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What the Presentation Lacked in Substance It Made Up for in Rhythm

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2017-03-24 06:30

Listen, cartooning is a great job. You get to write jokes and draw funny pictures for a living. If you’re a smarty pants who likes to doodle, it really doesn’t get better. But sometimes you draw something special. Something that makes even you LOL. And this cartoon is one of those. It’s not so much the joke (this is kind of a basic wording gag), and most of the drawing is relatively standard, but the guy on the right wiggling vigorously gets me every time. That right arm up in the air, the one eye closed, the hips in motion … It makes me giggle to myself every time. OK, maybe it’s a little like tooting my own horn, but I love this one.

This article, "What the Presentation Lacked in Substance It Made Up for in Rhythm" was first published on Small Business Trends

Have you taught your managers to track prime costs? - Fri, 2017-03-24 06:00
There are certain metrics and habits, especially in the independent segment, that managers need to be mindful of on a regular basis

HuHot founder: 'Delegate well and train others' - Fri, 2017-03-24 06:00
Linda Vap, president and founder of HuHot Mongolian Grill, was a scientist before she got into the restaurant business.

VW's Seat plans to expand in N. Africa, Latin America

AutoNews - Fri, 2017-03-24 05:01
Spanish automaker Seat will lead VW Group's expansion in North Africa as part of internationalization plans that may also include building cars in Mexico.
Categories: Latest News

To Be or Not to Be: Pros and Cons of the Small Business LLC

Small Business Trends - Fri, 2017-03-24 05:00

The limited liability company was first offered as an option for structuring businesses 40 years ago in Wyoming. By the late 1990s, all states had laws authorizing the organizing of businesses under the hybrid structure. Today, LLCs are growing faster than any other business type, according to the IRS.

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a business structure that combines the simplicity, flexibility and tax advantages of a partnership with the liability protection of a corporation. An LLC can have one or many “members,” the official term for its owners. Members can be individuals or other businesses, and there is no limit to the number of members an LLC can have.

About 2.4 million U.S. businesses identified as LLCs in 2014, according to the latest figures available from the IRS. Take a look at these advantages and disadvantages to help you decide whether an LLC is the right structure for your business.

Small Business LLC Pros and Cons LLC: The Pros

Choosing to structure your business as an LLC offers a number of advantages:

Limited Liability

Members aren’t personally liable for actions of the company. This means that the members’ personal assets — homes, cars, bank accounts, investments — are protected from creditors seeking to collect from the business. This protection remains in place so long as you run your business on the up-and-up and keep business and personal financials separate.

Pass-Through Federal Taxation On Profits

Unless it opts otherwise, an LLC is a pass-through entity, meaning its profits go directly to its members without being taxed by the government on the company level. Instead, they’re taxed on members’ federal income tax returns. This makes filing taxes easier than if your business were taxed on the corporate level. And if your business loses money, you and other members can shoulder the hit on your returns and lower your tax burdens.

Management Flexibility

An LLC can opt to be managed by its members, which allows all owners to share in the business’s day-to-day decision-making, or by managers, who can be either members or outsiders. This is helpful if members aren’t experienced in running a business and want to hire people who are. In many states, an LLC is member-managed by default unless explicitly stated otherwise in filings with the secretary of state or the equivalent agency.

Easy Startup and Upkeep

Initial paperwork and fees for an LLC are relatively light, though there is wide variation in what states charge in fees and taxes. For example, Arizona’s filing fee for articles of organization is $50, while the fee in Illinois is $500. These variations aside, the process is simple enough for owners to handle without special expertise, though it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer or an accountant for help. Ongoing requirements usually come on an annual basis.

LLC: The cons

Before registering your business as an LLC, consider these possible drawbacks:

Limited Liability has Limits

In a court proceeding, a judge can rule that your LLC structure doesn’t protect your personal assets. The action is called “piercing the corporate veil,” and you can be at risk for it if, for example, you don’t clearly separate business transactions from personal, or if you’ve been shown to have run the business fraudulently in ways that resulted in losses for others.

