MRM Franchise Feed: Welcome to WahlClub and Krystal Winners

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

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New App for Wahlburgers

Wahlburgers launched a mobile app featuring user-friendly experiences such as online ordering and access to extended member benefits through its WahlClub, the brand’s loyalty rewards program., top photo. Designed to give guests a new way to interact with the brand, the Wahlburgers App is available for download at the App Store or Google Play. In the App, guests can sign up for the WahlClub where the more a guest eats, the more Wahlburgers treats. 


“At Wahlburgers, we think of our guests like family and we wanted to come up with a way to thank them for their continued support throughout the years,” said Chef Paul Wahlberg. “We thought an interactive mobile app that allows guests to order in advance and provides access to members-only benefits through the WahlClub would be a great way to show our appreciation. We’re excited to share all the unique perks that guests will be able to unlock through the WahlClub, as well as specialty content and experiences that will only be available on our mobile app.”

Through the new Wahlburgers App, guests can sign up for the WahlClub and take advantage of loyalty benefits as they accumulate points based on purchases made either during a visit to a Wahlburgers restaurant or via online orders made through the mobile app. The WahlClub awards guests one point for every eligible $1 they spend at participating Wahlburgers locations throughout the U.S. Once a guest signs up for the WahlClub, they can immediately redeem one free side of Tots as a sign-up reward, one free non-alcoholic housemade Frappe to celebrate their birthday and access to members-only promotions and opportunities for exclusive VIP surprises.

Once a guest has at least 75 points, they become eligible to redeem points for Rewards, such as complimentary menu items and/or Wahlgear (apparel and accessories). For example:

●     75 points earns a complimentary Side (including Fries, Tots and Onion Rings)

●      150 points earns a complimentary Brother’s Choice Burger or a Wahlbowl (including the Our Burger, BBQ Bacon Burger, Thanksgiving Turkey Burger, Our Burger Wahlbowl, BBQ Bacon Wahlbowl, and Jenn’s Chicken Wahlbowl)

●      At 500 points, guests can get a complimentary Wahlburgers t-shirt or hat

Taking the  Schlotzsky’s Brand Across the Rio Grande

 Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery® signed 10 franchise agreements to grow the brand across the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas – including Edinburg, McAllen, Weslaco, Harlingen, Brownsville and Laredo. Driving Schlotzsky’s South Texas expansion are seasoned multi-unit Dairy Queen franchisees, the Lozano Family of Lotzapan L.L.C. At the helm are parents Robert and Laurie Lozano along with son, Bob Lozano Jr., daughter, Lensda Lozano, and her husband, David Lozano. The Lozano family has been with Dairy Queen for more than 32 years, currently operating 41 locations throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

“With the addition of Schlotzsky’s to our portfolio, we now have two wholesome, legendary brands that have staying power,” said Bob Lozano Jr., Chief Development Officer of The DQ Team. “Our family has deep ties to Schlotzsky’s hometown, and we could not be more excited to join the brand as it continues to grow. There is something truly humbling about a person choosing to come into your restaurant to feed themselves and their families and we love the connection Schlotzsky’s makes with a diverse group of people.”

Founded in 1971, as a small restaurant in Austin, Texas, serving only one sandwich, Schlotzsky’s now spans across 35 states with more than 350 restaurants serving up toasted sandwiches, artisan flatbreads, specialty pizzas, freshly tossed salads, gourmet soups and more. Using the guidance and resources of Schlotzsky’s parent company, FOCUS Brands Inc., the company successfully converted all deli locations to the Austin Eatery concept earlier this year.

Expanding in new and existing markets, Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery is placing an emphasis on increasing accessibility through third-party delivery, catering, take-out, and drive-thru efficiencies. 

“We’re thrilled to have such experienced operators join our growing Schlotzsky’s family,” said Beto Guajardo, President of Schlotzsky’s. “The Lozano’s have a rich history with the state of Texas, and we are confident they will build a strong business. We look forward to providing the needed support and resources to help them succeed.”

More MOD in Colorado

MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, LLC expanded its development agreement with Best Pizza, LLC, their exclusive franchisee in Colorado. The deal increases Best Pizza’s development agreement from 25 to 45 locations, and adds Southern Wyoming to their territory. Best Pizza is operated by industry veterans Bob Merullo, Kevin Embree and Scott Schooler, who opened their first MOD in the Denver area in September 2014, and currently operate 16 locations across Colorado. The new MOD locations will open over the next seven years.

“Colorado has been a fantastic market for MOD, and the team at Best Pizza has done an incredible job bringing the MOD brand to life across the state,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and CEO of MOD Pizza. “As our largest franchisee, they continue to develop high performing stores, consistently deliver a great experience to customers, and are making positive impacts in each of their local communities. We are really proud to be working with Bob and his team and are confident their success will continue as they expand further in Colorado and into Southern Wyoming, extending MOD’s footprint to 29 states.” 

The company currently has over 460 locations system-wide*, with an additional 20+ stores slated to open by the end of 2019.

