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Executive Movements - February 2024




Restaurant365 Names Kate Kemp Chief People Officer


15 Feb, 2024, 09:00 ET

Former DocuSign, Airbnb HR executive to help lead companywide growth 

IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 15, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Restaurant365, the leading all-in-one restaurant enterprise management platform, today named Kate Kemp chief people officer, effective immediately. 

Kemp most recently served as vice president of human resources at DocuSign, where she led HR teams overseeing more than 3,000 employees across global technology, customer success, and product. She also led DocuSign's international expansion and Future of Work practice.

"We are committed to continued investment in our people," said Restaurant365 CEO and Co-founder Tony Smith. "Kate's two decades of HR background and people leadership at innovative, high-growth tech companies make her the perfect fit as we advance toward a larger employee count and continue achieving the ambitious goals we have for the business."

Prior to DocuSign, she held a leadership role at Airbnb, helping the company scale from 2,500 to 7,500 employees in under three years.

"Restaurant365's secret sauce is its people, and I know that our employees are the key to continuing to help restaurants thrive," Kemp said. "Our people team is the heart of our employee experience, and I could not be more excited to help bring the entire organization to its next levels as an employer and company of choice."

Kemp received an MBA from The Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she was a Forte Foundation fellow, and is an avid runner, mentor, and volunteer. 

About Restaurant365®   Restaurant365 is the industry's leading all-in-one, cloud-based accounting, inventory, scheduling, payroll, and HR solution developed specifically for restaurants. R365's restaurant enterprise management software simplifies day-to-day management for operators, allowing them to control food costs and optimize labor. Integrations and open APIs enable Restaurant365 to connect with other systems, including POS providers, vendors, and banks. The result is accurate, timely reporting that provides a clear and complete view of their businesses. Restaurant365 is based in Irvine, California with an office in Austin, Texas. The company is backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, ICONIQ, KKR, L Catterton, and Serent Capital. Additional information is available at restaurant365.com.  


View source version at Restaurant365



SPB Hospitality Continues to Strengthen Leadership and Drive Growth


February 15, 2024

Promotes Amanda Hyde and welcomes Ellen Rockwell

Houston, TX  (RestaurantNews.comSPB Hospitality, an industry-leading operator and franchisor of restaurants spanning a national footprint, recently announced changes to key leadership as the company continues to focus on growing across the United States. Ellen Rockwell joined SPB Hospitality as Executive Vice President of People & Culture, and the organization promoted Amanda Hyde to Senior Vice President of Operations for Krystal.

“These organizational updates symbolize our unwavering dedication to excellence and expansion at SPB Hospitality,” said Josh Kern, CEO of SPB Hospitality. “These transformations are a testament to our continual endeavor to refine our leadership framework and cultivate a culture marked by excellence and innovation. With Ellen and Amanda stepping into key roles, we are poised to continue to chart a course towards a promising future.”

Ellen Rockwell

Ellen Rockwell is the newest executive to join SPB Hospitality. She was named Executive Vice President of People & Culture and will lead People Services, Internal Communications, and Learning & Development. Along with her strong focus on operations, Rockwell brings a distinguished background marked by her dedication to fostering inclusivity and creating a culture of collaboration and development. Her extensive experience in the restaurant industry, ranging from roles at Surcheros Fresh Mex, Logan’s Roadhouse, O’Charley’s, and Darden Restaurants, positions her as an invaluable asset to the organization.

Amanda Hyde

Amanda Hyde was promoted to Senior Vice President of Operations for Krystal. She has been with SPB Hospitality and Logan’s Roadhouse for nine years, and previously served as Vice President of Operations Services and Director of Operations. Hyde takes a people-first approach and pairs that with an operational expertise that drives sales and profit, reduces costs, and improves the quality of both food and service.  A well-respected leader within the industry, Amanda was named a 2023 Change Maker by the Women’s Foodservice Forum and has previously provided operational leadership to Mimis Café and Bob Evans.

For more information about SPB Hospitality, visit SPBhospitality.com.

About SPB Hospitality

SPB Hospitality is a leading operator and franchisor of full-service dining restaurants across 37 U.S. states and territories. With a national footprint encompassing hundreds of restaurants and breweries, SPB Hospitality is dedicated to delivering exceptional dining experiences. SPB Hospitality’s diverse portfolio of restaurant brands includes Logan’s Roadhouse, Krystal Restaurants, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, and an impressive collection of high-end restaurant brands such as J. Alexander’s and Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill.

As one of the country’s largest operators of craft brewery restaurants, SPB Hospitality takes pride in its craft beer expertise. SPB Hospitality proudly owns and operates renowned craft brewery restaurant brands like Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, ChopHouse & Brewery, , AIA Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill, and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery.

