MRM Franchise Feed: Pizza Inn Celebrates by Giving Back and Driverless in Miami

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

Send news to Barbara Castiglia at

Self-Driving Test Drive

Domino’s Pizza is now conducting a second round of self-driving delivery vehicle testing, with a focus on the customer experience. This two-month test in Miami, in partnership with Ford, will leverage the learnings of the first round of testing, but will add the element of delivery in a larger, urban setting.

“Our first round of testing the customer experience in Ann Arbor provided some great learnings and insights, including the fact that there are customers who are interested in this as a delivery option,” said Kevin Vasconi, executive vice president and chief information officer of Domino’s. “Our testing is focused on the last 50 feet of the customer experience, between the front door and the car. While we work to refine that interaction, we also need to understand how operating this type of delivery in a more densely populated city will impact the customer experience and the specific delivery challenges it might present.”

For this test, a Ford Fusion Hybrid vehicle – manually driven but outfitted to look like a self-driving vehicle – will take deliveries from a Miami Domino’s store to customers who have ordered online and chosen to participate in the test. Participating customers will be able to track the vehicle via GPS and will receive text messages as the self-driving vehicle approaches. The texts will also provide them with simple instructions on how to unlock the Domino’s Heatwave Compartment™ inside the vehicle using a PIN code.

“We’re a brand that believes in innovation, continuous improvement and rigorous testing to benefit our customers,” said Vasconi. “As the automotive world evolves towards self-driving vehicles, we hope to put ourselves in a leading position by bringing our customers the delivery option that best meets their needs, now and in the future.”

Pizza Inn Celebrates 60 by Giving Back

In celebration of serving its customers like family for more than three generations, Pizza Inn – America’s hometown pizza place – is giving back to local heroes as part of its 60th Anniversary.

Customers can nominate a friend or loved one for an opportunity to enter for a chance to win FREE pizza for a year. If you know someone that stands out as one of JoJo’s Heroes, visit Pizza Inn’s Facebook page and enter under the “JoJo’s Heroes Giveaway” tab. Explain why that person loves Pizza Inn and why they deserve to win free pizza for a year.

“It’s exciting to think that we have been serving our family of customers for 60 years!” said Bob Bafundo, President of Pizza Inn. “We want to take this opportunity to celebrate our loyal customers and thank them for their continued support by giving away free pizza for an entire year. We are looking forward to learning about all of the heroes in our restaurants local communities.”

Nominations will be accepted through Aug. 26. The Pizza Inn Marketing Department and Franchise Marketing Board will select 60 winners who will each receive pizza from Pizza Inn for a year. To view the official rules, visit

Pizza Inn will also be giving away a 1958 Ford Skyliner Hardtop Convertible to one of its loyal Rewards customers this summer. The company will also be gifting prizes, such as 60th Anniversary commemorative items and Free Buffets, via social media throughout the year. Stay in touch by following Pizza Inn on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Cowboy Chicken Honors Franchisees and Vendors

Dallas-based Cowboy Chicken honored top performers in the categories of Franchisee of the Year and Vendor of the Year at the sixth annual “CowCon” conference, held Feb. 27-28 in Fort Worth, Texas. The annual awards spotlight valued team members and business partners who contribute to the ongoing success of the 24-unit fast casual restaurant chain, which features friendly employees serving authentic, wholesome food cooked over a real wood-burning fire.

“As our company continues to grow, we’re forever mindful that Cowboy Chicken’s success is due to the outstanding partners who help us maintain our high quality and uncompromising standards,” says Sean Kennedy, Cowboy Chicken’s president and CEO. “CowCon is the perfect venue to recognize those who play such an integral part in our brand’s growth in the fast casual segment.”

Cowboy Chicken franchise owners, managers and executives from across the United States gathered at the 2018 CowCon to pay tribute to the following winners:

  • Alvie Britton of McAllen, Texas – Franchisee of the Year: This award is given for top performance in sales, survey and evaluation scores, community involvement and consistency in compliance with company standards. Britton, who owns both McAllen locations, has been a leader in sales competitions for the last two years while also being an active member of his local chamber of commerce, restaurant association and Rotary Club. Britton is also a respected employer who is constantly searching for ways to give back to his team.
  • Texas Select Beverage Company – Vendor of the Year: Texas Select Beverage Company, Cowboy Chicken’s exclusive tea supplier since 2013, was honored for its dedication to creating exciting new tea flavors exclusive to Cowboy Chicken, including watermelon, Texas Red and Green Apple. The company was also singled out for its commitment to providing consistent, high-quality equipment and service, ensuring that Cowboy Chicken’s tea flavors boast the same great taste and level of excellence from Dallas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
NFL Teams with Pizza Hut

The National Football League and Pizza Hut are getting an early start on celebrating the upcoming 2018 NFL season with news that Pizza Hut is the Official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL.

