MRM Franchise Feed: Tropical Smoothie Opens 700th and Church’s Rolls Out Dealivery

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

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Tropical Smoothie Hits 700th Milestone

Tropical Smoothie Café, LLC is opening its 700th location in the system in Hurst, Texas at 760 Airport Freeway Suite 100.  Tropical Smoothie Café is continuing to fuel development in Dallas/Fort Worth to bring its better-for-you® offerings to more communities throughout the metro area. With nine cafes currently open in Dallas/Fort Worth, these expansion efforts will bring two additional locations to the market by the end of this year.

“Opening our 700th location is such an amazing accomplishment and testament to the strength of the brand,” said Charles Watson, Interim CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café. “By putting our customers’ needs first, we’ve built a loyal following that’s made it possible for us to reach this milestone. We share this achievement with them, as well as our incredible network of franchisees and look forward to celebrating with residents in Hurst.”

The new Hurst location will be owned and operated by DYNE Hospitality Group. Anchored by veteran franchisees Glen Johnson and Nick Crouch, DYNE Hospitality Group is Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s largest franchisee and is helping drive the brand’s expansion across Dallas/Fort Worth. Johnson and Crouch currently have two Tropical Smoothie Café locations open in this market, with an additional 46 throughout the Southeast.

“Glen and I are incredibly excited to open Tropical Smoothie Café’s 700th location, as we believe wholeheartedly in the brand and take pride in our great relationship with the company,” said Nick Crouch, Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchisee and co-CEO of DYNE Hospitality Group. “Tropical Smoothie Café continues to break boundaries as a result of its fearless leadership and creative innovations and we’re thrilled to be part of the brand’s journey here in Texas. Hurst is an amazing city for an equally amazing concept and we know the residents are going to fall in love.”

The food and smoothie franchise currently has franchise opportunities across the U.S. in markets such as Indianapolis, Kansas City, Houston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and Columbus, among others. Fueled by its ongoing product innovation and consistent positive comp sales, Tropical Smoothie Café has experienced a surge of franchise development throughout the state that reinforces the brand’s role as a leader in the fast casual segment. By 2020, Tropical Smoothie Café plans to have 1,000 stores open across the U.S.

Church's Chicken Delivers

Church’s Chicken® launched their Dealivery™ Program, to nearly 650 restaurants through a partnership with multiple third-party delivery providers. According to officials, the rollout has happened over the past several months with the bulk of the restaurants coming online this month with DoorDash™, Grubhub™, Postmates™, and Uber Eats™.

“Adding delivery has been a key objective for the entire Church’s® system this year,” said Hector Muñoz, Global Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President for the brand. “It ties directly into our brand promise of giving guests an abundance of choice, flavor, and variety at a fair price, hence the Dealivery trademark… except now we are offering it whenever and wherever our guests want to enjoy it.”

Church’s Dealivery Program is currently activating across all restaurants within the service area of at least one third-party logistics option. Restaurants served by multiple providers will allow guests to choose their provider of choice. Select Church’s locations in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, and Phoenix have menus appearing with Grubhub, Uber Eats, and others since late June. Numerous other markets have followed close behind with DoorDash and Postmates throughout the month of July. Hundreds of additional Church’s restaurants will have delivery fully online by the end of this month.

Both company-owned and franchised restaurants are participating, and many are signed on with more than one third-party partner to ensure accessibility to as many guests as possible and to allow guests to use the delivery service they prefer. In markets where the major players in the delivery service are unavailable, smaller, independent delivery providers are also being tested.

“Value has multiple meanings for our guests,” explains Pete Servold, Executive Vice President of U.S. Operations with Church’s. “For Church’s, that has always meant never placing limits on what our guests enjoy most – real food, made by real people, at a really great price. Adding real convenience to that equation just makes sense.”

The decision to partner with multiple providers was also driven with guest satisfaction in mind. “Because we make our chicken, biscuits, and other menu items in small batches throughout the day, guests get that ‘fresh-from-the-kitchen’ taste every time they visit. Having multiple delivery providers helps us avoid long waits on delivery due to too much demand on a single delivery service. It also makes it easy to scale up in response to demand for Church’s delivery or the growth of a single service in one location,” continued Servold.

