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Executive Movements - February 2018

Chipotle taps Taco Bell's CEO to turn around the struggling chain February 13, 2018--(BusinessInsider)

Chipotle's new CEO comes from another Mexican chain. The struggling chain's new top executive will be Taco Bell's current CEO Brian Niccol. Niccol will replace Chipotle's founder and current CEO, Steve Ells. Ells said in a press release that Niccol will bring "fresh energy and leadership to drive excellence across every aspect of our business." "His expertise in digital technologies, restaurant operations and branding make him a perfect fit for Chipotle as we seek to enhance our customer experience, drive sales growth and make our brand more relevant," Ells continued. Chipotle announced in November that Ells plans to step down as it begins its hunt for a new CEO with "demonstrated turnaround expertise." Niccol joined Taco Bell 2011 as its chief marketing and innovation officer. Over the last seven years, Taco Bell has experienced explosive growth due in part to Niccol's strategy of pushing for creative marketing and new menu items that at times border on bizarre, such as the Naked Chicken Chalupa. Recently, Chipotle has made major a major push into digital, with the company reporting earlier in February that digital orders had increased 50% in the most recent quarter, compared to the same period last year. The chain also hinted it may be testing new menu items— a fast-food strategy that Chipotle has long refused to try. Niccol's new role as Chipotle's CEO and a member of the company's board will be effective starting March 5. Chipotle has struggled since an E. coli crisis two years ago drove customers away from the chain. Shares of the company have fallen more than 60% since peaking in August 2015.

Another Broken Egg of America names Clay Carson Vice President of Franchise Sales and Real Estate Development February 8, 2018--MIRAMAR BEACH, FL--( Another Broken Egg of America, LLC, one of the nation’s fastest-growing breakfast and brunch restaurant concepts in the country, today announced the appointment of Clay Carson as the company’s new vice president of franchise sales and real estate development. With more than 15 years of experience in real estate and development, Carson joins the organization as it positions itself for accelerated expansion in new markets throughout the country, targeting approximately 25 new cafe openings per year. In his new role at Another Broken Egg of America, Carson will be responsible for franchise sales, strategic market planning, site selection and lease negotiations, as well as assist in overseeing the construction and facilities functions for both new and existing franchise entities. Prior to joining Another Broken Egg of America, Carson was the director of development for Oklahoma-based Coolgreens, a healthy lifestyle eatery offering salads, sandwiches and wraps. Before Coolgreens, he was the owner of White Sands Franchise Development, the U.S. developer for The Counter Burger and BUILT Custom Burgers. Earlier in his career, Carson was the co-owner and CEO of East Coast Kilt, the largest developer for the Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery, where he developed over 70 units. Throughout his career, Carson has been extensively involved in concept start-ups, brand re-concepting, operations, training, marketing, site selection, design and construction. “Clay’s broad background is exactly what we need at this time of rapid expansion at Another Broken Egg Cafe,” stated Christopher Artinian, president and chief operating officer for Another Broken Egg of America, LLC. “Breakfast and brunch continue to be two of the fastest-growing dayparts in the industry today, and Clay’s extensive experience in franchising, site selection, lease negotiation and construction will allow our brand to better capitalize on that growth in markets throughout the country. We are delighted to have Clay on board at Another Broken Egg Cafe.” Carson holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from the University of Houston. He lives with his wife, Marilyn, in Seagrove Beach, Florida. About Another Broken Egg Cafe® Founded by Ron E. Green in 1996, the Miramar Beach, Florida-based Another Broken Egg of America, LLC concept is an upscale breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant that specializes in award-winning, Southern-inspired menu options with innovative twists and signature cocktails. Another Broken Egg Cafe is one of the fastest-growing daytime-only concepts in the country, with over 60 locations in 13 states and dozens more in development. The company was honored in 2017 by Winsight Media with its Leader in Foodservice Full-Service Award and ranked by Franchise Times magazine as one of their Fast & Serious Smartest-Growing Brands. This year, Another Broken Egg Cafe was named by FSR magazine as one of the 14 Restaurant Chains Ready for Lift-Off in 2018. For more information about franchising opportunities, please visit

