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Executive Movements - April 2024




Outback Steakhouse parent Bloomin' Brands promotes Michael Healy to CFO


The longtime Bloomin’ official was most recently the company’s head of global business development. He replaces Chris Meyer, who is retiring.



Healy was CFO of Outback from 2012 to 2019.

Bloomin’ Brands, the owner of Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and other casual-dining chains, has promoted Michael Healy to CFO, the company said Thursday in an SEC filing.

Healy, who is 49, has been with Tampa-based Bloomin’ for 15 years. He was most recently its EVP of global business development and strategy, a role he assumed in November. Before that, he was president of Bonefish Grill. He was also CFO of Outback Steakhouse from 2012 to 2019.

He replaces former CFO Chris Meyer, who announced his retirement in February.

Healy’s contract includes a base salary of $550,000, an annual target bonus of 85% of his base salary and an annual target equity award with a value of $750,000, according to the filing.

Bloomin’ is currently facing pressure from activist investor Starboard Value to improve its operations in an effort to boost returns for shareholders. It is also in the midst of closing 41 underperforming restaurants and opening another 45 this year. 


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Checkers & Rally’s CEO Frances Allen Steps Down


The executive will remain on the team until September.


Frances Allen joined Checkers & Rally's in February 2020.


Checkers & Rally’s announced Thursday that CEO Frances Allen is resigning to focus more on board work.

She serves on the boards of Chili’s parent Brinker International and No Kid Hungry, according to her LinkedIn profile. The executive will remain with the company through September as it searches for a new leader.

“It has been my honor to lead this organization these past four years, and I’m extremely proud of what we have accomplished,” Allen said in a statement. “While I’m looking forward to the future, I’m grateful for my time at such an iconic brand, and for the opportunity to work with such an exceptional organization and Franchisees. Together, we have successfully launched our Restaurant of the Future store remodel, which is driving incredible market growth for our restaurants, artificial intelligence at the drive-thru, menu innovation, and more. I leave knowing the company is well positioned to execute on its next chapter of growth and look forward to all that’s to come for the organization.”

Allen will still be a shareholder of Checkers and an active participant in the hiring process.

She joined the burger chain in February 2020, only weeks before COVID arrived. Despite the uncertain times, Allen strategically planned her onboarding process, engaging with employees, franchise advisory committees, and visiting restaurants before chaos ensued. The company quickly formed a crisis committee, implementing 15 new operational procedures to ensure the safety of employees and customers when offices closed due to the pandemic.

One major adjustment was dedicating one drive-thru lane to mobile order pickup, a move accelerated by the pandemic but originally considered by the brand. Checkers leveraged its drive-thru expertise to implement this change swiftly, capitalizing on its dual lanes and contactless exchanges. Another significant development was the introduction of AI voice ordering, aimed at relieving stress on employees and improving accuracy and efficiency. Checkers became the first quick-service chain to scale this technology across its company-operated footprint. There were challenges in installation and capacity, but the AI system has proven highly reliable, contributing to faster service and improved customer satisfaction.

Amid these changes, Checkers underwent a shift in ownership. Majority ownership moved from private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners to senior lenders Arbour Lane Capital Management, Garnett Station Partners, and Guggenheim Investments. As part of the deal, Checkers reduced its long-term debt from $300 million to $75 million and was also given $25 million for store remodeling and growth initiatives. 

“Since Frances joined our team in 2020, she has played an instrumental role in helping us to execute on a number of key initiatives that have helped to build a solid foundation for the business and a clear path forward for the company’s next phase of growth,” independent board member David Barr said in a statement. “We are thankful for her many contributions and leadership and look forward to her continued support during this transition period.” 


Checkers & Rally’s have roughly 800 restaurants systemwide. The current strategy is to target select in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Las Vegas, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.


View source version at Checkers





CKE Restaurants names brand presidents for Carl's Jr. and Hardee's


03 Apr, 2024, 13:26 ET


Business structure set to maximize brand potential

FRANKLIN, Tenn., April 3, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (CKE), parent company of Carl's Jr.® and Hardee's®, is announcing the appointment of brand presidents for Carl's Jr., Hardee's and International.

Blake Devillier joins CKE Restaurants as the Carl’s Jr. USA President.

Following the separation of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's brand, the business approach includes a leadership structure with three teams, each led by a president driving execution of strategic growth plans. Mike Woida will continue to lead as International President, Chris Bode was named Hardee's USA President last fall, and Blake Devillier has joined CKE Restaurants as Carl's Jr. USA President. CKE will continue to leverage the global scale of the company to build industry's leading growth capabilities.

"I'm thrilled to have such exceptional leaders at the helm of our business. Their proven track records and strategic vision will be instrumental in unlocking the full potential of our brands. With a focus on dedicated brand growth plans and the leverage of CKE's global infrastructure, we're poised to achieve transformative results," said Max Wetzel, chief executive officer at CKE.

Devillier joined CKE restaurants on April 1 and is a strategic executive with experience leading multi-site operations, fueling culture, growth, efficiency, and execution that drives breakout performance. He joins CKE from YUM! Brands, Inc., where he was senior vice president of field operations for Taco Bell. Prior to that, Blake spent more than 25 years at GAP, Inc., with roles at Banana Republic, Gap brand and Old Navy, including vice president of stores at Old Navy. Blake holds an MBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana.

"For years, Carl's Jr. has been synonymous with satisfying hunger for big, bold burgers with craveable flavors. I'm excited to leverage my experience to lead our teams and drive innovative strategies that will propel Carl's Jr. to even greater heights," said Blake Devillier, Carl's Jr. USA president.

About Carl's Jr.

Carl's Jr.® is famous around the world for big, audacious, impossible-to-ignore flavors inspired by its California roots. For a bold move, guests have ordered items like over-the-top, juicy charbroiled burger creations, Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™, Hand-Scooped Ice-Cream Shakes™ and indulgent breakfast burgers for more than 80 years. Together with its franchisees, Carl's Jr. operates more than 1,000 restaurants across the U.S. and has a presence in 24 countries worldwide. Learn more at www.carlsjr.com.

About Hardee's

Home of Goodness in The Making, Hardee's® is known for wholesome, hand-crafted menu items such as Made from Scratch™ Biscuits, Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™ and charbroiled 100 percent Angus Beef burgers. Together with its franchisees, Hardee's operates approximately 1,600 restaurants across the U.S. and has a presence in 13 countries worldwide. Hardee's has been bringing people together with classic flavors and hometown pride for more than 60 years. For more information about Hardee's, please visit www.hardees.com.


About CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.

CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc., a privately held company based in Franklin, Tennessee, runs and operates Carl's Jr.® and Hardee's® restaurants, two beloved brands, known for premium and innovative menu items such as iconic charbroiled burgers, Made from Scratch™ Biscuits and Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™. With both a U.S. and international footprint, Carl's Jr. Restaurants LLC and Hardee's Restaurants LLC have more than 3,600 franchised or company-operated restaurants domestically and more than 35 international markets and U.S. territories. For more information about CKE, please visit www.ckr.com or its brand sites at www.carlsjr.com and www.hardees.com.


View source version at CKE Restaurants



American Dairy Queen Corporation Hires New Franchise Development Executive to Lead U.S. and Canada


Gregg Benvenuto Joins the Company with Decades of Restaurant Franchise Development Experience


April 03, 2024 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ), a subsidiary of International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) and a leader in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry, today announced it hired Gregg Benvenuto as vice president of franchise development in the U.S. and Canada. In this role, Benvenuto is responsible for leading a team to deliver the company’s development market planning and franchise unit sales throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Benvenuto comes to ADQ with decades of restaurant franchise development experience. He has held executive franchise development roles at Dine Brands, Papa Murphy’s, and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. He also worked as a franchise business consultant at Yum! Brands.

“We have aggressive five-year goals to open new DQ Grill & Chill restaurants in the U.S. and Canada,” said Dan Kropp, chief operating officer, U.S. and Canada, at American Dairy Queen Corporation. “Gregg brings impressive franchise development leadership in the restaurant industry in roles of increasing responsibility. His contributions will help us grow DQ restaurants in key markets to ensure we are ubiquitous in every state and every province.”

“I’m pleased to join the Dairy Queen team at a time of tremendous growth and continuous opportunity,” said Gregg Benvenuto, vice president franchise development, U.S. and Canada, at American Dairy Queen Corporation. “I look forward to leading a team of franchise development professionals to reach new levels of success. Together, we can make DQ restaurants a household name in every part of the U.S. and Canada.”

Benvenuto holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Towson State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

About IDQ

International Dairy Queen Inc. (IDQ), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the parent company of American Dairy Queen Corporation (ADQ) and Dairy Queen Canada, Inc. Through its subsidiaries, IDQ develops, licenses and services a system of more than 7,000 restaurants in 20 countries. IDQ is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (Berkshire), which is led by Warren Buffett, the legendary investor and CEO of Berkshire. For more information, visit DairyQueen.com.


