Executive Movements – March 2018

FatburgerFAT Brands Names Toni M. Bianco as Fatburger President and Chief Operating Officer

Bianco Brings Extensive International And Partnership Experience To The Company

(Another stellar Wray Search placement)

February 20, 2018–LOS ANGELES, CA–(BusinessWire)

FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: FAT), parent company of Fatburger, announces the hiring of Toni M. Bianco as President and Chief Operating Officer of Fatburger. As the newest addition to the Fatburger executive team, Toni will work side-by-side with longstanding Chief Executive Officer Andy Wiederhorn to further expand Fatburger’s presence worldwide. In addition, after 15 years of outstanding service, former Fatburger President and Chief Operating Officer Don Berch told will be transitioning to a new role as Executive Vice President and Chief Concept Officer for FAT Brands, where he will assist in the development of innovative new concept designs across FAT Brands’ portfolio.

Bianco brings over 15 years of experience in the franchise management space. Prior to joining Fatburger, Bianco oversaw significant international expansion deals for Papa John’s, where he drove more than 30 new openings, primarily in Asia. Most recently, he managed global operations, training, development and IT for the growing Long John Silver’s brand. His actions led to the highest customer satisfaction in years and 16 consecutive periods of same-store sales growth.

“I’ve always been drawn to brands like Fatburger that offer a vivid history and culture, yet continue to push themselves toward a promising and exciting future,” said Toni M. Bianco, President and Chief Operating Officer of Fatburger. “It’s beyond exciting to think about the possibilities with this brand.”

Andy Wiederhorn, Chief Executive Officer of Fatburger and FAT Brands Inc., commented, “Toni brings extensive experience and insight that will be integral to the continued growth of the brand. We are grateful for all that Don has accomplished for us at Fatburger, and look forward to what he can do across all concepts under the FAT umbrella. As Fatburger enters the ring with our larger competitors, I’m confident Toni will be an indispensable asset to the corporate and franchisee team.”

FAT Brands (NASDAQ: FAT) is a leading global franchising company that strategically acquires, markets and develops fast casual and casual dining restaurant concepts around the world. The Company currently owns five restaurant brands, Fatburger, Buffalo’s Cafe, Buffalo’s Express and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, that have approximately 350 locations open and 300 under development in 32 countries.

About Fatburger

An all-American, Hollywood favorite, Fatburger is a fast-casual restaurant serving big, juicy, tasty burgers, crafted specifically to each customer’s liking. With a 70-year legacy, Fatburger’s extraordinary quality and taste inspire fierce loyalty amongst its fan base, which includes a number of A-list celebrities and athletes. Featuring a contemporary design and ambiance, Fatburger offers an unparalleled dining experience, demonstrating the same dedication to serving gourmet, homemade, custom-built burgers as it has since 1952 – The Last Great Hamburger Stand™.

JimboysJimboy’s Tacos Names Todd Swiderski as Director of Operations

Industry Pro to Lead Operational Management for the Home of the Original American Taco

March 12, 2018–FOLSOM, CA–(RestaurantNews)

Jimboy’s TacosHome of The Original American Taco, is proud to announce the appointment of Todd Swiderski as Director of Operations. Leveraging more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Swiderski most recently served as vice president of operations for Chicago Fire Pizza. In his new role, Swiderski will be responsible for streamlining operations and introducing new practices with the goal of reducing costs, increasing profitability amongst Jimboy’s franchise partners and improving the guest experience.

“We are thrilled to add an operations pro of Todd’s caliber to our talented leadership team, especially during such a pivotal time in our brand’s 64-year history,” said Bob Andersen, CEO of Jimboy’s Tacos. “It’s an exciting time for Jimboy’s as we introduce our updated look to longtime and future fans and make our mark in new territories like Southern California. Jimboy’s is in growth mode and we’re confident Todd will help to ensure that our operations programs are top-notch.”

In the past year, Jimboy’s has undergone a brand reimage and introduced several major enhancements including an updated restaurant prototype as well as technologies to improve the efficiency of day-to-day operations. Recently Jimboy’s launched online ordering along with a mobile app and loyalty program to bring an extra layer of convenience and value to guests. Swiderski will support the continuation of these advancements, overseeing both company and franchise operations including franchise development, real estate, training, customer relations, store design and construction.

“As a NorCal native, I have been a longtime fan of the legendary Jimboy’s parmesan-dusted taco, so joining the Jimboy’s leadership team is an exciting opportunity for me,” said Swiderski. “I am very impressed with Jimboy’s refreshed image which remains true to its roots; and I’m looking forward to working closely with the executive team and franchisees as we continue to grow this enduring and beloved brand.”

Currently operating or franchising 40 locations, largely throughout Northern California, Jimboy’s will begin opening restaurants in Southern California this Spring as part of a 20-unit franchise deal. The first will open in Huntington Beach right on the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, followed by Brea and Irvine. 