Goalz Restaurant Group Names Jeron Boemer As Vice President Of Operations February 8, 2018--CHEYENNE, WY--(PRNewswire) Goalz Restaurant Group, recently formed franchise operator for three great brands: Captain D's, Church's Chicken, and Dog Haus, announced today the appointment of Jeron Boemer as vice president of operations in Arizona. In his new role, Boemer will responsible for planning, directing and coordinating operations for the company's franchise locations opening within the Arizona area. In addition, Boemer is partnering with Goalz to develop Dog Haus locations in Tempe, Arizona, Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, Colorado. As the newest member of the executive team, Boemer joins Goalz with four years of franchising expertise and more than 15 years of beverage distribution industry experience. Prior to becoming a Dog Haus franchisee of two locations in Yuma, Arizona, he most recently served as sales execution coordinator at Sun Valley Beverage, where he determined merchandising pricing schedules and monitored customer behaviors to focus sales efforts. "Goalz Restaurant Group is proud to welcome Jeron to our growing leadership team," said Shawn Eby, chief executive officer of Goalz Restaurant Group. "His diverse professional background in the food and beverage industry, along with his knowledge and experience in franchising will be instrumental as we begin to expand our presence in Arizona." Goalz recently opened their newest Dog Haus restaurant, the celebrated craft casual concept known for its gourmet hot dogs, sausages, burgers and one-of-a-kind creations, in Rockford, Illinois in December and is slated to open a second Illinois location in Decatur later this month. In line with their company-wide mission to be able to show the difference each Goalz Restaurant has made in their respective communities, they aim to partner with local organizations to conduct food drives and host fundraisers. Goalz Restaurant Group currently plans to open and operate more than 250 restaurants over the next five years across ten states, with goals to help employees become owners in their own restaurant or franchise and be known as the company that always goes an extra degree when it comes to food quality, guest service, friendly staff and restaurant cleanliness. For more information on Goalz Restaurant Group, visit About Goalz Restaurant GroupGoalz Restaurant Group is a multi-unit restaurant operator that was formed by four restaurant industry veterans who had a goal to start and develop their own company focused around helping others. Goalz Restaurant Group is currently scheduled to open 265 restaurants over the next few years across ten states, (NC, SC, GA, FL, LA, OH, CO, WY, KY, IL) and has additional plans to grow further.

Donatos Pizza Announces Strategic Hires of CMIO and VP of Franchise Operations February 7, 2018--COLUMBUS, OH--(PRNewswire) Strategic hires to bolster leadership team for best in class operations and customer experience Today, Donatos Pizza announced two hires, naming Kevin Myers as Chief Marketing and Information Officer (CMIO) and Amos Durbin as Vice President of Franchise Operations. Both new hires have a February 13, 2018 start date. "We have a mission to make a difference in the communities we serve, and with added franchise growth and sales, we'll be able to make an even greater impact," said Tom Krouse, president and CEO of Donatos. "The additions of Kevin and Amos, leaders of their respective industries, empower us to better serve our franchise partners, our customers and our communities." Myers joins Donatos following an impressive career in both the marketing and technology industries, including tenure as executive vice president of marketing and sales at global retail food leader Cold Stone Creamery. In this role, he was responsible for the marketing strategy that led Cold Stone Creamery to grow from a few hundred stores to over 1,400 across 10 countries, resulting in a $500 million business. As CMIO, Myers will lead marketing, IT and technology for Donatos focusing on converting data to both influence and elevate Donatos' customer experience. "Companies must focus on connecting the whole brand with the data their customers provide in order to better serve its audience and attract new consumers," said Myers. "I'm thrilled to be able to use my past experience to integrate Donatos marketing and technology for a more robust customer experience as restaurant technology continues to evolve." Over the past few years, the pizza company has refined its market entry strategy and simplified operations, opening eight new stores across seven new markets. Driving increased market entry and saturation through highly successful stores is a key tactic that allows Donatos to compete and innovate with greater speed and efficiency. As vice president of franchise operations, Durbin will lead franchise growth and streamline operations. Prior to joining Donatos, he was vice president of franchise operations at dineEquity where he represented IHOP in the family dining segment, supporting 16 district managers and two directors of operations across 68 restaurants. Before dineEquity, he worked more than 12 years at Red Robin where he led five district managers supporting 32 restaurants with $106 million in revenue and opened 108 new restaurants. "With 159 stores across nine states, Donatos has already demonstrated significant success, all without sacrificing the consistency and high quality its known for," said Durbin. "Franchise growth is the important piece that will take Donatos to the next level in terms of sales and market presence, and the whole company is rallying behind not only meeting but exceeding growth goals. The excitement is infectious and I look forward to working with the company to make its presence and operations even stronger throughout new and existing markets." To support the eight to 10 store openings throughout the Midwest and Southeast territories in the next year, Donatos veteran Tim Young will be promoted to director, new store opening success, a newly-created role that is dedicated to fostering the success of new stores and attracting new franchise partners. Additionally, Karen Kuntz, will be promoted from Franchise Business Consultant to Senior Franchise Business Consultant. About Donatos Pizza Donatos Pizza, founded in 1963 by Jim Grote, is family-owned and operated and headquartered in Columbus Ohio. The creator of Edge to Edge® pizza, Donatos is recognized as one of America's premier regional pizza chains. Donatos and its Franchise Partners operate 159 restaurants in 9 states, and its products are proudly served in more than 15 sports and entertainment venues. For more information, visit, like on Facebook or follow on Twitter and Instagram.

