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Executive Movements - December 2022

Salata Salad Kitchen Announces Briton Smetzer as Vice President of Information Technology

Smetzer will focus on the modernization of Salata’s IT infrastructure in preparation for the customizable salad and wrap company’s growth

Briton Smetzer, Vice President of Information Technology at Salata Salad Kitchen.

December 14, 2022 08:26 AM Eastern Standard Time

HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Salata, the leading built-to-order salad kitchen with 90 locations, announces Briton Smetzer as Vice President of Information Technology. With a background in a variety of industries, including fast casual restaurants, construction, ATM, and technology services, Smetzer brings his expertise to the growing concept to lead the modernization of Salata’s IT infrastructure.

Smetzer, who most recently served as Director of ATM Management & Software Deployment at NCR, an information technology company that manufactures self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, and automated teller machines, will be the first to hold the VP of Information Technology role at Salata. He’s the third executive level hire for the brand in the last year, including the VP of Development and VP of Operations roles. His initial focus at the customizable salad kitchen brand will be on rationalization, simplification, and consolidation of the current IT landscape.

“Since I became President of Salata in 2019, building out and enhancing our technology suite has been one of my primary focuses for the company,” says Michelle Bythewood, president of Salata. “As we continue to scale the brand for exponential growth, it is imperative to build an executive leadership team with a development and innovation-focused mindset. Briton checked every box we were looking for to fill the VP of Information Technology role.”

She continues, “His robust experience in the fast casual industry and working with growing brands aligns with our goals as we look towards the future. With Salata’s executive and development teams in place, we can continue to move forward with our expansion plan into new and existing markets to further Salata’s aggressive franchise growth initiative.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining Salata at a time when their key priority is growth and putting the right building blocks in place, from operations and development to technology, for a successful expansion,” says Smetzer.

The VP of Information Technology adds, “We offer a variety of solutions & services across multiple channels that our guests engage with, but we lack the necessary centralization needed to offer a truly seamless omnichannel experience that guests have come to expect. Implementing a winning centralization strategy begins with IT consolidation and rationalization.”

As part of their growth strategy, Salata is actively seeking experienced business operators to open locations along the U.S. sunbelt and beyond. The ideal Salata partner has a local-first mindset with their finger on the pulse of their community and is eager to participate in the development and operations of their restaurant. Candidates must also meet financial and experience requirements, have a thorough market understanding and align with the brand’s aggressive development schedule.

Salata offers guests fully customizable, built-to-order salads and wraps, soups and organic teas and lemonades. All fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins are prepared and chopped daily in-house. With five salad bases, more than 50 toppings, and 11 house-made, gluten-free dressings, guests can create meals tailored to their lifestyle. Guests can earn points toward rewards with every purchase by downloading the Salata mobile app and signing up for Salata’s Tastemaker Rewards program.

For more information or to find your local Salata, please visit

About Salata

Founded in 2005, Houston-based Salata is a fully customizable, built-to-order salads and wraps concept with endless combinations tailored to any lifestyle. Salata has 90 corporate-owned and franchise locations in Texas, Georgia, Southern California, Louisiana, and North Carolina. For more information, visit or For franchising information, please visit

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Adam Klaers Joins Roy Rogers Restaurants as Executive Vice President

Frederick-Based Quick-Service Restaurant Brand Hires EVP to Lead Brand Growth and Initiatives

Industry expert, Adam Klaers joins Roy Rogers Restaurants as Executive Vice President

December 13, 2022 07:45 AM Eastern Standard Time

FREDERICK, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Roy Rogers Restaurants, the western-themed quick-service restaurant chain based in Frederick, Md., announces Adam Klaers as its Executive Vice President.

“Adam is an exciting new addition to the Roy Rogers leadership team and family,” says Roy Rogers Co-President Jim Plamondon. “He has a great track record in our quick service industry, and I’m confident that his strategic vision and proven leadership will strengthen our growing system and increase our sales and profitability.”

As Executive Vice President, Klaers will concentrate on optimizing performance of existing company and franchise locations, while also positioning the brand to grow in new markets.

“I’ve had a long career in the restaurant franchising space and I’m excited to use my previous experience and passion to help develop the Roy Rogers brand,” says Klaers. “There is a great team in place and a lot of appeal for the brand among our guests. I look forward to drawing on these strengths to help make the brand an even more successful legacy, today and long into the future.”

Previously, Klaers served as Regional Vice President for TOMS King, a Burger King franchise group, responsible for overseeing 60 of their locations, covering an area from Pittsburgh, PA to Richmond, VA and was charged with implementing a number of strategic initiatives. He also spent four years as Director of Operations for Chipotle, leading 9 District Managers and over 65 locations and served as Regional Director of Operations for a 90-unit Great American Cookie Co. franchise group, and multi-unit manager for Taco Bell, a YUM Brands company.

Roy Rogers is currently enjoying a resurgence across its 42 locations in six Mid-Atlantic states. Early next year, the One Holland group will open the first of ten units planned in greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, bringing the brand’s crowd-pleasing menu of USDA choice top round roast beef, hand-breaded, fresh fried chicken and great-tasting burgers to guests in the Ohio Valley. For more information on Roy Rogers Restaurants, visit

About Roy Rogers® Restaurants:

Based in Frederick, Md., Roy Rogers® is a chain of western-themed quick-service restaurants offering broad appeal across multiple dayparts and generations. The company is famous for serving up a “Triple Threat” – three popular main dishes including USDA choice top round roast beef, hand-breaded, fresh fried chicken and great-tasting burgers – and for its famous Fixin’s Bar®, where guests can customize their orders with a variety of fresh produce, condiments and signature sauces. Information on the company, its menu and current promotions is available at and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Founded in 1968, Roy Rogers currently consists of 25 company-owned restaurants and 17 franchise restaurants in six states. Qualified franchise investors are now being sought to develop the beloved brand. Franchise information can be found at or by contacting the Roy Rogers franchising department at or (240) 405-6205.

View source version at Roy Rogers

Clean Juice Names Ashley Love as Brand’s First Chief Financial Officer

December 13, 2022

Clean Juice, the nation’s first and only USDA-certified organic juice, and food bar franchise, announced today it had hired Ashley Love to Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Love is the first CFO for Clean Juice, further signaling the nationwide, all-organic fast-casual brand’s rising popularity and rapid growth, expanding its franchise and corporate footprint.

In this newly created role, Love will oversee the finance, human resources, compliance, and legal departments, while focusing on cost-saving efficiencies, streamlining financial operations, ensuring regulatory compliance, and implementing scalable systems to support the brand’s strong growth trajectory.

“I am excited and honored to join such an impactful company that’s dedicated to being the gold standard in fast-casual/quick serve restaurant franchise operations while offering its guest an exciting, premium, nutrient-rich product that raises the bar in healthy living through all organic, USDA-certified food and beverage offerings,” says Love.  “Clean Juice has built an amazing brand and team from the grass-roots level, and I am thrilled to be an integral part of its expansive, record-setting growth.”

Love’s understanding and implementation of scalable systems and processes focus on several impactful areas important to Clean Juice’s operations, including a strategic, forward-thinking approach to franchise unit finances and the company’s national operations. Her background of working with day-one start-ups and Fortune 500 companies has gifted Love with a meticulous and calculated approach across all aspects of multi-unit operations.

This is the first time Clean Juice has employed a CFO role to target large-scale growth while supporting the brand’s Franchise Partners and corporate store operations. Love will be intricately involved in outlining franchise services to offer partners more cost savings and help identify trends and growth opportunities. Love is tasked with helping Clean Juice discover and implement models for large-scale growth and the required support systems to ensure success. Her expertise in mergers and acquisitions, financial planning and analysis, business law, profit and loss reporting, and efficient implementation of automated systems will be a key focus.

“We are thrilled to have Ashley join our team as the first CFO of Clean Juice,” says Landon and Kat Eckles, co-founders of Clean Juice. “Not only does she bring a unique skill set of accounting and financial operations from her previous experiences, but her forward-thinking vision, street smarts, and good character also make her the perfect fit at the perfect time to join our C-suite team.”

Love earned both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Accounting from Florida Atlantic University. When Love isn’t working on implementing new scalable financial systems at Clean Juice, she enjoys North Carolina’s outdoor leisure activities, creating a new culinary experience for her family and friends, and spending time with her husband and son.