View source version at Dairy Queen





Marco's Pizza® Appoints 25-Year Industry Veteran John Meyers to Chief Operating Officer


02 Apr, 2024, 12:48 ET


One of the Nation's Fastest-Growing Pizza Brands Strengthens Executive Bench with Strategic Expert Overseeing Operations, Technology and Supply Chain

TOLEDO, Ohio, April 2, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Marco's Pizza, one of the nation's fastest-growing pizza brands, appoints restaurant and hospitality industry veteran, John Meyers, to Chief Operating Officer. This appointment comes at an opportune time as Marco's continues expanding its global footprint through strengthening franchisee relations, enhancing its technology infrastructure and committing to operational excellence.

John Meyers, Chief Operating Officer of Marco's Pizza.


Meyers boasts an impressive 25-plus-year history of bringing innovation and collaboration to drive change at industry leading organizations such as Darden Restaurants and The Walt Disney Company. An action oriented strategic thinker, Meyers has used data and analytics to strategically streamline restaurant operations and profitability.


Prior to his appointment to COO, Meyers served as Marco's SVP of Finance & Business Intelligence. In his new role, Meyers oversees a diverse team in several departments including technology, supply chain and operations. With responsibility over day-to-day operations, he also plays a vital role in the development and implementation of new technologies that drive sales and streamline operations.

Empowering front-line team members to deliver an exceptional experience is a top priority for Meyers. "When employees see and act on an opportunity to turn someone's day around, even in little ways, it not only makes the customer experience better, but also improves job satisfaction and employee retention," said Meyers.

"The opportunity to contribute to the Marco's Pizza legacy during this phase of continued growth is truly a privilege," shared Meyers. "Our pizza is special using only top-quality ingredients, fresh cheese and dough made-from-scratch. I am committed to upholding this high quality standard and ensuring our customers enjoy it hot and fresh. Every Marco's Pizza encounter should be a memorable experience for our customers."

"John plays an instrumental role in steering our brand toward sustained growth and we are excited to embark on the next phase of his journey as COO," said Tony Libardi, Co-CEO and President of Marco's Pizza. "John consistently demonstrates exceptional leadership, strategic vision, and a deep commitment to our brand values, and this promotion is a testament to his hard work and invaluable contributions to our company's success. I am confident that he will excel in this new role, leveraging his experience and insights to drive operational excellence and elevate our brand to new heights."

This appointment comes at a pivotal time for the leadership team as they strengthen their strong development support system, which includes technology and tools to help identify territories for expansion, plus support in real estate, construction management, field operations, and information related to financing. FRANdata, a leading research and advisory firm that analyzes the franchise market, reports Marco's 2023 FUND Score of 895 is in the top 1% of all evaluated franchise systems and is among the top three scores for all QSR brands.

The brand's impressive performance has earned multiple awards and recognition: Ranking in Newsweek's 2023 America's Best Customer Service in the pizza chains category, earning a spot on QSR's Top 50, appearing on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious Top 500 ranking, and most recently claiming the No. 48 spot on Entrepreneur's 2024 Franchise 500® ranking.

For more information on Marco's Pizza franchise opportunities, visit marcos.com/franchising or contact Beth Heminger at bheminger@marcos.com or 866-731-8209.

ABOUT MARCO'S PIZZA Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco's Pizza is one of the fastest-growing pizza brands in the United States. Marco's was founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale ("Pat") Giammarco and thrives to deliver a high-quality pizza experience, known for its dough made from scratch and its three fresh signature cheeses. The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate over 1,200 stores in 34 states with locations in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Most recently, Marco's Pizza was ranked No. 48 on Entrepreneur Magazine's 2024 "Franchise 500" ranking. Other recent accolades include a high ranking on Newsweek's 2023 "America's Best Customer Service" in pizza chains list, earning a spot on QSR's Top 50, and being featured on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious "Top 500" ranking.

*Based on the Average Sales Volume of the top 50% of our Franchised Stores for our fiscal year 2022. Based on our fiscal year 2022, 160 of 414 Franchised Stores in the category (or 39%) met or exceeded this average. This information appears in Item 19 of our 2023 FDD – please refer to our FDD for complete information on financial performance. Results may differ. There is no assurance that any franchisee will perform as well.


View source version at Marco's Pizza



Chester's Chicken Hires Industry Veteran Bill Rice as Executive Vice President


02 Apr, 2024, 09:05 ET


Rice brings nearly four decades of expertise to this role overseeing sales, operations and supply chain 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., April 2, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Chester's Chicken, the fresh fried chicken quick-service restaurant concept with over 1,300 active franchised and licensed locations across the U.S., welcomes Bill Rice to the executive team as EVP, Head of Sales, Operations and Supply Chain. Rice joins Chester's after a short retirement preceded by nearly four decades of experience in foodservice supply chain management, most recently as a senior vice president at Krispy Krunchy Foods, LLC.

Bill Rice, EVP, Head of Sales, Operations and Supply Chain for Chester's Chicken


Under Rice's leadership and with a solid foundation already laid, the company plans to accelerate growth and evolution. Rice will ensure team members have the resources needed to achieve Chester's aggressive growth goals while continuing to support existing franchise partners.


"We continue to prioritize investing in the Chester's leadership team and Bill is the perfect complement," said Alexis Lobodocky, General Manager, Chester's Chicken. "He brings extensive expertise in supply chain, an area of opportunity that will drive gains for the Chester's brand and Chester's operators."

Prior to Chester's Chicken, Rice served seven years at Krispy Krunchy where he championed a redesign of the company's supply chain network. Notable achievements also included overhauling procedures on issues including vendor and manufacturer selection, quality control, inventory and organizational management; developing a turn-key branded grab-n-go and breakfast program, in addition to several other menu items and product concepts; and achieving year-over-year double-digit sales growth by establishing and maintaining continuous sources of supply amidst various supply chain disruptions.

Rice has also held leadership roles at Intl. Traders Inc./MBM Corp., Performance Food Group, and Kraft Foodservice Corp.

"The Chester's culture and core values like 'winning as a team' and 'fried chicken is fun' are what drew me in and convinced me to exit retirement," said Rice. "It's refreshing to be working alongside some of the best in the industry who are energized about our future and focused on initiatives that deliver the most value to our operators."

Rice took his position in January and has been working against several Q1/Q2 projects including a supply chain optimization study, adding new and profitable menu items, equipping the team with new sales tools, and bringing on additional resources to the field team.

About Chester's Chicken

Chester's Chicken is a leading quick-service restaurant (QSR) concept, with over 1,300 active franchised and licensed locations and over 50 years of proven success. Chester's offers high quality, great-tasting fried chicken in convenience stores, truck stops and supermarkets. Chester's specially marinated chicken is double breaded using an old family recipe. Chester's menu includes bone-in chicken, super tenders, bites, sandwiches and potato wedges as well as home-style sides, dipping sauces and desserts. To learn more, visit chesterschicken.com or follow the brand on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or X (Twitter)


View source version at Chester's Chicken



Bar Louie Names New Executives to Strengthen Franchising Activities and Continue Rapid Growth


April 1, 2024


Popular neighborhood bar brand to focus on franchise development and further expansion

Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  With a focus on advancing and enhancing its franchise development efforts, Bar Louie – America’s #1 Happy Hour spot – has announced a pair of top-shelf hires poised to drive and elevate the brand’s franchising efforts.

Brian DeHart will assume the role of Vice President of Franchise Operations, bringing his extensive experience to drive operational innovation. Steve Culbert has joined as Vice President of Franchise Sales and Administration, leveraging his expertise to enhance franchise owner relations and develop advanced sales strategies.

“I am thrilled to welcome Brian and Steve to our leadership team as I am confident they will significantly enhance and improve our business and franchise activities,” said CEO Brian Wright. “With strong franchise interest driving our growth, evidenced by newly signed agreements, the addition of these seasoned executives signals a promising future for Bar Louie, where the sky’s the limit!”

A recently finalized five-unit agreement with a prominent Midwest-based hotel group is set to bring Bar Louie to the vibrant Chicago and Indianapolis markets. The first location under this multi-unit development deal is underway in Indiana, positioned as a flagship eatery within an upcoming retail complex that will also feature shops and hotels. Additionally, January also saw the grand opening of a new Bar Louie in Naperville, IL, a suburb just outside of Chicago, further solidifying one of the brand’s longest franchise partnerships.


As Vice President of Franchise Operations, DeHart will oversee all aspects of operations for both franchise locations and new locations. His expertise will be critical to ensuring consistency across the brand, in addition to providing support for franchise owners. With a background as Director of Operations for 5 1?2 years, Brian brings a wealth of experience, including being awarded Bar Louie’s “DO of the Year” in 2023. Prior to that, he served as General Manager for nearly six years at the brand’s Geneva, IL location.


In his role as VP of Franchise Sales and Administration, Culbert will spearhead franchise development, manage franchisee relations and sales, and oversee Bar Louie’s corporate locations in Florida. With over three decades of industry experience including roles at Carrabba’s, Bennigan’s, Einstein’s Bagels and Tijuana Flats, Culbert brings a wealth of industry knowledge to his new position.

Late last year, with a commitment to further developing franchise growth, the brand unveiled a new program focused on incentivizing potential new owners. Until June 2024, Bar Louie is offering qualified franchise partners 50% off their initial franchise fee. In addition, qualified hospitality partners in the hotel franchising space may be eligible for royalty relief for new or existing developments.

