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CHEMSTAR completes acquisition of Sterilox Fresh; Announces Key Executives

Chemstar Corporation announces that on October 7, 2016, it closed on the purchase of the assets of Sterilox Fresh, the leading manufacturer of electrolyzed water technologies for the supermarket retail and food service industries. The agreement for the purchase was previously announced on September 21, 2016. Sterilox was headquartered in Malvern, Pennsylvania and was a division of PuriCore, Inc., a healthcare company. With the acquisition, Chemstar is pleased to announce the appointment of several key executives from Sterilox Fresh, who join the Chemstar team with a combined 100+ years of industry experience. Tom Daniel, a veteran in the supermarket retail space, has joined as SVP & Chief Customer Officer. Previously, he was SVP/General Manager of the Sterilox Fresh business, and has held numerous executive leadership positions over the past 30+ years. Tom Happ, a 30-year veteran in the supermarket space, has joined as Regional Vice President for the Group, managing the core and newly acquired brands. Tom Oldham, also joins Chemstar as Regional Vice President, sharing the North American responsibilities with Happ in growing the full Chemstar portfolio. Both Happ and Oldham report to Daniel. “Our team is thrilled to be a part of the growing Chemstar family and look forward to serving our existing and mutual customers”. Chemstar has a marquee portfolio of iconic supermarket brands with a rich history delivering customized programs to support customer needs”, said Daniel. Dan Barney, CEO of Chemstar, said “We are glad we have crossed this milestone and are now able to offer our customers additional unique products enhancing their operations. Sterilox is a great fit for our growing platform.” The Sterilox Fresh brands, including Sterilox® generators, Produce Maxx™, FloraFresh®  are in thousands of leading supermarkets across the United States and Canada, focusing on the fresh perimeter departments, enhancing quality and customer satisfaction of perishable foods. – Source: Chemstar Corporation.

Yum Brands to Sell Thousands of Restaurants to Franchisees

On the eve of spinning off its China division, Yum Brands announced that it plans to put more of its restaurants in the hands of franchisees in a bid to boost savings and sales. The company behind KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell currently owns 10,000 restaurants, but will shrink that number to fewer than 1,000 as the number of eateries owned by franchisees rises from 77% to at least 98% by the end of 2018. “We’re going to deliver long-term sustainable results in every market we operate, by being more focused, by being more franchised . . . and obviously more growth oriented,’’ said Yum CEO Greg Creed, CEO, during a conference with investors and analysts. The move will lower YUM’s risk, and lead to a leaner, more efficient company in its wake, YUM! officials say.  It will also allow the company to dramatically that projects it will be able to reduce capital spending from half a billion dollars to $100 million in 2019, officials say. “The underpinning strategy . . .was about how to get higher growth with lower risk,” Creed said in an interview. “So we made the strategic decision of having our franchisees build and run the restaurants while we focus on building these three global iconic brands.” The significant shift comes at the same time the company splits off its China unit, which will become its own, publicly traded company on Oct. 31. The China unit has been YUM’s largest division, with Pizza Hut and KFC representing over $8 billion in system sales last year. But company officials have said that a 1% dip in same-store sales in the third quarter resulted from negative regional attitudes toward Western brands because of the dispute over China’s sovereignty of the South China Sea. Beyond China, Yum Brands said third quarter sales rose 4% for KFC and 3% for Taco Bell globally. Pizza Hut’s same store sales dipped 1% during that three-month period. For full year 2016, same store sales globally is expected to increase 2%. – Source: USATODAY.

