Lawrence Hartzog’s dreams of running a successful fried chicken restaurant came true when he opened his first Hartz Chicken Buffet in southern Texas 40 years ago. The restaurant earned a reputation for having some of the best fried chicken in the South, and its fair prices and commitment to old-fashioned customer service enticed patrons to keep coming back. Before long, the restaurants began to multiply, and Hartz became a staple eatery in the Houston marketplace. 

Carlota Murillo’s traditional Mexican delicacies have come a long way since her days of pushing a cart full of gorditas to sell in the streets of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. Today, Gorditas Doña Tota has moved off the sidewalk and into malls throughout Mexico. As evidenced by a successful launch into the competitive Texas marketplace, Gorditas Doña Tota continues to grow in popularity even 60 years after Murillo first began bringing her cart to well-traversed pedestrian routes.

People like to be free to choose what they eat, even when it comes to selecting ingredients. And giving the customers that power has made Genghis Grill’s concept quite appealing, CEO Al Bhakta says. “The customer is in charge of their own destiny” at the chain’s locations, he declares.

The culture within the Peter Piper Pizza organization is a resemblance of the customers it aims to serve – families. Though it has 35 corporate restaurants and 100 franchise locations domestically and internationally, Peter Piper Pizza has managed to say tight-knit and supportive while providing endless fun and great food – functioning just as family should. 

What is the “secret sauce” that kept Winger’s USA growing from one to 41 locations? Well, it’s the “Original Amazing Sauce!” “There are a million sauces, and I can say we just have a huge following of guests and loyal customers who are just, quite frankly, addicted to Winger’s original sauce,” President Eric Slaymaker maintains. “It has a little bit of a unique character and quality to it.”

If clothes make the man, a restaurant’s décor can draw attention and new business to it. Sizzler USA franchisee Murray Gast, co-owner of 11 Sizzler locations in Oregon, emphasizes that his customers are attracted by the extensive makeover of his restaurant in Medford, Ore. “I think it’s very exciting,” he says about the remodeling. “It’s modern and attractive to younger guests. It’s bright, and it adds lots of color.”

When DBMC Rest­au­r­ants LLC purchased Santé Fe Cattle Co., they brought in John Lush as president. Lush knew the competition in the casual-dining category would be fierce given the current economic and competitive environment. Everyone hopes to catch the next big wave in food trends and the atmosphere and value pricing that will make them the destination of choice for demographics of all ages, income brackets and family sizes. 

A restaurant franchise founded out of a simple need for a healthier lunch option is continuing to expand. Roly Poly founders Linda Wolf and Julie Reid conceived the idea for the restaurant in 1996, when the two were looking for a quick and nutritious lunch option. With the usual options of hamburgers, fried chicken or overstuffed submarine sandwiches out of the question, they decided to make their own mark on the traditional sandwich, the company says.

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