John Crawford Named Chief Operating Officer for Roy’s Restaurants February 6, 2018 John Crawford, who joined Roy's Restaurants in October as vice president of operations, has been promoted to chief operating officer effective immediately. "In the short time John has been on the team, the impact he has had on Roy's has been significant," said Sunil Dharod, Dallas entrepreneur, philanthropist and owner of SSCP Management, Inc., parent company of Roy's Restaurants. According to Dharod one specific area of impact, among many other things, has been the menu. Through collaboration with the chefs, Crawford analyzed menu trends and reviewed guest feedback in order to further elevate the cuisine at Roy's. As a result guests will enjoy new menu additions beginning today that include Hawaiian Opah, Moroccan Spice Grilled Swordfish, Asian Stuffed Chicken Breast and a 14-ounce USDA Prime New York Strip Steak served with Lobster Mac and Cheese. "I believe the Roy's chefs are the best in the business," said Crawford. "Collaboration is the key to success and the work we were able to do in three short months was remarkable. I truly look forward to working with this talented group and the entire leadership team as we continue to accelerate the menu innovation work at Roy's." Crawford brings more than 30 years of diverse industry experience to his role as chief operating officer and has a proven track record of successes. As a respected leader who is known for building great teams in addition to growing and improving the profitability, performance and value of organizations, Crawford is expected to play a key role in growing the Roy's business long-term. Crawford's prior leadership roles are impressive. Prior to joining Roy's he spent ten years with Ruth's Chris Steak House as vice president franchise operations and development where he was instrumental in doubling the number of franchise restaurants resulting in an additional $148M in annual sales. He was also responsible for overseeing more than 30 franchise groups and 80 restaurants in the US, Aruba, Asia, Canada, Dubai, and Mexico, including direct responsibility for twelve company-owned restaurants. Before his Ruth's Chris career Crawford spent twenty years with Metromedia Restaurant Group, most notably as vice president of worldwide franchise operations for Bennigan's. In this role he spearheaded international growth with more than $115M in annual sales while adding an unprecedented eighteen domestic and international locations in two years. "John brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and energy to this role," said Dharod. "When you combine that knowledge and energy with John's passion, his high level of professional accountability and his dedication to standards, I am confident that he will provide the necessary leadership to continue the momentum of this great brand."


Sonic Elevates Claudia San Pedro to President February 02, 2018--OKLAHOMA CITY--(BUSINESS WIRE) Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ: SONC), the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants, today announced promotions of Claudia S. San Pedro to president and Corey R. Horsch to chief financial officer. Shareholders also elected S. Kirk Kinsell to the board of directors. Ms. San Pedro most recently served the company as executive vice president and chief financial officer. A twelve-year veteran of Sonic, Ms. San Pedro joined the company as treasurer and was subsequently promoted to vice president of investor relations. Appointed chief financial officer in 2015, she led all financial strategies for the company and planning practices, as well as the brand’s relationship with lending institutions, shareholders, and the financial community. In her new role, Ms. San Pedro’s responsibilities include franchisee relations, supply chain, franchise sales and development, and business planning. She will provide oversight of the finance function as well. Filling Ms. San Pedro’s vacated role of chief financial officer is Corey Horsch. Mr. Horsch joined Sonic as vice president of investor relations and treasurer in 2015. In his new role, he is responsible for all financial planning, internal audit, accounting and tax, while maintaining leadership for the investor relations and treasury functions. Newly elected to the board is Kirk Kinsell for a three-year term. Mr. Kinsell is a seasoned hospitality executive with more than 30 years of operational, franchising and management experience in the hotel sector who currently serves as principal partner of Panther Ridge Partners, LLC, an investment and advisory company focused on the hospitality sector. He previously served as president and CEO of Loews Hotels and Resorts. “I am delighted to promote Claudia to president and Corey to chief financial officer,” said Cliff Hudson, Sonic Corp. CEO. “Claudia’s focus on building relationships, business acumen and strategic mindset position the company well for future growth. Claudia is a highly skilled leader with an eye for developing talent, as evidenced by our ability to seamlessly transition Corey into the CFO role. Her readiness for this new role has been evidenced by the leadership she has shown to date, and I welcome her executive partnership. “Additionally, we are excited to welcome Kirk as a new independent director to our board. His executive experience in the hospitality industry nicely complements the breadth of experience on our board.” Existing directors re-elected to the Sonic Corp. board are Steven A. Davis and Kate S. Lavelle. Continuing director Jeffrey H. Schutz was elected by his peers to serve as lead independent director. Other continuing board members are Tony D. Bartel, R. Neal Black, Lauren R. Hobart, Federico R. Peña, Susan E. Thronson, Kathryn L. Taylor and Cliff Hudson. Retiring from the board are long-standing directors J. Larry Nichols, who served on the board for 11 years, and Frank E. Richardson, who served on the board since 1991. “We greatly appreciate Larry’s and Frank’s many years of service to Sonic as stewards of our shareholders’ interests,” continued Mr. Hudson. “They both provided outstanding leadership during their tenures as Board members and especially during their tenures as lead independent directors.” About SONIC, America’s Drive-In