The multi-year agreement will offer Pizza Hut a vast array of exclusive marketing rights, benefits and designations that will unmistakably connect the brand with the NFL and its teams, players, events, partners, properties and the many NFL experiences that capture the passion of consumers and football fans from all over the world.

“We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America’s favorite brands, as an official league sponsor,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans.”

Pizza Hut has a long-standing tradition of connecting with football fans via promotions, experiences and excitement that’s good for the whole family, and this partnership will bring more scale and grandeur to the relationship between the company and fans. The NFL partnership will first unfold for Pizza Hut, appropriately, during the 2018 NFL Draft to be held near its global headquarters in North Dallas.

“Pizza Hut has a history of bringing more entertaining food and experiences to the pizza occasion and we plan to continue that through our exclusive partnership with the NFL,” said Artie Starrs, President, Pizza Hut U.S. “NFL stadiums are packed every week but tens of millions of fans are also watching the game at home. We have an unmatched ability to bring those fans closer to the sport thanks to the power of our 7,500 restaurants and 150,000 football-crazed team members. The capacity for what’s possible is endless and that’s going to make this league partnership great fun for Pizza Hut, the NFL and everyone who loves pizza and football.”

The Pizza Hut partnership with the NFL includes collective use of all 32 team marks. It also involves the NFL working closely with Pizza Hut to facilitate local, exclusive team partnerships. Pizza Hut will have the opportunity to leverage game tickets and unique fan experiences to all NFL games in marketing and promotional campaigns throughout each year.

“The opportunity to align in an official capacity with the NFL is a tremendous opening for a brand and product that is so neatly aligned with the football-watching occasion like pizza and Pizza Hut,” said Andy Rosen, Pizza Hut franchise owner and Franchise Board of Directors Chairman. “Our system is aligned behind and thrilled about this partnership. No one better understands the essence of Pizza Hut, including our consumers, than our group of owners and team members.”

Swiss Chalet’s Tech Partnerships

Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill is making it even easier for its customers to place an order for pick-up or delivery from one of their 200+ locations across Canada. After unveiling a new modern restaurant design in late 2017, the brand has launched a new and improved mobile app and has partnered with a number of third-party apps including; navigation app Waze, The Weather Network, and sports team management app TeamSnap. These partnerships will offer all Swiss Chalet customers access to the most convenient and easy-to-use digital ordering technologies.

The partnership with Waze makes Swiss Chalet the first Canadian brand to integrate order-ahead functionality natively in this popular mobile navigation app. The Waze order-ahead feature allows busy customers to order their favourite rotisserie meal before they even begin their daily commute or road trip. This exclusive partnership creates a seamless mobile experience which locates the closest Swiss Chalet restaurant so that the user can order their meal and have it ready for pickup without waiting!

“The partnership with Waze is driven by our commitment to provide convenience to our guests to either order Swiss Chalet with a click of a button or easily find one of our locations to visit in person,” says Lindsay Robinson, Director of Marketing for Swiss Chalet.

In addition to Swiss Chalet’s partnership with Waze, the brand has also joined forces with The Weather Network to use weather pattern data to serve up specific targeted ads. This clever use of data and analytics is being utilized by several of CARA’s restaurants to connect with potential customers. In addition, Swiss Chalet also plans to natively integrate ordering through The Weather Network mobile app later this year.

Lastly, Swiss Chalet has partnered with TeamSnap, a leading sports management platform for teams and organizations. This exclusive Full Service Restaurant (FSR) partnership will feature a series of banner and native Swiss Chalet ads on the TeamSnap website and mobile app. This partnership will help busy parents and coaches easily plan and coordinate team or family dinners and post-practice meals.

“These partnerships for Swiss Chalet are excellent examples of how CARA is investing in digital strategies to support all of our brands in better serving Canadians,” explains CARA’s Vice-President of Marketing, David Colebrook.

Further complementing these three new digital partnerships is the fully revamped Swiss Chalet mobile app. Designed in-house by CARA, the new and improved app has been met with overwhelmingly positive consumer reviews and holds a close-to 5-star rating.

The Swiss Chalet App Features Include:

  • Place orders for pickup and delivery with “Favourite Orders” and “Quick Order”
  • Search and select menu items
  • Filter by calories and allergens
  • Purchase meals through Apple Pay.

Swiss Chalet customers will not only notice and enjoy a number of digital improvements, in December 2017 the brand unveiled a new contemporary restaurant design and updated menu items at one of its busiest locations in Barrie, Ontario. This modernized look will soon be seen in key markets across Canada and will feature updated decor, seating and lighter, healthier menu offerings.

Noodles & Company Enhances Benefits

Noodles & Company announced details of its #LifeatNoodles initiative aimed at making Noodles & Company one of the best places to work in the fast-casual industry by 2020. Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the #LifeatNoodles benefits package offers qualifying team members a new suite of industry-leading benefits including six weeks of fully paid maternity leave, $10,000 in adoption assistance, expanded parental leave and student loan debt assistance.