Additionally, in preparation for accelerated growth, Bar Louie recently unveiled a more contemporary restaurant layout and design at their high-traffic Nashville location featuring upscale-yet-approachable finishes throughout the dining room. The modern redesign was chosen specifically for the Nashville location and demonstrates the unique flexibility that can be customized to match the feel and needs of the community, providing a localized experience that customers crave and appreciate.

With nearly 70 locations across the country, Bar Louie combines the consistency of a national brand with a locally hospitable appeal. No two Bar Louie restaurants are alike, but each has a modern, relaxed vibe that expresses the brand’s identity, taking the bar and eatery experience to new heights, attracting an affluent crowd that enjoys premium cocktails, local brews, great food and hanging with friends.

For more information, visit OwnaBarLouie.com.

About Bar Louie

Founded in downtown Chicago in 1990 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Bar Louie is the original Gastrobar with an award-winning collection of neighborhood bars with a lively, social atmosphere. With 67 locations across the United States, Bar Louie is known for its signature handcrafted martinis and cocktails, Gastrobar menu of appetizers, burgers and sandwiches served every day until close. For more information on Bar Louie, visit BarLouie.com.


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RAVE Restaurant Group Appoints CFO and Bolsters Executive Team to Accelerate Growth


March 26, 2024


Renowned multi-brand portfolio group adds new leaders to continue company’s strong performance

Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.comRAVE Restaurant Group [NASDAQ: RAVE] today announced a strategic reshaping of its executive team. These appointments represent a significant upgrade to the leadership team, signaling investors and franchisees alike that the company is focused on the continued expansion and development of its Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza brands. These new executives include:

Jay Rooney, Chief Financial Officer

Zack Viljoen, Vice President of Operations for RAVE and General Manager of Pie Five

Denise Wilson, Associate Vice President of Supply Chain

Carlos Cojulun, Marketing Director of Pizza Inn

Liam Finn, Director of Franchise Development

Roger Mangum, Director of Operations and Training


Leading this transformation is the appointment of Jay Rooney as Chief Financial Officer. With a proven track record of steering organizations toward financial excellence, Rooney brings invaluable expertise to RAVE, elevating the company’s financial strategies and governance to new levels. Rooney joins from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, where he’s been CFO since 2018. Before that, he held financial leadership positions at Brinker International for nearly 20 years.

“I’m truly honored and excited to take on this new role with such an established company,” said Rooney. “Along with my new colleagues, I’m looking forward to helping create further growth and expansion for years to come.”

These new appointments come at a time when RAVE is experiencing strong growth. At the start of the year, the company recorded its 15th consecutive quarter of profitability, with same-store sales growth at both Pizza Inn and Pie Five. In 2023, the calendar year results outshone competitors including Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Domino’s and Chipotle. Additionally, after 24 years of decline, Pizza Inn has had consecutive years of net buffet unit growth.

Both new and existing team members are joining Rooney in the executive lineup, including Zack Viljoen, who was named Vice President of Operations for RAVE and General Manager of the Pie Five brand. Viljoen takes on full responsibility for marketing and operations, training operations and compliance, as well as driving scale reimagining for Pizza Inn buffets. Previously, Viljoen was Senior Director of Marketing and Strategy, overseeing all growth initiatives and leading strategy developments.

Denise Wilson, who joined RAVE in January as Associate Vice President of Supply Chain, is an accomplished strategic supply chain and distribution leader with a diverse skill set – sharpened over her career with restaurant brands and organizations including Wingstop Restaurants, Inc., Nothing Bundt Cakes and LSG Sky Chefs. This appointment marks a significant full-circle moment, as Wilson served as Sr. Director of Supply Chain and Customer Relations for RAVE from 2002-2013, acting as a key contributor to the development of the Pie Five concept.

“These new members of our team are all highly skilled and experienced pros who will be essential to building a strong future,” said Brandon Solano, CEO of RAVE Restaurant Group. “We’re focused on doing everything we can to honor our company’s long history, while satisfying our customers, franchisees and investors for years to come.”

To further shape the trajectory of RAVE, Carlos Cojulun serves as Marketing Director of Pizza Inn, overseeing national and regional in-store, digital, social and out-of-home brand marketing and promotions for “America’s Hometown Pizza Buffet.” Cojulun is known for pioneering innovative strategies, with more than three decades of leadership experience at Fortune 500 companies including Procter & Gamble, Del Monte Foods and Amgen. Additionally, Roger Mangum joins as Director of Operations and Training with lead responsibility for operations in Texas and Oklahoma. Mangum will likewise oversee training across both Pie Five and Pizza Inn.

Liam Finn recently joined RAVE as Director of Franchise Development, bringing a wealth of experience in franchise development and investment banking to the team. As a Franchise Development Manager at Driven Brands over the last three years, he spearheaded strategic initiatives to drive franchise growth and expansion across North America. Prior to this role, Finn served as an Investment Banking Analyst at Tobin & Company, providing expert financial analysis and advisory services to his clients.

“The collective expertise and vision of these executives promises to usher in a new era of prosperity and innovation for RAVE, reinforcing its position as a market leader and paving the way for sustained success,” continued Solano. “These team members were each handpicked to play pivotal roles in shaping the trajectory of our company. I believe we are poised like never before to drive improved financial performance, scale reimagining efforts and propel store count expansion – setting the stage for unprecedented growth.”

For more information, visit RAVErg.com, and follow on Instagram @pizzainn and @piefivepizza.

About RAVE Restaurant Group, Inc.

Dallas-based RAVE Restaurant Group [NASDAQ: RAVE] has inspired restaurant innovation and countless customer smiles with its trailblazing pizza concepts. The Company owns, franchises, licenses and supplies Pie Five and Pizza Inn restaurants operating domestically and internationally. The Pizza Inn experience is unlike your typical buffet. Since 1958, Pizza Inn’s house-shredded 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese, fresh ingredients and house-made signature sauce combined with friendly service solidified the brand to become America’s favorite hometown pizza place. This, in addition to its small-town vibe, are the hallmarks of Pizza Inn restaurants. In 2011, RAVE introduced Pie Five Pizza, pioneering a fast-casual pizza brand that transformed the classic pizzeria into a concept offering personalization, sophisticated ingredients and speed. Pie Five’s craft pizzas are baked fresh daily and feature house-made ingredients, creative recipes and craveable crust creations. In 2024, RAVE recorded its 15th consecutive quarter of profitability with same-store sales growth at both Pizza Inn and Pie Five. For more information, visit RAVErg.com, and follow on Instagram @pizzainn and @piefivepizza.


View source version at RAVE Restaurant Group





Red Lobster appoints another CEO


Jonathan Tibus, who helped chains like Kona Grill and Krystal during bankruptcy, joins the struggling seafood chain following Horace Dawson’s retirement.


Julie Littman Senior Reporter


Dive Brief:

  • Red Lobster named Jonathan Tibus as its CEO six months after Horace Dawson was promoted into the role, the company said in an press release emailed to Restaurant Dive. 

  • Dawson is retiring at the end of the month after working at Red Lobster for 21 years. Prior to becoming CEO, Dawson served as EVP and general counsel since 2014. 

  • Tibus, who has been a managing director at the management consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal for over 20 years, has spent short stints in various leadership roles at restaurant brands such as Kona Grill, Real Mex Restaurants and Ignite Restaurant Group, according to his LinkedIn.

Dive Insight:

Tibus is known as a restructuring expert, who served at Kona Grill when it went bankrupt in 2019 and was chief restructuring officer at Krystal after it filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile. His appointment could signal a shift in operations at Red Lobster, especially as minority investor Thai Union Group said earlier this year that it plans to sell its shares in the casual dining company

Red Lobster has struggled since the COVID-19 pandemic began, facing industry headwinds including high interest rates and growing labor and operational costs. Red Lobster’s net loss worsened during Q4, reaching over $10 million (387 million TBH) compared to a loss of over $9 million (348 million TBH) in the year ago quarter, according to Thai Union Group’s yearly financial report. The investor said in that document that it has recorded a one-time, non-cash impairment charge relating to its exit of Red Lobster.

Dawson’s departure will leave a hole in the company. He started at Red Lobster when it was still owned by Darden and he worked in nearly all legal specialties, including contracts, commercial, litigation, employment, intellectual property, licensing, M&A, purchasing, distribution and franchising, according to the press release. He also held other business roles, including roles in international franchising and lobster aquaculture.

Tibus’ appointment marks the third CEO Red Lobster has named since 2021. Dawson was appointed CEO in September, more than a year after Kelli Valade left her post in 2022. She had been CEO for less than a year before leaving to take the CEO post at Denny’s.

Tibus and Alvarez & Marsal all did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 


View source version at Red Lobster



Pizza Hut Searching for President After David Graves’ Departure


Global CEO Aaron Powell will oversee the responsibilities for now.



Pizza Hut drivers deliver customers over 110 million pizzas every year.


Pizza Hut U.S. is looking for a president following the departure of David Graves after four-plus years. Aaron Powell, the chain’s global CEO, will directly oversee Pizza Hut U.S. as part of his duties as the company searches “for the right candidate to backfill the role,” a Pizza Hut U.S. spokesperson said in an email.

