Jersey Mike’s Shows Off ‘Sub Above’ Attributes in New Push

The expanding chain, which began in 1956 as a single Mike’s Subs shop in Point Pleasant, N.J., is building on its “A Sub Above” tagline with a new campaign called “The Sub Above Difference.” In one of the first new commercials, Jersey Mike’s makes a voiceover dig at other chains that do not grill their cheese steaks while the spot shows the cooking process it uses. Another focuses on how the chain cooks roast beef in the shop, a third emphasizes the size of the sandwiches and a fourth focuses on being simple, with the line “be all sub, and no -stitute.” “Brands today that are focusing on the quality and visually what it means instead of just saying what it means, I think, do a much better job,” said Darren Tristano, president of industry research firm Technomic, who had not seen the new Jersey Mike’s commercials. Showing such elements can help some sandwich shops stand out from fast food and from chains such as Subway, where items are pre-sliced. Jersey Mike’s has pulled ahead of Firehouse Subs to become the second-largest chain in sales in the “better sandwich” category behind Jimmy John’s, Mr. Tristano said. Still, Subway is substantially bigger than all three combined. Subway rang up $11.5 billion in sales last year, though its sales declined about 3% in 2014 and a steeper 3.4% in 2015. Jersey Mike’s sales soared 28.6% to $675 million in 2015, as its number of locations jumped 22.1% to 1,046, according to Technomic. The category is seeing a flurry of advertising. Subway continues to tout freshness and its latest commercials feature a pilgrim character to promote its new carved turkey. Firehouse promotes itself as “the hero of all subs.” And Jimmy John’s continues to focus on attributes such as its “Freaky Fast” and “Freaky Fresh” delivery. Jersey Mike’s first four new TV commercials are set to begin airing April 18, followed by additional batches of four in the third and fourth quarters, for a total of 12 spots that will be in rotation by the end of the year. The work comes from Planet Propaganda, Madison, Wisc., which has worked with the chain since 2013 including on the “A Sub Above” work that began airing in 2014. The agency helped the growing chain find and focus on its strategic idea of “help nourish, help flourish, be a sub above,” said Greg Wold, partner and account director at Planet Propaganda. The new campaign “builds on our past work that helped us outpace the industry on same-store sales,” Jersey Mike’s Subs Chief Marketing Officer Rich Hope said in a statement. The spots show real employees in the restaurants to familiarize people with the concept, after using animation in some earlier commercials. Future 15-second ads will focus on ingredients and other preparation techniques, such as grilling bacon each morning, Mr. Wold said. The TV spots are all 15 seconds long, a switch from the chain’s prior use of 30-second spots. At least 80% of the TV buy will include the first and last positions of a commercial break, Mr. Wold said. Most of the TV spots will air during sports, Mr. Wold said, adding that about 70% of the campaign will be on TV, along with radio, digital and outdoor advertising. Jersey Mike’s handles its own media buying, Mr. Wold said. – Source: AdvertisingAge.


Bob Evans Completes Sale of 145 Properties

Bob Evans Farms announced it completed the purchase and lease-back agreements involving 145 restaurant properties with National Retail Properties and Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback. The New Albany-based restaurant and prepared-foods company said it sold 119 restaurants to National Retail Properties for $163.4 million and 26 to Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback for $36.6 million. “The sale-leaseback transactions provided the company with net proceeds (after tax- and transaction-related costs) of approximately $164 million, which we expect to use to pay down debt under the company’s credit agreement, repurchase company shares, and for other corporate purposes, while maintaining prudent leverage,” said Mark Hood, chief administrative and chief financial officer, in a release. The leases initially will be for 20 years, with five options to renew for periods of five years each. – Source: Dayton Daily News.