“We value and care for every one of our team members, and we aspire to make Noodles the most enjoyable and rewarding place to work in the industry,” said Dave Boennighausen, chief executive officer of Noodles & Company. “In keeping with this goal, we developed #LifeatNoodles to reward our hard-working team members and attract top talent. On January 1, we made additional industry-leading benefits available to our teams, and we plan to continue to grow this program.”

New team member benefits for eligible employees include:

  • Six weeks of fully paid maternity leave and expanded parental leave.
  • Adoption assistance of $10,000.
  • Student loan debt assistance of $1,000 per year to general managers.
  • Veterans Day paid time off for veterans.
  • Breast milk shipment payment during business travel.
  • Flexible time off for corporate team members.

Noodles & Company has always offered team members competitive standard benefits including dental and vision coverage, employee assistance programs and 401(k) retirement plans. The company also offers medical insurance to eligible team members, and assistant general managers and above receive life insurance and disability coverage.

“Our team members are compassionate and care about each other’s success, and this program was designed with that in mind,” said Boennighausen. “In addition to parental leave and student loan debt assistance, we’re proud to offer programs that inspire and support our team members, such as time-off-gifting and an annual holiday turkey fundraiser for team members in need.”

The company also operates the Noodles & Company Foundation, comprising a Team Member Giving Fund and Scholarship Fund. The Team Member Giving Fund was established in 2015 to help improve the well-being of team members and their families by being there in times of crisis. The Scholarship Fund was created in 2006 to support, inspire and encourage team members and their families who are committed to furthering their education.

FMI Acquisitions

KFC Canada announced that Franchise Management Inc. (FMI), acquired Saskatchewan-based El-Rancho Food Services Limited (El-Rancho). The sale includes all of El-Rancho’s 21 KFC assets throughout Saskatchewan and Manitoba and brings FMI’s total Canadian KFC restaurants to 85. FMI also operates KFC restaurants in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario.

In addition to the sale, FMI has committed to opening 12 new KFC units by 2020, including nine assets in Atlantic Canada, two in Saskatchewan and one in Ontario. This acquisition solidifies FMI as one of KFC Canada’s largest franchisees and helps the Brand unlock further growth from coast-to-coast.

“2017 was an incredible year for KFC Canada,” said Nivera Wallani, General Manager, KFC Canada. “FMI is one of our leading franchisees, and their vast capabilities and commitment to growth make them a valuable partner as we seek to become a 1,000-restaurant brand in Canada. We look forward to growing our partnership with FMI.”

“FMI is eager to bring its expertise to KFC in Saskatchewan. El-Rancho’s restaurants are among the best run in the KFC community and we’re extremely proud to carry on their tradition of operational excellence,” said Greg Walton, Operating Partner, FMI. “FMI believes the KFC Brand is poised for continued growth across Canada including Saskatchewan. We are truly excited and honoured to add these restaurants to our growing family. We thank the Young Family for a job well done and welcome their staff to our team.”

In 1955, El-Rancho opened Canada’s first-ever KFC on 8th Street in Saskatoon, which Colonel Sanders himself sealed with a handshake. Since then, El Rancho has become a staple in the province of Saskatchewan, delivering consistent growth for KFC over the last 63 years.

“After over 60 years of serving Kentucky Fried Chicken, we would like to thank our many customers and team members for the privilege of being part of their communities,” said Ron Young, Partner, El-Rancho. “We’ve met many incredible people over the years and it has been an honour to contribute to the growth of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We wish FMI continued success in these great Provinces.”

“To the entire El-Rancho team, and particularly the Young family, thank you for your lifetime of service and dedication to helping build the KFC Brand in Canada,” said Wallani. “We owe a great deal of our success to you.”

Costa Vida Opens New Location

Costa Vida, a fresh and fast 95-unit casual chain, opened new full-service and drive-through location in Eagle, Idaho.

“We’re thrilled to be joining the Eagle community as a fresh and unique option for delicious Mexican food prepared from scratch,” said Denny Wagstaff, Franchisor, Costa Vida Fresh Mexican Grill. “We know our customers love our freshly made tortillas, and our high-quality, all-natural ingredients. We can’t wait to become a part of the neighborhood and to offer the hand-crafted menu items our restaurants are known for.”      

As part of the Grand Opening festivities, local radio station KIZN Idaho Country 92.3 will be onsite broadcasting LIVE during the Costa Vida Grand Opening from 12 noon to 2 pm. Local radio personality Shawnda McNeal will be offering consumer giveaways including Costa Vida swag, store credits, $100 gift cards, and free food items.

VenueLytics’ VL Enterprise

VenueLytics launches VenueLytics VL Enterprise. The platform provides a comprehensive digital concierge solution combined with marketing and promotional tools to engage and improve customer experience and generate incremental revenue.

