Looking back on 2021, Inspire reached several milestones while maintaining incredible momentum – all amid an ongoing pandemic. It’s hard to believe that December marked the one-year anniversary of Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins joining the Inspire family. Just four years ago, the brands in our portfolio were operating as five separate companies. And that’s just scratching the surface of all we’ve accomplished together.
Foster a Winning Culture and Organization
Inspire was selected as a 2021 U.S. Best Managed Company – a program sponsored by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal to recognize outstanding U.S. private companies and the achievements of their management teams.
Giving back to the communities in which we live and work remained a top priority throughout 2021. SONIC’s Limeades for Learning program reached a record donation milestone of $20 million, Inspire teamed up with Patrick the Giver to donate over 2,000 meals to healthcare workers, Buffalo Wild Wings raised over $200,000 for Boys and Girls Club of America, and Dunkin’ launched a new signature program, Dunkin’ Connecting Joy, to donate to children’s hospitals.
The Arby’s Foundation provided 1 million meals to children in need and partnered with No Kid Hungry to create a memorable mural in Atlanta. Jimmy John’s also launched their Foundation and subsequent partnership with Boys and Girls Club of America.
Inspire also launched the Great Behaviors Road Trip in the summer of 2021. A select group of team members, known as Behavior Ambassadors, were nominated by leadership for their commitment to and demonstration of our core behaviors: Maverick, Ally, Visionary, Achiever, and Good Citizen.
Our Behavior Ambassadors each embarked on a road trip to different cities across the U.S. to celebrate restaurant team members and their leaders who exemplify Inspire’s core behaviors and their brand values.
Inspire also launched the Igniting Dreams Grant Program as part of our People First initiative, a program designed to help restaurant team members reach their educational goals. Through the program, more than $200,000 in grants were awarded to restaurant team members.
Deliver Extraordinary Support to the Brands that Serve our Guests
In 2021, Inspire continued to place an emphasis on technology and innovation by expanding our Commercial Services function to include Demand Generation. By developing an operating model that ensures the right content is delivered to our guests through the right channel, the Demand Generation team will grow our guest base and deepen our relationships to increase traffic at our restaurants.
We also refined several of our traditional restaurant formats. After opening its first GO location in Atlanta in 2020, Buffalo Wild Wings continued to expand the concept – opening 14 more GO locations in areas like Denver, Phoenix, and San Antonio in 2021. The GO locations are designed specifically for takeout and delivery orders.
SONIC dropped a brand-new merch collection, dubbed Local SONIC Swag, to celebrate the meaningful connections made with guests at drive-ins across the country. The collection, brought to life by Detroit-based artist Kelly Golden, featured 46 one-of-a-kind designs to reflect the uniqueness of the 46 states where SONIC operates. The collection also included the coveted Limited Edition America’s Got Talent Tumbler Replica used by the show’s judges.
Curate and Grow a Portfolio of Distinct, Highly Valued Brands
We successfully completed 524 domestic restaurant openings in 2021 – helping to push our restaurant total over 32,000 worldwide.
Arby’s proved they not only have the meats, but the vodka, too. In 2021, Arby’s introduced two distinctive flavors of vodka, distilled with ingredients that pay homage to the Curly and Crinkle Fry flavor profiles.
Baskin-Robbins closed out the year by announcing their 13th and final Pint-Sized Hero, an initiative that highlights youth who are positively impacting their communities.
Buffalo Wild Wings collaborated with Doritos to launch a limited-edition Spicy Sweet Chili flavored sauce to deliver a unique experience to fans of chicken wings and Doritos alike.
Dunkin’ stayed busy offering guests plenty of sweet treats, including the introduction of Sweet Cold Foam to top its Cold Brews.
Jimmy John’s satisfied summer cravings with their mouthwatering Summer Sandwich Wraps, which included the Chicken Caesar Wrap and Beefy Ranch Wrap. The brand also launched their first commercial during the Big Game, announced a partnership with Walmart to now offer Jimmy Chips, and introduced the Beefy Black & Bleu Sandwich, a limited time offer that was available throughout the month of November.
SONIC created some culinary masterpieces in 2021 to tout their burger innovation, including the Mesquite Butter Bacon Cheeseburger, the Bacon Jam Cheeseburger, and resurrected two beloved classics – the Patty Melt and Garlic Butter Bacon Burger.
Be the Partner of Choice
Inspire continued to push the needle on innovation by investing in Engage, an Atlanta-based corporate venture platform whose mission is to elevate Atlanta as a leading technology and innovation hub by bringing together industry-leading organizations and technology startups.
Buffalo Wild Wings debuted Greatest of All Times, an exciting marketing campaign that kicked off college football season and tapped into that sense of competition that fans know and love. The brand partnered with Converge Technology Solutions to measure guests’ cheers and roars during games, along with wings eaten and Blazin’ Challenges completed, to ultimately determine which sports bar truly had the greatest night of all time.
In April, Inspire announced the opening of the Inspire Innovation Center. Based in Atlanta, the Inspire Innovation Center is a 15,000-square foot facility dedicated to testing technology, design, and engineering to optimize operations and provide a better overall experience for our guests. In partnership with Miso Robotics, one groundbreaking piece of technology to emerge from the Inspire Innovation Center is Flippy Wings – a robotic chicken wing frying solution designed to help kitchen team members handle and cook chicken more safely and efficiently.
Inspire also opened Alliance Kitchen in November – a ghost kitchen servicing the Atlanta area and the first of its kind launched, owned, and operated by a multi-brand restaurant company. A Flippy Wings unit has since been installed at Alliance Kitchen.
Dunkin’ now has more than 1,500 locations in its modern Next Gen design, and in September they launched their first digital-only store in Boston. The brand also opened 26 new restaurants and 8 multi-brand locations with Baskin-Robbins across Texas, and announced Anomaly as the brand’s new creative agency of record.
In addition to our domestic restaurant openings, we also successfully completed 838 international openings across our brands, for a total of 1,362 new restaurant openings worldwide.
In July, Dunkin’ opened its first restaurant in Morocco in Rabat City, featuring special donut flavors like Speculoos and Chocolate Hazelnut. The brand also launched its first bike-thru lane in the Philippines. Baskin-Robbins also tapped into the North African market, opening its first location in Morocco in Casablanca City in 2021.
Arby’s broke into a new market when they announced the opening of their first restaurant in Puerto Rico over the summer, featuring unique menu items like Criollo Sandwiches, Toasted Sandwiches, and Breakfast Platters. The brand opened a total of three restaurants in Puerto Rico last year.
Buffalo Wild Wings increased their footprint throughout Mexico, India, and the United Arab Emirates, demonstrating the brand’s rapid international expansion.
Inspire continues to build a diverse, complementary family of brands – each of which have exciting activations and initiatives on the horizon for 2022. As our brands continue to grow individually and collectively, we recognize none of this would be possible without the diligent work of our support centers, restaurant team members, field team members, franchisees, and suppliers.