Freddy’s Accelerates Nationwide Expansion in First Half of 2018

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers experienced significant growth in the first half of 2018, opening 31 new restaurants and achieving year over year systemwide sales growth of 14.5%. This ongoing success has fueled a surge in franchise development and helped expand the company’s footprint in new and existing markets nationwide, with an additional 20 new restaurants slated to open by the end of the year. 

“Throughout Freddy’s history, we’ve never strayed from our guest-centric values and commitment to providing our guests with high-quality products, and we’re thrilled that these efforts have translated into exceptional success for the brand,” said Scott Redler, Co-Founder and COO. “We look forward to building on this momentum in the second half of 2018 and continuing to tap into the unlimited potential the future holds for Freddy’s.”

Freddy’s also achieved substantial corporate development throughout 2018, opening three new corporate-owned locations, with an additional three slated to open by end of year. Notably, the brand debuted its newest restaurant prototype at the opening of its corporate restaurant in Collinsville, Illinois earlier this year.  The new prototype was designed to improve efficiency and features a footprint 400 sq. feet smaller than the brand’s traditional locations. The company has since opened several additional restaurants with the new prototype, each of which are performing exceptionally well. Additionally, in the first half of 2018 Freddy’s also experienced significant development in the non-traditional segment, with openings at Wichita State University and Oklahoma State University slated for this month.

“Our innovative new prototype and non-traditional locations are a direct reflection of our commitment to continually investing in our brand and offering improved options to both new and existing franchisees. We’re always looking for ways to streamline operations, help our operators save money and make Freddy’s more accessible to those looking to franchise with a leading restaurant concept,” added Redler.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers is currently targeting the Northeast as a key region for expansion. Additionally, franchise opportunities remain in markets across the U.S., including Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York and California. 

King's BierHaus Inks First Franchise Agreement

King’s BierHaus finalized its first franchise deal, which will add three more King’s BierHaus locations to the greater Houston area. The first location is planned to open in League City at 828 W. FM 646 in October 2018, and a second location is in the process of being secured in Katy. Local franchisee Chung Hui, whose background is in retail development, was attracted to the King’s BierHaus brand for its unique positioning in the market, local and national recognition, sales to investment ratio, and unit volumes, among corporate support and ease of operations.

“Being from the Houston area, I had been following King’s Bierhaus for the last few years and watched as they gained more and more notoriety on a local and national level,” said Hui. “Of course, I jumped on board when I heard they were beginning to franchise, as I saw huge potential in the brand’s unique hybrid casual model and restaurant atmosphere. It’s exciting to be getting involved with the company in its early stages and grow alongside them as they continue to expand King’s Bierhaus across Texas and the U.S.”

King’s BierHaus is the modern sister concept to the #1 German Restaurant in America, King’s Biergarten, founded by Austrian-born father and son duo Hans and Philipp Sitter in 2011. It began as a car wash serving bratwurst and beer and, over the years, developed into an iconic stop for local Houstonians and tourists alike. 

“We conceived and developed King’s BierHaus from the start with a franchise model in mind, so it’s very exciting for us to have secured our first franchisee within months of finalizing our FDD,” said King’s BierHaus co-founder and CEO, Philipp Sitter. “From the consumer side, we knew there was a hole in the market for concepts that offered a unique experience for guests, and from a business and franchising standpoint, we focused heavily on our economics so we could make King’s BierHaus easily scalable, with high sales profits and low cost of goods.”

The bierhaus has developed a ‘hybrid casual’ model, which combines the best elements of full-service and fast casual dining for a truly unique style of restaurant. Guests follow a five-step ordering process that begins at the counter and transitions into full-service once seated. This service model improves the customer experience by allowing them to order more with ease, and proves beneficial for the business by resulting in a higher per person check average, higher alcohol sales, and increased efficiency and back-of-house operations. King’s Bierhaus’ existing location, which implements the hybrid casual framework, reported a monthly average of $507,102 gross sales in the second half of 2017.

Brach Joins Rotolo's as COO

Ryan Brach will join the Rotolo's team as Chief Operating Officer.

Brach brings more than 10 years of experience with all aspects of market development to his new role at Rotolo’s. As COO, Brach will update the training program and oversee Rotolo’s training team, new restaurant opening team and operations. He will create operations strategies and policies and effectively communicate these to Rotolo’s employees. Additionally, Brach will oversee human resource management and foster employee alignment with corporate goals.