About Jimboy’s Tacos

Known today as the Home of the Original American Taco, Jimboy’s Tacos got its start from a food trailer in King’s Beach, Tahoe, CA in 1954, when founder Jim “Jimboy” Knudson made it his goal to pioneer the best tasting taco out there. Made fresh with seasoned ground beef, freshly shredded cheese and lettuce in a crispy stone-ground corn shell dusted with parmesan cheese, the brand’s beloved best-selling Original Ground Beef Taco continues to be enjoyed by loyal guests along with its well-rounded menu of fast and affordable choices including tacos, grilled burritos, salads, enchiladas, fries and more. With 40 locations across California and Nevada, Jimboy’s has set its sights on strategic expansion throughout the Western region of the United States, and is projected to double in size by the end of 2019. With a refreshed marketing strategy and reimagined restaurant design featuring a modern look and flexible footprint, as well as a simple operations model and relatively low cost of entry, Jimboy’s presents an attractive franchising opportunity for passionate candidates interested in growing with the brand. For more information about the Jimboy’s brand, locations, menu, franchising opportunities and more, please visit www.jimboystacos.com.

Bojangles LogoBojangles’ CEO Clifton Rutledge Resigns

Company names James “Randy” Kibler to interim post

March 6, 2018–(NRN)

Bojangles’ Inc. president and CEO Clifton Rutledge has resigned due to personal reasons, the company said Monday, and board director James “Randy” Kibler will fill the role on an interim basis.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based parent to the Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ‘n Biscuits chain said it had begun a search for a permanent president and CEO.

“After 40 years in the restaurant industry, including four-plus years as president and CEO of Bojangles’, I have decided it’s time to step down and take some time to enjoy my family,” Rutledge said in a statement.

Bojangles’ named Rutledge CEO in January 2014. He had previously served as COO of Whataburger, and he succeeded Kibler in the role.

Kibler has served as a Bojangles’ director since August 2011 and was a director and non-executive chairman from 2014 to 2016. He served as president, CEO and director of Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc., a company subsidiary, from 2007 to 2014. Prior to Bojangles’, Kibler was president of Kibler-Mitchell Enterprises Inc., a restaurant company in Spartanburg, S.C.

“We appreciate Randy stepping into these roles on a temporary basis,” said William Kussell, a Bojangles’ director and non-executive chairman, in a statement. “The board is fully confident in his ability to lead the Bojangles’ team until we can complete the process of identifying a suitable replacement.”

Kussell added that Kibler had an understanding of Bojangles’ operations from his prior positions.

“His familiarity and leadership as our previous president and CEO is ideal for ensuring a smooth and orderly transition during this interim period,” Kussell said. “We would also like to thank Clifton for his dedicated service to Bojangles’ and respect his personal decision to resign.”

The company was scheduled to release fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday afternoon.

For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, which included a tax benefit, Bojangles on Tuesday reported net income of $48.8 million, or $1.27 a share, compared to $9.8 million, or 26 cents a share, in the same period a year ago. Revenues rose 6.2 percent to $148.1 million, compared to $139.4 million in the prior-year quarter.

Systemwide same-store sales declined 3.1 percent in the quarter, with company-owned restaurants down 4.4 percent and franchised units down 2.2. percent.

Bojangles’ ranked No. 47 in Nation’s Restaurant News’ most recent Top 100 census, posting $1.2 billion in U.S. systemwide sales for the fiscal year ended in December 2016.

As of Dec. 31, Bojangles’ had 764 restaurants, of which 325 were company-operated and 439 were franchised. Most of the restaurants are in the Southeast.

Kitchen United LogoKitchen United names former Taco Bell exec COO

Meredith Sandland will lead rollout of delivery-friendly commissary chain

March 6, 2018–(NRN)

Kitchen United, a commissary kitchen startup specializing in off-premise dining, has named former Taco Bell chief development officer Meredith Sandland as COO, the company said Tuesday.

Sandland will be responsible for driving revenue and overseeing the rollout of a national chain of delivery-friendly commissary facilities. At 7,000-unit Taco Bell, she led the addition of about 1,000 restaurants over four years.

The first Kitchen United location is scheduled to open in Pasadena, Calif., in a few weeks. The 12,000-square-foot facility is designed primarily for restaurant operators looking for licensed kitchen space to build takeout, catering or delivery businesses.

The tech-enabled facilities use integrated point-of-sale software, back-of-the-house automation and ordering efficiencies that are compatible with various delivery platforms. It also offers shared rentable space to food truck operators and other food entrepreneurs who need permitted kitchen space.

Restaurant operators can either negotiate longer-term leasing of kitchen space at a Kitchen United location or pay a flat fee of $25 per hour for shared rental space. The company expects each location to serve as an operational home for eight to 12 restaurant concepts, as well as eight to 12 individual shared spaces.

Jim Collins, CEO of Kitchen United, said restaurant operators are increasingly looking for a way to expand delivery without necessarily investing in more brick-and-mortar facilities. Some have found their delivery business to have outgrown their existing kitchens, while others are launching virtual delivery-only concepts.

“I don’t like the term ‘ghost kitchens’ because we view the people who work in kitchens as very important and clearly not dead,” said Collins, who also owns the restaurant Town Kitchen and Grill in Montrose, Calif.. “But these are kitchens without a front-of-the-house presence that are optimized for delivery.”

The goal is to build a national footprint of kitchens that will allow restaurants to move easily into new markets, he said.

Two more Kitchen United locations are scheduled to open before the end of 2018, possibly in Atlanta and another in Southern California. The company expects to have as many as 50 locations by the end of 2019.

