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Executive Movements - July 2022

Restaurants Canada Welcomes Christian Buhagiar as New President and CEO

With 25+ years of experience growing organizations and their reputations, Buhagiar looks forward to leading Canadian foodservice on its journey from survival to revival

July 25, 2022 07:00 ET

TORONTO, July 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Restaurants Canada, the not-for-profit foodservice association representing over 30,000 restaurant operators, foodservice chains and suppliers across Canada, has announced that Christian Buhagiar will assume the role of President and CEO. The news also accompanied the announcement that the current Interim President and CEO, Roy Little, who joined the organization in 2019 and took over its leadership in February 2022 will be retiring.

“I’m incredibly excited by the opportunity to lead the Restaurants Canada team, and serve its 30,000 members nationwide,” said Buhagiar, whose career has involved more than 25 years working across for-profit, non-profit, academic and government sectors. “I recognize this is a critical period for the foodservice industry. Not only were restaurants and their suppliers hit first and hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, they’re now facing severe labour shortages, skyrocketing inflation, and so many other hurdles on their road to recovery. I’m looking forward to helping Restaurants Canada pave the way for a sustainable, long-term revival for this vital component of our country’s culture and economy.”

Buhagiar joins the Restaurants Canada team after serving as the President and CEO of Supply Chain Canada, a non-profit membership association serving as the voice of Canada’s supply chain profession. During his 5+ years at the helm of Supply Chain Canada, Buhagiar renamed, rebranded, and grew the association into Canada’s foremost community of supply chain professionals, and a powerhouse advocacy organization. Prior to joining Supply Chain Canada, Buhagiar served as Vice President, Education at the Institute of Corporate Directors, Canada’s membership association for directors and boards.

“We’re very pleased that Christian’s next role will be leading Restaurants Canada. I believe our team and membership base will greatly benefit from his expertise in the government relations and not-for-profit association fields,” said Mike Yasinski, Chair of the Board, Restaurants Canada. “Christian’s past experience in growing organizations and their reputations, launching initiatives, and building relationships are exactly what Restaurants Canada needs to engage the industry and move beyond the pandemic.”

Through to September, Little will work alongside Buhagiar as the incoming President and CEO transitions into his new role, until his official departure on September 30, 2022.

“Roy is a servant leader who stepped into the role of Interim President and CEO at a time when the industry needed him the most. His strong connection to his team and board, and focus on the well-being of his people has been admirable,” added Yasinski. “I want to thank Roy for his commitment to our members, the industry as a whole and our employees, and welcome Christian as we look towards building a stronger future.”

About Restaurants Canada Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s foodservice sector was a $95 billion industry, directly employing 1.2 million people, providing Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serving 22 million customers across the country every day. The industry has since lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in sales due to the impacts of COVID-19.

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Southern Proper Hospitality Announces Christopher Harter as the New Chief Operations Officer

July 25, 2022

Hospitality Industry Veteran to Provide Roadmap for Atlanta-Based Restaurant Group’s Strategic Growth

Atlanta, GA  (  Southern Proper Hospitality Group (SPHG) announces an addition to the Atlanta restaurant group’s leadership team. New chief operations officer Christopher Harter is now overseeing all restaurant operations for the company, which includes eight concepts and 18 restaurant locations, from both a strategic and a quality standpoint. Harter’s impressive history of restaurant ownership and operations combined with his passion for food service will help SPH expand its offering of distinctive dining experiences.

“I was looking for a position where I could use my experience to add value and fuel growth,” Harter says of his new role. “Southern Proper Hospitality is a tremendous organization with great ownership and concepts that I am proud to be a part of.”

As chief operations officer, Harter will work with SPH ownership to develop a strategic plan for how to grow the company, focusing on the expansion of Tin Lizzy’s and Gypsy Kitchen. His first objective is ensuring the company’s core is incredibly sound before he begins crafting a strategic plan for growth and picking the proper locations. His goal is to continue emphasizing the good in each of SPH’s concepts and to ensure that the company’s expansion does not accentuate any potential flaws.

Harter, having worked as both a restaurateur and a hospitality industry corporate executive, brings a unique perspective to SPH that allows him to relate to every staff member while also achieving a competitive edge for the company as a whole. “Owning my own restaurants before becoming a corporate executive and doing it with my own money gave me a different view of the business than someone who only has the corporate experience,” Harter says. “I live and breathe this business; if it weren’t my job, it would definitely be my hobby.”

Harter most recently served as president for Patina Restaurant Group in Buffalo, New York, a national restaurant company consisting of 45 unique restaurant concepts, several of which are in high-profile locations, a Business & Industry (B&I) division, and a premium catering division. He acquired several high-profile B&I accounts in competitive bid situations, including Major League Baseball and Fox News, and reworked operations during the COVID-19 shutdown resulting in increased profitability in 2021.

Before this role, Harter was the vice president of Phillips Foods in Baltimore, where he oversaw all financial, operational, and developmental growth tactics for a diverse portfolio of 21 restaurants. During his four years with the company, he improved profitability in the company’s flagship restaurant by more than 50% and added six new properties with diverse concepts.

His impressive career also has included president and chief executive officer roles at Restaurants Unlimited in Seattle, Legacy Restaurants in Houston, and Levy Restaurants in Chicago.

Harter began his career in the hospitality industry as a dishwasher at the age of 16. He worked his way up the ranks to a cook, executive chef, and eventually owner of four restaurants in California and Arizona before working under Larry Levy at Levy Restaurants. Harter credits Levy for being a terrific mentor who has greatly influenced his own approach to the guest experience.

“I always go back to something that Larry taught me a long time ago: at every level of a restaurant, whether it’s a $5 hotdog or a $100 stuffed lobster, the experience needs to be worth it,” Harter says.

“My mentality is always to give guests more than they expect at every one of our restaurants,” he says.

About Southern Proper Hospitality

Southern Proper Hospitality owns and operates The Big Ketch Saltwater GrillThe Blind Pig Parlour BarGypsy KitchenThe Southern GentlemanChido & Padre’sMilton’s Cuisine & CocktailsTin Lizzy’s Cantina and Ocean & Acre. Chosen by Restaurant Hospitality as one of the “25 Coolest Multi-Concept Companies in America” and named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies for 2017, Southern Proper Hospitality offers genuinely hospitable service and exceptional, high-quality food.

For more information, visit

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Dine Brands Global Appoints Brett Levy as Vice President of Investor Relations and Treasury

Experienced Analyst to Drive Dine Brands’ Investor Strategies

Dine Brands Global Appoints Brett Levy as Vice President of Investor Relations and Treasury

July 25, 2022 04:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time

GLENDALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar® and IHOP® restaurants, today announced that Brett Levy has been named Vice President of Investor Relations and Treasury, effective July 25, 2022.