Visit our website at SPBhospitality.com to explore the exceptional flavors, inviting atmospheres, and unparalleled dining experiences that await you at SPB Hospitality’s restaurants and breweries.


View source version at SPB Hospitality





Whataburger® Hires New Chief Marketing Officer


14 Feb, 2024, 11:19 ET

SAN ANTONIO, Feb. 14, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Whataburger has hired Scott Hudler as its new Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Hudler is an experienced executive with 30 years' experience in marketing, having built impactful campaigns and digital strategies for Popeyes, Mars, Dunkin', Dick's Sporting Goods and Torchy's Tacos.   

Whataburger Hires Scott Hudler as New Chief Marketing Officer


Most recently, Hudler served as the president and chief growth officer of Cotton Patch Cafe, a Dallas-based restaurant chain with locations in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. At Torchy's, Hudler was part of the leadership team that grew the chain from 55 locations in three states to over 100 across 11 states. He oversaw the team responsible for brand strategy, menu development, and digital initiatives. Before Torchy's, he served as the chief marketing officer for Dick's Sporting Goods, where he oversaw the company's pivot from traditional advertising to digital.


Hudler spent 11 years at Dunkin', from 2006 to 2017, where he started in brand marketing, and was ultimately elevated to senior vice president and chief digital officer. During his time, he helped oversee the company's growth from 5,500 to 9,200 units and launched the chain's mobile ordering and loyalty programs eventually growing the loyalty program to 6.5 million members and half of the company's comp sales growth. 

"Among the many qualities that impressed us about Scott was his remarkable blend of marketing acumen and experience leading a business," Chief Administrative Officer Alexander Ivannikov said. "His insight into how marketing and operations must work in unison to drive growth and ensure the brand's vitality is significant, highlighting their essential collaboration for success."

"As a longtime Whataburger fan, I am excited to join the team and take this iconic brand to new markets and new generations," Hudler said. "It's thrilling to be joining a storied 73-year-old company that is equally committed to its legacy and to innovation and growth."

Hudler is a graduate of Valdosta State University in Georgia, where he received his BFA in Communications. His first roles after graduation were in public relations and corporate communications. He served in corporate communications at Popeyes, then in marketing communications at Mars before joining Snickers as brand manager. 

"We are delighted to welcome Scott Hudler to Whataburger as our new Chief Marketing Officer," Whataburger President and CEO Ed Nelson said. "Scott's proven track record and passion for brand-building make him the ideal leader to drive Whataburger's marketing efforts as we continue to expand, serving up Goodness 24/7."

Hudler's first day on the job is Feb. 21. He will work in Whataburger's San Antonio Home Office.

About Whataburger

Whataburger serves up Goodness 24/7. Our original recipes are made to order, just like you like it, and we pride ourselves on extraordinary hospitality and meaningful connections in our communities. That's what's led fans to Whataburger since Harmon Dobson served our first customer in 1950. Headquartered in San Antonio, we've stayed close to our roots while building sales of more than $3 billion annually across our 15-state footprint and over 1,000 restaurants. Even with our exceptional menu, we know that people make the difference at Whataburger. That's why we're among QSR Magazine's Best Brands to Work For in 2023 and consistently win culture excellence awards, including Top Workplaces 2023. Want to become part of our orange spirit? Apply to become a Family Member (what we call our employees) at whataburger.com/careers. Just hungry for a great meal? Download our app on ios or android to order ahead. Shop Whataburger branded merchandise and selected sauces including our famous Fancy and Spicy Ketchup at WhataStore.com and find Whataburger original-recipe products in grocery stores. See our press kit for a list of locations, fun facts, milestones and other company information. 


View source version at Whataburger


El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. Appoints Liz Williams as Chief Executive Officer and Director


Chief Operating Officer Maria Hollandsworth Named President

COSTA MESA, Calif., Feb. 13, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (“El Pollo Loco” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: LOCO) announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Elizabeth (“Liz”) Williams as the Company’s new Chief Executive Officer and as a member of its Board of Directors, effective March 11, 2024. Ms. Williams will succeed Maria Hollandsworth, who has served as the Company’s interim Chief Executive Officer since November 3, 2023. Ms. Hollandsworth has been appointed as President of El Pollo Loco and will also continue to serve as the Company’s Chief Operating Officer.

Ms. Williams, age 47, brings to El Pollo Loco significant experience leading high-growth, multi-unit retail, restaurant and service businesses. Most recently, Ms. Williams served as the Chief Executive Officer of Outfox Hospitality, parent company of Foxtrot, a high-growth modern café and convenience store, and Dom’s Kitchen and Market. Prior to Foxtrot, she led innovative brands like Drybar and Hart House.

