MRM Franchise Feed: Taco Bueno’s New Beginning and Pizza with Beer Delivery

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

Salata Promotes Bythewood

Salata Salad Kitchen naed Michelle Bythewood to president of the company. Previously, Bythewood was Salata’s chief marketing officer – the company’s first. She officially joined the company in August 2017 after serving as a brand consultant for Salata for a year. As CMO, Bythewood led brand management and strategy, national and field marketing, media, digital strategy, marketing technology, and product innovation. 

In her new role as president, Bythewood will be responsible for management of operations, logistics, and creating, communicating and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction across all departments. With Salata’s strategic growth initiative focused on franchise sales and restaurant openings, Bythewood will work closely with Salata’s franchise sales team to determine opportunities for expansion into new and existing markets.

“It is a privilege for me to name Michelle president of Salata,” said Berge Simonian, founder and CEO of Salata. “Since she joined Salata, Michelle has achieved numerous accomplishments that have strengthened our brand and driven our growth. She has been an impactful catalyst for change. Michelle’s leadership and endless talents will continue to propel Salata forward.”

“I could not be prouder to be a part of the Salata family, and I am honored to be the new president of the company,” said Bythewood. “Since I joined Salata, my passion for Salata’s commitment to supporting healthy lifestyles has only grown. As I look ahead to what we have in the pipeline for 2019, I feel very grateful to lead our talented team on an energizing track. I look forward to empowering every member of the Salata family as we gear up for exciting changes.” 

Prior to joining Salata, Bythewood served as vice president of brand marketing for Cicis, senior director of field marketing for Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and brand vice president of marketing for Schlotzky’s/Cinnabon Express (FOCUS Brands). Additionally, Bythewood is the founder and principal of Field Marketing Focus, a marketing consulting firm that leads overall strategy development while helping build partnership within communities. 

Taco Bueno Sale Complete

Taco Bueno Restaurants LP  completed its sale to Taco Supremo, LLC, an affiliate of Sun Holdings, Inc.  and emerged from its court-supervised financial restructuring. 

Sun Holdings is a multi-concept franchisee based in Dallas, Texas, with more than 800 locations across eight states that also includes Burger King, Popeyes, Arby’s, Golden Corral, Cici’s Pizza, Krispy Kreme, GNC and T-Mobile. With more than 20 years of operating experience and expertise in quick service restaurants, Sun Holdings intends to invest in remodeling Taco Bueno locations and other brand initiatives to enhance the customer experience.

“Today marks a new beginning for Taco Bueno,” said Omar Janjua, Chief Executive Officer, Taco Bueno. “With our sale to Sun Holdings and our financial restructuring completed, we are well positioned for long-term financial health as we grow our food offerings and brand with the added expertise and leadership of Sun Holdings. I’d like to thank our dedicated employees for their commitment to Taco Bueno through this process, and we look forward to continuing to serve freshly prepared meals, in real kitchens, using real ingredients and providing unmatched customer service to guests.”

“We have a proven track record of successfully growing brands in this industry, and we are excited about leveraging our experience to reinvigorate Taco Bueno with new food offerings and streamlined marketing initiatives to strengthen its competitive position in the quick-service restaurant sector,” said Guillermo Perales, Chief Executive Officer and founder of Sun Holdings. “We look forward to working closely with the Taco Bueno team to build on the Company’s 50-year history and execute swiftly on our key priorities of food quality and enhanced value for customers, employees and the brand.”

Taco Bueno’s plan of reorganization was confirmed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Texas on December 31, 2018.

Vinson & Elkins LLP is serving as the company’s legal advisor, Houlihan Lokey is serving as its financial advisor, Berkeley Research Group is serving as its restructuring advisor, and JLL is serving as its real estate advisor. 

Sustainability at Just Salad

​Just Salad​ appointed Janani L​ee as its first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer to lead the company in expanding its sustainability practices.