Brett will be responsible for the development, implementation, and management of Dine Brands’ investor relations strategy, with a focus on continuing and building relationships with investors, analysts and other key stakeholders.

Brett brings to the company his advisory and investing knowledge, amassed throughout a Wall Street career, which spans more than twenty-five years. Prior to joining Dine Brands, he served as a publishing restaurant industry analyst for Deutsche Bank, UBS, and MKM Partners, while gaining investing experience from his work within the hedge fund community. Brett received a degree in economics from Rutgers University.

Dine Brands CFO Vance Chang said, “I’m excited to welcome Brett to the Dine team. He brings with him deep industry knowledge and an investor-centric mindset that will be extremely valuable as we continue to create long-term shareholder value at Dine. We look forward to collaborating with him in building strong bonds with our investors, analysts, and other key stakeholders.”

Those interested in a career at Dine Brands Global are encouraged to visit the company’s career website and LinkedIn.

About Dine Brands Global, Inc.

Based in Glendale, California, Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), through its subsidiaries, franchises restaurants under both the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar and IHOP brands. With over 3,400 restaurants combined in 16 countries and approximately 340 franchisees, Dine Brands is one of the largest full-service restaurant companies in the world. For more information on Dine Brands, visit the Company’s website located at

View source version at Dine Brands

Boston Hospitality Veteran Bruno Marini Joins Tavistock Restaurant Collection as Area Director of New England Restaurants

July 25, 2022

Marini brings over 25 years of leading hospitality experience to the group’s Back Bay, Waterfront and Wayland locations

Boston, MA  (  Tavistock Restaurant Collection (TRC) is excited to announce the addition of Bruno Marini as Area Director of New England, overseeing the operations of the group’s long-standing establishments in Boston and the surrounding areas, including Abe & Louie’s, Atlantic Fish, both Joe’s Waterfront and Newbury Street locations, and Wayland’s Coach Grill.  Marini, a Level 1 Certified Sommelier and seasoned professional, understands the importance of delivering exceptional dining experiences to guests, connecting communities, and serving the very best food, drinks, and service a concept can offer.

As Area Director, Marini is dedicated to building upon the already stellar legacy of the Tavistock Restaurant Collection and its restaurants in Boston.  In his new role, he will work to ensure all New England restaurants operate under TRC’s highest standard of service that has led to its decades-long impressive legacy.  Included under his direction are the managerial, culinary, and front-of-the house staffs of Back Bay restaurants Abe & Louie’s, Atlantic Fish Company and Joe’s on Newbury Street, as well the Joe’s location in Boston’s North End waterfront neighborhood and Wayland’s Coach Grill.

A graduate of Johnson & Wales in 1991, Marini worked his way up through the managerial ranks of several legendary restaurants, learning from such renowned chefs and restaurateurs as Lydia Shire and Anthony Ambrose.  In 2000, Marini assumed the role of General Manager at the highly regarded French-American restaurant The Federalist, located at the prestigious XV Beacon hotel.  During his time there, he helped bring the restaurant to award-winning status, earning the Wine Spectator Grand Award  for the years between 2001 to 2006.

In 2010, Marini joined the Varano Group, helping restaurateur Nick Varano build his portfolio with the openings of Strega locations in the Seaport, Boston’s Park Plaza, and Woburn, as well as the launch of several cafes and fast casual concepts.  After five years with the Varano Group, Marini joined the Pyramid Hotel Group, helping to run the impressive line-up of restaurants in Boston and beyond, including the Envoy Hotel in the Seaport, 16 On the Park in Baltimore, and more.

In addition to Marini’s impressive resume of restaurant roles, he has also spent the last few decades as an active member of the community, volunteering his time and talents to a number of organizations, including the Mass General Hospital for Children’s Cancer Center.

About Tavistock Restaurant Collection

Tavistock Restaurant Collection is an Orlando-based privately held company operating iconic and unique dining concepts across the United States. Since its founding, Tavistock Restaurant Collection has been recognized for its creativity and dedication to excellence in food, drink, service, and atmosphere with each and every dining experience. Tavistock Restaurant Collection strives to consistently create innovative hospitality experiences that enrich the lives of its guests, its teams, and the communities they serve. Tavistock Restaurant Collection’s reputation is built on modern ambience, superior service, culinary artistry, and drinks of the highest caliber. For more information, please visit?

For more information on Tavistock Restaurant Collection and its various restaurants and locations, visit

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Chili’s Grill & Bar Names George Felix New Chief Marketing Officer

July 21, 2022

Marketing Maven and Award-Winning Leader to Focus on Growing Core Business

Dallas, TX  (  Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT) has announced that George Felix will join the company as Chief Marketing Officer to provide overall vision, leadership, strategy and execution of all marketing programs and initiatives for Chili’s® Grill & Bar. With a reputation for building and repositioning brands, Felix has a track record of success taking legacy brands and making them exciting again. His marketing career has taken him from Procter & Gamble to Yum! Brands to Tinder.

During his time at P&G, Felix focused on brand management, mobile strategy and innovation, and led award-winning advertising campaigns, including the famous “Smell Like a Man” brand relaunch for Old Spice. While at Yum! Brands, he served as Director of Marketing for KFC and CMO for Pizza Hut, where he helped lead and launch campaigns – including KFC’s “Return of Colonel Sanders” and Pizza Hut’s “Newstalgia” campaign. Both campaigns modernized the brands and drove sustained sales growth. Felix most recently was CMO at Tinder, where he led the development of the company’s new global brand positioning and redefined its mission statement.

“George has a track record of driving sales quickly and rebuilding big brands over time,” said Kevin Hochman, President and CEO of Brinker. “He is also a servant leader with a focus on growing people – which makes him a perfect fit for our Chili’s culture. I am confident George will bring a fresh perspective to serving our Guests and our Team Members.”

Felix will begin his new role on Thursday, July 21.

“Chili’s is such an iconic brand that’s not only culturally relevant, but also known for its irreverent approach to advertising and marketing,” Felix said. “I’m excited to lean on my brand positioning and advertising experience to find new opportunities for building momentum and accelerating growth for this great brand.”

In 2018, Ad Age named Felix its “Brand Marketer of the Year” and in 2016 he made the outlet’s 40 Under 40 list. During his career, he has been at the helm of several award-winning campaigns including 14 Cannes Lions, four Effies and an Emmy for Best Commercial.