Sandland said she is excited by the Kitchen United model.

“I really think it fits at the nexus of an ecosystem that needs it,” she said, “especially having come from Taco Bell, where they were rapidly building out, even as a mature brand, and thinking about how to grow quickly and how to systematize all the things that make a brand right so the experience can be consistent and positive across all locations.”

Sandland joins former McDonald’s Corp. executive Atul Sood, Kitchen United’s chief business officer, as well as Massimo Noja De Marco, formerly of SBE Entertainment, who is the facility’s chief culinary officer.

Kitchen United was spun off Pasadena, Calif.-based Cali Group in 2017, a holding company that includes the CaliBurger restaurant chain and technology companies such as Miso Robotics, which created “Flippy,” an industrial burger-flipping robotic arm for commercial kitchens, and self-ordering kiosks with facial recognition.

Farmer Boys LogoFarmer Boys Food, Inc. Appoints Tammy Johns as Vice President/Chief People Officer

The Newly Created Position Will Oversee Human Resources and Employee Development

March 6, 2018–RIVERSIDE, CA–(RestaurantNews)

Farmer Boys Food, Inc., the parent company of the popular fast casual concept Farmer Boys®, which has built a reputation for its farm fresh cooked-to-order menu, comfortable restaurant atmosphere, and friendly staff, has hired restaurant industry veteran Tammy Johns to serve as Vice President and Chief People Officer.

Johns brings with her 27 years of experience in Human Resources management, all of which have been in the restaurant industry. Her previous positions include VP of Human Resources for Lemonade Restaurant Group and at two franchisee holding companies that managed hundreds of Burger King units, as well as various Chili’s and TGI Fridays locations.

“Farmer Boys employees are our most important customers and family members,” said Karen Eadon, President of Farmer Boys. “Tammy’s vast experience with recruiting, employee retention, and people development will be a valuable asset to our company. I’m looking forward to partnering with her to make sure we are infusing our culture and values throughout the company. I’m excited about the impact I know she will have on our organization.”

As Chief People Officer, Johns will be responsible for leading Farmer Boys’ talent strategy and culture-shaping process. She will oversee people planning, organizational development, strategic learning, and the administration of Farmer Boys Human Resources policies and practices.

“I am honored to join a brand revered so highly by customers and employees alike,” said Johns. “I look forward to working with Farmer Boys’ team of dedicated employees, franchisees, and vendors to foster an environment where our team members can excel and continue the tradition of hard work and hospitality.”

About Farmer Boys®

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Riverside, California, Farmer Boys® is a fast casual restaurant chain serving award-winning burgers, specialty sandwiches, crisp salads, signature sides and all day breakfast. Farmer Boys knows farm fresh food will never go out of style. Today, thanks to an ever-expanding franchise operation, the Farmer Boys family continues to grow. The chain continues to seek sites and franchisees in new and existing regions. Farmer Boys currently operates 91 restaurants in California and Nevada. For more information, visit www.farmerboys.com.

Togo's_Logo_Togo’s Names Corey Wilde Chief Development Officer

California-based Sandwich Franchise Taps Industry Veteran to Continue Mission of Accelerated Expansion

March 6, 2018–SAN JOSE, CA–(RestaurantNews)

Togo’s Holdings, LLC has named Corey Wilde as Chief Development Officer. Wilde will work closely with the Togo’s leadership team to continue to expand Togo’s West Coast presence and bring the company’s signature big, fresh, and meaty sandwiches to new markets.

“Corey has an impressive track record of developing strategic plans and delivering quality results within the franchise restaurant industry. His innovative mindset and experience is a welcome addition to our team. As we continue to evolve our brand and focus on our mission of strategic expansion, Corey will play a pivotal role in making sure that we are growing with franchisees who share our values and provide them the direction to be successful,” said Glenn Lunde, President of Togo’s.

Before joining Togo’s, Wilde served as Vice President of Franchise Development and Real Estate for Bruster’s Ice Cream and Nathan’s Famous Inc. Prior to that, Wilde was the Director of Franchise Development at Kahala Brands, the parent company of Cold Stone Creamery. Wilde also brings extensive experience in the real estate sector, which will further enhance the support given to new Togo’s franchisees and existing franchisees as they expand with new units.

“Togo’s presents a tremendous franchise opportunity for growth-focused investors who want to bring a positive and delicious concept to their communities. I’m extremely excited to play a role in the next evolution of Togo’s where I’ll be able to leverage my skillset by bringing on exceptional operators to represent our brand and opening next-generation stores in A+ markets. Togo’s truly is the best place to eat, the best place to work and the best place to own.” said Wilde.

Togo’s currently has more than 220 units open throughout the West Coast and is known for the quality and quantity of its ingredients. Last year, the brand introduced comprehensive menu enhancements and a new speed-line assembly process to improve the customer experience. The brand is also preparing for a store redesign to further their mission to be the foremost sandwich innovator on the West Coast.

“Over the past 20 years I’ve been fortunate enough to represent numerous brands in various categories. I’ve always enjoyed brands that are both rich in history and carve out a niche of their own to stand out amongst competitors,” said Wilde. “Togo’s has been a community staple in California since 1971 for a reason – we have the best sandwiches, bar none. If you haven’t had a #7 roast beef with extra peppers, you don’t know what you’re missing!”