PepsiCo Global Foodservice Names New President
Promoting from within, PepsiCo tapped Anne Fink, previously COO of PepsiCo North America Foodservice, to serve as president of PepsiCo Global Foodservice. In this role, Fink will oversee sales, marketing, strategy and operations for PepsiCo’s North American and Global Foodservice channels, which include restaurants, workplace, lodging, recreation, retail, colleges and universities, and theatres. In her years with PepsiCo, Fink has served in various leadership positions where she has developed broad and diverse business and general management expertise spanning foodservice, retail, strategic customer management, marketing, operations, franchise management, and business development. Prior to the COO position, Fink was the senior vice president and chief customer officer for PepsiCo Sales where she led strategic customer management for all retail channels of business in the U.S. and also led the company’s Global Sales Leadership Council. She is a board member of the National Restaurant Association, and  previously served on the Industry Affairs Council of the Grocery Manufacturers of America and the Food Marketing Institute’s Foundation Board of Trustees. She is an executive sponsor for Pinnacle, PepsiCo’s women’s leadership program. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Fink worked in the E&J Gallo Winery’s Management Development Program. She holds a degree in Economics from the College of the Holy Cross where she currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. – Source:


Dunkin’ to Launch ‘One of the Most Game-Changing initiatives in Our History’

Brands Group, Inc. is expanding its test of on-the-go ordering to more markets, including the New York metro area by mid-May. The platform enables Dunkin’ Donuts customers to use a mobile app to place orders, pay in advance and skip the line in the store. The initiative, which is currently being tested in Portland, Maine, and Boston, is expected to improve order accuracy and speed of service to drive profitability in participating restaurants. “On-the-go ordering is one of the most game-changing initiatives in our history,” said Nigel Travis, chairman and chief executive officer of Dunkin’ Brands, during an April 28 earnings call with financial analysts. “Not only is it a way to drive membership in our loyalty program, but it is a clear demonstration of our commitment to enhancing convenience for our guests through technology-based initiatives. Later this year, we will test curbside delivery. We believe that curbside can add convenience for many guests, particularly in non-drive-thru locations, which makes up nearly half of our system.” Dunkin’ Donuts also is testing delivery with third-party providers over the past few months, he added. “Our goal is to eventually link the on-the-go and delivery architecture, a step that we believe can be very powerful in providing our guests even greater ease of use and access to the Dunkin’ Donuts brand,” Mr. Travis said. “Consumers are increasingly demanding convenience. And we are challenging ourselves to be a leader in this area, not only here in the U.S., but through the many tests we are carrying out in many markets for both brands internationally. When you total all this together, I believe we have a very clear digital vision.” For the first quarter ended March 26, Dunkin’ Brands net income was $37,154,000, equal to 41c per share on the common stock, up 45% from $25,631,000, or 26c per share, in the prior-year period. Excluding special items, adjusted net income rose 1% over the prior year. Revenues increased 2.1% to $123,783,000 from $115,325,000. Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. comparable store sales grew 2%, driven by strong sales of beverages and breakfast sandwiches. “In the first quarter, we introduced one of the most successful food L.T.O.s ever — that’s the GranDDe Burrito,” Mr. Travis said. “Additionally, we brought back the Chicken Apple Sausage breakfast sandwich, which we introduced last year, and it also performed well. Both are proof that customers want premium breakfast sandwiches, as well as premium beverages and baked goods from Dunkin’ Donuts.” Baskin-Robbins U.S. comparable store sales grew 5%, driven by higher traffic. “The brand’s comp store sales growth was fueled by all major product categories: the cups and cones category led the way, driven by the continued success of the double-scoop trade-up program, and our new warm ice cream cookie sandwich platform, which launched on March 1,” Mr. Travis said. “And on-line cake ordering continues be a great success. On-line orders were up greater than 20%. And by the end of the quarter, sales via on-line orders hit $10 million, an impressive feat in only the first two years of the program.” For the full year, the company expects comparable store sales growth between flat and 2% at Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. and between 1% and 3% at Baskin-Robbins U.S. Additionally, the company expects revenue growth of between 4% and 6% and adjusted operating income growth of between 8% and 10%. – Source:


Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews Appoints Carin Stutz as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. announced the appointment of Carin Stutz as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Stutz will be responsible for leading regional restaurant management teams overseeing the operational performance of more than 440 company-owned U.S. and Canadian Red Robin® restaurants and 11 Red Robin Burger Works® locations in the U.S., as well as additional alternative platforms and all franchise operations. She will report to Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews president Denny Marie Post. Stutz has more than three decades of experience in the restaurant industry. Most recently, she was president of McAlister’s Deli and has served in operations leadership roles for major casual dining and fast casual brands including Chili’s, Applebee’s, Cosi and Wendy’s. “Carin is a proven leader in driving operational excellence, business results and profitability in the highly competitive fast casual and casual dining industry,” said Denny Marie Post. “We are excited to have Carin on our Red Robin team, where her extensive restaurant and new concept development experience, combined with her leadership talents, will be essential as we continue building an organization focused on engaging our restaurant teams, creating memorable guest experiences and driving superior results.” Stutz is a past board chair and member of the board of directors of the Woman’s Foodservice Forum. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree from Mid-America Nazarene University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Western Illinois University. – Source: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc.


