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(Photo: Geralyn Shukwit)
Photo: Geralyn Shukwit
Copyright, 2005.
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Copyright, 2005.
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June 18, 2007
Friendly's Gobbled Up By Sun Capital
(Wilbraham, MA)  According to Nations Restaurant News, Friendly Ice Cream Corp., parent of the 515-unit Friendly's branded restaurants chain and retail ice cream products,  said Sunday it had agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners Inc. for $15.50 per share, or $337.2 million in total consideration.  Boca Rato-based Sun Capital Partners also has ownership interest in Real Mex Restaurants, Restaurants Unlimited, the Fazoli's Italian quick-service chain and Bruegger's Enterprises.
June 18, 2007
Wendy's To Be Sold?
(Dublin, OH)  Wendy's International Inc. said it is focusing on a sale of the company in its exploration of "strategic options."  The quick-service giant had previously said that a sale of the concern was one of the options it would investigate. Now, it indicated, that course appears to be the appropriate route for realizing Wendy's stated objective of raising the value of shareholders' investment.
June 13, 2007
Krispy Kreme Adding Different Type of "Kreme"
(Winston-Salem, NC) Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. is testing a line of ice cream desserts at a unit in its hometown of Winston-Salem.  Products to be offered include “Krispy Kreme Ice Kreme," available in vanilla, chocolate and swirl flavors, as well as a doughnut sundae, a Krispy Kreme doughnut topped with one of the ice cream flavors and a choice of multiple toppings.  Media reports state that CEO Darryl Brewster had told shareholders last week that the new initiative was a move to attract more foot traffic. He did not disclose when the company might expand the test to other stores..
Restaurant News
(Glendale , Calif.) Nations Restaurant News is reporting that IHOP, which is buying Applebees,  is reverting to its A-frame building as a point of distinction, according to a designer for the family restaurant chain.The retro-style has already been adopted by units in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is now being used for newly constructed IHOPs nationwide, said Barb Churchill, a founder and partner with Bath, Ohio-based Louis & Partners Design.The design, with its steeply slanting roof lines, is immediately recognizable to patrons new and old, said Churchill. IHOP's blue-roofed A-frame buildings were a signature during the chain's nationwide expansion from its California roots. It later switched to a more contemporary, squarer look, which coincided with the replacement of its International House of Pancakes name with the IHOP identity.Churchill said that many landlords had resisted the A-frames in the past because not all businesses are adaptable to that footprint. If the restaurant failed, she explained, some landlords feared they'd be limited to another restaurant as a possible lessee.  Franchisees operate nearly all of the 1,319 IHOPs that are currently open.
July 23, 2007
IHOP A-Frame Design Returning
Courtesy Nation's Restaurant News
OAK BROOK , Ill. (Aug. 6) McDonald's Corp. said it has agreed to sell the 630-unit Boston Market fast-casual chain to the private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners, parent of such restaurant brands as Fazoli's, Chevys, El Torito and Bruegger's. Terms were not disclosed. McDonald’s acquired Golden, Colo.-based Boston Market in 2000 for $173.5 million. Executives indicated at the time that they initially were interested in acquiring the chain for its real estate, with an eye toward converting the sites to McDonald's locations. But the company decided to keep the brand intact as part of a diversification push that also made it an owner or stakeholder of Donatos, Chipotle, Fazoli's and the Aroma coffee chain. With the sale of Boston Market, the quick-service giant will have divested all of those ancillary businesses except Pret a Manger, one-third of which is still owned by McDonald's. Executives of the London-based Pret have said they are negotiating with several private-equity firms that are interested in buying the grab-and-go brand. Boston Market, which once termed its market "home-meal replacement," offers platters and sandwiches featuring roasted chicken, turkey breast and ham. The chain has struggled in recent years, with U.S. systemwide sales for 2006 declining about 4.2 percent to $680 million as Boston Market ended the year with 11 fewer restaurants than at the end of 2005, according to Nation’s Restaurant News research. It presently operates in 28 states.  McDonald’s spokesman Walt Riker declined to discuss details until the transaction is completed. Sun Capital, with offices in Boca Raton, Fla. , Los Angeles and New York, is a diversified investment company with affiliates in London, Tokyo and Shenzhen.