Ms. Williams has extensive restaurant experience working closely with franchise partners to accelerate growth. She spent ten years with Yum! Brands and Taco Bell between 2010 and 2020, holding various leadership positions including Chief Financial Officer and President of Taco Bell International. During her tenure, she was responsible for the brand strategy, growth, and performance of the international business across 30 countries, and drove notable operational improvements along with sales and profit growth.

“We are excited to welcome Liz Williams as our new Chief Executive Officer,” said William Floyd, Chairman of the El Pollo Loco Board. “Throughout her career, Liz has demonstrated her ability to accelerate growth in food and beverage brands while simultaneously improving financial performance. We believe she has the skills and experience necessary to lead El Pollo Loco as we capitalize on the significant opportunity ahead of us.”

Floyd continued, “We would also like to express our deep appreciation to Maria for her leadership as Interim Chief Executive Officer over the past three months. We are excited to benefit from her continued leadership as she helps craft and execute on our strategic vision as President and Chief Operating Officer of El Pollo Loco.”

Ms. Williams commented, “I am truly honored to join El Pollo Loco and be named Chief Executive Officer of this one-of-a-kind brand. El Pollo Loco’s fire-grilled chicken and high-quality, fresh ingredients create a better-for-you brand that is unparalleled in the restaurant industry. I believe that the opportunities to accelerate the growth of our brand are substantial. While the Company was born in Mexico over 40 years ago and has become an iconic West Coast brand, I believe we are just getting started. I look forward to working with the Company’s exceptional management team, our team members, suppliers, and franchise partners as we execute on our strategic vision and write the next chapter for El Pollo Loco.”

About Elizabeth Williams Liz Williams, 47, was the Chief Executive Officer of Outfox Hospitality, parent company of Foxtrot, a high-growth modern café and convenience store, from April 2023 to February 2024, and its President and Chief Financial Officer from June 2022 to April 2023. In December 2023 she led the merger with Dom’s Kitchen and Market to form Outfox Hospitality. Prior to Foxtrot, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Hart House, LLC, a vegan quick serve restaurant chain, from July 2021 to June 2022. Ms. Williams was the Chief Executive Officer of Drybar Holdings, LLC, an owner of hair salons providing blowouts and hair styling products and accessories, from June 2020 to 2021. From January 2018 to January 2020, she was President of Taco Bell International, part of YUM! Brands Inc., a leading operator of quick service restaurants. Prior to this role, Ms. Williams served as Chief Financial Officer of Taco Bell Corp. from October 2013 to January 2018 and Vice President, Financial Planning & Analysis from 2011 to 2013. Ms. Williams spent six years at Boston Consulting Group in the Consumer and Retail practice. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and an MBA from Northwestern Kellogg School of Management. Ms. Williams currently serves on the boards of Stitch Fix (Nasdaq: SFIX), the leading online personalized styling service for men, women and kids, and Viant (Nasdaq: DSP), an advertising software provider.

About El Pollo Loco El Pollo Loco (Nasdaq:LOCO) is the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain renowned for its masterfully citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken and handcrafted entrees using fresh ingredients inspired by Mexican recipes. With more than 490 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana, El Pollo Loco is expanding its presence in key markets through a combination of company and existing and new franchisee development. Visit us on our website at ElPolloLoco.com.


View source version at El Pollo Loco



JAB Welcomes Gordon von Bretten as Partner


February 07, 2024 04:45 PM Eastern Standard Time

LUXEMBOURG--(BUSINESS WIRE)--JAB is pleased to welcome Gordon von Bretten to the JAB Partnership, effective April 1, 2024. Based in London, von Bretten brings 30 years of operational experience, with a strong track record of value creation and performance enhancement.

Mr. von Bretten has served as Chief Transformation Officer of Coty since 2020. Over the last four years, he has led Coty’s strategic transformation program that has been instrumental to reigniting the company's financial performance through disciplined cost-saving and strategic capital deployment initiatives.

Mr. von Bretten will join Coty’s Board of Directors on April 1, 2024, and will remain an advisor to the Company.

Before joining Coty, von Bretten spent five years as an operating partner with KKR Capstone, KKR’s in-house operating team, focusing on corporate carve-outs and value creation across the KKR portfolio. He previously served in a variety of leadership roles in industry and management consulting, mostly with KlöcknerPentaplast, AlixPartners, and A.T. Kearney, focusing on restructuring and performance improvement.

"We have known Gordon for a long time and are thrilled to welcome him to the JAB Partnership,” said Joachim Creus, Managing Partner, Vice Chairman, and CEO of JAB. “Over the last four years, Gordon played a critical role on the team that, under Sue Nabi’s leadership, steered Coty back to its legendary status as one of the great beauty powerhouses. His three decades of experience maximizing operational performance across industries will be invaluable to JAB as we continue our pursuit of long-term growth and value creation."

