Roy Rogers Returns to LI and The Flamin’ Hot Spot

This edition of MRM's News Bites features Focus Brands and Jamba Juice, Grubhub, LevelUp and OrderUp , Cheeto's and Roy Choi, Starbucks, Elite Restaurant Group and Daphne's, Roy Rogers and  the ment'or BKB Foundation.

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Focus Completes Jamba Juice Acquisition

Focus Brands, Inc. completed its previously announced tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of common stock of Jamba, Inc.  Jamba is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of FBI.


"We are excited to officially welcome Jamba, a leader in the smoothie and juice category with strong franchise operators and an iconic heritage, into our family of well-known and highly loved 'fan favorite' brands," said Steve DeSutter, CEO of FBI. "We look forward to what lies ahead for this great brand, especially the continued growth that will benefit Jamba guests, franchisees, and employees."

 Jamba Juice has more than 800 locations worldwide.

"The addition of Jamba to the Focus portfolio of brands adds a premium beverage and lifestyle concept to our family of snack and restaurant brands," added DeSutter. "We look forward to growing this business with existing Jamba franchisees, sharing with our current roster of great franchisees, and introducing the Jamba brand to a new group of entrepreneurs."

After the Jamba acquisition, Focus, through its affiliate brands, is the franchisor and operator of more than 6,000 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes and bakeries in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and over 50 foreign countries under the brand names Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky's®, Moe's Southwest Grill®, Auntie Anne's®, McAlister's Deli® and Jamba Juice®, as well as Seattle's Best Coffee® on certain military bases and in certain international markets.  

GrubHub Takes LevelUp and Inks Deal with Order Up

Grubhub closed its previously announced acquisition of LevelUp.  Under terms of the agreement, Grubhub paid $390 million in cash for LevelUp, funded through cash on hand and Grubhub's existing credit facility.

Grubhub expects the LevelUp transaction to contribute revenue of approximately $2 million to third quarter results and negatively impact EBITDA by less than $1 million. The company will update full year guidance on its third quarter earnings call. 

Separately, Grubhub announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire certain assets of 11 franchisee-owned OrderUp food delivery markets across California, Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, Oregon, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Grubhub previously acquired certain assets of 27 other OrderUp markets in 2017. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2018, subject to standard closing conditions.

Burning Love for Cheetos

Inspired by fans’  desire for more Cheetos-filled culinary delicacies, Cheetos,  is turning up the heat and opening The Flamin’ Hot Spot, a new, limited-time restaurant in Los Angeles dedicated to the beloved flavor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

The Flamin’ Hot Spot will open in the heart of Hollywood Hills, Calif., from September 18 through September 20. 

Roy Choi

Cheetos and  Los Angeles chef Roy Choi have curated a Flamin’ Hot menu inspired by his signature taste and some of his most notable dishes – Hot Cheetos Burrito, Five-Alarm Cheetos Steak, XXTRA Flamin’ Hot Rice Bowl just to name a few.

“I have a fun side and a serious side. This is the fun me,” said chef Roy Choi. “I’ve wanted to pair Kogi and Chego items with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos for as long as I can remember, and now all of those late nights, road trips and the Cheetos dishes I have imagined can come true. I know the fans have thought about putting Hot Cheetos in a Kogi burrito – well, so have I and here it is and more!”

Flamin' Hot Elotes

“When we opened the first Cheetos-inspired restaurant, The Spotted Cheetah, we were overwhelmed by the response and excited to see the enthusiasm our fans had for a premium Cheetos-culinary experience. We knew we had to bring it back,” said Brandi Ray, senior marketing director, Frito-Lay North America.

Hot Chocolate Shake

“Chef Roy Choi is the ideal partner to masterfully capture the signature Flamin’ Hot Cheetos kick in our one-of-a-kind menu, and Los Angeles’ incredible passion for cool culinary experiences makes it the perfect location for The Flamin’ Hot Spot," added Ray. 

Starbucks Greener Store

Starbucks Coffee Company  announced the “Starbucks Greener Stores” framework and a commitment to design, build and operate 10,000 “Greener Stores” globally by 2025

“Starbucks Greener Stores” framework will be built upon comprehensive performance criteria that help ensure the company’s approach to designing, building, and operating its company-owned stores sets a new standard for green retail. Over the next year, Starbucks will develop an accredited program to audit all existing company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada against the framework criteria, culminating in 10,000 “Greener Stores” globally by 2025, encompassing existing stores, new builds and renovations. “Starbucks Greener Stores” framework will also be open-sourced to benefit the broader retail industry.

