A roundup of interesting bits of news that came across the editor’s desk, including milestones for MOD Pizza and Tropical Smoothie Café as well as the relaunch of The Playboy Club.

expansion plans

  • Boston Market plans to open 12 new restaurants in the U.S. in 2017 as well as 4 new restaurants internationally.
  • Cowboy Chicken plans to develop 14 new stores and expand into 3 new states: Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota.
  • Popular Scottsdale, Ariz., restaurant D’lish Drive Thru has rebranded to D’Light Healthy On The Go. The company also announced its first franchised location, its third unit overall, all in Scottsdale.
  • The Granola Bar Restaurant Group opened new locations in Connecticut and New York. The company also formed an operational partnership with Trilynx Partners of Westport, Conn. The Granola Bar chain will debut its first-ever The Granola Bar TO GO grab-and-go location in Stamford, Conn., soon.
  • Charlotte, N.C.-based Hickory Tavern (pictured above) opened its 7th South Carolina location and 26th restaurant overall. The 6,000-square-foot restaurant and bar features a large patio area with a custom-built stone fireplace.

mergers & acquisitions

  • Golden Gate Capital has agreed to acquire Bob Evans Restaurants for $565 million plus assumption of certain net working capital liabilities.

go big or go home

  • MOD Pizza will open its 200th store this month, effectively doubling the company’s footprint in slightly less than one year.
  • Firehouse Subs plans to open its first franchise location in Mexico. The sandwich chain plans to open 45 restaurants in Mexico during the next 5 years. Firehouse Subs has 1,045 locations across 44 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.
  • Wahlburgers is expanding into Asia through a joint venture with Cachet Hospitality Group. The objective is to open 100 restaurants in China and the surrounding region over the next 5 years.
  • Which Wich Superior Sandwiches plans to make its debut in the UK in 2017. The chain has 425 stores open across 10 countries.
  • Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened its 500th restaurant in 2016 and signed franchise agreements to develop more than 160 new cafes across the United States. By 2020, Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to have 1,000 stores open across the U.S.

throwback thursday

  • The Playboy Club — complete with grown women in “bunny” costumes — will return inside the Cachet Boutique New York hotel in midtown Manhattan later this year. The space will feature a lounge, a game room and a full-service dining room in a design that draws from Playboy’s history.

recommended reading

  • FastCompany: How Delivery-Only "Ghost" Restaurants Are Changing Takeout
  • PaperCityMag: Edgy and Posh: This Cool Designing Woman is Changing Houston's Restaurant Scene
  • Wall Street Journal: Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Gets an Update