Oath Craft Pizza Names Patrik Hellstrand CEO

Oath Craft Pizza, which received $4.5million in venture funding last month, has named Patrik Hellstrand president and CEO, the company said. Hellstrand, the first CEO of Oath Craft Pizza, adds a seasoned executive to a chain with big growth aspirations. “It’s been an incredible year for Oath,” chief operating officer Rick Wolf said in a statement. “We are thrilled to have Patrik join the team. His arrival will surely support these initiatives and bring infinite value to the brand.” Hellstrand most recently was corporate group vice president at the fitness company Equinox. He has also held positions in the hotel and consulting industries. “I was attracted to Oath by the passion I experienced meeting the team and visiting the stores as a guest,” Hellstrand said in a statement. “I am excited for us to build an honest and respected people-centric brand together.” Breakaway, a Boston-based investment firm, recently led a $4.5 million funding round in Oath Craft Pizza. The startup chain has raised $9 million in two funding rounds. Oath Craft Pizza opened its first location last year, and is working to expand to new markets like New York and Washington, D.C. The expansion requires more leadership, company executives said. “We have exceeded our expectations under Rick Wolf’s leadership,” executive chairman John Burns said in a statement. “As we prepare for rapid expansion into multiple metro areas including New York, it was imperative to invest in top-caliber, industry expertise.” – Source: NRN.

Taco Bell’s Stores of the Future Debut in Orange County

Irvine-based Taco Bell unveiled in Orange County on Wednesday its next generation of stores – each of which embraces one of four distinct designs that scrap the fast-food industry’s one-size-fits-all mantra. The redesigned restaurants in Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Tustin and Brea feature patios with fireplaces, communal dining tables made of reclaimed wood, exhibition kitchens, dome lighting, chalkboard menu specials and midcentury modern lounge chairs. Restaurants in Tustin and Santa Ana also feature cushioned booth seating, hacienda-style light fixtures and tables with outlets for charging electronic devices. “It’s like I fell asleep and woke up in 2020. It’s so modern,” 23-year-old Austin Henriquez said while eating a Double Decker taco at the Santa Ana eatery. His friend David Gomez said he tried out one of the sofa benches but opted for a table instead. “I didn’t want to fall asleep.” Though Henriquez and others called the changes inviting, some were turned off by the warmer tones. “It looks like a hospital,” said Vince Simonelli, 34 of Huntington Beach. “It feels cold and isolated.” Company spokesman Rob Poetsch said Taco Bell restaurants try to create “a unique, distinctive experience for our guests.” Of the 2,000 restaurants the chain plans to open by 2022, 200 will be in urban locations. New restaurants will adopt one of the four designs: California Sol, Modern Explorer, Heritage and Urban Edge. Franchisees can choose one of the looks when their stores are up for a remodel. Taco Bell declined to provide the cost of each design; however, Poetsch said the capital investment “is at parity with existing Taco Bell builds.” Taco Bell’s Mexican-inspired fast-food offerings are the same at the remodeled stores, which is not the case at the chain’s other urban concept, Cantina. Taco Bell said a third Cantina restaurant is slated to open later this fall in Las Vegas. The 24-hour, two-story Las Vegas Strip location, across from the sleek Cosmopolitan hotel, is the chain’s first restaurant along the congested thoroughfare. The chain introduced the concept last year in Chicago and San Francisco. Taco Bell Cantinas serve shareable dishes, beer, wine, sangria and liquor-infused slushie drinks dubbed Twisted Freezes. Eight flavors will be available in Las Vegas. Alcohol choices include rum, tequila and vodka. In Las Vegas, the restaurant will feature an outdoor patio for alfresco dining. Brian Niccol, chief executive at Taco Bell, said earlier this year that urban market expansion is a key focus for Taco Bell. There are no plans to bring a Cantina to Orange County. Taco Bell said Atlanta is being explored as the next urban development, as well as New York; Boston; Ohio; Berkeley; Austin, Texas; and Fayetteville, Ark. The design changes at Taco Bell come as the chain continues to perform well amid overall stagnation in the restaurant industry. Foot traffic has flatlined in the industry, according to market research company NPD Group. In a “flat market, it’s a battle” for share, and those that win are operators who focus on their customers’ needs and deliver on them, NPD restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs said. For the third quarter, which ended Sept. 3, Taco Bell same-store sales, a key indicator of a restaurant’s financial health, increased 3 percent. “Half the U.S. population eats Taco Bell once a month,” Yum CEO Greg Creed told CNBC during an interview Wednesday morning. The average customer visits every 11 days. At an investor conference staged earlier this week, the chain discussed menu items in the works. The Naked Chicken Chalupa, a taco with a shell made out of spicy fried chicken, “will be a major Taco Bell product launch early on in 2017,” Nomura analyst Mark Kalinowski said in a briefing note. He said other menu items in the pipeline include crispy chicken chips, a 99-cent queso (cheese) beef burrito, a $1 loaded taco burrito, double-stacked tacos and something called a Quesalupa 2.0. – Source: The Orange County Register.