Prior to joining Rotolo’s, Brach held multiple positions at the Planet Beach Franchising Corporation where he grew from a franchise business consultant to a GIS research analyst in just two years. Then, he became the co-owner and COO of Beach Pizza Management, LLC. In this position, Brach opened six Rotolo’s restaurants in 44 months, managed over 150 employees and annual sales of $5.5M, and became Rotolo’s largest franchisee by unit count and volume.

“Ryan is a motivated leader with proven success in training, managing, and developing personnel and he’s excellent at creating policies, procedures, manuals, and more,” Mitch Rotolo, CEO of Rotolo’s said. “He is passionate about Louisiana and the Rotolo’s brand. He even created the Garlic Parmesan Bites, Rotolo’s best-selling appetizer! Ryan will be an invaluable asset as we continue to expand our new prototype – Craft & Crust – and enhance operations excellence system-wide. We couldn’t be more excited to have him join our team.”

In 1996, Mitch Rotolo opened the first Rotolo’s Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., just a pizza throw away from LSU. Over 20 years later, the casual Italian restaurant now has over 30 franchises throughout Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Florida, with many more in the works. 

Popeye's to Grow in the Philippines

Popeyes and Kuya J Holdings Group, Inc., the owner and operator of Kuya J restaurants in the Philippines, inked an exclusive master franchise agreement to develop and grow the Popeyes brand in the Philippines.

“We are very excited to sign our first major development agreement for the Popeyes brand in Asia. We believe that our passion for food at Popeyes will resonate well with guests in the Philippines,” said Alexandre Santoro, President of Popeyes. “Our partner, Kuya J Group, brings years of local expertise and a keen understanding of consumers in the Philippines.”

“We are proud to partner with Popeyes to launch and develop this great brand in the Philippines. The Philippines is a large and growing market, and we are looking forward to serving the high-quality food that Popeyes offers to the country’s more than 100 million people,” said Lowell L. Yu, Chairman of Kuya J Group.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

BUILT Custom Burgers Opens in Ghana
BUILT Custom Burgers® continues to expand internationally with the opening of its first BUILT® restaurant in Accra, Ghana. The first BUILT has officially opened and is located at A&C Shell filling station, Boundary Road, East Legon. MTY Food Group/Kahala Brands™, the global owner/franchisor of the BUILT brand, has signed an Area Development Agreement with Nidal Ezzedine, owner of Sophara International Ltd.

Nidal Ezzedine founded Sophara International Ltd in 2015, which is a subsidiary of Palace Group and is based in Ghana. Sophara International is the Food & Beverage division of the company and operates cafes, restaurants, and fast food concepts. Among its many food and beverage brands, Sophara International also operates another Kahala Brands concept, The Counter®.

BUILT Custom Burgers provides a build-your-own dining experience. Customers can order signature burgers, customized burgers, fries, shakes, and more, all in a great environment. BUILT Custom Burgers is "BUILT" for everyone who enjoys high quality ingredients that are made to order, and offers healthier options such as: 100% natural, hormone and antibiotic free Angus Beef, gluten free buns, vegetarian options, as well as Halal products in Ghana.

"BUILT Custom Burgers has high quality products that allow the customer to customize their burger to fit their lifestyle or order one that is already created for them," said Nidal Ezzedine, CEO and owner of Sophara International Ltd. "Currently, there is a need in the West African market for a brand like BUILT Custom Burgers. BUILT Custom Burgers is the express version of its sister brand, The Counter, which also had a successful launch in Ghana. We feel very proud to bring BUILT Custom Burgers to the market of Ghana."

"We are honored and feel very privileged for our relationship with Nidal Ezzedine and Sophara International," said Eddy Jimenez, senior vice president of international operations and development. "Their impressive knowledge of the market combined with their great food & beverage experience and passion for offering their consumers high quality products and a great customer experience, make them the perfect fit for The Counter and BUILT brands."

The relationship between MTY Food Group/Kahala Brands and Nidal Ezzedine will continue to grow as there are plans to expand BUILT Custom Burgers across Ghana and additional countries in West Africa.

Russo's Opens in Heartland

Russo’s New York Pizzeria is now open at Pearland Town Center in Texas. The Pearland location adds to the brand’s growing momentum of 47 locations located both domestically and internationally.

