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Yup, Restaurants Had A Bad February

News flash: traffic was down last month. According to the latest Restaurant Performance Index from the National Restaurant Association, the industry’s sales and traffic fell last month, taking the index into contraction territory for the fourth time in the past five months.

Sbarro Replaces Its Chief Executive

We’ve seen Jim Greco at several conferences over the past year, and each time he confidently declared that one day Sbarro would become the premier fast-casual Italian chain in the country. So we were surprised today to find out that Sbarro replaced Greco as its CEO just 14 months after he took the job.

Marty Kotis And The Spurned Wife Billboard

Those of you who use the Internet might have come across a photo of a North Carolina billboard recently in which a woman named Jennifer told off her cheating husband. As it turns out, said billboard, followed by other billboards and a video, was all a marketing ploy—for a billboard company owned by none other than one Marty Kotis.

Another Private Equity Group Gets Into Franchising

Among the biggest trends we’ve seen in recent years has been the eager investment by private equity groups into the franchise sector. Here’s another one: Acon Investments, a Washington D.C.-based private equity group that recently bought 40 Applebee’s units in the Midwest and hopes to do more.

Daily Juice Takes Its Smoothies Mainstream

The second location of the Austin juice and smoothie concept Daily Juice was in the basement of an old house that was converted for business use. And yet it still sold a lot of smoothies. So the concept should be really popular with a little refinement, right? John Martin thinks it will.

Restaurant Discounts Losing Their Effectiveness

Is the restaurant deal dead? Maybe not, but deal-based restaurant traffic continues to diminish, according to the Chicago-based market research firm NPD Group, which found that restaurant visits on a deal, including coupons, BOGO deals and discounts, fell 3 percent last year.

How Taco Cabana Fixed Its Traffic Issue

Commodity spikes have befuddled the restaurant industry periodically for years, but especially so at Taco Cabana, the Texas-based Mexican chain that’s part of the Fiesta Restaurant Group. The problem: Every time the company increased prices to meet those costs, its traffic would suffer.

Fertitta: Landrys Will Never Go Public Again

Tilman Fertitta took Landry’s Restaurants private in 2010 after a 17-year run in the public markets. He’s since expanded his holdings considerably, adding a long lineup of chains from Claim Jumper to Morton’s and is now eyeing Ark Restaurants. Could he be setting up for a return to Wall Street?

Technomic: 2012 Was A Good Year For Restaurants

The restaurant industry had a good 2012, or at least the 500 largest chains did, according to Technomic. The Chicago-based restaurant consulting firm said today that sales for the 500 largest concepts grew 4.9 percent last year—a post-recessionary peak.

Restaurant M&A Activity Robust, Thanks To Private Equity

Private equity groups bought a lot of restaurants in 2012. According to the latest Chain Restaurant Merger & Acquisition Census from the Chicago-based investment banker J.H. Chapman, acquisitions in the restaurant industry leveled off last year, but at a robust clip, led by equity firms.

On Wall Street, Franchisees Struggle To Keep Pace

The growing size of some of country’s largest restaurant franchisees, and the interest in those companies by private equity groups, has some people wondering whether we’ll see some franchisees go public soon. Maybe, but if they do such companies tend to perform poorly on Wall Street.

Buffalo Wild Wings Invests In PizzaRev

Buffalo Wild Wings took its first step toward becoming a multi-concept operator today, when it announced that it has made a minority investment in PizzaRev, a Los Angeles-based fast casual pizza chain whose reputation makes it seem much larger than its three units.

Fiesta Blossoms On Its Own

It’s amazing how fast you can run when one of your feet isn’t stuck in a bucket. That’s been the experience of Fiesta Restaurant Group, the Texas-based operator of a pair of Mexican fast casual restaurants that has flourished on Wall Street since being spun off by Carrols Restaurant Group.

Are Restaurants Pointing To A Recession?

Restaurants can be a canary in a coalmine. Consider that casual dining sales began turning in 2007 and 2008, before anybody had ever uttered the word “recession.” If that’s the case, then we should probably worry about a recent run of negative numbers coming from the industry.

Families Give Pizza Chains A Big Boost

We’re years into a supposed economic recovery and, though things are looking up, spending remains frustratingly restrained. Consumers continue to focus on value and convenience above everything else. This might be the perfect environment for pizza chains, which have been performing extremely well.