Self-Employment Tax

By default, the IRS considers LLCs the same as partnerships for tax purposes, unless members opt to be taxed as a corporation. If your LLC is taxed as a partnership, the government considers members who work for the business to be self-employed. This means those members are personally responsible for paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, which are collectively known as self-employment tax and based on the business’s total net earnings.

On the other hand, if your LLC files forms with the IRS to be taxed as an S corporation, you and other owners who work for the company pay Social Security and Medicare taxes only on actual compensation, not the whole of the company’s pretax profits.

Consequence of Member Turnover

In many states, if a member leaves the company, goes bankrupt or dies, the LLC must be dissolved and the remaining members are responsible for all remaining legal and financial obligations necessary to terminate the business. These members can still do business, of course; they’ll just have to start a whole new LLC from scratch.

How to Start Your LLC
  • Choose a name: Register a unique name in the state where you plan to do business. To make sure someone else doesn’t have your business name, do a thorough search of online directories, county clerks’ offices and the secretary of state’s website in your state — and any others in which you plan to do business. For a fee, many states let applicants reserve an LLC name for a set period of time before filing articles of organization.
  • Choose a registered agent: The registered agent is the person you designate to receive all official correspondence for the LLC. It’s crucial that you nail down who this person will be before filing articles of organization, because states generally require you to list a registered agent’s name and address on the form. Though people within the company are usually allowed to serve in this role, states maintain lists of third-party companies that perform registered-agent services.
  • File articles of organization: This is the step that essentially brings your LLC into existence. States request basic pieces of information about your business, which, if you’ve thought through your business plan and structure, should not be hard to provide. You’ll be asked to supply details like name, principal place of business and management type.
  • Get an employer identification number: The IRS requires any business that has employees or operates as a corporation or partnership to have an EIN, a nine-digit number assigned to businesses for tax purposes. The rule applies to LLCs because, as creations of state laws, they’re classified for federal tax purposes as either a corporation or a partnership.
  • Draw up an operating agreement: Your operating agreement should include specific information about your management structure, including an ownership breakdown, member voting rights, powers and duties of members and managers, and how profits and losses are distributed. Depending on the state, you can have either a written or oral agreement. Many states don’t require one, but they’re a useful thing to have.
  • Establish a business checking account: It’s generally good housekeeping to keep business and personal affairs separate. Having a separate checking account draws a bright line between the two. This is critical if you want to mitigate any potential risk to your personal assets if a lawsuit calls into question your business practices.

LLC Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "To Be or Not to Be: Pros and Cons of the Small Business LLC" was first published on Small Business Trends

Denny’s Selects Publicis Groupe’s Conill as New Hispanic Advertising...

PR Web - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:30

Agency will handle strategy, creative development, social media and digital communications targeting Hispanic audiences at both the local and national level.

(PRWeb March 17, 2017)

Read the full story at

SkySwitch Makes Amazon Alexa Skill Available to White Label UCaaS...

PR Web - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:30

Resellers Can Now Offer Voice Enabled Dialing to End Users with the Amazon Echo

(PRWeb March 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

Lennys Grill & Subs Celebrates National Cheesesteak Day with...

PR Web - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:30

Premium Sandwich Franchise Provides More Than 2,500 Free Sandwiches for Loyal Guests

(PRWeb March 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

Dallas Family Recognized with National Award for Giving Back

PR Web - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:30

Caring Transitions presented the inaugural Jeff Rea Caring for a Cause Award to the owners of Caring Transitions of North Dallas Suburbs, Donna Rea and Nicole Rea.

(PRWeb March 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

Carolyn Doerr Recognized with National Caring Transitions Award

PR Web - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:30

Carolyn Doerr, the owner of Caring Transitions of Mechanicsburg, has been recognized with a Caring Transitions Shooting Star Award.