About Togo’s Eateries, LLC

Togo’s was founded in 1971 by a young college student with a large appetite and little money looking to make sandwiches the way he liked them — big, fresh and meaty. Today that spirit of the founder and original sandwich shop continues. Togo’s products are still made with only the highest quality ingredients; including fresh Artisan breads, hand sliced premium pastrami, turkey and roast beef, as well as Hass avocados hand-mashed in restaurant every day. With nearly 250 locations open and under development throughout the West, Togo’s is a franchise-based business that offers a terrific opportunity for those new entrepreneurs that would like to own their own business. For more information visit www.togos.com.

IF LogoSasha Markova Named Executive Creative Director for Impossible Foods

Markova will lead Impossible Foods’ in-house creative team, which will manage all visual messaging across the brand’s channels.

March 5, 2018–(HotelNewsResource)

Impossible Foods has hired creative veteran Sasha Markova as the company’s first Executive Creative Director.

Markova will lead Impossible Foods’ in-house creative team, which will manage all visual messaging across the brand’s channels.

“Impossible Foods is a new paradigm brand and requires a different way of storytelling,” Markova said. “The sense of mission that exists at Impossible Foods is powerful and intoxicating. I’m thrilled to be leading the charge in uncovering the most brilliant and contagious ways of communicating that.”

Previously, Markova was Global Creative Director at Mother London and Mother LA from 2009-2017. During her tenure at Mother, she oversaw efforts for clients such as Stella Artois and Boots, and built a foundation for its first-class brand reputation and international acclaim alongside founders Mark Waites and Robert Saville.

After relocating to Los Angeles in 2015, the London native pioneered Mother’s expansion to the West Coast, earning the accounts of Headspace and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences under her creative direction.

Garden Fresh Foods LogoDonald Breen Named Chief Financial Officer for Garden Fresh Restaurants

March 5, 2018–(HotelNewsResource)

Garden Fresh Restaurants LLC, which operates 97 Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants across nine states, announced on Friday the appointment of industry veteran Donald Breen as chief financial officer. The move highlights the brand’s commitment to enhance the executive leadership team for continued strong financial performance and growth.

Breen joins the team from Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, where he served for the past 10 years as chief financial officer and corporate secretary, leading the company through substantial expansion from $100 million to more than $600 millionin annual sales, as well as a successful sale to Darden Restaurants. His prior experience includes chief financial officer and senior management positions with Baja Fresh, Brothers Gourmet Coffee, Jamba Juice and Adolph Coors. Breen brings an extensive background in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, investor relations, cost management and performance optimization, and strategic planning.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Don to the Garden Fresh family. His proven ability to evolve critical financial functions and lead exceptional support teams will make an immediate impact on our restaurant performance, guest experience and growth,” said John Haywood, CEO of Garden Fresh.

In his new role, Breen will lead finance, accounting, IT, risk management, asset protection, facilities, property and legal support functions.

“I am excited to join the new leadership and ownership of this iconic brand and the opportunity to help build on the momentum they have created.”

Churchs_Chicken LogoKaren Jean Viera Named New Vice President and Chief People Officer at Church’s Chicken

Global Chicken Brand Adds Fortune 500-Level HR Experience to Executive Team

March 5, 2018–ATLANTA, GA–(RestaurantNews)

With Church’s Chicken® making system-wide changes to accelerate domestic and international growth, the brand has hired a new head of Human Resources. Karen Jean Viera will be joining the company as its new Vice President and Chief People Officer. In her new role, Viera will oversee full cycle Human Resources and Internal Communications. Viera will shape, direct, and implement HR policy and procedures related to staffing, talent acquisition, on-boarding and training, employee retention, team member relations, benefits and compensation, HR administration, on a corporate level, globally.  And, with the company’s renewed and heightened focus on robust communications, Viera will also lead strategy and team member engagement over the recently developed internal communications function.

Viera will report directly to CEO, Joe Christina, and work side by side with other C-level executives in shaping the strategic future of Church’s.

“Ms. Viera is a tremendous addition to our executive team and we are excited to leverage her leadership, expertise, and diversity of thought at the highest level,” said Christina.  “A proven leader like Ms. Viera will help us build and elevate our talent through development, mentorship, robust performance management and workforce planning strategies.  This is another exciting move as we continue to follow through on our vision to be the Global Franchisor of Choice by developing winning teams, a core strategic goal of the organization.”

Prior to joining Church’s, Viera held Chief-, VP-, and Senior-level HR positions with such Fortune 500 companies as WellCare Health Plans, Inc. and Assurant, Inc.  Her most current role was SVP and Chief Human Resource Officer for MCIC Vermont – an insurance and risk management firm that specializes in the medical and healthcare professional industry, where she designed and executed a strategic plan that enhanced employee satisfaction ratings by 5% in a single year and worked with the CEO and Board of Directors to enact and launch succession plans, metrics reporting, and officer recruitment tactics. She also formerly worked with Wellcare Health Plans, Inc. where she helped lead a company of 6,000 employees in eleven of their states in lowering turnover, establishing corporate cost savings, ensuring continuity across mergers and acquisitions, and enhancing overall productivity.

