To Our Valued Subscribers:

Fall is in full swing, my Cubs are back to being lovable losers and all the major sports are active. An excellent time!! It is also the time organizations need to gear up for the final year end push and be ready to be running at the start of 2010. One thing I have noticed with all successful teams is that they know how to spot and recruit talent. One the ways my American Recruiters team and I can help you reach your goals is by spotting and getting you the talent that you and your team do not know exist. With almost Two Centuries of Foodservice experience we are the best at finding and guiding that stealth talent to your organization. Who knows the best player on the A’s or who knew a sixth round pick would be the Goat in the NFL? Professionals who are in touch on a daily basis with the needs of clients and candidates with contacts at every level. That’s what we at American Recruiters offer you on a daily basis. Take advantage of what we have to offer. We can and do find the talent needed for your organization to be successful. Another way we assist you is in providing tips on how to be a more effective leader. Here are a few tips from author and executive coach Joel Garfinkle on being a Great Leader that I’m passing on which really work: Great Leaders Have:

· Integrity

· High Standards

· Stability

· Constant investment in their organizations growth through developing talent

I know these works for me and I know they will work for you. Enjoy the latest edition of American Recruiters Global Foodservice News and let us know how we can best be of service to you.

Craig Wilson



Yum! Brands Creates Two Tech-Focused Positions

Yum! Brands, Inc. has named executives to two newly created tech-focused positions, hiring Clay Johnson as chief digital and technology officer and Gavin Felder as chief strategy officer. The new positions will partner with the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell divisions to advance the company’s technological capabilities. Mr. Johnson will lead Yum! Brands’ global technology strategy, overseeing cross-brand efforts to improve mobile, online, delivery and restaurant operations. He also will manage the company’s global technology risk management and I.T. services teams. Mr. Johnson has more than 20 years of technology leadership across Fortune 500 companies, including GE, Boeing and Dell. He joins Yum! Brands from Walmart, where he was executive vice-president and enterprise chief information officer. His appointment is effective Oct. 15. Mr. Felder will develop the company’s long-term corporate strategies. He was chief financial officer at KFC for the past five years, overseeing strategy, digital and technology, financial planning, supply chain and I.T. security for KFC’s 23,000 restaurants across 135 countries. He will remain CFO at KFC until a successor is named. He assumes his new post in December. “We believe Clay Johnson and Gavin Felder are the ideal executives to accelerate Yum! Brands’ growth through technology-centric strategies that advance the customer experience and ultimately deliver better economics and more value for our franchisees and shareholders,” said David Gibbs, current president and chief operating officer and incoming chief executive officer. Clay’s insights into developing connected digital commerce capabilities and integrated enterprise solutions will be invaluable as we strengthen our business model with technology at the forefront. Gavin is a successful digital leader and proven growth strategist at KFC, our largest and most profitable global brand division.” Aligning the company’s technology efforts with the digital innovation happening at restaurants will be a key area of focus for the new leadership, Mr. Gibbs said. “This is an exciting time at Yum!,” he said. “We have an incredible opportunity to leverage our massive scale and expand our digital and technology competencies in order to drive global same-store sales and net-new unit growth and improve franchise unit economics.” – Source: Food Business News.

New Executive VP, Chief Operating and Growth Officer at Papa John’s International, Inc.

Michael R. Nettles, previously senior vice-president, chief information and digital officer, will take over the new role of executive vice-president, chief operating and growth officer at Papa John’s International, Inc. The personnel move was part of a new organizational structure that is consistent with the company’s strategy to improve customer experience, according to the Louisville-based pizza chain. Mr. Nettles, who joined Papa John’s in 2017, has more than 28 years of restaurant industry and technology experience. He previously served as vice-president of enterprise architecture and IT strategy at Panera Bread Co. and as chief technology officer at DiningIn Inc. “Since joining last year, Mike has significantly elevated the consumer experience across our digital and mobile platforms,” said Steve M. Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of Papa John’s. “His promotion and the other appointments announced today reflect the strong contributions these executives have made to Papa John’s and our belief that, in their new roles, they can propel our success even further.” Papa John’s announced other executive promotions with all the executives reporting to Mr. Nettles: Justin Falciola, who most recently was vice-president, global enterprise architecture, was promoted to senior vice-president, chief analytics and technology officer; Anne Fischer, who most recently was vice-president, product management, was promoted to senior vice-president, customer experience; Paul Fabre, who most recently was vice-president, research and development and quality assurance, was promoted to senior vice-president, menu strategy and innovation; and Melissa Richards-Person, who most recently was vice-president global brand strategy and consumer connections, was promoted to senior vice-president, chief brand officer. – Food Business News.

