A roundup of interesting bits of news that came across the editor’s desk in the last month including Walmart's latest partnership, Wendy's updated kitchen design, and a tale of missing PPP funds.

domestic development

  • Walmart is bringing poke to the masses with its new partnership with Uncle Sharkii, a fast-food franchise specializing in poke bowls Walmart.
  • Fast-growing breakfast franchise Huddle House is expanding its footprint in Arkansas with three new locations opening in 2024.
  • Noodles & Company has penned two franchise agreements that will open four new restaurants in Northwest Arkansas and 20 new locations in the Dallas area.
  • Wendy’s is finalizing a new kitchen design as part of its ongoing restaurant development process. The Global Next Gen High-Capacity Kitchen will include additional sandwich production and prep areas and dedicated space for digital orders, per a company release. Other notable features include self-order kiosks, passthrough order pick-up shelving, and dedicated parking for mobile order pick-up help to create a more convenient experience for what the restaurant describes as “digital-first customers.” In 2022, Wendy’s unveiled its Global Next Gen restaurant design standard and has since opened locations in Kansas and Oklahoma. Wendy’s projects these latest kitchen updates will deliver roughly a 50% increase in output capacity compared to other designs.


  • Peter Piper Pizza celebrates 50 years in business. To keep the party going, the brand invested more than $500,000 to upgrade all 110 corporate and franchise-owned locations' game rooms. Upgrades include new games, updated layouts, and multiplayer gaming options.

industry gossip

  • A lawsuit alleges the owners of a Chicago steakhouse misused PPP funds for their own benefit, Eater reports. As part of the lawsuit, a group of estranged investors who sunk $3 million into Maple & Ash, a popular steakhouse in the city’s tony Gold Coast area, accuse restaurant co-founders Jim Lasky and David Pisor of fraud. Instead of spending $7.6 million in Payment Protection Plan funds on workers at their Chicago and Arizona restaurants, the investors allege the money went toward personal expenses. In fact, the duo took each other to court accusing one another of locking the other out of financial records and more. That legal drama was settled.
  • World-renowned chef José Andrés will participate in a keynote discussion at the National Restaurant Association Show 2024.

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