SONIC, America's Drive-In is the nation's largest drive-in restaurant chain serving approximately 3 million customers every day. Nearly 94 percent of SONIC's 3,500 drive-in locations are owned and operated by local business men and women. For 65 years, SONIC has delighted guests with signature menu items, 1.3 million drink combinations and friendly service by iconic Carhops. Since the 2009 launch of SONIC's Limeades for Learning philanthropic campaign in partnership with, SONIC has donated $9.5 million to public school teachers nationwide to fund essential learning materials and innovative teaching resources to inspire creativity and learning in their students. To learn more about Sonic Corp. (NASDAQ/NM: SONC), please visit and please visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. To learn more about SONIC's Limeades for Learning initiative, please visit

Applebee's® Welcomes New Chief Marketing Officer January 30, 2018--GLENDALE, CA--(PRNewswire) Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar® today announced the addition of Joel Yashinsky as senior vice president and chief marketing officer to the brand's leadership team. With more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Yashinsky brings a wealth of knowledge and insight from his previous marketing roles and will report directly to John Cywinski, president, Applebee's. "What I value most about Joel, other than his restaurant marketing experience, is his strategic capability and belief in franchisee collaboration," said Cywinski. "Joel is a smart, creative, mature and highly-regarded executive with a deep operational orientation. He has also successfully navigated two turnarounds within his McDonald's tenure, which will serve him well. Bottom line, culture and team are important to Joel, and he fully understands the intensely competitive nature of this industry and our particular opportunities here at Applebee's." In this role, Yashinsky will have oversight of all aspects of Applebee's marketing, including strategic positioning, marketing plan development, media, advertising, merchandising, beverage innovation and public relations. In addition, he will lead our Franchise Marketing Committee in partnership with franchisees. Prior to joining Applebee's, Yashinsky held a variety of positions with McDonald's. Most recently he served as the marketing vice president for McDonald's USA, overseeing the brand's U.S. marketing calendar, promotions, advertising, sports marketing and agency relationships. Before joining McDonald's USA, Yashinsky led the brand's Canadian division as chief marketing officer consisting of 1,400 restaurants and 300 franchisees. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Bowling Green State University. About Applebee's® Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar offers a lively casual dining experience combining simple, craveable American fare, classic drinks and local drafts. All Applebee's restaurants are owned and operated by entrepreneurs dedicated to serving their communities and offering quality food and drinks with genuine, neighborly service. Applebee's is one of the world's largest casual dining brands; as of Sept. 30, 2017, there were 1,945 Applebee's franchise restaurants throughout all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and 14 other countries. Applebee's is franchised by subsidiaries of DineEquity, Inc. , which is one of the world's largest full-service restaurant companies.

