Franchisee of the Year

At its recent “No Limits” themed franchise conference held in Minneapolis, MN, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery honored Larry Walker of L&E Management as its 2016 Franchisee of the Year. In addition,  Dick Schuster was honored for 51 years of involvement with the Perkins brand and received the company’s first-ever Legacy Award.

A Perkins franchisee for the past 27 years, Walker was recognized byPerkins and Marie Callender’s President & CEO, Jeff Warne as “an industry leader whose restaurants exemplify overall excellence and adherence to brand standards.” In keeping with Perkins “No Limits” credo, in 2016 Walker’s three restaurants, located in Memphis and Jackson, TN, achieved 8.3 percent bakery sales and finished the year up 7.3 percent in sales. Upon accepting the prestigious award, Mr. Walker credited his staff, quality product with perceived value, and hospitality and service standards that exceed guest expectations, for his restaurants’ success. A member of the Perkins family since 1990, Walker has been consistently recognized for Bakery Sales and was honored with Perkins Chairman’s award in 1992. 

During the recent conference, franchisee Dick Schuster became the company’s first-ever Legacy Award recipient, lauded for his 51 years of involvement with, dedication and commitment to the Perkins brand. In addition to successfully running his Sandusky, Ohio restaurant for more than five decades, Mr. Schuster was commended for having impacted countless number of lives including those of his team, guests and community through leadership in business and volunteer work. In 2001 and 2010, Schuster was honored by Perkins as the recipient of the Founders Award for his dedication to Perkins designated charity, Give Kids The World.

Also recognized during the franchise conference were Smithfield Foods as Perkins 2016 Business Partner of the Year; and franchisee Northcott Hospitality as well as the Madison II, Wisconsin Corporate Restaurant and General Manager, Harry Graebe, for their outstanding contributions to Give Kids The World. Founded in 1958, Perkins system consists of 392 restaurants in 33 states and Canada, which includes 131 company-owned and operated restaurants and 261 franchised units.