Restaurant Chain COSI Goes Bankrupt

Cosi, the restaurant chain known for its flatbread sandwiches, said it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Wednesday and is seeking to sell itself to its lenders. The company has closed 29 stores, but said the remaining 76 Cosi restaurants located around the country will remain open as it goes through the bankruptcy process. In court documents, Cosi said it has between $10 million and $50 million in assets and the same amounts in debt. “This was a difficult step, but it was necessary to address our liquidity issues,” said Patrick Bennett Sr., interim CEO of Cosi, in a statement. “Cosi’s core business and franchise base remain intact, and we filed with the liquidity resources necessary to carry out the restructuring plan.  We believe this process will allow the company to right-size its balance sheet, reduce its debt and focus on improving the business and stabilizing the brand.” Last month, the company reported a second-quarter loss of $3.1 million after reporting a loss of $3.8 million in the same period a year before. Cosi hasn’t reported an annual profit since at least 1998, according to data provider FactSet. The chain went public in 2002. Cosi said that its lenders AB Opportunity Fund, AB Value Partners and firms connected to Milfam, are providing a $4 million loan to keep Cosi running. Those lenders also plan to bid to buy all of Cosi’s assets in a bankruptcy auction, the Boston-based company said. Besides sandwiches, Cosi serves soups, flatbread pizzas and salads at its eateries. – Source: CBS Interactive Inc.

Famous Dave’s of America Inc. is Changing CEOs Again

The struggling Minneapolis-based barbecue chain named Michael Lister, one of the chain’s top performing franchisees, to replace Adam Wright as CEO. Lister who has been a franchisee with Famous Dave’s since 2001, was also named chief operating officer. Wright, an activist investor who was elevated to the CEO job only last year, also resigned from the board of directors. “Mike Lister’s deep expertise in the restaurant industry, along with his demonstrated success as a Famous Dave’s franchise owner, gives us full confidence that he is the right leader to continue the efforts to turn Famous Dave’s around,” Famous Dave’s Chairman Joseph Jacobs said in a statement. The move continues an incredible run of monumental changes at the 176-unit chain. Lister becomes the fourth CEO at the chain since 2012. None of them stayed longer than 18 months amid struggling sales and activist investor involvement. It also comes amid a nearly unprecedented change in the CEO suite at the country’s restaurant chains amid a broad decline in sales. Seventeen companies, including publicly traded companies like Cosi, Noodles & Co. and Ruby Tuesday Inc., have replaced their CEOs in recent months. And that doesn’t include top executives like Mike Andres, the president of McDonald’s USA. But Famous Dave’s has struggled in the past couple of years. And the problem has been most acute at company locations. Same-store sales at company-owned restaurants have fallen 17.2 percent on a two-year basis in the second quarter ended July 3. The sales decline has taken a hit on the company’s financials — last year, the company had to renegotiate its credit deal after defaulting on financial requirements in its loan agreement. The stock had oddly rallied in 2014 and early 2015 behind interest in the chain from several activist investors and the presence of former McDonald’s Corp. executive Ed Rensi. But it has lost 85 percent of its value since hitting a peak of more than $34 a share in February of last year. That swoon has now cost two CEOs of the chain their jobs. In Lister, the company is appointing one of the chain’s top franchisees, perhaps in the hopes that he will help reverse Dave’s fortunes. Lister was senior vice president of operations from 1997 to 2001 before becoming a franchisee. He currently operates restaurants in Tennessee and is chairman of Famous Dave’s Franchise Advisory Board. “I look forward to working side-by-side with the strong team of talented professionals that make up our management team. Each has the passion and commitment to move us forward Famously,” Lister said in a statement. – Source: NRN.