“We appreciate the strong leadership David Graves has brought to the Pizza Hut U.S. business during the last four-plus years, and the positive impact he had made in helping modernize the brand and positioning it for the future,” the spokesperson said. “We wish him well on this next chapter.”

The U.S. division of Pizza Hut, which accounts for 6,593 of the brand’s 19,866 restaurants (year-end 2023), reported same-store sales declines of 4 percent in Q4. The number grew 1 percent for the full year.

Pizza Hut U.S. reported 219 closures in 2023 and 253 gross builds. Pizza Hut Global reported 1,586 gross builds and 752 closures. 


Some of the softness belongs to a difficult comp as Pizza Hut launched Melts and promoted Detroit-style pizza in the prior year. Management cautioned the same could be true of Q1 2024, a period that’s set to measure against an 8 percent increase last year that reflected a full period of sales from the Melts platform and the Big New Yorker. However, Yum! CEO David Gibbs said he expected performance trends on a two-year basis to improve as mutliple LTOs were on deck, including Hot Honey Pizza and wings.

Graves joined Pizza Hut as chief brand officer in 2020 from KFC, where he served as director of marketing strategy and innovation (he was a Procter & Gamble vet before Yum!) Alongside Kevin Hochman (also from KFC, now CEO at Brinker International), he helped lead Pizza Hut on a turnaround journey that involved refreshing the legacy concept’s asset base toward delco units and reinvigorating its innovation and marketing calendar.

At that point, domestic same-store sales had declined 4 percent and Yum! cautioned investors Pizza Hut’s U.S. fleet could drop as low as 7,000 locations, which amounted to roughly 500 closures in a 24-month window. Globally, the brand shuttered 1,745 restaurants in 2020 (it also opened 682) to end the fiscal year with 17,639 venues around the world—the lowest figure since Q3 2018.  

The main reason Pizza Hut slid was to accelerate a stateside transition to an off-premises-focused base. In October 2018, the gap between dine-in sales and sales from delivery and carryout was significant, with both the U.S. and international seeing a roughly 10-point differential. About half of Pizza Hut’s sales flowed from dine-in. Within three to four years, the company expected that to drop to 25 percent. And in the U.S., the conversion was even more pronounced, as dine-in sales declined to less than 10 percent of total take.

In Q3 2021, Pizza Hut’s U.S. division posted 2 percent same-store sales growth, which was 8 percent higher on a two-year stack. And Pizza Hut’s off-premises channel was up 17 percent.

Hochman first entered his role as Pizza Hut’s interim U.S. president. Graves succeeded him on January 1, 2022. Powell, a Kimberly-Clark vet, came onboard in September 2021 to fill a spot vacated by now-Topgolf CEO Artie Starrs.

The brand had its share of successful COVID pivots—it fulfilled north of 50 million contactless orders via delivery and carryout by the end of that March. It also launched the “Hut Lane,” which is essentially a pickup lane attached to stores, as well as get involved with aggregators. From a brand marketing side, the “Pizza Lover’s Pizza” campaign infused nostalgia into the chain’s approach again, from Pac-Man augmented reality games to tapping Craig Robinson, best known for his role as Darryl Philbin in “The Office,” in a “Newstalgia” push.


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Papa Johns Announces CEO Transition and Reaffirms Fiscal 2024 Adjusted Operating Income and Development Outlook


CEO Rob Lynch to be succeeded by Ravi Thanawala as Interim CEO, Board of Directors conducting comprehensive external search

March 21, 2024 07:41 AM Eastern Daylight Time

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns®”) today announced Rob Lynch, President and Chief Executive Officer, will be departing Papa Johns to assume another CEO position. The Board has appointed Ravi Thanawala, Papa Johns current Chief Financial Officer, as Interim CEO effective today. To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Lynch will provide continued support in an advisory role until April 30, 2024. The Board is conducting a comprehensive search process to identify a successor for the CEO role.

“Since joining Papa Johns nearly five years ago, Mr. Lynch has guided the Company through a business and culture transformation. I am joined by the Board, our team members and our franchisees in sharing our deepest thanks for his service and contributions in rebuilding the strength of the brand as CEO. We wish Rob all the best,” said Chairman of the Board, Christopher Coleman. “I am confident that we have a strong leadership team in place – led by Ravi Thanawala as Interim CEO – to continue to execute our long-term strategy as the Board takes the necessary time to identify the next CEO for Papa Johns.”

“It’s been my honor and privilege to serve as Papa Johns CEO for the past five years. I could not be more proud of the work our Executive Leadership Team, team members and franchisees have done to grow and transform this brand,” said Rob Lynch. “This was an incredibly difficult decision for me, as I see all of the upside potential that exists for this great company. That being said, I feel good about this decision knowing that Papa Johns is very well positioned for both the short and long term. I am certain that Papa Johns’ incredible leaders, franchisees and team members will continue to do what only Papa Johns can: deliver better pizza to the world.”

“I’m honored to step in as Interim CEO during this transition period and thank the Papa Johns Board of Directors for its confidence in me,” said Mr. Thanawala. “We have a talented Executive Leadership Team, a strong group of franchisees and dedicated team members behind this iconic brand who will continue to deliver on our Back to Better 2.0 strategy and international transformation initiatives, creating long-term value for all of our stakeholders.”

Mr. Thanawala joined Papa Johns in 2023 as Chief Financial Officer. Prior to joining Papa Johns, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Nike North America, Nike Inc.’s largest division, generating approximately $20 billion in revenue on an annual basis. During his seven years at Nike, Inc., Mr. Thanawala also served as the Global VP and CFO of the Converse brand, executing Nike’s global omnichannel direct-to-consumer strategy and successfully turning around the $3.5 billion dollar Converse brand. In addition, he was the Global VP of Retail Excellence, overseeing the brand’s performance across its business channels of franchises, licenses, direct to consumer and wholesale. Prior to Nike Inc., Mr. Thanawala spent eight years at ANN INC. in finance and operations roles.

Fiscal 2024 Adjusted Operating Income and development outlook reaffirmed

Papa Johns announced its Back to Better 2.0 growth strategy and international transformation initiatives earlier this year, which include a focus on deepened marketing investments, new franchisee incentives to accelerate North America development and optimizations to transform the brand’s international presence.

As the Company continues to execute on these initiatives, it remains on track to achieve Adjusted Operating Income1 in 2024 between $153 million and $163 million. Additionally, the Company expects net unit growth for North America to increase more than 20% relative to 2023 net unit openings and anticipates International gross openings to be between 100 and 140 new International restaurants.

About Papa Johns

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) opened its doors in 1984 with one goal in mind: BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.® Papa Johns believes that using high-quality ingredients leads to superior quality pizzas. Its original dough is made of only six ingredients and is fresh, never frozen. Papa Johns tops its pizzas with real cheese made from mozzarella, pizza sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes that go from vine to can in the same day and meat free of fillers. It was the first national pizza delivery chain to announce the removal of artificial flavors and synthetic colors from its entire food menu. Papa Johns is co-headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. and Louisville, Ky. and is the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,900 restaurants in 50 countries and territories. For more information about the company or to order pizza online, visit www.PapaJohns.com or download the Papa Johns mobile app for iOS or Android.


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Shake Shack Names Rob Lynch as Chief Executive Officer


Randy Garutti to support CEO transition and remain as advisor through 2024

March 21, 2024 07:46 AM Eastern Daylight Time

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shake Shack Inc. (“Shake Shack” or the “Company”) (NYSE: SHAK) today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Rob Lynch to the role of Chief Executive Officer and board member, effective May 20, 2024. Mr. Lynch currently serves as President and CEO of Papa John’s International, Inc. and under his leadership, the Company has achieved record global system-wide sales. Mr. Lynch will succeed Randy Garutti who will continue as the Company’s CEO through May 20, 2024, which will also be his final day serving on the Board, before transitioning to an advisor through the end of this year to ensure a smooth transition.

“Rob’s appointment as CEO marks the beginning of our next chapter of growth as we seek to further elevate Shake Shack as a leading global brand,” said Danny Meyer, Shake Shack’s Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Rob’s deep leadership experience with several well-established global brands will serve us well in executing on our long-term strategic priorities as we enter the next phase of our Company’s growth. Rob’s leadership style is also a wonderful fit to advance Shake Shack’s culture of Enlightened Hospitality, and we are thrilled to welcome him to the team.”

Mr. Meyer continued, “I also want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Randy for the exceptional impact, leadership and dedication he has brought to Shake Shack since its inception as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park to what it has become today – a beloved brand with over 520 restaurants across the world. Randy’s commitment to this brand for over 20 years, including during this time of transition, will be an enduring part of Shake Shack’s success story.”

Mr. Lynch is a highly-experienced restaurant operator and currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Papa John’s International, Inc., where he has driven record global system-wide sales of over $5 billion across approximately 5,900 units.

“I am very excited to work with this outstanding team to continue to write the inspirational Shake Shack story, and to help it grow into its greatest potential. Shake Shack is special in the restaurant space – I love the food, the thoughtful Shack designs, and the soul of the brand. As I have learned more about the company, I have also gained tremendous respect for the strong culture that has been an integral part of the Company’s success since its founding,” said Mr. Lynch. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead Shake Shack into the next phase of growth and I look forward to working with the board, our leadership team, and our licensed partners to realize the brand’s full potential.”