Arby’s Returns to Unit Growth

Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. said that same-store sales increased 6.6 percent in the first quarter, and that the momentum is leading franchisees to build new locations. The Atlanta-based sandwich chain reported its 22nd straight quarter of same-store sales growth, and the 13th straight quarter that same-store sales growth outpaced the quick-service segment. Arby’s said that traffic was the major driver behind the performance. “I continue to be pleased with how our corporate and franchise teams are working together to grow sales and increase restaurant level profitability,” Arby’s CEO Paul Brown said in a statement. He said the effort is “putting us in a strong position to deliver on our strategic priority of accelerating remodels and new restaurant development.” Arby’s same-store sales rose 5.8 percent when factoring out the extra day in February, the company said. On a two-year basis, the chain’s same-store sales have risen 15.3 percent. That has operators thinking of expanding again. Arby’s remodeled 179 locations in 2015, and it expects to exceed that pace this year. The company also recently signed a string of deals with new and existing franchisees to build 138 units. The moves are key for a chain that had been slowly shrinking its unit count in the post-recession era. Arby’s has 3,300 locations worldwide. – Source: NRN.


YUM! Promotes David Gibbs to President, CFO

Yum! Brands Inc. said that it’s promoted David Gibbs to president and chief financial officer, the second in command, reporting to chief executive Greg Creed, effective May 2. Gibbs, most recently CEO of the company’s global Pizza Hut division, will oversee finance, operations, supply chain and information technology. His selection comes after a search to fill YUM’s top financial position before the company splits into two – Yum! Brands and Yum! China – by the end of 2016. “I’m pleased to announce the promotion of David Gibbs to become our president and chief financial officer. David is an extraordinarily talented executive with a strong track record of leadership in finance, global strategy and brand building,” said Creed.  “The YUM! Board and I are confident that David’s experience and deep knowledge of our global business will prove instrumental as we work toward strengthening our iconic brands…” Creed said that Dave Russell, who served as interim, will return to his role as vice president for finance and corporate controller. The company’s statement quoted Gibbs’ comments about the benefits to separating the two companies, which will spin off about one-third of the company’s business to investors in China. “We remain committed to our stated goal of 96 percent of our restaurants being owned and operated by franchisees by the end of 2017, with operating margins, capital expenditures and an efficient (operating expenses) consistent with a reduced ownership business model. ” Gibbs, 53, said they expect the moves could return an incremental $4.4 billion of capital to shareholders before the separation. “This is a pivotal and exciting time as we transform Yum! Brands into two powerful, independent companies,” he said. Gibbs, who joined the company in 1989, has worked in development, real estate, finance, and engineering roles. He was CFO of Pizza Hut U.S. from 2005 to 2010 before becoming president and CFO of Yum! Restaurants International. Source: The Courier-Journal.


