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Executive Movements - April 2023


Apr 11, 2023, 09:18 ET

Nation's Leading Superfruit Bowl Shop Hires Industry Veteran to Accelerate Franchise Growth and Continue Positive MomentumBELMAR, N.J., April 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Playa Bowls, the nation's leading superfruit bowl shop specializing in bowls such as acai and pitaya, oatmeal, chia, smoothies, juices, cold brew and more, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dan Harmon as the company's new Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. As CEO, Harmon will leverage his extensive industry experience to continue to build on the brand's unique strengths and assume responsibility for accelerating its overall growth strategies and performance. "Harmon has an exceptional reputation for exceeding business objectives and franchisee relationships in the restaurant industry and will be a valuable asset as we continue to grow and develop our company," said Rob Giuliano, Co-Founder of Playa Bowls. "Throughout his career, Dan Harmon has established himself as a leader who builds strong teams, drives great business results and develops trust with team members and franchisees. We're incredibly honored to have someone of his caliber join the Playa Bowls team." Harmon is a sought out, seasoned and accomplished franchise and restaurant industry veteran with leadership experience from some of the industry's most recognized and successful brands. Most recently, Harmon was the President and Chief Operations Officer at Smoothie King where he launched several transformative initiatives focused on profitability, productivity and ease of operations. Prior to joining the Smoothie King team, Harmon spent more than three decades growing his passion for franchising and refining operational processes with Papa Murphy's, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Blockbuster and McDonald's. He contributes his professional success to prioritizing franchisee wins, beginning with the end in mind and then purposefully designing a path to greatness. Harmon succeeds Playa Bowls' Co-Founder Rob Giuliano, who will remain engaged in the business as Chief Innovation Officer and continue to play a critical role in Playa Bowls' strategic development. "I'm thrilled to take on this new opportunity and role. Playa Bowls is a unique brand with a combination of high-quality superfruit menu items, exceptional franchisees and passionate team members," said Dan Harmon, CEO of Playa Bowls. "There is a tremendous opportunity to grow the brand and mission nationally, and I'm looking forward to working closely with our leadership team and franchisees to make that happen." Since its inception in 2014, Playa Bowls has emerged as a leader in the national superfruit bowl shop segment. Today, the brand has 175+ shops systemwide, operating in 20 states. Under Harmon's leadership, Playa Bowls intends to continue to expand its domestic footprint across the U.S. To learn more about Playa Bowls, visit and follow the superfruit bowl shop on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. For more information on franchising, please visit Dan Harmon's headshot and Playa Bowls' images can be found here. About Playa Bowls Known as New Jersey's original acai bowl shop, Playa Bowls is the nation's leading superfruit bowl shop serving up an extensive and unique menu of over 40 items including the bright flavors of acai, pitaya, green and coconut bowls alongside oatmeal bowls, juices, smoothies, and coffee made with the freshest, high-quality ingredients. What began as a pair of blenders, a patio table, and a fridge in 2014 has flourished into more than 175 shops nationwide that operate in 20 states, thousands of employees, and a mission to lead communities in healthy, sustainable living. The rapidly growing franchise has received numerous accolades including Forbes 30 Under 30 and finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Visit for additional information and stay connected on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

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Capriotti's Sandwich Shop and Wing Zone Add Two New C-Level Executives to Leadership Team