“Hiring a Chief Sustainability Officer is a huge milestone for Just Salad and for the restaurant sustainability movement at large,” said ​Nick Kenner, Just Salad Founder & CEO​. “It’s amazing to think of howmuchwe’vealreadyaccomplished​:n​ early1millionpoundsofplasticsavedthroughourreusable bowl program. I’ve always wanted to go all in on sustainability, and Janani’s new role will finally make it a reality.”

Formerly Just Salad’s Director of Supply Chain, Lee has an extensive background in food systems and food technology in the health and wellness space. In her role as Chief Sustainability officer, Janani will expand on Just Salad’s existing sustainability efforts and prospect new sustainability opportunities across all aspects of business, including:

  •   A commitment to save 100,000 pounds of plastic in 2019​—​up from 75,000 pounds of plastic in 2018​—t​ hrough the brand’s reusable bowl program, which is World’s Largest Restaurant Reusable Program
  •   Transition from disposable plastic bowls to biodegradable fiber bowls at all locations worldwide  
  • Development of a 360-degree composting program in collaboration with Bard MBA NYCLab, a yearlong professional consultancy by Bard students receiving an MBA in Sustainability

“Some might say sustainability is on-trend, but it’s been a core value at Just Salad since its founding in 2006,” said ​Janani Lee, Just Salad’s newly appointed Chief Sustainability Officer​. “Our reusable bowl program puts us ahead of the curve in many ways, but we’re determined to become the gold standard of sustainability in the restaurant space and beyond.”

Just Salad's signature reusable bowl is estimated to save 75,000 pounds of plastic and increasing waste diversion by five percent every year. The program was recognized by the EPA with a ​WasteWise award​, and it is the only restaurant reusable program approved by the New York City Department of Health.


Pincho Factory dropped the “Factory” and will now be known simply as PINCHO. The name change caps off a  year of changes for the brand including a round of investment, a new CEO, an updated menu as well as the launch of online ordering and third party delivery. This latest change signifies a larger mission for the company to be “bigger than food” with new branding and a new store design. 



Becoming PINCHO is a natural evolution for the brand as it has always been more than just food to its loyal guests. The rebrand, which has been in the works for the past 14 months, will create an elevated hospitality experience at the leading edge of the fast casual space. PINCHO worked with NATIVO, a Miami-based branding and design studio, on the official rebrand, company officials said.

The new restaurant design flaunts a sleek yet still edgy interior, offering a modern, inviting tone, with accent colors tastefully exposing the brand’s slogan and mantra “Flavor. Culture. Passion.” On the exterior, guests will be greeted with a distinctive and bold design, while interior walls will display one-of-a-kind artwork from some of Miami’s most acclaimed street artists, evoking the classic feel of a Latin street food joint.

“From our remodeled restaurants to our new look, vibe and delicious menu, our new branding is one of many things we are doing as part of our mission to magnify the PINCHO experience for our fans,” said Jayson Tipp, Chief Executive Officer, PINCHO. “Our brand was built on hard work, food crafted from scratch and made to order with love. We believe this evolution will communicate our brand values, business goals, and relatability to our guests now more than ever.”

With culture and street style being a major part of the PINCHO brand, the company is rolling out original,  apparel with the feel of a modern lifestyle brand rather than what people have come to expect from restaurant brands. The look and feel will resonate throughout the restaurant and will be featured on new brand uniforms including hats, shirts, aprons and other PINCHO merchandise.


“Flavor is the taste of our food and the style we bring from Miami to the world as well as our intention to make everything we do vibrant. Through our emphasis on Culture, we want our teams’ individual talents to elevate our game and deliver great experiences. Our Passion for hospitality is the driving force behind everything we do and stand for at PINCHO. By simplifying our name, we will continue to build on the existing energy we’ve created for our loyal guests,” said Otto Othman, cofounder and Chairman, PINCHO. “We are excited to share an even deeper cultural experience with our community of fans that we’ve inspired since opening in 2010.”

PINCHO currently has seven company owned and four franchised and licensed locations throughout South Florida, with plans to expand to 100 locations nationwide over the next five years. The company opened its first location in Miami in 2010.