Clean Juice continues to ascend as the nation’s fastest-growing USDA-certified, organic, fast-casual brand after being recently named to the Inc. 5000 for the fourth year.  To date, Clean Juice has 203 store units within its system, with 127 opened for business and 76 in development. Its impressive and continuous growth is attributed to its unique certified organic operation and premium guest experience. Named #21 of the top fast-food brands to watch, Clean Juice was founded on product innovation focusing on organic fruits and vegetables with no additives, GMOs, or chemicals and making healthy, fast food accessible to communities across the United States.

View source version at Clean Juice

Smalls Sliders Hires Former Krispy Kreme Exec Maria Rivera as CEO

DECEMBER 12, 2022

Under her leadership, the concept will accelerate franchise growth.

Smalls Sliders announces Maria Rivera, former US President of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation, as its Chief Executive Officer.  In prior roles with distinctive brands including TGI Fridays, Logan’s Roadhouse, Darden Restaurants and The Walt Disney Company, Maria has built high performing management teams from scratch and provided operational leadership at all levels of growth. This experience of combining a deep understanding of day-to-day operations with strategic leadership of national brands, makes Maria the perfect fit to lead the rapid expansion of Smalls Sliders.

“I am excited to be joining Smalls Sliders early on,” says Rivera. “With strong unit economics and distinctive brand positioning, Smalls Sliders has what it takes to win. This is an exciting time for this brand, and I am eager to work alongside our partners to drive forward the impressive work they started. I look forward to bringing the incredible and innovative Smalls experience to new guests across the country while executing on the company’s growth agenda.”

Under Rivera’s leadership, Smalls Sliders will accelerate previously announced plans for significant franchise growth. Owned by Pro-Football Hall-of-Famer Drew Brees and Brandon Landry, CEO of Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, the brand has already garnered a fanatical guest following. 10 Point Capital also joined as owners earlier this year, recognizing Smalls potential to become a dominant national brand.

"Maria brings the energy and tenacity necessary to build a successful brand”, says Brandon Landry, co-founder of Smalls Sliders. “The quality of our slider was really what hooked Maria. Her passion for people and operational excellence, her deep industry expertise, and her commitment to build and develop winning teams will enable our franchisees to successfully expand across the country.”

Smalls Sliders opened its first restaurant in 2019 and has since grown to five locations, with over 40 locations already in the development pipeline. The differentiated, simplified menu and strong unit economics has already garnered industry recognition, with QSR magazine featuring the brand in their “40/40 List for 2022: America's Hottest Startup Fast Casuals.”

View source version at Smalls Sliders

Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Departure of CFO Tim Mullany

December 12, 2022 07:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) announced today that Tim Mullany, Executive Vice President, and Chief Financial Officer will be leaving the Company for personal reasons, effective February 2, 2023. The Company has initiated a search for a new Chief Financial Officer.

While the company searches to identify a successor, Dawn Hooper, VP, Controller & Financial Reporting, will assume a temporary role as Principal Financial Officer. Hooper has been with Jack in the Box Inc. for 22 years and held various leadership positions within Finance. She will report to Darin Harris, CEO, until a successor is named.

Mullany joined the Jack in the Box Inc. team in January 2021 and most recently led the Del Taco acquisition. He made significant contributions over the past year in support of the Shared Services organization.

Darin Harris, CEO, said, “I appreciate Tim’s partnership as he guided us through a period of unprecedented inflation while simultaneously integrating our two Brands this year. We wish him the best of luck and we are certain the Finance team will be in good hands until his successor is named.”

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 more than 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 15 states. For more information on both brands, including franchising opportunities, visit and

View source version at Jack in the Box

Arthur Carl II Named Vice President Culinary for IHOP

December, 12 2022

Today, IHOP announced the newest member to lead the brand’s culinary team, naming Arthur Carl II to the position of Vice President, Culinary. In this role, Carl will be responsible for driving the evolution of the iconic IHOP menu and continuing to bring a smile to guests’ faces with craveable additions across all dayparts. Carl will report directly to Kieran Donahue, Chief Marketing Officer, IHOP.

“Art’s decades of crafting dishes to satisfy guests’ appetites has demonstrated that he is an innovator in his field, and we welcome this expertise and skill into his new role at IHOP,” said Donahue. “Success in this position requires skills across culinary innovation, franchised restaurants, and product sourcing, among others, and we are confident in Art’s abilities to perform above and beyond in each of these areas.”

Carl brings more than 30 years of experience within the food and beverage industry, serving in several roles for hospitality groups, restaurants, and breweries. Most recently, he held the position of Vice President, Culinary and Beverage R&D for Dave & Buster’s Inc. In that role, he was recognized by the industry for his commitment to introducing new menu items. He also successfully led culinary and beverage strategy and innovation and established a passionate culture of food and beverage including brand identity.

“Bringing smiles to people’s faces and plates is a goal I always strive to achieve, and as the leader in breakfast with continued success throughout the PM daypart in lunch, dinner, and late night, IHOP is a natural fit for the next chapter of my career,” said Carl. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring IHOP’s brand promise to life for guests across both dine-in and off premise menu strategies by continuing to serve innovative menu items with craveable, quality ingredients.”

View source version at IHOP

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. Appoints Dirk Montgomery as Interim CEO; Rich Stockinger Steps Down

December 08, 2022 05:22 PM Eastern Standard Time

DALLAS, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. ("Fiesta" or the "Company") (NASDAQ: FRGI), parent company of the Pollo Tropical® brand, today announced that Richard “Rich” Stockinger has stepped down from his role as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and President to pursue other interests, effective immediately. Dirk Montgomery, Fiesta’s Chief Financial Officer since 2019, will serve as interim CEO while the Company searches for a permanent chief executive.

“We thank Rich for his nearly six years of service with Fiesta,” said Stacey Rauch, who chairs the Company’s board. “He built a superb senior team and skillfully led the Company through an era of difficult challenges. We wish him the best.”

Richard Stockinger said, “It has been my great privilege to work with an exceptionally dedicated and skilled team of executives and restaurant operations leaders who drove real progress during my time with Fiesta. I will treasure the friendships I established, and deeply appreciate the support provided by the Board of Directors. I wish the Fiesta team the best of luck.”

Dirk Montgomery has many years of experience helping major restaurant chains strengthen their accounting, finance, technology, and global supply chains. He served as CFO and head of supply chain at Hooters International, a billion-dollar chain of 425 restaurants in 25 countries, and at Bloomin’ Brands, which operates Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse. He also previously served as a retail and consumer products executive at companies such as L Brands and Sara Lee Corporation, where he served as both a functional and business unit leader.

“Dirk has the experience, knowledge and capabilities to step into the role without missing a beat,” said Ms. Rauch. “He understands our culture, our industry, the challenges we face, and the opportunities that await us. The Board is confident his leadership will further enable the Company to accelerate growth.”

Dirk Montgomery added, “I am excited to serve in the role as interim CEO, and look forward to accelerating growth from the strong foundation built under Rich Stockinger’s leadership.”

Fiesta appointed its controller, Tyler Yoesting, to serve as Chief Accounting Officer and acting CFO, effective immediately. Before joining the Company in 2019, Mr. Yoesting spent more than a decade in the audit practice of KPMG, a leading professional services and accounting firm.

About Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc.

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc., owns, operates and franchises the Pollo Tropical® restaurant brand and prior to August 16, 2021, owned, operated, and franchised the Taco Cabana® restaurant brand. The brands specialize in the operation of fast casual/quick service restaurants that offer distinct and unique flavors with broad appeal at a compelling value. The brands feature fresh-made cooking, drive-thru service and catering. For more information about Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc., visit the corporate website at

View source version at Fiesta Restaurant Group

MINA Group and Chef Michael Mina Announce New Leadership

Dec 08, 2022, 16:00 ET

Jason Himber promoted to Chief Executive Officer bringing proven record in leading company growth

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 8, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- MINA Group and Chef Michael Mina announced that effective today, Jason Himber, current president of MINA Group, will become Chief Executive Officer.

Himber has been with the MINA Group as president since 2021 with increasing responsibilities that have included operations, real estate, construction, business development, and marketing. In his new role as CEO, he will be responsible for the overall performance of the company and its growth strategy, as well as continue to oversee multiple key business functions.