Venues can use VL Enterprise to track the number of visitors in real-time by gender, keeping employees informed of any significant activities occurring in the venue, whether it’s the need for medical services, evacuations, or simply replenishing cash or supplies. It also provides services to track tournaments, games, deals, and more. The VenueLytics backend system is a cloud–based big data platform with full client-dashboard for remote management and control.

“Customers at a casino or hotel can order a drink or food via their mobile phone and have it delivered directly to them, or check the wait-time at a gaming table,” said Baskar Manivannan, Co-Founder and CEO of VenueLytics. “For the vendor, the platform can also be used to promote and up-sell other concierge services, or provide coupons and deals for restaurants and nightclubs along with 24/7 automated services.”

VenueLytics VL Enterprise can be used for:

  • Reservation Management – Manage table/bottle service requests, floor maps, and guest lists in real-time
  • Private Event Management – Manage private halls booking for corporate events, private parties, product launches, bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, etc.
  • Real-Time Analytics – Track the crowd in the venue, various services currently being of-fered, and predictions to provide a personalized experience to guests.
  • Wait Time, Games, Tournaments – Provide real-time information about wait times, game/tournament details, league information, etc. to customers
  • Food & Drink Services – Allow guests to prepay or submit orders while at the venue via their mobile device
  • Fast Pass Service – Enable consumers to skip the line by paying a premium cover charge
  • Events & Tickets – Promote events with Online & Offline ticket sales
  • Way Finding & Valet Services
  • Real-Time Alerts – Share amongst designated employees at any time.
  • Automated Guest Engagement with 24/7 support

Venues can also track and enhance a customer’s experience real-time via a white-labeled consumer mobile app, and/or through the “ItzFun!” consumer app available in the iPhone app store.

Walk-On’s To Break Ground On First DFW Restaurant

Irving, Texas will soon be home to a new family-friendly restaurant that’s co-owned by NFL star Drew Brees and features a taste of Louisiana served up in a game-day atmosphere.

Baton Rouge-based Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar is hosting a special groundbreaking ceremony for its first Dallas-Fort Worth restaurant in Irving on Tuesday, March 6. Representatives of Walk-On’s will join Franchisees Johnny Qubty and Joshua Allen in hosting a ceremony to mark this momentous occasion at 3165 Regent Blvd. The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. with a reception featuring some fan favorites from Walk-On’s signature menu to follow.

“We are thrilled not just to bring this incredible restaurant to Irving, but to have the honor of opening the first Walk-On’s in the DFW Metroplex,” said Allen. “Walk-On’s is perfect for the area. Everything about it is superior to the typical sports bar, from the incredible food and wide array of cocktails and craft beers, to the family-friendly sports atmosphere and commitment to outstanding customer service.”

The 8,500-square-foot restaurant is projected to open in October, adding roughly 150 new jobs to the local economy.

“Texas has been a priority expansion market ever since we started franchising, and bringing our brand to DFW is huge, so we share Johnny and Joshua’s excitement about introducing Walk-On’s to everyone in and around the Irving area,” said Brandon Landry, co-founder of Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. “We feel very fortunate to have this duo lead the way into Irving and have no doubt that the community will love Walk-On’s game day atmosphere with a taste of Louisiana.”

Walk-On’s now has 17 locations: four in Baton Rouge, two in New Orleans and one each in Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Covington, Broussard, Alexandria and Bossier City, La., and Lubbock, San Antonio and Tyler, Texas. Other locations are coming soon in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, with several additional markets across the Southern U.S. likewise on the drawing board.

New Orleans Saints superstar Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, bought in as co-owners in May 2015. Drew pointed out that Walk-On’s is “a great place to bring my family, teammates and business colleagues” and that they were excited to help “expand the brand across the nation.”

Tony Roma’s Supports Make-A-Wish

Romacorp, Inc., the parent company of Tony Roma’s®, challenges fans everywhere to support children in their own community by purchasing a Make-A-Wish Fundraising Card, March 1 – April 11. With the purchase of a fundraising card, guests will receive four appetizers for just $20, an amazing deal as each card is valued at nearly $50. The local Make-A-Wish chapter will receive $10 for each card sold at participating Tony Roma’s, ensuring the proceeds benefit children directly within the local community.

“Over the years, Tony Roma’s has worked hard to be active members of every local Tony Roma’s community, an effort that has enabled us to better define and strengthen the emotional bonds we have with each of our amazing guests,” said Jim Rogers, Chief Marketing Officer at Romacorp, Inc. “Through our partnership with Make-A-Wish, Tony Roma’s is able to think on a large global scale while directly benefitting the local communities that make our fan base so strong. We are proud to think globally, act locally and make a difference.”

Having served families for more than 45 years, Tony Roma’s is truly interwoven into the fabric of each local community it serves. With the help of fundraisers like this, Tony Roma’s has the ability to enact change on a personal level. Make-A-Wish grants a wish somewhere in the world every 34 minutes, and the organization has granted more than 300,000 wishes since its inception in 1980. The Make-A-Wish Fundraising Card program builds on this strong philanthropic partnership and brings the fundraising effort to communities across the United States and beyond.