Apr 10, 2023, 11:11 ET

Chief Restaurant and Chief Technology Officer Add 50 Years of Combined Industry Experience to Premiere Fast-Casual BrandsLAS VEGAS, April 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Capriotti's Sandwich Shop and Wing Zone, two of the fastest growing fast-casual restaurant concepts in the country, announced today the hiring of industry veterans Michael Meche as Chief Restaurant Officer and Scott Wessel as Chief Technology Officer in an effort to further support both brand's explosive growth. Meche comes from 30 years spent working with one of the nation's most successful pizza companies, Papa Johns, where his most recent role was serving as their Head of Franchise Operations. He spearheaded the continued growth and development of that franchise, helping establish the brand as a market leader here in the U.S. before deciding that he wanted to try his hand at effecting those same results with a more up-and-coming entity. He now looks forward to supporting this new family of restaurants and their franchisees. "I had no ambition of leaving the company I'd been with for decades," said Meche. "But the prospect of joining a brand as value and purpose-driven as Capriotti's and Wing Zone, whose current trajectory and market presence remind me of Papa Johns from 20-years ago, was a clear opportunity to have a hand in the success of a franchise that could benefit far more from my experience and input." Wessel is a seasoned and very accomplished hospitality technology executive with more than 20 years' experience in providing direction for large technological, infrastructure, application, data, and digital environments. He was most recently a Senior Vice President / Chief Information Officer at MGM Resorts International, which includes iconic resorts such as Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Borgata, and more. "While well-positioned in the industry, the Capriotti's and Wing Zone brands are in the infancy of their technological advancement," said Wessel. "In this role, I'm hoping to create a roadmap from scratch that will guide the adoption of cutting-edge tech and practices capable of keeping the company at the forefront of the QSR sector." Both Meche and Wessel are united in their goals for the immediate future. Their shared hope is to drive revenue and innovation, support the growing needs of the franchise system, develop an infrastructure capable of withstanding the widespread expansion of both brands, and help Capriotti's and Wing Zone to remain ahead of the competition in their automation, guest experience, and culinary creativity. "The expansion of our C-suite is meant to signal more than just the growth of our internal operations. It's representative of the team we're building to oversee and ensure that the culture, quality, and commitment of the Capriotti's and Wing Zone brand's remain uniform and unwavering as we continue to rapidly develop in new markets around the country," said David Bloom, Chief Development and Operating Officer for Capriotti's and Wing Zone. Founded in 1976, Capriotti's is most famous for its 40-year nightly tradition of slow-roasting whole, all-natural turkeys in-house and hand-shredding them each morning to feature in a variety of subs. This includes The Bobbie, the shop's acclaimed best-seller, made with homemade turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo on a soft roll. Founded in 1993, Wing Zone is an international fast-casual restaurant franchise known for its cooked-to-order, flavor-fused chicken wings, and tenders. Both brands are backed by a corporate leadership team that offers a continuous support program for franchise partners through online and field programs, which provides significant support for marketing, retail sales, operations, and growth strategies through every stage of their ownership. For more information about Capriotti's franchise opportunity, please visit For more information about the Wing Zone franchise opportunity, please visit About Capriotti's Sandwich Shop Founded in 1976, Capriotti's Sandwich Shop is an award-winning national franchised restaurant chain that remains true to its 40-year tradition of slow-roasting whole, all-natural turkeys in-house every day. Capriotti's cold, grilled, and vegetarian subs, cheesesteaks and salads are available at more than 167 locations across the United States. Capriotti's signature sub, The Bobbie®, was voted "The Greatest Sandwich in America" by thousands of readers across the country, as reported by Capriotti's fans can also download the CAPAddicts Rewards app for iOS and Android, where they can earn and redeem rewards. Capriotti's plans to grow to over 500 locations by 2025 and was ranked on Fast Casual's Top Movers & Shakers List each of the last two years (2020-21). For more information, visit Like Capriotti's on Facebook, follow on Twitter or Instagram. About Wing Zone Founded in 1993, Wing Zone is an international fast-casual restaurant franchise known for its cooked-to-order, flavor-fused chicken wings, and tenders. Wing Zone's award-winning flavors are available at more than 31 locations in North American and its 30 restaurants internationally. The brand plans to grow to 250 profitable restaurants by the end of 2025. For more information, visit Like Wing Zone on Facebook, follow on Twitter or Instagram.

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Apr 10, 2023, 09:00 ET

Gleason brings more than two decades of transformative brand marketing expertise in restaurants, beverage, and family entertainment to the CompanyIRVING, Texas, April 10, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- CEC Entertainment, LLC., announced today the appointment of marketing veteran Sean Gleason to the position of Chief Marketing Officer for the Company's flagship brand, Chuck E. Cheese, and its virtual kitchen brands, including Pasqually's Pizza & Wings. Gleason is a marketing leader with expertise in brand development, digital media, menu innovation, and in leading high-performance teams to deliver transformational growth throughout his career. "I am thrilled to have Sean join CEC Entertainment to lead the marketing strategy for the world's largest family entertainment center brand, Chuck E Cheese." said David McKillips, President and CEO of CEC Entertainment. "His proven leadership, expertise and success across the restaurant and family entertainment business is a perfect complement to the most aggressive brand transformation in the Company's history." As Chuck E. Cheese CMO, Gleason will lead all marketing functions, menu innovation, guest insights, communications, as well as the brand's digital marketing and consumer journey initiatives. He will be responsible for developing and executing strategies that position Chuck E. Cheese for long-term growth, both domestically and internationally. "Chuck E. Cheese is a multi-generational iconic brand and I am truly honored to have the opportunity to join the amazing team and lead the brand for the next generation of fans," said Sean Gleason. "The Chuck E. Cheese brand potential is unlimited. I look forward to working with the entire CEC Entertainment Team and franchise community to build and accelerate the brand's momentum in the years to come." Gleason comes to Chuck E. Cheese with more than 25 years of marketing strategy, media, advertising, and brand experience. Most recently, he ran his own consulting firm, working with both public- and privately held food & beverage brands. Prior to that, Gleason led the marketing efforts at Dave & Buster's for more than a decade as Chief Marketing Officer. During his tenure, he oversaw the brand's revitalization and digital transformation, special events, and culinary as the company grew revenue from $521 million to $1.35 billion. Before Dave & Buster's, Gleason was the Senior Vice President, Strategic Marketing Communications for Dr Pepper Snapple Group where he led all consumer-facing initiatives including advertising, public relations, merchandising, promotions, sponsorships, and media. Gleason also brings great pizza expertise to the company, after spending more than 10 years at Pizza Hut. He served as the brand's Vice President of Marketing Communications, as well as a Director of Field Marketing. Gleason will be based at the CEC Entertainment corporate support center in Irving. He earned a BA from the University of Virginia; he and his family currently reside in Plano, TX. About CEC Entertainment, LLC. CEC Entertainment, LLC is the nationally recognized leader in family entertainment and dining with its Chuck E. Cheese, Peter Piper Pizza brands and virtual kitchen concept, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings. As the place where a million happy birthdays are celebrated every year, Chuck E. Cheese's goal is to create positive, lifelong memories for families through fun, food, and play and is the place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid®. Committed to providing a fun, safe environment, Chuck E. Cheese helps protect families through industry-leading programs such as Kid Check®. As a strong advocate for its local communities, Chuck E. Cheese has donated more than $19 million to schools through its fundraising programs. Peter Piper Pizza features dining, entertainment and carryout with a neighborhood pizzeria feel and "pizza made fresh, families made happy" culture. Peter Piper Pizza takes pride in delivering quality food and fun that reconnects family and friends. Created in 2020, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings offers a distinct, customized eating experience outside of a restaurant environment that amplifies classic pizza and wings and operates out of 400 ghost locations nationwide. The Company and its franchisees operate a system of nearly 600 Chuck E. Cheese and more than 120 Peter Piper Pizza venues, with locations in 47 states and 17 foreign countries and territories. For more information, visit,, and

