Daniel P. Smith

Daniel P. Smith is a regular contributor to <i>QSR.</i>
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2014 Best Franchise Deals

The quick-service and fast-casual brands that offer the best bang for the franchisee’s buck.
Top fast food brands offer potential franchisees value in their growth.
Ohio-based barbecue concept Old Carolina Barbecue Company has an AUV of more than $1.4 million. Old Carolina Barbecue Company

When it comes to developing a quick-service concept, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison understands that the economic model remains a large piece of the puzzle. In creating a strong franchise deal that fosters company growth, however, Morrison and many other quick-service leaders know that many other tiles complete the mosaic, including corporate support, marketplace differentiation, and sales momentum.

Wendy’s Lends Its Voice to Adoption

Back in 1992, Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA), a nonprofit embracing a laser-like commitment to driving adoption awareness and increasing the adoption of children from America’s foster care system.

This past March, Wendy’s placed adoption and its intimate link to the cause front and center with the company’s first-ever national marketing campaign designed explicitly to raise awareness for foster care adoption.

Standout Store: Potatopia

Allen Dikker is on a mission to change the way consumers think about potatoes. In December 2011, the former marketing pro opened the potato-peddling Potatopia at the Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. In the 350-square-foot space, Potatopia serves up six signature potato-based creations, and guests can also customize a dish by selecting their choice of potato—smashed, baked, and au gratin among the nine choices—before topping it with vegetables, cheeses, proteins, and sauces.

Standout Store: Top Round

With its nostalgic vibe and fine-dining approach, Los Angeles–based Top Round gives roast beef a fancy makeover, capturing plenty of rabid fans in the process.

The one-year-old shop features a menu of six inventive slow-roasted beef sandwiches, such as the Horse & Hole, made with Provel cheese, horseradish cream, and roasted mushrooms on a sesame bun; the Black & Blue, made with black pepper, Blue cheese, and caramelized onions on a sesame bun; and the shop’s signature Beef & Cheese, featuring a homemade Cheese Whiz spread.

Lessons in Giving

Changes are afoot in Melissa Hunt’s first-grade classroom at I.T. Stoddard Elementary School in Blackfoot, Idaho. This year, Hunt’s classroom welcomed the addition of two iPad minis and a storage cart holding books and headphones. Hunt also launched the Lunch Bunch Book Club, a monthly reading discussion group in which 22 students receive a book to read and keep for their personal library.

Scaling Food Safety

It could happen to any restaurant.

Business is strong, with sales and unit counts growing quickly. Optimism abounds for a healthy future.

And then it happens. Contaminated food supplies filter into the system. Hundreds of customers get sick. Traffic and sales plunge as consumers worry over the food’s safety, and the brand’s reputation seems forever tarnished.

What Ever Happened to Food Trucks?

Red-hot just a few years ago, food trucks are entering a new maturity phase.

Food trucks evolve quick service restaurant industry with innovative trends.
Cofounder Natasha Case has turned her popular food truck Coolhaus into a major food and retail player.

When QSR last checked in with Coolhaus as part of “America’s Top 20 Food Trucks,” in February 2011, business partners Natasha Case and Freya Estreller had just launched their second food truck, adding a roving kitchen in Austin, Texas, to their existing mobile unit in Los Angeles.

The Future of Franchising

How the franchise model is adapting to today’s marketplace.

Fast food brands change franchising model to succeed in economic climate.
Corner Bakery is preparing for aggressive growth through experienced, multiunit franchisees.

Anthony Pigliacampo is like few of his predecessors in the quick-service game.

Pigliacampo is the founder of Modmarket, a Colorado-based concept that continues to earn rave reviews for its modern environment and high-quality food, and which had six stores open at the end of 2013. By the end of this year, Modmarket’s unit count will jump to 13 and then to at least 24 by the end of 2015.

What makes Pigliacampo different from his peers is that all of that growth will be through company-owned stores.

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