About JAB

JAB Holding Company invests in consumer-focused industries with attractive long-term dynamics, including strong growth prospects, attractive margin and cash flow characteristics, and proven resiliency. JAB is the largest shareholder of Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., a leader in the North American beverage industry, and Krispy Kreme, Inc. a global leader in doughnuts and other premium-quality sweet treats. JAB is also the controlling shareholder of Coty Inc., a global leader in beauty. Together with JAB Consumer Partners, JAB is the controlling shareholder of JDE Peet’s, the world’s leading pure play coffee and tea company; National Veterinary Associates, one of the world’s largest animal care services platforms; IPH, a leading provider of pet insurance in North America; Pinnacle Pet Group, a leading provider of pet insurance in Europe; Panera Brands Inc., one of the world’s largest fast casual restaurant companies, which includes Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros. Bagels; Pret A Manger, a leading company in the ready-to-eat food market; and Espresso House, the largest branded coffee shop chain in Scandinavia. JAB Holding Company also owns luxury goods company Bally.


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Farmer Brothers Names John Moore Chief Executive Officer



NORTHLAKE, Texas, Feb. 06, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmer Brothers (NASDAQ: FARM) a leading roaster, wholesaler, and distributor of coffee, tea and allied products, announced today it has appointed John Moore as president and chief executive officer (CEO). Mr. Moore has served as interim CEO since October 2023. His appointment follows a robust evaluation process conducted by the company’s board and its advisors.

“John has more than 30 years of experience in the coffee industry and has worked directly in every stage of the coffee value chain at both a national and international level. His deep expertise and proven leadership will guide Farmer Brothers as we reposition the company and focus on leveraging our nationwide direct store delivery system to build a differentiated and sustainable platform for growth,” said Farmer Brothers Chairman of the Board Dave Pace.

“This is an exciting time at Farmer Brothers and I am honored to be able to lead our talented team as we adapt to the ever-changing consumer landscape and continue to provide the high-quality coffee, tea and culinary products our customers have relied on for more than a century,” said Mr. Moore. “I’m excited about our ability to capture the future potential of the company as we streamline our processes, improve our focus on service and increase our product offerings.”

Before being named as the company’s interim CEO, Mr. Moore served as Farmer Brother’s head of coffee, where he was responsible for the company’s green coffee procurement, research and development, coffee excellence, roasting and manufacturing, and coffee sustainability initiatives.

Prior to joining Farmer Brothers in May 2023, Mr. Moore served as the chief executive officer for Vassilaros Coffee from 2018 to 2023. Earlier in his career, Mr. Moore was the senior trader and general manager at Volcafe Specialty Coffee, the chief executive officer and managing partner of FAL Coffee Inc. and the vice president of sales and marketing at Octavio Inc., dba Dallis Coffee. He has also founded and led several businesses, including Jolly Roger Imports, ELIXIR Cocktail & Espresso Bar and the German expansion of New York Gourmet GmbH & Co. Mr. Moore is a Certified Q grader and Cup of Excellence head judge.

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

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


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Restaurant365 Names Jessica Lanier Chief Financial Officer


06 Feb, 2024, 09:00 ET

Finance executive with more than 20 years of public and private expertise to help guide continued growth.

IRVINE, Calif., Feb. 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Restaurant365, the leading all-in-one restaurant enterprise management platform, today named Jessica Lanier chief financial officer, effective immediately.

Lanier most recently served as vice president of finance at Qualtrics. She guided the business through the majority of its time as a public company with annual revenues exceeding $1.5 billion, and helped lead its sale to private equity firm Silver Lake in 2023 for $12.5 billion.

"Jessica is a world-class finance leader, and we're grateful to add her to our talented team. She will fit right in as she brings a passion for high-growth SaaS and experience with the milestones we plan to reach on the road ahead," said Restaurant365 CEO and Co-founder Tony Smith.

Prior to Qualtrics, Lanier served as CFO of several SaaS technology companies, including Usermind, an experience-management software platform backed by Andreessen Horowitz and Menlo Ventures.

"I'm excited to join Restaurant365 at a pivotal moment in the company's story," Lanier said. "Its financial performance and innovative products distinguish it from competitors, and I'm looking forward to leading the company through further accelerated growth and opportunity."

Lanier received a degree in economics from the University of California, Davis, and an MBA from the Anderson School of Business at the University of California, Los Angeles.


About Restaurant365® 

Restaurant365 is the industry's leading all-in-one, cloud-based accounting, inventory, scheduling, payroll, and HR solution developed specifically for restaurants. R365's restaurant enterprise management software simplifies day-to-day management for operators, allowing them to control food costs and optimize labor. Integrations and open APIs enable Restaurant365 to connect with other systems, including POS providers, vendors, and banks. The result is accurate, timely reporting that provides a clear and complete view of their businesses. Restaurant365 is based in Irvine, California with an office in Austin, Texas. The company is backed by Bessemer Venture Partners, ICONIQ, KKR, L Catterton, and Serent Capital. Additional information is available at restaurant365.com.