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McDonald’s USA appoints new North America Chief Impact Officer and U.S. Strategic Insights and Prioritization Officer to its leadership team

April 07, 2023

CHICAGO, IL – Earlier this week, McDonald’s USA President Joe Erlinger announced two new appointments to his senior leadership team. Michael Gonda has been promoted to Senior Vice President and Chief Impact Officer, North America. In this role, he will be responsible for driving the holistic impact strategy across Communications, State and Local Government Relations, Sustainability & ESG, and Philanthropy in the U.S. and Canada. His cross-functional team will proactively engage stakeholders and communities to protect and enhance the McDonald’s brand and more efficiently and effectively partner with global and other markets. Sandy Rodriguez, Vice President, U.S. Communications, will transition to and assume the role of Global Chief Communications Officer for McDonald’s Corporation. Jami Guthrie has been promoted to Vice President, Strategic Insights and Prioritization. In this role, he will be responsible for managing strategy, insights, analytics, and planning resources, creating an integrated view for the entire U.S. business. This team will help McDonald’s USA to focus on its most critical priorities, eliminate redundancy and inefficiency in work, and enable more rapid innovation and effective collaboration.

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Dine Brands Global, Inc. Appoints Sarah Cannon-Foster Chief People Officer

Sarah Cannon-Foster takes new role as CPO of Dine Brands effective April 17, 2023

April 03, 2023 04:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time

GLENDALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar®, IHOP® and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop® restaurants, announced today that Sarah Cannon-Foster will be the company’s new Chief People Officer, effective April 17, 2023. Sarah was previously Vice President, Human Resources, U.S. Healthcare at Walgreens Boots Alliance. Cannon-Foster is a veteran human resources leader with over 30 years of experience. Prior to Walgreens, Sarah spent 30 years at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, now Marriott International. There, she led HR direction for 16,000+ associates in 57 hotels in the western US region, and co-created Starwood’s breakthrough development program with a focus on developing women and people of color into key general manager and executive committee roles. “Sarah’s extensive experience and success in leading human resources functions, particularly across the hospitality and services industries, makes her a key asset on our leadership team,” states Dine Brands CEO, John Peyton. “We all look forward to working with and learning from Sarah in the months to come.” At Walgreens Boots Alliance – the largest retail pharmacy in the U.S. and Europe with a presence in nine countries – Cannon-Foster led several new initiatives, including supporting all functions in WBA’s newest business segment, U.S. Healthcare, a technology-enabled care model designed to bring equitable and personalized healthcare to local communities across America. “It is a privilege to join Dine Brands Global as its new Chief People Officer, a company whose restaurants I have long enjoyed,” says Sarah Cannon-Foster. “Dine sits at a pivotal juncture filled with tremendous possibilities and growth, and I am very excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with our talented team members.” In this new role, Sarah’s primary objective is tapping into and unlocking the full potential of Dine Brands talent. In the first 100 days, she will focus on understanding the fabric of the brands, collaborating with leadership and ultimately, identifying areas where the team can grow and develop its talent. Sarah will also prioritize establishing relationships across Dine Brands teams, franchisees, and restaurant teams, to identify how and where HR can best partner, drive impact, and help accelerate the company’s overall goals. To learn more about Dine Brands, Applebee’s, IHOP or Fuzzy’s Taco Shop visit About Dine Brands Global, Inc. Based in Glendale, California, Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), through its subsidiaries, franchises restaurants under both Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar® and IHOP® brands. With over 3,400 restaurants combined in 16 countries and 338 franchisees as of December 31, 2021, Dine Brands is one of the largest full-service restaurant companies in the world. For more information on Dine Brands, visit the Company’s website located at

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SPB Hospitality Names Ryan Russell Director of Communications and Cause Marketing