During Felix’s tenure with the brand, KFC was also named to Ad Age’s 2016 Marketer A-List as one of the top 10 brands of the year.

About Chili’s® Grill & Bar

Hi, welcome to Chili’s! We’re a leader in the casual dining industry and the flagship brand of Dallas-based Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT). We’re known for our big mouth burgers, Texas-sized ribs, full-on sizzling fajitas and hand-shaken margaritas. We take our food seriously — but not ourselves — because dining out should feel like a celebration even if there is nothing to celebrate. Our passion is making every Guest feel special, and every day, our ChiliHeads make it their job to spread #ChilisLove across our more than 1,600 restaurants in 29 countries and two territories. And Chili’s cares. We host local Give Back Events to support kids, education and hunger and have raised more than $88 million benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® through generous guest donations.  Find more information about us at, follow us on Twitter or Instagram, like us on Facebook @Chilis or join us on TikTok @chilisofficial.

View source version at Chili's Grill & Bar

Focus Brands Announces Mike Woodward as Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales

Jul 20, 2022, 07:03 ET

Franchising industry veteran brings 20 plus years' experience to QSR company

ATLANTA, July 20, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Focus Brands®, parent company of iconic brands including Auntie Anne's®Carvel®Cinnabon®Jamba®McAlister's Deli®Moe's Southwest Grill® and Schlotzsky's®, announced today that Mike Woodward is joining the company as its new Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales.

"Focus Brands is continuing to build a best-in-class development organization and adding Mike to the team creates an opportunity for us to further advance our leadership in the QSR industry," said Brian Krause, Chief Development Officer at Focus Brands.  "With his 20+ years of franchise sales experience at a global company, Mike's leadership, coupled with our already strong sales team, will add value to both prospective and existing brand franchisees."

As Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales, Mike will oversee the franchise sales team, which is primarily focused on promoting brand recognition and strategic geographic growth across all seven brands in the Focus Brands portfolio. The team is dedicated to implementing strategies to drive net unit growth across the system.

Mike joins Focus Brands from Wyndham Hotels & Resorts where he served as Senior Vice President of Franchise Development, leading all aspects of franchise sales and development for 20 brands across the US and Canada. He brings a history of reaching growth records and experience with working closely with independent brand franchisees, as well as teams for sales, brand management and real estate. Prior to joining Wyndham, Mike served in various sales roles at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals and Phoenix Life Insurance Company.

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

View source version at Focus Brands

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. Names G.J. Hart as President and Chief Executive Officer

Appointment Effective on September 6, 2022

Paul Murphy to Serve as Special Advisor through March 31, 2023

July 14, 2022 04:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB) today announced that G.J. Hart will become the Company’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective September 6, 2022. A member of the Red Robin Board since August 2019, Hart will continue to serve as a member of the Board in addition to his roles as CEO and President.

Mr. Hart will succeed current President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Murphy, who recently informed the Red Robin Board of Directors that he intends to retire at the end of 2022 when his employment agreement expires. Mr. Murphy will remain as a special advisor to the Company until March 31, 2023, to ensure a smooth transition of leadership.

Mr. Hart most recently served as Chief Executive Officer of Torchy’s Tacos from 2018 until 2021, a privately-held fast-casual concept with more than 100 locations. Prior to that, he was the Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of California Pizza Kitchen from 2011 to 2018. From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Hart served as President of Texas Roadhouse Holdings, and later from 2004 to 2011 he held additional responsibilities as Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Texas Roadhouse Board. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hart held additional leadership positions at Al Copeland Investments, TriFoods International, New Zealand Lamb Company, and Shenandoah Valley Poultry, among others.

A highly regarded executive with nearly 35 years in the restaurant industry, including both public and private company experience, Mr. Hart is well known for his organizational leadership skills, commitment to profitable growth, and ability to drive long term shareholder value.

Mr. Hart stated, “While I have long admired Red Robin as an organization and brand, since joining the Board I have gained a heightened appreciation for the culture, values and brand equities that have made Red Robin so iconic for more than fifty years while recognizing its go-forward potential. I am eager to begin working with the team in this new capacity to strengthen the Company’s foundation, execute on our strategic priorities, and continue our collective efforts to create value for shareholders.”

Dave Pace, Red Robin Board Chair, commented, “G.J. brings an exceptional track record of success to this role and we are excited to have him as our next leader for Red Robin. During the past 3 years, G.J. has distinguished himself as a thoughtful and effective Board member in supporting Paul and the Red Robin team as they navigated an exceptionally tumultuous period in our industry’s history. As we began our search for Paul’s successor following his announced retirement at the end of this year, G.J. expressed interest in the role and we quickly determined that he possesses all of the critical skills that we are looking for in Red Robin’s next leader. We are highly confident that he has the vision, passion, and expertise to successfully lead Red Robin into the future. Once again, I want to thank Paul Murphy for his leadership over the past 3 years and appreciate his support in facilitating G.J.’s transition.”

About Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB)

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (, is a casual dining restaurant chain founded in 1969 that operates through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Red Robin International, Inc., and under the trade name, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews. We believe nothing brings people together like burgers and fun around our table, and no one makes moments of connection over craveable food more memorable than Red Robin. We serve a variety of burgers and mainstream favorites to Guests of all ages in a casual, playful atmosphere. In addition to our many burger offerings, Red Robin serves a wide array of salads, appetizers, entrees, desserts, signature beverages and Donatos® pizza at select locations. It's now easy to enjoy Red Robin anywhere with online ordering available for to-go, delivery and catering, or you can download our new app for easy customization, access to the Red Robin Royalty® dashboard and more. There are more than 520 Red Robin restaurants across the United States and Canada, including those operating under franchise agreements. Red Robin… YUMMM®!

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Sip Fresh Taps Frank Gonzales as Vice President of Franchise Development

July 14, 2022

Former Jamba, Wetzel’s Exec Sets Growth Goals for Juice and Beverage Concept

San Marino, CA  (  Sip Fresh, an innovative, handcrafted juice and beverage franchise concept, announced today the hiring of franchise industry veteran Frank Gonzales as the brand’s Vice President of Franchise Development. With 25 years of franchise development experience for well-known brands, including Jamba and Wetzel’s Pretzels, Gonzales brings his deep knowledge of the restaurant and franchising industries to the Sip Fresh brand as they are poised for franchise expansion in the U.S.

Gonzales’s expertise will serve as a catalyst for the Sip Fresh brand to expand into malls and high-foot traffic areas, such as tourist and entertainment districts, as well as large transportation hubs. The brand’s aggressive growth plan is aimed at partnering with multi-unit franchisees, many of whom have worked with Gonzales in the past.

