The Week in Franchising, March 13, 2012

A roundup of developments affecting franchisees and franchisors.

Dickey’s puts health insurance on franchise menu
Dickey’s Barbecue is offering franchisees the opportunity to enroll themselves, their families and their employees in a group health insurance plan. In addition to medical and dental coverage, the benefits package includes access to legal and financial services.

Golden Corral franchisee bails
Frisch’s, one of the few remaining operators of Big Boy restaurants, is reversing its diversification into the Golden Corral concept to focus on the older brand. The company is selling the big-box family restaurants to multi-concept franchisee Aziz Hashim, whose brands already include Popeyes, Domino’s and Checkers. The price was not disclosed.

Corner Bakery mans up for franchise push
Corner Bakery Café has hired Jonathan Benjamin to chart a franchising course for the fast-casual concept. Most of Benjamin’s franchising work has been in hotels, according to the announcement. As VP-franchising for Corner Bakery, he’ll be looking for area developers, the chain said.

Freebirds thinks franchising is right karma
Freebirds, Tavistock Restaurant’s big-burrito chain, is also beginning to franchise. The company signed a 27-unit development deal with a newly formed operator to move the brand, often described as the brainchild of two hippies, into Kansas and Nebraska.

Burger chain wants some fine with the fast
The Mooyah fast-casual burger chain has retained fine-dining chef Johnny Carros as a menu consultant. He previously worked at chains at the high end of the pricing spectrum, like Sullivan’s and Del Frisco’s.

Brooklyn Water Bagel sued over the water
The retirement venture of TV greybeard Larry King has run into a legal controversy. One of the first franchisees of Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. has sued the company for $2 million, alleging the water it uses is no different from what any competitor could use. Old Brooklyn says its bagels are unique because the water is identical to what’s used in Brooklyn, one of the high-art centers of bagel making in the U.S. The start-up drew considerable attention about a year ago when King, set to retire from his longterm CNN gig, bought into the chain and indicated that he would lend his name to promotional efforts.

Kona Grill puts franchisee on the board
The Kona Grill casual-dining chain has added veteran restaurant franchisee Lenny Newman to its board of directors. He’s headed a 175-unit Yum! franchise. The appointment is part of a comeback effort by Kona that recently brought a change in the CEO’s office.

Togo’s lines up $10M kitty for renovation
The franchisor of Togo’s has lined up $10 million in financing for franchisees who want to update their restaurants and an additional $5 million for the opening of stores. The sandwich chain has developed a new prototype for its growth.

Brazilian steakhouse aims for New England
The Rodizio Grill Brazilian-style steakhouse chain is entering the Northeast with the opening of a franchise in Stamford, Conn. The site formerly housed a Houlihan’s.

Authorities say franchisee was chiseled by bookkeeper
A bookkeeper for franchised Burger Kings in Colorado has been arrested for allegedly cheating the restaurants out of nearly $10,000. According to local press reports, authorities have accused 37-year-old Mary Sanders of creating a fictitious employee to whom she wrote checks on the outlets’ accounts.



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