Papa Murphy’s Celebrates 1,500th Store with Giveaway

Papa Murphy’s Holdings Inc., the world’s leading take ’n’ bake pizza franchise, announced its 1,500th store opening in Goldsboro, North Carolina. This is the first Papa Murphy’s store in the Goldsboro area owned by new franchisee Rod Gumbish, formerly an Air Force squadron commander at the nearby Seymour Johnson Air Force base. To celebrate this significant milestone on Thursday, July 16, Papa Murphy’s is giving away 1,500 pizzas at 1500 hours (3 p.m.) at the Goldsboro location. The company will also host a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Al King.

“The opening of our 1,500th Papa Murphy’s store is a major milestone for the company and a testament that our unique take ‘n’ bake concept is a valuable brand worth investing in,” says Jayson Tipp, chief development officer and senior vice president of technology for Papa Murphy’s. “Our growth is due in large part to our dedicated franchise owners and employees who are committed to consistently delivering fresh, high-quality menu items and a great customer experience. We are enthusiastic about sharing this occasion with Goldsboro residents and Papa Murphy’s fans across the country as we expand our brand into existing and new markets.”

The first Goldsboro location features Papa Murphy’s innovative CREATE store design that highlights the fresh, high-quality ingredients, which are available daily on the make-line. The CREATE store format focuses on complete transparency and personalization, allowing customers to see their pizza as it’s created. An open layout showcases the scratch-made dough prep area, hand-chopped vegetable toppings, and freshly grated 100 percent whole-milk mozzarella cheese. The location features digital menuboards to enhance the customer experience and provide a resource for local messaging.

“We are thrilled to join the Goldsboro community and introduce Papa Murphy’s distinct take ‘n’ bake pizza and its mouthwatering flavors to the community,” says Rod Gumbish, franchise owner of Papa Murphy’s. “We welcome area residents to come join us today for a grand opening celebration as we look forward to providing a solution to the dinnertime dilemma for busy families on the go.”

Papa Murphy’s is widely recognized for its dedication to providing great tasting, affordable and convenient fresh meal options that moms and dads can feel good about serving their family. Papa Murphy’s pizzas are completely customizable and guests can choose to top their favorite scratch-made crust, made in-store daily, with a wide variety of fresh, wholesome, ingredients. Guests take their pizza home and bake in their own oven for 12–18 minutes and serve hot for a delicious meal any day of the week.


Blaze Pizza’s 80th Restaurant Set to Open in Las Vegas

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza today announced that its 80threstaurant is set to open next month in Las Vegas. Known for its chef-driven recipes and casual-hip restaurants, the “build-your-own” pizza chain has a pipeline of more than 400 restaurants committed to open in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Canada by 2020. With the opening of its 80th location, Blaze Pizza will be operating in 20 states, including the major metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami, and Washington, D.C. Going forward, the company is scheduled to open on average one new restaurant every four days—with its milestone 200thlocation projected to open by the end of next year.

Featuring a scratch-made dough recipe developed by critically acclaimed executive chef Bradford Kent, the company maintains a “keep it simple” philosophy that shuns rapid-fire new product introductions and limited time offers, and instead focuses on carefully sourcing high-quality ingredients and cooking its fast-fire’d pizzas to order. Blaze’s obsessive attention to detail extends well beyond the food, with a thoughtful, modern approach to restaurant design. Renowned Los Angeles restaurant architect Ana Henton carefully considers each interior, adding unique design elements to localize each space and create the perfect vibe. Absent are promotional posters and signage, and all restaurants are constructed with both recycled and sustainable materials, use eco-friendly packaging, and feature energy-efficient lighting.

“We’re taking pizza back to its roots—making dough in-house, carefully sourcing ingredients, and cooking by fire,” says Jim Mizes, president and COO of Blaze Pizza. “The authenticity of our food, plus a service culture that genuinely focuses on the happiness of our guests and crew—have clearly been key to our popularity and expansion.”

With a dress code that encourages individual expression and a “say yes” service philosophy that empowers employees to delight those they serve, the company promotes an unconventional spirit that celebrates individuality and reflects the values of both team members and guests. Opportunities for professional growth are abundant, as restaurant openings create new management positions and career paths for strong performers. Additionally, each month the company awards bonuses of one-half percent of sales to the best performing restaurant crews.