Church’s is one of the world’s most recognized restaurant brands and I’m excited to be a part of that energy,” said Viera. “I strongly believe that my in-depth expertise, coupled with my hands-on approach to human resources can help propel the brand and its people to new heights. The values and culture at Church’s are already well in line with those of global leaders, and with some innovation and planning, I am certain that we can reach – and exceed – our goals.”

Viera is a graduate of Florida International University, Chapman Graduate School of Business in Miami, Florida, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Human Resources from Trinity International University, also in Miami. Viera is a SHRM Senior Certified Professional, holds a Senior Professional Human Resource Management Certification (HRCI), and is a DiSC Certified Training Instructor.   Karen is serving her second term on the State Workforce Development Board, a Division of the Economic Development Board, for the state of Georgia, a Governor appointed assignment. Karen and her family reside in Roswell.

About Church’s Chicken®

Founded in San Antonio, TX in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Chicken®, along with its sister brand Texas Chicken outside of the Americas, is one of the largest quick service chicken restaurant chains in the world. The brands specialize in Original and Spicy Chicken freshly prepared throughout the day in small batches that are hand-battered and double-breaded, Tender Strips®, honey-butter biscuits made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, home-style sides all for a great value. Church’s Chicken and Texas Chicken have more than 1,650 locations in 27 countries and global markets and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information about Church’s Chicken visit www.churchs.com.

Epic Wings LogoWings N’ Things has a New Name, Franchising Plan and President

March 5, 2018–SAN DIEGO, CA–(NRN)

The family-owned chain formerly known as Wings N’ Things has changed its name, launched a franchising program and hired a new president for the first time.

The San Diego-based chain has operated as Wings N’ Things since 1982 and has grown to 19 locations. But with the launch of the new franchising program, the fast-casual concept will grow as Epic Wings going forward. Some existing stores have been converted to “Epic Wings N’ Things,” the company said.

Leading that growth will be Rob Streett as president, franchising and licensing. The former president and chief operating officer of Scooter’s has also worked previously with Starbucks Coffee as director of strategic development, and he has held positions with the franchised brands Cold Stone Creamery, Mrs. Fields and TCBY, Epic Wings officials said.

The first franchised location — and the first unit outside San Diego County — opened in Mission Viejo, Calif., in February.

Sam Sacco, one of the original family owners, said in a statement, “Rob’s emphasis on strategically growing national brands is why we are so excited to have him on our team. I couldn’t be more pleased to bring his exceptional experience and guidance to the Epic Wings organization.”

Streett in a statement said the chain has a “fanatical following, amazing food and all of the business characteristics to make it a perfect restaurant for franchising.”

“I am thrilled to put my energy behind an emerging brand that is not only well positioned for growth but is fully committed to building a people-first culture,” he said. “To be able to work in an industry that I love, while making a positive impact on the communities and people groups we serve is an incredible opportunity for me.”  

About Epic Wings

Epic Wings has been a family-owned and operated San Diego restaurant, under the brand Wings N’ Things for more than 35 years. Their specialty is serving fresh, never frozen wings, chicken tenders, and boneless wings in a variety of home made sauces along with hand rolled garlic bread sticks. Their key to success is to provide the best possible quality meals with a few select menu items. Since their inception in 1982, the concept has grown to 19 restaurants, and has been honored with multiple San Diego “Best Wings” titles.

Noodles-and-Co LogoNoodles & Company Names Chas Hermann Chief Brand Officer

March 1, 2018–(QSRMagazine)

Noodles & Company announced that Chas Hermann has been named chief brand officer, effective March 5, 2018. Hermann’s responsibilities will include developing and executing the company’s marketing, menu, and culinary strategy. He will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Dave Boennighausen.

“I am delighted to welcome Chas Hermann to the Noodles team,” says Boennighausen. “His vast experience and track record leading brand strategy across a wide variety of different growth companies coupled with his alignment to our strong core values will be a great asset as we continue to execute on our strategy to become one of the leaders in the fast casual restaurant landscape.”

Hermann is an experienced marketing leader with a 25-year history of connecting story-telling creative brand strategy with marketing promotion, culinary and product development, and financial strategy.  Most recently, Hermann was the principal at Chas Hermann Consulting where he partnered with executives and leadership teams to focus organizations on key business strategies that position products, services, and operations to build brands and deliver profitable growth. Among the companies he worked with were Papa Murphy’s, Del Taco, and Redbox.

Prior to his consulting role, Hermann held marketing, merchandising, and financial leadership positions at several Fortune 500 companies, including Starbucks, The Walt Disney Company, and Universal Orlando Resort.

“Noodles & Company is a uniquely positioned brand that I have long admired,” says Hermann. “I am thrilled to join the company at such a special time. The company’s brand culture of passion and purpose creates great guest experiences and great tasting food that will lead the brand to major growth ahead.”

Uncle Julio LogoUncle Julio’s Mexican from Scratch Appoints David Ellis as Chief Brand Officer

Polished casual Mexican restauratn brand further accelerates growth with expansion of executive team, new locations across U.S.

March 1, 2018–DALLAS, TX–(BusinessWire)

Uncle Julio’s Mexican from Scratch, a leading polished casual Mexican restaurant, today announced it has appointed David Ellis as chief brand officer. In this newly created role, Ellis will report directly to CEO Tom Vogel and join the executive team. He will be responsible for setting the vision for strategic branding and overseeing marketing, consumer insights, public relations and product innovation.