5 Dangerous Phrases Great Restaurant Leaders Never Say

Saying that succeeding in the hospitality industry is difficult is an understatement; it’s one of the highest stress work environments a person can choose. As a manager there are plenty of resources to educate yourself further on how to manage your daily operations. If you’re short on time, hospitality online courses are an option, or if you have some cash to spend, consultants offering their hospitality management services can be helpful here as well. Both of these choices can assist in running a more streamlined and cost effective restaurant; however, neither would be able to closely monitor communication with your employees on a consistent basis. Only a great manager knows to keep him or herself in check when speaking to staff. With that being said, there are times when even the best managers might say something regrettable to their employees. Even if you think you are generally good at communicating with your team, you might be unknowingly saying some phrases that discourage your employees. Here are five dangerous phrases to watch out for: “I Don’t Know, You Tell Me” Danger Level: 1-3 (depends on tone). While this phrase can sometimes be a gentle “push” to some restaurant managers to help staff be more independent problem solvers, it really depends on your tone. If said in frustration, the underlying context is, “Why are you asking me this?” or “Why don’t you know the answer?” This tone makes this phrase a 3/5 on “Danger Level” scale. This undermines the intelligence of the employee coming to you for advice. Say you’re in the middle of a busy happy hour, a green server asks you if there’s cilantro in the complementary mango salsa for a guest with allergies; it’s unfair if you to bark “I don’t know, you tell me!” Even if a bartender is running late so you’re behind, at least be able to direct your new employee to someone who might know the answer, like a tenured server or your chef. As stressed as you might be, you should still provide them guidance, or, in other words, manage. Then there are those circumstances where a kindly mentioned “I don’t know, you tell me” can provide some gentle pressure on staff. If a server, who has had been there for six months, cannot tell a guest if there’s cilantro in the mango salsa, then the phrase is appropriate to mention in a polite manner. This may also be a sign that you need to give your tenured employees a refresher quiz on menu ingredients.  “That’s Your Job, Not Mine” Danger Level: 3.5. This is probably the most passive-aggressive phrase in the list. Working in hospitality services is not a solo project; this is a team sport. As a manager, you’re the quarterback, and every shift is game time. This phrase implies that you would leave your employee your stranded when they clearly approached you for a reason. Being dismissive about your subordinate staff’s needs is a reckless and inefficient management style. It is also a reflection on how little consideration you have for others around you. Nothing would get done in the restaurant if every person had this attitude. This is a “no job is too small” industry, and there’s no room for people who are not team players. It’s well-known that truly great managers are always willing to go above and beyond for their staff, even if it’s not in their job description. So, if you ever have the urge to say this phrase, then you might want to consider changing professions. “You Figure It Out” Danger Level: 4. While more aggressive than “I Don’t Know, You Tell Me,” the context is very similar. This phrase is indicative of a completely hands-off management style. A manager who uses this phrase is asleep at the wheel, and he or she is cruising down the path to nowhere and bringing their staff down with them. The underlying tone of this phrase is “Do what you want, just get out of my face,” and a less than positive way to communicate to staff. It will always be counterproductive to have this attitude, as it trickles down to your employees. Tenured staff members will label you as a “lame duck” or a “dud” of a manager, and will tell newer employees in training to stay away. If you want people to leave you alone, then consider your goal accomplished with this phrase. Just remember that a manager is not a leader with no employees to follow him or her. “It Doesn’t Matter, Just Get It Done.” Danger Level: 2-3 (depends on tone). Working 15-hour days and doubles can get the best of anyone, but especially restaurant managers. Sometimes this phrase can be one of exhaustion, but the context of the phrase is often,  “I’m too burnt out to care, please complete this task before I fall over.”  While it may not offend your employee, the outcome of the project or task at hand could be less than great. However, at a 3/5, when it is said in haste or anger there is always a chance an employee will rush to accomplish the job at hand and do it 100 percent incorrectly. This is especially true if they come to you with a question about how to execute the task. In this scenario you’re a kitchen manager, and a new prep cook asks you if the carrots for your seasonal soup are brunoise or small dice. If your answer is “it doesn’t matter, just get it done,” you’re flipping a coin on either raw or mushy carrots, resulting in a subpar soup and displeased guests. This phrase puts your name at risk by telling your employee to possibly do a poor job in haste by completing a task improperly on your behalf. “You’re Lucky, You Even Have a Job Here” Danger Level: 5+. Not only is this phrase snarky, but it’s also a blunt threat to someone’s job. Contextually, you’re putting down the person on the receiving end and implying that he or she is not good enough to be working in your restaurant. While some managers see results from this tactic, it is only because fear is a serious motivator. Chances are if this phrase is used often, the rest of the work culture is probably a negative one, so employees are looking to leave your restaurant for their next gig. Not even the best restaurant in the world should say this to their staff. Good talent is precious and having a hostile work environment does not help keep it. To put this in perspective, you might run a store in very well-known restaurant brand. A shift leader, with a year under her belt, tells you that she accidently allowed a trail to speak to a guest, and the guest left because the trail told him you 86’d your bestselling sandwich. If your response is “You’re lucky, you even have a job here”, this disgruntled shift leader can walk out the door mid-shift, and work at any other restaurant she wants. Just remember, to be considered a great restaurant leader, you have to treat your people with respect. Overall, watch you say or your words can cost you valuable employees. – Source: fsrmagazine.com.