“The support Make-A-Wish receives from Tony Roma’s plays an integral part in changing the lives of wish kids everywhere,” said Kathryn Vroman, President & CEO of Make-A-Wish® Central & Northern Florida. “With the purchase of each ‘appetizing’ Make-A-Wish Fundraising Card, a little piece of magic is sparked in the life of a child with a life-threatening medical condition, and for many of our ‘wish kids’, a spark of magic is the motivation they need to keep fighting.”

Captain D’s Accelerates Midwest Expansion

Captain D’s opened two new restaurants in the Midwest, highlighting the brand’s development and momentum in the region. The newest franchised location in Milwaukee marks the company’s first in Wisconsin, and is owned and operated by Valerie Daniels-Carter, an industry veteran and the country’s largest female African-American foodservice franchisee. Additionally, Captain D’s unveiled its newest restaurant prototype, which features a smaller footprint, at the opening of its corporate-owned location in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.


Located at 7320 Good Hope Road, the new Milwaukee restaurant is the first of six Captain D’s locations Valerie Daniels-Carter plans to develop throughout the greater Milwaukee and Detroit regions over the next several years. A seasoned industry leader with decades of experience, Daniels-Carter owns and operates more than 135 locations nationwide from an extensive portfolio of nationally recognized franchise brands, including Burger King, Pizza Hut, Haagen-Dazs and Coffee Beanery stores, as well as eight Auntie Anne’s stores with NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal. Daniels-Carter is already developing her second Captain D’s restaurant in Milwaukee, which is slated to open next year.

“We’ve continually invested in our company operations and systems to ensure our franchisees receive an unparalleled level of support, and as a result we’ve captured the attention of experienced multi-unit operators nationwide looking to diversify. Having an exceptional multi-unit operator like Valerie Daniels-Carter join the brand is a true testament to Captain D’s position as one of the strongest franchising opportunities available in the fast casual segment today,” said Michael Arrowsmith, chief development officer for Captain D’s.

Captain D’s also debuted its newest restaurant prototype, which features a footprint nearly 1,000 sq. feet smaller than the brand’s traditional locations, at the opening of its corporate-owned location in Cape Girardeau. Located at 205 South Kings Highway, the Cape Girardeau restaurant is 1,994 sq. feet and marks the company’s 19th location in the state of Missouri. Captain D’s has continued to establish Missouri as a prime market for expansion, with two additional restaurants slated to open this year in Wentzville and Overland. This growth is fueled by the success of Captain D’s existing restaurants in the state and further solidifies the company’s strong brand presence in Missouri and the Midwest region.

“Our innovative new prototype reflects our commitment to continually evolving and offering improved options to franchisees, which has allowed Captain D’s to remain at the forefront of the industry. The opening of two restaurants in one day in key expansion markets is an intentional result of executing our growth strategy and we look forward to continuing these efforts in 2018,” added Arrowsmith.

To date, nearly 75 percent of all restaurants have been reimaged to the brand’s new vibrant, coastal design. 

HuHot Draws ‘Least Likely’ Visitors into Restaurants with Paytronix Predictive Scoring

Paytronix Systems, Inc., said HuHot Mongolian Grill has deployed Paytronix scoring to motivate its most unlikely visitors to come in and purchase meals. HuHot is leveraging the Paytronix predictive scoring capability to increase incremental revenue by sending loyalty and promotional offers to only customers who would not otherwise visit without the campaign offer.

The Paytronix scoring solution predicts future customer behavior by blending data to indicate the likelihood that a member will present specific behavior or attributes. Each member is assigned a score that’s as easy to interpret as a FICO credit score. This simple and powerful capability can score millions of customers on a variety of dimensions to help marketers engage consumers with highly targeted, relevant communications.

“Paytronix scoring is a data-driven, predictive filter that restaurant and retail marketers can use for critical insight such as scoring guests’ likelihood to visit in the next 30 days, or how likely individuals are to open a promotional email,” said Lee Barnes, head of Paytronix Data Insights. “With Paytronix scoring, brands like HuHot can leverage the full power of Paytronix’s predictive analytics without having to make a sizeable investment in building or employing a predictive analytics team.”

HuHot Mongolian Grill deployed Paytronix scoring in order to ensure that marketing is giving members relevant offers based upon their likelihood to visit. Scoring also ensures that the brand does not cannibalize sales by giving people rich offers if they would come into the restaurant anyway without the promotion.

“With Paytronix scoring I have more confidence in my campaigns. Paytronix has the knowledge and resources for accurate predictive analytics, so I trust the scoring and its ability to help us create impactful campaigns,” said Monica Minford, Digital Marketing Director for HuHot Mongolian Grill. “We’ve also gained a clear understanding of how our emailed promotions are performing, so we can repeat or refine the ones that drive incremental visits and spending.”