Ellis brings more than 20 years of experience successfully building brands in the restaurant and food industry. Most recently, Ellis served as vice president of marketing and culinary for O’Charley’s. Prior to that, he held leadership positions at KFC and Darden Restaurants, for both Olive Garden and Red Lobster, including positions in brand management, national promotions and menu strategy. Ellis received an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA in marketing from Vanderbilt University.

“We are excited to welcome David to the Uncle Julio’s family as we expand our leadership team during this period of growth and open new restaurants across the United States,” said Tom Vogel, president and CEO of Uncle Julio’s. “David brings an extensive background in building strong restaurant brands to this position, which will help us to continue to deliver made-from-scratch tableside memories every day.”

Uncle Julio’s was acquired by L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, in October 2017. With the support of L Catterton, Uncle Julio’s has been able to further accelerate brand expansion and growth in both existing and new markets. Today, Uncle Julio’s operates 31 restaurants in seven states, with new restaurants expected to open in Oklahoma City and Columbia, Maryland, in the first half of 2018.

About Uncle Julio’s Mexican from Scratch

Headquartered in Dallas, Uncle Julio’s Mexican from Scratch is a leading polished casual Mexican restaurant that uses a scratch kitchen to serve only the freshest, highest-quality Mexican food and handcrafted margaritas. The first Uncle Julio’s opened in Dallas in November 1986, and is known for unique menu items such as the signature Chocolate Piñata, Tableside Guacamole, and The Swirl – a frozen margarita layered with house-made sangria. For more information, visit www.unclejulios.com.

Chuck E Cheese LogoChuck E. Cheese’s Parent Names New CMO

Ashley Zickefoose joins CEC Entertainment from On The Border

February 28, 2018–(NRN)

CEC Entertainment Inc., parent to Chuck E. Cheese’s, has named Ashley Zickefoose, left, as chief marketing and concept officer, among several other management changes, the company said Wednesday.

Zickefoose will join the Irving, Texas-based pizza and entertainment brand on March 5 to oversee brand strategy, advertising, digital innovation and restaurant consumer experience, the company said.

Zickefoose most recently was chief marketing officer for On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina, a casual-dining chain. At CEC, she succeeds Michael Hartman, who left the company late last year.

Tom Leverton, CEO of CEC Entertainment, said in a statement that Zickefoose has a proven track record of building and leading branding teams in the restaurant industry.

“As a mom herself, Ashley will be an invaluable asset as we seek to build deeper connections with families,” Leverton said. “With this in mind, we have created the chief concept officer role to enhance our consumer experience, keep our brand relevant and drive long term sustainable growth for the Chuck E. Cheese’s brand.”

Prior to joining On The Border, Zickefoose worked with other restaurant and consumer product companies, including Pizza Hut and Kraft Foods.

Zickefoose said she was excited to join a brand that “has been the mainstay of family fun and kids’ birthday parties for more than 40 years.”

CEC announced two additional leadership changes on Wednesday:

  • Rudy Rodriguez Jr. was promoted to chief legal and human resources officer from his prior position as senior vice president and general counsel. In his expanded role, he will oversee compensation, benefits, risk management, and human resources information systems and compliance.
  • Mahesh Sadarangani was promoted to chief administrative officer from senior vice president of strategic initiatives. The four-year company veteran will oversee the games, supply chain, revenue management, analytics, call center and warehouse functions.

CEC owns and franchises 607 Chuck E. Cheese’s units and 147 Peter Piper Pizza locations in 47 states and 13 countries and territories.

el pollo new logoEl Pollo Loco Names Bernard Acoca CEO

Starbucks veteran replaces Steve Sather, who is retiring

February 28, 2018–(NRN)

El Pollo Loco Holdings Inc. has named Bernard Acoca its new president and CEO effective March 12, the company said Wednesday.

Acoca will succeed Steve Sather, who has led the company since 2010 and announced his retirement last year. Acoca also will take Sather’s seat on the company’s board of directors.

Acoca most recently was president of Teavana, Starbucks’ tea brand, where he oversaw the 375 specialty retail stores, which Starbucks has since closed. However, Acoca also oversaw the distribution of Teavana products to some 26,000 Starbucks locations worldwide.

Prior to that he was Starbucks’ senior vice president for marketing and category for the Americas.

He also was chief marketing officer for the Americas for L’Oréal and spent 10 years in marketing roles at Yum! Brands, parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

“I am thrilled to lead the El Pollo Loco organization and eager to build upon the brand’s success,” Acoca said in a statement. “El Pollo Loco represents an authentic differentiatedbrand, serving made-to-order fresh citrus-marinated grilled chicken and entrées every day, every meal.  I look forward to strengthening that unique positioning, and to driving sales and profits as we cultivate relationships with both new and existing customers.”

Michael Maselli, chairman of the chain’s board of directors, praised Acoca for his experience.

“Bernard is a seasoned executive with over twenty-five years of experience, including sixteen years at leading restaurant companies Starbucks and Yum! Brands,” he said. “With a long and proven track record of driving sales and profit growth through new product development, brand communications, and integrated go-to-market strategies, Bernard brings significant strategic, marketing, operational and digital expertise to the role of CEO.  As El Pollo Loco embarks on its next chapter of growth, we are confident that Bernard’s skill set, experience and passion for the brand make him the ideal person to lead this Company into the future.”

