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Eatery Pulse News Brief: Del Frisco’s buyout, top LSM brands, Best10 top fast casuals

This week saw increased activity in the restaurant acquisition space and some notable executive hires and brand news. Here are some of the top restaurant news of the week.

Restaurant acquisitions, deals

Del Frisco’s accepted a buyout offer from L Catterton. Del Frisco’s had been reviewing strategic alternatives as a result of pressure from Engage Capital, an activist that won a board seat and landed a cooperation agreement with the restaurant company. L Catterton will pay $650M for Del Frisco’s stock. The acquisition will spur Barcelona Wine Bar and Bartaco to grow, tapping additional resources and capital.

Red Robin rebuffed an ultimatum from Vintage Capital to begin a strategic review of alternatives, including a possible sale, or call a special shareholder’s meeting. According to Restaurant Business, the casual-dining burger chain turned it back, questioning the veracity of Vintage Capital’s claims that it indeed own 11.6 percent of Red Robin shares. This follows news that FFL Partners is looking for a buyer for Church’s Chicken. FFL is prepared to accept approximately $350M for the chain. Earlier this month, Fat Brands acquired better-for-you burger chain, Elevation Burger. Sweetgreen also made it first acquisition.

Restaurant executive promotions and appointments

There were several restaurant executive promotions and hire this week. Yum Brands,announced that Chris Turner will become its new chief financial officer, effective August 8. Previously, he served at senior vice president and general manager at PepsiCo, overseeing the retail and e-commerce with Walmart. He assumes the role from David Gibbs, Yum Brands’ current CFO, chief operating officer and president. Gibbs had been serving in the top financial role on an interim basis.

  • According to Nation’s Restaurant News, Wendy’s promoted Carl Loredo, who had worked for Wendy’s since 2016, to chief marketing officer. Loredo had served as vice president of brand marketing. He’ll report to Kurt Kane, Wendy’s U.S. president and chief commercial officer.
  • The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation promoted Rob Gifford from the position of executive vice president, NRAEF, to president. The NRAEF said that under Gifford’s tenure, had ProStart, its classroom-to-work restaurant vocational program, grew by 50 percent. He’ll continue to report to Dawn Sweeney, who remains the CEO of NRAEF. Gifford’s promotion follows another successful ProStart Invitational Competition.
Yum Brands appointed Chris Turner as its new chief financial officer. Photo by Yum Brands.
Yum Brands appointed Chris Turner as its new chief financial officer. Photo by Yum Brands.

Here are other executive changes this week:

  • CraftWorks named Marc Buehler as president of its specialty division, overseeing Bottom Restaurants & Breweries, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Chophouse, A1A, Big River, Ragtime, and Seven Bridges concepts.
  • Select Restaurants tapped Carmen Quagliata for the role of vice president of Business Development. Select’s portfolio includes Top of the Hub in Boston, Pier W in Cleveland and Parkers’ Restaurant & Bar in suburban Chicago, to name a few,

Restaurant branding and marketing

There’s an increased importance of social media and reputation management on a restaurant brand’s online presence and marketing success. Recently, the Local Search Association (LSA) and SOCi, a social media and reputation platform, launched collaborative research on this topic. The resulting Localized Social Marketing Benchmark Report (LSM Benchmark Report) helps marketers understand what localized social marketing represents to business and provides examples to today’s marketers.

Said the LSA, “…78% of purchase decisions are influenced by social content and more than 75% of brand engagement is happening on local pages. Further, while ratings and reviews have always been important, consumers now consider these as the number one influence on their purchases– 71% of consumers read reviews before every purchase and this increases to over 80% for consumers ages 18-35.”

The report identified leading brands in he practice of localized social marketing. These hospitality and restaurant brands made the top 10 list: McAlister’s Deli, Courtyard by Marriott, Culver’s, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, and Holiday Inn Express.

And USA Today’s 10Best travel and leisure website identified top fast casuals, selected as part of the Readers’ Choice 2019. The Best Fast Casual Restaurant picks, ranked from number 1 to 10, are as follows: QDOBA Mexican Eats, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, MOD Pizza, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Portillo’s, Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, Five Guys, and Au Bon Pain, respectively.

Additional restaurant brand and marketing briefs:

Eatery Pulse News Brief summarizes periodic news updates from first-hand news sources and news wires, and also curates stories from top-tier restaurant industry publications.

Photo credit: Del Frisco’s (featured), Yum Brands (inline)

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