"When Jason joined the company last year, our hope was that he would one day assume the position of CEO, a role that has been vacant for the past five years," said Chef Michael Mina. "Since he has been with the company, we have worked together to successfully navigate the business as we came out of the pandemic and have sharply refined our focus. It has been a pleasure working with and learning from Jason and I am excited about the company's future under his leadership."

Himber's nearly two decades of experience includes a successful track record in value creation and growing companies across the restaurant, hospitality, and most recently, healthcare industries.  Prior to joining MINA Group, Himber was the CEO of Easy Speech Therapy Center, a multi-unit, private equity-backed, multi-disciplinary autism therapy business. Over the course of his career, he has held key leadership positions at Yum! Brands, over-seeing a multi-billion-dollar P&L, M&A, franchising, and marketing/pricing strategy for the KFC brand, as well as CMG Companies, a boutique private equity firm located in Dallas where he developed growth strategies for several of CMG's portfolio companies centered around both de novo and strategic acquisition activities. Under his leadership, several of CMG's portfolio companies grew to unprecedented heights including the company's investment in a 110-unit franchised restaurant chain which grew to more than 250 units across 15 states and over $35MM in EBITDA.

"It's an honor to have earned the opportunity and to be trusted by Chef Mina to take this best-in-class company to a new level," said Jason Himber. "Over the past year, we have re-evaluated all parts of our business, dialed-in on our growth strategy, and have started building a world-class team across areas. In this new role as CEO, I am particularly looking forward to continuing the significant progress we have made in our company culture, in training and development, and accelerating the growth and financial success of MINA Group across the globe."

Chef Mina will remain in his role as Chef and Founder, and now as Executive Chairman of the Board. Himber's promotion will allow Chef Mina to further his position as a culinary visionary, focus on the development of new restaurant concepts, cuisines, and innovative styles of service, as well as providing education and training to people at all levels of the hospitality and culinary industries. He will also continue to assist in directing the philanthropic activities and initiatives with which he and MINA Group feel most passionately aligned.

About MINA Group

MINA Group, led by James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michael Mina, is a San Francisco-based restaurant management company specializing in creating and operating innovative full-service dining concepts. Operating for nearly two decades, MINA Group currently manages more than 30 restaurant locations, including: BARDOT BRASSERIE in Las Vegas; BOURBON BURGER BAR in Los Angeles; BOURBON STEAK in DC, Glendale, Miami, Nashville, Orange County, Scottsdale and Seattle; BOURBON PUB at San Francisco International Airport and Lake Tahoe; THE BUNGALOW KITCHEN BY MICHAEL MINA in Belmont Shore and Tiburon; CLOCK BAR in San Francisco; ESTIATORIO ORNOS A MICHAEL MINA RESTAURANT in Miami and San Francisco; THE HANDLE BAR in Jackson Hole; INTERNATIONAL SMOKE in Las Vegas and San Francisco; MICHAEL MINA in Las Vegas; MINA BRASSERIE in Dubai; MINA'S FISH HOUSE in Oahu; PABU IZAKAYA in San Francisco; STRIPSTEAK in Las Vegas, Miami Beach and Waikiki; TOKYO HOT CHICKEN in San Francisco; TRAILBLAZER TAVERN in San Francisco; and WIT & WISDOM in Sonoma.

View source version at MINA Group

sweetgreen Announces Change to the Executive Leadership Team

December 06, 2022 09:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, sweetgreen announces that Chris Carr, Chief Operating Officer (“COO”), will be departing the Company for personal reasons on March 17, 2023. In the first quarter of 2023, Chris will stay on in an advisory capacity. Effective January 1, 2023, Stephanie Traut, SVP of Operations, will oversee Operations reporting directly to Jonathan Neman.

Jonathan Neman, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, shared, “Chris has been a valued member of the sweetgreen leadership team and I’m grateful for the contributions he has made. Chris joined the company at the height of the pandemic and helped us navigate a challenging and uncertain operating environment. He led the simplification of our operations and laid the foundation for scale as we enter our next phase of growth. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the company, I would like to thank him for the positive impact he has had on sweetgreen and wish him every success in his future endeavors.”

Chris Carr, COO, said, "As I reflect on my time with sweetgreen, I’m immensely proud of the work we’ve done together. We have an incredible team of leaders who are dedicated to our mission of connecting people to real food. The strength of the team gives me confidence in my personal decision. In addition to being a continued loyal customer, I look forward to watching sweetgreen’s continued growth.”

Traut joined sweetgreen in August 2021 bringing over 20 years of operational leadership. Prior to joining sweetgreen, Stephanie served as Chief Operating Officer of Vasa Fitness. Stephanie also served in a variety of roles at Starbucks for nearly 8 years, including as Vice President Licensed Stores - Southwest, Vice President Workforce Management, and Director of Labor and Deployment.

“Stephanie came to sweetgreen with deep operational expertise in the restaurant space. In her time here, she has proven herself as a respected and effective hands-on leader. I am confident that Stephanie will continue to raise the bar and give our guests and team members an exceptional experience,” said Neman.

About sweetgreen:

sweetgreen (NYSE: SG) passionately believes that real food should be convenient and accessible to everyone. Every day their team members create plant-forward, seasonal, and earth-friendly meals from fresh ingredients and produce that prioritizes organic, regenerative, and local sourcing. Sweetgreen strongly believes in harnessing the power of technology to enhance the customer experience to meet their customers where they are. Sweetgreen’s strong food ethos and investment in local communities have enabled them to grow into a national brand with a mission to build healthier communities by connecting people to real food. To learn more about sweetgreen and its menu, visit Follow sweetgreen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @sweetgreen.

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California Pizza Kitchen Announces Board Member Jeff Warne as New CEO

December 02, 2022 12:43 PM Eastern Standard Time

COSTA MESA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), the creator of California-style pizza, today announced that current Board Member Jeff Warne will be assuming the role as the brand’s new CEO, effective immediately. Warne, who joined CPK’s board in November 2020, brings more than 23 years of C-Suite experience in the restaurant industry to his new role as CEO. Warne will be replacing Jim Hyatt, CPK’s former CEO and President since 2018.

“We are thrilled to have Jeff in the CEO role at this incredible brand,” said Michael O’Donnell, California Pizza Kitchen Board of Directors Chairman. “He is a proven leader with deep restaurant experience who understands the CPK business and its innovation DNA. He is uniquely positioned to take CPK to its next phase of growth and has already had a huge impact on the organization. We look forward to supporting him as he continues to bring to life his vision.”

Warne has a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge of the hospitality category. He previously served as President and CEO of Perkins, Marie Callender’s LLC, and O’Charley’s Inc., in addition to holding positions as President of Pick Up Stix, COO of TGI Friday’s International, and CFO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. Warne also sits on the board of directors of The Nashville Food Project and formerly served on the board of the Second Harvest Food Bank in Tennessee. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, a bachelor's degree from St. Cloud State University and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive) and Chartered Financial Analyst.

On the heels of a successful year of steady growth, California Pizza Kitchen has maintained strong pre-pandemic performance levels, assisted by returns in the company’s investments in its loyalty program – CPK Rewards, digital guest experience upgrades, menu innovation, and an expanded franchising program highlighted by recent restaurant openings in Canada, India, Chile, and Costa Rica.

About California Pizza Kitchen

In 1985, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills and introduced diners to gourmet California-inspired pizza. With a passion for combining fresh, seasonal ingredients with flavor inspirations from around the world, today CPK is a global brand serving creative California cuisine in more than 180 restaurants across 10 countries and U.S. territories. From its innovative, hearth-baked pizzas such as The Original BBQ Chicken, Thai Chicken, and California Club, to inventive salads, and unique pasta dishes that combine the old world with the new, CPK does everything with an imaginative California-inspired twist that guests love.

For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

View source version at California Pizza Kitchen

REGO Restaurant Group Names Vanessa Fox as Chief Development Officer

ROI-driven leader will seek to drive continued growth and build brand awareness for the Quiznos and Taco Del Mar brands

December 02, 2022 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--REGO Restaurant Group has hired quick-service industry veteran Vanessa Fox as Chief Development Officer, a new role in which Fox will utilize her extensive industry expertise to support the continued transformation of the Quiznos and Taco Del Mar brands.