Panera to Close Standalone Paradise Units

Panera Bread Co. will close or convert some Paradise Bakery & Café locations and continue to invest in food safety, especially after a series of foodborne illness outbreaks at Chipotle Mexican Grill, executives said last week. “When we acquired our initial stake in Paradise nearly a decade ago, it was a solid acquisition. The real estate was good and the brand was popular in its markets. While the cafés have remained profitable, growth has slowed materially,” Ron Shaich, Panera founder, chairman and CEO, said in a call Wednesday with analysts. St. Louis-based Panera purchased a majority stake in Paradise, then based in Phoenix, in 2007, when it had more than 70 locations in 10 states, predominantly in the West and Southwest. Panera purchased the balance of Paradise in June 2009. Paradise now has just over 50 units in six states, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and Utah. Shaich said same-store sales at Paradise have been negative for several years. “Unfortunately, Paradise is now a downdraft in the comps we report to you each quarter,” Shaich told analysts. He noted that the small brand in relatively few markets was limited in its ability to take advantage of Panera’s e-commerce, loyalty programs or national advertising. The company has already converted some Paradise units to the Panera brand, Shaich said. “The tests have been very compelling from both a comp- and profit-lift standpoint,” he explained. “Based on the testing, we’ve decided to convert a substantial number of our company-owned Paradise cafés to the Panera format. This conversion should occur over the next several years.” Paradise units in food courts will not be converted, Shaich said, “as they perform particularly well under the Paradise brand.” The company will not convert locations where leases are scheduled to expire soon, or where the company intends to relocate in the near future. Panera Bread is also amping up its food-safety initiatives, executives said. “Clearly, we live in a post-Chipotle world, where there is an elevated focus on food safety at all restaurants,” said Panera president Drew Madsen. Madsen added that a major part of the company’s brand promise is to be “an ally for wellness that our customers trust to help them eat the way they want to eat, and obviously food-safety is a critical piece of that commitment.” To that end, Panera is strengthening its supply-chain food safety, he said, hiring an additional food-safety consultant with supply-chain and risk-management expertise to suggest areas for improvement. The company had already committed to a number of food-safety and ingredient-watching initiatives, including the issuance last May of a “No No List” of artificial ingredients it had removed or was cutting from its menus. Madsen said the company was making more investments in food safety. Stephen Anderson, an analyst with the Maxim Group, said in a note Wednesday that those food-safety investments underscore Panera’s commitment to “clean” food. “We believe that the most important incremental data point from today’s conference call was the incremental $2 million investment in food safety, specifically targeting increased audits at both the supply chain and restaurant levels,” Anderson wrote. Anderson said that, “in light of Chipotle Mexican Grill’s recent food safety scares,” the timing of Panera’s investment “was fortunate,” and likely helped the company gain market share at the expense of Chipotle and other peer brands. Panera on Tuesday reported profit of $35.1 million, or $1.45 per share, rising from $31.9 million, or $1.20 per share, in the same period a year ago. Revenue increased 5.6 percent, to $685.2 million, from $648.5 million in the prior-year quarter. Same-store sales at company-owned bakery-cafés rose 6.2 percent, and same-store sales at franchised units increased 3.3 percent in the quarter, Panera said. Company-owned restaurants saw transaction growth of 2.4 percent and check growth of 3.8 percent. – Source: NRN.


The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen and Spirits Appoints John D. Allegretto as President and CEO

The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen and Spirits, an award-winning gourmet pizza restaurant with a rock-‘n’-roll vibe, has announced the appointment of John D. Allegretto as President and CEO. Allegretto brings over 25 years of food industry experience to his role, most recently as Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer for BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. He was Senior Executive of Brewery Operations and the architect for the company’s internal and external network of brewers and distributors. Prior to joining BJ’s, Allegretto served as Vice President for Carlson Restaurant’s Pick Up Stix Division. “After the years I’ve spent in the entertainment, restaurant and brewing industries, I’m excited to harness those invaluable experiences as CEO,” said Allegretto. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to direct corporate vision and the immersive experience at The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen and Spirits.” Prior to his role at Carlson, Allegretto held positions with the Walt Disney Company, including as a Director in the Corporate Strategic Sourcing Group. The multifaceted role depended on worldwide sourcing strategies in food and beverage, general and administrative, and packaged media spend. Allegretto held positions at Harvard University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. Allegretto holds a Masters of Business Administration from Bentley University. “John came to us with an impressive background, having worked at many well-respected international companies,” said Don Bellis, founding partner. “He’ll provide daily focus and direction as we continue to expand our national footprint.” Don Bellis and Jay Gigandet, founders of The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen and Spirits, will remain on the Board of Directors, focusing their attention on future store development, as Allegretto develops long-term strategies and growth opportunities. Source: The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen and Spirits.