El Pollo Loco, based in Costa Mesa, Calif., has more than 470 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

Main Event LogoChris Morris Appointed CEO of Main Event Entertainment

Former president of California Pizza Kitchen to take reins of company on March 26

February 26, 2018–DALLAS, TX–(RestaurantNews)

Ardent Leisure Group (ASX: AAD) (Ardent) is pleased to announce that Mr. Chris Morris has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer of Main Event Entertainment, effective March 26, 2018.

Morris brings more than 20 years of experience with multisite businesses, including over six years in the family entertainment business. His career includes extensive experience in brand revitalization strategies, operational execution and new unit development. He has successfully opened over 200 units with five different businesses.

Morris previously served as president of California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), a leading casual dining brand, operating 260 restaurants in 30 states and 12 countries worldwide. During his time at CPK, the company revitalized the 32-year-old business into a thriving and relevant brand returning it to positive comparable store sales.

Before CPK, Morris held senior executive roles for On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina and CEC Entertainment (owners of Chuck E. Cheese’s and Peter Piper Pizza). At On the Border, he served as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, and joined the company at the time it was acquired by a private equity firm. He led the company through a successful carve out, implemented brand revitalization strategies and successfully sold the company generating strong returns for all stakeholders.

Prior to On the Border, Morris served as Chief Financial Officer for CEC Entertainment while it was a publicly traded company (NYSE: CEC). During his time at CEC, the company successfully opened over 90 new entertainment centers and generated over $800 million in revenue. Earlier in his career, Morris also held positions of increasing responsibility at NPC International and Applebee’s International. He began his career at Deloitte & Touche.

Ardent Chairman Dr. Gary Weiss, said, “The Board is delighted with the appointment of Chris Morris, after an extensive search process. He brings to the business excellent executive leadership experience with a significant understanding of family restaurant and entertainment operations and we look forward to his commencement in March. On behalf of the Board, I would also like to thank Darin Harper for his contribution as Interim CEO during this period of change. Darin will return to his role as CFO at Main Event upon Chris’ commencement.”

Commenting on his appointment, Morris said, “I am thrilled to take up this opportunity at Main Event and I look forward to working with the Board and the entire team to continue the growth strategy of the business. Main Event is an extraordinary brand with an industry-leading business model, and I am excited about its long-term prospects in markets across the nation.” 

About Main Event Entertainment

Founded in 1998, Dallas-based Main Event Entertainment is rapidly growing, with 38 centers across the United States serving more than 20 million guests annually. Main Event features a unique “Eat. Bowl. Play.” experience, making it the perfect place for families, young adults and groups of all ages. The company currently has four new centers under construction across the country. For more information, including a complete photo gallery, visit mainevent.com.

World of Beer LogoWorld of Beer Bolsters Leadership with Executive Hires

February 23, 2018–(FSRMagazine)

World of Beer/Bar & Kitchen, a neighborhood gathering spot for beer-lovers with more than 65 locations across 20 states and three countries, announced two new additions to its corporate leadership team: CFO, Kevin MacCormack, and VP of Marketing, James Buell.

“World of Beer is thrilled to welcome both Kevin and James as valuable new members to our leadership team,” says Paul Avery, CEO and President of World of Beer Franchising. “Kevin & James have exceptional track records of success in their respective roles. We look forward to leveraging their extensive experience and skills, as we continue to experience aggressive growth in the WOB business, domestically and abroad.”

Kevin MacCormack is a corporate finance executive with significant experience guiding companies in the pursuit of business growth strategies and improving operations, with a focus on value creation. MacCormack, having worked as a Managing Director of Investment Banking for Raymond James & Associates, Inc. for over 16 years, has a strong track record of facilitating public offerings, private placements of debt and equity, mergers & acquisitions, and acting as a strategic advisor in helping companies drive operational efficiencies and increased profitability. MacCormack studied Finance at the University of Illinois and received an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

James Buell is an accomplished senior marketing executive with extensive domestic and international experience in the entertainment, hospitality, brand, digital, philanthropy, retail, hotel and casino industries. Buell possesses a proven track record in brand management through the development of highly effective teams. Prior to joining World of Beer, Buell worked as a marketing executive at Hard Rock International for 13 years. Additionally, Buell graduated with a Bachelor’s in Management Information Systems from the University of Central Florida and studied Law at Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University (FAMU).

The additions of MacCormack and Buell to the World of Beer Franchising team are expected to complement the enterprise in multiple ways, elevating overall strategy and brand building, as WOB Bar & Kitchens continue to expand at an anticipated 25% unit growth trajectory, domestically and internationally in 2018.

Papa Murphy's LogoPapa Murphy’s Names ProFlowers Exec as New CMO

February 22, 2018–(QSRMagazine)

Papa Murphy’s named Laura Szeliga its new chief marketing officer effective February 21.

With Papa Murphy’s, Szeliga will have responsibility for the development and implementation of breakthrough, insight-based brand strategies, and marketing plans designed to drive profitable sales.