On the heels of several recent Quiznos development deals to expand across the U.S., Fox brings to the company more than 20 years of experience as an ROI-driven leader with vast knowledge in strategic planning, market growth, portfolio management and business development. In this new role, Fox will aim to identify and pursue new opportunities for growth through physical expansions, operational improvements, strategic partnerships and rebranding initiatives.

“I’m thrilled to join the incredible team at REGO Restaurant Group and begin working with them as we turn our collective focus to brand awareness and overall growth,” said Fox. “With a long-standing passion for this industry, this is a tremendous opportunity to work with iconic brands such as Quiznos and Taco Del Mar. I’m eager to build on the recent momentum and continue the transformation of these two beloved QSR brands.”

Prior to her new role, Fox was the first to hold the title of Chief Development Officer for Zaxby’s Franchising LLC, where she was responsible for building a new development team, implementing and executing a multi-pronged growth strategy, and reigniting growth by scaling to 915 restaurants under her leadership. Previously, Fox held various positions for Jack in the Box, ultimately realizing the role of Vice President, Chief Development Officer. During her tenure there, Fox’s accomplishments include leading numerous teams through negotiations, sales and rebranding efforts.

“Vanessa is a dynamic and creative leader who is a valuable addition to our team as we seek to take these brands to the next phase in their respective transformations,” said Tim Casey, President and CEO of REGO Restaurant Group. “We are eager to leverage her extensive knowledge and impressive track record particularly as we look to attract new franchisees with our innovative franchisee-first model.”

For those interested in exploring franchise opportunities, visit

About REGO Restaurant Group / High Bluff Capital Partners

Based in Denver, Colorado, REGO Restaurant Group is a fast-casual restaurant platform backed by High Bluff Capital Partners. The portfolio currently includes Quiznos, home of the original toasted sub, and Taco del Mar, which offers coastal Mexican cuisine. REGO Restaurant Group manages over 450 restaurants globally.

High Bluff Capital Partners is a private investment firm specializing in consumer-facing companies and brands with the potential for transformation and significant growth. The firm's team has extensive experience investing in, managing, leading and reinvigorating consumer businesses across the restaurant, entertainment, food, beverage and retail markets. More information can be found at

View source version at REGO Restaurant Group


Nov 29, 2022, 09:00 ET

DALLAS, Nov. 29, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Smoothie King, the world's largest smoothie chain and the first health and fitness QSR brand of its kind, has announced three new hires to its executive leadership team. Chief Marketing Officer Marianne Radley; Chief Information Officer Juan Salas; and Chief People Officer Laura Scavone have been added to the brand's C-Suite and will be responsible for leading effective, cross-functional teams to achieve Smoothie King's strategic business goals.

"We're excited to have Marianne, Juan and Laura join our growing leadership team. They are exemplary leaders in their respective segments, each possessing a wealth of experience in the QSR industry and will undoubtedly make invaluable contributions to Smoothie King," said Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim. "Our brand is rapidly growing in key markets nationwide and adding the right people to our team will be crucial to continuing our success. Marianne, Juan and Laura have already hit the ground running and we look forward to seeing all they accomplish in the months ahead."

Additional details on Smoothie King's new CMO, CIO and CPO below:

  1. Chief Marketing Officer Marianne Radley: Marianne brings a wealth of global marketing, advertising and product innovation experience to Smoothie King and will support the brand's mission to inspire people to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Prior to joining Smoothie King, Marianne served as the Chief Brand Officer for YUM! Brands, overseeing Pizza Hut and has also served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Monster Beverage Company and Anhueser-Busch Beverage InBev. Marianne has been recognized as Forbes Magazine's Top 100 Women in Brand Innovation, Adweek's Top Women to Watch awards and has received the Cannes Lion Award for Marketing Effectiveness.

  2. Chief Information Officer Juan Salas: Juan has more than 20 years of experience implementing next generation technology for corporations in foodservice and hospitality including Gordon Ramsay North America, Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, Popeye's, Church's Chicken Brands and more. Juan has experience in technological, strategic, and tactical skills to ensure that solutions and processes are developed to best serve the guests and drive operational efficiencies to enhance revenue, which will benefit Smoothie King's corporate and franchise-owned stores.  In his new role with Smoothie King, Juan will support advancing the digital customer experience and store technology to help optimize operations.

  3. Chief People Officer Laura Scavone: Previously serving as Vice President of Human Resources for Smoothie King, Laura has been the driving force behind influencing the brand's people strategy to help Smoothie King achieve its business goals. As Chief People Officer, Laura will be instrumental in optimizing people-centered activities including hiring, training, professional development, and performance management to ensure these efforts support the company's growth and bottom line. With a purpose-driven culture being at the center of Smoothie King's core values, Laura's role will also help drive an exciting, candidate-centric recruiting experience for prospective franchisees.

Smoothie King's executive leadership team additions follows recent development success for the brand. Smoothie King opened its 1400th location in September and has signed 145 new development agreements in 2022 to expand its footprint in key growth markets such as the Upper Midwest and Central Atlantic regions, as well as Colorado and Texas. Smoothie King is seeking additional operators in Cleveland, Denver, Phoenix, New York and Charlotte, among other target markets.

Smoothie King has repeatedly been recognized as a top franchise brand, most recently ranking number 51 in Nation's Restaurant News' Top 500 Restaurants, moving up from number 82 in 2021. This list recognizes the largest restaurant chains in the country ranked by sales performance and total number of units. The brand was also named the "Top Brand to Buy" in the beverage category of Franchise Times' 2022 Zor Awards and named to its "Top 400 Franchises" list. Furthermore, Smoothie King received the Top Franchises Satisfaction Award for 2022 from Franchise Business Review based on the brand's high franchisee satisfaction. For more information about franchise opportunities with Smoothie King, please visit

About Smoothie King Franchises, Inc. Smoothie King Franchises, Inc., the original U.S. smoothie franchise, is a privately held, Dallas-based franchise company with more than 1,400 locations worldwide, including in the United States, Korea, Grand Cayman, and Trinidad. Founded in 1973, Smoothie King has made it its mission to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. By blending each smoothie with a purpose, Smoothie King makes it simple and enjoyable for guests to achieve their individual health and fitness goals. Smoothie King has been recognized No. 13 overall on Entrepreneur's prestigious Franchise 500 list in 2022 and ranked one of the "Fastest Growing Franchises." For more information about franchising with Smoothie King, visit or follow the brand on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Industry Veteran Christine Barone Named President at Dutch Bros Inc.

November 29, 2022

Grants Pass, OR  (  Dutch Bros Inc. (NYSE: BROS; “Dutch Bros” or the “Company”) one of the fastest-growing brands in the food service and restaurant industry in the United States by location count, announced that it will name Christine Barone as President. Ms. Barone will begin in Q1 2023 and report to Joth Ricci, who will remain in his leadership role as CEO.

Ms. Barone has worked in the food service and beverage industries for more than a decade and most recently served as Chief Executive Officer at True Food Kitchen, a high growth restaurant and lifestyle brand, since August 2016. Prior to that, she served in various leadership roles at Starbucks. Earlier in her career, she held positions with Bain & Company and Raymond James. She holds a BA in Applied Mathematics and an MBA from Harvard University.

As President of Dutch Bros, Ms. Barone will spearhead company operations as the brand continues to scale towards its goal of 4,000 shops in the next 10 to 15 years. Her hands-on leadership, deep knowledge of the coffee and service industries, and digital marketing expertise will be crucial in Dutch Bros’ next phase of growth.

“We’re pleased to welcome Christine to our team. She’s a well-respected industry leader known for her incredible strategic and operational skills,” Ricci said. “As we look to the next phase of our brand story, we’re committed to bringing in best-in-class leadership to help us scale and grow.”

Ms. Barone said, “I’m inspired by the vision of the co-founder and the executive leadership and excited by Dutch Bros’ future. I’m looking forward to helping the brand navigate its next phase of growth and continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of customers and employees. As a team, we will continue to build on Dutch Bros’ unique culture and celebrate the people and actions that make this company great.”

About Dutch Bros Inc.

