Restaurant News Bites: Zagat, Applebee’s, Tossed

Restaurant News Bites: Zagat, Applebee's, TossedThe San Diego Restaurants Survey from Zagat has been released.  The survey scored 533 restaurants in the San Diego area as reviewed by 2,294 restaurant goers.  The survey found that the average cost of a meal fell from $35.78 a year ago to just $34.45 this year and that on average, diners are eating out less than they were last year.  Reviewers also were not very kind to San Diego kitchens, scoring them 15 out of 30 for “culinary creativity” and just 17 out of 30 for their “choice/diversity”.

Dine Equity, Inc. continues to move forward with their goal of making the Applebee’s chain more franchise oriented.  The company announced a purchase agreement with Potomac Family Dining Group for 30 Applebee’s locations in the Washington, D.C. area.  Applebee’s is expected to make $27 million from the sale of the stores after taxes, as well reducing their financing obligations by about $20 million.  The agreement is not dependent on financing, but is dependent on the successful transfer of liquor licenses and other regulatory measures.

Tossed has announced that Jason Chodash has been named President.  Chodash founded Tossed Franchise Corporation in 2004.  Since then he has helped Tossed grow from a New York business into a nationwide chain.  Earlier in the year Chodash brokered a deal for a franchise partnership with Fransmart, the company has helped QDOBA and many other successful quick-casual restaurants expand into new markets.

UFood Restaurant Group, Inc. has announced they will expand their social media efforts and their online presence.  The move will help the company communicate with consumers and shareholders more efficiently.  The company also announced they would pursue possibilities to expand operations to military bases.  UFood has hired The Castle Group to lead their social media efforts as well as oversee potential military base expansion.

Pizza Fusion has announced the opening of two new locations in Tampa during January 2011.  The award-winning Pizza restaurant was named “Best Concept” Winner of 2010 by Nation’s Restaurant News.  Pizza Fusion has also been recognized as eco-friendly, with a number of their chain restaurants gaining LEED certification.

CKE Restaurants has announced the results for the twelve weeks ending November 1, 2010.  The company reported total revenues of $284.5 million for the period, down by 12.2% from the same period a year ago.  Much of the loss was attributed to the sale of Carl’s Jr. Distribution service in July.  Excluding the distribution service numbers, revenues increased by 1.5%.  It was also reported that blended same-store sales at company-operated locations increased by 0.9%.

Dickey’s Barbecue is continuing their rapid expansion.  The company announced a new Texas opening in Austin recently and now has more than 130 locations in 32 states.  Over the last two years, Dickey’s Barbecue has grown at a rate of 35 percent.  The company is slated to open 18 more locations before 2010 closes.

The Cheesecake Factory has announced they have entered into agreement for a new revolving credit facility effective December 3.  During the fourth quarter, the company was able to pay off all debts to their prior credit facility and retain a $50 million cash balance.  The new agreement will increase the company’s financial flexibility and has a lower cost of capital than the previous one.  The new unsecured five-year facility will mature on December 15, 2015 and has a commitment of $200 million with the possibility to increase by an additional $50 million under certain conditions.

Fazoli’s has unveiled their new remodel in two Illinois company-owned locations.  The two stores are among the first in the country to have the new Fazoli’s design.  The remodel includes adding vibrant colors and fun photos to help create a high-energy family dining experience.  In addition to visual changes, the remodels include the use of traditional plates and silverware as well as a revamped menu.  Fazoli’s will continue remodeling company-owned locations throughout the coming years.

CiCi’s Pizza has announced the addition of Deb Chappell as Director of Real Estate Services and Support.  Chappell will lead the way as the company moves forward with plans to add 500 locations over the next eight to ten years.  Chappell had previously worked in a similar capacity for Brinker International where she held a similar position for BJ’s Restaurants.  Chappell will assist with creating long-term business and marketing strategies for the company as well as communicating with potential multi-unit franchise owners.