“I believe my position at Sip Fresh is a natural career evolution from my previous roles,” said Gonzales. “Packaging a fun, vibrant brand, with a profitable, scalable, and uncomplicated system is the perfect fit for existing franchisees. I am looking forward to working with best-in-class franchisees to build a plan that helps them best develop their territories, utilize their resources for success and ultimately meet their business goals.”

Gonzales led a unique growth strategy in his former roles at Jamba and Wetzel’s, which brought in multi-unit partners to drive brand growth over several years. His impressive resume also includes time spent working in the supply chain industry and top restaurant groups, such as Anheuser-Busch, Sysco and U.S. Foods. Gonzales’s goal as VP of Franchise Development at Sip Fresh is to help franchisees best reach their financial goals with a streamlined, easily scalable business model.

“We are thrilled to welcome Frank to our burgeoning executive team. His extensive experience and trusted presence within the franchise industry make him the perfect fit for our growing brand,” said Sharon Arthofer, Sip Fresh founder and 27-year franchise industry veteran. “Sip Fresh was created to bring a bold new offering to the quick service beverage category in a fun, engaging way. Franchisees will benefit from our simple and streamlined operational structure that was created to optimize franchisee success.”

Sip Fresh is currently exploring opportunities with experienced franchise and multi-unit operators in the Western and Southwestern United States.

For more information regarding Sip Fresh and their available menu items, please visit For franchising information and contact info, please visit

About Sip Fresh

California-based Sip Fresh® opened its first store in 2017 with a mission to create delicious, handcrafted juices, in an interactive environment and unique presentation. The brand’s focus on quality products and unforgettable experiences turns guests into regulars and juices into delightful Sip Fresh beverages are made for a new era in the beverage industry. The beautiful drinks, like the many ‘Fresh Sips’ and the fan-favorite Cha Cha Chamoy®, are fun to  share with friends and family – both in-person and via social media. Sip Fresh’s quality products are made to engage the senses: see it, sample it and sip it up.

View source version at Sip Fresh

Smoothie King Appoints New Chief Development Officer Chris Bremer to Lead the Company’s Nationwide Expansion

July 14, 2022

Dallas, TX  (  Smoothie King, the world’s largest smoothie chain and the first health and fitness QSR brand of its kind, is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Bremer as Chief Development Officer. As Chief Development Officer at Smoothie King, Bremer will be responsible for implementing strategies to meet Smoothie King’s ongoing rapid expansion plans and overseeing the Franchise Development, Real Estate, Design, and Construction departments. The new addition to Smoothie King’s executive team comes as it recently announced several agreements to expand its footprint in key growth markets such as the Upper Midwest and Central Atlantic regions as well as Colorado and Texas.

“We are thrilled to welcome Chris Bremer to our executive leadership team,” said Wan Kim, CEO of Smoothie King. “Chris is an exemplary, purposeful leader, possessing a passion for leading teams in the food & beverage and hospitality industries and will undoubtedly make invaluable contributions to our rapidly-growing franchise system.”

Bremer has a diverse history of driving profitable growth within multi-unit franchise organizations, spending nearly six years with TGI Friday’s as the Development Director in Asia Pacific, leading rapid expansion across the region. From 2006 through 2017, Bremer was the Vice President of Global Franchise Development at Brinker International, implementing strategies to help the brand expand its presence from 90 locations to almost 400 in over 38 countries.

During his tenure, Bremer worked directly with franchisees to create strategy and action-planning to impact top-line revenue and bottom-line profit, upheld brand standards, and ensured operational excellence in multi-unit franchise organizations. Most recently, since 2017, Bremer served as Chief Development Officer at Nothing Bundt Cakes, leading the Development Team to double the size of the brand, which helped drive the sale of the brand to private equity.

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

About Smoothie King Franchises, Inc.

Smoothie King Franchises, Inc., the original U.S. smoothie franchise, is a privately held, Dallas-based franchise company with over 1,300 locations worldwide, including in the United States, Korea, Grand Cayman, and Trinidad. Founded in 1973, Smoothie King has made it its mission to inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. By blending each smoothie with a purpose, Smoothie King makes it simple and enjoyable for guests to achieve their individual health and fitness goals. Smoothie King has been recognized No. 13 overall on Entrepreneur’s prestigious Franchise 500 list in 2022 and ranked one of the “Fastest Growing Franchises.” For more information about franchising with Smoothie King, visit or follow the brand on social media @SmoothieKing.

View source version at Smoothie King

Nekter Juice Bar Promotes Natalie Green to COO

July 14, 2022

Costa Mesa, CA  (  Nekter Juice Bar, the pioneering leader of the modern and 100% authentic juice bar experience with 170 locations across the U.S., today announced that Natalie Green has been promoted to the role of Chief Operations Officer (COO). Green started working with Nekter Juice Bar in 2011 as controller building and leading the company’s in-house accounting team. For the past six years, she has served as senior vice president of business operations, becoming a key voice in marketing, franchising and conceptualizing as the company expanded into the powerhouse brand it is today.

Green will work closely alongside Nekter Juice Bar’s co-founders, CEO Steve Schulze and Chief Visionary Officer Alexis Schulze, as the company is poised to enter several new markets just this year with more than 150 new locations in various stages of development.

Green’s collaborative focus extends to other members of the leadership team, including Jeff Barney, vice president of franchise development, Jon Asher, vice president of digital marketing, Zach Anderson, vice president of operations, and Isaiah Green, vice president of franchise sales. Together, the team remains committed to stewarding the brand into endless communities throughout the country to people seeking ingredient-integrity, transparency, functional nutrition and a menu that always tastes great, is easily accessible and affordable too.

“During the past 11 years, Natalie has proven to be an invaluable asset to Nekter Juice Bar, our incredible team and wonderful franchise partners, and ultimately our guests with her dedication and vision,” said Steve Schulze. “Natalie employs the ideal combination of proven operating expertise and collaborative spirit that is at the very core of our culture and company. Her talent for leadership by example, her drive and innovative thinking has been fundamental to Nekter and keeping it on course for expansive growth.”

“It’s an exciting time for me to step into the role of COO of Nekter Juice Bar,” said Natalie Green. “We have an extraordinary team here, whose creativity and ingenuity are behind our position as a best-in-class brand and a remarkable opportunity for our franchisees.”

Nekter recently reported record-setting sales milestones, including that its top 25% franchised stores reported average gross sales of more than $1 million* in 2021, Nekter’s top performing franchise location surpassed $1.5 million in sales in 2021. Additionally, the company achieved 24 calendar months of total systemwide growth despite the continuing challenges of the pandemic.