View source version at Restaurant 365





Ascent Hospitality Management Appoints New President of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and New Chief Technology Officer


ATLANTA, Feb. 5, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Ascent Hospitality Management ("Ascent"), franchisor to leading family dining brands Huddle House and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, announced today that it has named Toni Ronayne as President of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, and Steven Roach as Ascent Chief Technology Officer. These appointments underscore the company's commitment to achieving its strategic goals and building a world class leadership team.

"As we continue implementing our strategic plan which calls for building category-leading brands that deliver unbeatable guest experiences, we have appointed new brand presidents to lead Perkins and Huddle House. We are also committed to becoming the Family Dining digital leader and have appointed an accomplished industry veteran to drive our technology initiatives," said James O'Reilly, chief executive officer of Ascent Hospitality Management. "We are excited to welcome these new leaders to the Ascent senior management team."

As the President of Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, Ronayne will be responsible for accelerating the brand's growth across franchised and company-owned locations. With the support of the executive leadership team, she will also oversee long-term strategy for Perkins' continued expansion and maintaining the brand's position as a leader in the full-service family dining segment. Prior to joining Ascent, Ronayne served as the Managing Director of Canada for Little Caesars Pizza, where she led the growth and performance of the chain's Canadian division of restaurants. Ronayne also previously served as Vice President of Global Franchise Development for Freshii, Inc. and Regional Director of Canada and Northeast U.S. for Starbucks' Teavana division.

"I couldn't be more excited to be joining an iconic brand with the rich history Perkins has. There is an incredible opportunity for innovation and growth, and I am eager to lead the brand towards new horizons by leveraging our tradition of quality and service to meet the evolving needs of our valued guests," said Ronayne. "Alongside the talented leadership team assembled at Ascent, I look forward to building a future where Perkins remains a leading family dining brand."

Roach comes to Ascent from Focus Brands, where he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer, responsible for developing and executing the technology roadmap for the multi-brand international food and beverage company. As the Chief Technology Officer for Ascent, Roach will be responsible for developing and leading initiatives on the Ascent and brand-specific technology roadmaps.  His leadership will underpin Ascent's progress toward Family Dining digital leadership and also toward becoming a world class shared services provider for its franchise systems and company operations.

"I'm excited to join Ascent at such an opportune time for Perkins and Huddle House. Both brands are poised to scale, so it's an honor to have the opportunity to lead the development of a technological strategy that supports expansion," said Roach. "Through innovative technology solutions that are aligned with our company's mission, we will look to enhance operational efficiency for our franchisees and strengthen the overall dining experience for our customers."

To learn more about Ascent Hospitality Management, visit www.AscentHM.com.


About Ascent Hospitality Management Ascent Hospitality Management is the parent company of Huddle House and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and was founded to acquire and invigorate storied brands to drive long-term growth. With nearly 600 locations across the U.S. and Canada, the company's mission is "Bringing friends and families together, over delicious food, served from the heart." Huddle House and Perkins each have more than 60 years of serving award-winning, made-to-order breakfast and all-day favorites with a smile to families and friends nationwide. Visit ascenthm.com for additional information on both brands and franchise opportunities.


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Swig Appoints CFO as It Powers up for Next Chapter of Growth


January 29, 2024

With both corporate and franchise growth on the horizon, the Home of the Original Dirty Soda™ adds Bill Ayers to its C-Suite

Lehi, UT  (RestaurantNews.com)  In preparation for unprecedented growth in 2024, Swig has expanded its C-Suite and named Bill Ayers its Chief Financial Officer.

Ayers joins Swig with over 20 years of experience in corporate finance and investment banking. Most recently, he was Global VP of Finance for Black Diamond, the worldwide leader in climbing and ski equipment. Prior to that, he held leadership positions at 1-800 Contacts and worked in the banking industry at HSBC and BMO Capital Markets.

“Bill is sharp and strategic. He’s a phenomenal find and will be a true asset to our team,” said Rian McCartan, CEO of Swig. “Swig’s growth trajectory is not for the faint of the heart, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have someone who is not only highly skilled, but an incredible fit for our fun and fast-paced culture.”

Ayers’ financial acumen comes at the perfect time for Swig, which is rapidly growing on both a corporate and franchising level. In 2024, Swig plans to add 25 corporate and 40 franchise stores. And on the franchise front, that’s only the beginning with 500 units already solidified.

