MRM Franchise Feed: Pollo Campero’s Expansion, Wingstop’s 1,000th and Sneaky Spinach

 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

Sneaky Spinach

Alexis Schulze, co-founder and chief visionary officer of Nékter Juice Bar,  debuted her first children’s book, called Sneaky Spinach, aimed at encouraging young children and their families to eat healthier and live more active and balanced lives. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit local, regional and national non-profit organizations, causes and programs that benefit children in America.

Schulze, with her husband Steve Schulze, founded Nékter Juice Bar in 2010 as a modern reinvention of the juice experience. 

“We always had a Sneaky Spinach smoothie on our ‘secret’ menu so our young guests would not reject them before they found out that healthy ingredients like spinach can actually taste great,” said Alexis Schulze, co-founder and chief visionary officer, Nékter Juice Bar. “When we started brainstorming ways to have a meaningful impact on our communities, I wanted to find a way to integrate my passion for children’s health and education. My hope is that this book will motivate children and their families to make healthier lifestyle choices, and benefit children across the country, including bringing real fruits and vegetables to lower income communities.”

Nationally, Nékter has partnered with Festival of Children Foundation and will donate $4  from each book sold in participating stores beginning January 25, and online at and on Amazon to support the foundation’s mission of improving the lives of children by strengthening the charities that serve them. Festival of Children Foundation now supports more than 480 children’s charities across the United States.

“I am honored and delighted that Alexis and Nékter Juice Bar have chosen to partner with Festival of Children Foundation,” said Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, founder and executive director, Festival of Children Foundation. “Alexis is truly committed to the welfare of children, starting with encouraging and supporting healthier lifestyle choices, and we so value her and Nékter’s support of Festival of Children Foundation and its member organizations across the country.”Nekter Sneaky Spinach Coloring Pages

Schulze will also hold book readings, signings and “Sneaky Spinach Smoothie” demonstrations at local schools, libraries and other child-focused non-profit organizations, and will donate $4.00 from books sold at those events to the respective organization. A free Teacher’s Guide will also be available for download at, offering primary-level educators the opportunity to easily integrate lessons around healthy eating into their curriculums.

As chief visionary officer of Nékter, Schulze leads the company’s research and development efforts developing menu items with only the freshest and highest-quality ingredients available. Before Nékter, Schulze had more than 20 years of experience working with children in both preschool and elementary school settings, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development, and a Masters Degree in Cross-Cultural Education.

Her first book, Sneaky Spinach, is the story of a boy named Nick, who refuses to eat his vegetables. To help him understand how important fruits and vegetables are for his brain and body, a group of Super Spinach leaves sneak themselves into Nick’s smoothies. Soon Nick notices that he is doing better in school and has more energy for sports and other activities, and begins to understand how eating right can make all the difference. Schulze plans a series of children’s books with her second book now in development.

Nékter has 66 restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Colorado, and plans to grow to as many as 300 restaurants in the next five years. The company seeks franchise partners, who want to own a business in the thriving health and wellness sector of the restaurant industry, and who want to make a real difference in their communities. 

UFood Grill Opens in Baltimore

Commuters taking the subway at the Owings Mills Station now have a healthier food option. UFood Grill, a healthy fast-casual restaurant chain, opened its doors  in the Baltimore area at Metro Centre at Owings Mills. UFood Grill offers a fast, healthy “Good for U” menu for customers.

“Commuters and residents near Metro Centre are getting a delicious and nutritious restaurant choice with the opening of UFood Grill,” said Stephen Goldberg, who owns the franchise along with his wife Lana. “UFood Grill offers franchisees an attractive investment — and a chance to serve something healthy in my community at the same time.”UFood Grill-photo1[1]

Goldberg, a Howard county resident, first discovered UFood Grill at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. A frequent traveler, Goldberg was inspired to find a convenient restaurant that served both healthy and delicious food. “It immediately felt timely, contemporary and tasted great,” he said.

The Owings Mills UFood Grill is the first franchise located in Maryland. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant can  seat 42 people indoors in its inviting modern-rustic dining area. The restaurant will employ 25 to 30 employees.

The healthy eatery features many delicious menu items like paninis, burgers, wraps, salads and bowls. It also offers breakfast all day, and entrees such as steak tips, chicken and shrimp. All items are under 700 calories, low in fat and sodium, and baked, broiled or steamed. UFood Grill doesn’t fry any of its menu items. There’s also an array of specialty teas, coffees, spa waters and smoothies available.

To speed service, UFood Grill uses the most modern technology with Self-Serve kiosks featuring facial recognition.

“Stephen and Lana Goldberg are tremendous champions for the UFood Grill brand,” said Salvatore Rincione, CEO of UFood Grill. “They are our first franchise owners in Maryland to introduce fast-casual diners to our delicious, nutritious menu and our unique store design.”