(PRWeb March 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

After 45 Years of Ownership, Sandhills Harley-Davidson Dealership in...

PR Web - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:30

Harley-Davidson and new car dealership broker, George C. Chaconas of Performance Brokerage Services announces the sale of Sandhills Harley-Davidson in Pinehurst, North Carolina from Jimmy Melton and...

(PRWeb March 16, 2017)

Read the full story at

Eatsa is being sued for not making its automated self-serve kiosks accessible to blind customers

Topix - Fri, 2017-03-24 03:05

Eatsa, a fast-food chain startup known for its nearly human-free, automated self-service technology, is being sued by disability rights advocates for not including accessibility features for the blind in its customer interfaces. The federal class action lawsuit, which was filed in New York today with the American Council of the Blind as a leading plaintiff, alleges that the tech-centered restaurant chain's inaccessible kiosk and automated serving technology is a violation of civil rights law.

Categories: Today's Food News

New mild hybrid tech will shake up green car sales

AutoNews - Fri, 2017-03-24 01:01
Mild hybrid cars with cheaper and less complex technology than plug-in and full hybrids will reduce Europe's diesel dependency, according to automakers such as VW and Renault.
Categories: Latest News

SUV sales rise to 25% of European market

AutoNews - Fri, 2017-03-24 01:01
SUVs and crossovers accounted for a quarter of all European passenger vehicle sales last year as models such as the Renault Captur and Nissan Qashqai continue to lure buyers from minivans, wagons and hatchbacks.
Categories: Latest News

McDonald's unveils self-order kiosks, table service in Las Vegas

Topix - Thu, 2017-03-23 22:59

A digital self-order kiosk is shown during a grand reopening at McDonald's, 6480 S. Durango Drive, on Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Customers walking to the checkout area of a southwest valley McDonald's can see that the technological future of fast-food ordering and customer service has arrived to Las Vegas in the form of two bright touchscreen kiosks.

Categories: Today's Food News

Dunkin' Brands CFO Paul Carbone resigns

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-03-23 21:25

Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. chief financial officer Paul Carbone will resign effective April 21 to take a management position in the specialty retail industry, the parent to Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins said Thursday.

Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Brands named Kate Jaspon, the company’s vice president of finance and treasurer, to serve as interim CFO upon Carbone’s departure. Jaspon will report directly to CEO Nigel Travis.

The company said it “is undertaking a comprehensive search for a permanent CFO and will consider both internal and external candidates.”

Jaspon has been with Dunkin’ Brands for 11 years, joining in 2005 as assistant controller. She was later promoted to vice president, controller and corporate treasurer, and has held her current title since 2014.

“Kate is a talented financial executive with a deep understanding of Dunkin' Brands,” Travis said in a statement. “She has helped lead us through a number of important transactions, including our IPO and follow-on equity offerings, securitization and several debt restructurings, and has overseen the implementation of our enterprise risk management program.” 

As of Dec. 27, Dunkin' Brands' fully franchised business included more than 12,200 Dunkin' Donuts locations and more than 7,800 Baskin-Robbins units. 

Contact Ron Ruggless at

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Here come the fast-casual closures

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-03-23 19:55

This post is part of the On the Margin blog.

The fast-casual bubble has popped.

Earlier this month, I discussed reasons for the challenges facing fast-casual restaurants, which averaged a same-store sales decline of 1.1 percent in the last quarter of 2016.

The sales problems are starting to result in unit closures. To wit:

Last year, Cosi Inc. filed for federal bankruptcy protection and closed 29 locations.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers pulled the plug on its 12-unit Burger Works concept.

Pollo Tropical shuttered 10 locations.

In February, Noodles & Company said it plans to close 55 restaurants.

Last week, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. shut down its ShopHouse Asian Kitchen concept.

More recently, the fast-casual pizza chain Pie Five closed nine locations.