McDonald’s Fills Two Senior Management Positions

David Fairhurst will fill the newly expanded role of corporate executive vice-president, chief people officer, effective Oct. 1. He will oversee global human resources with additional responsibility for global training. Mr. Fairhurst will replace Rich Floersch, executive vice-president and chief human resources officer, who will retire Dec. 31. Mr. Fairhurst joined McDonald’s UK in 2005 as vice-president of people, and was promoted to chief people officer of northern Europe in 2007. In 2011, he was named chief people officer of Europe. Earlier this year, Mr. Fairhurst was named corporate senior vice-president, international human resources and strategy, with responsibility for global design and systems. “David will build on the substantive work that Rich led in making talent development a priority at McDonald’s,” said Steve Easterbrook, president and chief executive officer of McDonald’s. “As we thank Rich for his contributions, we’re confident that David is the leader we need to continue supporting the business turnaround and driving our global people strategy.” Chris Kempczinski has been named corporate executive vice-president of strategy, business development and innovation, effective Oct. 26. Mr. Kempczinski will oversee strategy development, planning, innovation and new concepts to drive company growth. Previously, Mr. Kempczinski was the executive vice-president of growth initiatives and president of international at Kraft Foods Group. He joined Kraft Foods in 2007 as senior vice-president for U.S. grocery and was promoted to president of Kraft Canada in 2012. Before Kraft, Mr. Kempczinski worked for PepsiCo, The Boston Consulting Group, and Procter & Gamble. “At this crucial time in our business, Chris brings an unparalleled level of strategic expertise coupled with a fresh perspective to our management team,” Mr. Easterbrook said. “Chris is a proven global leader with a solid track record of success and will play an instrumental role moving our brand forward.” – Source: Food Business News.

Food Safety Checks and Balances

While meat and poultry slaughterers and processors are always looking for ways to make their plants and products safe, they must embrace at least two approaches to accomplish these goals. They must take steps to prevent pathogens in the products they produce. In addition, and just as important, they must determine if there are pathogens already present in their plants. Without these two actions, it will be hard for them to achieve the success which is so critical to their businesses. Laboratory companies and other scientific suppliers help meat and poultry companies meet these goals. Auditing safety controls in plants and testing to see if pathogens or other hazards make it through plant operations are two major steps in the process. “Auditing takes place to ensure compliance – that you’re meeting the rules and regulations associated with food safety and food quality,” said John David, global scientific marketing manager at 3M Food Safety. “Depending on who does the inspections, it could be the U.S.D.A., F.D.A. or third-party certification systems.” Making sure the raw materials that go into meat and poultry processing are safe is also important. “Manufacturers do this by ensuring what comes from suppliers is good – so they make sure their raw supplies will be without pathogens as they are made into products,” said Raj Rajagopal, senior global technical service specialist at 3M Food Safety. Birko Corp. emphasizes the “seek and destroy” mission in plants – how environmental monitoring programs can play a critical role in keeping meat and poultry plants and the products produced there safe, especially ready-to-eat (R.-T.-E.) products. “How can you be confident your plant is properly mitigating contamination risks, such as Listeria and other bacterial concerns on a continual basis?” said Elis Owens, director of technical services at Birko. “How do you know for certain that your facility’s food safety plan is effective? That’s where the crucial step of implementing an environmental monitoring program comes in.” He emphasized that monitoring is critical for R.-T.-E. products – such as lunch meat and jerky – from the processing stage to consumers’ plates. An environmental monitoring program is a form of plant auditing, and it proves or disproves many things about a company’s food safety program. “For example, if the sanitation program is working, it can eliminate microbes from processing areas,” Mr. Owens said. “It can remove niches or harborage areas where the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes has come from, or where it’s hiding out. “Not only are these programs a best practice, but ongoing environmental monitoring is a requirement of the F.D.A.’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It’s of particular importance to R.-T.-E. processors, because there is not an additional kill step before it [R.-T.-E. meat] gets to consumers.” Mr. Owens pointed out that Environmental Monitoring Programs (E.M.P.s) are a good way for establishments to keep process control. “Management should be asking questions like, ‘Do I have my processes and hazards under control in my plant?’ This is a way to help them do that,” he said. Mr. David noted that samples are taken by processing facilities and the government. “The U.S.D.A. will take product samples and surface swabs from the food processing environment,” he said. “Both are needed to have a complete, holistic approach to food safety.” Mr. Rajagopal added “You can then find sites where contamination is taking place. If there is ineffective cleaning, sanitation and sanitary design, pathogens can remain for a long time.” They’ve found Listeria surviving up to 10 years. 3M Food Safety and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recently teamed up and designed a resource, “The Environmental Monitoring Handbook for the Food and Beverage Industries,” which helps processors build and implement environmental monitoring programs. – Source: Food Business News.