The James Beard Foundation Names Clare Reichenbach As Chief Executive Officer January 29, 2018 Clare Reichenbach has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the James Beard Foundation (JBF). The announcement was made by Frederic M. Seegal, chair of the culinary nonprofit organization’s board of trustees. Effective February 20, Reichenbach, founder of CJJR Consulting and a former executive vice president of Strategy and Business Development at BBC Worldwide and AMC Networks, succeeds Susan Ungaro, who stepped down as JBF president at the end of 2017. “After an extensive search, the JBF Search Committee unanimously selected Clare to lead the James Beard Foundation and build on the thought leadership initiatives and ground-breaking Impact Programs implemented over the past 11 years,” said Seegal and Emily Luchetti, JBF board chair emeritus, in a joint statement. “The decision was made with input from a wide range of internal and external stakeholders on who would be the right person to expand the impact and operational strength of the Foundation on a global level. In her previous positions, Clare has demonstrated the leadership and strategic vision to oversee the continuing evolution of the Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.” As CEO, Reichenbach, 44, will work with the JBF staff and the board of trustees in directing the strategic, programmatic, financial, and management operations of the James Beard Foundation. Her responsibilities will include overseeing the James Beard Foundation Awards; the JBF Women’s Leadership Programs; the James Beard House dinners and events around the country; the Foundation’s scholarship programs; and the JBF Impact Programs, which include the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change, the JBF Food Summit, and the JBF Leadership Awards. “It’ll be a privilege to explore new ways for the Foundation to be at the forefront of the culinary conversation, advocate for its wide-reaching initiatives, and provide support to this unique community of change agents,” said Reichenbach, who will report to the JBF board of trustees. “I am greatly looking forward to working with the Foundation’s dedicated staff in strengthening its role as an indispensable organization for culinary leaders around the world.” At CJJR Consulting, Reichenbach’s clients included New York Public Radio, NBCU, and Samsung. Prior to that, she was EVP of Strategy & Business Development for both AMC Networks and BBC Worldwide. At the BBC, she was responsible for the development and implementation of corporate and divisional strategies; developed the organization’s global commercial strategy; and led strategy for BBC’s television arm. Her accolades include CableFAX’s “Most Powerful Women in Cable,” Multichannel News’ “Women to Watch,” and Management Today’s “35 Women Under 35.” Reichenbach has a B.A. from Oxford University and completed the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School.

Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Leadership Changes for Jack in the Box® Brand January 26, 2018--SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE) Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) today announced two leadership changes at the Jack in the Box® brand: Frances Allen has informed the company of her decision to resign as Brand President, effective February 9, 2018, and Marcus Tom will join the company on February 12, 2018, as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Tom will oversee Operations for company and franchise restaurants as well as Strategic Initiatives & Operations Services. “As I mentioned at the recent ICR Conference, I will take the opportunity to flatten our organizational structure following the expected sale of our QDOBA® brand,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lenny Comma. “Frances graciously suggested the elimination of her position so that we could more quickly begin restructuring the brand’s leadership. Frances was instrumental in refining the brand’s strategy and positioning, with an emphasis on improving the quality of the food and transforming the business model to be more asset light through refranchising. We’re grateful for her exemplary leadership and believe the Jack in the Box brand is stronger as a result of her many contributions. We wish her all the best.” Allen said, “I’m very proud to have led this brand over the last three-plus years and of the accomplishments we have made during my tenure, but I could not in good conscience remain in position within a single-brand structure. The appointment of a new COO is the right time for me to exit, and I am excited to embark on the next phase of my career.” Tom will join Jack in the Box with more than 15 years of experience in operations leadership positions, most recently at JAB Beech Inc., where he was Senior Vice President, Operations of its Caribou Coffee brand from January 2017 to December 2017 and Senior Vice President, Operations for its Einstein Bros. Bagels brand from July 2015 to December 2016. From March 2006 to June 2015, Tom held several positions of increasing responsibility with Starbucks Coffee Company. He was Director of Business Operations from January 2014 to June 2015 for all licensed stores in the U.S. and Canada. From May 2012 to December 2013, he was Starbucks’ Regional Director, Licensed Stores in California and West Arizona, and from March 2006 to May 2012, he was a Regional Director with responsibility for Starbucks’ company-operated stores in San Diego and the greater Phoenix area. He also served as a Regional Vice President overseeing 600 stores during a six-month limited-time assignment in 2009. Prior to joining Starbucks, Tom held several positions with YUM Brands International from 1991 to 2006, including being a senior leader for YUM's franchised business in Central America and the Caribbean. Tom is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in Economics. “Marcus is an agile leader with a proven record of achieving high levels of operational excellence across large retail systems, like Starbucks,” Comma said. “Adding a seasoned restaurant-industry veteran like him, with his unique skillset and proficiencies in operations, is a key piece of our re-focused Jack in the Box leadership team.” Said Tom, “I'm very excited to be joining the Jack in the Box leadership team. The company has an incredible culture with people who care deeply about each other, their customers, and the communities where they work and live. “I've had the opportunity to meet with several franchisees and found them to be passionate about the brand and committed to its success. As Chief Operating Officer, I look forward to working with the broader team and our franchisees to build the brand, provide great customer experiences, and contribute to Jack in the Box’s overall success.” About Jack in the Box Inc. Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK), based in San Diego, is a restaurant company that operates and franchises Jack in the Box® restaurants, one of the nation’s largest hamburger chains, with more than 2,250 restaurants in 21 states and Guam. Additionally, through a wholly owned subsidiary, the company operates and franchises QDOBA MEXICAN EATS®, a leader in fast-casual dining, with more than 700 restaurants in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. For more information on Jack in the Box and QDOBA, including franchising opportunities, visit or

