Multi-unit Houlihan's franchisee owner Dan Stevens, owner of Stevens Management and Consulting, has mixed his passions for the hotel and restaurant industries by bringing Houlihan's to a hotel setting.

In late July, Famous Brands Intl., parent of TCBY Yogurt and Mrs. Fields Cookies, announced it is taking its new dual-brand concept to the Los Angeles market.

After two decades operating quietly in Midwest and East Coast neighborhoods, J. Gilbert's Wood-Fired Steaks & Seafood, one of five full-service brands owned and operated by Houlihan's Restaurants Inc., is now available for franchising. The company operates five corporate J. Gilbert's locations, one each in Connecticut, Virginia, Kansas, Ohio and Missouri.

Fast-growing yogurt and smoothie chain Red Mango celebrated the opening of its 300th unit this summer and the start of what founder Dan Kim says is a "new era" for the Dallas-based company. The new Oak Park, Ill., location marks the official debut of a new store design and brand positioning as Red Mango Yogurt Café & Juice Bar.

Buffalo Wild Wings brought its wings, beer and sports-based casual dining concept to Manhattan with the opening of a new 15,000-square-foot restaurant in Times Square.

While overall beer sales declined by 1.9 percent last year, craft beer continues to boom, with sales rising 17.2 percent in 2013, according to the Brewers Association. That follows several years of double-digit growth, a rising tide that has buoyed the building of restaurant-brewery combos, aka brewpubs, a casual-dining category that grew nearly 7 percent last year, according to the Boulder, Colo.-based association.

Promising "happiness...and a side" in about 60 seconds, Los Angeles-based Box Brands aims to shake up the fast-food industry with its interactive, automated fresh burrito concept, Burritobox

Auntie Anne's Pretzels has rolled out a new store design prototype, the first in the 1,540-unit chain's history. The new design is intended to incorporate the look and feel of a home kitchen with warmer tones, prominent brand messaging and enhanced equipment.