Nekter continues to seek qualified franchise partners, including single-unit, multi-unit and multi-brand operators, who will benefit from one of the healthiest revenues in the industry, a low initial investment, competitive franchise fees, exceptional support from an experienced team, and robust loyalty program which now boasts more than 1 million guests. Veterans will also benefit from a 15% reduction in franchise fees among other incentives.

About Nekter Juice Bar

As the pioneer of the modern juice bar experience and the champion of menu transparency and ingredient-integrity, Nekter Juice Bar was founded in 2010 to nourish America’s increasing appetite for plant-based, healthy food options that promote and support various lifestyles and diet preferences. With a steady eye on innovation, the health and wellness brand offers a delicious menu of freshly made, clean and nutrient-rich juices, superfood smoothies, acai bowls, wellness shots, cold-pressed “Grab N’ Go” juices, healthy snacks, and several natural cleanse options to help guests “Keep It Real.” At its core, Nekter believes that “healthy” can taste great, be easily accessible, and be affordable too.

Now with 170 locations in the U.S. and 150+ more in development, Nekter is an industry leader in the truly healthy juice bar category. Recent industry recognition includes being named to the Entrepreneur 2021 Top Food Franchises list and earning a spot on the Inc. 5000 Honor Roll, reserved only for companies named to the Inc. 500 at least five times. Since opening its first location in 2010, Nekter has received tremendous recognition from multiple leading business and restaurant industry authorities such as Franchise Times, Nation’s Restaurant News, Newsweek, QSR Magazine, Restaurant Business, and more.

For more information about the brand or franchising opportunities, please visit

View source version at Nekter Juice Bar

McDonald's Appoints Jill McDonald as Executive Vice President and President, International Operated Markets

Jul 13, 2022, 07:01 ET

CHICAGO, July 13, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, McDonald's (NYSE: MCD) CEO, Chris Kempczinski sent the following message to the McDonald's global System, sharing its international markets leadership structure.

As our global business and our two international segments continue to grow, each can further benefit from strong leadership teams focused closely on their needs —supporting the strong bench of talent in their segments and representing the perspectives of their markets on the Global Senior Leadership Team.

Following our leadership announcements last month, I am pleased to share that we will be returning to a structure of dedicated leadership overseeing each of our international segments. From a financial reporting standpoint, this represents no change as we've always reported International Operated Markets (IOM) results separate from International Developmental Licensee Markets (IDLM).

Jill McDonald will be returning to McDonald's as Executive Vice President and President, IOM, overseeing our five largest wholly-owned international markets and our IOM Business Unit, consisting of our remaining wholly-owned international markets.

Jill began her career as a marketing trainee at Colgate Palmolive and later joined British Airways, rising through the company to eventually lead Global Marketing. Jill then joined McDonald's as Chief Marketing Officer for our UK business and Northern Europe, and later became the Managing Director for our UK business and President, Northern Europe.

In her tenure, she sustained strong performance across all metrics of our business, including a strengthened brand, a reinvigorated employee experience and double-digit sales growth, all while fostering successful franchisee performance and engagement.

Jill's accomplishments with McDonald's and her deep marketing expertise and experience leading several consumer-focused businesses (including most recently as CEO of Costa Coffee), make her the perfect leader to accelerate the next phase of the IOM segment's growth. Working closely with Chief Customer Officer, Manu Steijaert, and Chief Marketing Officer, Morgan Flatley, Jill will help us elevate our marketing and creative excellence while enhancing our crew and customer experience to unlock new growth opportunities in IOM.

Jill's first day will be September 5. She will be based in London, reporting directly to me as a member of the Global SLT.

I am also happy to share that Jo Sempels will continue to lead our International Developmental Licensed Markets (IDLM) as Senior Vice President and President, IDL. Jo's responsibilities will now include our large, fast-growing China business, which had reported to Ian in his capacity as President, International. Jo is a highly respected and talented leader who is known (quite literally) around the world for putting the System first.

Jo will also join our Global SLT and report directly to me, effective immediately.

I am extremely proud of our International team's progress in driving our Accelerating the Arches strategy. With Jill, Jo and their leaders in respective segments, we are well positioned to continue building on our success. I look forward to even greater growth across these markets through an enhanced customer and crew experience, and improved connectivity and collaboration between our Market and Global teams.

Please join me in welcoming Jill back to the McFamily and thanking Jo for his continued leadership.


ABOUT MCDONALD'S McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with more than 39,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 95% of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

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FAT Brands Names James C. Neuhauser as Executive Chairman of the Board and Appoints Lynne L. Collier as New Independent Director

July 13, 2022 06:00 ET

LOS ANGELES, July 13, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. announces the elevation of James C. Neuhauser as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Neuhauser has been an independent director on the FAT Brands Board since its inception in 2017. Mr. Neuhauser, a veteran financial executive with over 30 years of experience in financial and strategic planning and investment banking, will oversee FAT Brands’ accounting and legal departments and focus on the Company’s public traded equities and relationship with investors.

Mr. Neuhauser was formerly a Senior Managing Director in the Private Capital Markets Group of Stifel Nicolas & Company, and before that he served as Chief Investment Officer of FBR & Co., where he was an early member of the firm and had spent 25 years in various roles.

Edward H. Rensi, Chairman of the Board, will transition to Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Rensi, former President and CEO of McDonald’s USA, has been on the FAT Brands Board since its inception and will continue to provide strategic counsel to the global restaurant franchising company.

A new addition to the board is Lynne L. Collier. Ms. Collier will serve as an independent director and brings nearly 30 years of experience in public capital markets, with a focus on the restaurant industry. Most recently, Ms. Collier served as a Managing Director in the Investor Relations Division at ICR Inc. Prior to that, Ms. Collier had a 25-year career in equity research as a sell-side Consumer Analyst including for Loop Capital and Canaccord Genuity.

“Jim and Ed have been tremendous assets to FAT Brands over the last five years as we have reached a whole new level of scale," said Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of FAT Brands. “I look forward to tapping further into Jim’s deep expertise in the public equity markets. I’m also pleased to welcome Lynne who brings a new skillset to our Board as an experienced restaurant analyst.”