4 Steps to Build a Strong Employee Referral Program

The turnover rate rose for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Where should restaurant owners go to find talent that will stay? Top performing employees may be the best sources for new team members. Take the time and care to develop a clear, concise and rewarding referral program to unlock employee recommendations and turn your team into a recruiting machine. HotSchedules consultant Donald Burns developed these steps to build a strong employee referral program: 1. Tier rewards. Burns recommends offering three monetary rewards, the first of which is offered when the referral is hired. The next comes when the new hire stays 90 days and then again at their 1-year anniversary. Worried about keeping track? Implement a system or tool to keep track for you. You can also look into providing other incentives to employees that align with your company culture, such as complimentary meals. Just make sure you’ve got your rewards well documented. 2. Keep the program consistent. Set up a program that is repeatable and easily trackable. Include the referral program in your employee handbook so that each employee can view the terms. 3. Keep your word. Provide referral rewards on time and in the manner that you promised. Again, it’s often important to have a tool or process to help you keep track of the rewards. 4. Show off your culture. The first question a potential referral may ask is, “What’s it like working here?” Highlight your culture and your crew on social media. Show the fun, the dedication, the patience and the passion through pictures and updates. If you’re just getting started, Instagram is great choice for easy-to-manage, photo-centric content. – Source: The National Restaurant Association.

La Cima Restaurants LLC

La Cima Restaurants LLC, the Twin Peaks franchisee founded by former executives of the rival Hooters chain, has agreed to acquire a majority interest in the Dallas-based franchisor, the company said. Terms of the deal, which has yet to close, have not been disclosed, but following a transition, La Cima chief operating officer Joe Hummel will take over as Twin Peaks CEO, replacing Starlette Johnson. “I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the past several months, and am confident that the future of Twin Peaks is bright,” Johnson said in a statement. “Joe understands what has made Twin Peaks so successful, and is the right guy to lead the next chapter of our growth.” Randy DeWitt, Twin Peaks founder, will retain his role as chairman of Twin Peaks’ board of directors, while La Cima managing partner, former Hooters CEO Coby Brooks, will join the board. Johnson will return to work alongside DeWitt on the board at Front Burner Restaurant Group, his emerging-concept company. Twin Peaks was founded in 2005, and has grown rapidly since, with system sales rising 63 percent over the past two years, to $269.1 million, according to Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100 data. The chain is among a group of casual-dining sports bars, often called “breastaurants,” that feature all-female wait staff. The chain has had a rivalry with Hooters, the chain that pioneered the segment niche, since 2011, when Brooks and several former Hooters executives became Twin Peaks franchisees. Brooks took over as Hooters CEO from his father, Robert Brooks, in 2003, and stayed until 2011, when the chain was sold to a private-equity group following a battle over the chain’s legal estate, and five years after Robert Brooks’ death. “Five years ago, I was thankful for Randy giving me and my team at La Cima the opportunity to become what is now Twin Peaks’ largest franchisee,” Brooks said in a statement. “Joe and I have worked together for nearly 25 years, and we look forward to working with Randy and the team to continue building this great brand that all of us are passionate about.” Johnson served as CEO of Twin Peaks for about a year. She took over for DeWitt, who left daily operations at the chain to concentrate on Front Burner, which operates concepts like Velvet Taco and Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar. Hummel has been chief operating officer of La Cima since 2011. “The process of re-energizing Twin Peaks is something we’ve all been working on, and I’m excited for the chance to accelerate this process,” Hummel said in a statement. “The heart of the Twin Peaks experience has always been about fun and hospitality, and I’m looking forward to working with the board and the team to bring new excitement into our restaurants.” – Source: NRN.

