30-Year Industry Veteran Brings Legal Expertise to Growing Pizza Brand’s Sophisticated Executive Team
Toledo, OH (RestaurantNews.com) Marco’s Pizza, the nation’s fastest-growing pizza brand*, appoints Kristin Corcoran to Vice President – Corporate Counsel. This news comes on the heels of the recent appointments of Gerardo Flores – Chief Development Officer, David Gladstone – VP of Construction, and Paul Williams – VP of Real Estate as Marco’s strengthens its executive team while preparing for its next era of growth.
As a highly experienced legal professional, Corcoran has held top-level leadership roles in the industry for more than 30 years. Most recently, she served Of Counsel to DLA Piper, and previously was a Partner in Appleby & Corcoran, LLC, providing counsel to franchisor clients. Prior to her move to private practice, she was the Senior Associate General Counsel at Subway for 25 years. Corcoran brings a wealth of franchise and general business expertise to Marco’s. In her new position, Corcoran provides valuable support to the Marco’s legal team in day-to-day activities and works closely with the business units in her role serving as a legal advisor to the company.
“I am so pleased to have Kristin join our legal team. She is a highly accomplished attorney whose leadership, expertise, and business contributions have had a substantial, positive impact on the brands she’s advised,” said Marco’s Pizza Sr. Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Todd Watson. “Her experience navigating franchise law in previous positions makes her highly qualified for this new role. She is the right person to support our franchise regulatory and compliance functions as we dive into new and exciting strategic initiatives.”
Marco’s franchise expansion continues to accelerate with more than 200 stores in various stages of development and more than 350 agreements signed. Company leadership is prioritizing investments in enhancing the franchise development program, new technology, personnel, strategic vendor partnerships, multi-channel national advertising, and more – all with an eye on maximizing franchisee profits while meeting the needs of today’s modern customer.
“It’s an exciting time to join the Marco’s team,” said Corcoran. “With multiple projects in development, franchise expansion surging, and new partnerships being formed, it’s my goal to provide the legal advice needed to keep up with new trends, challenges, and opportunities, as Marco’s continues on the fast track to pizza royalty.”
The brand continues to rise in the ranks as Nation’s Restaurant News Top 500 Report shows Marco’s achieved the highest percent year-over-year sales change (+18.2%) when compared to the nation’s top 4 pizza brands**, making Marco’s the No. 5 pizza brand in systemwide sales in America.
With strong growth and performance, Marco’s now sets its sights on becoming the No. 4 brand in pizza as it experienced a 12.8% increase in year-over-year Average Unit Volume (AUV), and the Top 50% of Marco’s franchised stores generated $1,198,201 AUV for 2021***.
About Marco’s Pizza
Marco’s Pizza is America’s Most Loved and Most Trusted Pizza Brand, according to the 2019 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study. Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco’s Pizza is the fastest-growing pizza brand in the United States*. Marco’s was founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale (“Pat”) Giammarco and thrives to deliver a high-quality pizza experience, known for its dough made from scratch and its three fresh signature cheeses. The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate over 1,100 stores in 34 states with locations in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Most recently, Marco’s Pizza was ranked No. 2 in the Pizza category on Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2022 “Franchise 500” ranking, and No. 4 in the Fastest Growing category on Restaurant Business’ 2021 “Top 10 Fastest Growing Chains” ranking. Other recent accolades include a high ranking on Newsweek’s 2023 “America’s Best Customer Service” in pizza chains list, ranked No. 40 on QSR’s Top 50 and has been featured five consecutive years on Nation’s Restaurant News’ prestigious “Top 500” ranking.
Guajardo replaces Mandy Shaw, who led the fast-casual chain through the pandemic.
By Lisa Jennings on Jan. 04, 2023
Blaze Pizza signBlaze Pizza celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2022. /Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.
Beto Guajardo, the former president of Focus Brands International, was named CEO of Blaze Pizza on Wednesday.
Mandy Shaw this week announced her departure after five years in the CEO seat at Blaze Pizza, confirming earlier rumors, though she did not reveal her plans.
Shaw in a LinkedIn post said she was moving on to her next journey, after five “wild and fulfilling” years with the Pasadena, Calif.-based chain. After moving across the country as a single mom, Shaw said she wanted to spend more time with her family on the East Coast.
Guajardo spent more than three years with Atlanta-based Focus Brands, which is the franchisor and operator of more than 6,400 restaurants and snack shops under brands such as Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s. He first joined as president of Schlotzsky’s in 2019 and later took on the parent company’s international business.
Before joining Focus Brands, he was a senior vice president, global strategy for Starbucks, and he worked previously with Levi Stauss & Co. and Avon.
According to sister brand Technomic’s Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, Blaze had systemwide sales of $347 million in fiscal 2021, up 20% year over year. Blaze ended that year with 313 units and average unit volumes of $1.1 million.
Founded by Rick Wetzel, who also co-founded Wetzel’s Pretzels, and his wife Elise Wetzel, Blaze attracted big name celebrity backers early on, including NBA Star LeBron James, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner and former California First Lady Maria Shriver.
Founder Brandon Landry appoints Scott Taylor CEO
Baton Rouge, LA (RestaurantNews.com) Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux announced today that Founder Brandon Landry has appointed Scott Taylor to the Chief Executive Officer role. Landry will transition to Chairman of the Board of Directors. Taylor has served as Walk-On’s President and COO since joining the company in 2010.
Together, Landry and Taylor have evolved Walk-On’s from the original sports bar concept to a juggernaut in the casual dining space, offering Louisiana cuisine, elevated sports bar fare and American classics. The brand has more than 75 restaurants open across 13 states, a franchise pipeline of 100 more in various stages of development and expects to open 20 additional locations in 2023. Supported by strong systems and operations, the brand boasts systemwide average unit volumes of over $5 million.