Pizza Hut's Beer Delivery

Pizza Hut is adding more restaurants to its category-first beer delivery program. The company announced the second expansion of the program to nearly 300 restaurants across Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, and additional locations across California and Arizona by mid-January. The rollout is a brand priority, with Pizza Hut aiming to grow beer delivery capabilities to 1,000 restaurants across new markets by Summer 2019.


The announcement is aptly timed ahead of Super Bowl LIII, one of the busiest days of the year for Pizza Hut. According to a recent survey, 86 percent of Americans plan to serve both pizza and beer at their upcoming Super Bowl party this year.1 With this recent expansion, Pizza Hut is serving more customers than ever as a one-stop-shop for both.

“As the official Pizza Sponsor of the NFL, we’ve been celebrating football fans all season long, so it only makes sense for us to bring more customers the beloved combo of pizza and beer ahead of the Super Bowl,” said Marianne Radley, Chief Brand Officer, Pizza Hut. “We are proud to be pioneers of beer delivery and are well-poised to take on more markets in the coming year.”

In December 2017, Pizza Hut launched its beer delivery pilot program in Arizona and expanded to parts of California five months later. Now, in 2019, with strong franchise partner participation, the company is in seven different states with additional markets forthcoming.

“Our expanded beer delivery program and Super Bowl weekend creates a great level of excitement across our participating franchise partners and team members,” said Nicolas Burquier, Chief Customer and Operations Officer, Pizza Hut. “Beer delivery is a game-changing lever that we’ll continue to pull in order to deliver oven-hot pizzas with ice-cold beer to customers watching and celebrating their favorite teams.”

“Super Bowl Sunday is one of our biggest days of the year, and now being able to offer the pizza-beer delivery combo in Orlando, FL during the big game, is a great upgrade our customers will truly enjoy,” said Carl Vannostrand, President and COO of CFL Pizza, a Pizza Hut franchisee organization.

Bruxie Expanding Internationally

As fried chicken concepts grow in popularity, Bruxie has separated itself from others as a chef-driven concept and has gained the momentum to take advantage of unique opportunities to grow both domestically and internationally. Its most recent international franchisees include The Bistro Group in the Philippines and Salt ‘N’ Blues, PVT. LTD. in Northern India, making the brand poised for worldwide expansion.

The Original Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich capitalizes on being bold, fun and unconventional as it increases its U.S. footprint with new Domestic Franchising opportunities as it expands internationally.

With its headquarters based in Orange County, California, where its original location still ranks as among the most successful restaurants in the region, Bruxie has introduced domestic franchise opportunities. Its first domestic partner, Skyport, will bring two Bruxie locations to the bustling Denver Airport. Regional territories across the U.S. are now available to experienced operators.

“There is absolutely no denying the broad appeal of Bruxie’s bold and unique Fried Chicken offerings,” explained Bruxie CEO Anthony Smith. “We consider ourselves a leader in our dining category – an Orange County success story that has generated huge international interest and we’re excited to take full advantage of it to expand our brand footprint with great operators in new territories, both domestically and internationally.”

The domestic and international expansion for Bruxie is led by a management team with Chief Executive Officer Anthony Smith, Chief Financial Officer Scott M. Miller, and Bruxie Founder & Chef Kelly G. Mullarney.

Stoner's Pizza Eyeing Southeast Expansion

Stoner’s Pizza Joint said Bruce Levy of Chatham Foods & Dining LLC, has assumed ownership of its existing Jacksonville, Florida location, located at 11565 N. Main St. Additionally, Levy  signed a franchise development agreement to open two new restaurants in the state, targeting the greater Jacksonville area, as well as St. Augustine. This new agreement comes on the heels of the six-unit deal signed in Texas in Q4 2018 and further supports the brand’s plans to grow to 100 locations over the next five years.

Levy has extensive experience in restaurant operations and franchising, as well as commercial real estate and development. He has previously worked with Sonny’s BBQ, Sonic Drive-In and Blaze Pizza, in addition to owning his own concepts in South Florida and Puerto Rico. Day-to-day operations of his new Stoner’s Pizza Joint restaurants will be led by Dawson and Charlotte Robertson, who have been in the restaurant and hospitality industry for more than a decade.