“What Blaze did was spot an opportunity to sell artisanal pizza that’s both fast and affordable, in an engaging dining experience that has some ‘soul’ to it,” says Carolyne Canady, chief development officer of Blaze Pizza. “It’s a disruptive idea that’s resonating with guests. We are changing the way people think about and eat pizza.”


Texas Chicken Opens First New Zealand Location-

Texas Chicken, one of the largest quick-service chicken concepts in the world, has opened its first restaurant in New Zealand, with the company planning to open multiple Texas Chicken restaurants nationwide in the next 10 years. Westfield Manukau City Mall in Auckland, New Zealand, is the site for the country’s first-ever Texas Chicken location. In November, fans of the popular quick-service chicken brand will see a second opening, with a free-standing location that is already under construction. These are the first of what will eventually be a total of 20 Texas Chicken restaurants—the brand that is famous for its high-quality menu offerings including hand-breaded fried chicken, honey-butter biscuits, and signature sides, including baked macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.

“We’ve been looking forward to these highly anticipated Texas Chickenopenings,” says Tony Moralejo, chief development officer for the restaurant brand’s parent company, Cajun Operating Company, which franchises in the U.S. and the rest of the Americas under the Church’s Chickenbrand and Texas Chicken outside the Americas. “With the addition of New Zealand within our system, our food may now be found in almost every corner of the globe.”

“Guests lined up eagerly to be among the first to taste Texas Chicken right here in Auckland,” says franchisee George Constantinou. “We are very excited that guests are embracing the brand, and we are expecting more of the same results as we expand to other locations.”

The new restaurant features the latest design package for Texas Chicken. In addition to the brand’s signature menu items, including hand-breaded fried chicken and honey butter biscuits, the New Zealand restaurants will also include regional menu adaptations.


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Starbucks Inks Partnership in South Africa

Starbucks Coffee Company and Taste Holdings announced a licensed partnership that will see Starbucks stores open across South Africa. For the first time in Southern Africa, Starbucks will open full-format stores bringing the entire range of its food and beverages, including its ethically-sourced Arabica coffee, to South African consumers.

“We are proud to be bringing Starbucks to South Africa next year,” says Kris Engskov, president, Starbucks Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). “Working with Taste, our partner, we’re going to deliver a great Starbucks experience. The coffee market here is vibrant and growing fast; we want to be part of that growth, bringing the passion and energy of this remarkable country into the design of our first store and our first barista team. We can’t wait to get started.”

The license agreement sees Taste owning the exclusive rights to develop Starbucks retail outlets in South Africa. As Taste is the licensee, it will own and operate the stores directly.

“We are very excited to be Starbucks partner in Southern Africa. As we’ve visited numerous Starbucks markets and partners around the world we’ve come to realize that we share similar core values, including a commitment to localization and uplifting both direct and indirect partners,” says Carlo Gonzaga, CEO of Taste. “Starbucks supports the development of local suppliers and is fully committed to our Changing Lanes program wherein we have provided employment to previously unemployed people and expose them to global training initiatives and skills. Overall we’re a good partnership match.”

The partnership will see direct job creation opportunities as each Starbucks store opens, in addition to opportunities at the Taste support office in Johannesburg. Taste expects that the indirect impact of skills transfer into South Africa, and the localization opportunities in the supply chain will be material. In addition, Starbucks and Taste have committed to continuing Taste’s Changing Lanes program, employing predominantly from currently unemployed youth directly from the communities in which they trade.

“Young people are the key to our success. The majority of our workforce is aged between 17 and 25 so talented youth has always been a priority and we will equip our new partners with the skills necessary to succeed in today’s economy. We look forward to using our partnership to leverage Taste’s strong track record of creating jobs and developing great people,” Engskov says. “Starbucks sources a considerable amount of its global, high-quality coffee from farms in sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with our network of farmer support and agronomy centers in Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Tanzania. We are proud to be able to offer some of the best African coffees in the world to more customers in the region.”

“We’re looking forward to bringing the entire Starbucks experience to South Africa for the first time. That includes 100 percent ethically sourced Arabica coffee, Starbucks full menu offering and, of course, beautiful coffee houses,” Gonzaga says.


Cold Stone Announces Entry Into India

Cold Stone Creamery has announced its entry into India and Sri Lanka. Kahala Brands, the parent company of the Cold Stone Creamery brand, has joined forces with Tablez Food Company, part of Lulu Group International, LLC, to bring the “Ultimate Ice Cream Experience” to the ice cream lovers of India and Sri Lanka. The first store will open by the end of the year at the Lulu Mall, a premier mall in Kochi, India. Over the next five years, 40 locations in India and five locations in Sri Lanka are in the pipeline.