Walk-On’s Promotes Internal Team Members January 25, 2018--BATON ROUGE, LA--( Baton Rouge-based restaurant announces promotions in operations and construction Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar’s is all about celebrating teams. The brand known for its quality food, culture and game-day atmosphere, today announced leadership promotions from within the team. Tony Caballero has been named vice president of operations and training for Walk-on’s Bistreaux & Bar. Caballero joined the Walk-On’s team in 2008 as an assistant general manager for the second Walk-On’s location. He began his restaurant career with Copelands of New Orleans after a 20-year career as a S.W.A.T officer. Bobby Fradella – a 25-year restaurant industry veteran – has been named director of franchise operations after two years as a regional operations manager. In his new role, Fradella will be responsible for ensuring that the Walk-On’s experience is delivered and protected in the company and franchise restaurants. Eric Kindon joined the Walk-On’s team in 2014 as the construction & facilities manager and will now serve as director of construction, where he will lead the development of each new Walk-On’s location. With 18 new Walk-On’s locations slated for completion in 2018 and an additional 20+ locations projected for completion in 2019, there’s no question that Kindon will continue to demonstrate his aptitude for restaurant development. “We are so proud of Tony, Bobby and Eric and all that they have done to drive our brand forward,” said Brandon Landry, Walk-On’s Enterprises co-founder and owner. “There is nothing better than watching this team grow and succeed in making Walk-On’s a world-class brand.” Walk-On’s is renowned for its signature Louisiana-style menu served up in a game-day atmosphere by its All-American Team. In May 2015, New Orleans Saints superstar Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, bought into Walk-On’s Enterprises as co-owners. Drew pointed out that Walk-On’s is “a great place to bring my family, teammates and business colleagues” and that they were excited to help “expand the brand across the nation.” Walk-On’s now has 17 locations: four in Baton Rouge, two in New Orleans and one each in Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Lake Charles, Covington, Broussard and Bossier City, La., and Lubbock, San Antonio and Tyler, Texas. Other locations are coming soon in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, with several additional markets across the Southern U.S. likewise on the drawing board. About Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar® Based in Baton Rouge, La., Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar® is rapidly expanding across the country thanks to its winning combination of food and drinks made from scratch with a taste of Louisiana. Walk-On’s All-American team serves up a game-day experience in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere that ensures every guest is a winner. For more information, visit, or contact Ladd Biro at Champion at or 972.930.9933.

SONIC Bolsters Leadership Team with Executive Announcement January 23, 2018--OKLAHOMA CITY, OK--( SONIC® Drive-In (NASDAQ: SONC) announced five new appointments to its officer ranks, including:

  1. Christie Hale as vice president of internal audit,

  2. Johnny Jones as vice president of development,

  3. Matt Schein as vice president of operations systems and services,

  4. Craig Tomlin as vice president and legal counsel,

  5. Scot Treadwell as vice president of construction, and

  6. Angela Wallace as vice president of tax. Jones, Schein, Tomlin and Wallace are veterans of SONIC, with 20, 16, 10 and 10 years of experience with the company, respectively, in a variety of leadership roles. Treadwell is returning to SONIC after a two-year hiatus. Hale is new to SONIC, with more than 20 years of internal audit experience. “Angela, Craig, Johnny and Matt have an impressive combined tenure of 56 years,” said Cliff Hudson, Sonic Corp CEO. “They are each highly respected and knowledgeable professionals who understand our business and have earned well-deserved reputations both here at SONIC headquarters and among our franchise community nationwide. Scot is no stranger to SONIC, having worked on our construction services team previously, and we are glad to welcome him back. We are also delighted to bring Christie on board, as her experience and restaurant background will be an asset to SONIC.” As SONIC’s new vice president of internal audit, Hale is responsible for the management of the internal audit function in providing independent objective assurance and consulting services designed to improve the company’s operations. She comes to SONIC from Ruby Tuesday, where she served as vice president-internal audit. Prior to her work at Ruby Tuesday, Hale spent 11 years in internal audit with Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. In his new role of vice president of development, Jones is responsible for leadership of the franchise sales and construction teams while driving the market planning and strategy necessary to increase the company’s unit growth. Over his 20-year tenure, Jones has played a key role at SONIC and previously served as vice president of real estate and development and other leadership roles on the development team. As vice president of operations services and systems, Schein is responsible for the planning, execution and implementation of operational processes and procedures for the entire SONIC system. Prior to this promotion, Schein spent 13 years working in various roles on the SONIC marketing team before shifting to operations in 2014. In his most recent role in operations technology, Schein built a new team to operationalize technology at more than 3,500 drive-in restaurants to deliver better guest service and achieve better sales and profits. As vice president and legal counsel, Tomlin will be responsible for the legal aspects of significant contracts, including technology and other key vendors, as well as disputes, litigation and other complex legal issues. Previously, Tomlin served as assistant general counsel on SONIC’s legal team where his efforts related to key technology and vendor relationships critical to the company’s business initiatives. Treadwell returns to SONIC to lead the construction and architecture and engineering teams. He previously served as SONIC’s director of construction services from 2007-2015. A 35-year industry veteran, Treadwell has a wealth of knowledge regarding construction as well as architecture and engineering. As vice president of tax, Wallace is responsible for directing and coordinating tax strategy and administering tax affairs in compliance with all federal, state and local and international tax laws as well as financial reporting related to tax matters. She previously served as senior director of tax, where she identified and directed filing of tax refund claims among other critical tax initiatives. She is co-founder and charter member of the Oklahoma City Chapter of Tax Executives Institute and served as past chapter president as well as past national Tax Executives Institute board director. To date, SONIC has 3,593 drive-ins located in 45 states and continues to grow rapidly in new markets. In 2017, SONIC opened 66 new drive-ins, making it the strongest pace in seven years.

Darden Restaurants Announces Leadership Appointments January 22, 2018--ORLANDO, FL--( Darden Restaurants, Inc. (DRI) today announced the appointment of Dave George as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), a new position within Darden. As COO, George will maintain his oversight of Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and International Franchising while adding Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen to his leadership portfolio. He will continue to report to Gene Lee, President and CEO of Darden. “Dave is a seasoned and trusted leader who consistently delivers strong results. As we continue to simplify our operations across all brands, he is uniquely qualified to drive strategic prioritization and accountability, with a laser-focus on operational excellence,” said Lee. George was named President, Olive Garden in 2013 and Executive Vice President, Darden Restaurants in 2016. He joined Darden in 2007 as President, LongHorn Steakhouse where he had served since 2003. Prior to that, George served as Senior Vice President, Operations for LongHorn Steakhouse (2001 – 2003) and Vice President, Operations for The Capital Grille (2000 – 2001). The Company also announced that Dan Kiernan has been named President, Olive Garden, effective immediately. Kiernan joined Olive Garden as a Manager-in-Training in 1992 and worked his way through the operations system – moving from General Manager to Director of Operations to Senior Vice President, Operations. He was named Executive Vice President, Operations in 2011 and has played an integral role in Olive Garden’s transformation by focusing on flawless execution in order to deliver memorable guest experiences. “Dan is a great restaurant operator. His ability to make the complex simple, motivate more than 90,000 team members and lead teams dedicated to delivering memorable guest experiences makes him the perfect leader for Olive Garden,” said George. “I am excited that Dave has accepted this new challenge that will broaden his influence across the organization and ensure a smooth and effective transition at Olive Garden. I am confident that under Dave and Dan’s leadership, Olive Garden will continue to deliver outstanding food and service to our guests,” said Lee. About Darden Darden is a restaurant company featuring a portfolio of differentiated brands that include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Yard House, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Bahama Breeze and Eddie V’s. Our people equal our success, and we are proud to employ more than 175,000 team members in nearly 1,700 restaurants. Together, we create memorable experiences for 380 million guests each year in communities across North America. For more information, please visit