“It’s an honor to join the Swig family. I’m looking forward to helping Swig enter its next chapter as it unlocks the franchise model, continues to ramp up corporate stores, and explores all the promising potential the brand has to offer,” Ayers says. “The team’s knowledge of the customized beverage industry is unparalleled. I’m truly energized to work alongside some of the most passionate, dedicated, competitive people I have ever met. It’s no wonder the Swig brand is so strong and the future so bright.”

Ayers’ hire comes after many strategic leadership appointments for Swig in the last year: Dylan Roeder and Chase Wardrop were named CMO and COO respectively. Angela Kavanaugh was brought on as Director of People and Culture. Jordan Hill was named VP of Development. And Geoff Alter was named Director of Supply Chain.


About Swig

Swig, Home of the Original Dirty Soda™, is one of the fastest-growing and most successful beverage-focused brands in the country. Founded in 2010 in St. George, Utah, by Nicole Tanner, Swig has expanded to 61 locations in seven states, becoming thousands of peoples go-to destination for drinks and sweets. Swig activated multi-unit franchising in 2023, and in 2024, it will double its store count as well as expand internationally. For more information, visit SwigDrinks.com.


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Rocky Mountain Chocolate Appoints Industry Veteran and Board Director Starlette B. Johnson as Interim Chief Executive Officer


DURANGO, Colo., Jan. 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Inc. (Nasdaq: RMCF) (the “Company”, “we”, “RMC”, or “Rocky Mountain Chocolate”), an international franchisor and producer of premium chocolates and other confectionery products including gourmet caramel apples, today announced that the Board of Directors (“Board”) has appointed Starlette B. Johnson to the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”).

Ms. Johnson has been a director on the RMC Board since March 2023. She brings more than thirty years of success in customer-facing retail businesses, including pivotal leadership experience in the franchise restaurant and hospitality sectors. Ms. Johnson began her hospitality career as Director of Finance at PepsiCo’s KFC division, and later held leadership positions with global brands included serving as President and Chief Operating Officer of Dave & Buster’s Entertainment (NASDAQ: PLAY) and Executive VP and Chief Strategic Officer at Brinker International (NYSE: EAT). She has also served on the Board of Directors for numerous companies, including Bojangles’ (previously NASDAQ: BOJA), Chuy’s Holdings (NASDAQ: CHUY), and privately-held SusieCakes. Ms. Johnson received an MBA from Duke University and a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech.

“Starlette is an industry renowned business leader and strategist,” said Jeff Geygan, RMC Board Chair. “Her results-oriented leadership style and expertise with franchise brands make her an ideal fit to lead RMC as the Board conducts its search for a permanent CEO.”

Mr. Geygan continued, “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Rob Sarlls for his contributions to Rocky Mountain Chocolate since joining the executive team in May 2022. We achieved several important milestones under his leadership, including the sale of RMC’s non-core U-Swirl business and the relocation of consumer packaging operations. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

“I am honored to be entrusted by the Board during this transitionary period,” said Starlette Johnson, RMC Interim CEO. “The broader leadership team has been meticulously constructed to align with the needs of RMC’s Strategic Transformation Plan. Their collective wisdom will be an invaluable asset as we maintain a strong presence in the city of Durango and work to return Rocky Mountain Chocolate to growth and profitability in Fiscal 2025.”

About Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Inc.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Inc. (dba “Rocky Mountain Chocolate”) is an international franchiser of premium chocolate and confection stores, and a producer of an extensive line of premium chocolates and other confectionery products, including gourmet caramel apples. Rocky Mountain Chocolate was named one of America’s Best on Newsweek's list of "America's Best Retailers 2023" in the chocolate and candy stores category. The Company is headquartered in Durango, Colorado. Its subsidiaries, franchisees and licensees currently operate over 260 Rocky Mountain Chocolate stores across the United States, with several international locations. The Company's common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Market under the symbol "RMCF."


View source version at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory



Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux Welcomes Andy Izquierdo and Trey Hughes to its Leadership Team


24 Jan, 2024, 11:08 ET

National restaurant and sports bar brand continues adding talent and clout to its team 

BATON ROUGE, La., Jan. 24, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux, the nationally renowned restaurant and sports bar, announces the appointments of Andy Izquierdo as the Vice President of Communications and Trey Hughes as Senior Director of Franchise Sales. These strategic decisions underscore Walk-On's dedication to maintaining excellence as the brand eyes expansion and advancement.

Andy Izquierdo, Vice President of Communications

Trey Hughes, Senior Director of Franchise Sales


"We are excited to welcome Andy Izquierdo and Trey Hughes to the Walk-On's family. Their impressive backgrounds and proven track records align seamlessly with our commitment to delivering an exceptional guest experience. As we continue our journey of expansion, their strategic insights and leadership will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in further elevating Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux," said Chris Dawson, CEO of Walk-On's.