“Having been in the industry for more than 40 years, I know a good opportunity when I see one, which is why I couldn’t pass up joining the Stoner’s brand,” said Levy. “The concept is edgy, offering fresh, quality food at great prices, and it appeals to a massive age demographic in the country today. I’m excited to kick off my partnership with the brand and look forward to bringing more Stoner’s locations to Florida soon.”

Founded in 2013, Stoner’s Pizza Joint was recently purchased by the experienced restaurateurs behind HHI Hospitality, which owns and operates several proprietary restaurant concepts in Hilton Head, South Carolina, including Charbar Company and ¡Holy Tequila!, among others. Partners Drew Ciccarelli and Nick Bergelt developed and launched Stoner’s Pizza Joint’s franchising program in July 2018 with the goal of growing the brand’s footprint to 100 locations by 2023. Currently, Stoner’s Pizza Joint has six corporate locations throughout Georgia and South Carolina with three more in development.

“An industry veteran like Bruce investing in our brand is a testament to Stoner’s simplistic business model, high ROI and operational excellence. As we remain on pace to open 100 stores over the next five years, we’re grateful to have such an experienced operator be part of our early growth story,” added Nick Bergelt, chief concept officer of Stoner’s Pizza Joint.

Stoner’s Pizza Joint is currently seeking qualified franchisees to help the brand grow nationwide in college town markets, with a focus on the Southeast region. Prospective franchisees should have a minimum net worth of $250,000. The ideal candidate is a proven multi-unit operator in the restaurant industry and has a strong knowledge of their market. Stoner’s Pizza Joint’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) reveals an estimated initial investment range of $90,000 to $206,000 for the first location, including a franchise fee of $25,000. If franchisees chose to develop multiple units, the franchise fee for three units is $65,000 and, for five units, $95,000.

Black Bear Grows by Two

Black Bear Diner opened two more units in its home state of California, this time in Turlock and Rancho Cucamonga. Franchisee CRC Inc. operates Turlock’s location, while franchisee Elite Diners, LLC runs the Rancho Cucamonga restaurant. With a total of 122 diners, the Company is dedicated to expanding eastward, while keeping a strong presence in its home state.

Details on the two new units are as follows:

Rancho Cucamonga: Located at 10910 E. Foothill Blvd, this 5,582 square-foot diner seats a total of 148 guests. The company looks forward to bringing its delicious home-style meals to the Rancho Cucamonga community Sunday-Thursday from 6:00am-10:00pm and Friday-Saturday from 6:00am-11:00pm.

Turlock: Located at 3050 N. Tegner Road in Turlock, this 7,000 square-foot diner seats up to 244 guests. The diner will provide both hearty and healthful selections to customers every day from 6:00am-10:00pm.

“We are starting the year strong with not only one, but two, openings in distinct and thriving cities in California,” said Black Bear Diner Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Dean. “As we proceed with our expansion eastward, it remains a priority to continue growing our footprint in our home state where it all began. We look forward to continuing to share our story, sincere hospitality, and house-made comfort food to new and returning customers.”

Co-Branded 16 Handles and Subway

16 Handles just unveiled their first co-branded space in collaboration with Subway in Glenmont, NY. The Glenmont location, located at Town Squire Plaza just outside of Albany, will serve the 16 Handles soft serve flavors guests know and love, as well as a selection of Subway classics, including sandwiches, chips, and cookies. The location is outfitted with Subway’s rebranded interior design, including the new Subway S Choice Mark logo, as well as wall coverings made with 34 percent recycled content and water-based inks.


“Subway and 16 Handles compliment each other so well,” says Marissa Jackson, co-owner of the 16 Handles in Glenmont, NY. “Not only can you enjoy a fresh-made sandwich, but you can also indulge in some frozen yogurt when you’re finished!”

“We are honored to be operating out of the same space as the world’s largest food franchise that shares a message of fresh ingredients and customizable user experience. It will be interesting to see how the complementary dayparts increase engagement for both brands during the daytime and evening hours,” says 16 Handles CEO and founder, Solomon Choi. 