Beyond Testing for Pathogens

Testing for pathogens in products and plants is part of food safety, but not all of it. “The tests we provide are a look at what pathogens may be there,” said Mike Clark, a microbiologist and global marketing manager in molecular food diagnostics for Bio-Rad Laboratories. “But these tests are certainly not preventive.” The reason is, these tests do not prevent pathogens and bacteria from getting into plants and into the food products being produced there, or into the food chain, he said. “That’s why testing programs in plants can never replace what we call ‘good manufacturing practices (G.M.P.s).’ These G.M.P.s are part of a good strong HACCP program or system, which of course has been required many years in poultry and meat plants by U.S.D.A. regulations,” Mr. Clark said. “The G.M.P.s include HACCP, sanitation, a complete food safety program. When you have that operating in a plant, then the risk of bacteria and pathogens, and possibly foodborne illness in consumers who purchase the food products, is reduced.” But product testing is needed in plants and plays a critical role in eliminating food safety threats.

To identify problems in plants, Bio-Rad supplies its meat and poultry facility customers with real-time polymerase chain reaction (RTi-PCR or RT-PCR) or qPCR tests. This technology can be used to find pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) pathogens in plants or products. “PCR can detect foodborne pathogens by generating many thousands, even millions of copies of DNA of the targeted pathogen,” Mr. Clark said. “This is a very sensitive and accurate test. The accuracy of our test is improved due to the continuous detection throughout the PCR test, not just at the end. By using this method, we’re continuously monitoring the test results, so we have the results even faster, including presumptive results faster.” Bio-Rad’s test line is called iQ-Check Real-Time PCR. Bio-Rad recently released an even more advanced testing solution based on Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR). This process generates thousands of extremely small droplets, dividing a single sample into 20,000 individual reactions. This new solution from Bio-Rad is called dd-Check STEC, which is used to detect Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). “It changes the way and speed STEC is found,” Mr. Clark said. “For a STEC bacterium to be considered a pathogen, two virulence markers in a single bacterium need to be present. Droplet digital PCR can detect and confirm both virulence genes occurring in a single cell. It gives users a better and more accurate result.” Advantages include reducing the number of false positives. For fresh meat, confirmed positive and negative results can be back in as little as 24 hours. Other methods don’t paint as accurate a picture, Mr. Clark said, with presumptives confirmed or not confirmed as quickly. Slower methods also require meat and poultry products to be held longer.

Auditing Assurances

A food safety audit provides information about how good the total food safety program is and assures the processor how well it’s working. “Audits are a complement to testing,” Mr. Clark said . “They monitor and measure process control. Testing and auditing are used together.” Both approaches can be used in plants of all sizes. “The 3M Molecular Detection System platform and its assays are used by food processors, universities, governments and contract testing laboratories around the world as a fast, accurate, easy-to-use and affordable method,” Mr. David said. “It overcomes limitations of conventional PCR by using progressive loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to amplify DNA sequences to be highly specific and sensitive, then combine with bioluminescence to detect.” Presumptive positives are revealed in real time, while negatives display when the test is complete. This is the primary method used by U.S.D.A.-F.S.I.S. to detect Listeria and Salmonella. Mr. Rajagobal points to 3M Clean-Trace Hygiene Monitoring and Management, which evaluates the effectiveness of cleaning procedures, and 3M Allergen Protein ELISA tests, a simple way to carry out targeted allergen testing. Antimicrobials and pathogen reduction treatments remain an important method in the pathogen prevention arsenal for meat and poultry processors. Birko’s Mr. Owens says applying these to meat products reduces potential pathogens on meat surfaces. They follow dressing procedures, sanitation and carcass washing at slaughter plants. They include BirkoSide 15 & 22, Birkoside MP-2 & MP-3, U.S.D.A. and F.D.A. approved antimicrobials, and Beefxide and Chicxide, lactic/citric acid blends effective for E. coli and Salmonella for beef and poultry, as well as other products. – Source: Food Safety Monitor.

How to Make a Facility ‘Dishwasher Safe’

Water. It’s essential for life … and baking. But it can also pose huge risks, from physical hazards to bacteria transport, making it a key consideration for sanitation and food safety. In Saturday’s education session “Food Safety Best Practices for Operations, Engineers and Sanitarians,” Karl Thorson, global food safety and sanitation manager for General Mills, Minneapolis, boiled it down to two simple ideas: Treat water like glass, and make sure the facility is “dishwasher safe.” Treating water like glass suggests water on surfaces and floors can be as dangerous as broken glass. And making a facility dishwasher safe means to make cleaning and sanitation as easy, accessible and repeatable as a dishwasher at home. It’s about matching the material to the facility design while also paying heed to the bacterial and safety risks that water can bring. Mr. Thorson prioritized cleaning methods from the safest to the highest risk, ranging from no cleaning needed to flood cleaning, which he called “the worst of all evils” in thewar on water.One best practice he suggested was using scrap as a tool to abrade leftover material in the horizontal mixer as a first cleaning step, reducing the water needed in the full clean. “Cleaning is extremely important and necessary in the baking process, but we want to do it as effectively and efficiently as possible,” he said. “My charge at General Mills is to reduce risk.” Source: Food Safety Monitor/Sosland Publishing Company.