March 31, 2023

Houston, TX  (  With a focus to expand its corporate communications and strategic marketing efforts, SPB Hospitality has internally promoted Ryan Russell as its new Director of Communications and Cause Marketing. SPB Hospitality, the industry-leading operator and franchisor of steakhouses, pizza and craft brew, operates 16 concepts under one umbrella, including J. Alexander’s and Logan’s Roadhouse. Russell is a seasoned operations professional who has held multiple leadership roles at SPB Hospitality, bringing him over 10 years of experience in hospitality management. “It’s such an honor to have the opportunity to lead SPB Hospitality under a new role,” said Russell. “My team has always challenged me to pursue new opportunities, and I’m looking forward to continuing working with a group of committed and talented individuals. I’m thrilled for what’s to come!” As Director of Communications and Cause Marketing, Russell is responsible for overseeing all corporate communications, public relations, cause marketing, guest relations, a corporate call center, and The SPB Foundation. The SPB Foundation is dedicated to helping team members in times of need and supporting the communities in which SPB restaurants operate. Throughout his career, Russell has held various positions in operations, including Event Operations Manager, Sales Director for Aramark, and leadership positions for restaurant and hotel marketing. Russell will be bringing these roles, he gained extensive experience in managing teams, engaging local communities, overseeing budgets, and implementing strategies to drive business success. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, Russell is recognized for his deep understanding of operations and passion for community service. With his strong leadership skills and commitment to social responsibility, he is an essential asset to SPB Hospitality. To learn more about SPB Hospitality’s brands and locations, visit About SPB Hospitality SPB Hospitality is a leading operator and franchisor of full-service dining restaurants, spanning a national footprint of hundreds of restaurants and breweries in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Company’s diverse portfolio of restaurant brands includes Logan’s Roadhouse, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, and a collection of high-end restaurant brands including J. Alexander’s, Merus Grill, Redlands Grill and Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill. SPB Hospitality is also one of the largest operators of craft brewery restaurants including Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, ChopHouse & Brewery, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, AIA Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery.

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The Wendy's Company Announces Addition of Michelle Caruso-Cabrera to Board of Directors

Mar 28, 2023, 08:30 ET

DUBLIN, Ohio, March 28, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Wendy's Company (Nasdaq: WEN) today announced that on March 23, 2023 its Board of Directors increased the size of the Board from 11 to 12 members and elected Michelle Caruso-Cabrera to serve as a director of the Company, effective immediately. Caruso-Cabrera is currently the Chief Executive Officer of MCC Productions LLC, the media content and production company she founded in 2018. An Emmy award-winning producer, Caruso-Cabrera has more than 20 years' experience as a business and financial journalist, including as a current contributor to CNBC. She was CNBC's first Latina anchor and served as the network's Chief International Correspondent for more than 10 years. Caruso-Cabrera has been awarded Broadcaster of the Year from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and was named one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" in the country by Hispanic Business magazine. Speaking on behalf of the Board, Chairman Nelson Peltz said Caruso-Cabrera provides the Wendy's Board with valuable expertise in communications and business analysis, as well as international experience. "We are thrilled that Michelle has joined the Wendy's Board," Peltz said. "As Wendy's continues to expand and grow globally, Michelle's perspectives will provide us with valuable insights, and we look forward to benefiting from her contributions." Caruso-Cabrera said, "It is a privilege to serve on the Board of Directors of Wendy's, particularly as it is poised to grow and expand its global footprint. I strongly believe in the Company's vision to become the world's most thriving and beloved restaurant brand, and I look forward to contributing to the next chapter of growth of this iconic company." In addition to her Board seat at Wendy's, Caruso-Cabrera also serves as the President of the Ballet Hispánico Board of Directors and on the international advisory board of the IE Business School in Madrid, one of Europe's leading business schools. About Wendy's  Wendy's® was founded in 1969 by Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio. Dave built his business on the premise, "Quality is our Recipe®," which remains the guidepost of the Wendy's system. Wendy's is best known for its made-to-order square hamburgers, using fresh, never frozen beef*, freshly-prepared salads, and other signature items like chili, baked potatoes and the Frosty® dessert. The Wendy's Company (Nasdaq: WEN) is committed to doing the right thing and making a positive difference in the lives of others. This is most visible through the Company's support of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® and its signature Wendy's Wonderful Kids® program, which seeks to find a loving, forever home for every child waiting to be adopted from the North American foster care system. Today, Wendy's and its franchisees employ hundreds of thousands of people across approximately 7,000 restaurants worldwide with a vision of becoming the world's most thriving and beloved restaurant brand. For details on franchising, connect with us at Visit and for more information and connect with us on Twitter and Instagram using @wendys, and on Facebook at

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Sysco Names Kenny Cheung Chief Financial Officer

