A roundup of interesting bits of news that came across the editor’s desk, including a bunch of mergers and acquisitions, development deals, and more.

mergers + acquisitions + more

  • Charlotte, N.C.-based Axum Capital Partners acquired controlling interest in Nashville, Tenn.-based Back Yard Burgers.  Back Yard Burgers celebrated its 30-year anniversary in May. The chain has 32 franchised and 23 company-owned restaurants across 11 states.
  • Buffalo Wild Wings launched a company refranchising program and has targeted 83 locations across 5 regions (Canada, Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, Northeast U.S., South Texas and Washington, D.C.).
  • Kelly Restaurant Group announced it has become independent of Stockade Companies and has reformulated all 13 of its stores. Kelly Restaurant Group owned and operated 6 Montana Mike's franchises throughout Kansas, and have reopened the locations as Kansas Bar & Grill units. Additionally, its 7 Sirloin Stockade and Coyote Canyon franchise locations have been converted to The Kansas Buffet Company restaurants.
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie’s Red Beard Restaurants has partnered with hospitality developers Meriwether Companies to develop food hall concepts in Missouri and Tennessee.


  • HuHot Mongolian Grills LLC has opened three locations this year, with an estimated six more due to open in 2017. The locations are in various states, including Kansas, Illinois and Wisconsin to Arizona, Texas and Utah.
  • Miami-based fast casual Kisses from Italy announced its national franchising program and the completion and sale of its first franchised locations. The chain currently has four Florida locations.
  • Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band is opening Zac Brown's Social Club in Atlanta’s Philips Arena.

new hires + promotions

  • Church’s Chicken promoted Pete Servold to executive vice president of U.S. operations and Tony Moralejo to executive vice president of international business.
  • Jennifer Benjamin was named vice president of franchise and market development for Lennys Grill & Subs. She most recently served as director of franchise development for Captain D’s.
  • Quaker Steak & Lube’s parent, TA Restaurant Group, named Bruce Lane vice president of franchise services. Lane has extensive experience developing restaurants and implementing growth and marketing strategies, most recently with franchise development and operations divisions at Fuddruckers and 7-Eleven.

go big or go home and have it delivered

  • Baskin-Robbins partnered with DoorDash to introduce delivery to more than 600 Locations in 22 Cities, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City.
  • BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse also partnered with DoorDash to introduce delivery to its restaurants in urban areas in California, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Ohio, Washington state and Washington D.C.
  • Canadian food delivery company SkipTheDishes partnered with Calgary-based Franworks Group of Companies to delivery their brands — Original Joe’s and State & Main — in Calgary and Winnipeg.


  • Kentucky Fried Chicken has a history of cheeky stunts, and this year, to celebrate National Fried Chicken Day, KFC “unveiled” a drive-thru robot that looks like Colonel Harland Sanders. The robot is called H.A.R.L.A.N.D. (Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device).
  • L.A.’s Randy’s World Famous Donuts and hip hop collective Odd Future, both of which feature donuts in their logos, announced a co-branding agreement with Live Nation’s Merchandise division. The brands will build a program across licensed categories, kicking off with apparel and accessories sold exclusively at streetwear retailer Zumiez.

recommended reading

  • AJC: Are Waffle Houses shaped like waffles?
  • CityAM: London's best restaurants explain how they design their dining spaces, from banquette to banqueting table.
  • Tour the Design Trends: Check out our pop-up site and take a tour of Chicago’s best new restaurant designs.