Hot Penny Stock Pick
UFood Restaurant Group, Inc.
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UFood Restaurant Group, Inc. (OTCBB:UFFC) is a franchisor and operator of eight healthy fast-casual food service restaurants under the name UFood Grill. Currently, UFFC’s franchise locations are operating in three states – Massachusetts, Texas, Ohio – and is uniquely positioning its brand to dominate the ‘Better for You’ restaurant category. UFFC’s growth strategy is centered around unit locations in non-traditional high traffic consumer locations, i.e., Airports, Travel Plazas, Hospitals, Military Bases, and Colleges.
UFFC has created a moving forward business model that competes effectively against major national players in both the Fast Casual and Quick Service Restaurant segments – the highest growth segments in the industry.
UFFC is led by franchise innovator George Naddaff, considered by many to be the “Guru of Franchising” who developed Boston Chicken/Boston Market into a national franchise brand led the franchising of several companies including Sylvan Learning Center and VR Business Brokerage.
UFFC is all about feeling great about the food we eat,-low carb, low fat, whole grain – and UFFC spokesman George Foreman is committed to this healthy living concept. The two-time former World Heavyweight Boxing Champion is dedicated to using his celebrity to help people learn to eat better, exercise and generally live healthier lives. What George Foreman found in UFFC is a partner perfectly aligned with this mission.
In 1997, a group of Bostonians had an innovative idea to address an emerging consumer need. Tim Kurtz and his wife-to-be, Joli, teamed with fitness center proprietor, Mike Gervais, to create Flex Appeal II, a high quality sports nutrition store. Quickly, the store developed a loyal cult following among fitness enthusiasts.
Soon after opening, the trio decided that their customers also wanted a restaurant where they could find mainstream food prepared in a healthy way. Tim had the perfect food expert in mind, his gym buddy Chris Pappas, who happened to be a chef. The four partners decided to expand their business and create a two-in-one concept that combined a healthy restaurant with an in-house nutrition center. In 1999 Lo Fat No Fat was born in Watertown, MA.
Five years of steady growth passed until one day, George Naddaff, franchising guru and founder of Boston Market, happened to be driving by the store. His curiosity was piqued by the long line curling out the door, so he pulled over to see what all the fuss was about. He was impressed not only by the number of customers and the taste of what he sampled, but also by the two-in-one restaurant plus nutrition center. This was something unlike anything he had ever seen!
In early 2004 George teamed with entrepreneurs Eric Spitz and Gary Jacobus, aquired Lo Fat No Fat, and founded KnowFat Franchise Company, an entity dedicated to growing a chain of better-for-you quick serve restaurant/retail outlets. As the concept grew it retained its loyal following and was loved by the press. Yet, they realized that the concept was not reaching many of the people to whom the offering would appeal. After careful research, the team changed the name to UFood Grill, emphasizing consumers’ various definitions of healthy eating and placing more of a spotlight on what had always been the most important thing – serving delicious food. Naddaff and his team are now opening UFood Grill locations throughout the U.S. with stores in airports, urban centers, and suburban storefronts. UFood Grill is committed to making it easy for people to eat smart.
UFFC announced today that the company has signed an agreement for global military base development of 26 UFood Grill units with MBUF, LLC, a private investment group of military veterans and a subsidiary of Dark Horse Capital Partners.
UFFC has begun construction on two UFood Grills at Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah. Part of the airport’s revitalized concessions program, the two UFood Grills are expected to open in late April, 2012. Airports present a strong growth opportunity for UFood Grill as travelers seek quick — but healthy — meal options. The company currently operates airport locations in Boston, Cleveland and Dallas.
UFFC has granted a territorial franchise agreement to ASA Capital Alliance for the development of 10 UFood Grill units in British Columbia. The first unit is projected to open in Vancouver by April 2012.
UFFC has begun construction on the first of three locations to open at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
UFFC recently reduced sodium by 20 percent in all of its breaded chicken menu items as part of the company’s core focus on continuing to offer customers at its urban, airport, hospital and military base locations food that is nutritionally sound and great tasting. These menu items include the Crispy Chicken Chopped Cobb Salad, Chicken Parmigiana Wrap and the kids’ Oven Crisped Chicken Fingers Meal. All of UFood’s breaded chicken items are baked, not fried.
UFFC has partnered with Nutritionix, a nutrition information software company, to launch an online nutrition calculator today, available at www.ufoodgrill.com.
UFood Grill – Their Story
UFood Grill is where delicious meets nutritious, because they offer better-for-you food, fast. Thry know what you want…healthy comfort food, ready when you are. And that’s what you’ll find at UFood Grill.
George Naddaff – Chairman and CEO
George Naddaff is considered by many to be the “Guru of Franchising”. He developed Boston Chicken/Boston Market into a national franchise brand and in 1992 sold it to a group of Blockbuster Video executives. In 1993 he shared in its record-setting IPO (143% first-day increase). Naddaff has founded and/or been significantly involved with several other successful concepts including: Mulberry Child Care Centers, which had over 90 company-owned childcare centers when it was sold to KinderCare; Sylvan Learning Centers, the nation’s leading after-school learning facilities; Ranch*1, a New York-based chain of grilled chicken sandwich restaurants; Living and Learning Schools, which operated more than 50 upscale childcare facilities and was sold to KinderCare; VR Business Brokers, the nation’s largest business brokerage franchise with over 350 offices, which was acquired in 1986 by Christies, London. Naddaff began his career in food service when he co-founded International Foods, which operated 19 KFC franchises in the Boston area and was sold in 1970.