August 6, 2007
McDonald's Sells Boston Market
November 26, 2007
Shoney's Comin' Back
Courtesy Nation's Restaurant News
OAK BROOK , Ill. (Aug. 6) McDonald's Corp.New owner wants to restore Shoney’s chain to ’glory days’
The Tennessean
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — On the back of Shoney’s executive business cards is the mantra of new management: restoring the Southern buffet and restaurant chain to its “glory days.” It is the latest attempt to revive the once-dominant comfort food chain, long known for its inexpensive buffets. Shoney’s once claimed 1,200 restaurants nationwide. But it has shrunk to 272 in recent years amid customer complaints of worn-out decor, poorly cooked food and uneven quality. The Nashville-based restaurant chain’s new owner, CEO and Chairman David Davoudpour, said he is determined to bring the brand back. Since he acquired the company in January, Davoudpour has taken over several underperforming franchise locations and turned them into company-owned restaurants. He has vowed to use fresh — not frozen — meat and fruit products and try to improve service through spot checks of stores and better employee training. “We want every restaurant to shine,” Davoudpour said. “Basically, I want to be the model of excellence.” In the past, some franchisees said they broke the corporate norm to make their restaurants profitable. Part of the problem was inconsistent service and spotty food quality, said Davoudpour, who is also the head of Atlanta-based Royal Capital Corp., the largest franchisee of Church’s Chicken stores.
Davoudpour said he wants to set an example for the chain’s remaining four-dozen franchisees by running his 61 corporate-owned stores exceedingly well. Davoudpour recently purchased nine underperforming restaurants in Tennessee and Louisiana from three franchisees. He said he has spent millions of dollars for basic repairs in many of the company-owned restaurants, fixing leaky roofs, upgrading smelly bathrooms and patching holes in walls.  Some franchisees and customers say Davoudpour has his work cut out for him. A sluggish U.S. economy, high gas prices and other factors have created a rough patch, pushing consumers to slow their spending and dine out less. “Right now, it’s going to be a longer-than-planned journey to get back,” said franchisee Bill Emendorfer, who runs two restaurants in Tennessee and Kentucky. “I don’t think the new management has had time to implement things that has resurrected the brand yet.” Davoudpour said Shoney’s is rolling out new menu items, including mahi-mahi, and revamping old standbys such as the Shoney’s ham and Swiss sandwich, the “Slim Jim,” by using higher quality bread.
The new owner also plans to reduce the price of the weekday breakfast buffet by $1.50 this week, in part to spur diners to give Shoney’s another try. “People have to give us a chance,” Davoudpour said. “All I’m asking for is one more chance.” Is it enough?
Frequent customer Daniel Corban, 25, said he’s reluctant to order the $7.79 grilled mahi-mahi from the menu partly because of his experience eating what he described as bland grilled fish at a Shoney’s buffet in Nashville. “It was terrible, terrible,” Corban said. He said he “never really opens the menu” because he prefers the convenience of the lunch buffet.
Restaurant analyst Amy Greene of Nashville-based Avondale Partners LLC said it could be a couple of years before Shoney’s can have more consistency in its food execution.
“It’s very difficult to turn that big — and that old — of a ship around quickly,” Greene said.