Pollo Campero’s Aggressive Expansion

Pollo Campero  is expanding in Texas, with the opening of three new restaurants in Houston. The first, located at 11570 Gulf Freeway in Houston, opened its doors this week. Two others, located at 7754 West Bellfort and 6905 Highway 6 South in Houston, are slated to open in the first quarter of 2017 and will bring the total number of Pollo Campero restaurants in the Bayou City to eight.image001[1]

The Houston openings are a part of Pollo Campero’s goal to double the number of its U.S. restaurants in three years. “Houston has always been an important city for Pollo Campero,” said Tim Pulido, President and CEO of Pollo Campero International. “We are thrilled to be adding our first restaurant on Houston’s southeast side and honored to have the opportunity to bring our unique Latin flavors to even more Houstonians.”

Established in 1971, Pollo Campero is known world-wide for its traditional fried and Citrus Peruvian grilled chicken. Its menu also features Latin favorites such as Campero rice and beans, empanadas, plantains, yuca fries, and even Latin drinks. At the center of it all—Campero’s long-standing core values and its commitment to staying true to its Latin roots.

“We know Houstonians have a lot of food choices,” said Pulido. “We also know that one bite of our authentic Latin chicken and it’s clear that there truly is nothing else out there like it.”

Blast & Brew to Grow

In metro Phoenix, where fast-casual pizza places seem to be popping up on every street corner, how can a brand stand out from the crowd? The strategy at Blast & Brew is simple: just add beer. The Neapolitan pizza and self-pour craft beverage concept plans to enter the Phoenix market with the goal of opening 10 to 15 franchise locations, and is currently seeking experienced multi-unit franchise partners to introduce the concept to the Valley.

At Blast & Brew, the customer crafts their entire experience from hand stretched pizzas, up to 40 taps of self-pour craft beer and premium wines, and unique customizable food options. The concept is introducing a new dining category – ‘fasual’ – by capturing both on-the-go consumers, and guests who prefer the options of a casual dine-in restaurant.

“Phoenix is primed for development because the area is saturated with build-your-own pizza concepts, and Blast & Brew will offer something completely different,” said Mike Reynolds, Chief Development Office of Blast & Brew’s parent company, Milano Restaurants International. “We’re taking on the space by offering guests a 100 percent customizable experience from the craft beer they pour to the custom pizzas, specialty sandwiches, salads as well as the social experience they create.”

Blast & Brew is actively seeking experienced franchisees to open locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Chandler, Tempe, Gilbert/Mesa and Goodyear. Expansion into the Phoenix market is part of the overall growth strategy of the franchise, which also recently announced 16 new deals inked for California.

Interested prospects should have restaurant or retail experience and the total investment to become a Blast & Brew franchisee ranges from $600,000 to $800,000. Blast & Brew locations require between 2,000 and 3,200 feet of retail space, with patio, dine-in and carry out opportunities. Blast & Brew is a division of parent company Milano Restaurants International Corporation, a restaurant management company representing six brands, which is headquartered in Fresno, Calif. The brand began franchising in 2016 and is currently focusing on growth in the Southwest part of the U.S. F

Fuddruckers and TravelCenters Partnership

Fuddruckers and TravelCenters of America are gearing up for their third restaurant opening as a result of a franchise partnership inked earlier last year. A new restaurant opened within a  truck stop, casino and convenience center at 200 N McCarran in Sparks, NE. The duo of established brands debuted similar operations in Commerce, GA in February and Ashland, VA in May.

Located off Interstate 80 just east of Reno, the Sparks fast casual restaurant will feature décor that references Fuddruckers’ classic, Americana origins. Table and lounge seating for approximately 100 guests will offer a welcoming and comfortable spot to recharge, while refueling on an array of delicious offerings from the acclaimed Texas-based chain. The hours of operation will be 10:30 am until 11:00 pm daily.

According to Peter Tropoli, Chief Operating Officer of Luby’s, Inc., “With nearly 80 years of combined experience behind our companies, we’re thrilled to further enhance the drive across town or the country through this exciting partnership that brings a flavorful fill up to the I-80 corridor.” 

Luby’s, Inc. operates 173 restaurants nationally: 91 Luby’s Cafeterias, 73 Fuddruckers, eight Cheeseburger in Paradise and one Bob Luby’s Seafood Grill. The company is the franchisor for 113 Fuddruckers franchise locations across the United States (including Puerto Rico), Canada, Mexico, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Poland, Chile, and Colombia. Additionally, a licensee operates 34 restaurants with the exclusive right to use the Fuddruckers proprietary marks, trade dress, and system in certain countries in the Middle East.  The company does not receive revenue or royalties from these Middle East restaurants.  