“Simply put, sustainable coffee, served sustainably is our aspiration,” said Kevin Johnson, president and ceo of Starbucks. “We know that designing and building green stores is not only responsible, it is cost effective as well. The energy and passion of our green apron partners has inspired us to find ways to operate a greener store that will generate even greater cost savings while reducing impact.”

Announced on-stage at The Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, C.A., the “Starbucks Greener Stores” framework is anticipated to save the company an incremental $50 million in utilities over the next 10 years. This builds on Starbucks ten-year legacy of utility cost savings attributable to Greener Store practices, which already equates to approximately $30 million in saved annual operating costs.

With this commitment, Starbucks will also further enable and empower its more than 330,000 partners globally to be informed and engaged in sustainability, adding to a burgeoning group of partner advocates through Partners for Sustainability and the Greener Apron voluntary certification program with Arizona State University.

Elite Takes Over Daphne's

Los Angeles-based Elite Restaurant Group has taken over operations of all 23 Daphne’s locations. The group, headed by Michael Nakhleh, has reworked the Mediterranean concept for new growth. The name has been simplified to just Daphne’s, dropping the “California Greek.” All 23 Daphne’s restaurants have been remodeled with a new, more contemporary design that make them more current. They also launched a new menu, created with the help of menu consultants Think Culinary.


“Daphne’s will always keep its emphasis on Mediterranean, — but now everything is made from scratch in house, all fresh, with a lot of organic items,” said Nakhleh.

 Daphne’s has recently opened four new California locations in: Oceanside, Mission Valley, Escondido, Conoga Park. The company has plans to franchise the fast-casual Daphne’s, as well as add roughly 10 new corporate locations annually.

The company has also launched Daphne’s-branded retail line in Costco stores, including a gyro kit and two salad kits. Elite also acquired Slater’s 50/50 2016. The company has launched a franchising program for that brand.

Roy Rogers Returns to Long Island

Roy Rogers® Restaurants signed an agreement with Burger Brothers Restaurant Group, a multi-brand franchise developer with locations throughout Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens, to open seven new restaurants throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties and Queens. The Western-themed quick-service concept famous for its trio of roast beef sandwiches, burgers and fried chicken, plans to open its first new restaurant on Long Island in the fall of 2019.

“We haven’t had a location on Long Island in many years, and we’ve received many requests from devoted fans to return,” noted Jim Plamondon, co-owner of Roy Rogers Franchise Company LLC. “A year from now, we’ll be answering those requests with a brand new site featuring our high-quality menu of roast beef, burgers and fried chicken as well as our ever-popular Fixin’s Bar. Moreover, we’re thrilled to be bringing our legendary concept back to the area in partnership with great operators like John and Jeff Froccaro. They have an excellent track record of developing successful restaurants, and will be a great addition to our system in optimizing performance of their own sites and reintroducing the brand to Long Island.”

Long Island’s last Roy Rogers closed in November 2010 during a period when Plamondon and his brother, Pete Jr., who jointly purchased the rights to franchise the concept in 2002, were whittling down the system to reach a solid base of sites that could meet the high standards they had for the concept. Over time, the chain has been opening new and renovated sites in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia, primarily through franchising. The company has debuted 10 new restaurants since the start of 2015, and is now looking to add two to four units per year in strategic markets throughout the East.

In seeking to reestablish a presence on Long Island, Roy Rogers set out to find a strategic partner that knew the market well and had a solid existing organization able to support new restaurants. Burger Brothers, in partnership with Harry Braunstein of Braunstein Turkish LLP, a long-time business partner of the company, has amassed a restaurant empire covering Long Island’s two counties and New York City’s outer boroughs, with 36 Burger King restaurants, three current locations of The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, and most recently entering into an arrangement to develop Qdoba Mexican Eats. The Froccaros saw adding Roy Rogers to their portfolio as an ideal way to maximize their share of the local restaurant segment.

“Roy Rogers is a great, historic brand with many fans here in New York, my brother, Harry and I among them,” said Jeff Froccaro. “That was certainly part of the appeal for us. We also liked the fact that we have our pick of communities in which to develop, and the knowledge the Plamondons bring to the table, having operated Roy Rogers restaurants themselves for many years. We’re excited to be partnering with them to bring our communities another great dining option.”