BRAVO! Cucina Italiana Rebrands to Attract a Younger Demographic
BRAVO! Cucina Italiana has introduced a new concept at five of its eateries in Pittsburgh this year. The rebranding initiative introduces a host of new menu items, including many under 600 calories, updates and freshens interiors, and revitalizes the service style. Another 10 outlets of the chain’s 51 eateries in 22 states will be revamped in the coming year. Brian O’Malley, CEO of Bravo Brio, describes it as a “comprehensive program that involves training, marketing, culinary, and construction design.” The Columbus, Ohio–based chain Bravo Brio also owns 65 Brio Tuscan Grilles, though most of those are newer outlets and won’t be affected by the redesign. Together, the chains generated $108 million in revenue in 2015. The average check at BRAVO! Cucina Italiana is $21.60, slightly above mid-priced competitors such as the $19 at Cheesecake Factory and $15 at Olive Garden, but lower than the $27 price at the more upscale Brio Tuscan Grille. The rebranding campaign launched because comparable restaurant sales at Bravo Brio have stagnated for several years. Columbus Business First noted that its revenue in the last quarter of 2015 dipped 3.5 percent and marked 11 consecutive quarters of declining sales. Many of the Cucina Italiana units are located in malls, where customer traffic has waned in recent years. When O’Malley was named CEO of Bravo Brio in December, he aimed to shake things up and try something new to reinvigorate the brand. Candidly, O’Malley says, “We needed to make a stand. Bravo Brio has played it safe, down the center of the fairway.” The brand’s typical customer was 50 years and older, but the new concept targets a younger audience aged 35 to 50. O’Malley traveled to nine different cities to visit Cucina Italiana locations and met with 136 general managers and executive chefs to elicit their feedback, solicit their ideas, and develop a new strategy to attract a younger clientele. “We needed to find ways to become relevant with a younger audience,” he says. The result was a total overhaul of the menu, introducing 18 entrées, and many low-calorie alternatives, which Millennials prefer. “Millennials are looking for things done their way. Guests can come in and request entrées done their way,” he adds. New items on the menu include appetizers, such as homemade warm ricotta marinated with red peppers, and entrées, such as lamb chops, braised pork, fresh seafood, and fresh pasta, instead of dry pasta. The new menu also accentuates meals that are “fresh, organic, and local,” O’Malley says, adding that many appetizers are shareable, which also appeals to Millennials. Because Millennial are devotees of the Food Network and Travel Channel, they are hip to the latest food and beverage trends. Hence, local and regional craft beers will be introduced at the restaurants and the craft beer menu will vary in Columbus, Ohio, from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Décor-wise, Cucina Italiana has added plastered walls, wood beams, and wood floors—inspired by Italian farmhouse kitchens—to create a warmer, more approachable café. As for the dining experience, the front and the back of the house underwent training that emphasized the company’s new take on hospitality. “Our goal wasn’t to change the style, but instead to put the focus back on the details of service,” he notes. Paying at the table will also be offered. When customers enter the revamped Cucina Italianas, they will see that everything has changed, “from flooring to walls to lighting, and the menu that you get handed will look and feel different,” O’Malley explains. Average dinner prices will stay mostly the same, and O’Malley says the emphasis is on “more organic growth.” Limited-time offers, like an $11 special including soup or salad with chicken piccata, shrimp scampi, or chicken parmigiana, aims to drive sales. By reinventing the brand from a menu perspective, O’Malley expects the brand will be bringing in a whole new demographic—the Millennials—on a consistent basis. “We’ll find growth in sales and traffic,” he says. – Source:


L.A. Kitchen Gives its Students the Ingredients for a Better Life
Thee 20,000-square-foot Lincoln Heights kitchen is humming with the sounds of pre-service food prep. While the chef de cuisine shapes cheese quenelles for a pasta dish, an apprentice washes arugula, then whisks together a balsamic vinaigrette. At the heart of the room, a battalion of busy cooks cuts broccoli on a stainless steel worktable. This is not a restaurant kitchen. This is L.A. Kitchen, a nonprofit facility located in L.A.’s Eastside that recovers fresh fruit and vegetables to be used in a culinary arts job-training program for former inmates and young adults leaving the foster care system. Robert Egger, the 57-year-old nonprofit pioneer and speaker, founded L.A. Kitchen in 2013 with help from a $1-million start-up grant from AARP, which was the largest single grant in the foundation’s history. Egger previously ran the successful D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK) for 24 years. DCCK opened in 1989 and has since run a groundbreaking culinary job-training program and has also prepared millions of meals for low-income and at-risk Washington, D.C., residents. Egger is the author of “Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient and Rewarding for All,” which was published in 2004 and won the McAdam Book Award for best nonprofit management book in 2005. In 2004 he won the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year award. L.A. Kitchen’s social enterprise (for-profit business) is called Strong Food. It employs some L.A. Kitchen culinary program graduates and works hard to ensure all other graduates are placed in jobs. Strong Food also buys food and competes for food service contracts, which include serving healthy meals to low-income seniors. Volunteers for L.A. Kitchen sign up via the website and gather several days a week (at least 20 volunteers per day) to help chop and prep produce that goes into meals for partner agencies, including one for a new senior program in Echo Park and one with the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, which serves northeast L.A. “We’re excited that our first major contract for meals [750 a day] will be in the community where L.A. Kitchen is located,” Egger says. The senior meals are vibrant, restaurant-quality and have included grilled tri-tip beef, Scottish salmon and vegetarian whole-wheat penne. L.A. Kitchen’s first hire from the culinary program (Class 1 in 2014) was 53-year-old Theresa Farthing. She spoke about her difficult past as she chopped vegetables near the classrooms. Farthing spent years dealing with homelessness, drug abuse and was also incarcerated at Lynwood women’s jail. “L.A. Kitchen gave me the opportunity to give myself a second chance,” Farthing says. As head cook, she works with new students. During the 15-week culinary program, students held internships at various L.A. restaurants, including Ray Garcia’s highly regarded Broken Spanish in downtown Los Angeles. Garcia (who also owns B.S. Taqueria) first learned about L.A. Kitchen from José Andrés, the Spanish chef who serves as L.A. Kitchen’s board co-chairman and also chairman emeritus of D.C. Kitchen. Andrés owns several restaurants around the country, including the Bazaar in Beverly Hills. “Robert is a visionary,” Andrés says. “He doesn’t see hunger as a problem but as an opportunity — to improve the lives of many, one citizen at a time.” Garcia got involved after doing a little research and discovered that the L.A. Kitchen location was just two miles from where he grew up. “For me this was a sign. It was the perfect opportunity to help give back to my community while at the same time helping my restaurants. L.A. Kitchen works hard to not just place somebody with a job, but to set them up for long-term success.” On April 14, 10 students from L.A. Kitchen’s 15-week culinary program graduated at a ceremony at L.A. River Center and Gardens and all are now employed at L.A.-area businesses, including Kitchen Mouse, Tender Greens, Taste of Pace, Wexler’s, BiBi’s Cafe, Mighty Humans and Strong Food. “Food can be viewed as more than just nourishment for the body — it can be a real agent of change.” Egger says. “There’s a sense of joy in what we do here, but there’s also sense of justice.” – Source: The Los Angeles Times.


Smashburger CEO Scott Crane Steps Down

Scott Crane is stepping down as CEO of Smashburger, the company confirmed last week. A replacement has not yet been named, according to an email statement from the company to Nation’s Restaurant News, but Smashburger’s board of managers is expected to make an announcement in seven to 10 days. In the meantime, remaining Smashburger executives will take over Crane’s responsibilities. “On behalf of Smashburger’s board of managers and team, I would like to thank Scott for the outstanding leadership he has provided the company during his tenure as CEO,” Rick Schaden, Smashburger co-founder and chairman, said in a statement. “With his vision, efforts and constructive attitude, we formed a strong partnership, helping Smashburger accomplish a number of extraordinary feats over the last several years.” Schaden told franchisees in an email late last week that Crane had decided to leave the company. “As this chapter of Smashburger closes, our leadership team stands ready to take the brand to new heights and the future remains bright,” Schaden said in the email, which was obtained by Nation’s Restaurant News. Crane’s departure comes less than three years after he was elevated to the CEO role following the resignation of Dave Prokupek. Crane has been with the company since 2007, when the fast-casual burger chain had just two locations. The departure comes six months after Philippines-based quick-service operator Jollibee Foods Corp. acquired a 40-percent stake in Smashburger. – Source: Smashburger was founded in 2007, and has more than 350 locations. – Source: NRN.