“The CEO search committee recognized Rob’s proven track record in leading scaled brands globally while delivering strong results for stakeholders,” said Jeff Lawrence, a member of the CEO search committee and an independent board director. Mr. Lawrence continued, “His deep and demonstrated experience in marketing, data analytics, technology and four-wall economics gives us great confidence that he is the right leader to take Shake Shack to even greater heights. Above all, the committee found Rob’s leadership style and focus on fostering great workplace culture to be an ideal fit for Shake Shack's cherished people-first hospitality ethos.” Mr. Lawrence was joined on the CEO search committee by independent board directors Lori George, Chuck Chapman and Josh Silverman.

Previously, Mr. Lynch was President of Arby’s, one of the largest sandwich restaurant brands in the world, with more than 3,400 restaurants across eight countries, where he led operations, marketing, culinary, development and digital transformation, resulting in strong global system-wide sales growth and corporate profitability. Mr. Lynch previously served as Arby’s Brand President and Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to joining Arby’s, Mr. Lynch served as Vice President of Marketing at Taco Bell. He has over 25 years combined experience in the QSR and consumer packaged goods industries and has also held senior roles at HJ Heinz Company and Procter & Gamble. He is a graduate of the University of Rochester, where he obtained his B.A. and M.B.A.

About Shake Shack

Shake Shack serves elevated versions of American classics using only the best ingredients. It’s known for its delicious made-to-order Angus beef burgers, crispy chicken, hand-spun milkshakes, house-made lemonades, beer, wine, and more. With its high-quality food at a great value, warm hospitality, and a commitment to crafting uplifting experiences, Shake Shack quickly became a cult-brand with widespread appeal. Shake Shack’s purpose is to Stand For Something Good®, from its premium ingredients and employee development, to its inspiring designs and deep community investment. Since the original Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, the Company has expanded to over 520 locations system-wide, including over 335 in 33 U.S. States and the District of Columbia, and 185 international locations across London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Mexico City, Istanbul, Dubai, Tokyo, Seoul and more.


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Cineworld Group Announces Leadership Team with New Executive Hires


21 Mar, 2024, 08:30 ET


KNOXVILLE, Tenn., March 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Cineworld Group, representing the second largest theatre circuit in the world, announced today the completion of its executive team following the 2023 appointments of Eduardo Acuna as Chief Executive Officer along with a new Board chaired by Eric Foss. Joining Acuna and the Cineworld Group team are Thomas Song as Chief Financial Officer, Ben Hill as Chief Human Resources Officer, John Henrich as General Counsel, Javier Sotomayor as President of Cineworld International, and John Curry as Senior Vice President of Commercial at Regal.


"We are excited to welcome Tom, Ben, John, Javier, and John to our executive team," stated Eduardo Acuna, Chief Executive Officer for Cineworld Group. "With their combined industry experience, leadership and communication skills, we are well-positioned to lead the best team in exhibition driving growth and success for Cineworld Group on a global level."


As previously announced, Song brings with him over 25 years of experience in corporate finance, development, and investor relations. He most recently served as CFO of Aimbridge Hospitality, a leading global hotel management company. Prior to Aimbridge, Song served as CFO for publicly traded Dine Brands Global, one of the world's largest full-service restaurant companies, where he was responsible for the company's overall strategic and financial management.

Over the past 20 years, Hill has worked across most divisions of the company that is now Warner Bros. Discovery, including Warner Bros. Motion Pictures, Warner Bros. Television, HBO, and CNN. In that time, he led teams that designed, built and implemented high-impact programs across talent acquisition, organizational development, talent management, compensation, benefits, DEI, culture, and employee engagement.

Henrich, has most recently been Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. During his time at Sally, he led Audit, Regulatory, Information Security and Corporate Strategy teams and drove the establishment of the Company's SBH Inspires Foundation.

Sotomayor has over 25 years of experience in start-ups, marketing, business development, supply chain, and strategic planning in the industries of retail, entertainment, and financial services. He has worked in Latin America, the US, Asia, and Middle East. Over the past 20 years, he has held various top positions with Cinépolis across Marketing, Strategy, Supply Chain, and Business Development.

Curry brings with him over 32 years of experience with Regal. Most recently serving as Senior Vice President of Food Services, Curry was responsible for developing strategic initiatives, innovations, and partnerships that enhanced the food and beverage space for the company. Prior to leading the Food Services department, Curry served in multiple positions for the company including leadership roles in the Food Service, Operations, and Training departments.

About Cineworld Group:

Cineworld Group operates one of the largest and most geographically diverse theatre circuits in the world. Under the Regal, Cineworld, Picturehouse, Planet, and Cinema City brands, the company represents the second largest theatrical exhibition business by number of screens with locations in the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. Cineworld Group is focused on delivering the best moviegoing experience by providing our guests with the largest selection of premium large formats, a truly unlimited subscription program, and enhanced food and beverage offerings to make every visit to the theatre a truly memorable experience.


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Taco John’s Taps Heather Neary as President and CEO to Usher in New Era of Growth for Popular Quick-Service Mexican Food Franchise



CHEYENNE, Wyo., March 20, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Mexican quick-service restaurant staple Taco John’s® proudly welcomes industry veteran Heather Neary to the executive leadership team as President and Chief Executive Officer.

Neary brings more than two decades of relevant restaurant, brand, and franchise leadership experience to her new role, most recently as the Brand President at KBP Brands, a large QSR Franchisee. She joins Taco John’s as the company accelerates its expansion throughout the Midwest and beyond, with new locations planned in existing and new territories in coming years. 

“Heather’s strategic vision, energy, and proven track record of driving growth, customer experience metrics, and brand presence at the national franchise level made her the unmatched choice to lead Taco John’s to the next level of expansion and success. We’re thrilled to welcome Heather to the Taco John’s family as we grow into the next decade together bigger, bolder, better,” said Gerard Lewis, Chairman of the Taco John’s International Board of Directors.

Neary began her restaurant career with the international pretzel franchise Auntie Anne’s, culminating in the role of Brand President at a time when it was the largest brand in Focus Brands’ portfolio (now GoTo Foods). With a commitment to achieving excellence through driving operational efficiency and fostering a “people-first” culture of collaboration and empowerment, gross sales grew to over $550 million during her five-year tenure. Similarly while at KBP Brands, she gained continued experience guiding organizations and teams through high growth, while achieving increased profitability and stability.

“Taco John’s has built a rich history and a passionate following around delicious food, innovation, and a commitment to excellence. I am honored to join this motivated and talented team at such an exciting time in the company’s journey,” said Neary.

Neary has been an active member of the International Franchise Association, and has served on the board of directors for the National Restaurant Association, and the Women’s Foodservice Forum. She also serves on the board of directors for Essential Property Realty Trust (NYSE: EPRT), as well as on the board of advisors for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. With Pennsylvania roots, Neary is a Millersville University graduate and holds an MBA from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, where she was honored with an Alumni Achievement Award.

Neary assumes the role from former CEO Jim Creel, who retired from his position after more than two decades fueling the chain to become one of the largest Mexican quick-service restaurant brands in the country with unmatched dedication to quality and efficiency.

About Taco John’s®

Founded in 1969 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Taco John’s® has been serving bigger. bolder. better. flavors for more than 55 years. Now, Taco John’s operates and franchises nearly 400 restaurants in 23 states – making it one of the largest Mexican quick-service restaurant brands in America. Taco John’s features signature specials like Taco Tuesday since 1989 and everyday value starting at $2, $3 and $4 on the ValuEST Menu. With bold originals like Potato Olés®, Taco John’s knows how to Olé The Day. Taco John’s prides itself on serving generous portions of its signature menu items that are made-to-order using fresh, high-quality ingredients, seasonings and sauces. The brand was listed on Entrepreneur’s “Top Food Franchises of 2023” under the “Mexican Food” category and was recently recognized by QSR Magazine as a “Top 15 Chain Ready to Contend as Fast Food’s Top Players.” For more information, visit TacoJohns.com and follow Taco John’s on FacebookInstagramTwitter and TikTok.


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Smashburger® Appoints Denise Nelsen as Chief Executive Officer



Former Starbucks executive joins fast casual brand as its first female CEO

DENVER, March 20, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Smashburger®, a leading fast-casual better burger brand, has recently announced the appointment of Denise Nelsen as its new Chief Executive Officer, the company's first female CEO. Under this new leadership, Smashburger is primed to further drive culinary innovation to enhance the guest experience, while expanding its industry footprint.

Denise Nelsen Head Shot


"We are thrilled to welcome Denise Nelsen as Smashburger's newest CEO. With her extensive experience and proven leadership in the food and beverage industry, she is set to propel the brand into a new era of growth," said Jollibee Group President and CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong. "Her appointment signifies the Jollibee Group's commitment to excellence and diversity. With all her capabilities and energy, we are confident that she can drive success for Smashburger, thereby contributing to the growth of the Jollibee Group as a whole."