TGI Fridays Launches $5 Cheeseburger Tuesdays

Preempting that epic American holiday, National Cheeseburger Day, TGI Fridays has announced the launch of its own National Cheeseburger Day, and continuing on every Tuesday after that. With the firm belief that Americans are hungry for a break, the restaurant brand is celebrating the iconic American meal with an offer that includes TGI Fridays signature cheeseburger and a side of seasoned fries for just $5. “Whatever else is happening in the world, we’ve found that Americans are still passionate about their cheeseburgers,” says Cindy Syracuse, TGI Fridays Vice President of Marketing. “So why wait for a National Holiday? We’re declaring National Cheeseburger Day to be not only this Tuesday but every Tuesday at TGI Fridays.” It’s part of TGI Fridays “Weekday Specials”—daily deals on the brand’s most popular dishes. All “Weekday Specials” are available all-day with no coupon required. It’s all part of TGI Fridays’ menu featuring “Day of Week” values on the brand’s most popular dishes. All “Day of Week” deals are available all-day on the given days with no coupon required.“Now every day you have a reason bring a friend and come back again knowing that our most popular dishes and best values are always right here at Fridays,” adds Syracuse. “Start with America’s favorite meal—our signature Cheeseburger and fries this Tuesday.” – Source: fsrmagazine.

What Does the Future Hold for Hooters and Twin Peaks?

Historically, chains like Hooters and Twin Peaks, and their scantily clad waitresses, established a niche audience, of mostly men, in the sports-bar restaurant space. But industry consultants suggest that although they’re holding their own, times have changed, and they need to adapt in order to keep pace. Showing how challenging the category can be, the Arc Group, which owns Dick’s Wings, acquired 34-unit Tilted Kilt in November of 2018. That price was low based on Tilted Kilt’s $1.8 million burden of debt and $1.5 million in additional payments due. Today, standing out means bucking the tide against sexism, updating menus beyond chicken wings, and appealing to more than men in search of sporting events. Hooters and Twin Peaks have had disparate results in terms of revenue. In a ranking of revenue at the top 500 U.S. restaurants, Hooter’s, the largest of the two with more than 300 locations, saw its revenue fall 1.7 percent in 2018, while Twin Peaks’ 83 locations spiked 7.3 percent. What is Twin Peaks getting right, and what does Hooters need to do bounce back? Darren Tristano, CEO of Foodservice Results, an Oak Park, Illinois-based food industry research firm, says these chains are still thriving, but they need to make improvements to catch up with “casual dining bar and grills that have contemporized.” He says competitors have enhanced food quality, and now offer local craft beer, as well as improved wine and spirits selections. Consumers still frequent Hooters, Tristano says, for their “inexpensive and affordable food and that remains a value play.” But millennials are seeking “independent burger bars where they can watch sports and enjoy food and be in the company of each other,” he says. Twin Peaks has done a solid job of enhancing its menu options. Many of the Twin Peaks locations have outdoor spaces, large settings with ample square footage, and its “food and ice-cold beers are differentiators compared to Hooters,” Tristano says. These restaurants with sultry waitresses attract 65 percent or higher percentages of men, and that means they’re having a tougher time wooing women and families, Tristano says. He suggests hiring more male servers, which could appeal to a more varied clientele.

Hooters has seen a jump in delivery sales over the last year.

Yet it’s not just restaurant chains in this specific category that are feeling the pinch. So are a host of casual-dining bar and grills, says Roger Lipton, president of Lipton Financial Services, which specializes in the restaurant industry. “It’s a very competitive space, and they’re all battling for market share,” he says. The alluring waitresses create a mixed message, Lipton says. Some men want to ogle them, but “some guys won’t bring their wives or kids. You lose some customers who are offended,” he says. Since Hooters was acquired by two private equity firms, Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors in January 2019, Tristano expects they will focus on “improving the balance sheet first, and when they’ve made some success at the unit level, they’ll look to invest money for renovation.” Each renovated location usually spikes revenue by 10–15 percent the next year, he adds. Tristano also predicts that under-performing locations will be closed.

Hooters’ concentrating on delivery to spike sales

Recently in the press, Hooters CEO Terry Marks discussed the chain’s need to make some changes. He’s stepped up Hooters delivery, which has been a revenue booster for many chains. Marks said Hooters’ delivery revenue has grown by more than 30 percent in one year. The brand has also improved its menu by offering smoked wings and more craft beer options. Tristano believes Twin Peaks will continue to expand, grow its market share, and take market share away from Hooters. Twin Peaks has grown to 83 eateries, located in 26 states, with 28 company-owned units and 55 franchised. It opened two new outlets in 2018 and is slated to debut four locations in 2019.