Neal Sherman, president of RestaurantEquipment.Bid, which helps sell equipment from closed restaurants, said that he’s been selling more equipment from fast-casual concepts recently. He specifically mentioned closed better burger restaurants and shuttered fast-casual pizza units. 

To be sure, the closed locations are providing openings for other brands, as noted by news last week that Bibibop Asian Grill will move into the 15 closed ShopHouse Asian Kitchen locations — more than doubling the size of that chain virtually overnight.

One interesting nugget in that piece: Bibibop is considering “similar deals.”

The closures are likely a natural outgrowth of weak segment same-store sales and aggressive development, fueled by private-equity investment and pushes by many chains to be first in their respective markets.

That expansion intensified competition for leases, driving up costs and increasing the supply of such restaurants at a rate faster than demand. The closures are an outgrowth of this phenomenon.

“There has been such an over-expansion in recent years,” Charley Shin, founder of Bibibop and Charleys Philly Steaks, told me. “It might have been a little too aggressive. There might be weaker players falling off, especially in the fast-casual industry.”

To be sure, these closures are not quite the level that appears to be happening in casual dining, which is faring worse and has for far longer.

And, as the Bibibop case indicates, there are frequently restaurant chains eager to move into the closed locations. Bibibop wasn’t the only company that was bidding on the ShopHouse leases — which included some high-profile areas. “Chipotle really picked the prime sites,” Shin said. There is always demand for strong sites.

Also, not all closures are created equal. In the case of Burger Works and ShopHouse, the chains were experimental concepts started by larger companies that ran into problems and opted to shut down the brands. Shutting such brands down can be more advantageous to the companies than it would be if they simply sold the brands outright.

Still, the weakness recently in the fast-casual segment could portend to broader problems.

Consider one example we didn’t include, My Fit Foods. My Fit Foods sold prepared foods in locations that didn’t have dine-in seating, making it different from your typical fast-casual concept. But it had received significant investment over the years, expanded heavily and competed in the fast-healthy space with many fast-casual restaurants.

In February, My Fit Foods closed all 50 of its locations.

Jonathan Maze, Nation’s Restaurant News senior financial editor, does not directly own stock or interest in a restaurant company.

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

For Checkers, sale validates company’s growth

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-03-23 19:33

The best way to generate profits in the restaurant industry is to sell more food.

For Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc., sales growth over the past eight years has led to a 700-basis-point improvement in profits and enviable unit volumes that have operators building new units, or, about $70,000 per location, said CEO Rick Silva.

That helped set the stage for the chain’s recent unit growth and, on Thursday, the announcement that the company has been sold, to the private-equity group Oak Hill Capital Partners, for $525 million.

To company executives, the deal sets the stage for further growth, with Oak Hill set to invest in the chain and help further its expansion.

“We’ve been on a journey for 10 years,” Silva told Nation’s Restaurant News. “We’re driving topline sales, improving restaurant profitability and adding new restaurants to the system. This is really one more step on a long, successful journey. The exciting part is still to come.”

Oak Hill “is going to invest heavily in the next phase of growth,” he added.

Checkers operates the Checkers and Rally’s brands, which have more than 840 locations.

Silva said same-store sales last year grew 3 percent, and same-store sales are up 3.5 percent so far this year. The company has added 100 new operators over the past two years, and has 130 locations in the pipeline, plus commitments for another 120 units.

“We have a tremendous amount of momentum,” Silva said. “Oak Hill is smart for joining at this time. 

Sales have helped generate the increase in profits, and much of those sales have come at night. Late-night business at the chain has more than doubled over the past 10 years, Silva said, from 10 percent of revenue to more than 22 percent today.

The company is known for value, and has worked to innovate on many of those offers, including a $2 Box, which includes fries and a protein, such as the Cheddar Biscuit Shrimp. It also introduced a 4-for-$3 value, giving customers an option of four different sandwiches, fries, a drink and an apple pie.