Seafood Giant Invests $575 Million in Red Lobster

Thai Union Group PCL, a global seafood supplier, has made a $575 million strategic investment in Red Lobster Seafood Co. Golden Gate Capital will remain majority owner and retain operational control of Red Lobster.  “Red Lobster is an iconic brand with a leading market position in seafood casual dining and a world class management team and has delivered strong performance since Golden Gate acquired the company in 2014,” said Thiraphong Chansiri, chief executive officer of Thai Union. “This investment marks a strategic step to build Thai Union’s direct-to-consumer channel, and will enable us to benefit from the extensive restaurant industry expertise of both the Red Lobster management team and Golden Gate. We have worked closely with Red Lobster for over two decades and are highly supportive of the strategy Red Lobster has implemented under Golden Gate’s ownership. We are confident that all Thai Union stakeholders will benefit from Red Lobster’s continued growth and success over the long term.” Thai Union’s product lineup features lobster, shrimp, sardines, mackerel, tuna, salmon and crab. The company owns a number of global seafood brands, including Chicken of the Sea, King Oscar, John West and Petit Navire, in addition to facilities in 12 countries that provide sourcing, production and distribution networks worldwide. Thai Union also operates a global innovation center that performs global market research, the company said, as well as develops seafood products that respond to emerging consumer trends. “Thai Union is one of the largest and best-managed global seafood companies and has been a trusted strategic supplier to Red Lobster for over 20 years,” said Kim Lopdrup, c.e.o. of Red Lobster. “This close partnership will help accelerate Red Lobster’s strategy of being the best seafood specialist in every trade area we serve, bringing guests ‘sea-to-table’ quality seafood and a best-in-class dining experience at affordable prices. Like Golden Gate, Thai Union shares our vision of Red Lobster being ‘Where the world goes for seafood, now and for generations,’ as well as our commitment to serving our millions of guests truly great seafood, sourced in a way that’s responsible, ethical and sustainable.” – Source: FoodBusinessNews.

Amazon Launches Restaurant Delivery in Orlando

Amazon is pushing further into Central Florida by launching a restaurant delivery program free to members of its Prime service. Meanwhile, the grocery delivery program Instacart, which partnered in South Florida with Publix, said it’s nearly ready to do business in Central Florida. Amazon Restaurants is starting delivery with 37 restaurants in the Orlando area, including Avenue Gastrobar, Hawker’s Asian Street Fare, P.F. Chang’s and Spoleto. Amazon says it will deliver food from the restaurants in an hour or less. It also says the program doesn’t include any markups or hidden fees. Orders require a $20 minimum. The program is now available near downtown Orlando, Winter Park and the tourist district. So far Amazon’s website shows that it is not available in the Waterford Lakes area, Lake Nona or Seminole County. The service does add a $5 tip automatically to each order, but that can be edited at checkout. The program follows Amazon launching one-hour shipping in Central Florida earlier this year. The programs are similar, except that the one-hour shipping sends items from Amazon’s warehouse. This is the first time Amazon has paired with local merchants for a quick delivery program. “We are thrilled to be among the first restaurants in the area to be partnering with Amazon Restaurants and welcome the service to Orlando,” said Kaleb C. Harrell, co-founder of Hawker’s Asian Street Fare in Orlando in a statement. “Hawkers’ fans have been asking for delivery for years, and we couldn’t imagine a more reliable logistics partner to fill that demand.” Amazon also enters a crowded field of competitors, with Doorstep Delivery and Grubhub already offering service here. UberEats, a branch of the ride-hailing service Uber, is also readying to launch service in Central Florida. Grocery delivery service Instacart is also getting ready to start service in the area, according to emails it sent to local customers. Instacart is similar to other grocery delivery services such as Shipt, where customers order online and then schedule a grocery delivery window. Shipt uses Publix for groceries, but does so without a formal agreement from the supermarket. Source: The Orlando Sentinel.