For more information on FAT Brands, visit

About FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands

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

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SSCP Management Names New President of Its Roy’s Restaurant Concept

July 6, 2022

Industry Stalwart and Roy’s Star Deborah Hinson Set To Take the Roy’s Brand to New Heights

Dallas, TX  (  In Roy’s terms, consider this a perfect fusion:

  1. Dallas-based SSCP Management, the brainchild of Dallas business guru Sunil Dharod, who has grown his multi-concept brand into a 400-unit plus organization

  2. A rising, talented restaurant and marketing industry veteran Deborah Hinson (down-to-earth enough to go by Deb), a full-service marketing firm owner and current marketing brand leader for Roy’s

The synthesis?

SSCP has elevated its upscale brand with Deb as the new president of its coveted concept. SSCP has also made Deb an equity owner in Roy’s. Roy’s is universally renowned as an American restaurant specializing in Hawaiian and Japanese fusion cuisine with a focus on seafood, steak and sushi. In 2015, Roy’s restaurants were purchased by OS Pacific, LLC, an SSCP affiliate.

“Deb will be instrumental in reimagining the Roy’s concept and the breath of fresh air she brings is welcomed by our cherished brand,” said Sunil. “Her energy, wit and a roll-up-your sleeves attitude will serve us well. She is the perfect person to move Roy’s forward.”

Roy’s uses European techniques, Pacific Rim cuisine served with warm, from-the-heart hospitality. Together, they create the remarkable dining experience unique to Roy’s Restaurant.

A Purdue boilermaker (another perfect fusion featuring whiskey and beer), Hinson is ready for the reigns: “Leading Roy’s is nothing short of an honor and a privilege, a welcomed challenge,” said Hinson. “Roy’s has always been a different brand, something special, something memorable and SSCP is doing everything it can to amplify that differentiation though positive leadership and service.”

SSCP President Chris Dharod, Sunil’s prized son and an industry hybrid – old school values, new school expertise — could not agree more: “Ultimately, we are in the people business. We care, we do and our leaders are chosen carefully and cautiously as we are serving people who choose our brands. Deb excels in every possible way and this is absolutely the perfect choice for this important position.”

About SSCP

SSCP Management is owned by Sunil Dharod, a Dallas businessman and philanthropist. SSCP is a family-operated company, led by the father Sunil, son and SSCP President Chris Dharod and daughter Puja, a principal and director at SSCP.  SSCP is an award-winning restaurant leader with over 400 restaurants nationwide operating under four separate concepts, all category leaders including Applebee’s, Sonic-Drive-In’s, Cici’s Pizza Buffet and Roy’s. SSCP always strives to provide the best experience for its guests through superior service and outstanding food.  SSCP’s goal is to give its valued guests a memorable experience in order spur future visits. SSCP also invests in its communities by giving back to those in need and working with a variety of charities to strengthen its communities. It also is renowned industry-wide for treating its team members like family, perhaps best exemplified by Ms. Dharod’s Puja Foundation, which provides financial support when team members at all SSCP restaurants are affected by an unforeseen catastrophic life event.

About Roy’s

Internationally-acclaimed Roy’s Restaurant is known for its unique and creative menu, a sensational adventure in bold flavors, and its sincere and engaging hospitality that is a welcomed escape from the ordinary dining experience. Roy’s Restaurant was born by blending two dynamic principals: delicious food and hospitality. For more information about Roy’s Restaurant, please visit

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Former Red Robin CEO Denny Marie Post Named Co-President of Nextbite

Restaurant Industry Expert Brings Consumer Marketing and Product Innovation Success to Nextbite

June 30, 2022 11:00 ET

DENVER, June 30, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Nextbite, a leader in virtual restaurant solutions, today announced that Denny Marie Post, restaurant industry leader and former CEO of Red Robin, has joined the company as co-president after serving as an advisor since September 2021. In her new role, Denny will oversee marketing, operations and culinary innovation for the company’s growing portfolio of delivery-only menus and provide a strategic focus on its restaurant fulfillment partners. Denny will serve as co-President along with current President Paul Allen.

“We have sharpened our focus to make it easy for multi-unit restaurants to be successful with virtual brand offerings and Denny is the ideal executive to lead us in this next phase of growth,” said Alex Canter, CEO and co-founder of Nextbite. “Her depth of restaurant leadership experience, innovation track record and vision for the future is already proving to be invaluable as we ramp up our business.”

Denny previously served as President and CEO at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Brews, a 500+ unit chain of casual dining restaurants, and was the interim CEO of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, an organization dedicated to advancing women leaders in the food industry. She currently serves on multiple corporate boards.

Over her career in the restaurant industry, she led innovation initiatives to develop and market best-selling products for multi-unit restaurants including Pike Place Roast at Starbucks, Red’s Tavern Double and Finest Lines at Red Robin, Popcorn Chicken at KFC, and Chicken Fries at Burger King.

“Working as an advisor for Nextbite gave me a front row seat to an amazing company with a tremendous opportunity to re-imagine the restaurant industry,” said Post. “I look forward to joining the team as co-president, helping to lead its next phase of growth.”

About Nextbite

Nextbite is helping drive and shape the new digital era for the restaurant industry. A leader and innovator in virtual restaurant solutions, the company is focused on helping restaurant partners successfully enter the virtual restaurant space with its delivery-only menus, to increase margins and revenue. Originally founded as Ordermark in 2017, Nextbite matches in-demand brands with under-utilized kitchens via technology, data and services. Headquartered in Denver and Los Angeles, Nextbite has raised more than $150M in funding, with its most recent round led by SoftBank. Learn more at, and follow on FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and Twitter.

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McDonald's Promotes Kevin Ozan to Senior Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Ian Borden to Chief Financial Officer and Marion Gross to Global Chief Supply Chain Officer

Jun 27, 2022, 06:55 ET

Transitions will be effective September 1, 2022 

CHICAGO, June 27, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, McDonald's Corporation (NYSE: MCD) CEO, Chris Kempczinski sent the following message to the McDonald's Global System, which also outlines additional leadership team updates.

As I said at Worldwide Convention in April, there's never been a better time to be part of Brand McDonald's.

McDonald's is now seen as leading in our industry on almost every dimension. Together, we've transformed the McDonald's System and are performing at a high level in almost every market in which we operate.

This transformation has required enormous effort, collaboration, and most importantly, leadership across all three legs of the stool as we have worked to bring our Accelerating the Arches strategy to life.

This has not been easy, nor was our current success a foregone conclusion. In fact, several years ago, the outlook for our business was far less rosy – at least, according to the pundits and analysts. In 2014, global comparable sales and guest counts were declining, new competitors were emerging, and customer and investor expectations were rising for global companies like ours. Remarkably, Wall Street consensus assumed the McDonald's System was in structural decline.