Wingstop Celebrates 1,000

Wingstop, Inc. celebrated as its 1,000th restaurant is officially open for business in the Atlanta market at 4920 Flat Shoals Parkway, Ste. 102 in Decatur, GA. A ribbon cutting ceremony on January 26 was  led by Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison, Boss Wings franchisees Tawanda and Tommie Roberts and Rick Ross, who own the 1,000th location, and local dignitaries including Congressman Hank Johnson, City Councilman Kwanza Hall, DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, and DeKalb Chamber president and CEO Katerina Taylor. Representatives from local nonprofit Hands on Atlanta will also be in attendance to accept a $5,000 donation from Wingstop Restaurants, Inc., in honor of the grand opening. 


“Today is a very significant day for Wingstop, and the culmination of our entire team’s dedication to building this global brand. I want to thank our incredible franchise partners, hard-working team members, and all those who have contributed to this milestone achievement,” said Charlie Morrison, Chief Executive Officer of Wingstop. “Whether it’s our first store or our 1,000th, we remain focused on what we do best – providing our fans with fresh, cooked to order, hand-sauced and tossed wings, fries and sides.  We’re the wing experts, and today is another important step forward in our mission to serve the world flavor.”

Wingstop’s 1,000th store opening is indicative of the Company’s overall business growth strategy and success.  Additional corporate attributes and achievements include:

  • Global Footprint: Wingstop currently operates in 40 U.S. states as well as Mexico, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and United Arab Emirates. 
  • International Development: Recently announced international development deals include 100 locations in Saudi Arabia over the next ten years and 30 locations across Colombia and Panama over the next five years.
  • U.S. Expansion: The Company sees opportunity for a total of 2,500 locations across the U.S.
  • Extraordinary Results: 2016 marked Wingstop’s 13th consecutive year of positive same-store sales growth.
  • Guest Profile: Nearly half of Wingstop guests are millennials (49 percent); and 53 percent of customers are women.
  • Digitally Focused: By close of fiscal 2016 Q3, digital sales accounted for 19 percent of total sales.  Further, digital orders average $4 higher ticket than in-restaurant orders.
  • Socially Engaged: Wingstop was the first restaurant to successfully launch dynamic social ordering on Facebook Messenger and Twitter (June, 2016); and was the first to launch voice activated ordering with menu item customization on Amazon Alexa (January 2017). The Company was recently acknowledged as the most beloved fast casual restaurant brand on social media by NetBase.
  • National Reach: The Company’s first ever national TV advertising campaign is slated for launch in February, 2017.
  • Giving Back: The Company recently launched the Wingstop Foundation, focused on providing educational opportunities for guests and team members in communities that have embraced the Wingstop brand.

“This is an incredibly exciting day for the entire Wingstop team, and we are proud to be sharing this achievement with the Greater Atlanta community,” continued Flynn Dekker, Chief Marketing Officer of Wingstop. “As part of our commitment to supporting educational opportunities in communities that have embraced Wingstop, we are proud to join Boss Wings in celebrating this milestone with a $5,000 donation to Hands on Atlanta.”

Which Wich Plans U.K. Debut

Which Wich® Superior Sandwiches, the U.S.-based, award-winning sandwich concept, is proud to announce that it will make its United Kingdom debut in 2017 as part of the brand’s focus on expanding its presence globally. While Europe has been uncharted territory for the brand, Which Wich is no stranger to international expansion. There are currently 425 stores open in ten countries. The signing of a deal that will bring the first Which Wich location to London by the end of the year marks the brand’s first entry into Europe.

“London is the heart of the United Kingdom and a hub for those traveling throughout Europe. Given the success Which Wich has experienced in other major international markets, we feel that our brand will also be enthusiastically received in the UK,” said Alex Oswiecinski, Vice President of International Operations & Development for Which Wich.

The brand is focused on opening ten locations throughout London in the short term, with a capacity throughout the United Kingdom to add more than 100 locations in the future. The London expansion is being spearheaded by brothers Rami and Nader Awada, under the group AAA Investment House, who had their first Which Wich experience in the United States. The Awadas recognized the demand for Which Wich’s hot sandwiches with customizable toppings in the London market, where there is a saturation of cold grab-and-go options. The brothers are currently scouting locations for their first Which Wich to open in London city center in 2017.

“When I first stumbled upon Which Wich in the States, I was drawn by the name, the vibe inside the restaurant, and their creative ordering system,” said Rami Awada. “But after trying their sandwiches, I understood why they call them ‘superior.’ I knew right then that it was a concept that Londoners would love, and could take the U.K. by storm.”

