September 2014

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Owner Caribou, Peet's Buys Einstein

JAB Holding, which in 2012 bought both Peet's Coffee and Caribou, is at it again, this time with a $347 million purchase of Colorado-based bagel company Einstein Noah Restaurant Group. The deal is for $20.25 a share.

Starboard's Full Slate Gets Key Endorsements

The activist gunning to replace Darden's full board of directors got at least one key endorsement today when Glass Lewis, a proxy advisory firm, recommended shareholders vote for Starboard Value's full slate of board nominees.

Jimmy John's Acknowledges Data Breach

Another restaurant chain, the third one in two months, has acknowledged a payment card data breach. This time it's Jimmy John's, which said that 216 locations had data from credit and debit cards compromised over the summer.

Someone Wants To Buy BEF Foods

Sandell Asset Management this morning said that it has been contacted by a private equity group interested in buying BEF Foods, the retail food products division of Bob Evans. Investors are also interested in buying the chain's real estate.

Income Inequality Hurting Restaurants

Is income inequality hurting the restaurant industry? It is, at least according to the NPD Group, which noted that flat traffic at quick-serve restaurants, and increasing traffic at fine dining concepts, show that the income gap is hitting the industry.

Houston Foods To Buy Heartland Units

The parent company of Burger King franchisee Houston Foods is buying 255 locations from Heartland Food Corp. The deal will turn the company, The Dhanani Group, into Burger King's third largest franchisee worldwide and one of the biggest of any brand in the US.

Food Prices Should Get Better (Except For Beef)

Bacon prices are expected to fall in the double digits next year, thanks to easing corn prices and a higher pig population. The bad news: Beef prices are expected to keep going up.

Carrols Steps In And Buys 30 Burger Kings

Carrols has made another purchase, this time 30 units in North Carolina for $20 million. The company made the purchase by exercising its right of first refusal to buy any Burger Kings that are sold in 20 states along the East Coast.

Darden Takes A Shot At Brad Blum

Darden Restaurants, still responding to that 300-page report from the activist investor Starboard Value, today levied criticism at a trio of Starboard's advisers, two of whom used to work with Olive Garden.

Biglari Holdings Co-Owns A Few Jets

Sardar Biglari has apparently softened his stance on corporate jets in recent years. The activist investor's company, Biglari Holdings, is registered as a co-owner of four corporate jets.

Cracker Barrel Wants To Use Fewer Plates

Cracker Barrel, the Lebanon, Tennessee-based family dining chain-slash-retailer, is working on a plan to cut operating costs by $50 million over three years. Among the cuts: Reducing the number of plates the company uses.

A&C Ventures Buys 72 Taco Bells

A&C Ventures, a California real estate investment company, bought a 72-unit Taco Bell franchisee in Northern California, giving the company more than 100 Taco Bell units through a pair of partnerships with operators.

Why The Jimmy John's Deal Is Big

According to reports, Jimmy John's founder and its private equity investor are looking to sell a big stake in the company. In so doing, they're putting in play one of the fastest growing and highest performing franchises in the country.

Starboard's Darden Plan: Fewer Breadsticks, More Booze

Starboard Value, the activist investor gunning to replace the Darden board, released a 300-page operational improvement plan that includes everything from major changes to the corporate structure to how many breadsticks customers should get.

Smashburger, Former CEO In A Dispute

Smashburger's former CEO has accused the company in court documents of manipulating its valuation to avoid paying him the full value of shares in the company he owned at the time of his termination last November.

Could Chipotle Get To $1,300?

Chipotle, which has been reporting incredible sales numbers this year, could hit well over $1,000 a share by the end of the decade assuming it keeps adding new units, according to Janney Capital Markets Analyst Mark Kalinowski.

Casual Dining Sales Turn Positive

The Knapp Track index had a rarity, at least for the past few years: A positive number. Comps rose 0.5 percent in August, according to Knapp, only the eighth positive month in seven years.

Do Darden's Growth Restaurants Need Olive Garden?

Darden Restaurants has been resisting suggestions for months that it spin off its Specialty Restaurant Group. Now we know why: The group's cash flow would be awfully weak away from the support of the giant Olive Garden.

Sales Get A Late Summer Push

The restaurant industry has endured a difficult year of weak sales and falling traffic. But according to Black Box Intelligence, perhaps that is starting to change. The index reported its strongest sales number in more than two years.

The Kevin Durant Deal Is Big For Orange Leaf

Orange Leaf just got a big ally in the frozen yogurt battle. The Oklahoma City-based concept just inked a deal with basketball star Kevin Durant that gives the NBA MVP equity in the company.

Burger King Pays Up In Carrols Deal

Included in the Carrols purchase of 64 locations from Heartland Food Corp is a pair of interesting provisions, including one in which Burger King has agreed to pay $2.1 million to Heartland.

Are Poor Ratings Hurting McDonald's?

McDonald's routinely gets ugly scores in all kinds of consumer ratings, whether they're product specific or general. Are these reviews finally coming home to roost in the form of weak sales? Nope.

Darden Shaking Up Its Own Board

Darden Restaurants nominated eight people to its board of directors, four of whom would be new, guaranteeing that the company will undergo a dramatic leadership change next month.

Chains Still Gaining Market Share

Chain restaurants are still gaining market share in a difficult restaurant environment. But small chains are actually performing better than either independents or major concepts.