Disney World’s Newest Restaurant Serves Global Cuisine and Craft Cocktails

Man cannot survive on Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars alone, so it’s thankful that Disney World is equipped with plenty of restaurants (some of them actually quite good). The newest addition to the park’s dining lineup: Tiffins, slated to hit Disney’s Animal Kingdom over Memorial Day weekend. The name may sound vaguely like a Southern chain that would serve a lot of pie, but “tiffin” actually refers to a metal lunch box commonly seen in India and a number of other countries (the term is also used to mean a midday meal). Located in the park’s Discovery Island area, Disney describes the table-service restaurant as “a gallery you can dine in with artwork that is a direct result of travels to Africa, Asia and South America.” The menu globe-trots across several continents with dishes such as miso-glazed black cod, pork tenderloin with huitlacoche tamales, and berbere-spiced lamb chops, along with “sustainable, organic wines,” craft cocktails, and craft beer. Reservations are recommended, but for more impulsive park visitors there’s also the adjacent Nomad Lounge with small plates and “beautiful waterfront views.” Also coming soon to the Disney dining universe: Rick Bayless’s fast-casual Chicago export Frontera Fresco, which is headed to the Disney Springs complex, and at least two bars and restaurants at the much-anticipated Star Wars Land. – Source: Eater/Vox Media.


Menu Innovation Driving Momentum at Burger King, Tim Hortons
Flame-grilled hot dogs at Burger King and a pulled pork sandwich at Tim Hortons contributed to profit growth for parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. in the first quarter. Net income attributable to common shareholders in the period ended March 31 was $50 million, equal to 22c per share on the common stock, which compared with a loss of $8.3 million in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted EBITDA increased 23% on an organic basis to $407.8 million from $355.1 million in fiscal 2015. Revenues for the quarter totaled $918.5 million, down 1.6% from $933.3 million the year before. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange movements, Burger King revenues grew 8% and Tim Hortons revenues grew 5.2% over the prior year. “Successful marketing platforms, innovative product launches and consistent focus on guest satisfaction led to global same-store sales growth of 5.6% for Tim’s and of 4.6% for Burger King,” said Daniel Schwartz, chief executive officer, during an April 28 earnings call with financial analysts. “Strong sales momentum at both brands contributed to growth in franchisee profitability, building on the progress that we made last year to further improve our restaurant operators’ bottom line.” Driving growth at Tim Hortons were successful limited-time offerings, including a croissant breakfast sandwich, grilled wraps and Nutella-filled pastries. At Burger King, Grilled Dogs, which launched in February, have “quickly become guest favorites,” Mr. Schwartz said. “We saw new guests coming to come try the Grilled Dogs, we saw existing guests adding Grilled Dogs to their meals,” he said. “So we saw it as a mix of entrees and as add-ons. So it was a nice healthy mix, with a good ticket average for us. So we were really pleased with the performance of the Grilled Dogs, both from a guest satisfaction and from a franchise profitability standpoint.” – Source:


Bob Evans to Close 27 Restaurants
Bob Evans Farms, Inc. is closing 27 Bob Evans restaurants, the company said. Among those affected is the restaurant at 1929 Harshman Road in Riverside as well as others in Toledo and Indianapolis, the company said. No one answered the phone at the Harshman Road location this morning. Twenty-one of the restaurants are owned and six are leased locations. The owned locations were closed over this past weekend and the leased locations are expected to close during fiscal year 2017, the company said. In all, restaurants in ten states are affected. “Decisions to close restaurant locations are always difficult,” President and Chief Executive Saed Mohseni said in a statement. “Performance at each of these locations, despite the loyalty of valued guests and the efforts of our dedicated employees, was not meeting expectations. Employees impacted by closures have been offered positions in nearby restaurants where possible. In cases where relocation is not possible, severance benefits will be offered to full-time and part-time employees.” The New Albany-based company expects about $20 million from the sale of the owned properties. Although the closed restaurants generated $30 million of annual revenue, the company believes annual operating income will improve by about $1 million. The company will incur $7.5 to $8 million of expenses tied to the closures, with $6.5 to $7 million of the total expected to be non-cash charges, it said. Bob Evans said it will provide an update of the estimated expenses related to the closures when it reports its fiscal 2016 fourth-quarter results in June. – Source: Dayton Daily News.