Dutch Bros Inc. (NYSE: BROS) is a high growth operator and franchisor of drive-thru shops that focus on serving high QUALITY, hand-crafted beverages with unparalleled SPEED and superior SERVICE. Founded in 1992 by brothers Dane and Travis Boersma, Dutch Bros began with a double-head espresso machine and a pushcart in Grants Pass, Oregon. While espresso-based beverages are still at the core of what we do, Dutch Bros now offers a wide variety of unique, customizable cold and hot beverages that delight a broad array of customers. We believe Dutch Bros is more than just the products we serve – we are dedicated to making a massive difference in the lives of our employees, customers and communities. This combination of hand-crafted and high-quality beverages, our unique drive-thru experience and our community-driven, people-first culture has allowed us to successfully open new shops and continue to share the “Dutch Luv” at 641 locations across 14 states as of September 30, 2022.

To learn more about Dutch Bros, visit, follow Dutch Bros Coffee on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, and download the Dutch Bros app to earn points and score rewards!

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Restaurant Growth Services Announces Clint Lautenschleger Promotion to Chief People Officer

Promotion Supports Focus on O’Charley’s and Ninety Nine Team Members

Clint Lautenschleger is Restaurant Growth Services' new Chief People Officer. As CPO, he will be responsible for leadership of all aspects of human resources management including professional development, talent acquisition and benefits along with legal and risk management.

November 28, 2022 11:30 AM Eastern Standard Time

NASHVILLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Restaurant Growth Services, LLC (“RGS”) announced today the promotion of Clint Lautenschleger to Chief People Officer (“CPO”). Lautenschleger will also serve as CPO for the O’Charley’s and Ninety Nine restaurant brands. As CPO, Lautenschleger will be responsible for leadership of all aspects of human resources management including professional development, talent acquisition and benefits along with legal and risk management.

“Clint has demonstrated extraordinary talent in managing the strategy and processes in support of building while also retaining the talent that is so important for our restaurant brands,” said W. Craig Barber, CEO of Restaurant Growth Services. “Moving forward, his approach to people management and development will remain central to our focus of attracting, retaining and developing the best talent to ensure that all of our brands continue to deliver the very best experience to our guests.”

He joined Restaurant Growth Services in July 2021 after 22 years of human resource experience as Vice President of Human Resources and was promoted to Senior Vice President of Human Resources last November. Prior to joining Restaurant Growth Services, Clint served as Vice President of Field HR Services for Cracker Barrel.

“It has been an incredible journey at RGS thus far and I am excited to see what the future holds for our brands and team,” said Lautenschleger. “I am absolutely focused on helping create and foster an environment where our team members feel empowered in their respective roles and explore the wonderful opportunities our brands can offer to achieve their professional and personal fulfillment. In addition, I am excited to lead the company’s commitment to provide an inclusive workplace where people can bring their genuine selves to work every day.”

About Restaurant Growth Services

Restaurant Growth Services, LLC (formerly ABRH, LLC) is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, and provides a host of management services for restaurant brands. The services include executive leadership, strategy, operational oversight, supply chain, technology, human resources, benefits, financial reporting, treasury management, legal counsel, training and more.

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Taco Mac Names Paul Baldasaro as Chief Operating Officer

November 28, 2022

Restaurant Industry Veteran Brings More Than 25 Years Experience to Growing Brand

Atlanta, GA  (  Taco Mac, Georgia’s largest and fastest-growing sports bar brand, is known for its fresh, never-frozen wings, extensive list of craft beers and large televisions for sports viewing. Effective Nov. 15, 2022, Taco Mac has hired industry veteran Paul Baldasaro as its new chief operating officer to further strengthen operations, accelerate the adoption of operational and technological innovations and prepare the brand for rapid restaurant unit growth.

Baldasaro brings more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry to his new position. He has been an integral part in developing and growing casual dining brands throughout his career. He most recently served as president and CEO of Hickory Tavern, a 25-unit sports bar brand based in Charlotte, where he led an operational transformation, successfully navigated through the COVID-19 pandemic, stabilized employee turnover and improved same store sales. He has a track record for reenergizing legacy brands through the lens of their core guests and outlining a path forward that streamlines operations and delivers more fully on the consumers’ needs.

His new role at Taco Mac is a homecoming for Baldasaro, who has served as COO for two Atlanta-based restaurant companies – Mellow Mushroom and Buckhead Life Restaurant Group. Baldasaro also is a past board chairman of the Georgia Restaurant Association.

At a time when many restaurants are closing their doors due to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taco Mac has seen positive year-over-year sales and is expanding, having opened its 27th location in Gainesville, Georgia, last month. Since 2020, Taco Mac has opened three new restaurants and has four restaurant openings planned for 2023, including Macon, Conyers and Dawsonville in Georgia and Pelham, Alabama. Baldasaro is joining the 43-year-old brand at a time of rapid growth.

“I am thrilled that Paul has joined our leadership team,” says Taco Mac CEO Harold Martin, Jr. “He is an experienced and disciplined leader with high integrity and deep experience in all facets of restaurant operations. He also has a passion for creating magical hospitality experiences. Paul’s leadership will help accelerate our growth and better serve our loyal guests, our passionate team members and the local communities we serve.”

“I have been dining at Taco Mac since I moved to Atlanta more than 15 years ago,” says Baldasaro. “I am excited to join the Taco Mac family and work alongside a world-class leadership team to help write the next chapter of the Taco Mac story.”

As chief operating officer, Baldasaro will be responsible for leading the operations and training teams. In 2019, Taco Mac received the GRACE Award for Restaurateur of the Year from the Georgia Restaurant Association.

About Taco Mac

A Georgia institution since 1979, Taco Mac offers a wide variety of beers on draft, the Southeast’s Original Buffalo wings and multiple HDTVs for enjoying all your favorite sporting events. Started by two friends from Buffalo, New York, Taco Mac now has 27 locations across Georgia and Tennessee. Over the years, Taco Mac has garnered numerous accolades and most recently has been named among the “Best Sports Bars in Atlanta” by Thrillist; one of “The 15 Best Sports Bars in Atlanta” by Foursquare; the best sports bar in Georgia in The Daily Meal’s roundup of “Best Sports Bar in Every State;” and one of the “Best Places to Watch College and NFL Football in Atlanta” by Eater. The eatery also made USA Today’s 10 Best list of “Best Sports Bars in Atlanta.” For more information, visit

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US Foods Announces Dave Flitman as Chief Executive Officer

November 28, 2022

Flitman to Bring More Than 35 Years of Leadership, Food Distribution, Supply Chain and Commercial Experience to Build Upon US Foods’ Momentum

Rosemont, IL  (  US Foods Holding Corp. (NYSE: USFD), one of the largest foodservice distributors in the United States, today announced that Dave Flitman will become Chief Executive Officer (CEO) effective Jan. 5, 2023. Flitman will also be a member of the US Foods Board of Directors (the “Board”).

Flitman brings to the company a wealth of global business leadership, executive management skills and extensive commercial distribution experience, along with significant expertise in operational excellence, supply chain, and general management with more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and distribution across multiple industries, including food distribution.

“After a thoughtful and thorough search for the future leader of our great company, I am thrilled that Dave Flitman will join US Foods as Chief Executive Officer and a member of our talented Board,” said Bob Dutkowsky, Executive Chairman, US Foods. “Dave is a highly accomplished executive who brings an impressive combination of CEO, supply chain and commercial experience and a proven track record of driving operational excellence, profitable growth, shareholder returns and a people-centric, high-performing culture. On behalf of our Board, I am delighted to welcome Dave to the US Foods team.”

“This is a perfect time to join US Foods,” said Flitman. “It’s an honor and a privilege to lead US Foods into the future, alongside its talented 28,000 associates. I look forward to building on the current momentum the team has built in executing the company’s long-range plan, driving operational excellence, creating value for our customers and shareholders and fostering a culture where associates thrive.”

Since April 2021, Flitman has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Builders FirstSource, the largest U.S. supplier of building products, prefabricated components and value-added services with annual revenues of approximately $23 billion. He was President and Chief Executive Officer at BMC Stock Holdings prior to the merger of the two companies. In these roles, he led his teams to consistently deliver industry-leading growth and profitability, exceed merger-related synergies in less than half the committed time and generate significant returns for shareholders.

Importantly, Flitman brings to the company significant knowledge and experience in the food distribution industry. From 2015 to 2018, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Performance Foodservice, the largest segment of Performance Food Group, a U.S. foodservice distribution company.