Over the years, however, the McDonald's System has demonstrated a remarkable knack for cultivating the right leaders for the moment, and this was certainly true when Kevin Ozan and Francesca DeBiase were appointed to their roles in March 2015.

Kevin and Francesca are long-time McDonald's veterans, with over forty years of combined System experience and careers that were purpose-built for their positions on our Global Senior Leadership Team. They were well-known and highly respected, and their appointments – Kevin as Chief Financial Officer and Francesca as Global Chief Supply Chain Officer – coincided with the multi-year reinvigoration of our business that has led to our current position of strength.

It is with deep gratitude and respect that I am announcing today that Kevin will be assuming a new position and has been promoted to Senior Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, and that Francesca recently shared with me her decision to retire from McDonald's, effective August 31.


Kevin has been with McDonald's since 1997, when he joined from Ernst & Young. From the moment Kevin stepped foot here, it was clear to everyone who interacted with him that he brought something truly special to our System. His intellect and ability to work across multiple disciplines was only matched by his disarming approach and his belief in the business.

I remember meeting Kevin when I first joined McDonald's. I was struck by his dedication to the System, his low ego, and unflappable judgment. I joked with Kevin that he was the "nicest CFO" I'd ever met, and yet Kevin still set the highest standards for himself and his team.

Kevin leads with an incredible combination of head and heart. He's helped guide our System through so much the last seven years – from onboarding two CEOs, to navigating through COVID, dealing with activist investors and, most recently, our exit from the Russian market. Kevin has seen and done it all.

In this elevated role, which will be effective September 1, Kevin will continue to lead the Strategy team and spearhead several strategic initiatives, while partnering with me and the Senior Leadership Team, and plans to retire from McDonald's by mid-2023.

With this move, Ian Borden, currently President, International and a 30-year System veteran, has been appointed to serve as our next Executive Vice President and CFO, effective September 1.

Ian is well-known for being a values-based leader with a tremendous amount of System knowledge. He first joined our System in Canada in 1994. From there, he went on to serve in roles including as CFO for our Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region and CFO for Russia and Eastern Europe. He's also had several leadership and P&L roles across our markets and regions.

We often say that our international markets are the growth and idea engine of the System, and in so many ways that is a testament to Ian's leadership and contributions. From ambitious digital deployments to delivery and EOTF, the markets under Ian's leadership have been launching pads for some of our most ambitious and impactful moves over the past decade. Ian consistently puts teamwork at the heart of everything he does. His passion and unfailing commitment to talent development has built a strong succession pipeline across the System.

On our Senior Leadership Team, he has championed and fostered closer and more effective collaboration across our markets to execute our strategy with great success while also navigating unpredictable challenges with agility and purpose. For these reasons, and so many more, this makes Ian an exceptional leader for our Finance organization as our next CFO.

Ian, his wife Yolande, and his two sons – Ethan and Matthew – will be relocating to Chicago and I look forward to benefiting even more from his partnership. We will share an update on our International leadership in mid-July.


Francesca has been with McDonald's since 1991, and last year celebrated her 30th anniversary – an incredible milestone!

The strength and resiliency of our Supply Chain is a cornerstone of our competitive advantage and a mark of Francesca's leadership. The strategic relationships Francesca has forged throughout the supplier community – based on transparency, inclusion, and trust – have been key to our success in creating a best-in-class Supply Chain that is the envy of our industry, and so many others.

Francesca was one of the earliest leaders in our System to champion progressive and sustainable business solutions, which are now deeply embedded across McDonald's. She has been fiercely passionate about talent development – both within her organization and across the System – and led our Global Women's Leadership Network for many years, stewarding a culture where women have the most opportunity to succeed and grow. Generations to come will undoubtedly benefit from the impact of her leadership.

There's little Francesca has not seen in her McDonald's journey – from trade challenges, to the impacts of climate change, to all manner of disruptions. Even so, the unforeseen impacts of an unprecedented global pandemic further proved the strength and resilience of Francesca's leadership and our entire Supply Chain. While others broke supply, McDonald's did not. That is a truly extraordinary accomplishment. For this, and for so much more, we are grateful.

While Francesca will certainly be missed, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Marion Gross, Chief Supply Chain Officer of North America, has been promoted to Executive Vice President, Global Chief Supply Chain Officer, and will join the Global Senior Leadership Team, effective September 1.

Marion's impressive career at McDonald's has spanned 29 years, but she had already been a part of the System for several years having managed transportation and logistics at HAVI. At McDonald's, she first managed the supply of several national product categories before taking on strategic Supply Chain initiatives across 36 distribution centers. Most recently, Marion has been responsible for executing the strategic direction of McDonald's Supply Chain across the U.S. and Canada.

Marion's embrace of our values is a hallmark of her leadership. Her deep involvement in our communities and constant focus on truly driving our purpose deep within the System stand tall as clear examples that we get better together.

We will share more details on Marion's successor before she formally transitions this fall.


Finally, Katie Fallon, who has successfully served as McDonald's first-ever Chief Global Impact Officer, recently informed me of her decision to depart McDonald's.

Katie has been a deeply valuable partner to me and so many throughout our System as we've risen to society's growing expectations of business. She has brought critical functions together and forged a collective strategy to drive trust and admiration for McDonald's. While we have benefitted from Katie's strong leadership, I fully support and understand her decision to pursue an opportunity that has fewer travel demands and better aligns with the needs of her young family in Washington D.C.

Katie's last day with us will be July 15, and I am confident that this team, and our System, have the right leaders and plans in place to continue advancing our progress as we deliver on our purpose to feed and foster communities.

While we identify Katie's successor, Kevin will oversee the Global Impact team.


I feel immense pride in everything the McDonald's System has accomplished over the past several years and am confident that the leaders announced today will help accelerate our momentum.

The McDonald's System is special because our people are special. With ketchup coursing through our veins, McDonald's future has never been brighter.


ABOUT MCDONALD'S McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with more than 39,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 95% of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

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KFC Global Names Tarun Lal President of KFC U.S. Business

Jun 23, 2022, 13:30 ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky., June 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) announced today that Tarun Lal has been named President of KFC U.S., effective July 15, 2022.

Lal is currently managing director (MD) of the KFC Middle East, Pakistan, Turkey, Africa and India markets and is a 25-year KFC brand veteran. He will report to Dyke Shipp, KFC Division President, and relocate to the KFC U.S. headquarters in Louisville, Ky.

"Tarun has proven to be a best-in-class operator with a strong commercial outlook and approach," said Shipp. "As he joins the U.S. brand, we are confident he will be met with a similar passion for consistent execution and achieving breakthrough results."