Szeliga joins Papa Murphy’s from Provide Commerce, most recently serving as senior vice president and general manager for the organization’s ProFlowers brand. In this role she was directly accountable for the ecommerce business, and led new website improvement programs, new-to-world product innovations, and innovative partnerships.

“Laura’s extensive experience in spearheading proven marketing strategies for food and retail industry front-runners demonstrates she is the right candidate to lead Papa Murphy’s marketing strategy into the future,” says Weldon Spangler, CEO of Papa Murphy’s. “We are incredibly pleased to welcome Laura to Papa Murphy’s.”

Prior to ProFlowers, Szeliga was vice president and general manager of Provide Commerce’s Shari’s Berries brand, where she launched new, integrated brand marketing strategies and customer experience programs that drove measurable increases in new customer acquisition and retention. Her tenure at Provide Commerce is preceded by leadership roles at TIMEX, Dean Foods, Kraft Foods, and Kraft Foods International, as well as The Gillette Company.

“I look forward to working with the Papa Murphy’s team,” said Szeliga. “Papa Murphy’s is a company that offers a unique, quality and one-of-a-kind product to its customers, and I am excited to help introduce the brand and all it stands for to even more consumers.”

Orange Leaf logoOrange Leaf Frozen Yogurt Names Kendall Ware President and COO

February 22, 2018–OKLAHOMA CITY, OK–(PRNewswire)

Orange Leaf has named Kendall Ware as their new President and Chief Operating Officer. Ware, who has over 10 years of franchise leadership experience and is a certified franchise executive through the IFA, most recently served as Vice President of Operations and Training for the Orange Leaf brand. In addition, he is a recent recipient of Oklahoma’s 30 under 30 award. As President and COO, Ware will oversee strategic development, operational execution and brand growth.

During his first several weeks as President, Ware has been able to sit down with 50% of the franchise community to collaborate and identify opportunities for growth. This feedback, paired with results of a Franchise Satisfaction Survey and consumer research, will best determine a strategic plan for 2018 and beyond. Ware’s top priority is to increase overall guest and franchise partner satisfaction.

“Those at Orange Leaf have seen Kendall’s leadership and dedication firsthand over the last two years. Kendall has shown an immense drive and passion for Orange Leaf while leading operations and has proven that he is the best person to lead our franchisees and our team at the support center,” said Executive Chairman, Reese Travis. “I am looking forward to watching him lead our brand into a brighter future.”

“I’m honored to serve the Orange Leaf franchise system and looking forward to working alongside our partners to take the brand to the next level. Together, we will create a culture that develops and empowers the people of Orange Leaf, from the support center to franchise partners, where every team member is inspired to create value for every guest. I am incredibly optimistic about our future at Orange Leaf,” said Ware.

Prior to his time at Orange Leaf, Ware developed his leadership experience at other franchised concepts such as CiCi’s Pizza and Genghis Grill. During his tenure at CiCi’s Pizza, Ware led training and operations initiatives to enhance product quality that resulted in an increase of guest satisfaction and same store sales growth for their nearly 500 restaurants. At Genghis Grill, Ware developed a comprehensive set of operating systems, processes and people that helped successfully grow their franchise from 7 locations to 100 within 4 years.

About Orange Leaf

Orange Leaf is a self-serve, choose-your-own-toppings frozen yogurt franchise with 200 locations in the U.S. and Mexico. Orange Leaf offers a multitude of traditional and unique flavors, including no-sugar-added, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan alternatives. At Orange Leaf, we consider every store a strategic-partnership and we empower those relationships by maintaining the lowest fees in the industry, supporting veterans through our partnership with VetFran, and encouraging stores to be provide value to their communities. Additionally, Orange Leaf is a member of the IFA, NRA, and a proud partner of No Kid Hungry.

Snappy-Salads-logoSnappy Salads Names Industry Vet as New CEO

February 20, 2018–(QSRMagazine)

Snappy Salads announces the addition of Rob Viveros as CEO. Prior to joining Snappy Salads, Viveros was the CEO for MCrowd, a Dallas-based restaurant company that owns and operates 32 locations including Mi Cocina, Taco Diner, and The Mercury.  Prior to that, Viveros spent 20 years with Darden Restaurants in multiple capacities, most recently as executive senior vice president of operations. Viveros is familiar with Snappy Salads as he has served on the board since July 2016.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to join Snappy Salads. Over the last 12 years, Chris [Dahlander] and every team member have created an outstanding healthy and eco-friendly restaurant. It is my honor and privilege to continue the growth and development of Snappy Salads,“ Viveros says.

“Rob’s passion for developing people into leaders is what Snappy Salads needs at this stage in our life cycle” says Ray Hemmig, investor and board member. “We jumped at the opportunity to bring in Rob. He has an incredible background with top-notch organizations, and we’re flattered that he decided to join us.”

Chris Dahlander, founder, will remain chairman of the board and take on the title of chief marketing officer. Dave Orenstein will occupy the newly created role of chief development officer to concentrate on upcoming growth opportunities.

“After a year of explosive growth, our focus in 2018 will be on developing our team of dedicated professionals and creating more and more loyal guests by helping them discover satisfying and craveable salads,” Dahlander says.

Snappy Salads currently operates 17 restaurants in Texas and will open its third Houston location in the downtown tunnel in April.