Buffalo Wild Wings Announces Three New Independent Directors

Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc. announced the appointment of three new independent directors to the Company’s Board of Directors. Andre Fernandez, president of CBS RADIO, Hal Lawton, senior vice president of North America at eBay, Inc., and Harmit Singh, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Levi Strauss & Co., will join the Company’s Board, effective immediately.  “We are delighted to add Andre, Hal and Harmit to our Board of Directors. They are all highly respected leaders with key expertise, strong values and significant financial acumen,” said Sally Smith, president and chief executive officer. “Their appointments underscore our commitment to proactive Board refreshment, strong corporate governance and independence and diversity across our Board. We look forward to working with Andre, Harmit and Hal and are confident that their insight will benefit Buffalo Wild Wings as we continue to drive value for our shareholders.” Mr. Fernandez, Mr. Lawton and Mr. Singh are expected to stand for reelection at the Company’s 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. With these appointments, Buffalo Wild Wings has expanded its Board from eight to nine members, eight of whom are independent and five of whom have been added in the past six years. In connection with the Board refreshment process, current directors Dale Applequist and Warren Mack have each decided to advance their planned retirements from the Board, respectively, such that they are effective immediately. “On behalf of the Buffalo Wild Wings Board, I’d like to thank Dale and Warren for their many years of service and dedication to the Company. Their decision to retire early upon our identification of three new, highly-qualified directors demonstrates their commitment to enhancing Buffalo Wild Wing’s governance through refreshment. Dale and Warren have been instrumental in creating the strong brand that Buffalo Wild Wings is today, and the Company is better for their service,” said James Damian, Chairman of the Board of Buffalo Wild Wings. – Source: Buffalo Wild Wings.

Zoës Kitchen Names Casey Shilling Chief Marketing Officer

Zoës Kitchen announced that Casey Shilling has been named the Company’s Chief Marketing Officer. Shilling joins Zoës Kitchen with significant experience marketing lifestyle, consumer brands after nearly two decades with The Container Store, where she most recently served as Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations. She spent the majority of her tenure at The Container Store as an executive marketer helping establish the storage and organization retailer as a beloved brand and solidifying its reputation as a forward-thinking employer of choice. Over the course of her career there, she oversaw marketing, public relations, internal communications, new store launches, digital content creation, recruiting, and training. Shilling will report to Kevin Miles, CEO and President of Zoës Kitchen. “I am thrilled to add Casey to the Zoës Kitchen leadership team during such an exciting time in our Company’s growth,” said Miles. “Casey is a masterful brand builder who, using innovative marketing strategies, has a long history of inspiring deep emotional connections that move consumers to become brand advocates and loyal, lifelong customers. Her devotion to creating differentiated customer experiences will take our brand to the next level as we develop new ways to engage with our guests through creative digital marketing, loyalty and social media campaigns, as well as other multi-channel marketing programs.” Miles added, “Casey is also a tremendous cultural fit, coming from such a highly regarded best-in-class workplace. She is a passionate, proven leader who will be an incredible asset as we build on our people-first culture that is a key strategy in driving our long-term results.” Prior to The Container Store, Shilling held marketing positions at Dallas-based agencies Meltzer & Martin Public Relations and Bustin & Co., after beginning her career in broadcast journalism as a television anchor/reporter. “As a longtime customer and fan of the dynamic, authentic Zoës Kitchen brand, I’m joining this talented team with much respect and admiration,” said Shilling. “I look forward to building on the incredible success the Company has enjoyed, and I’m excited to help elevate its ‘Live Mediterranean’ message to further customer engagement and drive traffic to reach optimum performance and deliver long-term value for all stakeholders – team members, guests and shareholders.” – Source: Zoës Kitchen.