“We’ve loved introducing MOD to new communities over the past several years, and we’re really excited for this next stage of development,” said Bob Merullo, CEO of Best Pizza, LLC. “It’s rare to find a brand that is steadfast in its commitment to build a successful business while putting its people and their communities first. We’ve found that unique mix with MOD and we’re looking forward to what the future holds.”

Best Pizza opened the first MOD Pizza franchise location in September 2014 and currently operates 16 locations spread across the greater Denver area, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Greeley. 

Krystal Receives ATD Honors

The Krystal Company received international recognition for its best-in-class practices from the Association for Talent Development (ATD), the professional membership organization supporting those who advance the knowledge and skills of employees worldwide. Krystal was one of 59 recipients of the 2019 ATD BEST Award presented on October 3 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. The ATD BEST Award recognizes organizations that demonstrate success through talent development.

L-R: Mitchell Irving, Christine Bains, Catherine Jefferson and Richard Fletcher, all part of Krystal’s People Experience Team who were recognized at the 2019 Association for Talent Development (ATD) BEST Awards.

"Our people are the key to our success," said Catherine Jefferson, people and culture leader for Krystal. "Krystal is committed to investing in the growth and development of our employees, and this award is validation of these efforts."

ATD received entries for the BEST Award from 142 organizations including Krystal, which submitted quantitative and qualitative information about its talent development practices and programs. Applications were assessed in a rigorous blind review by members of the BEST Awards advisory committee comprised of experts in the field.

As a result of its talent strategy, Krystal improved employee retention, bucking an industry turnover trend, while driving third-party delivery transactions with targeted training and support. Another benchmark talent development initiative for the brand was improving its core product, the original Krystal burger, which accounts for 70 percent of non-breakfast sales. Krystal's "Care for the Square" program implemented new processes and procedures that improved the taste of Krystal burgers and fries. Krystal's underlying business strategy is to "Square UP Results."

New CMO at German Doner Kebab

German Doner Kebab has appointed a new Global Chief Marketing Officer to spearhead its growth and development across the world. Murray Willows joins from TGI Fridays International and will be tasked with continuing to develop consumer awareness of fast-casual brand German Doner Kebab and building upon its growing profile.

German Doner Kebab, the flagship brand of Hero Brands, is now rolling out aggressively throughout Europe, the Middle East and USA, with over 700 franchises already signed-up to the German Doner Kebab project globally. Murray’s appointment comes as German Doner Kebab forges ahead with plans to open 100 stores in Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years.

German Doner Kebab CEO Imran Sayeed believes Murray Willows’ experience will prove key in strengthening the senior team and building upon German Doner Kebab’s rapid expansion.

He said: “Murray’s wisdom, experience and know-how speak for themselves and I believe that his appointment is a very powerful statement about the direction the company is taking. He joins German Doner Kebab as we continue to embark on significant growth throughout the globe and his guidance and expertise during this period will prove invaluable. Murray boasts an extensive resume, having worked for some of the biggest brands in the industry and that experience will be crucial as we continue our mission of bringing the German Doner Kebab experience to more consumers throughout the globe.”

Murray brings over 20 years’ experience in the industry, having previously held the position of Chief Marketing Officer for TGI Fridays International, where he was responsible for Marketing, and Food and Beverage Development, and Restaurant Design across 52 international markets.

During his tenure, TGI Fridays’ business saw consistent profit and restaurant growth as well as consolidation as the leading US casual dining brand in international markets. Murray was also responsible for leading major changes to the food and beverage position and introducing a new restaurant design for the brand. His previous roles were at Yum Brands, the owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut brands, which saw Murray take on the position of Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Pizza Hut in the UK, Vice President Marketing for Pizza Hut International and before that, Chief Concept Officer for KFC in South Africa.

Murray said: “I am very excited to be joining German Doner Kebab as it continues its expansion across the UK and throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America. I see this an amazing opportunity to lead the drive and further strengthen and accelerate GDK’s development as a worldwide brand.”

A Very Nice Thank You

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Taco John’s recently hosted a $50,000 sweepstakes as a "thank you" to its loyal guests for helping it become one of the largest Mexican quick-service restaurant brands in America. Guests simply had to purchase a medium or large drink between July 1-Sept. 1 for the chance to win $50,000, free food, gift cards or cool swag. One in every three participants won, but only one participant won $50,000. 

Local Shawano resident, Jeremy Vollmar, was the lucky winner.  He visited the Taco John’s located in Fox River Mall, ordered the Super Burrito Combo, entered the code online and won $50,000.


“I was at work when I found out that I had won,” Vollmar said. “I didn’t think it was real. I had never won anything before! This was actually my first time visiting Taco John’s and I absolutely loved it. I knew I wanted to revisit even before I won this incredible prize.” 

“We value the ongoing support of our guests and wanted to take this opportunity to give back,” said Alan Wright, Taco John’s Vice President for Marketing. “That’s why we decided to celebrate our 50th anniversary by giving birthday presents to our guests throughout July and August.”

To add to the excitement, Taco John’s is continuing its sweepstakes through the end of October.  One in every three participants will win a prize and another lucky Taco John’s fan will win $50,000. No purchase necessary.