Under the terms of the deal, further expansion throughout the United Kingdom is possible after the opening of the first ten London locations. In order to adapt the brand, Which Wich plans to incorporate a design that has been successful in similar high density global markets, like Dubai, where slightly smaller real estate footprints are maximized while maintaining the trademark Which Wich experience.  Which Wich locations in London will have a menu that features popular items from the U.S., with additional flavors and options specific to the U.K. The brand’s signature hot sandwiches, salads and shakes will be complimented by a line of fries (“chips” in Britain) that feature various seasoning and dipping sauce options, which have been a hit in the Middle East.

The brand’s international development, till now, has focused on establishing a presence in the Middle East and Central America, boasting 32 locations across nine countries. Which Wich is now focused on establishing a strong presence in London, using the market as the base for future expansion in the region.

“We believe that Which Wich provides a unique experience and universal product that crosses all borders,” said Oswiecinski. “We are focused on supporting the Awada brothers to make Which Wich’s foray into London a huge success, which will naturally lead to demand across the U.K. and Europe.”

Which Wich® Superior Sandwiches was founded in Dallas in late 2003 by restaurant entrepreneur, Jeff Sinelli. Which Wich currently has 500 locations open or in development in 39 states and 12 countries.

Melting Pot ‘Path to Grow’

The Melting Pot® Restaurants, Inc., signed its second franchise agreement funded by its “Path to Grow” financing program (PGP), granting ownership of the Destin, Florida Melting Pot to Lucinda Hollis, who is currently an area manager of the brand’s Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina locations. Hollis’ fiancé, Auburn Bridge, will be joining her as co-owner. PGP gave the couple the financing needed to purchase the existing restaurant located at 11394 US Highway 98, which has been serving the Destin community since November 2007. 

“The signing of our second PGP franchise agreement is a true testament to the success of our unique financing program,” said Dan Stone, chief business & people development officer at Front Burner. “We’re thrilled to see some of our most valued managers, such as Lucinda, take advantage of the program, and we’re confident both her and Auburn will bring their in-depth industry knowledge to their restaurant in Destin. Their passion and enthusiasm is unmatched, and we look forward to watching them succeed as franchisees.”

Hollis first joined The Melting Pot team in 2005 as a server at the restaurant in Columbia. Under the management of Jay Kilmartin, multi-unit franchisee of The Melting Pot’s Greenville and Columbia locations, Hollis made her way up the ranks and held several positions including assistant manager, general manager and was most recently promoted to area manager of Kilmartin’s restaurants in South Carolina. With more than 15 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Bridge will be joining Hollis as co-owner of the Destin Melting Pot. Together, they plan on leveraging their combined experience and Hollis’ passion for the brand to bring a new level of success to their restaurant.

“It’s always been a dream of ours to own a restaurant, and we are beyond excited to start our journey as franchisees in beautiful Destin,” said Hollis. “The ‘Path to Grow’ program has given us an incredible opportunity to live our dream working with a brand that represents exceptional hospitality, family and belonging, and integrity. Once we gain experience as business owners, we hope to take over additional Melting Pot restaurants in the future.”

The PGP financing program takes the financial burden off operators who are approved to become franchisees of The Melting Pot by enabling them to invest as little as five percent liquidity into the purchase of an approved, existing restaurant. The franchisor provides up to 95 percent of the financing in the form of a loan to the franchise partner to allow them to acquire the location. The loan is typically serviced by the new franchisee over the course of four years. PGP financing is available for the purchase of select existing The Melting Pot franchises. Operators and managers with experience in casual dining or fine dining may qualify and apply for PGP financing – experience with The Melting Pot brand is not required.

The Melting Pot operates more than 125 restaurants across 35 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates..

New Look at Pizza Inn

After almost 60 years, there will be a new look at the local Pizza Inn. Pizza Inn is giving JoJo a makeover and rolling out its new tagline ‘America’s Hometown Pizza Place.’ The new logo and tagline were created in partnership with agency of record, Johnson & Sekin.

“JoJo is such a well-known icon in the restaurant industry and we felt the time was right for an update,” said Bob Bafundo, president of Pizza Inn, Inc. “The new logo and tagline reflect the almost 60 years of history of our brand with an eye towards our next generation and future. They are not conveying major changes with the company or our great pizza; but rather better communicating our pride in being America’s Hometown Pizza Place.”

Pizza Inns’ new branding debuts nationally with the first promotion of 2017. The new evolution of the JoJo logo continues the familiar elements such as his signature red hat and thick mustache, and connotes a new welcoming face, as well as illustrates him tossing the fresh dough that Pizza Inn makes daily. Additionally, the updated JoJo and tagline are incorporated in to all new food and lifestyle photography, packaging elements, and crew wearables, as well as all digital, social media and advertising channels. Pizza Inn has also introduced a website refresh and branding video that illustrates Pizza Inns’ hometown roots. As part of the new branding, Pizza Inn will include additional menu items and a loyalty program coming in the next couple of weeks. 