Neil Russell Named Chief Administrative Officer

March 28, 2023 08:00 ET

HOUSTON, March 28, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sysco Corporation (NYSE: SYY), the leading global foodservice distribution company, has appointed Kenny Cheung to the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO), effective April 17, 2023. Neil Russell, who has served as Interim CFO since January 6, 2023, has been appointed to the newly created position of Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). “I’m delighted to welcome Kenny to our executive leadership team,” said Kevin Hourican, Sysco’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Kenny is a results-oriented leader with proven financial and operational management qualifications and a track record of driving strong performance with a collaborative approach. He has extensive experience building successful financial organizations that create value for shareholders, and we look forward to partnering with him as we continue to execute our Recipe for Growth strategy.” Hourican continued, “Neil has done an outstanding job as Interim CFO and we are pleased that he is now taking on the role of Chief Administrative Officer, expanding his responsibilities at Sysco. Neil is an exceptional leader that has made significant contributions to Sysco across his 17 years with the company. His deep understanding of our business, people and culture will be an important asset as we continue to execute our transformation programs.” Cheung joins Sysco with nearly 20 years of financial and operational executive experience. He most recently served as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at The Hertz Corporation, where he led the company’s Global Finance Organization, including accounting, financial planning and analysis, tax, investor relations, internal audit, and treasury operations. Previously, Kenny also managed procurement and global franchise operations. He was an integral part of the team that led Hertz through its successful restructuring and Chapter 11 emergence in June 2021, and later resulted in a re-IPO in November 2021. Prior to his appointment as CFO, Cheung served as Executive Vice President, Chief Operational Finance and Restructuring Officer and in several finance leadership roles, including SVP of Global Financial Planning and Analysis and CFO for Hertz North America. Before joining Hertz in 2018, he spent over a decade at Nielsen Holdings, PLC, most recently as Global Chief Audit Executive, and prior to that, as a Regional Chief Operating Officer and Regional Chief Financial Officer. Kenny gained extensive international experience while working at Nielsen over-seas. Prior to joining Hertz, Kenny worked at General Electric within the finance department supporting supply chain, operations and FP&A. Cheung holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Maryland and an M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. “I’m thrilled to join Sysco at such an exciting time for the industry and organization,” said Cheung. “The company is well-positioned to continue to grow its industry leading platform and further strengthen its customer-centric approach. I look forward to working with Kevin, the management team, the talented finance team, and Sysco colleagues to help the Company execute its strategic vision.” As CAO, Russell will be responsible for implementing Sysco’s portfolio of strategic initiatives including the Recipe For Growth. He will work collaboratively with the Sysco Executive Leadership Team to ensure transformational programs are on track and delivering the required financial returns. In addition, Russell will have responsibility for leading and managing the company’s government and investor relations, communications and public relations, sustainability and community relations. “I am proud to have served as Interim CFO and excited to take on the expanded role as Chief Administrative Officer. At Sysco, we recognize that our global leadership position comes with responsibility, and I look forward to leading transformative initiatives that elevate our performance and drive value for stakeholders,” said Russell. About Sysco Sysco is the global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers who prepare meals away from home. Its family of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. With more than 71,000 colleagues, the company operates 333 distribution facilities worldwide and serves approximately 700,000 customer locations. For fiscal year 2022 that ended July 2, 2022, the company generated sales of more than $68 billion. Information about our Sustainability program, including Sysco’s 2022 Sustainability Report and 2022 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Report, can be found at For more information, visit or connect with Sysco on Facebook at For important news and information regarding Sysco, visit the Investor Relations section of the company’s Internet home page at, which Sysco plans to use as a primary channel for publishing key information to its investors, some of which may contain material and previously non-public information. In addition, investors should continue to review our news releases and filings with the SEC. It is possible that the information we disclose through any of these channels of distribution could be deemed to be material information.

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Church’s Texas Chicken® Names Neel Patel Vice President, Strategy & Growth

Patel assumes new role to drive continued brand growth and development

March 27, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Neel Patel joins Church’s Texas Chicken® as Vice President, Strategy & Growth, a newly created role in which he will lead the brand on a path of continued growth and development. Patel starts with the company today. He reports directly to Church’s Texas Chicken® and Texas Chicken™ CEO Joe Guith. In this role, Neel will drive strategic planning, data & analytics, and business transformation in addition to accelerating growth initiatives across all aspects of the business, including marketing, development, finance, supply chain, and international. “I’m thrilled to join this impressive team of driven leaders as we collaborate on the future of Church’s Texas Chicken®,” said Patel. “It’s an exciting time to join a company with such incredible potential, and I look forward to growing the brand and elevating the business as we work towards becoming a leading global fried chicken chain.” Patel joins Church’s Texas Chicken® from McKinsey & Company where he led growth-focused client engagements across several industries including food and retail. During his time there, Patel gained extensive experience in marketing, sales, strategy and operations. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BA in Economics. “Neel is a strong leader who is well-versed in brand strategy and growth initiatives,” said Guith. “He will be a great addition to our team as we look towards a promising future for the company.” About Church’s Texas Chicken® / Texas Chicken™ Founded in San Antonio, TX, in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Texas Chicken®, along with its sister brand Texas Chicken™ primarily outside of the U.S., 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, tenders, sandwiches, Honey-Butter Biscuits™ made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, home-style sides all for a great value. Texas Chicken™ and Church’s Texas Chicken® have more than 1,500 locations in 24 countries and global markets and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information about Church’s Texas Chicken®, visit For information on Texas Chicken™, visit For information on how to become a Church’s Texas Chicken® Franchisee, visit

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Shannon Hennessy Promoted to The Habit Burger Grill Division CEO