“Tablez Food Company is a leading organization in India and is a perfect fit for the Cold Stone Creamery brand,” says Eddy Jimenez, senior vice president of international operations and development at Kahala. “They specialize in unique, home-grown, and international cuisines, and have acquired the rights to many leading franchise concepts. Tablez Food Company is dedicated to seeking out concepts that bring inspiring experiences to their customers. With 40 Cold Stone Creamery stores planned over the course of the next five years, we know this will be a great market for accelerated growth.”

Lulu Group International LLC is diversified in retail, imports and exports, trading, shipping, IT, travel and tourism, and education. Tablez Food Company is operating multiple food and beverage brands spanning across India, Sri Lanka, and the UAE.

“Cold Stone Creamery offers the best quality product and offers an amazing in-store experience that the international market has embraced for a number of years,” says Shafeena Yussuf Ali, chairperson at Tablez Food Company. “We now want to bring this unique experience to the India and Sri Lanka markets where we strongly believe that people will embrace not only the quality of the product, but also the overall guest experience. We are proud, privileged, and excited to bring the brand to India and Sri Lanka.”

“Over the next five years, Tablez Food Company plans to invest around $11 to 13 million in the Cold Stone Creamery business across India and Sri Lanka. We plan to open the first Cold Stone Creamery at Lulu Mall in Kochi in November this year, followed by a few stores in Bangalore and subsequently other cities in India and Sri Lanka over the coming years,” adds Shafeena Yussuf Ali.

Cold Stone Creamery has continued to make strong key moves into the international market in recent years. The international growth of Cold Stone Creamery began in November 2005 when the company opened its first international store in Tokyo, Japan. Today, Cold Stone Creamery stores are operating in nearly 300 international locations and more than 25 countries, including the Philippines, Cyprus, Kuwait, Qatar, Trinidad, Nigeria, Egypt, and Indonesia.


Church’s Chicken to Expand in Thailand

In a move that marks the single largest international expansion in Texas Chicken history, the brand announced a deal to bring its restaurants to malls, inline locations, and standalone stores throughout Thailand. Of the 70 planned restaurants, one is already slated to open this year, and two more are nearing construction. The exclusive agreement with Public Company Limited (PTT), the Petroleum Authority of Thailand, will leverage PTT’s existing infrastructure throughout the region, as well as the company’s expertise with operations and the quick-service restaurant industry.

“The Texas Chicken brand story has resonated in the Southeast Asia market for a long time,” says Tony Moralejo, chief development officer at Texas Chicken. “We are honored to be working with another great company to share Texas Chicken’s high-quality food, which customers love throughout the region.”

Such large-scale expansions are a cornerstone to the brand’s international growth strategy. In fact, one of the key criteria for international franchisees is the willingness and ability to deliver countrywide presence in a relatively quick timeframe. Another motivating factor for the development agreement is the franchisor model, which is aimed at delivering maximum profitability for the franchisee or franchisee group. The new Thailand deal is most definitely a benchmark example of the strategy at work.

“PTT has a very diverse portfolio that includes concepts in the food and restaurant space. We are proud to add a premiere brand like Texas Chicken to our portfolio and introduce the popular restaurant chain to Thailand,” says Sarun Rungkasiri COO of Downstream Petroleum Business Group at PTT. “The legacies of both PTT and Texas Chicken are a perfect match, and we are looking forward to a long and prosperous future.”

“As one of the world’s leading companies, our new international franchisee is incredibly well respected within the region and ideally positioned to bring guests the Texas Chicken experience,” says Zack Kollias, executive vice president of international operations at Texas Chicken. “We’re looking forward to working together to create something truly special for this market.”

“Already the top protein choice in Southeast Asia, chicken is positioned to keep growing in the future,” says Bill Schreiber, vice president of worldwide business development at Texas Chicken. “Texas Chicken has an excellent track record of being the preferred fried chicken offering when compared to other brands.”