Roy Rogers is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary with a yearlong campaign featuring Cal Ripken Jr. The legendary Baltimore ballplayer has been treating fans to guest appearances at restaurants, serving as brand spokesperson in live interviews and commercials and lending his name and image to in-store displays, online promotions and marketing materials. During this milestone year, Roy Rogers has also recruited several heavy hitters of its own, appointing Dunkin’ Donuts veteran Jeremy Biser executive vice president and CKE Restaurants veteran Mark Jenkins senior director of marketing. Other system enhancements are in the works, all aimed at strengthening brand value and preparing for further expansion.\

“Today’s announcement reveals our concept’s strong growth potential within the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast,” noted Biser. “We are proud to partner with high-quality, sophisticated franchisees such as the Froccaros, and look forward to a great relationship with them and the New York communities their restaurants will serve.”

Roy Rogers Restaurants was founded in 1968, and currently consists of 24 company-owned restaurants and 29 franchise restaurants in six states. Franchise opportunities are available in select markets to qualified candidates. . The company has launched a franchising program for that brand and is has resulted in exponential growth

Young Chef and Commis Competitions

 On Wednesday, December 12the ment'or BKB Foundation returns to Las Vegas to hold their Annual Young Chef and Commis competitions.

All competitors are paired with mentors from the Foundation's Culinary Council or previous Bocuse d'Or Team USA representatives, in tandem with the foundation's goal of inspiring culinary excellence and fostering a supportive community for young talent.

Young Chefs to compete in this annual highly recognized competition inspiring the next generation of great American chefs 

Young Chef Candidates must select an assistant to train and compete with, and will have 2 hours and 35 minutes to cook and plate 10 tasting size portions of the dish; Commis candidates will have 90 minutes. Candidates must develop a unique recipe based on the featured protein, lamb loin saddle provided by Pure Bred Lamb.

Esteemed chefs and founders of ment'or, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jérôme Bocuse will host the event along with a jury consisting of Paul Bartolotta, Justin Cogley, Gerard Craft, Olivier Dubreuil, Chris Hastings, Tim Hollingsworth, Michelle Karr-Ueoka, Gavin Kaysen, Roland Passot, Mathew Peters, Francis Reynard, Rich Rosendale, Curtis Stone, and Philip Tessier.

Ment'or Chairman, Chef Daniel Boulud comments, "The Young Chef and Commis competition provides young cooks with an incomparable platform to showcase their skills, passion and creativity. They are given the opportunity to demonstrate their talents and master their work. Our goal at ment'or is to guide them to become the next generation of great chefs in America."

Krystyn Navarro, the winner of the first-ever Young Chef Competition in 2014, shared, "Competing in the Ment'or Young Chef Competition was a turning point for me; up until that point, I hadn't yet found my voice and identity as a chef. The opportunity to be part of the Young Chef Competition provided me with not only an incredible platform to refine my technique, but to find my voice and inspiration."

Establishing a platform for young American chefs to succeed is at the heart of ment'or's mission. Offering exposure to some of the world's most prestigious chefs, The Young Chef (28 years of age and younger) and Commis (21 years of age and younger) competitions recognize and promote talented young cooks in a competitive environment. Winners are offered the incredible opportunity to travel to Lyon, France and support Team USA at the 2019 Bocuse d'Or Finale in January.

Ment'or has selected seven young chefs and five commis candidates to compete in this year's competition, taking place at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada's Hospitality Hall. 

The 2018 Young Chef candidates are:

  • Mac Buben, Bistro Bis & Woodward Table in Washington, D.C.
  • Evan Burgess, Boka in Chicago, IL
  • Ian Cairns, Lukshon and Fathers Office in Los Angeles, CA
  • Jakub Czyszczon, Senia in Honolulu, HI
  • Suellen Drummond, Deauxave in Boston, MA
  • Ryan Peters, Fish Nor Fowl in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Jordan Sanchez, Garrison at The Fairmont Hotel in Austin, TX

The 2018 Commis candidates are:

  • Amber Baden, Bar Boulud in Boston, MA
  • Hans Ernst, Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, MN
  • Sean Koenig, The French Laundry in Yountville, CA
  • Michael Sansom, Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA
  • Christian Wieczorek, The Culinary Institute of America Student in Hyde Park, NY

The competition will be conducted in front of a live audience and is made possible by: All-CladBridorNordaq FreshPure Bred Lamb, and Steelite