McDonald’s confirmed that it is bouncing from its longtime suburban home and relocating its global headquarters and Hamburger University training center to downtown Chicago—a move that CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement supports McD’s as “a brand on the move in more ways than one.” While the new HQ—which will be built to suit in Oprah’s former Harpo Studios—won’t be open until spring 2018, Easterbrook calls it “another significant step in our journey to build a better McDonald’s.” Citing the chain’s new home as a world-class environment that’ll drive business momentum, Easterbrook says the new locale will encourage innovation and provide access to top talent, among other benefits.
But McDonald’s isn’t the only chain to pack its bags (or banker’s boxes) to head to a new home office. A number of chains announced this year that they are moving their headquarters, be it for tax breaks, a larger employee pool or even proximity to travel hubs. Here’s a look at brands that are on the move.
Jamba Juice is closing up its corporate shop in Emeryville, Calif., and heading to Frisco, Texas, about 30 miles outside of Dallas. In announcing the move in May, CEO David Pace in a statement gave several reasons to support the move: competitive operating costs, access to “skilled restaurant talent,” an “attractive cost of living” and a central location for further expansion.
Jamba indicated at the time of the announcement that about 20 head-office positions will be eliminated as part of the relocation.
Less than a year after it opened its first West Coast location, Sweetgreen announced in January that it’ll move its headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles. The reason, co-founder Nicolas Jammet has said, is the company’s plan to grow from a regional brand to a national one. But it won’t close up shop in D.C.—or at its other corporate office in New York. “The idea is to spread leadership around,” said Jammet, who, along with his other co-founders, plan for a lot of traveling.
Right now, CKE Restaurants operates its two brands out of different cities; Hardee’s is run from St. Louis, and Carl’s Jr.’s home office is in Carpinteria, Calif. But the parent confirmed in March that it’ll consolidate both chains’ headquarters in Nashville by early next year. CKE noted in a statement that Nashville is a centrally located market and that both of its brands need less office space because so many of the restaurants are franchised.
Several years ago, CKE CEO Andy Puzder said publicly that he intended to move the company's California operations out of the state because of what is widely regarded as the nation’s most difficult operating environment for businesses.
CKE is owned by Roark Capital, which is based in Atlanta.
Bringing brands together is a common theme for chains moving their home bases. Qdoba announced in June that it’ll move its headquarters early next year from the Denver suburb of Lakewood to San Diego, putting it near parent company Jack in the Box Inc. In fact, its new 70,000-square-foot building, dubbed an “innovation center," will be located next to Jack in the Box’s office.
Applebee’s announced last September that it would depart from its Midwest home of Kansas City, Mo., for Glendale, Calif., in order to consolidate with parent DineEquity. “This move best positions the company to act as a nimble, effect and efficient force for the future,” said DineEquity CEO Julia Stewart at the time of the announcement. And it’s a move that’ll cost the casual-dining brand $13 million through the end of this fiscal year, including moving expenses, lease and facility costs and severance pay, reported the Kansas City Business Journal.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
By next April, Romano’s Macaroni Grill will move its home office and support center from Houston to Denver—at least in part due to state tax incentives. Another big driver behind the move: Romano’s was purchased last year by investment group Redrock Partners, which includes Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort. The move gives Romano’s new owners easier access to its concept, hoping to drive long-term growth for the once fledgling brand by using the existing relationships and resources it has in Denver.