Halal Guys Enters Canada With Multi-Unit Deal

The Halal Guys has announced the signing of a five-unit franchise deal for territories in Toronto, Canada.  This is the brand’s 4th international franchise deal, and first for Canada, with other territories sold for the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The Halal Guys have partnered with Fransmart, the company behind the explosive growth of restaurants like Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Qdoba Mexican Grill, as the brand’s exclusive franchise development partner, and the franchisee worked with Fransmart director of development, Mark Treptow, on the agreement.

Since joining up with Fransmart and announcing the launch of a franchise program in 2014, The Halal Guys has opened two corporate brick-and-mortar restaurants in Manhattan, and has more than 200 franchise units in development in territories including Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and the entire state of California—which sold out within the first months of franchising—as well as a handful of international markets.

The American Halal food favorite ranks in the Top 10 Most Yelped Businesses in the entire U.S., and Reebok recently launched a specialty sneaker inspired by The Halal Guys.


Smoothie King Expands to Middle East

With more than 700 locations worldwide and plans to top 1,000 locations globally by the end of 2017, Smoothie King is proud to announce its expansion into the Middle East, beginning with multiple locations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) through its partnership with Al Ghurair Retail. Smoothie King is providing guests around the world with nutritional solutions that live up to the brand’s founding vision to create “Smoothies With a Purpose.”

Just a decade since its inception, Al Ghurair’s commercial reach spans more than 20 countries including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and boasts an eclectic roster including financial services, food and commodities, construction, education, prime technologies, printing, and real estate. Al Ghurair has supported the evolution of Dubai from a port city to a dynamic and cosmopolitan metropolis by developing brands there since the 1960s. The group employs more than 70,000 across the Middle East. A division of the company that will be implementing Smoothie King’s expansion, Al Ghurair Retail, currently represents six fashion brands and plans on opening 45 Smoothie King locations over the next five years throughout the GCC, starting with the UAE before expanding into Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.

“I am thrilled to introduce Smoothie King as our first ever food and beverage brand and a meaningful new addition to Al Ghurair Retail’s rapidly expanding portfolio of companies in the UAE,” Al Ghurair Retail general manager Laurent Cabioch says. “Al Ghurair Retail has seen the increasing demand for healthy food and beverage products for those on the go and Smoothie King will meet this demand as we take the concept from Dubai into the rest of the GCC.”

The GCC retail market has experienced a dramatic upsurge and now accounts for 54.5 percent of international retailers already present in the UAE alone. Al Ghurair is further expanding its roster with the high-performing franchise concept Smoothie King as a monumental addition.

Smoothie King is poised for international success with its fine-tuned business model and high-quality products. One-off juice and smoothie businesses have been popping up all over the world, but Smoothie King differentiates itself as an originator and innovator in this space, evolving to meet customer’s health needs since 1973. The mission since the company’s inception continues today: to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

“By working with dedicated and passionate partners like AG Retail, we are able to continue to build our brand and expand our presence worldwide, while preserving brand integrity,” says Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim. “We are confident that the company will be a great ambassador for Smoothie King by serving the global community and helping to grow the brand in the Middle East.”

Smoothie King offers a wide variety of smoothies made with the highest quality ingredients, created to meet all nutritional goals including weight loss, weight gain, and increased energy. Smoothie King is currently located in Korea, Grand Cayman, and Singapore, and according to Dan Hannah, vice president of International Business Development, the company is eyeing development in Japan, China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, and Brazil.


Rita’s Italian Ice (US) Continues International Expansion

Today, Rita’s Italian Ice, the world’s largest Italian Ice concept with more than 600 stores, announced it’s continuing its international expansion and awarding its fifth international master franchise agreement for the development of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. The news comes as the company is continuing to make great strides in the North, officially opening its first three stores in Canada earlier this month.

“Our growth this year has been unprecedented,” said Eric Taylor, chief development officer at Rita’s Franchise Company. “In just a matter of weeks, we opened our second international store and announced another area development agreement.”

Rita’s awarded an international master franchise agreement to Puerto Rita’s, LLC, led by Jack Maxey, Joseph Roskos, Lamont Harris and Mark Cook, for the development of 20 stores by 2024. It’s expected that the deal will bring more than 300 jobs to the Caribbean. The first store is anticipated to open in 2015 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, a popular tourist destination and busy port location.

“Old San Juan is buzzing with foot traffic and couldn’t be a more perfect first location for Rita’s to make its mark in the Caribbean,” said Jack Maxey, managing member of Puerto Rita’s. “We have big plans for expansion beyond Old San Juan and are actively seeking franchisees to join our team. It’s an exciting time to be part of Rita’s.”