Twin Peaks knows its clientele: 74 percent are men. Secret of Twin Peaks’ boosting its revenue

The secret to Twin Peaks’ success, says CEO Joe Hummel, who is based in Lewisville, Texas, outside of Dallas, is, “We understand our DNA and what makes our brand what it is. We’re not everything for everybody, but we understand our demographics.” And that demographic is very clear: 74 percent of its clientele consists of men. Hummel says Twin Peaks appeals to “all kinds of men from millennials to Baby Boomers and everything in between.” Its audience frequents Twin Peaks, he says, for “bold and craveable food options, bar offerings, sports viewing packages, and a casual setting that includes cigar bars and large communal tables.” Most locations contain 65–75 TVs and that covers a plethora of sports packages. “We have hockey fans sitting next to football fans, and we want to accommodate both,” Hummel says. The chain’s menu consists of food items, made from scratch, fresh in the kitchen. Hummel says because of all the food networks on TV, “people have a more sophisticated palette. And you can’t fool the eater the way you could in the 80s.” Patrons at Twin Peaks can choose among “spicy ribs, chicken tender basket, hangover burger [burger with eggs over easy, bacon and cheese on top] and smoked chicken wings,” he says. Asked if there’s been any backlash over the Twin Peak waitresses (it doesn’t hire male servers), Hummel says not at all. He describes Twin Peak girls as “valuable team members that we know are someone’s daughter, girlfriend or wife or sister. We expect our guests to have the utmost respect.” Providing a safe and fun environment at work is critical to its mission. Women patrons are major sports fans as well and come to Twin Peaks for salmon, ribeye, cobb salad, the hangover burger and great wine, margaritas and mimosas, he says. The brand is also known for selling the frostiest beer in town, which Hummel says is based on a proprietary approach that includes “the chilling of the beer and the mug and serving it as the right temperature.” Since it relies heavily on franchisees, Hummel, who was a former COO of La Cima Partners, Twin Peaks’ largest franchisee, says its selection process “runs deep and wide. We want to ensure that they take the same passion and care as we do.” Hummel sees growth in Twin Peaks’ future and expects it to reach about 100 locations in the next two years or so. – Source: fsrmagazine.

Pizza Hut to Close Hundreds of Dine-in Locations

“We are leaning in to accelerate the transition of our Pizza Hut U.S. asset base to truly modern delivery/carryout assets,” said David W. Gibbs, president, chief operating officer and chief financial officer for Yum! Brands, in an Aug. 1 earnings call to discuss second-quarter results. “This will ultimately strengthen the Pizza Hut business in the U.S. and set it up for a faster long-term growth. “During this transition, we expect a temporary deceleration in the pace of new unit development for the Pizza Hut division as continued healthy international unit growth will be partially offset by a short-term decline in the absolute number of U.S. units. As a result, our U.S. store count could drop to as low as 7,000 locations over the next 24 months, primarily driven by closures of underperforming dine-in restaurants before rebounding to current levels and above in the future.” Within the United States, about 6,100 Pizza Hut locations are traditional restaurants and 1,350 are express units, he said. “But as far as the numbers and how the math works, it’s hard to estimate how soon the timing of when a store will close and then when the replaced unit will open,” Mr. Gibbs said. “There will be gaps on some of those, but certainly, our goal is to try to minimize those gaps.”

Pizza Huts with lower volume will close, he said. “We are excited about collaborating with franchisees who are capable, well-capitalized, committed to the brand and who have a growth mindset to accelerate the closure of underperforming dine-in stores and replacement with new delivery or fast casual delivery assets,” said Greg Creed, chief executive officer for Yum! Brands. “By the same token, we also know we’ll need to directly address franchisees who are burdened with too much debt, don’t have access to capital or aren’t committed to the long term. Thus, in a few cases, some of these businesses will need to be restructured in the near term to address capital structure and leverage issues, particularly those franchisees with greater dine-in exposure.” KFC and Taco Bell, both owned by Yum! Brands, are focusing on delivery as well. KFC, which is partnering with Grubhub, now has 2,300 units offering delivery, Mr. Creed said, and delivery is now live in 4,500 Taco Bell restaurants in the United States. Net income for Louisville-based Yum! Brands was $289 million, or 94c per share on the common stock, in the second quarter ended June 30, which was down 10% from $321 million, or 99c per share, in the previous year’s second quarter. Second-quarter revenues of $1,310 million were down 4% from $1,368 million. Excluding foreign currency translation, worldwide system sales grew 10%. Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell all were at 10%. Same-store sales increased 5% for Yum! companywide with Taco Bell at 7%, KFC at 6% and Pizza Hut at 2%. Yum! Brands’ stock on the Nasdaq closed at $116.94 per share on Aug. 1, up 3.9% from the July 31 close of $112.52 per share. Over the six-month period ended June 30, Yum! Brands had net income of $551 million, or $1.79 per share on the common stock, which was down 27% from $754 million, or $2.30 per share, in the same time of the previous year. Six-month revenues of $2,564 million were down 6% from $2,739 million. – Source: Food Business News.