California Pizza Kitchen Names Jim Hyatt as CEO January 22, 2018--LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE) California Pizza Kitchen (“CPK” or the “Company”) today announced the appointment of Jim Hyatt as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Hyatt’s appointment follows the recent retirement of G.J. Hart as CEO of CPK. Mr. Hyatt is a veteran restaurant executive who has successfully led multiple national restaurant brands over the course of his 40-year career. Most recently, Mr. Hyatt served as CEO of publicly-traded Ruby Tuesday (600 restaurants, $1.2B in annual sales), where under Mr. Hyatt’s initiatives, Ruby Tuesday grew profitability while delivering all-time high guest attribute scores. At the request of the Ruby Tuesday Board, Mr. Hyatt led the company through a successful take-private transaction that closed this past December. In 2017, Nation’s Restaurant News named Mr. Hyatt one of its top new executives of the year. Prior to Ruby Tuesday, Mr. Hyatt served as CEO of Church’s Chicken (1,600 units in 22 countries, $1.1B in system-wide sales) and publicly-traded Così Inc., as well as Global Chief Operating Officer for Burger King, where he led operations for 13,000 restaurants with $20B of system-wide sales in 65 countries. In total, Mr. Hyatt spent 32 years in the Burger King system, including 10 years as a multi-unit franchisee. Josh Olshansky, a Managing Director at Golden Gate Capital, CPK’s majority shareholder, said, “Jim is a world-class restaurant executive and team leader with a long track record of success in the industry and a passion for operational excellence. G.J. led the revitalization of CPK’s brand and culture, and we are confident that Jim is the ideal person to take the reins as CPK embarks on its next stage of growth. We are deeply grateful to G.J. for his leadership and contributions, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.” Mr. Hyatt added, “This is an incredibly exciting time in CPK’s history. The brand and team are strong, and the business is poised to achieve growth in its global footprint and in high-potential areas, including its off-premise business. My family and I have been loyal CPK guests for years, and when asked to lead the Company in its next chapter of success, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss. I look forward to working with the leadership team as we continue to deliver the exceptional food and hospitality that are the hallmarks of CPK.” Mr. Hart said, “It has been an amazing journey at CPK over the past six years. Together, we have reinvigorated a timeless brand centered on California Creativity, a passion for excellence, and a people-first philosophy. I could not be prouder of all that CPK has accomplished, and I am confident that, in Jim, we have identified a leader with the drive, skills, and track record to build on that legacy, who also aligns with the values that CPK’s brand represents.” About California Pizza Kitchen In 1985, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills and introduced diners to innovative California-style pizza. Since then, CPK has become a global brand known for creative California cuisine. Today, CPK is approaching 300 restaurants in 13 countries and U.S. territories around the world. Dedicated to a unique dining experience, CPK is now introducing its Next Chapter featuring reimagined menus, open kitchens, and unique renovations in all restaurants across the country. For more information on California Pizza Kitchen, visit About Golden Gate Capital Golden Gate Capital is a San Francisco-based private equity investment firm with over $15 billion of capital under management. The principals of Golden Gate Capital have a long and successful history of investing across a wide range of industries and transaction types, including going-privates, corporate divestitures, and recapitalizations, as well as debt and public equity investments. Representative restaurant/retail investments sponsored by Golden Gate Capital include Red Lobster, Bob Evans Restaurants, On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, Eddie Bauer, Express, Pacific Sunwear and Zales. For more information, visit

Chris Schultz Named CEO for Voodoo Doughnut January 18, 2018 Voodoo Doughnut today announced the appointment of Chris Schultz as the company’s CEO. Schultz has over 30 years of restaurant industry experience, most recently with MOD Pizza serving as the company’s Senior Vice President of Operations. During his tenure, he helped steward the company from one to over 300 locations worldwide. Prior to MOD, Schultz spent 13 years at Starbucks Coffee Company as an operational advisor to the senior executive team as the company expanded domestically and internationally. At Voodoo, Schultz will call upon his experience to focus on growth of the brand, strengthening the culture, entering new markets and staying connected to the communities that we operate in. “Voodoo has all the magic needed to create something really big and Chris has the experience we need as we realize our dream of a culture-driven business,” said Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson, co-founder of Voodoo Doughnut. “His commitment to the customer and dedication to building a strong culture will pave the way as we try and put more Magic in the Hole.” Voodoo Doughnut currently has six locations in four states, most recently opening on the City Walk Universal Studios Hollywood. Creators of the Bacon Maple Bar, Portland Cream and Memphis Mafia doughnuts, Voodoo has earned a cult following worldwide for its unique take on the classic doughnut shop. Founders Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon built their “little doughnut shop that could” into a dynamic fun zone in front of and behind the counter. Said Schultz, “Voodoo has all the ingredients to go from ‘the little company that could’ to the next big thing. We will be retaining all that’s wonderful to make sure the Voodoo that’s done so well isn’t lost as we introduce ourselves to new customers, communities and employees.” Schultz succeeds Robin “Lobster” Ludwig in the role of CEO. Ludwig tragically lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015.

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