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Moe's being sold

Boro franchise looks forward to change

Atlanta-based Raving Brands has entered into an agreement to sell its Tex-Mex chain, Moe’s Southwest Grill LLC, to Focus Brands, operator of Carvel and Cinnabon shops. Raving Brands said a definitive agreement was signed this past weekend with Focus Brands.
    News of the sale agreement follows a federal lawsuit filed against Moe’s on March 30 by nearly two-dozen franchisees and their financial backers who have asked that a receiver be appointed to run the chain.
    Local Moe’s franchisee, Jack Slaton, said he is not part of the franchise group that is suing Moe’s.
    The suit alleges that the chain improperly took advertising dollars from the franchisees and failed to give money collected from restaurants to a charity as promised. The suit accuses Moe’s and Raving Brands Inc. of fraud, breach of contract, racketeering and other offenses.
    “I can only say on the whole, that we are really satisfied,” Slaton said. “I am not aware of anything wrong that has been done by the folks that run Moe’s. I prefer to leave it up to the litigators and the lawyers to determine that.”
    Slaton said he is very excited about the changes that Moe’s is putting in place and is glad that the current development team is going to continue to work for the new owners.
    “We feel like the team that has been put together to run Moe’s going forward is really outstanding,” Slaton said. “It is our understanding that they will stay.”
Slaton said Moe’s is coming out with a more customer friendly menu and several new products in the next few months.
    “We are going to have a chicken club quesadilla and a bacon, cheese ground beef burrito as some of our new offerings,” he said.
    Slaton said he isn’t surprised that Moe’s is being sold and believes it is unrelated to the lawsuit that was filed.
    “It is my understanding that the chain has been up for sale for the past year,” Slaton said. “It is the most successful chain that Raving Brands has. I guess the owner wants to use the proceeds from the sale to continue the development of new restaurant concepts.”
    Other restaurant concepts owned by Raving Brands include The Flying Biscuit Café, Boneheads, P.J.’s Coffee, Monkey Joe’s, Mama Fu’s, Doc Green’s, and Shane’s Rib Shack.
    Moe’s Southwest Grill was launched in 2000. There are 344 Moe’s locations in 38 states. It has nearly $300 million in annual system wide sales.
    The presiden tand CEO of Focus Brands, Steve Romaniello, said that the basic experience patrons get when they come into Moe’s will not change once Focus Brands takes over the Moe’s brand.
    “Certain elements of the brand – its quirky, its friendly atmosphere, its ‘Welcome to Moe’s' greeting – I can’t see changing,” he said.
    The Statesboro Moe’s is located on Brannen Street near the intersection of Brannen and Gentilly Road.
    The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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