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Operations & People + Franchise & Licensing + Movers & Shakers

U-Swirl Acquires Yogurtini and Aspen Leaf Yogurt Chains for National Expansion

U-Swirl has acquired the Aspen Leaf Yogurt and Yogurtini self-serve frozen yogurt chains from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. The transaction includes the franchising rights, intellectual property, plant and assets of Yogurtini along with plant, asset and equipment of Aspen Leaf Yogurt in exchange for 60 percent of U-Swirl, Inc.’s common stock and other debt and equity considerations.

Fazoli’s Ramps Up Growth in Non-Traditional Channels

Fazoli’s is going small to grow big. Ramping up non-traditional channel growth, it opened its second non-traditional store in a travel center on Interstate 74 in Shelby, Ind. Partnering with Aditi 3 Fast Food, LLC, it expects success with this dine-in, carry-out and drive-thru combination unit. The I-74 unit was developed within the travel center C-store unit that is helmed by Aditi partner Chintu Patel,

Co-Branded Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s Store in Trinidad is Milestone International Opening for Focus Brands

Focus Brands International  marked the 1000th international opening in Trinidad. The store, a franchised, co-branded Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s location, opened at the end of November in the Fall of Westmall in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  Cinnaworld Ltd. Is the husband-and-wife franchise group operating the unit.

NRA 2013 Restaurant Good Neighbor Award to Highlight Community Service, Philanthropy in Industry, As Deadline Approaches

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) will recognize restaurateurs and restaurant companies displaying strong community support with the Good Neighbor Award.  In conjunction with American Express, the award was created to further highlight the restaurant industry’s contributions to their surrounding communities.

Moe’s Southwest Grill to Grow Grande in Costa Rica on Wings of Six-Unit Agreement

Moe’s Southwest Grill opened its first store in Costa Rica in Ezacu. Moe’s, part of the Focus Brands portfolio of restaurants, will grow in the  country with franchise partner Roberto Ricciardi, who opened the first restaurant in Grupo Agrisal’s new Plaza Tempo in November. The agreement with Ricciardi will bring another five units to Costa Rica in five years.

Burger 21 to Expand ‘Chef-Inspired’ Concept in Metro-D.C. Area with Former Dunkin’ Franchisees

Fast casual Burger 21 is looking to thrive in metro Washington, D.C., after signing a multi-unit agreement with veteran franchisees in the area. The deal with Ray Patel, Joseph Yu, Bubuhai Patel and Nick Patel will see four stores developed in the Tysons Corner and Fair Oaks neighborhoods of Fairfax County, Va., and in Rockville, Md.

Accretive Capital Challenges Rationalization, Process for $340M Sale of Caribou Coffee to JAB

Caribou Coffee Company’s agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Joh. A Benckiser Group, or JAB, has raised some eyebrows.  The December 17 announcement by Caribou Coffee, the second-largest branded coffee house chain in the country by number of units, that it will sell itself for approximately $340M, or $16 per share, effectively taking the company private, has elicited a challenge from a large shareholder, Accretive Capital Partners, LLC.

Quick Serve Leader Magazine Releases List of Most Popular 2012 Stories, Quadruples Readership

The Informed, Inspired News Magazine for Top QSR Management Sees Diverse Set of Top Stories.

BOSTON ─ Quick Serve Leader magazine released its most popular foodservice stories of 2012. The fast-growing QSR-targeted publication, focusing on innovation topics in menu, marketing, operations, people development and technology, is part of the Kandessa Digital portfolio

Fighting the Battle to Retain Employees, Restaurants Can Embrace Engagement, Inclusion as Strategies

Preparing to play the “turnover game,” countless human resources professionals budget, analyze data, and seek help from the experts in preparing for the annual competition. Who will win? Unlike jousting, but with nearly as much consequence, it seems like a game without end and without a winner. Employees come and go, and customers see a new a face with each passing month ─ someone new to prepare their coffee, toast a bagel or toss their Greek salad.