Izquierdo, the VP of Communications, arrives at Walk-On's with over two decades of experience in various sectors and across industries including serving as President of Communications for Denny's, Chief Communications Officer for Sound Transit and Waste Management, Vice President of Communications and Social Impact for Belk department stores and Vice President of Corporate Affairs for PetSmart. Andy played an integral role as Vice President of Global Public Affairs for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), leading global reputation efforts and spearheading initiatives such as the reintroduction of Colonel Sanders and the expansion of the company's first-ever food donation program. Notably, Andy possesses a strong science and health care background, having led communications and government affairs for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. A graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in broadcast journalism, Izquierdo's dynamic background will be beneficial to Walk-On's growth.

"I am thrilled to be a part of the Walk-On's team, and I look forward to contributing to the brand's legacy of excellence. With a focus on communication and engagement, I am committed to enhancing the connection between Walk-On's and its valued guests, building on the brand's reputation for outstanding customer service," said Andy Izquierdo, Vice President of Communications.

Trey Hughes, the newly appointed Senior Director of Franchise Sales, brings a wealth of experience in the franchise sales arena. With a background as a franchise owner of 7 Brew Coffee and Senior Director of Business Development for Driven Brands, Trey is well-versed in the intricacies of franchise operations and growth. Trey's main focus at Walk-On's will be signing new franchise sales and contributing to the brand's exponential growth. His unique perspective as a former franchisee adds valuable insights to the team, ensuring Walk-On's remains at the forefront of franchise success.

"Joining Walk-On's is an exciting opportunity. I am eager to leverage my experience in franchise operations and sales to contribute to the brand's growth. Walk-On's commitment to excellence aligns with my own values, and I am confident in our collective ability to take the brand to new heights," said Trey Hughes, Sr. Director of Franchise Sales."

With Andy Izquierdo and Trey Hughes on board, Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux is well-positioned to provide an even more exceptional dining experience to its cherished guests.

About Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux

Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux, celebrated as the #1 Sports Bar in America by ESPN, is a nationally recognized restaurant and sports bar that brings together the love of food, sports, and community. Concepted on the back of a napkin by LSU walk-on basketball players Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux opened its doors in 2003 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, right in LSU's backyard. With a winning culture inspired by the grit, hustle, and true spirit of a college walk-on, the brand has become a beloved destination for sports enthusiasts, families, and friends to celebrate any occasion. The menu boasts scratch-made dishes including hand-patted burgers, sandwiches, seafood, and Louisiana favorites, paired with a wide selection of unique cocktails and beers. Walk-On's, grounded in genuine Louisiana hospitality, ensures that guests feel right at home the moment they step into the restaurant. Entering its 20th year with nearly 100 restaurants in the U.S., Walk-On's is accelerating nationwide expansion – ranked #1 by Entrepreneur for Top New Franchise and consistently ranking in Top 500 lists for Restaurant Business, Entrepreneur, Franchise Times, and Nation's Restaurant News. Walk-On's success and growth are a testament to its passionate franchise partners, including renowned athletes in co-owner Drew Brees, as well as franchisees Dak Prescott, Derrick Brooks, and football coach Dabo Swinney. To learn more about Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux or to get more information on becoming a franchisee, please visit walk-ons.com.


View source version at Walk-On's




Wendy’s Announces CEO Succession


Kirk Tanner to Succeed Todd Penegor as President & CEO

Company Reaffirms Previously Provided FY 2023 Outlook and Plans to Release Q4 2023 Results and 2024 and Long-Term Outlook February 15

Dublin, OH  (RestaurantNews.com)  The Wendy’s Company (Nasdaq: WEN) today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Kirk Tanner as Wendy’s President and CEO, effective February 5, 2024. Mr. Tanner will succeed Todd Penegor, who will depart from the Company and Board in February after serving in senior leadership positions at Wendy’s for more than a decade. Mr. Tanner has also been elected to serve on the Wendy’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Tanner most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of North American Beverages at PepsiCo, Inc., and joins Wendy’s with more than 30 years of experience across beverages, snacks and foodservice. At PepsiCo, he oversaw the $26+ billion business unit, which accounts for approximately 30% of PepsiCo’s overall business, driving operational performance and revenue growth, the incubation and launch of new products and the entrance into new markets over the course of his tenure. Prior to his most recent role, Mr. Tanner oversaw PepsiCo’s Global Foodservice division, during which time he expanded the Company’s presence in foodservice through strategic partnerships, new product lines and significant deals with major sports leagues and restaurant chains.

“We are thrilled to welcome an executive of Kirk’s caliber to the Wendy’s team,” said Nelson Peltz, Chairman of the Wendy’s Board. “Kirk is a proven operational leader whose customer-centric mindset and broad experience positioning and growing some of the most well-known global brands make him the ideal candidate to lead Wendy’s into its next phase of growth and expansion.”