“Opening a Russo’s in Pearland just made sense for myself and the brand. I frequent this area and realized we didn’t have a restaurant that compares to our authentic New York-style pizza & Italian kitchen,” said Sam Farouz, franchise owner of both the new Pearland location and the Marq-E Entertainment Complex off Interstate 10. “Every dish on our menu – whether its pizza or pasta – is handcrafted and made with fresh, high quality ingredients. We’re honored to bring the Russo’s difference to Pearland.”

At 2,900 square-feet, the Pearland location presents a new and unique interior layout that features an open-kitchen anchored by a brick oven at the entrance that can cook up to 16 pizzas at one time.

 “Sam is such a valuable, longstanding member of the Russo’s New York Pizzeria family,” said Chef Anthony Russo, CEO, founder and the creative culinary genius behind the brand. “His passion for restaurant operations, experience and commitment to quality makes him a great growth partner. I’m confident Sam will continue to carry on the Russo’s family tradition in Pearland.”

Zoup! To Open in Malvern

Zoup!, is opening in Malvern, Pennsylvania in the bustling Uptown Worthington development on Philadelphia’s Main Line. The new restaurant is the fifth for franchise owners Paul and Julie Diaz and the eleventh in the state.

“This location is special for us because it’s also a homecoming,” says Paul Diaz. “We opened our first Zoup! 10 years ago in Frazer and it feels great to be back in this area. We can’t wait to begin serving our convenient, fresh and delicious food in a premier retail center like Uptown Worthington.”

Diaz spent 20 years in management at two large waste and recycling companies before he discovered Zoup! in 2007 during a visit to Michigan. Immediately impressed, he and Julie became franchise owners and haven’t looked back, now owning and operating more Zoup! restaurants than any other franchise owner. They currently own Zoup! restaurants in Lancaster, Plymouth Meeting, Wyomissing and Collegeville and have enjoyed becoming an integral part of these communities.

Located at 650 Carnegie Blvd. in Malvern, Zoup! Uptown Worthington is slated to debut this fall. The restaurant will be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Primo Hoagies Inks Deal for North Jersey 

Primo Hoagies signed an agreement with Christopher Amico for the North Jersey area.

The new hoagie franchise location will be the first of three locations that Amico will be opening in the area. Primo Hoagies prides itself on offering guests high quality, original products from a diverse menu, including the newest addition of an authentic Philly cheese steak. Amico’s combination of corporate experience and small business ownership prepares him well for this role. He will be managing daily operations.

“We’re proud to have Chris join our team, as he will be a great asset to our brand,” said Rocco Fiorentino, president and CEO of Primo Hoagies. “The North Jersey market will soon be able to take a bite into our tradition and become part of the buzz that has taken over the East Coast since the start of the company,” added Adam Biedenbender, vice president of development at Primo Hoagies. “We can’t wait to see the lines form at Chris’ store.”

Primo Hoagies launched two multi-unit deals in Atlanta and Charleston, and a single-unit deal in Bel Air, Maryland. At more than 90 locations across seven states, the new locations bring excitement and authenticity to several more communities.

“When I began to research different franchise opportunities, I was looking for a unique concept with a rich tradition that has the ability to bring people together,” said Amico. “As an Italian-American, I believe I found the perfect fit with Primo Hoagies. Nothing beats serving up a classic Italian staple that anyone can enjoy.”

Chicken Salad Chick Opens in Hattiesburg

Chicken Salad Chick will open its newest franchised location in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Marking the brand’s 93rd restaurant overall and second opening in eight days, the Hattiesburg location reflects Chicken Salad Chick’s growth and aggressive development efforts throughout the South. The company now has 93 restaurants across the Southeast.

The Hattiesburg restaurant is owned and operated by husband-and-wife franchisees Blake and Shae Fuller of Taste and C, LLC. Blake was first introduced to Chicken Salad Chick when he met founder Stacy Brown and her husband, Kevin while working as a food broker. He was immediately drawn to the brand’s welcoming culture and mounting success, which fueled his desire to become a Chicken Salad Chick franchisee. After trying the food firsthand, the Fullers, along with their business partners David Stephens and Walt Marcello, decided to bring Chicken Salad Chick to more communities throughout Mississippi. With their first restaurant in Flowood experiencing great success, the Fullers are excited to open their second restaurant in Hattiesburg and have plans to open two additional locations in Jackson, Mississippi within the next year.