March 22, 2023

Hennessy Succeeds Russ Bendel Who Is Retiring Louisville, KY  (  Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) has announced the promotion of Shannon Hennessy to The Habit Burger Grill Division Chief Executive Officer, reporting to Yum! Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs, effective June 6. Hennessy, who currently serves as President of The Habit Burger Grill Division, will succeed Russ Bendel, who has announced his decision to retire at the beginning of June after a successful decades-long career in the restaurant industry. As CEO, Hennessy will continue to build on the brand’s unique strengths and assume responsibility for driving its overall growth strategies and performance. “Shannon is an exceptional, heart-led leader who was named President of The Habit Burger Grill Division in July 2022 and has since driven meaningful advances for the brand in development, top line initiatives and digital sales growth,” said Gibbs. “With Shannon’s background as KFC Global Division CFO and her nearly 20 years with McKinsey & Company, she has a unique skillset that will be vital as we continue to scale The Habit, offering our franchisees an investment opportunity in an award-winning, fast-casual concept in the better-burger category with a long runway for growth. I’m thrilled Shannon and Russ have worked so closely together to ensure a seamless transition and am confident in the long-term growth of The Habit.” As President of The Habit Burger Grill, Hennessy has overseen development, franchising, marketing and international expansion. In this role, she has also been responsible for contributing to the brand’s strategy to accelerate growth, nurturing cross-brand collaboration and driving company culture. Hennessy joined Yum! in 2020 as the Chief Financial Officer of KFC Global Division, where she was responsible for leading the global finance function and ensuring continued growth and profitability of the KFC business. She also oversaw the brand’s global financial planning, supply chain management and strategy functions. “I fell in love with The Habit on my first bite of a Charburger, so it’s the thrill of my career to take the reigns as CEO,” said Hennessy. “I’m grateful to have worked alongside Russ over the past eight months, as he is truly a legend in the restaurant industry. I’m also excited to continue working with our passionate team and franchisees to drive accelerated growth for the brand while offering our customers the delicious, handcrafted quality food, meaningful variety and choice and family hospitality they’ve come to expect from The Habit.” Russ Bendel joined The Habit in 2008, growing the brand from 16 restaurants to approximately 350 restaurants by the end of 2022. Under Bendel’s leadership and relentless attention to operations, he led a major brand transformation that introduced drive-thrus and digital order channels to meet growing needs for convenience. Over the years, The Habit has received multiple awards, including being recognized as having the Best Tasting Burger in America by Consumer Reports in 2014 and earning the No. 1 spot in the USA TODAY Readers’ Choice list of 10 Best Regional Fast-Food Chains in America in 2019 and 2021. Prior to joining The Habit, Bendel served as President and Chief Operating Officer of The Cheesecake Factory. Bendel’s career also includes tenures as President and Chief Executive of Mimi’s Café, President of Roy’s Restaurants, Franchise Partner of Outback Steakhouse in California and Chief Operating Officer of El Torito Restaurants and Panda Express. “Russ is one of the best and most accomplished restaurateurs in the industry that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and his passion for people, operations and restaurant excellence has always shined through,” said Gibbs. “Russ’ commitment and vision have made The Habit Burger Grill a powerful growth brand with delicious food and an extremely bright future, and we’re proud to continue to build on the legacy he is leaving. I want to thank Russ for his decades of leadership in the industry and wish him well as he enjoys this new phase of life with his family.” Yum! Brands acquired The Habit Burger Grill in March 2020, adding an award-winning brand in the better-burger category with a diverse, California-style menu to its portfolio. In 2022, The Habit grew the franchise base of its approximately 350 restaurants to 18%, up five percentage points from the previous year. In addition, The Habit ended 2022 with a digital mix of 35% and delivered $2 million in average unit volumes. About The Habit Restaurants, Inc. Born in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, The Habit Burger Grill is a burger-centric, fast-casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, cooked-to-order chargrilled burgers and handcrafted sandwiches featuring grilled tenderloin steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade ahi tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh handcrafted salads and an appealing selection of sides and shakes. The Habit Burger Grill was featured in Newsweek’s “America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains 2023;” its Tempura Green Beans were named as the top green bean dish in The Daily Meal’s “Ranking Green Bean Dishes From 11 Chain Restaurants” in 2023; and it was named in Thrillist’s list of “Underrated Burger Chains that Need to be in Every State!” The Habit Burger Grill has grown to nearly 340 restaurants in 14 states throughout Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington as well as 11 international locations. More information is available at About Yum! Brands Yum! Brands, Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, and its subsidiaries franchise or operate a system of over 55,000 restaurants in more than 155 countries and territories under the company’s concepts – KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill. The Company’s KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut brands are global leaders of the chicken, Mexican-style food and pizza categories, respectively. The Habit Burger Grill is a fast-casual restaurant concept specializing in made-to-order chargrilled burgers, sandwiches and more. In 2023, Yum! Brands was included on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index and Newsweek’s lists recognizing America’s Most Responsible Companies, America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity and America’s Greatest Workplaces for Women. In 2022, the Company was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America.

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Laxman Narasimhan Assumes Role of Starbucks Chief Executive Officer