“Ask anyone, and they have a story or memory about Pizza Inn in their hometown or where they currently live,” said Chris Sekin, Executive Creative Director and Managing Partner of Johnson & Sekin. “The brand is deeply personal for people, and it encapsulates the values of a great American hometown.”

In 1958, two Texas brothers opened the first Pizza Inn across from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. As word spread of the restaurant’s exceptional pizza and friendly service, so did Pizza Inn locations. In no time, taste buds across the country were able to experience the made–from–scratch crispy, crackery Original Thin crust and tangy signature sauce that are still hallmarks of the Pizza Inn brand today. Pizza Inn continues to be a leader in pizza innovation through new menu additions like introducing the Taco Pizza, the first dessert “pizzert” pizza, and the chain’s hallmark bacon cheeseburger pizza.

Kasturi Joins ARC

ARC Group, Inc., the owner, operator and franchisor of  Dick’s Wings & Grill® concept, appointed Seenu G. Kasturi to serve as President and CFO, and as the Chairman of the Board of Directors, effective immediately.  Kasturi replaces Daniel Slone as CFO, a position Slone has held since 2013.

Kasturi will oversee ARC Group’s accounting and finance operations, and will assume responsibility for the Company’s financial reporting, mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, investor relations, financial planning, and business development.  He will also contribute significantly to the continued evolution and execution of the Company’s corporate strategy. 

Kasturi has served as the President and CEO of Blue Victory Holdings, Inc., an asset development firm focused primarily on the ownership and management of branded restaurants, since 2009.  Blue Victory Holdings and its affiliated companies have owned and operated nearly 100 global branded restaurants during the last several years, generating in excess of $50 million in annual revenue.  He has also served as the President and CEO of DWG Acquisitions, LLC, which is the largest franchisee of ARC Group with six Dick’s Wings and Grill restaurants under ownership, since 2013.  Prior to that, Kasturi founded K&L Investment Realty, which owned and managed restaurants and real estate properties.  Additionally, he served as a certified financial planner, a SEC-registered broker and an investment advisor earlier in his career.

“Seenu is a great addition to our team and we are confident that his leadership and experience will be a strong asset to the long-term success of our Company,” stated Richard W. Akam, CEO of ARC Group. “He brings extensive financial, transactional and strategic experience to our team and will play a critical role as we continue to grow and diversify our business.  As our largest franchisee, Seenu has acquired a deep knowledge of our business.  This, combined with his substantial background in the restaurant industry, make him more than qualified to take on the roles of President and CFO.” 

Akam continued, “For more than two decades, Seenu has built an impressive track record of strategic, operational and commercial accomplishments. His track record demonstrates an ability to create value and growth for companies where he has been part of the leadership team.  We look forward to using his expertise to enhance our organization and in demonstrating and communicating our value proposition to investors.”

“I can’t imagine a more exciting time to join ARC Group,” stated Kasturi.  “I believe in the Company’s people, brands, products and values, and look forward to leading the team in winning customers and driving growth.  I see a great opportunity to continue building on the company’s success in the restaurant industry and creating value for our shareholders.”

Akam concluded, “I also want to thank Daniel Slone for his many valuable contributions to ARC Group over the past several years and wish him every success in the future.”

Dick’s Wings is actively offering franchise opportunities in the Orlando, Tampa, Gainesville and Mobile/Pensacola metropolitan areas.  About ARC Group, Inc.  Dick’s Wings has 18 restaurants in Florida and six restaurants in Georgia.  It also has two concession stands at EverBank Field, home of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.  Wing Nutz has nine restaurants in Utah, two restaurants in Texas, one restaurant in Nevada and one restaurant in Idaho.

Tropical Smoothie Success

Tropical Smoothie Cafe reported positive comp sales of four percent in 2016, resulting in comp sales exceeding 26 percent over the last three years. The smoothie franchise also signed franchise agreements to develop more than 160 new cafes across the U.S. and closed out the year with 86 new restaurant openings, expanding the brand’s presence in cities nationwide including Charleston, Albuquerque, Dallas and Houston.

“We’re thrilled that our unwavering commitment to providing consumers with the high-quality, better-for-you products they crave has continually translated to strong results year after year. From the opening of our 500th restaurant to a surge in franchise development, 2016 was an outstanding year that positioned the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand for tremendous success this year and beyond,” said Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe. “Over the past several years, more and more entrepreneurs nationwide have recognized our business model’s immense potential for success and fueled the growth of our franchise network, and we know that we’re just getting started. As we head into our company’s 20th anniversary year, we look forward to building on this success and seeing what the future brings for Tropical Smoothie Cafe.”

