Big Big News
Buffalo Wild Wings Is Said to Get Offer From Roark Capital
By Ed Hammond  and Craig Giammona, Bloomberg
November 13, 2017, 5:46 PM EST

Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. has received a takeover offer from Roark Capital Group that values the restaurant chain at more than $2.3 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Panera Bread to Acquire Au Bon Pain
November 9, 2017

Panera Bread has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Au Bon Pain Holding Co. Inc., parent company of Au Bon Pain. The Boston-based bakery-cafe chain has 304 units worldwide, and will be part of Panera's initiative to intensify growth in new real estate channels, including hospitals, universities, transportation centers and urban locations, among others.
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Executive Movements
Ron Shaich to Step Down as Panera CEO, Remain Chairman Blaine Hurst Named President and CEO
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Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza Names Wayne Jones as CEO.
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The One Group Appoints Emanuel 'Manny' Hilario President and CEO
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Jamba, Inc. announced Claudia Schaefer will join the company as Chief Marketing Officer.
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On  Pei Wei Names Jim Lebs New Chief Financial Officer

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. Names Charles 'Chuck' Locke Taco Cabana President
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Brian Livingston Returns To Firebird As CFO
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Jersey Mike's Names Industry Veteran Brian O'Hagan VP Of Sales
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Financial Overview

DineEquity, Inc. Reports Third Quarter Fiscal 2017 Results
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Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Reports Results for the Fiscal Third Quarter Ended October 1, 2017
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Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc. Reports Third Quarter 2017 Financial Results
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Q4 Global and U.S. Comps Up 2%, Up 3% adjusted for Hurricane Impact; China Up 8%; Global Traffic Up 1%
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Dunkin' Donuts U.S. comparable store sales growth of 0.6% - Baskin-Robbins U.S. comparable store sales decline of 0.4%
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Yum! Brands Reports Third-Quarter GAAP Operating Profit Growth of 61%; Delivers Third-Quarter Core Operating Profit Growth of 11%
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Global comparable sales increased 6.0%, reflecting positive guest counts in all segments
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FAT Brands Completes Acquisition of Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses for $10.5 Million
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Same Store Sales Grew 5.5% and Year-to-Date System-wide Sales Increased 54% to $200 Million
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Potential trumps experience... a paradigm shift?
by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner Wray Executive Search

Bob Gershberg
As business becomes more complex and the global talent pool gets ever tighter, the success indicators used in talent search are changing. In years past, physical prowess and strength were the leading attributes required. Intelligence, experience and past performance became the next group of essential requirements. Our testing focused on IQ, verbal, analytical and mathematical to determine fit. Specific competencies were at the forefront of the subsequent shift. Emotional intelligence trumped IQ in leadership roles.

As rapid change, volatility, and ambiguity dominate the global landscape in all industries, the skills and competencies that yielded success yesterday, may well not tomorrow. Suddenly, the potential to learn new skills may indeed, be more important than those previously honed. The talent pool for the rising executive, ages 35 to 45 is seeing unprecedented demand while by virtue of demographics, shrinking rapidly. Recognizing potential will dominate the focus of talent search and assessment, both internal and external during the next decade. 
Executive Chat with Ryan Smolkin, Founder and CEO of Smoke's Poutinerie
by Rebecca Patt, SVP Development, Wray Executive Search

Rebecca Patt
Entrepreneur and brand guru Ryan Smolkin is on the cheese curd and gravy-train fast track with Smoke's Poutinerie, an innovative fast-casual concept featuring the Canadian specialty of poutine with over-the-top toppings and lumberjack-meets-glam-rock style. The concept is 100% franchised and has 150 locations with many more deals in the works.

Smolkin does a "rock 'n roll stage show" about Smoke's that has him in-demand on the speaking circuit. We chatted at the Fast-Casual Executive Summit this October in Nashville, where he was a presenter and stood out with a distinctive lumberjack-aviator-rock-n-roll mystique.  


I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. " 
~Maya Angelou

What's New?
Restaurant Industry End of 2017 Outlook
by Kevin Stockslager, Assistant Vice President at Wray Executive Search

Kevin Stockslager
At the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference in Las Vegas this week, one main topic of conversation was of course the restaurant industry's performance in 2017 and the outlook for 2018. The restaurant industry, along with many others, experienced a tough year with regards to same store sales and traffic numbers across segments. The most recent Miller Pulse in October did, however, present some good news for the industry. Overall, same store sales increased 1.4%, the first reported increase since June. Interestingly enough, casual dining increased same store sales by the same 1.4%, the best numbers since September 2015. The casual dining segment also experienced a 0.6% increase in traffic, the first increase in the past 27 months, perhaps due to the increased focus on takeout and delivery. While the positive same store sales are encouraging, traffic still declined 0.4% across the industry, tempering optimism. One month of positive same store sales certainly does not make a trend, so the restaurant industry numbers to close out 2017 will be a great indicator of what is to come in 2018.

The Restaurant Finance and Development Conference always provides an insightful panel of experts to discuss the financial outlook of the restaurant industry, as well as the nation as a whole. One of the more intriguing panels included Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business News and Guy Adami of CNBC's Fast Money discussing the 2018 economic and investment outlook for 2018. Charlie and Guy took a Bull vs. Bear approach to detailing the opportunities and challenges to the US economy in 2018. Both hit on the impact of current corporate tax plans and potential tax cuts, the Fed balance sheet increasing to $4.5 trillion, and the potential withdrawal from NAFTA. While the US economy continues to face challenges, both expressed optimism with regards to the proposed corporate tax cuts.
Much More Restaurant Risk Management Required
by John A. Gordon, principal and founder of Pacific Management Consulting Group

John A. Gordon
We are in that part of the restaurant business cycle where both forward and backwards introspection is needed. The 2015-2017 restaurant results period is among the first time where US restaurant industry trends aren't following the traditional macroeconomic drivers-employment, disposable income, and GDP are all healthy-but we are not getting our share of spending. There are more restaurants open and fewer available sites. Activist investors lurk. There is much less room for error.

With this backdrop, restaurant corporate strategy and stewardship needs to be startling right on. If not, a social media agent, a competitor, an activist, an angry employee or supplier will react. This makes all the more important the notion of a more expansive risk management profile at both independents and chain restaurants. In days past, chain restaurants had a risk management department, which focused on insurance and store security. In smaller operations, there is no organized notion of risk management. That doesn't cut it now. Risk management needs to be much more expansive, starting from the board of directors on down to the shift manager. 
The Big Apple
The Chains Invade New York
by Joe Radice, Vice President, Wray Executive Search

Joe Radice
Last week Crain's New York published an interesting report titled Fast-Food City, on how restaurant chains, in particular quick service, have taken over New York City. For years, fast food restaurant chains have stayed away from this city for various reasons to include high rents, neighborhood pushback or NIMBY ("not in my back yard"), NYC health initiatives (Mayor Bloomberg's banning of trans fats, the city's requirement to post calorie counts and sodium content on menus, attempted restrictions on soda cup size, etc.) 

It would seem that the recent New York State initiative to boost minimum wage to $15 per hour would have discouraged chain restaurant growth. But even potentially higher labor costs appear not to be a barrier to the growth in restaurant outlets. 
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