This week on the Extra Serving podcast, a production of Nation’s Restaurant News, NRN editors Holly Petre, Leigh Anne Zinsmeister and Joanna Fantozzi talked about Kelli Valade’s transition from Red Lobster CEO to chief executive of Denny’s.
The team discusses Valade’s abrupt exit from Red Lobster and what it means for a woman to be in charge at a large chain as well as what her tenure could hold.
Zinsmeister gives the team an update on the earnings calls from this week, including the dip in sales at pizza chains like Pizza Hut and Domino’s, the falling price of wings at places like Wingstop, the cost of inflation across all chains and other tidbits.
Fantozzi also updates the team on Starbucks’ union situation. Interim CEO Howard Schultz has made his anti-union stance very clear and, in a recent earnings call, made it known that none of the new benefits Starbucks will be offering like student loan repayment will be available to unionized stores.
“If you thought three or four months ago that relations between unions and Starbucks itself were tense, the differences of opinion have only gotten starker since Schultz has come back,” said Fantozzi.
There are more than 50 stores that are unionized at this point and there are 237 that have applied for unionization at this point. About 85% of the stores that vote agree to unionize.
Plus, hear from Beef-a-Roo franchisee and Next Brands president Austin Capoferi on what it’s like to franchise a 50-year-old brand.
At the start of the year, chef Stephan Pyles closed his fine-dining Flora Street Café and boutique prix-fixe Fauna in Dallas and retired from nearly 40 years of restaurant ownership and operations. “I am proud to have hosted countless first dates, engagements, birthdays and anniversaries in 24 restaurants over those years,” Pyles said in a Facebook farewell post. “The letters and emails I have received from so many of those folks, thanking me for such special memories, has been emotional and heart-warming.” Starting with Routh Street Café in Dallas in 1983, Pyles went on to open such restaurants as Baby Routh, Star Canyon, AquaKnox, Samar, Stampede 66 and Stephan Pyles and work with national multi-unit restaurant companies. Pyles said he would now focus on hospitality consulting, license agreements and leaving culinary tour groups. In this Extra Serving podcast, Pyles outlines what led to his decision to retire from restaurant operations and how he plans to pursue his passions. ...
Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Fat Burger had a banner year in 2020 with unit growth and sales up by 18 and 9%, respectively. The growth is part of parent company Fat Brands’ overall growth strategy following last year’s acquisition of Johnny Rockets. ...
Focus Brands is trying to bring more collaboration to their seven brands as part of a consumer engagement strategy. On September 3, the company announced the unification of their seven brands into two groups: specialty brands (including the “mall” brands like Auntie Anne’s, Jamba, Cinnabon and Carvel) and restaurant brands (including the company’s sandwich and fast-casual brands, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s), along with new presidents for both groups. But that isn’t the only strategy Focus is implementing to organize and cross-promote their brands. Chief commercial officer Dan Gertsacov sees plenty of opportunity to have these seven brands collaborate and play off of each other, like the newly announced “Mix it Up” Focus Brands gift cards which can be cashed in at any of the seven brands. There are plenty of other ways that the focus Brands have been working together more often recently. “We have some Cinnabons operating within a Scholotzsy’s and we have also worked with some of our storefronts like Jamba would be partnering with Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon,” Gertsacov said. “We find that these cross-brand or tri-brand concepts are great not only for college campuses but also for off-premise when people want to have multiple things they can order from.” From a franchisee perspective, having multiple brands in one storefront is beneficial too. Learn more about Focus Brands collaboration in the podcast below. ...