Lal has served in various roles at KFC and its parent company, Yum! Brands, including General Manager (GM) of KFC Africa, KFC Global Chief Operations Officer and GM for KFC India.

In his current role, his leadership has driven tangible impact across KFC's strategic initiatives. As GM of KFC Africa, Lal's extensive understanding of the business, and partnering skills, added tremendous value to the KFC Sub-Saharan Africa business. Under his management, the KFC Africa team unlocked growth across the region, including successful brand launches in multiple new markets.

Lal is an active and vocal champion of female advancement, equity, inclusion and belonging, sponsoring talent initiatives like the Next-Generation of Women (N.O.W.) strategy designed to support KFC's commitment to reach gender parity in leadership roles by 2025.

Lal replaces Kevin Hochman, who departed KFC U.S. on June 3 to assume a senior position at another public company.

About KFC KFC Corporation, based in Louisville, Ky., has been serving Finger Lickin' Good Original Recipe® fried chicken since 1952. Beyond the top secret 11 herbs & spices, KFC specialties include the KFC Chicken Sandwich, Extra Crispy™ chicken and Extra Crispy™ Tenders, KFC Famous Bowls®, Pot Pies, Secret Recipe Fries, biscuits and homestyle sides. There are more than 26,000 KFC restaurants in over 145 countries and territories around the world. KFC Corporation is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., Louisville, Ky. (NYSE: YUM). For more information, visit Follow KFC on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. Appoints Ahmad Filsoof as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

June 22, 2022 08:30 ET

SYRACUSE, N.Y., June 22, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. (“Carrols” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: TAST) announced today the appointment of Ahmad Filsoof as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, a new position, to further the Company’s strategic capabilities and commitment to business innovation. Mr. Filsoof comes to Carrols with over 15 years of experience in strategy development and planning, business and consumer insights, performance management, consulting, and technology.

Prior to joining Carrols, Mr. Filsoof was Head of Sales Strategy, Operations, Enablement, and Planning at Amazon Web Services from May 2020 to January 2022, where he led business strategy and planning, forecasting, management reporting, and go-to-market strategy. Before Amazon Web Services, Mr. Filsoof worked at McDonald’s from August 2017 until January 2020, where, among other things, he served as Senior Director, Strategy, Insights, and Strategic Initiatives. In that role, Mr. Filsoof led strategy and planning for the company’s U.S. division. He was also responsible for measuring performance and providing consumer and business insights.

Prior to joining McDonald’s, Mr. Filsoof was a management consultant for ten years. Most recently, he was a Principal at The Boston Consulting Group, where he led client engagements across a range of industries, including retail, CPG, and food services.

Mr. Filsoof earned an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

“We are delighted to have Ahmad join the Carrols team in this new position,” said Paulo Pena, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Carrols. “Ahmad brings considerable talent and experience to the Company from his work across a variety of industries and I know our executive team will benefit greatly from his ability to think strategically and offer new insights which will help us innovate and advance our business.”

“I am very excited to join Carrols,” stated Ahmad Filsoof. “I look forward to working with its talented management team to help improve operations and profitability and empower the team to excel.”

About the Company

Carrols is one of the largest restaurant franchisees in North America. It is the largest BURGER KING® franchisee in the United States, currently operating 1,026 BURGER KING® restaurants in 23 states as well as 65 POPEYES® restaurants in seven states. Carrols has operated BURGER KING® restaurants since 1976 and POPEYES® restaurants since 2019. For more information, please visit the Company's website at

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First Watch Names Bumble Inc. Chief People Officer Stephanie Lilak to its Board of Directors

Bumble Inc. Executive to Provide Strategic Guidance as Daytime Dining Concept Continues to Scale

June 21, 2022 16:05 ET

BRADENTON, Fla., June 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Watch Restaurant Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: FWRG) (First Watch” or the Company”), the leading Daytime Dining concept with more than 440 restaurants nationwide, announced today the appointment of Stephanie Lilak, Chief People Officer of Bumble Inc., to its Board of Directors, effective June 17, 2022. Lilak will serve as a member of the Audit Committee and the Compensation Committee of the Board.

"We are pleased to welcome Stephanie Lilak to the First Watch Board," said Ralph Alvarez, chairman of the Board of Directors of First Watch. "Stephanie's deep human resources experience in the food and restaurant industry will be invaluable to First Watch as we grow our business and further develop our ‘You First’ culture."

Lilak, 53, serves as the Chief People Officer at Bumble Inc., the parent company that operates Bumble, Badoo and Fruitz, three of the world’s most popular dating and connection apps. In her role, Lilak oversees Bumble Inc.’s human resources strategy, including learning and development, DEI, compensation and benefits, talent acquisition and employee experience. She also works in partnership with leaders across the organization to help build a healthy and empowering work environment where all employees can grow and thrive. Prior to joining Bumble Inc., she served as Chief Human Resources Officer for Dunkin’ Brands, where she developed and led global HR strategy encompassing the full employee life cycle and experience and previously spent over 23 years in leadership positions as an HR executive at General Mills.

“I am excited to work with First Watch as a member of its Board and bring my experience to provide strategic insights and perspective, especially as the Company continues to grow and further its remarkable people-centric culture,” said Lilak. “First Watch’s people-first approach empowers and puts team members at the heart of all it does. This mission is uniquely powerful and speaks to the core values of the brand that I am proud to be a part of.”

Lilak joins fellow Board of Directors members Ralph Alvarez, Julie Bradley, Tricia Glynn, William Kussell, Kenneth L. Pendery, Jr., Lisa Price, Chris Tomasso and Michael White. For more information on the Company’s leadership, visit

About First Watch First Watch is an award-winning Daytime Dining concept serving made-to-order breakfast, brunch and lunch using fresh ingredients. A recipient of hundreds of local “Best Breakfast” and “Best Brunch” accolades, First Watch’s chef-driven menu includes elevated executions of classic favorites along with First Watch specialties such as the protein-packed Quinoa Power Bowl®, Farm Stand Breakfast Tacos, Avocado Toast, Chickichanga, Morning Meditation (juiced in-house daily), Vodka Kale Tonic and its famous Million Dollar Bacon. In 2022, First Watch was awarded a sought-after MenuMasters honor by Nation’s Restaurant News for its seasonal Braised Short Rib Omelet and was recognized with ADP’s coveted Culture at Work Award. In 2021, the concept was recognized as FSR Magazine’s Best Menu and as the fastest-growing full-service restaurant chain based on unit growth. There are more than 440 First Watch restaurants in 28 states, and the restaurant concept is majority owned by Advent International, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms. For more information, visit

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