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this iconic brand at such a pivotal time in the industry,” said Mr. Tanner. “I am energized by the future potential and expansion opportunities for the business. I look forward to working with the talented Wendy’s team and franchisees to drive future growth and success.”

Mr. Peltz continued, “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Todd for his tremendous contributions to Wendy’s over the years. Through his leadership, Wendy’s has driven strong growth in sales, earnings and new restaurant counts, forging an industry-leading partnership with the franchise community and a robust digital business. We wish him nothing but the best in his next chapter.”

“I am grateful to the Wendy’s team for their dedication and am immensely proud of all we have achieved together,” said Mr. Penegor. “I’m confident the Company is in highly capable hands with Kirk at the helm. My Wendy’s roots run deep, and while the time is right for me to move on as an executive of this great organization, I will forever be a supporter as a loyal customer.”

Wendy’s Reaffirms Previously Provided FY 2023 Outlook

Wendy’s continues to expect its full year 2023 results to fall within the outlook ranges provided in its third quarter earnings release issued on November 2, 2023. The Company will release its fourth quarter and full year 2023 results and share its 2024 and long-term financial outlook on February 15, 2024.


About Wendy’s

Wendy’s® was founded in 1969 by Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio. Dave built his business on the premise, “Quality is our Recipe®,” which remains the guidepost of the Wendy’s system. Wendy’s is best known for its made-to-order square hamburgers, using fresh, never frozen beef*, freshly-prepared salads, and other signature items like chili, baked potatoes and the Frosty® dessert. The Wendy’s Company (Nasdaq: WEN) is committed to doing the right thing and making a positive difference in the lives of others. This is most visible through the Company’s support of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® and its signature Wendy’s Wonderful Kids® program, which seeks to find a loving, forever home for every child waiting to be adopted from the North American foster care system. Today, Wendy’s and its franchisees employ hundreds of thousands of people across over 7,000 restaurants worldwide with a vision of becoming the world’s most thriving and beloved restaurant brand. For details on franchising, connect with us at www.Wendys.com/franchising.

Visit www.Wendys.com and www.SquareDealBlog.com for more information and connect with us on X and Instagram using @wendys, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wendys.


View source version at Wendy's




Dine Brands Boosts Development Strategy with Revamped Core Team; Promotes Scott Gladstone to Chief Development Officer and International President


Scott Gladstone has been promoted to Chief Development Officer of Dine Brands Global.

PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar®, IHOP® and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop® restaurants, today announced the promotion of Scott Gladstone as its New Chief Development Officer. In his new role, Gladstone will continue to serve as Dine Brands’ International President, a role he has served in since January 2023, overseeing Dine’s global portfolio of Applebee’s and IHOP restaurants across 18 international markets.

John Peyton, President and CEO of Dine Brands said, “We are positioning Dine Brands to take advantage of and aggressively pursue growth opportunities across each of our brands. Scott’s leadership, together with a realignment of and incremental addition to internal resources, expanded capabilities and targeted investments, will allow Dine to prioritize development as the key growth driver for near and long-term growth.”

The role of Chief Development Officer is a new position at Dine. It is designed to leverage shared resources and continue to drive Dine’s world-class franchisor capabilities and deliver consistent performance and value creation for shareholders. In this role, Gladstone will be responsible for overseeing franchise development globally, deepening Dine’s development capabilities and enhancing support for new and existing franchisees for each of Dine’s brands.

Commenting on his new role, Scott Gladstone added, “Each of our brands has meaningful whitespace for development. However, development is not a one size fits all solution for our brands, nor for our franchisees. We are uniquely positioned to combine the benefits of Dine’s scale with tailored support and expertise, and I look forward to leveraging this to support new and future franchisees in growing their portfolios of established brands and accelerating development opportunities across the platform.”

Gladstone joined Dine Brands in 2016 as head of U.S. development for Applebee’s before expanding his role to include Business Analytics and Consumer Insights for the brand. He moved over to Dine Brands in 2019 to head strategy. Prior to joining Dine Brands, Mr. Gladstone was a Project Leader at The Boston Consulting Group, leading strategy and operations projects across a variety of industries and topics. Gladstone received his undergraduate degree from Emory University and his M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson School of Management.


About Dine Brands Global, Inc.

Based in Pasadena, California, Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), through its subsidiaries and franchisees, supports and operates restaurants under the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar®, IHOP®, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop® brands. As of September 30, 2023, these three brands consisted of over 3,500 restaurants across 18 international markets. Dine Brands is one of the largest full-service restaurant companies in the world and in 2022 expanded into the Fast Casual segment. For more information on Dine Brands, visit the Company’s website located at www.dinebrands.com.


View source version at Dine Brands

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