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The Week in Franchising, May 18, 2012

A new look for a coffee brand, a new growth specialist for two Latino concepts, and deals, deals, deals for several new and established franchisors.

Gloria Jean’s brews up a more sophisticated look
Gloria Jean’s Coffee has opened a new prototype that includes such upscale touches as a maitre ‘d, a gift shop, and a display of various types of whole coffee beans.

The coffeehouse chain did not reveal a price for the updated restaurant, nor how the pricing might have changed. The franchisor is calling it The Coffee House of the Future.

The prototype opened in Chicago Ridge, Ill. The unit is franchised to Muddassar Alvi.

Seventy-four Gloria Jean’s shops are open in the United States, and about 825 operate elsewhere in the world.

Arby’s vet to grow Taco Cabana, Pollo Tropical
The newly formed parent of Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical has hired Arby’s veteran John Todd as chief development officer, with responsibilities that extend to the Hispanic brands’ franchising.

Fiesta Restaurant Corp., which was recently spun off as a public company from the Burger King franchise Carrols Corp., said Todd will be responsible for all aspects of development, including site selection and restaurant construction. His experience includes 20 years with RTM, once Arby’s largest franchisees, and later the parent company of Arby’s.

Todd reports to Fiesta CEO Tim Taft.

Don Pablo’s first franchise to open
The Don Pablo’s Mexican dinnerhouse chain is set to open its first franchise, a store in Sarasota, Fla., where the chain had four restaurants before pulling out as difficult times developed in 2007.

The unit is franchised to Steve Rinehart, who had managed one of the Tampa-area Don Pablo’s before the brand exited the area.

The 37-branch Don Pablo’s brand is now owned by Rita Restaurant Corp., which also owns Hops Grill and Brewery.

Hurricane inks five deals
Hurricane Grill & Wings says it signed franchised deals with five companies for a total commitment of 28 stores in five states.

The deals will move Hurricane into Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland and Delaware, and will bolster its presence in the Hudson Valley, the suburbs above New York City.

Pat & Oscar’s reportedly rebranding
Franchisees of the takeout-heavy Pat & Oscar’s fast-casual chain are rebranding the concept as O’s American Kitchen, the Orange County Register reports.

The franchisor was pushed into Ch. 7 bankruptcy in 2011, prompting company-run stores to close. But 11 franchised stores remained in operation, according to the Register.

Dunkin’ names new advisory zees
Clayton Turnbull, Dunkin’ Donuts’ franchisee for Roxbury, Mass., was appointed vice chairman of the chain’s Brand Advisory Committee, a steering group that consults with the franchisor on marketing, menu development, technology and other matters.

Turnbull’s co-chair is Nigel Travis, the CEO of Dunkin’ franchisor Dunkin’ Brands.

Although most franchise chains have a franchisee advisory group of one sort or another, most are not as large as Dunkin’s.  Twenty-six franchisee-representatives have been elected on a regional basis by their fellow operators for the next two-year term.

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