Nelsen joined the company as incoming Chief Executive Officer in January 2024, bringing more than 30 years of QSR industry expertise to the role. Prior to joining the fast casual brand, Nelsen served as the Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations at Starbucks, most recently leading the brand's U.S. business for nearly five years, prior to holding various operations and support roles within the company for over two decades.

Her tenure in these previous positions has set Nelsen up with a solid foundation as she steps into the role of CEO. Within Smashburger, she will cultivate and lead teams, integrate streamlined business processes and aim to deliver an impactful influence on all Smashburger's employees, locations and the communities they serve.

"I'm excited and energized to officially step into the position of Chief Executive Officer at Smashburger. With an unmatched dedication to guest satisfaction, Smashburger has consistently set the standard across the fast-casual industry and I'm looking forward to working with the executive team to continue the brand's legacy," said Denise Nelsen, Chief Executive Officer of Smashburger. "As we embark on various new brand ventures in 2024, I'm eager to support our continuous efforts to stay at the forefront of taste innovation in the industry, while collaborating with our international expansion teams to bring the joys of Smashburger to more guests worldwide."

For more information about Smashburger please visit www.smashburger.com

About Smashburger®

Smashburger® is a leading fast-casual better burger restaurant known for its Certified Angus Beef® burgers that are smashed on the grill to sear in the juices and seal in the flavor. In addition to burgers, Smashburger® offers grilled or crispy chicken sandwiches, turkey and black bean burgers, fresh salads, signature side items such as Brussels sprouts and SmashFries®, and hand-spun shakes. Founded in 2007 in Denver, Colorado, Smashburger is recognized as a 2023 Stevie American Business Award winner for Achievement in Product Innovation, named one of the 2023 Top Workplaces by The Denver Post and ranked as one of Fast Casual's top 20 brands in its 2023 Top 100 Movers & Shakers Award. The brand has 235 corporate and franchise restaurants operating in 34 states and seven countries. To learn more, visit www.smashburger.com


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Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream Announces Jennifer Schuler as New CEO


March 19, 2024


Iconic brand continues to drive growth with strong leadership

Canfield, OH  (RestaurantNews.com)  Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream, a leading operator and franchisor serving handcrafted ice cream since 1945, recently announced Jennifer Schuler as its new Chief Executive Officer. Schuler is a highly seasoned executive with extensive marketing and franchise experience. She is taking the helm of a nearly 130-store and growing brand with more than 65 franchisees.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Jennifer to Handel’s. We found her highly relevant and proven capabilities and experience, combined with her strong focus on franchisee success, was a terrific fit for Handel’s. She is a highly talented and people-oriented franchise leader who brings great passion and authenticity to her work, and she had fallen in love with Handel’s Ice Cream before we had even met her!” said Andrew Brennan, Board Member for Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream. “With the ‘#1 Ice Cream on the Planet’ and a very strong and growing group of talented and committed franchisees, we have terrific momentum and a very bright future.”

Prior to Handel’s, Schuler was most recently at Wetzel’s Pretzels, where she spent nine years growing the brand. She first served as Chief Marketing Officer, then as President, and, in the last five years of her tenure, as CEO. During her time as CEO, Wetzel’s grew its store count from 200 to 350 units and average unit volume grew by 24%, just under $1M. As part of her journey at Wetzel’s, Schuler and her husband also became franchisees in the system, purchasing a franchise in Minneapolis, which gave her first-hand experience running a franchise and understanding what tools and support she needed from the franchisor to be successful.

Schuler’s professional marketing career also includes five years as Marketing Manager at General Mills. She also served in senior executive roles for a private equity-backed consumer healthcare company and an education technology start-up.

“As I immerse myself in the brand, I’m truly inspired by its nearly 80-year legacy of consistently delighting guests, while demonstrating phenomenal economics. Handel’s has achieved strong sales performance consistently across 13 states through our franchisees, with the brand performing extraordinarily well in new markets as it grows,” said Jennifer Schuler, CEO for Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream. “It’s an exciting time to be part of this organization as it’s poised for dynamic growth. Rarely do you encounter a brand with such a rich legacy, seamlessly intertwined with an unprecedented opportunity for new franchisees to expand!”

In recent years, Handel’s system sales rose from $29M in 2019 to over $130M expected in 2024. Growth has come through continued success in both existing and new markets, with individual stores growing healthily at the same time as store count has been growing, and customers continuing to fall in love with Handel’s one-of-a-kind ice cream and the friendly and accessible service at our stores.

Handel’s currently operates in 13 states, including recent expansion into South Carolina. The brand opened a flagship store in Clemson, SC earlier this year.

For more information about Handel’s, visit HandelsIceCream.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram. To learn more about franchise opportunities, visit the link here.

About Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream

Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream has been in the business of making and selling fresh ice cream since 1945. Founded in Youngstown, Ohio, the Handel’s legacy was created by Alice Handel and Lenny Fisher, who grew the brand from a single Scoop Shop into a flourishing chain using fresh ingredients and upholding a commitment to quality. Each batch of Handel’s ice cream is made fresh daily, using Alice’s original methods and recipes. There are 48 flavors available daily and more than 140 flavors that rotate seasonally.

In 2023 and 2024, Handel’s ranked in Franchise Times’ Top 400 list, recognizing the largest franchise systems in the United States, and its “Fast & Serious,” a list of the smartest-growing franchises for the year. The brand is also recognized by TasteAtlas for one of the top 100 Most Iconic Ice Creams of the World.

Handel’s has been named #1 Ice Cream on the Planet by National Geographic, one of the Top 10 Best Ice Cream Businesses by USA Today, one of the Top 500 Restaurants in America by Nation’s Restaurant News and Top 500 Franchises by Entrepreneur Magazine.

Handel’s currently has 129 locations across 13 states and is growing. To learn more about Handel’s franchise opportunities, visit HandelsIceCream.com/franchise.


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QDOBA ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF JEREMY VITARO AS CHIEF DEVELOPMENT OFFICER AND HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS


18 Mar, 2024, 08:00 ET


Development Veteran to Lead Strategy to Double the Size of the QDOBA Brand

SAN DIEGO, March 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- QDOBA, America's #2 restaurant brand in the Mexican fast-casual category, today announced that Jeremy Vitaro has joined the company as Chief Development Officer and Head of International. Vitaro brings more than 20 years of development experience and is responsible for QDOBA's asset light development strategy, including new restaurant growth, system remodeling, refranchising, acquisition, prototype design, and real estate and construction.

QDOBA announces appointment of Jeremy Vitaro as Chief Development Officer and Head of International Business


"We are thrilled with Jeremy's decision to join the QDOBA leadership team," said John Cywinski, CEO of QDOBA and Modern Market Eatery. "QDOBA is an exceptionally well-positioned brand and what I consider to be the best kept secret in the restaurant industry. I'm confident Jeremy is the right leader to partner with our franchisees to unlock our full potential, both in and outside of the U.S."


"I am extremely excited to help QDOBA drive strong, healthy growth by partnering with our terrific franchise partners," said Vitaro. "The brand has a unique and attractive position within a great category and a very talented team, as well as a strong franchisee and corporate restaurant foundation upon which to build."

Vitaro's track record of success speaks for itself. Prior to joining QDOBA, Vitaro served as Chief Development Officer for Little Caesars Pizza, opening hundreds of new units over the past three years.

Before Little Caesars, Vitaro was a highly regarded executive with Dunkin' Brands for 18 years. From 2018 through 2020, as Vice President of U.S. Development, Vitaro opened more than 1,000 Dunkin' restaurants. From 2012 through 2017, he held the position of Vice President of International Development, where he opened more than 4,000 new Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins units.

Cywinski added, "Accelerated restaurant growth is an important engine for the QDOBA brand, and we are very fortunate to have an executive of Jeremy's caliber leading the way."

About QDOBA Mexican Eats

QDOBA is a fast casual Mexican restaurant with over 750 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Committed to delivering flavor to people's lives, QDOBA uses ingredients prepared in-house, by hand, and fresh throughout the day, to create delicious menu options. Guests can experience QDOBA's delicious flavors by enjoying one of its signature menu options that are chef-crafted for convenience and ease or by customizing their burritos, tacos, burrito bowls, salads, quesadillas, and nachos to fit their personal tastes. Discover more at www.QDOBA.com


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Restaurant Brands International Announces Leadership Changes to Support Long-Term Growth


14 Mar, 2024, 06:30 ET


Sami Siddiqui Appointed Chief Financial Officer  Thiago Santelmo Appointed President of InternationalJeff Klein Appointed President of Popeyes US and Canada 

TORONTO, March 14, 2024 /PRNewswire/ - Josh Kobza, Chief Executive Officer of Restaurant Brands International Inc. ("RBI", "Company") (TSX: QSR) (NYSE: QSR) (TSX: QSP) today announced leadership team changes to support the Company's long-term growth outlook of reaching a minimum of 40,000 restaurants, $60B in system-wide sales and $3.2B in Adjusted Operating Income by 2028. 

Sami Siddiqui has been appointed Chief Financial Officer, succeeding Matt Dunnigan who is leaving the company. Jeff Klein has been appointed as President of Popeyes US and Canada, succeeding Mr. Siddiqui who has led the brand for nearly four years. Thiago Santelmo has been appointed President of International. Mr. Santelmo succeeds David Shear, who will remain with the Company for a year as an advisor and assist in the transition. Today's leadership changes are effective immediately and a new President of EMEA and Chief Marketing Officer ("CMO") for Popeyes will be named at a later date.  