HuHot franchisees originally were concerned that the loyalty program would discount people who would come into their restaurants anyway. The Paytronix scoring and segmentation of offers quickly won over the franchisees as they saw the more aggressive loyalty promotions were only reaching guests that weren’t likely to visit. Guests who hadn’t been in the franchisees’ restaurants for quite a while started coming back in.

“Using Paytronix scoring, we get a bigger and more informed picture of everything. We’re able to accurately identify which guests have lapsed and can act on that with a customized offer to draw them back in for a meal,” said Minford.

Quiznos Tests New Store Design

Quiznos announced the opening of its newest restaurant in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., which is the first test site for the company’s new store design. 

Quiznos’ newly redesigned interior layout includes a dedicated spot for picking up online orders and orders made through the Toasty Points loyalty mobile app, as well as seating with power outlets to keep devices charged throughout a customer’s visit.

The new location, operated by franchisee Dilip Tanna, will feature Quiznos’ newly redesigned interior layout, including a dedicated spot for picking up online orders and orders made through the Toasty Points loyalty mobile app, as well as seating with power outlets to keep devices charged throughout a customer’s visit.

“We are excited to unveil our new, updated in-store design this month to our customers in Menomonee Falls,” said Susan Lintonsmith, Quiznos’ president and CEO. “The restaurant will show off our new, elevated in-store experience and new design features. In addition, this location will be one of the first to roll out new test menu items in the coming weeks.”

Quiznos has announced the opening of its newest restaurant in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., which is the first test site for the company’s new store design. (PRNewsfoto/Quiznos)

“I’ve been with the Quiznos family since 2002, and being part of this brand has been a great way for me to operate a successful business in this market,” said Tanna, who currently owns and operates two additional Quiznos locations in Wisconsin, one in Grafton and another in Madison. “We are thrilled to be selected as the first site to reveal the store’s new design and features, and we look forward to introducing it to our customers. Our Menomonee Falls store is in a vibrant and convenient location, and we look forward to becoming an integral part of the community.”

The Menomonee Falls Quiznos had its soft opening in mid-February with a grand opening celebration scheduled for March 5

Buffalo Boss Expands Footprint

Jamar White, Buffalo Boss® CEO, expands the footprint of his organic buffalo wings quick-serve chain to the Simon Newport Centre in Jersey City, New Jersey. Buffalo Boss opened its first 450 square foot storefront just a few feet away from Five Guys and the busiest McDonald’s in downtown Brooklyn. White recalls, “We quietly built our customer base of local residents while the two behemoth burger franchises duked it out.”

Buffalo Boss Founder and CEO Jamar White

Last year, Buffalo Boss reported $2.4M in revenue and is forecasted to reach $4M in 2018. White credits the company’s success to his commitment to innovation and valuable lessons learned from his first cousin, acclaimed hip-hop artist and business mogul Jay-Z. 

“Having one of the keenest business minds in America in your immediate family proved to be much more valuable than money,” says White. He recalls Jay-Z testing his fortitude stating, “This is your company, let’s see what you can do with it.”

With that, White purchased a $60 projector, partnered with Ronald Lee, a 14-year fast-food veteran, and presented a rock-solid business plan to family and friends in Jay-Z’s mother’s living room. They raised $100,000 to open their first location. Buffalo Boss did $82,000 in sales in year one, and more than tripled that in year two with revenue amounting to $288,000. By year three the concept expanded to a second location with sales exceeding $1.2M

Recently, Buffalo Boss launched its 2.0 Self-Serve Kiosks – a wing industry first, and part of the company’s master plan to leverage technology to grow the Buffalo Boss brand.

Buffalo Boss Self Serve Kiosk

White stated, “We have a vision that will revolutionize the wing space – self-serve kiosks – the blueprint for all locations in the chain. These kiosks have completely changed the game.”

Some of the immediate benefits include:

  • 150 percent improvement in order speed and accuracy
  • Eight percent increase in upsells
  • Controlled labor costs
  • Increase in customer satisfaction and loyalty

“Our goal is to build on our successes and set the foundation for a national franchise” Lee said. White and Lee have an aggressive growth strategy which includes franchising the Buffalo Boss concept in late 2018.

Pieology Opens in Iowa

Pieology will hold a grand opening of its first location in the Hawkeye state at 1255 NW 128th Street, Suite 100, in Clive, Iowa on March 5.


In addition to serving up delicious pizza, Pieology is committed to making a positive difference in the community it serves by hosting fundraising events to support local causes.

“We’re looking forward to bringing Pieology’s fresh flavors and unparalleled customer service to the Clive community,” says Stephanie Sandeen, general manager of Pieology Clive. “We are excited to be the first Pieology location in the great state of Iowa,and share the Pieology experience with local pizza lovers.” 