“We start with two wonderful brands that have core competitive advantages in our space,” Silva said. “We are leaders in value and craveability. We’ve done a nice job leveraging that. Those are inherent benefits, and it drives a huge amount of differentiation in the category and in sales.” 

At the same time, the company has worked to improve profitability by adding technology and back-office systems to eliminate waste and operate more productively.

Restaurant design also helps profitability. The chain is drive-thru only, so it can go into smaller spaces and operate with fewer employees because restaurants don’t have dining areas. Workers can focus on getting cars through.

Checkers has long used modular buildings, but introduced a freestanding building that can be opened for a total cost of $530,000. 

That’s less than half the chain’s average unit volumes, meaning an operator can pay off a new unit relatively quickly. 

“For a very low investment, in return you get average unit volumes of $1.2 million,” Silva said. “That’s very exciting for franchisees.” 

And the company can go into tight spaces of as little as a third of an acre.

“They’re incredibly efficient,” Silva said. “It allows us to squeeze into very high visibility parcels that others can’t get into.”

Silva said the chain has plenty of runway to grow, even if it doesn’t expand beyond the 29 states in which Checkers or Rally’s restaurants are located. Consultants have estimated that the company could add another 3,000 locations in those states. 

Such estimates can be notoriously optimistic, but to the company it reveals that the brand has plenty of growth in the coming years.

“We’ve got a huge, huge runway of growth without entering new states,” Silva said. “The brand is already proven in those states to be successful. It’s exciting for franchisees.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

How immigration laws impact the restaurant industry

Nation's Restaurant News - Thu, 2017-03-23 19:09

In this ongoing in-depth investigation, NRN looks at how the current political environment could affect immigration and what it means for restaurant operators.

U.S. immigration law is notoriously complex, and its application is growing murkier. To put it simply, individuals who do not legally reside in the U.S. may not be employed in the country.

Of course, we know that this is not the case in practice. 

The sheer number of undocumented immigrants who work in U.S. restaurants is so high — 1.1 million people, according to a 2014 Pew Research study — that their presence is ubiquitous. This is despite the fact that restaurant operators are in violation of the law if they employ undocumented workers.

We take a look at eight pieces of legislation, existing and proposed, that cover immigration and the workforce, and how they affect restaurant operators.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Image

1. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

What it is: The main body of law that regulates immigration policy was enacted in 1952. The INA is divided into many sections and covers the full breadth of immigration topics. This includes, but is not limited to: immigration quotas, visas, asylum, refugees, documentary requirements, ports of entry and removal. 

How it is enforced: The INA is enforced at all levels of government, from the president to the courts and through individual agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Recent executive orders signed by President Trump signal that his administration will take a tougher stance in enforcing INA laws. 

How it affects restaurants: The restaurant industry has a high proportion of workers who are immigrants. INA regulations impact their legal residency status in the U.S. and eligibility to work. Employers may not hire or employ persons who are in the U.S. illegally.

Photo: mrdoomits/iStock/Thinkstock

2. Employment-based immigration

What it is: Some immigrants may use visas specifically for employment to enter the U.S. These range from “persons of extraordinary ability” (artists, researchers, business people, etc.) to skilled and unskilled workers. As of 2014, “other unskilled labor,” which can include restaurant workers, was capped at 5,000 visas annually. By comparison, 40,000 visas were available annually for skilled workers holding college degrees.

How it is enforced: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) oversees employment-based immigration. Recent reports indicate that H1-B visa applications by skilled workers may now be scrutinized more closely. | How it affects restaurants: Regulations covering unskilled labor apply to the restaurant industry’s workforce.

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

3. Enforcement

What it is: Ensuring that regulations of the Immigration and Nationality Act are carried out.

How it is enforced: Immigration laws are enforced across the three branches of government. Agencies that deal with immigration laws include the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, USCIS, Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice. Examples of enforcement include questioning at ports of entry, the hearing of legal cases and detention.