 "Sami, Thiago and Jeff are proven, valuable leaders in the company and I'm looking forward to working with them as we deliver on our next phase of growth," said Mr. Kobza. "Sami has deep finance and operational experience which makes him a great partner to our Presidents as we deliver on our growth plans across the company. Thiago has spent his career building master franchisee relationships and working closely with them to develop new markets. This will serve him well as we accelerate net restaurant growth internationally in the coming years. Jeff has two decades of marketing and consumer insight experience with large, well-known brands, and will bring this guest-centered approach to making Popeyes 'Easy to Love' across the US and Canada," continued Mr. Kobza. 

Mr. Siddiqui has been at RBI for eleven years, including eight years as brand President for Popeyes in Miami, all of our brands in the Asia Pacific region and Tim Hortons in Toronto. Under his leadership, Popeyes has achieved record levels of sales, restaurant growth, and profitability, recently solidifying the brand as the #2 chicken player in the US. Mr. Siddiqui initially joined the Company as head of finance and investor relations before becoming Brand CFO for Tim Hortons and later Burger King. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Siddiqui worked at Blackstone and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

Mr. Santelmo joined the Company eleven years ago, focusing on growth in Latin America as General Manager and then subsequently President for the region. Mr. Santelmo has also been a leader of the Company's growth in the EMEA region, focusing on new country entries, developing new master franchisee partnerships and has served as President of the region for the last two years. Mr. Santelmo has an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

Mr. Klein joined the Popeyes leadership team two years ago as Chief Marketing Officer and brings 25 years experience in marketing and consumer insights. Mr. Klein previously was CMO for Little Caesars Pizza and spent 15 years at PepsiCo in senior marketing positions, including Senior Vice President and CMO for PepsiCo Foodservice. Mr. Klein is known for driving product innovation and integrating brand marketing campaigns with strong operational execution.  

"I want to thank David and Matt for their years of service in building our Company and growing our restaurant brands. David established a strong network of global franchisees and dedicated franchise support infrastructure which has contributed to the exciting growth of our international business over the past decade. He has been a great partner and will be a valued strategic advisor to Thiago. Matt secured a strong capital structure and developed a balanced capital allocation framework that now supports the investments you have been seeing us make in our brands. As a result of David and Matt's leadership over the years, we are very well set up for our next period of growth," concluded Mr. Kobza. 

About Restaurant Brands International Inc.  

Restaurant Brands International Inc. is one of the world's largest quick service restaurant companies with over $40 billion in annual system-wide sales and over 30,000 restaurants in more than 120 countries and territories. RBI owns four of the world's most prominent and iconic quick service restaurant brands – TIM HORTONS®, BURGER KING®, POPEYES®, and FIREHOUSE SUBS®. These independently operated brands have been serving their respective guests, franchisees and communities for decades. Through its Restaurant Brands for Good framework, RBI is improving sustainable outcomes related to its food, the planet, and people and communities. To learn more about RBI, please visit the company's website at www.rbi.com.  


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Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Retirement of SVP, Chief Supply Chain Officer Dean Gordon After 15 Years of Dedicated Service


March 11, 2024 07:07 AM Eastern Daylight Time

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) announces the retirement of SVP, Chief Supply Chain Officer Dean Gordon after 15 years at the organization.

Gordon joined the Company in February 2009 and has been pivotal in driving its growth and success. He has been Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer since November 2019. During his tenure, Gordon has spearheaded numerous cost savings initiatives and built invaluable relationships with the Company’s franchise owners, suppliers, and vendor partners that propelled Jack in the Box Inc. forward through a global pandemic and the shared services integration of the Jack in the Box and Del Taco brands.

Looking ahead, he will play an integral role in the recruitment process to identify his successor. Leveraging his extensive experience in the industry, he is committed to ensuring a seamless transition and helping the Company find the right individual to lead Jack in the Box Inc. into its next chapter.

“I am very grateful to have been a part of Jack in the Box Inc.’s journey for the past 15 years,” said Gordon. “I am fully committed to supporting the Company in finding the ideal candidate to lead us into the future.”

Gordon will remain with the Company during the transition period to facilitate the knowledge transfer to the incoming executive. His dedication to ensuring a smooth transition reflects his unwavering commitment to the Company’s continued success.

“On behalf of the entire Company, I want to express our deepest gratitude for Dean’s tireless efforts and invaluable contributions,” said Darin Harris, CEO at Jack in the Box Inc. “Throughout his tenure, he has fostered a very talented and committed Supply Chain team who undoubtedly will continue his legacy and impact for years to come.”

About Jack in the Box Inc.

Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK), founded and headquartered in San Diego, California, is a restaurant company that operates and franchises Jack in the Box®, one of the nation's largest hamburger chains with approximately 2,200 restaurants across 21 states, and Del Taco®, the second largest Mexican-American QSR chain by units in the U.S. with approximately 600 restaurants across 16 states. For more information on both brands, including franchising opportunities, visit www.jackinthebox.com and www.deltaco.com.


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Noodles & Company Announces Appointment of Drew Madsen as CEO


Drew Madsen appointed permanent CEO effective March 6, 2024; is a seasoned leader with deep experience in the restaurant industry. Sets strategic priorities for 2024 to strengthen operations, grow traffic, and fortify financial position.

March 07, 2024 16:05 ET


BROOMFIELD, Colo., March 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noodles & Company (Nasdaq: NDLS) today announced that the Board has appointed Drew Madsen to serve as permanent Chief Executive Officer effective March 6, 2024. Mr. Madsen will continue to be a member of the Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire board, we are thrilled Drew will be leading Noodles as CEO. As interim CEO, Drew quickly assessed our most important opportunities and has aligned the organization around five strategic priorities that are focused on driving traffic growth. As permanent CEO, he provides the business continuity necessary to execute on these priorities through 2024 and beyond,” said Jeff Jones, Noodles & Company Board Chairman. “Drew is already driving a culture of rigor, accountability, and operational excellence. Because of this leadership style, coupled with his extensive restaurant industry experience and operational expertise, the Board is confident in Drew’s ability to drive sustainable growth and create long-term shareholder value.”

Mr. Madsen brings a wealth of experience in the restaurant industry to the role of CEO. In his recent operating roles, Mr. Madsen was President and Chief Operating Officer at some of the most successful and well-respected businesses in the restaurant industry. Most recently, Mr. Madsen was President of Panera Bread leading the company to industry leadership in clean food, digital sales, and home delivery, combined with significantly improved operations execution and aggressive cost reduction. Mr. Madsen’s professional experience prior to Panera includes fifteen years at Darden where Mr. Madsen served as President and Chief Operating Officer for nearly ten years.

“I believe Noodles is a differentiated brand with a strong value proposition, and I am excited to lead the team as we deliver exceptional experiences for all current and future Noodles customers,” said Mr. Madsen. “In 2024, we are focused on driving traffic growth, and we will do so by creating a culture of operational excellence, ensuring brand relevance through new and enhanced menu offerings, better utilizing our digital strengths, developing a long-term strategy for growing our catering business, and fortifying our financial position. With this focus, I believe that Noodles is well positioned to win. I look forward to working with the management team and our 7,000+ passionate team members to realize the brand’s full potential.”

About Drew Madsen Drew Madsen, 67, has been interim CEO since November 2023 and a member of our Board of Directors since September 2017. From May 2015 to December 2016, Mr. Madsen served as President of Panera Bread Company, a national operator and franchisor of fast casual bakery cafés, where he helped guide the brand to industry leadership positions in clean food, digital ordering/payment and delivery. From October 2014 to March 2015 Mr. Madsen was President and Chief Operating Officer of the Norwegian Cruise Line division of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. From 2005 to 2013 he was President and Chief Operating Officer, and a member of the board of directors, of Darden Restaurants, Inc. Mr. Madsen began his career at General Mills with various positions in brand management including serving as Vice President of Marketing. He holds an MBA with Distinction from the University of Michigan and earned a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from DePauw University, where he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Mr. Madsen is currently a member of The Mayflower Continuing Community Care board of directors.

About Noodles & Company

Since 1995, Noodles & Company has been serving guests Uncommon Goodness and noodles your way, from noodles and flavors you know and love as well as new ones you’re about to discover. From indulgent Wisconsin Mac & Cheese to better-for-you Zoodles, Noodles serves a world of flavor in every bowl. Made up of approximately 470 restaurants and over 7,000 passionate team members, Noodles is dedicated to nourishing and inspiring every guest who walks through the door. To learn more or find the location nearest you, visit www.noodles.com.


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Farmer Brothers Names Terry O’Brien to Board of Directors


March 07, 2024 16:10 ET


NORTHLAKE, Texas, March 07, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmer Brothers (NASDAQ: FARM), a leading roaster, wholesaler, and distributor of coffee, tea and allied products, announced today it has appointed Terry O’Brien to its board of directors.

