LEHI, Utah, May 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Today, R&R BBQ appointed industry veteran Neil Harfert as president to lead the fast-growing restaurant chain in its next chapter of growth. Founders, Rod and Roger Livingston, will be retiring to pursue other interests.
“Neil is a proven and respected leader who has delivered strong operating results through a long career in the food and beverage industry, with powerhouse brands like Qdoba, Modern Market Eatery and MOD Pizza,” said Greg Warnock, a member of the R&R BBQ board of directors and managing partner of Mercato Partners’ Savory Fund. “I am confident that Neil will continue to lead our executive team and 350-plus team members to achieve great success and carry on the incredible brand the Livingstons created over five years ago.”
Harfert brings over 26 years of experience operating and growing successful restaurant chains. Prior to joining R&R BBQ, Harfert served as Vice President of Field Operations for MOD Pizza where he helped lead the chain through explosive growth from 25 restaurants in five states to more than 255 units in 18 states over a five-year period. His experience also includes heading up operations for other polished casual restaurant chains like Modmarket Farm Fresh Eateries, Qdoba Mexican Eats, and others.
“Having served in leadership capacities for over 26 years in the restaurant industry, I am excited for this opportunity to work with such a beloved brand that is poised for great success,” said Harfert. “The Livingstons created the best championship BBQ concept I have seen in America. That is why I decided to move my family from Seattle to Salt Lake City – to make sure more people have the opportunity to enjoy the amazing food that R&R BBQ smokes each day as we grow throughout the Western United States.”
Under Rod and Roger Livingston’s leadership, the company grew from a championship BBQ competition team to a chain of eight restaurants along the Wasatch Front. The duo’s passion for great BBQ has made R&R BBQ a beloved brand, and one of the state’s fastest-growing restaurant chains.
“We have loved serving this community for the past five years. It has been one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives,” said Rod Livingston. “We hope all of our guests will continue to enjoy our championship BBQ for years to come.”
Roger Livingston said, “It is exciting to see how far we have come from the early days of R&R BBQ to now. Rod and I are so grateful for the entire community’s support.”
R&R BBQ was born out of the top spot as Utah’s best competition barbeque team—a position the Livingstons proudly hold today. With eight locations serving the Wasatch front, one in the Vivint Smart Home Arena and a full-service catering kitchen, R&R is currently the leader in Southern BBQ in the Beehive State. Additional locations will be added within the state and surrounding geographies in the coming months and years.
Popular quick-service restaurant hires industry veteran to oversee marketing strategy
Westrum brings more than 26 years of experience to his new role at Taco John’s. Prior to joining Taco John’s, Westrum held several different leadership positions at YUM! Brands for nearly 20 years. Most notably, he served as senior director of brand marketing for Taco Bell Corp., chief marketing officer for A&W and Long John’s Silver Restaurants, and chief marketing officer for KFC Corporation. From 2012 to 2017, he was executive vice president of marketing for International Dairy Queen and most recently served as chief marketing officer of Del Taco.
“Barry brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team at Taco John’s,” Creel said. “He has been a leader in the industry for many years and has a proven track record of success working in marketing for several other popular quick-service restaurants. We have full confidence that his skills will add incredible value to our brand.”
Westrum will reside in the new Minneapolis satellite office of Taco John’s, allowing the brand to tap into the considerable marketing and culinary resources the city provides. As chief marketing officer, he will oversee brand and marketing strategy, advertising, digital innovation, menu development, creative services and the overall brand experience for Taco John’s.
“I am thrilled to take on my new position at Taco John’s,” Westrum said. “This is a widely successful company that has established itself as a staple in many communities for its signature items and specials. Taco John’s is already a bold brand, but I look forward to taking its marketing to the next level.”
With its fusion of distinctive flavors and south-of-the-border spices, the Taco John’s menu offers several signature items, including Meat & Potato Burritos, Stuffed Grilled Tacos and Potato Olés®. Taco John’s features signature specials like Taco Tuesday® and discounted breakfast burritos on Wake Up Wednesday!® Download the Taco John’s App and like Taco John’s Facebook page for exclusive deals.
About Taco John’s®
Founded in 1969 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Taco John’s® has been serving bigger. bolder. better. flavors for more than 50 years. Now, Taco John’s operates and franchises nearly 400 restaurants in 22 states – making it one of the largest Mexican quick-service restaurant brands in America. With bold originals like Potato Olés®, Taco John’s knows how to Olé The Day. Taco John’s prides itself on serving generous portions of its signature menu items that are made-to-order using fresh, high-quality ingredients, seasonings and sauces. Taco John’s is led by CEO Jim Creel who was recently named one of “The Most Influential Restaurant CEOs in the Country” by Nation’s Restaurant News. For more information, visit tacojohns.com and follow Taco John’s on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Atlanta, GA (RestaurantNews.com) FOCUS Brands (the “Company”), a parent company of Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, Schlotzsky’s®, and Seattle’s Best Coffee® (in certain military bases and in certain international markets), announced that Beto Guajardo will lead its international business, effective at the end of the month. Beto succeeds Mike Kehoe, who has chosen to leave the company after nearly five years with FOCUS Brands. Tory Bartlett, currently Chief Customer Experience Officer of Schlotzsky’s, will become the COO and Brand Leader of Schlotzsky’s.
Beto joined FOCUS Brands in September of 2019 as the President of Schlotzsky’s®. “When considering who would take the reins of our international business, we didn’t need to look far. In the short time that Beto led Schlotzsky’s, he’s demonstrated exceptional strategic ingenuity in the transformation of the Schlotzsky’s brand. His leadership ability, motivational approach, and executional acumen have been instrumental in achieving many successes during his tenure,” said Jim Holthouser, CEO of FOCUS Brands.