How to Fire Up Sales, Visits with Hot Sandwiches

"Bring me your tired, your cold, your over-shopped patrons, and I will feed them." It may not be anyone's trademarked motto just yet, but this holiday season it will be many chain operators' calling. The contrast of a hot meal to the harsh realities of the winter cold (in most parts of the country) and burdened customers, taxed with everything from carrying kids to hockey practice to finding the perfect holiday gift for grandma, will provide ample opportunity for sales building. 

Exec Q&A: Corner Bakery’s Jonathan Benjamin on Growing Franchising at the Bakery-Cafe Concept, Franchise Partnerships

With recent growth and expansion in the Northeast, and an eye on New England, Corner Bakery Cafe is looking to leverage the relationship it has with owner Roark Capital. It's a still-fledgling concept by many accounts, but fortified by Roark’s reputation for growing franchise retail and restaurant businesses, one that many insiders will expect to now see accelerated development.

Wingstop Expands International Presence with Multi-Unit Deal in Russia

Wingstop, a fast-growing quick-serve chicken wing chain, will be arriving in Russia. The chain has signed an agreement with master franchisee and developer Baxtor Limited to build 50 Wingstop restaurants in Russia over the next ten years, opening the first location sometime in 2013.

Cinnabon's Kat Cole Returns to Undercover Boss, Advocates Connected Capitalism through E-Book, ‘Changers’

The November 16 episode of “Undercover Boss” brought Kat Cole of Cinnabon, Inc. back to the show ─ this time as a restaurant CEO working undercover at a few of the company-owned and licensed stores and in a Stoughton Wisconsin, plant, where Cream of Wheat is produced with Cinnabon's cinnamon flavoring. Cole had previously appeared on the show while she was part of the executive team for Hooters of America, Inc.

Restaurant Execs Get Vocal Against 'Obamacare' Amid Divided Opinion on Healthcare Reform

Chain executives have put the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a.k.a. "Obamacare," in the media spotlight once again. Executives and franchisees for Denny's, Applebee's and Papa John's Pizza have indicated they would impose reactive, and in some cases, punitive measures, to offset the projected increase in operating costs to their businesses. One of the most notorious remarks came from

Wingstop Promotes Dave Vernon to Chief Development Officer to Fuel Expansion to 1,000 Stores

Wingstop has promoted Dave Vernon, formerly SVP of Development, to Chief Development Officer. Vernon, who is featured in the latest issue of Chain Pulse magazine, is tapped to continue expanding Wingstop's domestic and international presence.

Exec Q&A: Cinnabon's Kat Cole Talks Makara Cinnamon and Leadership

Cinnabon's iconic popularity and growth continues, despite a growing movement by restaurants to focus on healthier offerings. "People are still looking to treat themselves," says Kat Cole, 34, president of Cinnabon and the youngest "Undercover Boss," starrng in the hit show on CBS yesterday. She says the chain offers a variety of different portions and options so Cinnabon's guests can do so.

For Share Our Strength, 2012 Dine Out Proceeds for Fighting Hunger Grow, Top $5M Goal

Share Our Strength reported beating the $5M fundraising goal for the Dine Out for No Kid Hungry campaign in 2012. In preliminary reporting, 8,292 restaurants participated, a 49-percent increase from last year, according to the Washington, D.C.-based organization.

Two Chains See Enthusiastic Support for No Kid Hungry Campaign During 2012 Dine Out

Share Our Strength's Dine Out for No Kid Hungry in September saw high participation and a healthy serving of generosity. Through its partners, Share Our Strength has raised more than $5M thus far through the Dine Out program. Support came from heavyweights like Corner Bakery Cafe, Arby's Restaurant Group and Denny's,and countless independents.

Exec Q&A: Krystal's Doug Pendergast on Building on Value, Nostalgia, a Customer-Focus to 'Renovate' the Burger Brand

When Krystal marked its 80th birthday October 24, it celebrated big, with 25-cent burgers and its CEO, Doug Pendergast, in the kitchen. The iconic Southern quick-serve burger brand was born around the Depression, and some of the hallmarks of hospitality and value are once again being resurrected as it enters a new chapter.