March 20, 2023 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) announced, effective today, Laxman Narasimhan has assumed the role of chief executive officer and will join the company’s board of directors. Narasimhan was named incoming ceo on September 1, 2022, succeeding company founder and now former ceo, Howard Schultz. Following the global search for the new leader of Starbucks, Narasimhan joined the company as incoming ceo on October 1, 2022, bringing nearly 30 years of experience leading global consumer goods businesses and advising retail, grocery, restaurant and e-commerce companies. Over the past five months, he has embarked on a unique immersion experience, traveling to work with partners (employees) in over 30 stores, manufacturing plants and in support centers around the world, earning his barista certification along the way. He became immersed in the reinvention plans for the company led by Schultz who returned as interim ceo effective April 4, 2022. Since Schultz returned last year, Starbucks unveiled a company-wide reinvention strategy and continued to deliver on more than $1 billion in investments in retail partners and stores for prioritized areas such as increased pay and sick time accrual, new financial well-being benefits, modernized training and collaboration, store innovation and equipment and the celebration of coffee. The company saw a 47 percent stock price increase since the Q2 FY22 earnings call through the Q1 FY23 earnings call, and market cap growth of approximately $40 billion during that same time. The company also delivered 50 percent in Total Shareholder Return in this time period, far outpacing the S&P 500. Starbucks was also most recently named the most valuable restaurant brand for the 7th consecutive year by Brand Finance. Schultz shared a letter to the company’s senior leadership team on the eve of the announcement – viewable here. “The board wants to express our sincerest thanks to our founder, Howard Schultz, for selflessly picking up the leadership mantle when asked—forgoing compensation and putting aside his own pursuits—for the love of our company and its partners,” said Mellody Hobson, Independent Starbucks Board of Directors chair. “We would not be where we are without him.” Narasimhan officially assumes the role of chief executive officer today and will lead Starbucks Annual Shareholder Meeting this Thursday, March 23. As he ascends into the role, Narasimhan will continue engaging the leadership team, sharing his early learnings and insights and assessing opportunities for the company as they chart a path forward. “Laxman’s intensive immersion into the business coupled with his extensive experience as a proven brand builder, innovator and operator have uniquely prepared him to lead Starbucks into its next phase of growth,” said Hobson. “This immersion has deepened Laxman’s understanding of Starbucks culture and values. In this time of learning and listening, he has already won the hearts and minds of our partners around the world.” “I am humbled to officially step into my role as Starbucks chief executive officer, leading our incredible team of more than 450,000 green apron partners around the world. The foundation Howard has laid – building from scratch an iconic global brand fueled by a lasting passion to uplift humanity – is truly remarkable, and I am honored to have the opportunity to build on this deep heritage,” said Narasimhan. “As a human connection business, we have limitless possibilities to deliver for our partners, our customers, our investors and our communities through every cup and every connection. I am excited to work alongside our partners worldwide to unlock the limitless future of Starbucks.” About Starbucks Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 36,000 stores worldwide, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at or

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Cedar Fair Hires Monica Sauls as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer

March 20, 2023 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

SANDUSKY, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today announced that Monica Sauls has joined the company as senior vice president and chief human resources officer. She is based at the company’s office in Charlotte, North Carolina, and reports to President and Chief Executive Officer Richard A. Zimmerman. “Monica is a dynamic leader with more than two decades of experience in aligning business and human resources strategy to drive innovation, employee engagement, and revenue growth for leading consumer brands,” said Zimmerman. “Her vision, counsel and insights will provide tremendous value as we continue to execute on our long-range strategic plan.” Sauls brings more than 20 years of experience leading HR functions and culture transformations within large, complex global organizations. Most recently, she was senior vice president and chief people officer of chicken restaurant chain Bojangles, where she led a team that modernized people practices that accelerated restaurant staffing during the national labor crisis; revamped the employee value proposition with groundbreaking benefits; initiated talent strategies the elevated workforce engagement; and delivered a game-changing cultural transformation model resulting in increased transactions and sales at participating restaurants. Prior to that, Sauls was senior human resources strategic business solutions leader for Duke Energy from 2018 to 2020. From 2014 to 2018, she served as senior executive and leadership development director for global aerospace leader Boeing. She also has served in key HR and talent management leadership roles for Walgreens and Ingersoll Rand. Sauls holds a master’s degree in human resources and industrial relations from University of Minnesota Twin Cities and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “I’m delighted to join the Cedar Fair family and I look forward to partnering with Richard and his leadership team to deliver on the company’s strategic priorities,” Sauls said. “There is so much exciting work taking place across the organization, and I have been impressed by the team’s commitment to creating a culture in which associates are engaged, inspired and recognized for their contributions to the company’s success.” A downloadable image of Monica Sauls can be found on the Cedar Fair investor website at About Cedar Fair Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world, is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. Focused on its mission to make people happy by providing fun, immersive, and memorable experiences, the Company owns and operates 13 properties, consisting of 11 amusement parks, four separately gated outdoor water parks, and resort accommodations totaling more than 2,300 rooms and more than 600 luxury RV sites. Cedar Fair’s parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Texas and Toronto, Ontario.

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Primanti Bros. Restaurant and Bar Names New CEO

March 16, 2023

Restaurant and Retail Leader Adam Golomb Promoted Pittsburgh, PA  (  Primanti Bros. Restaurant and Bar has appointed President and Chief Marketing Officer Adam Golomb to the role of Chief Executive Officer. Golomb, with extensive leadership experience in the restaurant and retail industries, was appointed to the new role at the beginning of 2023. Golomb succeeds long-time CEO David Head – who has moved into a strategic consultancy role with Primanti Bros.’ lead investor, Garnett Station Partners. “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to lead Primanti Brothers,” said Golomb. “My dad brought me to the original location as a kid – and now, to oversee our the organization and position it for success, I’m humbled.” The change in leadership does not alter the restaurant’s plans for the future, though. “We’re continuing to focus on expanding our footprint while also filling out into neighboring communities surrounding our current restaurants,” said Golomb. “We’ll always remain rooted in our history – but our job as we look forward is to bring the best value and the best experience to as many people as possible.” That plan is already taking hold in Pittsbugh, where Primanti Bros. originated, and also across the state of Pennsylvania. “We’ve recently opened a location in South Fayette, just south of the city of Pittsburgh, and also in Hanover – in central Pennsylvania,” said Golomb. “This year we’re opening in Chambersburg, PA, Ross Township in Pittsburgh and Weirton, West Virginia.” Prior to time at Primanti Bros., Golomb spent time in leadership positions at Giant Eagle and Eat’n Park Hospitality. He is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University and holds a master’s degree from Penn State University. About Primanti Brothers In 1933, Joe Primanti opened a lunch cart in Pittsburgh’s Strip District selling sandwiches to the hungry truckers who were coming and going at all times of the night. Encouraged by sales and positive feedback, Joe expanded to a small storefront where he was joined by his brothers Dick and Stanley and their nephew John DePriter. And that’s how the very first Primanti Bros. location was born – Primanti Bros. locations are all dedicated to that early notion that folks deserve great food, with no pretense, for a good price.  For more information, please visit