Prior to that, he served as Chief Operating Officer and President, USA & Latin America at Univar; Senior Executive Vice President at Nalco; Executive Vice President and President, Water and Process Services at Ecolab and President at Allegheny Power. Flitman began his career at DuPont where he spent two decades in various operational, commercial and global business leadership positions.

In addition to his previous experience as a director of Builders FirstSource and BMC Stock Holdings, Flitman also has been a director since 2017 at Veritiv Corporation, a leading packaging distribution company, where he is currently a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and chair of the Compensation and Leadership Development Committee.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Purdue University.

With a permanent CEO in place, Bob Dutkowsky will become non-executive Chairman of the US Foods Board of Directors effective Jan. 5, 2023.

Andrew Iacobucci, Interim CEO, will continue to lead US Foods until Flitman joins the company.

“I want to thank Andrew for his steadfast leadership over the past several months and as we finish the year,” said Dutkowsky. “In his interim role, he drove strong progress in executing our long-range plan as demonstrated in our third-quarter 2022 results.”

About US Foods

With a promise to help its customers Make It, US Foods is one of America’s great food companies and a leading foodservice distributor, partnering with approximately 250,000 restaurants and foodservice operators to help their businesses succeed. With 70 broadline locations and more than 80 cash and carry stores, US Foods and its 28,000 associates provides its customers with a broad and innovative food offering and a comprehensive suite of e-commerce, technology and business solutions. US Foods is headquartered in Rosemont, Ill. Visit to learn more.

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Meritage Announces Addition of John Inwright to Board of Directors

November 21, 2022 11:36 ET

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Nov. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Meritage Hospitality Group Inc. (OTCQX: MHGU), the nation’s premier franchise operator, today announced that the Company’s Board of Directors appointed John W. Inwright to serve on the Board of Directors until the Company’s 2023 Annual Shareholders Meeting.

Speaking on behalf of the Board, CEO Robert Schermer said, “We are pleased to welcome John Inwright to the Board of Directors. John brings over 25 years of restaurant industry experience in high profile supply chain leadership roles including President and CEO of the Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Cooperative (QSCC), EVP & Chief Procurement Officer of U.S. Foodservice, and SVP of Purchasing for Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op, LLC (the supply chain co-op for Yum! Brands and its franchisees).”

John’s unique perspective on restaurant supply chain management and new product development will be particularly valuable in our Wendy’s and Taco John’s multi-state development efforts.

Mr. Inwright currently serves on the board of Diversified Food Supply and The Bama Companies as well as numerous restaurant industry advisory boards.

About Meritage The Company plans to expand its restaurant operations to 500 restaurants, through the development of Wendy’s, Taco John’s and Morning Belle restaurants over the next 5 years. Meritage continues to provide best in class results through a performance-based culture committed to operational excellence, strategic acquisitions, and real estate development.

Meritage Hospitality Group, Inc. is the nation’s premier franchise operator, with 351 restaurants in operation located in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Meritage is headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, operating with a workforce of approximately 11,000 employees. The Company has approximately 9.7 million (fully diluted) common shares outstanding. The Company’s public filings can be viewed at, under the stock symbol MHGU, or the Company’s website

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Papa Johns Appoints Elias Reyna as Chief People and Diversity Officer

Proven People Operations Leader Re-Joins Papa Johns Where He Previously Served as VP of Human Resources

November 21, 2022 12:16 PM Eastern Standard Time

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) today announced the appointment of Elias Reyna as the Company’s new Chief People and Diversity Officer. Mr. Reyna, who will begin his new position on November 28, will lead globally the human resources; diversity, equity and inclusion; talent recruiting and management; total rewards; and employee relations functions, reporting to president and CEO Rob Lynch.

Mr. Reyna joins Papa Johns from ABM Industries where he was Vice President Human Resources, Manufacturing and Distribution. At ABM he was a member of the Manufacturing and Distribution senior leadership team where he drove the talent strategy and cultural transformation for a high-growth business.

Prior to ABM, Mr. Reyna was Vice President Human Resources and People Services for Papa Johns, where in two years with the company he led the HR function, as well as served as the People Operations lead for the opening of the company’s second headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. During his time at Papa Johns, he also served as interim VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion during a transition period.

“Elias couldn’t be a better culture fit for Papa Johns as he is a model of our core values. His proven leadership experience in our company and his existing relationships with our teams will make him a great asset in this role,” said president and CEO Rob Lynch. “I’m proud that Elias will be the first Latino leader to join our Executive Leadership Team, already one of the most diverse in the restaurant industry.”

“One of the highlights of my career was playing a role in the historic cultural transformation of Papa Johns. I’m passionate about the company’s top strategic priority, which is building a culture of leaders who believe in diversity, inclusivity and winning,” said Reyna. “I’m honored to be able to lead the continued work Papa Johns is doing to further this priority, working within our company, our supply chain and with our franchisees to be an employer of choice so we can attract and retain the best talent in our industry.”

Mr. Reyna brings more than 20 years of human resources, change management, organizational design and culture transformation experience at companies with large, diverse, global employee populations. Most notably, he served in HR management positions at Shell Oil Company, Tesoro Refining and Marketing, and Marathon Petroleum Corporation. He is a graduate of University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas where he earned a BA in business and a masters in international business. He will be based in the Papa Johns Atlanta corporate hub.

About Papa Johns

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) 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 5,500 restaurants in 47 countries and territories as of September 25, 2022. For more information about the Company or to order pizza online, visit or download the Papa Johns mobile app for iOS or Android.

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Fuku Appoints QSR Marketing Veteran Claudia Lezcano as Chief Executive Officer

November 18, 2022 09:30 AM Eastern Standard Time

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fuku, a growing collection of fast casual restaurants specializing in fried chicken sandwiches from dynamic chef and restaurateur David Chang, today announced that industry veteran Claudia Lezcano has been appointed as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer.

With more than 25 years of marketing experience for major brands, Lezcano most recently worked at Church’s Texas Chicken where she served as Senior Vice President of US Marketing. Before Church’s, Lezcano held top marketing positions at Celebrity Cruises, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and the MLB’s Miami Marlins. Her extensive QSR and restaurant experience also includes 8 years at Burger King Corporation, where she led strategy and marketing communications for the then $3 billion company. As CEO, Lezcano will be responsible for identifying additional opportunities that will drive accelerated growth and expansion of the Fuku footprint.

"I have known Claudia throughout my career and admire her tremendous work ethic, brilliant marketing vision, and positive attitude while facing the toughest of challenges,” said Matt Higgins, Cofounder and CEO of RSE Ventures, whose portfolio includes Fuku as well as David Chang’s renowned culinary brand Momofuku and Australian-inspired lifestyle and hospitality brand Bluestone Lane, among others. “Claudia is one of those dynamic executives who understands that the success of a restaurant brand starts with operational excellence and delivering on the promises you make to your customers and broader communities.”

Higgins continued, “She has deep QSR expertise and truly knows the hospitality space, including how essential it is to have a consistent and meaningful brand voice across all consumer touch points. Her ideal blend of marketing and operations experience makes Claudia uniquely suited for this role, and I’m confident that Fuku is well-positioned for continued success under her leadership.”

“I am honored and excited to be leading Fuku’s next chapter of growth,” said Lezcano. “Chef David Chang created an unmatched chicken sandwich when he founded Momofuku → Fuku in 2015, and my vision is to continue building upon on his original concept by offering approachable, tasty food that changes the way people think about fast casual. I look forward to working with the team to continue growing our footprint throughout the country so even more guests can delight in Fuku’s one-of-a-kind chicken sandwich.”

About Fuku Fuku is a fried chicken sandwich-centric, fast casual restaurant that was founded by David Chang and Momofuku in 2015. Guided by many of the same principles that Momofuku was founded on, Fuku challenges convention and offers guests approachable, high-quality food that draws influences from both Asian and American cuisine. In addition to operating its own storefronts, Fuku has a presence in stadiums and arenas, airports, and ghost kitchens throughout the country. For more information about Fuku, visit

About RSE Ventures RSE Ventures is a private investment firm made up of builders, innovators, partners and founders who focus on companies across sports and entertainment, media and marketing, food and lifestyle, and technology. Its family includes Bluestone Lane, Magnolia Bakery, International Champions Cup, VaynerMedia, Momofuku, Fuku, Milk Bar and &pizza. Connect at and @RSEVentures.