How Bakery Chains Fire Up Fast Casual Performance

The ovens aren't the only things firing up for fast casual bakeries. The segment has remained strong, even through the recession and post-recession. Fast casual bakeries saw sales increase eight percent in 2011, while sales grew 12 percent between 2008 and 2010.¹ Panera Bread's dominance was clear as it posted a one-year growth of 15.9

How CiCi's Became a Favorite in Consumers’ Minds, Took the Top Ranking in the Pizza Category

CiCi's Pizza's marketing programs and operational initiatives seem to have paid off. The 550-unit pizza and buffet chain was rated at the top of the pizza category by consumers in a recent Market Force survey. CiCi's Nancy Hampton spoke to Quick Serve Leader about the chain's progress on the marketing front

DDIFO Progresses with Management Transition as Executive Director Shanahan Assumes Leadership

The Dunkin' Donuts Independent Franchise Owners (DDIFO) group said Executive Director Edwin Shanahan has assumed full leadership of the DDIFO. Shanahan was named to his directorship role effective July 30, as the DDIFO transitioned the leadership of the group from President and COO Jim Coen. According to the DDIFO

Tropical Smoothie Continues 'Smart Growth' with Investment, Expands Menu with a 'Twist'

The BIP Opportunities Fund recently announced it had purchased a controlling interest in Tropical Smoothie Café and promoted Mike Rotondo to chief executive. The Atlanta-based chain has 315 units and is poised for growth through franchising. Through the recent funding deal, Rotondo says BIP will bring a combination of knowledge and expertise

Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana to Start Off 2013 with New Leadership, Reports FRGI

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. (FRGI) announced the promotions of Danny Meisenheimer and Todd Coerver to executive vice president, chief operating officer at Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana, respectively, as of Jan. 31, 2013. The executives, most recently in brand and marketing senior leadership roles, will take over for outgoing, retiring executives Jim Tunnessen

A New Chapter in 'Quick' Service: How Fast Food Operators Are Upscaling to Upend Fast Casuals

When Wendy's announced its Image Activation Program, it looked a lot like what McDonald's had been doing since 2004: upgrading its stores, creating separate dining sections, and adding flat panel TV's and Wi-Fi. In a Virginia Beach prototype, Wendy's customers will be greeted by separate dining sections,

In Spae's Promotion to COO, CiCi's Pizza Reinforces 'Build the Brand,' Moves New Initiatives Forward

If buffets could talk, the ones at CiCi's Pizza would be talking up a storm. In July, the pizza and buffet chain promoted Bill Spae to the position of chief operating officer. In his new role, he has a three-fold responsibility in operations, development and managing CiCi's distribution company, JMC Restaurant Distribution, LP. He'll also provide support to the

Zeiderelli's Pizza Parlor Owner Joins Community in Honoring 9/11 Fallen, Local VFD in Mechanicsburg

Zeiderelli's Pizza began a 9/11 rememberance event for the fallen emergency response personnel and to raise funds for the local volunteer fire department (VFD). Although the funds raised have been modest since the event’s inception in 2010 in Mechanicsburg, Penn

Pollo Tropical's New Deal for India Expands International Development Outside Core Markets of Latin America and the Caribbean

Pollo Tropical signed an agreement to expand the traditionally Hispanic chicken QSR (quick-serve restaurant) chain in the northern region of India. The new deal is with master franchisee Paramount Cuisines, Pvt., Ltd., a subsidiary of Paramount Group

Exec Q&A: Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical's Chief on the Marketing and New Positioning of Fiesta's Brands

Timothy Taft, president and CEO of Fiesta Restaurant Group, talks to Quick Serve Leader magazine about the new Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. (FRGI), after its spin-off from Carrols Restaurant Group, the largest owner of Burger King stores globally. Taft, who was appointed last August, says FRGI will be more nimble as an independent company and have more flexibility

Dunkin' Donuts Continues Aggressive Expansion in Birmingham, Ala. with Two Deals for 24 Stores