Thousands of miles away that same excitement is happening in Canada, as Rita’s opened its first three stores in Calgary at the popular contemporary restaurant Joey’s Urban. Beyond the partnership with Joey’s, Rita’s will debut its famous Italian Ice and signature Frozen Custard at the world famous Calgary Stampede Midway with two locations from July 3-12, 2015.

“After years of planning, we’re thrilled to finally introduce Rita’s signature ‘cool treats’ to the Calgary community,” said Steve McDonough of Canada Water Ice Co., LTD. “Calgary is just the beginning for us — Canadians will be seeing a lot more of Rita’s in their own neighborhoods across the country.”

With more than 30 years in business, Rita’s Italian Ice has been aggressively expanding across the United States and internationally, with locations now open in the Philippines and Canada, and coming soon in the Middle East and the Caribbean.

About Rita’s Franchise Company

Ranked #1 in Nation’s Restaurant News “Consumer Pick’s 2014” for Service and Value in the Frozen Treat category and 14th overall in the Limited-Service category, Rita’s Franchise Company is the largest Italian Ice concept in the world. Headquartered in Trevose, Pa., Rita’s was also named one of the Top 25 Franchise High Performers by the Wall Street Journal’s “Startup Journal” and ranks #81 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s “2014 Franchise 500” list.

About Rita’s Italian Ice

The popular chain offers a variety of “cool treats,” including: its famous Italian Ice, made fresh daily with real fruit and available in more than sixty-five flavors; Old-Fashioned Frozen Custard; Sundaes; Light Custard; Frozen Custard Cakes; Custard Cookie Sandwiches made with OREO®; layered Gelatis; and its signature Misto® and Blendini® creations. Since 1984, Rita’s has been dedicated to serving up a big dose of happiness with its freshly made, delicious treats in a fun-filled atmosphere.

Restaurant News Release


Greene Turtle Inks 10-Unit Expansion Deal

The Greene Turtle announced today that a group of investors with more than 30 combined years of corporate management experience and ties to multiple global and regional quick-service and fast-casual restaurant franchises has signed a franchise agreement for the development of 10 units in Montgomery, Bucks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties, the areas surrounding Philadelphia. Operating as The Integritty Group, franchisees Pranav Desai, Jiger Patel, and Rajan Mahadevia are currently seeking properties and expect to open their first location in the spring of 2016.

“We are delighted to announce that as a continuation of our expansion beyond our Mid-Atlantic hub, we have secured a deal to establish a significant presence in Eastern Pennsylvania,” says Tom Finn, vice president of franchise business for The Greene Turtle. “In The Integritty Group’s partners, we have aligned with a team of very strategic thinkers who have extensive management background, including roles at IBM, and who are already familiar with the markets where they’ll be introducing our concept through their involvement in other restaurant systems. We feel strongly that they will be a great addition to our system and are perfectly qualified to bring The Greene Turtle to Pennsylvania.”

Pranav Desai said he and his business partners have been eyeing The Greene Turtle since before the chain began franchising. With business activity frequently taking them to Maryland and Washington, D.C., he said, the partners had dined at The Greene Turtle in the past and had long been intrigued by its offering. When they learned that the chain was looking to franchise its concept in their market, he says, they approached the company to explore opportunities.

“Once we began researching the concept, we really liked what we saw,” he said. “We always wanted to get into a sports-themed concept and I liked that The Greene Turtle has intense brand loyalty and a broad appeal, especially with a stronger family demographic among its core customers. We also liked that the chain has a lot of room to grow in this market, and were impressed by the strong management in place and the fact that the corporate team has a good relationship with their other franchisees, It seemed like a great extension of our existing business mix.”

The Greene Turtle enjoys strong brand awareness generated by the company’s involvement in community sports programs and by its presence in high-traffic locations such as Ocean City, Maryland; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport; and Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center. The concept’s flexible format helps franchisees to secure the best available real estate and often shortens the time to open a restaurant.

Earlier this month, The Greene Turtle opened its 40th location. There are more than 40 additional locations already committed to for development by franchisees in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, including those covered in an 11-unit deal signed last year in South and Central New Jersey and in a separate 10-unit deal for New York’s Long Island. Finn says the chain is seeking experienced multi-unit investors to develop northern New Jersey and New York City, as well as markets in New England, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, the Carolinas, Geo