4 More Cannabis Restaurants Coming to West Hollywood

First up is expected to be Lowell Café, one of eight restaurant and lounge concepts that will allow onsite cannabis smoking, vaping and consumption of edibles. The restaurant is scheduled to open in September. Lowell is one of 16 businesses planning to combine cannabis and foodservice in some form that have won a first round of business licenses in West Hollywood. Others are in the works with the hope of opening in 2020 — though many say there are still regulatory hurdles to overcome. – Source: Restaurant Hospitality.

Jimmy John’s is Getting Sold to Atlanta-Based Inspire Brands

Jimmy John’s Sandwiches, which has grown to more than 2,800 shops since its founding in Charleston, Ill., 36 years ago, is getting sold to the owner of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In and Rusty Taco. Financial terms of the deal with Atlanta-based Inspire Brands, announced early Wednesday, were not disclosed. After the transaction closes, Jimmy John Liautaud will step down as chairman of the eponymous Champaign-based chain and become an adviser to the brand. James North, Jimmy John’s president, will serve as president of the Jimmy John’s brand at Inspire Brands. “We are so honored to be part of Paul Browns (sic) leadership,” Liautaud said in an email, referring to Inspire Brands’ CEO. “This is a win win win for all the parties involved.” In 1983, Liautaud borrowed $25,000 from his father to open his first sandwich shop in Charleston after getting out of high school. He enrolled in Eastern Illinois University but dropped out before finishing the first semester so he could focus on growing the business. In its first year, the store rang up $155,000 in sales and netted a $40,000 profit. Liautaud bought out his father’s 48% stake in the business by the third year. The company stated franchising in 1993 and grew quickly. Sales last year across its 2,801 stores, 98% of which are franchised, were $2.15 billion, according to Technomic. That’s up from 1,802 stores and $1.47 billion in sales in five years before. Its growth, though, has not been without controversy. Nor has its founder.

In 2016, the company agreed to a $100,000 settlement with the Illinois attorney General’s office over what the state called “highly restrictive noncompete agreements” that restricted its hourly employees for working at another sub shop while they worked at Jimmy John’s and for two years afterward. Raw sprouts served on its sandwiches were linked to a multi-state outbreak of salmonella in early 2018, and the chain pulled them from the menu. Animal rights activists called for boycotts of the chain after photos surfaced of Liautaud posing with elephants, rhinos and other endangered animals he shot. In an interview with the Tribune in 2015, he said, “I don’t hunt big African game anymore.” At the time, he also told the Tribune he sought to double the 2,300 locations within the next five years. The company considered taking the company public a few times but those plans were shelved. In a Business Insider interview published Tuesday, Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown said that after an acquisition, he meets “with as many stakeholders associated with the brand as possible: franchisees, restaurant employees, customers, suppliers. And rather than walking in with answers and process solutions, I start by asking fundamental questions like, ‘What part of the business is working well?’ ‘What is your biggest challenge?’” The deal with Inspire is expected to close next month. Inspire said it will become the fourth-largest restaurant company in the U.S., with more than 11,200 restaurants in 16 countries and more than $14 billion in annual system sales. – Source: The Chicago Tribune.

Landry’s buys Del Frisco’s Grille and Double Eagle Steakhouse

Private equity firm L Catterton has completed the acquisition of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group Inc. for approximately $650 million or $8 per share, as first announced in June. As part of the transaction, L Catterton will be selling two of the restaurant group’s brands — Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse and Del Frisco’s Grille — to hospitality company, Landry’s, Inc. for an undisclosed amount, and the Del Frisco’s company will be taken private. L Catterton didn’t immediately return NRN’s request for more information. The remaining Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group brands — Bartaco and Barcelona Wine Bar — will operate as separate entities with different leadership teams and business strategies under the L Catterton portfolio, which includes brands such as Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, Chopt Creative Salad Co., and Noodles & Company World Kitchen. In conjunction with the acquisition, Barcelona Wine Bar has announced the promotion of Adam Halberg, who served previously as culinary director and president of the brand under the former Barteca Restaurant Group umbrella.  “We are confident that the separation of the business and the sale of the steak concepts to Landry’s creates the best opportunity to unlock value in all of the company’s restaurant brands,” said Andrew Taub, managing partner at L Catterton in a press statement. “With more than 500 restaurants across the world, including a number of successful steak restaurants, Landry’s leadership in hospitality and dining is widely established, making them an ideal owner of Del Frisco’s steak business.”