Dunkin' Donuts continued its development of stores in the Birmingham, Ala. area. As reported previously, Dunkin' Donuts has big plans for the market, closing a 9-unit deal recently with Star Restaurant Group. The bakery and coffee shop chain has it sights set on more, announcing the signing of two new deals for a total of 24 stores

Documentary Film: Why Lorenzo Will Be a Big Name for Restaurant Chain Leaders

Erle Dardick, CEO of MonkeyMedia Software is spearheading the new industry documentary film "Back to Basics." The film will chronicle the life of Lorenzo Torres, a 21-year old catering delivery coordinator for Panera Bread, who was raised in a parent-less home and overcame the challenges of his family troubles to emerge as a leader in his own restaurant.

To Fight Childhood Hunger, the Restaurant Industry Bands Together

This summer, parents will be able to text "FOOD" to 877-877, within the country, to find a summer meals program site near them offering free kids’ meals without the regulatory hassles and paperwork found through other comparable programs. The effort is funded by Arby's Foundation

Q&A: Fazoli's CEO on Creating a Winning Brand-Value Equation in Italian Fare

Guests at Fazoli's are treated to creative pasta dishes, including the steaming Penne with Creamy Basil Chicken. Food is served in real plateware and silverware. Managers of the 216-unit chain survey the dining areas and refill customers' drinks when needed. This is the latest experience at Fazoli's, which is starting to rival the

Wingstop to Break $400M in Sales, Accelerates Growth

Chicken continues to show a lot of versatility for culinary and R&D executives and is a popular menu driver for the chains that have built their success and reputation on the protein. The top three chains in the menu category exceeded $10B in sales

Starbucks Deal for Bay Bread Means Big Multi-Platform Growth for the La Boulange Brand [Analysis]

In a conference call Monday, Starbucks reiterated its planned growth strategy for the San Francisco-based La Boulange® bakery brand, part of the Bay Bread, LLC deal. The "strategic investment," according to Howard Schultz, chairman, president and chief executive of Starbucks, will build the $1.5B food business for the No. 1 coffee chain in the U.S. through a multi-platform approach:

Exec Q&A: Saladworks CEO John Scardapane Rides Freshness, Options, Franchising to Grow Salad Chain

Saladworks posted same store sales increases of eight percent last year, and in this year's first quarter saw same store sales surge 16 percent. In this Quick Serve Leader interview John Scardapane, Chairman and CEO of Saladworks, sheds some light on the company's menu and expansion initiatives, and its differentiated franchising program.

Q&A: Smashburger's Founder Ryan Talks Buzz Marketing, Being Unique and Leadership Lessons

Smashburger celebrated the opening of its 100th store in April just outside of Chicago. While many in the industry, restaurateurs, bloggers, and journalists alike, laid eagle eyes on Five Guys Burger's seemingly exponential growth across America; Tom Ryan

Q&A: Corner Bakery's President Vinz on Brand Building and Delivering Consistency

From a small corner bakery in downtown Chicago, to a coveted brand that has caught the attention of the media, restaurant analysts and chain executives alike, Corner Bakery Cafe has built its reputation in the fast casual segment on brand consistency, innovation, and a menu strategy

Micky Pant, Global Brand Builder, Golden Lion Award Winner [Mover & Shaker Bio]

Micky Pant, Chief Executive of Yum Restaurants International | Yum Brands, Inc.

Update: Micky Pant is now chief executive of Yum Restaurants International (YRI) effective December 6, 2011. He will report directly to Chairman David C. Novak and head all international business units of YRI.

Micky Pant was formerly president of Global Brand Building for Yum! Brands, a promotion in February 2009, maintaining his position as chief marketing officer for the company’s international division, Yum Restaurants International.

Jim Vinz, Brand Builder of Fast Casual Bakeries

Co-Chief Executive Officer | Le Duff America

In January of 2012, Jim Vinz was appointed to his new role as co-CEO of Le Duff America, sharing the company lead with Claude Bergeron. Vinz has been in the foodservice industry for nearly three decades and made his mark as president of Corner Bakery Cafe.

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