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Focus Brands Announces Brendan Berg as Senior Vice President of Operations for Restaurant Brands

Nov 17, 2022, 16:15 ET


Industry veteran brings decades of experience and operations expertise to Focus Brands' leadership team

ATLANTA, Nov. 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Focus Brands®, parent company of iconic brands including Auntie Anne's®Carvel®Cinnabon®Jamba®McAlister's Deli®Moe's Southwest Grill® and Schlotzsky's®, announced today that Brendan Berg is joining the company as its new Senior Vice President of Operations for the Restaurant Category. With almost 40 years spent in the restaurant industry working his way up from team member to executive leadership, Brendan's forward-thinking strategies have driven operational performance and profitability on a global scale.

"As a seasoned executive in the QSR industry, Brendan brings a wealth of knowledge and a track record of success to Focus Brands," said Shelley Harris, Restaurant Category President. "We're confident that his ability to lead high-performing teams and achieve operational excellence across our family of brands will play a vital role in our continued successful journey forward."

As Senior Vice President of Operations, Brendan will lead the restaurant category operations team, which is primarily focused on providing efficient operations solutions, increasing unit-level profitability and enhancing the guest experience across all seven brands in the Focus Brands portfolio.

Brendan joins Focus Brands from Church's Chicken where he served as Senior Vice President of U.S. Franchise Operations and Global Operations Services, overseeing all aspects of franchise operations and introducing efficient restaurant management systems globally. Prior to joining Church's Chicken, Brendan spent nearly three decades at Burger King working in learning and development, training and field support across Burger King's domestic and international restaurants.

About Focus Brands Atlanta-based Focus Brands® is a leading developer of global multi-channel foodservice brands. Focus Brands, through its affiliate brands, is the franchisor and operator of more than 6,400 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes, and bakeries in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and over 55 foreign countries under the Auntie Anne's®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe's Southwest Grill®, McAlister's Deli®, and Schlotzsky's® brand names, as well as the Seattle's Best Coffee® brand on certain military bases and in certain international markets. Please visit to learn more.

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Restaurant Brands International Inc. Appoints Patrick Doyle as Executive Chairman to Accelerate Growth

Nov 16, 2022, 05:00 ET

RBI Board of Directors believes Patrick Doyle's appointment will unlock exceptional growth potential alongside current leadership

Mr. Doyle is one of the world's most successful global QSR leaders; having doubled system-wide sales, delivered 29 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth, created ~$11B of shareholder value and increased home market franchisee profitability more than 2x while CEO of Domino's Pizza from 2010-2018

TORONTO, Nov. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ - Restaurant Brands International Inc. ("RBI") (TSX: QSR) (NYSE: QSR) (TSX: QSP) has appointed Patrick Doyle, one of the world's most successful QSR leaders, to become the company's Executive Chairman, effective immediately. The Board of Directors believe that Mr. Doyle will be an important contributor to unlocking growth in the company based on his proven track record doing the same at Domino's Pizza.

The appointment follows significant progress and investments at Tim Hortons Canada and Burger King US; strong system-wide sales growth at Burger King internationally and Popeyes; the acquisition of Firehouse Subs and returning to historical global unit growth.

As the former CEO of Domino's Pizza from 2010 to 2018, Mr. Doyle led one of the restaurant industry's most successful transformations by focusing on putting the guest experience first and being the best at digital ordering and food quality. During his tenure, he delivered 29 consecutive quarters of same store sale increases, system-wide sales growth of $5.6B to $13B, an over 2x increase in home market franchisee profitability while creating approximately $11B of shareholder value and increasing the share price over 23x from nearly $12 in March 2010 to $271 in June 2018.

Daniel Schwartz and Alex Behring will continue to serve on the Board of Directors, demonstrating 3G Capital's commitment to being a long-term shareholder in RBI. Mr. Behring is a co-founder of 3G Capital and is currently co-Managing Partner. Mr. Schwartz is the former CEO and Executive Chairman of RBI and co-Managing Partner of 3G Capital.

Since its 2010 acquisition of Burger King Holdings, 3G Capital has been the company's largest shareholder supporting the company's global growth transformation including the creation of RBI and acquisitions of Tim Hortons, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and Firehouse Subs, generating approximately 21x in total shareholder returns(1).

"Patrick's appointment as Executive Chairman is a huge addition to the already strong leadership team that we have built over the past few years. This is part of our long-term strategy to accelerate growth in our restaurant brands and profitability for our franchisees and drive shareholder returns that we believe the company is very capable of delivering," said Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Behring, current co-Chairmen of the Board of Directors.

"I'm excited to work closely with Patrick and our leadership team to build the most loved restaurant brands in the world.  This includes our intention to rapidly accelerate growth in the company and deliver on plans that result in exceptional service for our guests; and excellent returns for our franchisees and for all shareholders," said Jose Cil, CEO of RBI.

"I love the restaurant industry. These are four exceptional brands with real opportunities for accelerated growth. Working closely with each of the brands' franchisees, with Jose, the whole RBI team, and the Board of Directors, I am confident we can create one of the most compelling growth stories in the industry," said Mr. Doyle, incoming Executive Chairman.

Mr. Doyle will make a personal investment to purchase 500,000 RBI shares for a value of approximately $30M and has agreed to maintain his investment for five years, subject to certain conditions, demonstrating his confidence in the shareholder value he is being retained to help create.  The purchase is subject to regulatory approvals.

In addition, Mr. Doyle will receive a one-time equity package of 2,000,000 options granted at fair market value, vesting in 5 years; 500,000 restricted share units vesting ratably over five years; and 750,000 performance share units vesting in 5.5 years, with a 100% target performance tied to a roughly 10% compound annualized return in RBI's share price over five years.

RBI's Board of Directors believes Mr. Doyle's compensation package reflects his unmatched performance as one of the world's most successful QSR leaders and is fully aligned with shareholder interests as benefits are substantially realized upon significant improvement in company performance.

The Board also noted that the company's path to profitable, long-term growth needs to be rooted in the continued success of our restaurants, including enhancing the guest experience, growing franchisee profitability and driving digital sales. Mr. Cil, his direct reports and their leadership teams across all four brands share compensation performance criteria related to comparable sales, net restaurant growth and Organic EBITDA growth as well as individual achievement criteria which may include franchisee profitability, guest satisfaction levels and digital sales targets.

About Restaurant Brands International: Restaurant Brands International Inc. is one of the world's largest quick service restaurant companies with over $35 billion in annual system-wide sales and over 29,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. 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

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BRIX Holdings Announces Sherif Mityas as Chief Executive Officer

November 15, 2022

Multi-brand Restaurant Group Appoints Dawn Petite as Brand President of Friendly’s Restaurants Group

Dallas, TX  (  BRIX Holdings LLC (BRIX) announced today the appointment of Sherif Mityas as their new Chief Executive Officer and Dawn Petite as Brand President for Friendly’s Restaurant Group.

Mityas will now assume full leadership of BRIX Holdings’ and Amici Partners Group’s brands including Friendly’s, Red Mango, Orange Leaf, Smoothie Factory, SouperSalad and Humble Donuts.

“When we expanded the BRIX portfolio at the end of 2020, our vision was to first integrate our new acquisitions into our system and then lay the foundation to build each of our brands,” said John Antioco, Chairman of BRIX Holdings.  “We strongly believe in the expansion of these leadership roles and their impact on our organization. We are confident Sherif and Dawn will deliver outstanding growth for our portfolio, especially as we continue to bring strong and successful franchise restaurant concepts to market.”

Mityas is a veteran retail and restaurant industry executive, most notably serving as the chief experience officer for TGI FRIDAYS and as chief executive officer for Hollywood Video/Movie Gallery. In 2020, he was named one of the Top 10 Innovators in the restaurant industry by Nation’s Restaurant News in their annual Power List rankings.

“I’m honored for the opportunity to lead our world-class restaurant portfolio,” Mityas said. “We have an exceptional group of brands, team members and franchisees that will help drive our growth and success as we build for the future.”

Petite will assume the new role of Brand President for Friendly’s Restaurants. She most recently served as chief operating officer for the brand and offers over 40 years of experience having started her career at a Friendly’s restaurant as an operations manager. Prior to her current role, Petite was the chief operating officer for J&B Restaurant partners, one of the largest franchisee groups in the Friendly’s system.