“Joining Chicken Salad Chick has been one of our greatest decisions,” said Shae Fuller. “Since the opening of our first location, the amount of love and excitement we’ve seen from residents around Mississippi has been astounding. From the quaint dining atmosphere to the flavorful chicken salad recipes, guests embrace and adore what Chicken Salad Chick is all about. We are excited to share this one-of-a-kind experience with the residents of Hattiesburg and know the unique flavors will leave them speechless.”

Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar  Will Open in West Monroe

The people of Ouachita Parish will no longer have to drive to Shreveport or Bossier City to get their Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar fix. The Baton Rouge-based restaurant is bringing its signature Louisiana-inspired menu to West Monroe on Monday, Aug. 27.

“We are extremely excited to bring everyone in the West Monroe area a Walk-On’s to call their own,” said Franchisee Chris McJunkins. “We have found the perfect location right off of I-20 and we’ve hired an All-American team of 200 to join us in serving the West Monroe community. Walk-On’s is unlike anything in the area, so we know it’s going to be a very welcome addition to the dining and entertainment landscape in the area.”

When the new restaurant opens, it will be the 22nd Walk-On’s system-wide. In addition to this location, there are four in Baton Rouge, two in New Orleans and San Antonio, and one each in Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Covington, Broussard, Alexandria, Gonzales, and Bossier City, La., and Lubbock 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.

Popbar Expansion Continues

Popbar opened its first location in Concord at The Veranda., California.

Popbar currently has 18 stores in the US in states like AZ, CA, FL, NC, NY, and TX, and 11 stores internationally in countries like Canada, Panama, and Singapore, but this is just the beginning.  There are currently 6 stores under construction in new territories, and many more to come.  Popbar Concord, the fourth to open in 2018, is located at The Veranda, a luxury, mixed-use retail center with specialty dinning, gourmet grocery, open air shopping, and more. 

"I'm overjoyed to be a part of the Popbar family and am excited to bring the experience of customizable, all natural, low calorie treats to the East Bay," says Sarabjit Bajaj, Popbar franchisee.  "I'm thrilled to make this dream a reality here at The Veranda where we will be offering healthy, authentic, delightful treats to shoppers and moviegoers at this very special, new complex." 

Poppin' up soon in: 
Elk Grove, CA
Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Sacramento, CA
Atlanta, GA
New Orleans, LA
Charleston, SC
Summerville, SC
Galleria Mall, Houston, TX
Victory Park, TX

sweetFrog's Adopt a School

sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt is hosting “Adopt a School” donation drives in participating markets throughout the country.     

Through September 2, all local customers are encouraged to help local sweetFrog stores “Adopt a School” by donating much needed supplies – like pencils, notebooks and glue sticks.  Each sweetFrog location has picked one lucky local school to “adopt” so all local customers will know which school they’re supporting.

All customers who contribute to the cause by September 2nd by dropping off school supplies in the large decorated box found at their participating local sweetFrog shop will receive 20% off their favorite frozen yogurt treat. 

sweetFrog’s CEO, Patrick Galleher, says he’s proud of what the “Adopt a School” initiative will accomplish and believes it fits the company’s core values perfectly.

“Since sweetFrog’s inception nearly a decade ago, all of our local owners have consistently displayed an unwavering commitment to their community,” says Galleher.  “Giving back and helping young minds thrive is tied to everything we do, from local FUNdraisersto Leap Forward programsto Boy Scout and Girl Scout patch programs.   We are very excited about ‘Adopt a School’ because it gives us a fantastic opportunity to team up with local residents and help teachers and students in dire need of supplies as school budgets continue to tighten.”

  Local sweetFrog stores will help their adopted school coordinate a school-wide spirit night the week of September 3rdto reveal the results of the “Adopt a School” push and allow students to have some fun with sweetFrog’s mascots, Scoop and Cookie.   All collected items, plus 25 percent of sales generated by the local sweetFrog during spirit night day, will be delivered to the respective adopted school in the days following the spirit night.

“There’s no better way to wrap up a fantastic summer and get school season started on the right note,” says Galleher.   “We look forward to providing teachers and students around the country with a much-needed boost – all school supplies collected via their respective ‘Adopt a School’ donation drive and a portion of sales earned on their spirit night day.   And of course, a little fun with America’s favorite mascots, Scoop and Cookie, too.  What’s not to love?!?!”