Del Taco Expands Delivery

Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. expanded delivery with Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB), the nation's leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace, to all participating restaurants in the Los Angeles area, with plans to launch delivery system-wide to participating locations in the first quarter of 2019.

“We know how important delivery is to our guests, and with our Grubhub partnership rolling out in Los Angeles, even more loyal fans can enjoy their Del Taco favorites delivered to their doorstep, office or wherever they are,” said Barry Westrum, Del Taco’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We pride ourselves on freshness, value and convenience, and are able to take that one step further with the help of Grubhub.”

"Grubhub is thrilled to partner with Del Taco and expand our partnership throughout the LA market,” said Seth Priebatsch, Head of Enterprise Restaurants at Grubhub. “Whether it's the Chicken Street Tacos or Queso Loaded Nachos, we're now able to provide even more guests with their favorites, when they want it, where they want it." 

There are several ways that Del Taco fans can order delivery. Guests can visit the Del Taco website and search by location for their nearest restaurant, they can visit the Grubhub website or use the Grubhub app, or they can download The Del App, now available on the App (iOS) and Google Play (Android) stores. Guests who download The Del App will instantly receive a coupon for two FREE Del Tacos,** as well as other special offers delivered to their mobile device every week.

Captain D's in Orlando

Captain D’s opened its newest franchised location in Orlando, Florida. Located at 5850 S. Orange Blossom Trail, the new restaurant marks Captain D’s 28th location in the state and comes on the heels of the success the brand experienced in 2018, with more than a dozen new restaurants opened and 10 development agreements signed.

The Orlando Captain D’s is owned and operated by first-time Captain D’s franchisee, Amin Gulamali. Successfully operating various Choice Hotels and convenience stores throughout the greater Orlando area, Amin is utilizing his extensive management experience to transition into the restaurant industry and plans to open two additional Captain D’s locations in the Orlando metro area over the next few years.

“Since signing my franchise agreement with Captain D’s in 2016, the excitement around the greater Orlando area has continued to grow,” said Gulamali. “Captain D’s innovative menu items and welcoming dining experience are in high demand and I’m thrilled to be entering the restaurant industry with a concept that is loved by so many. I look forward to serving the residents of Orlando for years to come and know the brand will soon be a household favorite in the community.”

Throughout the past year, the company has opened more than a dozen new locations and inked numerous franchise development agreements to open new restaurants in states like Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Michigan and Oklahoma.

With more than 530 restaurants in 22 states, Captain D’s is the fast-casual seafood leader and number one seafood franchise in America ranked by average unit volume. The company is currently seeking single- and multi-unit operators to join in the brand’s rapid expansion. 

Shambura Named CMO at MOD

MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, LLC named Mark Shambura as its chief marketing officer (“CMO”). Shambura will lead the company’s overall brand and marketing strategy for its 400+ system-wide* locations across the US and UK, with a focus on building awareness of the MOD brand while deepening MOD’s relationship with its customers.

Shambura joins MOD after five years with Chipotle Mexican Grill, where he was executive director of marketing, overseeing most of the key marketing functions supporting Chipotle’s 2,400+ restaurants. Originally hired to create and manage Chipotle’s first brand team, his responsibilities expanded to include overall brand strategy, advertising, digital, social, events/sponsorships, promotions and field marketing. In 2016, Shambura served as interim head of marketing for Chipotle, overseeing global efforts for the organization’s full portfolio of concepts. 

Prior to Chipotle, Shambura spent eight years at Creative Artists Agency where he helped launch Chipotle’s award-winning “Back to the Start” campaign, hailed by Advertising Age as one of the “Top Campaigns of the Century” as well as developing marketing strategies for Starbucks, Coca-Cola and eBay. Shambura also served as head of brand marketing, senior director at One Kings Lane, the home décor e-commerce platform.