This year, the food and smoothie franchise plans to open 100 restaurants nationwide and currently has franchise opportunities across the U.S. in markets such as Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Boston, Nashville, Houston, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Dallas among others. By 2020, Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to have 1,000 stores open across the U.S.  

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is looking to add qualified franchisees to its growing brand. Candidates should have business experience; $125,000 in liquid assets and a minimum net worth of $350,000; and an initial investment of between $198,050 and $478,550. The healthier fast food franchise currently boasts an average unit volume (AUV) of more than $634,000 — the highest in the company’s 20-year history — with the top 50 percent reporting an AUV of more than $806,000.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s aggressive franchise growth is backed by the entrepreneurs at the BIP Franchise Accelerator, a division of venture capital firm BIP Capital, which invested in the brand in 2010. BIP Capital has invested more than $250 million in emerging, high-growth brands across the franchising, software, and technology and consumer products industries. BIP Capital created the BIP Franchise Accelerator to leverage its leadership team’s deep franchise experience to help emerging brands accelerate their growth. In addition to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the BIP Franchise Accelerator’s portfolio includes Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, which has grown to 11 locations in Georgia.

“Tropical Smoothie Cafe continues to greatly exceed our expectations, but I believe we’ve just scratched the surface of its potential,” said Scott Pressly, co-founder and managing partner of BIP Capital.  “The brand has tremendous opportunity for growth as it works in all types of consumer markets, from major metropolitan areas to secondary markets and small towns.”

Saltworks  Brand Revitalization

In 2016, Saladworks, celebrated 30 years in business, but the company has continued to act much like a start up with a focus on technology and innovation. As the creator of the make your own salad segment, Saladworks has set out to solidify its brand position as well as its mission, vision and core values under the new leadership of Patrick Sugrue. With a focus on strategic planning, the organization has set its sights on increasing the frequency of loyal consumers and bringing in a new segment of brand ambassadors.

Throughout 2016, Saladworks saw  changes that included executive team announcements, menu enhancements, interior design upgrades, and the implementation of a strengthened loyalty program. Patrick Sugrue came on as CEO and brought along with him a previous associate, Andy Revella, as Executive Chef. Other administrative changes included adding Steve McMahon as CMO and outsourcing key functions such as Human Resources and legal.

Every update made at Saladworks this year was for the benefit of both the franchisees and the guests. The most notable changes to the consumer include a completely new restaurant design, integrated technology through the loyalty program, a kiosk ordering system, and menu improvements that highlight superfoods and clean protein.

“In 2016, we really took a step back and figured out ways to improve upon the Saladworks concept to enhance the consumer’s experience. It has definitely paid off – our year-over-year same-store sales jumped eight percent over 2015, which is quite impressive considering the current atmosphere of the quick-service space,” said Sugrue. “In 2017, we’re going to begin implementing these changes in all locations so that Saladworks as a brand will be giving guests an enhanced experience, including faster service and the ability to refresh, reconnect and recharge.”

Planning on more than 10 new store remodels in 2017, Saladworks is shifting toward earthy tones and wood finishes for a more welcoming atmosphere. Electrical outlets will be conveniently located near tables so that guests might be inclined to stay longer with their laptops, or at least have the option to recharge their phones during their lunch hour. Ultimately, Saladworks wants to help guests feel at ease and provide them with a delicious meal.

One of the main initiatives under executive Chef Revella was to add more fresh, in-demand items to the menu, like kale and quinoa, and to create rotating seasonal offerings to ensure guests really are getting the freshest ingredients possible. For example, the Winter Power Salad available in stores this January and February, consists of a fresh lettuce blend packed with spinach, onions, sage roasted potatoes, julienne beets, roasted squash, cantaloupe, flame kissed chicken and topped with green goddess dressing. The introduction of the flame grilled chicken breast fillet proves Saladworks’ commitment to providing customers with top quality product. The all-natural fully cooked and never frozen chicken has been raised without antibiotics, is gluten free and also has no added hormones or steroids. The farm-raised chicken also has no added nitrates, MSG, artificial ingredients or preservatives and is perfect for the Saladworks guest who is keenly aware of the products they put into their body.

At the corporate-owned store in the Andorra neighborhood in Philadelphia, the company unveiled the Saladworks Life Bar kiosk, a new self-service kiosk where customers can personalize their orders, resulting in a heavy focus on dietary needs while also allowing not just the purchase of a create-your-own salad, but to also give guests a create-your-own ordering experience from start to finish. The new ordering system focuses on personalization and customization, two of the main principals that are hallmarks of Saladworks, and according to consumer research, a key brand differentiator. This feature allows guests to select menu items based on dietary or allergen preferences. Options such as low sodium, high protein, gluten free or vegan/vegetarian give consumers the ability to customize their salad at the touch of a button.