Charlie Cocotas – President and Chief Operating Officer
Charlie Cocotas is a restaurant industry icon and has had a distinguished career in foodservice. He served with International Dairy Queen, a company with 4,000 units, where he was Executive Vice President in charge of its Golden Skillet chain. He joined George Naddaff in the early days of Boston Chicken as President and Chief Operating Officer and helped Mr. Naddaff launch the brand that is now Boston Market into a nationwide chain. In addition, Mr. Cocotas served as the President and CEO of TCBY systems where he helped turn around the troubled 2,000-store chain. He also served as Chief Operating Officer as part of a turnaround team for the 1,500-unit Church’s Fried Chicken chain. As Chairman of the Board and CEO of Best Friends Pet Care, Inc., Mr. Cocotas raised more than $100 million in capital to grow the chain of upscale pet grooming facilities. Mr. Cocotas earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University.
Tom Mackey – Senior Vice President, Operations
Tom Mackey has spent his entire career in the food and restaurant industry. Prior to joining the KnowFat! team, Mackey was president and chief operating officer of LoFat KnowFat where he oversaw all of the company’s operations. Prior to joining LFKF, he was the vice president of new growth for Metromedia Restaurant Group, parent of Bennigan’s, Steak & Ale, Ponderosa, Bonanza, and several other casual dining restaurant concepts. Before joining MRG, Mackey held various senior management positions including vice president of franchising within American Hospitality Concepts Incorporated (parent of Ground Round, Tin Alley Grill, et al.). He is a certified “Serve-Safe” instructor and has served as director of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Mackey holds a B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Irma Norton – CFO
Irma Norton is an operations-oriented financial executive with over 15 years experience with businesses ranging from start-ups to large multinational companies. Most recently, Norton was the controller for Handmade Bow Company, a privately held consumer products company. Prior to that position, Norton was the CFO for the Dunkin’ Donuts master franchisee in Mexico. In her five year tenure with Dunkin’ Donuts, she was instrumental in growing the chain from zero to 100 stores in Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tijuana. She also was a leader in the start-up of La Fabrica, a chain of convenience stores in Mexico owned by Minsa, a large publicly held flour processing company. Norton holds a B.A. degree in Accounting from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and is a graduate of the distinguished Executive Management Program of ITAM in Mexico City.
Pat Chiacchia – Vice President, Real Estate
Patrick Chiacchia has over 30 years of real estate development experience including several national multi-unit rollouts. He specializes in precise market planning for corporate and franchise territories, greenfield development, business acquisitions, owner-financed acquisitions, leases, 1031’s, and ground leases. Earlier in his career, Mr. Chiacchia served as the Director of Real Estate for Wienerwald GMBH, the largest chain of restaurants in Europe. He then served alongside UFood’s George Naddaff and Charles Cocotas as Boston Chicken’s Director of Real Estate. He later became Vice President of Real Estate in the Northeast Quadrant for Boston Market. He also worked with Mr. Cocotas as Vice President of Development for Best Friends Pet Resorts and Salons. For the past eight years Mr. Chiacchia has assisted public companies and start-up companies in developing their real estate departments and strategies, including Microsoft, Unilever USA, Wingstop, iFLOOR, and Rapido Rabbit Car Washes.
Walter Pomerleau – Vice President of Franchise Operations
Walter Pomerleau has been in the restaurant industry for 25 years. After graduating from UMass Amherst, Walter began his hospitality career with Ground Round Restaurants/American Hospitality, Inc.. He held various positions within multi-unit operations management for Ground Round where he won numerous achievement awards. Walter joined the UFood Grill Operations Team in 2005 and now serves as the Vice President of Franchising and Franchise Operations while also assisting with IT, Marketing, Training and Operations.
Recent UFFC News:
January 25 – UFood Restaurant Group Announces 26 Unit Area Development Agreement for Global Military Base Expansion With MBUF, LLC
UFood Restaurant Group, Inc. (OTC.BB: UFFC.OB – News) announced today that the company has signed an agreement for global military base development of 26 UFood Grill units with MBUF, LLC, a private investment group of military veterans and a subsidiary of Dark Horse Capital Partners.
The venture will launch with the upcoming opening of the first of three UFood Grills at Aberdeen Proving Ground military base in Maryland. Construction is underway at the first unit, with an estimated opening in March 2012 and closely followed by the opening of two additional units.
“As we enter the military with our upcoming opening at Aberdeen Proving Ground, we are setting the stage for growth in this important channel of expansion with this agreement,” said UFood Chairman and CEO George Naddaff. “MBUF is comprised of a group of experienced veterans who understand the needs of the military and are well positioned to lead us in identifying further opportunities in the military channel. We look forward to opening Aberdeen together as we map out further military base locations for UFood.”
“The military has had a great response to the UFood Grill concept,” said Francis L. Shea, managing partner, MBUF, LLC. “As a veteran myself, I know how important a balanced diet is to military fitness. By offering a healthy fast casual alternative to fast food, we believe that UFood will serve both the nutritional and the lifestyle needs of our military and their families, and their overall health.”
The place where “delicious meets nutritious,” UFood Grill is committed to offering consumers food that tastes great, is lower in calories and fat and, wherever possible, serves meals that are antibiotic and hormone-free, gluten-free as well as natural, grass-fed beef and cage-free eggs. UFood boasts a wide-ranging menu that includes lean burgers, rice bowls, salads, wraps, paninis and smoothies. In addition to airport locations in Boston, Cleveland and Dallas, construction is underway at two locations in the Salt Lake City airport which will open in April of this year.
UFood Restaurant Group
255 Washington Street, Suite 150
Newton, MA 02458
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