Davoudpour agrees it will take time for Shoney’s to regain its reputation and for franchisees to unite as a team. “It’s a cultural change,” he said. The Nashville-based company has weathered a lot of corporate change this decade. For five years, Texas-based Lone Star Funds owned it. Brentwood-based Centrum Equities, an affiliate of Chicago real estate developer Centrum Properties, planned to buy the chain in 2006 but backed out because it alleged that Shoney’s had corporate problems. Centrum sued Shoney’s to get back $1.5 million in earnest money; the case was settled this summer. Davoudpour’s predecessors declined to comment for this article, although many had tried similar strategies to improve the brand with new menu items and better motivation of franchisees. But Davoudpour, who bought Shoney’s for an undisclosed price, said he would succeed because: “I don’t work for anyone.” Some of Davoudpour’s corporate tweaks are winning praise from longtime customers. John Hailey, 28, thanked Davoudpour for what he said was tastier fried chicken on the lunch buffet at one area Shoney’s last week. In return, Davoudpour paid for Hailey’s lunch. “It’s always good, but it tastes better,” Hailey said. Franchisee Glenn Wood rum, who owns 21 Shoney’s in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, said he sometimes disregarded corporate norms in the past in an attempt to boost his own profits, but now he’s looking forward to more continuity from headquarters. “Any change in the right direction is what we want,” he said.
By Harrison Keely
(Washington, DC) In just 10 years, Roy Rogers restaurants went from a corporate empire to a shattered and struggling chain of less than 50 stores. But by franchising restaurants and bringing back loyal customers, Jim Plamondon says he hopes to bring the company back to prosperity. "[The chain] was a disaster," said Mr. Plamondon, co-president, but if things go according to plan, recovery lies ahead. The company is operating a booth during the International Franchise Show today and tomorrow at the D.C. Convention Center, a sign that Roy Rogers is trying for a comeback.  At its peak, Roy Rogers had 648 stores. Then, Marriott sold the chain in 1990 to Hardee's in a $365 million deal and the downsizing began. "I moved to this area in 1969 and I don't remember a time when there wasn't a Roy Rogers," said Phil Troutman, a Rockville alarm technician. Mr. Troutman said he was sorry to see many of the restaurants go out of business and he now looks for an excuse to stop at every Roy Rogers he spots. Eight years ago Mr. Plamondon and his brother assumed control of the chain and made the decision to build more restaurants. "People thought we were nuts," he said, explaining that every chain needs to see growth. The next year he opened the company's first new restaurant since the decline. "The lines were out the door," he said. "It was like we were giving the food away — we had never seen anything like this."
On the day of the opening, the Plamondon brothers said they overheard a family praying, thanking God that Roy Rogers had returned to their hometown.It turns out that the brand was too popular a memory for many customers to turn down. Steve Rosenthal, a Rockville resident, said he has been going to Roy Rogers for 38 years, or "since I was old enough to eat solid food." Arrel Godfrey, 65, a Montgomery Village resident, said he comes for the balanced, low-fat meals. He said he eats at Roy Rogers nearly every day and appreciates the good service. "It takes hardly any time to get the food, [it's] healthy, the employees are friendly, and it's very well run in that regard," he said. "You never get anybody who ... doesn't say 'thank you.' "Though he described the meals as unique and delicious, Mr. Rosenthal, a technical information specialist, said that "price-wise ... it's on the higher-end of fast food." "I don't get to enjoy it as much as I'd like," he said. "There's just not that many restaurants around. Therefore, when I see one, I'll pay the extra buck or two that it costs for a meal because it's worth it." Rosenthal said he was optimistic about the franchising efforts.  "I would absolutely love" to see more Roy Rogers, he said. Mr. Plamondon said that the newest franchise just opened in Connecticut and that one in Virginia was on its way.
"That's the power of the brand," he said. "Over the next five years, we'd like to grow the brand between two and four restaurants per year." After the restaurant in Wheaton closed, Khari Williams, a maintenance worker at an apartment complex, began eating at the Roy Rogers in Gaithersburg, where he said he enjoyed being able to assemble his own burger. Maria Henriquez, general manager of the Gaithersburg Roy Rogers, said she has worked for the Maryland-based company for almost a decade, and she appreciates the flexible shifts and the encouragement for continued education. Mrs. Henriquez, a Frederick, Md., resident who faces up to an hour commute each way to get to work, said the company's efforts to rebuild the chain was good news, though it would take time to rebuild an empire.
April 17, 2008
Roy Rogers Back In The Saddle
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