Barcelona Wine Bar CEO Halberg is enthusiastic about the brand being taken private. “Barcelona has always been a bit of an odd duck,” Halberg said in a phone interview. “It’s an innovative and unique brand with very few other small-to mid-size companies out there like this that are still fostering creativity. We will continue on this path and being in a private setting will help us focus on that that.” As for growth, Halberg said he does not plan on adding more than two to three restaurants per year and to grow at a careful pace, choosing the right neighborhoods. New restaurants are expected to open in Dallas later this year and in Miami next year. Landry’s meanwhile had previously tried to acquire the Del Frisco’s brands before making the acquisition official this week:  “We couldn’t be happier with the acquisition and are planning no changes to the operations,” Tilman J. Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s said in a statement. Barteca and Barcelona Wine Bar were acquired by Del Frisco’s in the May 2018 sale of parent group Barteca Restaurant Group for $325 million. In December, Del Frisco’s posted revenue of $419.5 million, up 16.1% from fiscal 2017, likely reflecting the growth from that portfolio acquisition. In December, Del Frisco’s first announced that it was exploring the possibility of a sales amid pressure from activist investor Engaged Capital LLC, which owns 9.9% of the company’s shares. In response, Del Frisco’s enacted a shareholder rights plan or “poison pill” to prevent a possible takeover. “It has come to our attention that the acquisition of Barteca was likely defensive in nature, intended to dissuade an already interested bidder (or bidders) from making an offer to acquire DFRG,” Glenn Welling, Engaged Capital’s chief investment officer and principal said at the time. “Unfortunately, this scenario provides an explanation for the board’s otherwise baffling decision to rush to announce the acquisition of two totally unrelated restaurant concepts without first securing financing for the deal.” Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group has 71 restaurants across 16 states and Washington, D.C. – Source: NRN.

Cracker Barrel’s Country Legend Award Presented to Loretta Lynn

To honor the legendary Loretta Lynn for blazing a trail for women in country music, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store named the icon its 2019 Cracker Barrel Country Legend Award recipient. The award was presented to Loretta by Cracker Barrel’s “Five Decades, One Voice” partner artist Trisha Yearwood at Lynn’s beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. “Loretta has played such an integral role in paving the way for the female artists who have come after her—myself included,” says Trisha Yearwood. “It’s truly an honor to present her this recognition, as she has been someone I have looked up to not only as a woman in country music but also as a source of warmth and support.” The award comes on the heels of Lynn serving as the leading voice and source of inspiration behind Cracker Barrel’s “Five Decades, One Voice,” a 50th anniversary program to celebrate iconic female country music artists and shine a spotlight on those following in their footsteps. “For more than five decades, I’ve believed in taking chances where the opportunity for success is limited,” says Loretta Lynn. “To receive this honor from Cracker Barrel in recognition of all those chances and the career it led me to build is incredibly meaningful to me. It comes at an important time when I see so many female artists fighting for a chance to be heard. I want to help them bring their talents to the table and programs like ‘Five Decades, One Voice’ do just that. And trust me; there’s plenty to go around.”

The Cracker Barrel Country Legend Award is an honor given to country musicians with decades in the business, past partnerships with Cracker Barrel’s music program, a stated impact and influence on present day artists in the genre. Along with the award, Cracker Barrel is making a $5,000 donation to a charity of Loretta’s choice, Grand Ole Opry’s Opry Trust Fund, whose mission is to help those in the country music industry when they need it the most, by offering financial assistance during their time of need. The donation was presented to Grand Ole Opry’s vice president and executive producer Dan Rogers by Cracker Barrel’s Senior Music manager Julie Ulmer following Loretta’s award presentation at her ranch. “We’re honored to present Country Legend Award to Loretta Lynn for her long list of accomplishments in the country music genre, but more importantly, the influence she’s had on artists throughout her 60-year career,” says Julie Ulmer. “Loretta laid the groundwork for future generations, especially emerging females in the country music industry. There is no one more deserving, and we’re grateful for her continued partnership.” Loretta is the second recipient of the award following 2018 winner Randy Travis, who was presented the honor for his impact on the country music genre at large. – Source: fsrmagazine,

IHOP Continues Latin American Expansion with Three Restaurant Openings in Ecuador

Dine Brands International has opened three IHOP restaurants in Ecuador continuing its expansion in Latin America. Two IHOP restaurants are located in the port city of Guayaquil and one in the city of Ambato. 12 IHOP restaurants are expected to open throughout Ecuador by 2024 through an agreement with new franchisee Corporación El Rosado. Dine Brands International continues Latin America momentum with plans to bring the American restaurant brand to Peru later this year through an agreement with Percapitals S.A.C. The first IHOP restaurant in Peru is expected to open in Lima, followed by an additional 24 restaurants throughout Peru in the next ten years. “International expansion is a growth engine for Dine Brands,” says Steve Joyce, CEO of Dine Brands Global Inc. and President of Dine Brands International. “Latin America continues to welcome the IHOP brand because of the great value it provides, its menu variety of American breakfast, lunch, and dinner favorites, and its ability to create memorable dining experiences.” IHOP first entered Latin America in 2007 in Mexico – now the brand’s largest market outside of the United States. Dine Brands International continues to place a major emphasis on expanding its international presence in markets including Central America, Colombia and Chile. As of December 31, 2018, there are 1,831 IHOP restaurants around the world, including restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam as well as Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Lebanon, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Thailand and India. – fsrmagazine.