Mr. O’Brien brings to the Farmer Brothers board more than three decades of experience in executive leadership in the food manufacturing industry, including overseeing successful financial turnarounds. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Chef Holdings, the parent company to the country’s leading food manufacturers CTI Foods, LLC and Liguria Foods, LLC. Prior to Chef Holdings, Mr. O’Brien was the CEO for CP Foods North America, where he led its financial and operational turnaround, including the doubling of its revenue. He has also previously held senior leadership roles at Suiza Foods, Dean Foods and Frito-Lay, and during his tenure as CEO led the turnaround of Brachs Confections and Impact Confections.

“We are incredibly pleased to have Terry join the board,” said Farmer Brothers Chairman of the Board David Pace. “His extensive manufacturing knowledge and proven track record of driving profitability and sales and customer growth will be a tremendous asset as we focus on unlocking the full potential of our nationwide direct store delivery (DSD) network and growing our customer base.”

“Farmer Brothers has been a leader in the coffee industry for more than a century and I am honored to be able to play a role in shaping the next chapter in its storied history,” said Mr. O’Brien. “Their distribution network, customer service and coffee expertise are unmatched in the industry and I look forward to helping the organization grow as we create meaningful value for our shareholders.”

Mr. O’Brien has previously served on a number of food industry boards, including Bellisio Foods, CP Foods North America and American Italian Pasta Company (NASDAQ). He has also been the Chairman for the Tom Landry Fellowship of Christian Athletes Endowment Fund since 2012. Mr. O’Brien holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Clarkson University and a Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School.

About Farmer Brothers Founded in 1912, Farmer Brothers is a national coffee roaster, wholesaler, equipment servicer and distributor of coffee, tea and culinary products. The company’s product lines include organic, Direct Trade and sustainably produced coffee, as well as tea, cappuccino mixes, spices and baking/biscuit mixes.

Farmer Brothers delivers extensive beverage planning services and culinary products to a wide variety of U.S.-based customers, ranging from small independent restaurants and foodservice operators to large institutional buyers, such as restaurant, department and convenience store chains, hotels, casinos, healthcare facilities and gourmet coffee houses, as well as grocery chains with private brand coffee and consumer branded coffee and tea products and foodservice distributors. The company’s primary brands include Farmer Brothers, Boyd’s, Cain’s, China Mist and West Coast Coffee.


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Farmer Brothers Names Matthew Swenson Vice President of Coffee Operations


Reports Inducement Grants Under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

March 01, 2024 17:00 ET


NORTHLAKE, Texas, March 01, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmer Brothers (NASDAQ: FARM) a leading roaster, wholesaler, and distributor of coffee, tea and allied products, announced today it has appointed Matthew Swenson as vice president of coffee operations. In his new role, Mr. Swenson will take on the management of some areas previously led by President and Chief Executive Officer John Moore, including the company’s green coffee procurement, research and development, coffee excellence, roasting and manufacturing, and coffee sustainability initiatives.

Mr. Swenson has almost 20 years of leadership experience in the coffee industry, most recently serving as the director of coffee at Nestle. Prior to that time, he was the chief product officer at Chameleon Cold Brew and director of U.S. operations at Nobletree Coffee.

“Matt is highly regarded across the coffee industry for his vast knowledge and expertise. He also has a long track record of success in developing systems and growing revenue for organizations throughout the coffee and beverage sector,” said Mr. Moore. “We are incredibly excited to have him join our leadership team at this pivotal moment as Farmer Brothers focuses solely on our direct store delivery (DSD) business.”

Mr. Swenson has long been an active leader in the coffee industry. He is currently serving on the board of trustees for the Coffee Quality Institute and is a frequent guest speaker at industry events. He has also previously served on the cold brew technical committee for the scientific advisory group at the National Coffee Association, as well as a judge for several international coffee competitions. Mr. Swenson is a certified Q Arabica Grader and a former Q Arabica instructor with the Coffee Quality Institute.

“Farmer Brothers has long been known for its quality coffee and products and outstanding customer service. I look forward to working with John once again and the team to unlock the full potential of our DSD network as we meet the needs of our customers today, with an eye on tomorrow,” said Vice President of Coffee Operations Matthew Swenson.

In conjunction with this appointment, the company announced the issuance of a restricted stock unit award consisting of a total of 19,337 shares of the company’s common stock under the Farmer Bros. Co. 2020 Inducement Incentive Plan through an award of restricted stock units on March 1, 2024, to Mr. Swenson. This award will ratably vest over three years on each anniversary of the award date, subject to Mr. Swenson’s continued employment with the company through each vesting date. 

The inducement plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Farmer Brothers, as an inducement material to such individuals entering into employment with the company, pursuant to Rule 5635(c)(4) of the Nasdaq Listing Rules. 

About Farmer Brothers Founded in 1912, Farmer Brothers is a national coffee roaster, wholesaler, equipment servicer and distributor of coffee, tea and culinary products. The company’s product lines include organic, Direct Trade and sustainably produced coffee, as well as tea, cappuccino mixes, spices and baking/biscuit mixes.

Farmer Brothers delivers extensive beverage planning services and culinary products to a wide variety of U.S.-based customers, ranging from small independent restaurants and foodservice operators to large institutional buyers, such as restaurant, department and convenience store chains, hotels, casinos, healthcare facilities and gourmet coffee houses, as well as grocery chains with private brand coffee and consumer branded coffee and tea products and foodservice distributors. The company’s primary brands include Farmer Brothers, Boyd’s, Cain’s, China Mist and West Coast Coffee.


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Captain D's Launches Global Expansion Plan, Naming Hair Parra to New Position of Senior Vice President of International Operations and Development


27 Feb, 2024, 09:14 ET


- Fast Casual Seafood Leader Recently Signed Franchise Development Agreement in Canada; Widens International Focus to include Central and Latin America, Singapore, Indonesia and More -

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 27, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Captain D's, the nation's leading fast casual seafood restaurant, is ready to go global. Coming off a year of firsts in domestic growth that included franchise agreements to develop in New York City, New York state and New Jersey, the brand recently signed its first-ever franchise development agreement in Canada to bring five Captain D's restaurants to the Greater Toronto Metropolitan Area. Today, the company announced it has named Hair Parra to the newly created position of senior vice president, international operations and development. With Parra at the helm, Captain D's is ready to fully launch its global expansion plan.

Hair Parra, Senior Vice President of International Operations and Development at Captain D's


"After more than five decades of consistent growth and success throughout the Southern United States, Captain D's has had a banner year of domestic development into the Northeast and now Canada," said Brad Reed, chief development officer of Captain D's. Phil Greifeld, Captain D's CEO added, "Our Unique brand will quickly capitalize upon an underserved and underpenetrated international expansion opportunity."


Parra has spent over 35 years leading international operations and development for well-known names such as Papa Johns, Benihana and Domino's. Since 2021, he's been overseeing international development for FAT Brands. Prior to that, he was chief operating officer of Wing Zone after spending over a decade as the company's vice president of international development. At Captain D's, Parra will continue pursuing opportunities for franchise development in Canada, as well as working with master and multi-unit franchisees who want to bring the seafood leader to Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia, among others.

"I've had the privilege of introducing many distinguished American restaurants to international audiences, and the one quality that stands out as a marker of success is the company's culture. Captain D's has one of the best I've ever seen," said Hair Parra. "Truly great brands are built by people who care about the work they are doing and the people they are doing it with. Captain D's has a veteran team focused on providing franchise owners with quality food and superior operations to run their business. I am honored to be part of this exciting new global future for a company I respect so much."

Captain D's is poised for intercontinental success with its variety of flexible prototypes, including 22- and 44-seat dining rooms and a nimble Express model for to-go customers only. Parra believes these adaptable footprints will be key for a variety of real estate opportunities, including strip centers and non-traditional options such as airports and malls. Another key to Captain D's international growth is the popularity of its seafood and chicken menu offerings.

"People around the globe love fish and chicken, and Captain D's offers an extensive menu of both batter dipped and grilled fish options alongside ever-popular chicken menu," added Parra. "As we expand into new countries, we will pair the high-quality seafood and hospitality Captain D's has been built on with a creative and adaptable approach to understanding and respecting cultural variations. That's the way we'll deliver on our brand promise to new fans worldwide."

With more than 530 restaurants in 23 states, Captain D's is the fast-casual seafood leader and number one seafood franchise in America ranked by average unit volume. The company is currently seeking master franchisees and multi-unit operators to join in the brand's rapid international expansion, with a focus on Canada, Central and Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. For more information about franchise opportunities, visit www.captaindsfranchising.com or call 800-314-4819.

ABOUT CAPTAIN D'S Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Captain D's has more than 530 restaurants in 23 states. Captain D's is the nation's leading fast casual seafood restaurant and was named the #1 seafood chain in the QSR 50, ranked by AUV. Founded in 1969, Captain D's has been offering its customers high-quality seafood at reasonable prices in a welcoming atmosphere for over 50 years. Captain D's serves a wide variety of seafood that includes freshly prepared entrees and the company's signature batter dipped fish. The restaurants also offer premium-quality, grilled items such as shrimp, Tilapia and Salmon, as well as hushpuppies, desserts and freshly brewed, Southern-style sweet tea, a Captain D's favorite. For more information, please visit www.captainds.com.


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