Iconic Steakburger Chain Steak ‘n Shake to Open First O.C. Restaurant Next Month
After opening its first two California restaurants in 2014, iconic burger chain Steak ’n Shake is unveiling its first Orange County restaurant next month. The first two restaurants opened in late 2014 in Santa Monica and Victorville. A third opened later in Burbank. The Aliso Viejo restaurant will be Steak ’n Shake’s fourth California restaurant. The openings are part of the chain’s expansion into the West, which is picking up steam this year. Another restaurant is slated to open this summer in Riverside, said Jim Flaniken, senior vice president of marketing at Steak Steak ’n Shake. “There are several other California locations likely to open in the second half of 2016,” Flaniken said. Owned by Texas-­based Biglari Holdings, Steak ’n Shake’s reputation back East rivals that of In-­N­-Out. The first restaurant opened in 1934 in Illinois, selling a menu of house­ground steak burgers and hand­spun shakes. It now operates hundreds of restaurants across the East Coast, Midwest and Southern regions of the U.S. The menu includes ground steak burgers, hand­cut fries and milkshakes. The throwback dining rooms feature black and white floors, and red chairs and barstools. The hybrid­-style restaurant is a full service diner inside, but also operates with a drive-­through lane. It is often described as a cross between In-­N-­Out and Ruby’s Diner. During the Great Recession, Steak ’n Shake sales and customer traffic tanked. The chain was losing nearly $100,000 per day, according to a 2015 regulatory filing. By 2010, sales began to turnaround after new leadership was installed. In 2015, the company generated $1 billion in sales at its 561 domestic and international locations, according to market research firm Technomic in Chicago. That’s up from $786 million in 2010. Average annual sales at each restaurant is $1.9 million, Technomic reported. The Aliso Viejo restaurant, slated to open in mid-­May, “represents our classic, dine-­in with drive-­thru concept,” Flaniken said in a statement to the Register. – Source: The Orange County Register.


Long John Silver’s Brings Aboard New Corporate Crew Members

Long John Silver’s, the world’s largest quick service seafood company, has welcomed several new members to their corporate team in the last quarter. The new hires join the already influential team as the company continues to grow to better market its customers. “It is an exciting time at Long John Silver’s and we need a team with energy and passion,” said Krista Foster, Senior Director of Human Resources. “These are top notch professionals who understand our commitment to quality and our customers.” Long John Silver’s newest members include: Laura Clay – Training Specialist; Keiysha Cook – Financial Analyst; Kendall Hobbs – Manager, Planning and Development; Tara Stephenson – Franchise Business Consultant; Karen Wantland – Senior Manager, Brand Communications, and Kimberly Warren – Manager, HR. – Source: Long John Silver’s.


Former NBA Player Selling St. Louis Wendy’s Franchises

After buying 30 St. Louis area Wendy’s restaurants in 2013, former NBA player Ulysses ‘Junior’ Bridgeman is selling all of his restaurant holdings to focus on a new venture as a Coca-Cola bottler. Bridgeman partnered with another former professional basketball player, point guard Chauncey Billups, to acquire nearly all the Wendy’s restaurants in the St. Louis area from the Dublin, Ohio-based restaurant chain in August 2013. Bridgeman retired from the NBA in the 1980s and spent most of his basketball career with the Milwaukee Bucks. Billups is a former point guard with the Detroit Pistons. Now Bridgeman, founder of Louisville, Ky.-based Manna Inc., is divesting his Wendy’s and Chili’s restaurant holdings in multiple states to focus on becoming a bottler for The Coca-Cola Co. in the St. Louis and Kansas City regions, Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska, Coca-Cola said Wednesday. Bridgeman has a letter of intent to acquire those territories and a production facility in Lenexa, Kan., Coca-Cola said. Coca-Cola announced multiple deals to refranchise bottling territories across the U.S. Financial terms were not disclosed. Bridgeman did not immediately return calls seeking comment about his local restaurant holdings. “Junior Bridgeman is a long-tenured and valuable member of Wendy’s franchisee community, and we are discussing his future plans with him,” Wendy’s spokesman Bob Bertini said in an email. – Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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