“Mark is an intuitive and collaborative leader with deep expertise in complex national and local marketing operations. He will add tremendous value to MOD’s executive team at a critical stage in our growth as we extend our leadership in the fast casual pizza category and double-down on our commitment to making a positive social impact. During his time with Chipotle – one of the most iconic brands in the fast casual space – Mark helped shepherd their marketing function through periods of both sustained growth and transition,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and CEO of MOD. “His experience and leadership will be invaluable as we continue to build our brand, deepen our connections in the markets we serve, and drive awareness of MOD’s purpose beyond pizza.”

Added Shambura, “MOD’s special culture and purpose is truly unique in our industry. I’m thrilled to join a team that is not only dedicated to growing a world class brand, but that is also deeply committed to being a force for good. It’s rare to find a company where these values complement each other, and I look forward to contributing to MOD’s continued success as a leading people-first brand.” 

Subway and Mobivity Announce License Expansion 

Mobivity Holdings Corp. announced an international license expansion with Subway, bringing Mobivity’s targeted print advertising, data aggregation, and insight engine to restaurants in Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The expansion follows the success of the program domestically, which has returned in excess of a 10x return on investment for the brand.

“In launching this expansion, we are seeing the largest international deployment of our Recurrency platform to date, and we couldn’t be more excited to expose the unique insights that our partners at Subway have seen domestically with an even broader consumer pool,” said Mobivity CEO Dennis Becker. “This is a testament not only to the success Subway has seen through this relationship to date, but also to the growing value in using one-to-one customer data to create more intelligent and informed campaigns both domestically and abroad.”

With this new expansion, Subway’s intelligent and personalized marketing campaigns gain a global footprint, deploying in roughly 3,000 Canadian restaurants and 2,500 restaurants throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. These restaurants will utilize Mobivity’s Receipttechnology to provide targeted messaging campaigns directly on guests’ printed receipts, while gathering basket-level point-of-sale data to reveal unique trends and insights through Mobivity’s Recognition reporting platform.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to expand on the data that we use to inform our marketing campaigns,” said Carissa Ganelli, Chief Digital Officer of Subway. “Over the last few years, our US guests have loved receiving personalized offers based on what they purchased, with each redemption enabling us to give our guests more of what they want. We are excited to expand this to an international market, and to continue delivering the delicious experiences that our guests expect.”

With this expansion, Mobivity is leveraging machine learning within the Recurrency platform to better target and personalize marketing campaigns to Subway guests in over 30,000 restaurants worldwide.

Jersey Mike's Integrates with Uber Eats

In addition to consumer interest, technology is transforming third-party delivery into standard fare. Jersey Mike’s Subs,  partnered with Uber Eats on a smooth integration with the sub company’s proprietary POS. This integration has already led to improved standardization, operational efficiency and cost savings. 

“Previously, an order would come in and it had to be entered manually into the POS, which was time-consuming and provided an opportunity for error,” said Scott Scherer, Chief Information Officer, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc. “Once we learned Uber Eats could integrate with our POS, we jumped on it.” 

Years ago, Jersey Mike’s built its own proprietary POS and tech stack, an uncommon practice in the restaurant industry, yet one that ensured a quick and easy integration with Uber Eats. 

“At Uber Eats, we’re focused on helping restaurants grow and reach new customers. We want to make it as easy as possible for restaurants to integrate their existing technologies into ours to leverage the power of our platform,” said Wendy Lee, Product Management Lead, POS Program, Uber Eats. “With Jersey Mike’s proprietary POS, we were able to turnaround the integration within four weeks – it was very impressive.” 

Jersey Mike’s went live in late October and, in just two months, more than 1,225 restaurants have been integrated, with more to come. On average, each Uber Eats delivery is completed in less than 30 minutes. 

“Through this integration, we were able to quickly double the number of stores on the platform,” said Ed Basch, director of business intelligence, Jersey Mike’s. “This makes it easier to onboard new stores — all they have to do is sign up and Jersey Mike’s tech team does the rest for them.” 

In addition to the ability to quickly and seamlessly scale up, the POS integration ensures accurate sales and inventory reporting. It also improves consistency. The integration now allows for a standard menu across the brand. For instance, if Jersey Mike’s introduces a limited-time-only offer, this can be added to the POS and it will automatically show up on Uber Eats’ menus nationwide.