“At Saladworks, we know that customization and personalization is very important to our guests,” said Saladworks CMO Steve McMahon. “With the Create Your Own salad as the #1 ordered salad system-wide, we know that the new Saladworks Life Bar kiosk will allow our loyal consumers to easily choose the best ingredients that fit their diet and lifestyle needs.”

While Saladworks remodels more and more locations this year, the corporate team will provide the franchisee with a food truck that he or she will be able to use so that employees can continue to work and guests can continue to eat their favorite meals without being affected as the restaurant upgrades take place. Garnering rave reviews since its unveiling in November, Saladworks is planning on sending the truck into cities during the lunch hours to bring salads to office parks as a better-for-you option. The restaurant is eventually planning to have a fleet of Saladworks food trucks to offer consumers an on-the-go option.

With a continued focus on giving consumers what they want, the Saladworks Rewards loyalty program will provide fans with personalized offers that they cannot refuse. Saladworks knows that its guests have other options, so the company is increasingly looking for ways to up the personalization and customization offerings to reward its loyal fan base.

As the brand begins implementing all the exciting changes announced in 2016, the company is also ramping up franchise growth by expanding in its core market and in select cities across the country.

Bojangles Plans Growth

Bojangles’, Inc.  is actively accepting inquiries from enterprising businesspeople and experienced multi-unit restaurant owners to grow the Bojangles’ brand in the Mid-South region, including markets in and around Memphis, Tennessee; Jackson, Tennessee; and Paducah, Kentucky.

“In 2016, we continued to establish our presence in several exciting new markets,” said Randy Icard, Bojangles’ Vice President of Franchise Development. “As part of our strategic approach to growth, we have identified the Mid-South region as an area of opportunity, and we are actively looking for potential franchisees to open Bojangles’ restaurants in this dynamic area of the country.”

Last year the company announced development agreements with both existing Bojangles’ franchise owners and newly signed franchisees to enter markets in Gainesville, Florida, Mobile, Alabama and the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. Bojangles’ also continued its measured growth in new markets, opening restaurants in Lexington, Kentucky, Charleston, West Virginia, and Montgomery, Alabama.

The Bojangles’ allure starts with its all-day breakfast, served hot and fresh every day. Since 1977, fans have enjoyed Bojangles’ proprietary, made-from-scratch offerings, featuring a flavor profile unlike anything in the market. The Company’s robust, Southern-inspired menu includes fresh, never frozen, marinated and hand-breaded chicken; buttermilk biscuits made-from-scratch every 20 minutes; salads; sandwiches; flavorful fixin’s like green beans and Cajun Pintos, and Legendary Iced Tea®, steeped the old-fashioned way.

Bojangles’ has a new forward-looking restaurant design, which will bring a modern architecture and ambiance to complement its freshly-made, high-quality food and restaurant hospitality. The first restaurant built using the new design opened in Greenville, South Carolina, on January 11, 2017. Many of the design elements being tested in the new concept will also be incorporated into several upcoming restaurant remodels.

At September 25, 2016, Bojangles’ had 699 system-wide restaurants, of which 301 were company-operated and 398 were franchised restaurants, primarily located in the Southeastern United States. 

Firehouse in Mexico

Firehouse Subs® announces the next phase of its international development with the opening of its first franchise location in Mexico. With more than 1,045 locations across 44 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, 45 restaurants will open in Mexico over the next five years. The American fast-casual chain founded by firefighting brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen brings its award-winning food and authentic firefighter heritage to guests in Santa Fe, Mexico City, Mexico as the first restaurant opens this week.

“As we continue establishing the Firehouse Subs brand outside of the United States it’s exciting to further grow and develop our international footprint with the introduction of the first restaurant in Mexico,” said Don Fox, Chief Executive Officer, Firehouse of America, LLC. “Firehouse Subs’ partner Latin America Subs Mexico S de R.L. de C.V. understands the consumer in this market and together we look forward to bringing Firehouse’s signature subs to guests in Mexico, while providing business opportunities for entrepreneurs in the country.”

Leading Firehouse Subs’ entry into Mexico is Aniceto Solares, Chief Executive Officer, Latin America Subs Mexico S de R.L. de C.V., and Armando Jacomino, vice president and general manager. Jacomino, of Miami, joined the Firehouse Subs family in 2015 and brings decades of restaurant industry experience to his role as the brand’s first operator in

“Firehouse Subs stood out for its exceptional product, rapid growth and dedication to community service. One taste and we knew this was unlike any other sandwich brand,” said Jacomino about his reasons for joining Firehouse Subs. “Santa Fe, Mexico City is a developing area, and we feel consumers will be attracted to the brand’s authentic culture and fall in love with the product.”