Zoup! Raises Funds

Zoup!, the fast-casual restaurant known for its award-winning gourmet soups, scored a blow in the fight against childhood hunger by meeting its goal to raise $100,000 for No Kid Hungry and Breakfast Club of Canada during National Soup Month in January. Throughout the month, Zoup! guests in the United States and Canada who donated $2 or more to the organizations received a coupon for a complimentary eight ounce side of soup redeemable on their next visit.

“Our guests really stepped up in a big way,” said Eric Ersher, Zoup! founder and CEO. “It’s astounding that one in six kids in the U.S. struggles with hunger and one in five Canadian children starts the day on an empty stomach. The incredible support we received this year shows the dedication we all share to ending childhood hunger once and for all.”

No Kid Hungry connects children in need to programs like school breakfast and summer meals, teaches low-income families how to prepare affordable healthy meals and educates the public about the nationwide child hunger crisis.

“No Kid Hungry is extremely grateful for the remarkable generosity of Zoup! and especially its customers,” said Diana Hovey, senior vice president at No Kid Hungry. “Their support will go a long way toward helping to end childhood hunger in America. I strongly invite all of Zoup!’s guests to visit to find out what they can do to help ensure that every child in America has access to nutritious food every day.”

Zoup! also mobilized its Canadian restaurants to help raise awareness and funds during National Soup Month. Their efforts supported Breakfast Club of Canada, which strives to provide all children an equal chance of success by starting the day with a healthy and nutritious breakfast. 

“We’re extremely grateful to both Zoup! and its guests,” said Lisa Clowery, national corporate relations director of Breakfast Club of Canada. “Their support helps make it possible for all of us to ensure that every child has access to the healthy, nutritious breakfast they need in order to learn and grow to their fullest potential.”

 Barberitos Turns 18

Barberitos Southwestern Grille & Cantina is celebrating its 18th birthday.

Barberitos – We make it fresh. You make it yours. (PRNewsfoto/Barberitos)

Founder and CEO Downing Barber opened the first Barberitos location on February 20, 2000, in Athens, Ga. Since then, the company has grown to include almost 50 locations throughout Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina.

“Watching Barberitos grow from a dream to a successful franchise has been a thrilling ride,” Barber said. “I can’t wait to see what the coming years hold for us as we approach 20 and beyond.”

Recent milestones for the company include the opening of its first Alabama location last year, as well as being named among the “Top 20 Emerging Franchise Chains” by “Nation’s Restaurant News.” Barberitos was also recognized in 2017 by the “Athens Banner-Herald” for being voted the winner of the 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards in the burrito category.

Barberitos is committed to serving farm fresh, locally sourced food in a prompt, efficient manner with exemplary customer service. Its specialties include burritos, quesadillas, tacos, nachos and homemade salsas, as well as fresh-grated queso and hand-smashed guacamole. Franchising opportunities are available. For more information, visit

Dog Haus Makes Tennessee Debut

Dog Haus Biergarten is bringing The Absolute Würst to Tennessee with its first location in the Volunteer State, opening at 521 NW Broad St. in Murfreesboro.

“Bringing the Dog Haus brand to Tennessee has been a dream of mine for quite some time, so I can’t wait to open our doors and start serving the amazing people of Murfreesboro on Saturday,” said Franchisee Larry Lavigne. “Our food will be our focus, but to accompany our one-of-a-kind creations, we’ll have eight HD-TV screens streaming sports and customized entertainment such as music videos and funny viral clips, as well as a gorgeous Biergarten where our guests can enjoy their favorite local craft beers, wine and cocktails in a relaxed setting.”

Taco John’s Gives Away Tax Savings

Taco John’s International, Inc. announced today that in response to the 2018 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, the company gave part of its projected tax savings to its restaurant crews, general managers, corporate staff and CORE (Children of Restaurant Employees).

On Friday, Feb. 23, Taco John’s International, Inc.’s employees received a one-time bonus, as follows:

  • Every restaurant crew member – full-time and part-time – received $200 (after taxes);
  • General managers and employees at the Taco John’s Franchisee Support Center in Cheyenne received $1,000 each; and,
  • The Executive Council of Taco John’s International, Inc. (Vice Presidents and above) donated their $1,000 bonuses (a total of $10,000) to CORE, a national not-for-profit organization that grants support to children of food and beverage service employees who are navigating life-altering circumstances.

“At Taco John’s International, our team is our family, so sharing the financial benefits that were a result of the recent tax reform legislation only makes sense,” said Jim Creel, CEO of Taco John’s International, Inc. “We encourage other restaurant brands to follow our example and give a portion of their savings to the people that are at the heart of what we do and to great organizations like CORE that support our crew. One hundred percent of CORE’s funds directly benefit children of restaurant employees who have been afflicted with life-threating conditions.”

