A roundup of interesting bits of news that came across the editor’s desk in the last month, including FRCH Design Worldwide’s merger, Papa John’s Poland debut, Pizza Hut’s partnership with Toyota and more.

mergers + acquisitions + more

  • Global architecture and design firm NELSON merged with retail and hospitality architecture and design firm FRCH Design Worldwide. FRCH will become FRCH a NELSON Company.
  • Ain’t Life Grand Investments, LLC and Chers Restaurant Group, LLC acquired Mugshots Grill & Bar, which has 18 locations throughout Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
  • MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, LLC, raised $33 million in additional equity (bringing the total to $185 million) and closed a $40 million credit facility. MOD recently opened its 300th location.

developer news

  • Dunkin Brands Group, Inc. named Rick Colón to the newly created position of senior vice president, operations & development for Dunkin’ Brands U.S. Previously, Colón spent nearly 40 years at McDonald’s Corporation, most recently serving as south zone president.

go big or go home

  • Mamoun’s Falafel, which operates six locations in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut, announced a multi-unit franchise deal that will bring five units to the Chicago area over the next five years. The growing chain also has plans to open locations in Dallas.
  • Melt Shop will expand its footprint by 18 locations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware as part of the restaurant chain’s first development deal.
  • Papa John’s International, Inc. opened its first restaurant in Poland. The pizza chain now operates in 45 countries and territories across the world.
  • San Francisco-based SAJJ Mediterranean will open three new locations in two markets. The first will open in of San Francisco’s Financial District. The other two will be in the grown chain’s debut in the Southern California market, with locations planned in Rancho Santa Margarita and Irvine.
  • Tropical Smoothie Café signed a multi-unit agreement to open 26 new units across the Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, and Savannah, Ga., markets.

branding and technology

  • Pizza Hut partnered with Toyota to explore the future of pizza delivery, beginning with the development of Toyota’s e-Palette, an autonomous concept vehicle unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Toyota plans to implement testing of the e-Palette Vehicle Concept in several regions, including the United States, as early as 2020. For Pizza Hut, the e-Palette could support the company's delivery business in the future or could even serve as a mobile kitchen in areas of the world where such an experience would match consumer interests, according to a release.
  • Fast-casual “better chicken” chain Slim Chickens launched a loyalty app and online ordering platform. The brand announced that it expects to see as much as 2 percent of its sales revenue coming from online ordering.

milestones

  • Pizza Inn celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2018.
  • Sizzler also celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2018.
  • The Wendy’s Company opened its 500th international restaurant location in January, in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

recommended reading

  • Bloomberg: Fine Dining Is Back! Say Goodbye to Shared Plates and Communal Tables
  • Serious Eats: Why Would Anyone Want to Open a Restaurant?
  • SmartBrief: How the Amazon Prime Mindset Has Changed Fast Casual Dining