August 2013

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Sandell Wins Bob Evans Seats

Shareholders at the family dining chain Bob Evans voted for at least five of Sandell Asset Management's eight nominees to the company's board, according to the activist investor. The vote would give Sandell a significant platform on the board to push major changes at the company.

Colorado: World's Fast Casual Capital

In a study that should surprise nobody, the NPD Group said that the fast-casual sector is easily leading growth for the entire restaurant industry. More interesting: Colorado is ground zero for its spread.

Smashburger Apparently Looking For Investors

Denver-based Smashburger is apparently looking for investors. According to a report in The Deal, the fast-casual burger chain has hired North Point Advisors and Bank of America Merrill Lynch to look for investors as it prepares for an IPO.

Dempsey's Split Not Good For Tully's

Wonder if Tully's Coffee Shops wishes that Starbucks ended up buying them after all. Not only is Patrick Dempsey out of the picture at the Seattle-based coffee chain, but its new owner has taken out a $2 million working capital loan.

The Problem With Mighty Wings

The long-rumored rollout of Mighty Wings is finally going to happen next month, according to several media reports. But though the wings might generate sales, we don't think it'll take care of the chain's longer-term problems.

Cracker Barrel Shuns Biglari's Nomination

As expected, the Cracker Barrel board of directors has told Sardar Biglari to get lost. The family dining chain said this morning that it is recommending against Biglari's board nominations, citing the same factors it cited last year.

Flynn Adds To His Taco Bell Collection

Bell American Group has acquired more Taco Bells, in a 62-unit purchase of Gateway Bells out of St. Louis. The deal gives Bell American, subsidiary of Flynn Restaurant Group, 138 mostly Taco Bell units and makes it the chain's fourth largest operator.

Biglari Tries A Rights Offering

Biglari Holdings has started offering its shareholders a rights offering, enabling them to buy discounted shares. The offering will help the company raise $75.7 million for what's being called "general corporate purposes" and "acquisitions or investments."

Yogurt Kings Buy Kahala

The Serruya Family, owners of the Canadian frozen yogurt franchise Yogen Fruz, has purchased Kahala Corp., the owner of numerous franchise restaurant brands including Blimpie and Cold Stone Creamery.

Is Buffets Inc. Making A Comeback?

Don't look now, but sales at Buffets Inc. are increasing. The Minneapolis-based buffet chain owner, which has gone through bankruptcy twice in four years, said today that its same-store sales have increased so far this year.

Third Proxy Puts Biglari In Rare Territory

Sardar Biglari's decision to file for a third straight proxy fight against Cracker Barrel is almost completely unheard of, making it difficult to predict his intent or the fight's outcome.

Biglari Trying Again For A Cracker Barrel Seat

Sardar Biglari, who has been twice denied a seat on the board at the Tennessee-based chain Cracker Barrel, is trying again. The Lion Fund has nominated Biglari and Vice Chairman Phil Cooley to the Cracker Barrel board.

Should Restaurants Abandon Tips?

There's been plenty of news lately about full-service restaurants getting rid of tipping, and allegedly improving service. But if chains are going to do the same thing, they'll have challenges.

Tully's Shareholders Won't Get Much

The former parent company of Tully's Coffee Shops sent a letter to shareholders this week, saying that they won't likely get much from the chain's recent sale to a group led by the actor Patrick Dempsey.

Red Robin Bucks The Weak Sales Trend

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers said today that its same-store sales grew 4.3% in the second quarter, bucking a brutal trend in the casual dining sector and eliminating concerns that better burger concepts would eat into its business.

Chanticleer Buys A Small Burger Chain

Chanticleer Holdings, which operates Hooters in international markets, recently bought a five-unit burger chain, American Roadside Burgers, in an all-stock deal announced on Wednesday.

Wendy's Sells 30 More Locations

Junior Bridgeman is buying more Wendy’s. But this time he’s bringing another basketball player with him. Bridgeman, owner of Bridgeman Foods, and current Detroit Pistons guard Chauncey Billups have agreed to buy 30 Wendy’s locations in the St. Louis market from the franchisor.

Corn Prices Are Way Down This Year

Watching commodities the past few years has been a lot like watching a roller coaster make its way through an amusement park: It goes up, it goes down, and at some point along the way lots of people are screaming. And much of it has been due to the up-and-down nature of the annual corn crop.

Why Starbucks, Dunkin' Keep Outperforming

Most restaurant sectors aren’t performing to their previously held standards. Casual dining is down. Quick-service restaurants are flat, and even fast-casual chains have seen sales growth slow some. One exception to this rule is pizza, which is generally cheap and works well in a weak economy. Another exception: coffee.

Sales Still Plunging At Quiznos

Avenue Capital took over the near-bankrupt Quiznos late in 2011. The hedge fund quickly pumped millions into marketing the chain, brought in a load of new talent and began working closely with franchisees. But so far, none of those efforts have yet been able to correct its most glaring problem: plunging sales.

The Daily Deal Industry Isn't Dying

When the Chicago-based daily deal company Groupon fired its founder and CEO Andrew Mason in February, it could have been construed as a sign that the daily deal phenomenon he helped start was starting its eventual demise. That’s not happening. If anything, consumers continue to prove that they love those offers.

More Evidence Of A Weakening Economy

One can learn a lot about the state of the economy by simply watching restaurant industry sales. For instance, after the most recent round of financial reports, we can say for certain that the economy isn’t going nearly as well as the stock market says it is. Today’s example: Carrols Restaurant Group.

So Much For The Summer Deal Lull

Roark Capital recently bought the 65-unit Miller’s Ale House, based in Jupiter, Florida. At roughly the same time, Doherty Enterprises bought Gator Apple, which owns 41 Applebee’s locations in Florida and Georgia. There’s nothing unusual about these deals, except this: they closed in the late summer.

Competition And College Hurt BJ's Sales

Perhaps no state suffered from the housing crisis and the recession as much as California. In November 2006, the unemployment rate there was 4.8 percent. By July 2010, it was 12.4 percent. Any restaurant with a sizable presence there got hammered, and many a location closed. But one company thrived: BJ’s Restaurants.