The Mexico opening continues Firehouse Subs’ brand development plans. Expansion into non-traditional locations such as airports, military bases and college campuses, as well as additional international markets will drive the brand’s growth in 2017. Additionally, projected openings into new regions of the United States, including Alaska, are expected to further advance Firehouse Subs’ presence nationwide.

Ziggis Signs Another Deal

Ziggi’s Coffee, a quickly growing coffee shop and drive-thru franchise, announced today that it has signed another single-unit franchise agreement, which will continue to strengthen the brand’s growing presence. This is the third franchise deal for the company and it comes just one week after after announcing it signed its second franchise deal.gI_62665_Derrek_PRWeb

Derrek Kaier, of Broomfield, Colo., is the newest franchisee contributing to the company’s expansion. Although it’s his first time franchising, Derrek has half a decade of experience owning and operating the North Metro Ballers Basketball organization, which is a leading youth basketball club in Colorado. Interested in exploring additional opportunities, Derrek was immediately hooked on the Ziggi’s Coffee franchise opportunity based on the family-run aspect of the brand and learning more about their successful business model.

“Ziggi’s founders, Brandon and Camrin, are wonderful people,” said Kaier. “They truly do make you feel a part of their family when you first meet them. Not only do they want to see their brand succeed, they also want to see their franchisees succeed and are extremely invested in making sure that happens.”

In addition to being a business and non-profit veteran, Derrek is also a U.S. Military veteran having spent four-and-a-half years in the U.S. Air Force. He is the first franchisee to sign with Ziggi’s as part of its ongoing support for the VetFran initiative.

“We are so excited to welcome Derrek as a franchisee to the fast growing Ziggi’s Coffee Franchise family,” said Brandon Knudsen, founder and president of Ziggi’s Coffee. “He has an exceptional background, including time spent in the non-profit world and in the military. As with many veterans, he displays an admirable level of leadership, dedication, and ability to handle a variety of situations and follow a proven process. We are in strong support of the VetFran initiative and it’s an honor to be able to thank our men and women who have served this country with a discount on the franchise fee and working closely with them to set them up for success with our concept.”

Ziggi’s Coffee is on a fast track of growth with eight exiting locations and additional corporately-owned and franchise units in development across the country. There are eight existing Colorado locations, and additional units in development.

Capriotti’s Taps Franchise Veteran to Grow Brand 

On the heels of a pivotal investment set to accelerate franchise growth, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop named franchise industry veteran David Bloom as the company’s Chief Development Officer.

“David’s emphasis on growing brands domestically and internationally in the franchise and restaurant space is why we’re so excited to have him on our team,” said Ashley Morris, CEO of Capriotti’s. “We are on the cusp of going from an operations-focused company with tremendous organic growth to a national sandwich franchise brand that we want to grow to 500 locations.”

In September, a trio of investors including David Barr, a Yum! Brands Inc. franchisee and Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group board member and JD and Shelly Sun, founders of the home healthcare company BrightStar Care, announced their investment in Capriotti’s. Their growth capital, strategic franchise advice, and stature within the franchise industry will help position Capriotti’s for growth.

Bloom has been in franchising for more than 25 years and spent nearly 20 years with Quiznos, where he played a significant role in the sandwich chain’s organizational growth as Senior VP of Brand Expansion, as well as being a large multi-unit owner and area developer. Throughout his tenure, the company successfully opened more than 5,000 stores in 28 countries.

For the past year, Bloom has served as the president of Office Evolution, a franchised executive suite and virtual office provider. Prior to this role, Bloom was Chief Operating Officer for Famous Brands International, the parent company to Mrs. Fields and TCBY, where he oversaw all franchise operations, development and marketing for the 900 franchised locations in more than 30 countries. Bloom previously served as Chief Development Officer for Hurricane Grill & Wings, where he developed the franchise sales infrastructure.

“I am thrilled to join the Capriotti’s team at such an exciting time for this company. With the recent capital investment and by bringing on the best resources in franchising, all of the pieces are in place,” said Bloom. “Capriotti’s has earned the credibility of a national brand through a superior product and an incredibly loyal customer following. There is also an exceptional business model here, as our franchisees have some of the highest average unit volumes in our category.”

With more than 100 fast-casual restaurant locations across the country, Capriotti’s is committed to creating mouthwatering, homemade subs and sandwiches made with the freshest ingredients for an unsurpassed taste. Capriotti’s is known for its 40-year nightly tradition of slow-roasting whole all-natural turkeys in-house and hand shredding them every morning to feature in a variety of their fan-favorite subs.

Capriotti’s has a strong presence on the East Coast and West Coast and will be looking to grow in the Southwest, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest areas.