Beto has spent more than 25 years as a senior executive and management consultant. He most recently served as Senior Vice President, Global Strategy at Starbucks Coffee Company. Earlier in his career, he spent eight years in management consulting with McKinsey & Company and Deloitte Consulting, LLP. In these roles, Beto was responsible for developing and implementing global brand transformation and growth strategies over five continents and in more than 30 countries, gaining a vast knowledge of the diversity across international markets. In addition, he has lived abroad in both Singapore and Hong Kong. “I am incredibly excited and privileged to have the opportunity to work with our FOCUS Brands global leaders and international franchisees to drive breakthrough innovation and growth,” adds Beto Guajardo.
Tory Bartlett has over two decades of brand, operations and franchise executive leadership with Hooters as well as Tin Lizzy’s and Southern Proper Hospitality Group. He came into Schlotzsky’s one year ago and made a tremendous impact, driving value for franchisees and rallying the team.
“We are fortunate to be able to promote incredible talent from within when leadership opportunities present themselves. Beto’s experience and accomplishments as a strategist and transformational leader and his ability to bring a critical eye and global perspective is imperative to leading our international business to many years of future success. Similarly, Tory’s relationships with franchisees, impeccable operational management style and business acumen make him a logical successor as Schlotzsky’s brand leader,” said Kat Cole, President and COO of FOCUS Brands. “Both will raise the bar and enable the strategic capabilities that continue to drive expansion for our franchisees and brands.”
About FOCUS Brands
Atlanta-based FOCUS Brands is a leading developer of global multi-channel foodservice brands. FOCUS Brands, through its affiliate brands, is the franchisor and operator of more than 6,000 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes, and bakeries in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and over 50 foreign countries under the brand names Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, and Schlotzsky’s®, as well as Seattle’s Best Coffee® on certain military bases and in certain international markets. Please visit www.focusbrands.com to learn more.
SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) announced today that Darin Harris has been appointed by its Board of Directors as Chief Executive Officer and will join the Jack in the Box Board of Directors, both effective on the start of his employment no later than June 15, 2020. The Board of Directors has elected David Goebel to serve as non-executive Chairman of the Board, effective when Harris begins employment with the company.
Harris has more than 25 years of experience leading franchised and corporate multi-unit retail and service businesses. Most recently, Harris has served as Chief Executive Officer of North America for IWG PLC (“IWG”), the holding group for several leading providers of over 1,000 flexible workspaces. Brands in the IWG portfolio include Regus, Spaces, HQ, No18 and Signature by Regus.
Harris has extensive leadership experience in the restaurant industry encompassing operations, franchising, brand strategy and restaurant development. Most notably, Harris is the former Chief Executive Officer of CiCi’s Pizza. Harris also previously held franchise leadership roles as Senior Vice President at Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. and Vice President, Franchise and Corporate Development at Captain D’s Seafood, Inc. He was also a prior franchise operator of Papa John’s Pizza and Qdoba Mexican Grill.
“We are enthusiastic about the breadth of experience Darin brings to the Jack in the Box team. Darin is a proven leader with a strong background in franchised organizations, both in leadership positions and as a franchisee himself. I am confident in his ability to lead this organization and continue to elevate the Jack in the Box business for guests, employees, and franchisees.” said David Goebel, current independent Lead Director.
Harris will leave his current position as Chief Executive Officer of North America, IWG PLC to join Jack in the Box Inc. He joined IWG in April 2018, where he developed a clear and focused strategy for the business and a disciplined process for execution in key areas of operations, business development, customer service, revenue, and profit objectives. Prior to that, Harris was Chief Executive Officer of CiCi’s Enterprises, LP, from August 2013 to February 2018 in Dallas, Texas, where he was responsible for both CiCi’s Pizza, an American pizza buffet restaurant chain with over 400 locations, and JMC Distribution LP, a restaurant distribution company. Harris has an MBA from Xavier University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Creighton University.
“I am thrilled to join this strong leadership team and build a great future for the Jack in the Box brand, our talented employees, and all Jack in the Box franchisees. Given my extensive background in franchising, brand building, and operations, I have been able to observe the potential of this company, and I look forward to leading the organization toward this potential,” said Harris. “My first order of business will be to learn this iconic brand and listen to our team members, partners, and franchisees on how best to serve our guests.”
Harris takes over from Lenny Comma, who announced his intent to retire in December 2019 and has served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board since 2014. Comma’s last day with Jack in the Box will be effective upon Harris’ start date, at which time Comma will also leave the Board of Directors.
“On behalf of the Jack in the Box Board of Directors, I would like to personally thank Lenny for his commitment to the company over his 18 years at Jack in the Box, and specifically his fearless leadership over the last six-plus years as CEO and Chairman. Lenny has had an enormous impact on the company with countless accomplishments, including driving same-store sales growth every year as CEO with industry-leading margins, transforming the business model from a multi-branded mixed model of franchise and company restaurants to a single-branded, primarily franchised company, all while developing the people and culture in the organization. We appreciate the continuity that Lenny will provide as a result of this transition and we wish him well in all his future endeavors,” said Goebel.
About Jack in the Box Inc.
Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK), based in San Diego, is a restaurant company that operates and franchises Jack in the Box® restaurants, one of the nation’s largest hamburger chains, with more than 2,220 restaurants in 21 states. Known as the pioneer of all-day breakfast, and the late night category, Jack in the Box prides itself on being the curly fry in a world of regular fries. For more information on Jack in the Box, including franchising opportunities, visit www.jackinthebox.com. If you have media inquiries, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.