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McDonald's USA Appoints Tabassum Zalotrawala as Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer for US Business

Mar 15, 2023, 10:35 ET

CHICAGO, March 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, McDonald's USA President Joe Erlinger sent the following message to the McDonald's US System announcing new Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Tabassum Zalotrawala. The digital CV and headshot for Tabassum Zalotrawala are embedded within this release. +++ With the announcement of an evolved Accelerating the Arches strategy to grow faster, meet customer expectations, and make our brand even stronger through new restaurant development, we committed to leveraging our position of strength to grow the number of McDonald's restaurants across the U.S. That's why, as we lay the foundation for continued long-term growth and rapidly accelerate the development of new restaurants, we are adding a strong and dynamic leader to the U.S. Senior Leadership Team. I'm excited to share that Tabassum Zalotrawala will join McDonald's and lead this effort as Senior Vice President and U.S. Chief Development Officer, reporting directly to me effective Monday, April 24. This role has been purposefully elevated to the U.S. SLT as we prioritize development as part of our Accelerating the Arches strategy. Having spent the past five years investing our capital and energy in modernizing our business, we've earned the right to build new restaurants and set aggressive goals, and Tabassum is the right leader to advance our ambitions. Prior to joining McDonald's, Tabassum led significant real estate development efforts for several restaurant brands worldwide. Most recently, she served as Chief Development Officer at Chipotle Mexican Grill where she led global execution of real estate, with one of her projects named one of 'The Most Innovative Projects of 2020' by Fast Company. Prior to that, she held several leadership positions focused on real estate, design, and construction at Panda Restaurant Group and Arby's Restaurant Group. Tabassum is a values-based leader and is committed to growing the business while providing opportunities for the betterment of people, customers, and communities. Her development experience is matched by her extensive education, with a Bachelor's in Fine Arts and completion of the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. While working in development, she quickly realized how a career in the food service sector provided an opportunity to scale the influence of her work and aligned with her values – allowing her to create spaces for tens of thousands of guests, support small business owners, and create thousands of new jobs each year. As she prepares to start her role in April, Tabassum will relocate to Chicago with her husband, Yusuf, and daughter, Ummae. Until then, the Development Leadership Team will continue to report to Mason Smoot as they work to accelerate our plans. I'd like to thank John Wendel for his leadership during this interim period as we conducted our search. The progress the team has continued to make in the past few months has set us up for future success. On behalf of the entire U.S. Senior Leadership Team, I am confident that Tabassum's leadership will elevate our position as a leading brand and enable McDonald's to serve more customers than ever before. With our sustained success over the past several years, there is still much work to be done. Now is the time to take this important next step. Please join me in welcoming Tabassum to our team. Joe Erlinger President, McDonald's USA About McDonald's USA McDonald's USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to millions of customers every day. Ninety-five percent of McDonald's approximately 13,500 U.S. restaurants are owned and operated by independent business owners. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and on Facebook at

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Roland Gonzalez Joins Church’s Texas Chicken® as U.S. Chief Operations Officer

Gonzalez brings over 12 years of industry experience and operational leadership to the brand

March 13, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Church’s Texas Chicken® is pleased to announce the hiring of Roland Gonzalez as U.S. Chief Operations Officer. Gonzalez, who has held various senior executive roles in the quick-service industry, brings a wealth of experience in franchising, operations, P&L management, global business strategies and process improvement. In his new role, Gonzalez will focus on collaboratively driving core business metrics for Church’s Texas Chicken®, achieving strong operational results and growth for the iconic brand. “I’m thrilled to join this team of strategic, hard-working industry leaders and team members. I look forward to a strong partnership with our incredible franchisees to further drive profitability, growth and exceptional service for our guests,” said Gonzalez. In his previous roles – including Executive Vice President, Operations at Virtual Dining Concepts and Head of Global Operations Standards and Strategy at Restaurant Brands International – Gonzalez has established himself as an innovative and results-driven senior executive. Managing and overseeing large teams of executives, he successfully led many global business initiatives and strategy for Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes. “Roland is an exceptional leader who understands all aspects of the industry and is joining us with critical skills gleaned from his past roles,” said Joe Guith, CEO, Church’s Texas Chicken® and Texas Chicken™. “We look forward to working with Roland, whose experience and knowledge will be a great asset to our team and the brand as a whole.” About Church’s Texas Chicken® / Texas Chicken™ Founded in San Antonio, TX, in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Texas Chicken®, along with its sister brand Texas Chicken™ primarily outside of the U.S., 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, tenders, sandwiches, Honey-Butter Biscuits™ made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, home-style sides all for a great value. Texas Chicken™ and Church’s Texas Chicken® have more than 1,500 locations in 26 countries and global markets and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information about Church’s Texas Chicken®, visit For information on Texas Chicken™, visit For information on how to become a Church’s Texas Chicken® Franchisee, visit

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