“I’m thrilled to continue to lead this iconic brand with our passionate Friendly’s team members and franchisees,” Petite said. “Our team is looking forward to ensuring our loyal fans are treated to the joy of our unique blend of great food, ice cream and friendly service at each of our restaurants across the east coast.”

About BRIX Holdings LLC

BRIX Holdings LLC, based in Dallas, Texas, is a multi-brand franchising company specializing in chains with superior products and attractive growth prospects with an experienced operating and investor group specializing in the restaurant industry. The portfolio represents over 300 locations across 38 states and is comprised of brands including Friendly’s Restaurant Co., Red Mango, Orange Leaf, Smoothie Factory, SouperSalad and Humble Donuts. For additional information, please visit

About Friendly’s Restaurants Co, LLC

Friendly’s Restaurants is an iconic American brand serving signature entrées, burgers, sandwiches and handcrafted, specialty ice cream desserts in 130 friendly, full-service restaurants. For over 80 years, Friendly’s Restaurants and their dedicated service teams have delighted generations of guests by offering everyday value on great-tasting food and ice cream creations. Friendly’s Restaurants is a portfolio brand of BRIX Holdings, LLC, a multi-brand restaurant management and franchising company based in Dallas. Friendly’s Restaurants has plans to introduce new and innovative food and ice cream offerings, bright new restaurants and unique ways to reach and satisfy guests. For additional information, please visit or follow Friendly’s on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

View source version at BRIX Holdings

FAT Brands Announces Jeremy Theisen as Chief Growth Officer

November 14, 2022 09:00 ET

Global Restaurant Franchising Company Hires Experienced C-Suite Growth Leader to Drive Expansion Efforts

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc., announces the hiring of its first Chief Growth Officer, Jeremy Theisen. Theisen joins FAT Brands with over 20 years of experience in significantly increasing the revenue stream for high-growth start-ups in the restaurant sector and will be focused on spearheading the growth of the development pipeline across the FAT Brands portfolio. This includes bringing new franchisees into the system and driving multi-unit expansion with existing franchisees.

Prior to joining FAT Brands, Theisen served as Chief Revenue Officer of PathSpot, a hygiene management system geared towards the foodservice industry, where he not only grew the company’s contracted revenue by 15 times in 24 months, but also, was key in their overseas expansion in Europe and Australia. Theisen also served as Chief Sales Officer of Punchh, the restaurant industry leader in loyalty and engagement programs, where he saw the company through its launch to generating $50 million in revenue prior to being acquired by Par Technology Corporation several years later. Other experiences include Google and Truaxis, a loyalty rewards and personalized statement solutions company owned by MasterCard.

“Over the last several years, FAT Brands continues to reach new heights from a growth perspective,” said FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn. “While our acquisition strategy has been a key mechanism for growth, we have also been heavily invested in building out our deep, organic pipeline. This year has already been record-breaking from an opening standpoint, and we are just getting started. Jeremy is a great addition to our team to drive this growth forward exponentially in the years to come. His experience of quickly scaling companies from start-ups to industry leaders aligns with our fast-paced growth mentality.”

“I am excited for the new journey ahead at FAT Brands,” said Jeremy Theisen. “I have had the pleasure of working with the company while at my other ventures and have been amazed at the growth they have achieved. What was once Fatburger has now transformed into a 17-concept portfolio with a strong worldwide presence. I look forward to adding to the already strong growth trajectory of the company and forging new relationships with new and existing franchisees.”

For more information on FAT Brands, visit


About FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands

FAT Brands (NASDAQ: FAT) is a leading global franchising company that strategically acquires, markets, and develops fast casual, quick-service, casual dining, and polished casual dining concepts around the world. The Company currently owns 17 restaurant brands: Round Table Pizza, Fatburger, Marble Slab Creamery, Johnny Rockets, Fazoli’s, Twin Peaks, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Buffalo’s Cafe & Express, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Pretzelmaker, Elevation Burger, Native Grill & Wings, Yalla Mediterranean and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, and franchises and owns over 2,300 units worldwide.

View source version at FAT Brands

Dog Haus Assembles the Absolute Würst Marketing Team

November 11, 2022

CJ Ramirez promoted to executive vice president and Justin Bartek also named VP

Pasadena, CA  (  Dog Haus announced today the promotion of Christopher J. Ramirez to executive vice president of marketing and the hiring of Justin Bartek as vice president of marketing as popular brand beefs up for the next stage of growth.

Ramirez has spent almost a decade with Dog Haus and was instrumental in developing and launching The Absolute Brands. As a senior executive team member, he will continue leading the high-performing creative, marketing and technology teams that deliver transformational growth through disruptive innovation for the brand and its franchisees.

With nearly 20 years’ experience in the restaurant industry, most recently with JINYA Ramen Bar, Bartek brings an impressive track record in building high-growth brands. Working alongside Ramirez, he will play a pivotal role in taking The Absolute brands to the next level through marketing strategies that create strategic partnerships and drive digital transformation through data-driven insights and consumer testing.

The duo is already using a combined approach as postive feedback and key data showed that Bad Ass Breakfast Burritos are one of The Absolute Brand’s biggest hits. Bartek and Ramirez’s bad ass response? They added them to the Dog Haus menu during this winter’s FIFA World Cup so more fans can enjoy!

“You couldn’t dream up a better one-two punch to lead our marketing team and take our brand to the next level,” said Dog Haus Partner André Vener. “CJ’s vision and execution are unparalleled, and his contributions to Dog Haus over the years cannot be overstated. Justin is one of the smartest marketing people I know, and his track record speaks for itself. Our brand couldn’t be in better hands.”

Prior to joining Dog Haus, Bartek played a key role in helping brands – such as Jinya Holdings, The Halal Guys, Veggie Grill, Qdoba Mexican Grill and Baja Fresh – grow from regional sensations into national and international brands.

“I’m stoked to welcome Justin to our team,” Ramirez said. “He’s a natural fit for our multifaceted, incredibly fast-paced and innovative organization. Without a doubt, his restaurant marketing experience will benefit our franchisees and help us achieve our second-decade growth plan with ease.”

Ramirez and Bartek combined bring over five decades of experience in a variety of creative fields, helping form a unique duo that can tackle any challenge the ever-changing restaurant industry develops. Ramirez has experience in creative development, marketing and communication with clients across the globe, with Bartek bringing a tech-driven approach in developing and expanding highly valued partnerships and collaborations between brands, franchisees, vendors and others.

“I couldn’t be more excited to join the amazing Dog Haus team,” said Bartek. “My career has been focused on growing franchise brands, so I firmly believe my experience fits well with our mission. Get ready for the absolute würst in 2023 because Dog Haus and The Absolute Brands will explode next year and beyond.”

For up-to-date location and brand information, visit or follow Dog Haus on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

About Dog Haus

Dog Haus is an award-winning concept known for its gourmet hot dogs, sausages, burgers, plant-based and fried chicken offerings, creative full bar program and The Absolute Brands (virtual concepts). Founded by longtime friends Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and André Vener, the first Dog Haus opened in Pasadena, California in 2010. Dog Haus was honored with Nation’s Restaurant News’ prestigious MenuMasters Award and has been named in Fast Casual’s Top 10 Movers and Shakers list since 2020. Most recently, Franchise Times announced the winners of its annual Zor Awards and Dog Haus came out on top – winning the prized honor of “Top Brand to Buy.” Earlier this year, the brand was also recognized in QSR Magazine’s list of Best Brands to Work For. Dog Haus continues to garner critical acclaim for its signature all beef dogs and hand-crafted sausages with no added nitrates, and 100% Black Angus beef burgers – all of which are made with hormone- and antibiotic-free meat and served on grilled King’s Hawaiian rolls. With its mission to sustainably feed everyone who walks through their doors, Dog Haus also offers a diverse lineup of plant-based burger, sausage and chicken creations. While striving to establish itself as a “haus”-hold name, the brand has helped raise enough funds from its innovative collaboration with high-profile chefs to feed over two million kids in need through its national charity partner No Kid Hungry. For up-to-date location and brand information, visit or follow Dog Haus on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

View source version at Dog Haus

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