Hargett Hunter Invests in Ruggles Green

Hargett Hunter Capital Partners is pleased to announce that that it has acquired a majority stake in Ruggles Green (“Ruggles Green”) of Houston, Texas. Financial terms of the investment were not disclosed. Founded in 2008, Ruggles Green is a premium fast-casual restaurant concept offering chef-inspired entrees, sandwiches, salads, burgers, pizza and pasta that incorporate local, often times organic, and seasonal items. With five current locations in the greater Houston, Texas area, Ruggles Green is a leader in providing extensive and high-quality vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free alternatives. As the first Certified Green Restaurant in Houston, Ruggles Green maintains an eco-friendly focus and a commitment to sustainability and the environment as evidenced by the certification of its CITYCENTRE restaurant as “The Greenest Restaurant in Texas.” Hargett Hunter’s founder Jeff Brock shared, “Ruggles Green is one of the most balanced and high performing ‘small-box casual’ concepts that we have encountered across the United States. The concept is exceptionally differentiated not only through the quality and breadth of its menu, but also through its resonance with guests with different dietary needs and sensitivities, and its unique position as environmentally friendly and sustainable.” Hargett Hunter’s Jason Morgan added, “We couldn’t be more proud of the team that we are inheriting and the first class experiences they provide to all of our loyal guests. We are excited to expand that team and grow with them as we introduce Ruggles Green to even more guests in the Houston area and beyond.” “Our relationship with Jeff Brock goes back almost four years. When we began seeking potential investors, it was only natural to seek an investment from Hargett Hunter,” said co-founder Federico Marques. “Once we met Jason [Morgan], we knew that the Hargett Hunter team also possessed the operational expertise to execute at the level of excellence that we envision for Ruggles Green’s future.” Morgan was the Chief Financial Officer of Zoe’s Kitchen from 2008 to 2015 and will step into the role of Chief Executive Officer for Ruggles Green. This transaction marks the second investment by Hargett Hunter, after the July acquisition of a majority stake in the Original ChopShop Co., a Phoenix-based fast casual concept. Morgan added, “As another strong brand whose exceptional food and guest experience have already inspired a passionate following, Ruggles Green provides a perfect complement to our investment at Original ChopShop Co. We are thrilled to be involved with these two fundamental building blocks for our portfolio, and we look forward to the growth of these concepts and the future expansion of our portfolio with other best-in-class concepts.” Co-founder Robert Guillerman added, “The Ruggles Green team could not be more excited about the new energy and enthusiasm that the Hargett Hunter team brings to the organization.” – Source: Hargett Hunter Capital Partners.

LoneStar Restaurant Supply Bolsters Team with Seasoned Industry Hires Claude Brewer and Cecelia Perez

LoneStar Restaurant Supply is pleased to announce seasoned industry hires Claude Brewer and Cecelia Perez as Business Development Managers. Both are experienced foodservice industry veterans who bring more than 30 years of combined expertise. Brewer, a Dallas native, has previously held leadership positions as Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Plastics Manufacturing Company and at Best-Values Textiles. His family has a long history of working in the foodservice industry and his father-in-law, the late Macky Sellers, was President of the Texas Restaurant Association. “Claude’s impressive career in the industry and his commitment to customers makes him the perfect fit for our organization,” says Mike Rohan, Director of Sales. “We know he will be an invaluable asset to us as we continue solution centered growth strategy across the organization.” Cecelia Perez brings broad experience including warehouse, logistics, customer service and direct sales all from her years in the foodservice industry. Her specialty is providing smallwares solutions to scale operators in a consultative manner and in making a seamless experience for her customers. Rob Rothe, Director of Marketing, said, “Cecelia’s winning attitude, fun personality and deep product knowledge are assets that will complement LoneStar’s already capable solutions team. With her dedicated client focus, Cecelia will make our customers’ experience transformative.” – Source: LoneStar.

 
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