McDonald’s is Finally Taking a Nibble of the Plant-Based Burger

McDonald’s said that will sell the PLT, or the plant, lettuce and tomato burger for 12 weeks in 28 restaurants in Southwestern Ontario by the end of the month. McDonald’s says it developed a special recipe using burgers from Beyond Meat, a California-based startup that makes “meat” from pea protein, canola oil, beet juice and other ingredients. The small-market test is rolling out about six months after rival Burger King began testing the plant-based Impossible Foods burger, a rival to Beyond Meat. It’s now selling the Impossible Whopper nationwide because of strong demand from customers. The entry of McDonald’s, the world’s largest burger chain, into the alternative meat arena has largely been seen as a question of when, and not if. Shares of Beyond Meat Inc. rose more than 11% to close at $154.34. The burgers aren’t really aimed at vegans or vegetarians, but at meat eaters who perceive plant-based eating as healthier and more environmentally conscious.

In a recent survey, the consulting firm AlixPartners found that 61% of U.S. meat eaters sometimes order vegan or vegetarian food at restaurants. McDonald’s says the PLT will be grilled on the same grill used for meat and eggs. Burger King will cook it separately, but only by request. PETA, the animal rights organization, says it’s happy to see more plant-based options on fast food menus, even if they’re cooked next to meat. “To PETA, helping animals is not about personal purity, it’s about reducing suffering,” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement. “McDonald’s is doing that by serving them, and its customers are doing that by buying them.” It’s been a breakthrough year for the companies that are trying to perfect the no-meat burger. Beyond Meat became a publicly traded company in May when it listed its shares for $45 on the Nadaq. By July, those shares had risen more than 430%. Impossible Foods has raised more than $750 million, but remains private. KFC last month began testing plant-based chicken nuggets and boneless wings at an Atlanta restaurant in partnership with Beyond Meat. Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco also selling Beyond Meat products. Tim Hortons has tested a Beyond Meat breakfast sausage in Canada. Impossible Foods announced in May that it was making meatless “sausage” crumbles for the Little Caesars pizza chain in some states. Fans of Wendy’s have begun a petition to get the chain to add a plant-based burger to the menu. It’s garnered more than 26,000 signatures as of Thursday and earlier this month, CEO Todd Penegor said plant-based burgers are a “trend that will be here to stay.” McDonald’s is pushing forward, albeit in a very limited introduction. “Why just a small test? We’re in learning mode, so testing is a major part of how we develop our menu,” wrote Ann Wahlgren, McDonald’s vice president of global menu strategy. “It’s how we look- before we leap.” – Source: AP News.

Restaurant Association Trains Active-Duty Military on Culinary Skills

Through its educational foundation, the National Restaurant Association is serving up opportunity to active members of the military. The association recently hosted service members during its first-ever Advanced Culinary Training Program (ACTP), held at the campus of the Culinary Institute of America Texas campus in San Antonio. The quarterly program, which will continue into 2020, is bringing together culinary specialists from each of the armed forces to reinforce and build their skills in areas such as cooking techniques, kitchen techniques, menu execution, and knife skills. The inaugural program, held earlier this month, got good reviews from participants. “My favorite part about this week is learning [what] I’ve never known before and working with the other branches to see how they do it differently,” said Diedre-Ann James, a gunnery sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, in a news release. “Overall it’s been a really, really good experience.” Rob Gifford, president of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, said the goal is to prepare those with budding skills for the civilian workforce. “ACTP is focused on ensuring our service members have access to training opportunities to hone their skills, with the ultimate hope of preparing them for transition into civilian life,” Gifford said. “With 250,000 service members separating from the U.S. military each year, it’s an integral part of our programming to set them up for success with long-term careers in restaurants and food service.” The initiative is one of a variety of programs that the foundation offers specifically for military veterans, including scholarships, apprenticeships, and certifications. The foundation also works with partners that hire military veterans once they leave service. The effort reflects a broader push by the association to increase the percentage of veterans in the field. According to the foundation, veterans make up 5.4 percent of the total workforce and 2.8 percent of restaurant industry employees. – Source: The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.

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