“Over the past 12 years, Scott and I have built a culture and team that is focused on delivering best-in-class support and results for our franchise partners,” said Landry. “He is the natural choice to assume the CEO reins as the brand enters its 20th year.”
Walk-On’s has earned multiple local and national accolades, mostly recently being named Entrepreneur magazine’s #1 Sports Bar Franchise for the third year in a row. In 2015, football legend Drew Brees became a co-owner of the brand, and in 2020, private equity firm 10 Point Capital invested. Several current and former professional sports figures – including Dak Prescott, Dabo Swinney, Devon White and Derrick Brooks – are franchisees of the brand.
“It has been an honor to work alongside such a passionate founder to build this incredible brand,” commented Taylor. “I look forward to leading the continued growth of our team and franchise family, and bringing the Walk-On’s experience to more guests across the country.”
Taylor sits on a number of advisory boards in recognition of his deep restaurant expertise. Notably he is on advisory boards for the Louisiana Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Leadership Conference and he is the incoming Chair for the college of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management at the University of Florida.
About Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux
Based in Baton Rouge, Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux was founded in 2003 by Brandon Landry, a former walk-on basketball player at LSU. Leaning on the true spirit of a walk-on and building a winning culture, the brand is rapidly expanding across the United States. Its Louisiana-inspired menu features food and drinks made from scratch daily. Walk-On’s All-American Team serves up a game-day experience in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere that ensures every guest is a winner. For more information, visit walk-ons.com.
Internal promotions and opportunities for professional growth highlight changes
Columbus, OH (RestaurantNews.com) Since its beginning in 1963, Donatos has prided itself on being a business that cares about its people as much as the premium pizza that it serves. To that end, the soon-to-be 60-year-old family company recently announced several leadership promotions and the creation of a pathway for more internal growth for restaurant leadership and training personnel that will all take effect on January 3.
“Our people are our most valuable resource and we are really excited about this announcement of internal promotions and growth opportunities,” said Kevin King, President of Donatos. “This gives our associates a clearer look at the steps they can take to continue to move up in our company. We have such talented people and this is a great way for them to find a career with us that both challenges them and best utilizes their skills.”
Headlining the promotions is the selection of Tony Capuano for the role of Vice President of Franchise Operations. A third-generation member of the Donatos founding family, Capuano has spent the past three years in Ops Development and District Manager roles within the company serving most recently as a District Manager for five company restaurants. Capuano also has 10 years of entrepreneurial experience through his ownership of several local SNAP Fitness gyms.
“Tony has already made an impact in his time at Donatos,” said King. “In his new role, he will have the opportunity to work directly with our franchise partners to help them build their sales and profitability. We are excited for him to be in this role and are confident he will continue our great relationship with our franchise partners.”
The next new leadership position is the creation of the new role of Vice President of Field Training and Ops Excellence that will be filled by Cheryl Bergsman. Bergsman brings over 32 years of Donatos field operations experience to the role and a passion for supporting operations through training and development. Most recently, she has spent the past three years as the Vice President of Company Operations where she led the Columbus company restaurants through the challenges they faced during the pandemic.
“Cheryl’s leadership in our company restaurants the past three years has been incredible,” said King. “She helped guide our associates through unprecedented times. We are really excited for her to be able to put her passion for people and training to great use in this important new role that is essential as our brand continues to grow.”
The third leadership addition is the hiring of Brian Thompson to serve as the Vice President of Company Operations. Thompson is no stranger to Donatos as he has over 30 years of field restaurant experience that began in 1992 when he started his career with Donatos. He has been both a general manager and a district manager in Columbus, and for the past 12 years he has served as the Vice President for Restaurant Operations for Titan Restaurant Group, a Donatos franchise partner, during which he oversaw 40 restaurants across three states.
“Brian is a results-oriented leader with a track record for driving sales, improving profitability, and growing people,” said King. “He possesses a leadership lens from within and outside the Columbus market that can enhance our open-minded culture and inspire even greater innovation.”
One additional promotion is elevating Brie Williams into the role of Manager of People Experience and Culture. Another third-generation member of the Donatos founding family, Williams has quickly established herself as a key part of the People Services team.
“Brie has a proven track record of talent acquisition and associate onboarding success,” said King. “She has a passion for developing and executing strategies to attract, onboard, engage, and retain talent as well as enhance our ‘Every piece is important’ associate brand.”
Besides these new leadership appointments, additional positions have been created to allow for internal professional development to prepare the next group of operations and training leaders in the company. Two Senior District Manager positions and two Area Coach positions will be filled from within as well as a Field Training Manager position for both franchise and Columbus operations. A Director of Organizational Development will be added to the People Services Department through internal promotion and a Columbus Recruiter will be hired. Additionally, six new associates are being added to the IT team to bring more of the technology expertise in-house to help provide an industry-leading omni-channel guest experience.
“As we head into 2023, we are really excited about the team that we have in place to continue our growth,” said King. “Big things are on the horizon as we continue to fulfill our promise to serve the best pizza and make your day a little better.”
Donatos features the Edge to Edge® pizza, created by Jim Grote who founded Donatos in 1963. With 431 locations in 27 states, Donatos and its franchise partners operate 173 traditional restaurants in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Donatos’ products are also proudly served in 258 non-traditional locations (248 locations with Red Robin, nine sports and entertainment venues, and one REEF Kitchen). For more information about Donatos, visit donatospizzafranchise.com, like on Facebook or follow on Twitter and Instagram.