How it affects restaurants: President Trump has recently called on his administration to take even stricter enforcement measures, such as publicizing crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants and tapping police officers to enforce immigration laws. These measures could impact restaurant workers who are undocumented.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

4. Detention

What it is: The holding by a government official of any migrant, including refugees and asylum-seekers, for the purpose of establishing their identity, carrying out an immigration claim, or removing them from the country.

How it is enforced: The agencies responsible for the enforcement of immigration laws, mentioned in No. 3, are also charged with carrying out detentions. Recent Department of Homeland Security documents show that President Trump is encouraging his administration to build new detention facilities.

How it affects restaurants: Immigrant employees of restaurants may face detention if their immigration status changes and they are no longer able to legally reside and work in the U.S.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

5. Sanctuary policies, DACA and the DREAM Act

What they are: Laws protecting certain groups of immigrants who may have entered the U.S. illegally. Sanctuary policies intend to limit the ability of law enforcement to arrest undocumented persons, but they do not prohibit arrest. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, allows some undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to defer deportation. The DREAM Act creates a pathway for young, undocumented immigrants to obtain permanent residency.

How they are enforced: Enforcement for each law varies. Despite Trump’s hard line on immigration during his presidential campaign, a recent expansion of immigration enforcement will not affect so-called “dreamers.”

How they affect restaurants: Immigrant employees of restaurants, particularly younger workers, may be affected by this legislation. Individuals covered by the DREAM Act will not be impacted by recent changes. However, Trump has indicated that he does not support sanctuary policies.

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

6. Executive order on secure borders

What it is: In late January, President Trump signed an executive order that intends to heighten border security by constructing a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, hastening deportations and creating partnerships between federal agents and local law enforcement.

How it is enforced: While construction of a border wall has not yet begun, and while partnerships between local and federal entities is not yet official, news of deportations has escalated.

How it affects restaurants: It’s not yet clear how a border wall will impact current immigration trends. But restaurant workers who are undocumented may face a greater chance of deportation.

Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

7. Executive order on foreign terrorist entry

What it is: President Trump signed an executive order in March that revised an earlier executive order from January that barred visa- and green-card-holders from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The updated executive order removes Iraq from that list, but still requires “additional scrutiny” for nationals of the remaining countries who wish to enter the United States. The stated purpose of the executive order is to protect the U.S. from foreign terrorists.

How it is enforced: The first iteration of the executive order saw enforcement at border crossings by ICE agents. Some individuals were detained and eventually deported, but some eventually gained entry into the U.S. The order was also enforced at the judicial level after several lawsuits were filed on behalf of detained persons. The lawsuits resulted in the reversal of the original version of the executive order.

How it affects restaurants: Restaurant workers may have ties to the six countries included in the latest version of the executive order. For those in the U.S., it could prevent them from leaving the country. Those outside the U.S. could be prevented from re-entering the country.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

 8. Tariffs on food

What it is: President Trump has proposed a tariff on all imports, across the board. Some reports estimate the tariff at 10 percent for all goods, but others report a 20-percent tariff on goods imported from Mexico.

How it is enforced: This proposal has not yet been enacted.

How it affects restaurants: Countless restaurants in the U.S. rely on imported food and beverage items. For instance, in 2015, the U.S. imported $4.8 billion of fresh vegetables from Mexico, the office of the Trade Representative says. Wine and beer account for $2.7 billion of imports.

Firefighters put out blaze in flat above fast food restaurant on Norwich's Prince of Wales Road

Topix - Thu, 2017-03-23 18:23

Five fire crews tackled a blaze above the Olive Tree restaurant on Prince of Wales Road just before 6pm today . Firefighters donned breathing apparatus and carried a hose up to put out the fire in the flat, which is owned by the same person as the kebab, burger and pizza shop.

Categories: Today's Food News