“We are so grateful to the Taco John’s team for their generous donation to our CORE family members,” said Lauren LaViola, executive director of CORE. “Donations like theirs help us provide for our food and beverage service families experiencing loss, illness and other life-changing circumstances, and help us get closer to our goal of helping even more families across all 50 states in 2018.”

The total amount that Taco John’s International, Inc. gave exceeded $150,000.00.

Main Event Opens in Wilmington

Main Event Entertainment is set to make its Delaware debut at 2900 Fashion Center Blvd. in Wilmington next to Christiana Mall on Tuesday, March 6.

The new 50,000-square-foot center features 22 state-of-the-art bowling lanes with unique technology and luxury seating, laser tag, a gravity ropes course and zip line, billiards, shuffleboard and a games gallery featuring nearly 120 of the latest interactive and virtual video games. 

“We are excited to expand into Delaware and to introduce our one-of-a-kind brand to everyone in the Wilmington area,” said Darin Harper, Interim CEO and CFO of Main Event Entertainment. “There’s nothing like Main Event in Delaware, and we have found the perfect location in Wilmington for its debut. We’re extremely proud to be joining this great community and we can’t wait to show off our unique combination of food and fun when we open the doors to our new center on March 6.”

Pei Wei Engages Siltanen & Partners

Pei Wei Asian Kitchen has engaged Siltanen & Partners (S&P) as its Creative Agency of Record. S&P began work on the Pei Wei account in October 2017 and, following a 360-degree brand review and overhaul, has developed a full suite of marketing materials, including “Tiger,” the brand’s new logo and company mouthpiece.

“Pei Wei has long been blessed with countless loyal fans and the freshest food in fast casual, but we believed the brand was in need of a refresh in order to achieve its full potential,” said Pei Wei Chief Marketing Officer Brandon Solano. “I brought on Rob Siltanen and his team because they are creative rock stars and they share our passion for the Pei Wei brand. Their work on Tiger and our upcoming ad campaign has been spot on, and I believe it will pay dividends for the company for years to come.”

The Tiger character will be introduced in a new multi-media advertising campaign and brought to life in-store, beginning in March. Tiger will appear throughout the campaign, dishing out his distinctive tiger ‘tude on Twitter via the handle @peiwei_tiger.

“In the battle of mind and market share, we acknowledged the magnetic power of iconography in eliciting an emotional response,” said Rob Siltanen, founder of Siltanen & Partners. “For both client and agency, the tiger captured the multi-faceted nature of the brand’s DNA. Tigers are powerful, proud and meaningful in Asian symbology … and of course, they have voracious appetites.”

The Literacy Project

A lack of books in the home is directly linked to an increased likelihood that a child will read below his or her grade level by the fourth grade. In fact, 25 million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently. And students who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers, a huge barrier to meeting their full potential as adults.

That’s why Pizza Hut, the nation’s longest-standing corporate supporter of literacy, is kick-starting a giving program to tackle issues that lead to illiteracy. Through Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project – the company’s global commitment to literacy – the program will enable access to books and educational resources, empower teachers and inspire a lifelong love of reading.

“Literacy is a critical, foundational life skill that can have a profound impact on quality of life, yet it is an often overlooked social issue,” said Artie Starrs, President, Pizza Hut U.S. “The reality for many children growing up is that they do not have access to books in their home. Working alongside our 150,000 team members in the U.S., we are committed to help millions of children start a new chapter by providing books and educational resources they need to reach their full potential.”

The Literacy Project fundraising campaign, which runs February 26 through April 15, is a critical part of achieving the company’s goal to transform the lives of 100 million people in just 10 years through reading. Pizza Hut is partnering with First Book, a recognized nonprofit, social sector leader, on its journey to fulfilling this goal. Supporters can join Pizza Hut on its mission by donating when they order from Pizza Hut in store, by phone and online or by visiting to give directly. All funds raised will provide educators with credits to obtain books and resources on the First Book Marketplace for selected schools and programs located near Pizza Hut restaurants.

“First Book is proud to continue to partner with Pizza Hut on its journey to impact 100 million lives through reading,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book President, CEO and Co-Founder. “We share a mission to elevate opportunities for children in need, but we recognize that too many low-income communities simply don’t have the resources to provide children with access to books, with the result that teachers in these classrooms and programs often spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to try to provide what students need. Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project can help unlock the potential of millions of underserved children and communities.”

As part of the campaign, Pizza Hut is asking consumers to help jumpstart an important conversation about literacy. Tapping into the nostalgia many people have for reading their favorite childhood book, Pizza Hut is encouraging consumers to share the joy they experienced reading that book and to ask people to donate to help every child have that same experience.

As an incentive to share, Pizza Hut is giving away a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience to bring one lucky person’s favorite book to life. To enter for a chance to win, consumers can share the title of their favorite book and why it’s important to them on Instagram or Twitter, tag @PizzaHut and use the hashtags #HelpStartANewChapter #sweepstakes. The winner will be announced by April 30.