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Executive Movements - July 2023








Cracker Barrel Names Julie Felss Masino as the Company's New President and Chief Executive Officer



18 Jul, 2023, 08:00 ET




LEBANON, Tenn., July 18, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Board of Directors of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. ("Cracker Barrel" or the "Company") (Nasdaq: CBRL) is pleased to announce that Julie Felss Masino will succeed Sandra B. Cochran as the Company's next President and Chief Executive Officer. Ms. Masino, 52, has had a long and successful career driving innovation and growth for globally loved and recognized restaurant and retail brands.  She most recently served as President, International of Taco Bell, overseeing the expansion of the division to more than 1,000 restaurants in 32 countries, and before that led the $11 billion US Taco Bell business, where she and her teams launched numerous culinary, technology, and business model innovations during eight consecutive quarters of positive comp growth. Commenting on the appointment, Cracker Barrel's Chairman of the Board, William McCarten said, "Today's announcement represents the culmination of a multi-year CEO succession-planning process by our Board of Directors and Sandy, and we are thrilled to welcome Julie to the head of the Cracker Barrel table. We believe Julie 's track record as an innovator and a leader, together with her strategic thinking and passion for growth, will ensure that Cracker Barrel remains a place where people feel welcomed and cared for like family as we extend our hospitality to an even broader array of guests." The Company's current President and Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Cochran, added, "Julie brings a wealth of experience and an innovative spirit to Cracker Barrel and Maple Street. I look forward to seeing her and the team build on our legacy and carve new paths for growth as they leverage and continue our investments in technology, loyalty, and the employee and guest experience. It has been a privilege to lead this brand for the last twelve years and I am happy to be able to transfer my role to someone as capable and accomplished as Julie." Finally, Ms. Masino commented, "Cracker Barrel is one of the most iconic brands in the history of American casual and family dining, and I appreciate all that Sandy and the Board have done to set the company, our team, and me up for success. For more than fifty years Cracker Barrel has leveraged its rich culture to deliver on its brand and people promises to guests and employees, and the company's Pleasing People mission aligns perfectly with my passion for building and empowering diverse high-performing teams. The confidence the Board has shown by entrusting the brand to me is humbling, and I'm excited to work with the more than 75,000 dedicated Cracker Barrel and Maple Street employees to drive the Company's growth for years to come." Ms. Masino spent the last five and a half years at Taco Bell, during which time she led franchise partners and teams to open over 800 new units in the US and around the globe. The bulk of her career was spent in a variety of leadership roles at Starbucks Coffee Company, including serving as the CMO of Starbucks' China business as well as Vice President, Strategy Americas and EMEA; Vice President, Global Beverage; and Vice President, Global Merchandise and Packaged Food. She began her professional career in corporate positions at a variety of retail companies, including Godiva Chocolatier, Coach, J. Crew, and Macy's, and has meaningful public and private company board experience. Ms. Masino will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer-elect on August 7, 2023, and will work with Ms. Cochran through the end of October on a transition of duties. On November 1, 2023, Ms. Masino will become the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer and will be appointed to the Company's Board of Directors.  At that time, Ms. Cochran will become the Executive Chair of the Board through September 2024, and the Board's current independent Chair, William McCarten, will assume the role of Lead Independent Director. Commenting on the transition of roles and Ms. Cochran's tenure, Mr. McCarten affirmed, "Sandy and the rest of the Board have spent years planning for Sandy's succession and we are happy to see that work pay off today.  Sandy's contributions to Cracker Barrel are too many to catalogue - from driving performance and creating shareholder value, to recruiting and mentoring key talent, to successfully guiding our company through the pandemic.  She will add to that track record in her role as Executive Chair, as she transfers responsibilities and helps Julie assume the leadership of our brand.   We are grateful to Sandy not only for having led Cracker Barrel so successfully for so long, but for supporting Julie's and our success going forward."

View source version at Cracker Barrel







MINA Group Appoints Eric Martino as President



17 Jul, 2023, 13:27 ET





The Seasoned Hospitality Executive Will Oversee Operations and Drive GrowthSAN FRANCISCO, July 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- MINA Group, the renowned hospitality group founded by award-winning chef Michael Mina, announces today the appointment of Eric Martino as President. In the role, Martino will work closely with Chef Michael Mina and MINA Group CEO Jason Himber, overseeing restaurant operations and supporting future growth plans. He officially joins MINA Group today, July 17, 2023. Martino brings more than 25 years of hospitality industry experience to MINA Group, most recently acting as Chief Operating Officer of José Andrés Group where he led operations of more than 30 restaurants across nine international markets, managing more than 2,000 team members and over $275M in revenue. During his six year tenure under Andrés, Martino oversaw the openings of Mercado Little Spain at New York's Hudson Yards, as well as hotel partnership agreements with the Conrad Hotel in Los Angeles and The Ritz Carlton Nomad in New York City. His deep industry experience expands beyond operations. Martino began his career at Carrabba's where he was classically trained as a chef before becoming an owner and general manager, later moving on to MStreet Entertainment Group as VP of Operations. "Eric Martino's appointment marks an exciting chapter for MINA Group," said Chef Michael Mina. "His extensive experience in restaurant operations makes him the ideal candidate for this position, but what really sets him apart is his dedication to people. Eric is an exceptional leader with a passion for building and supporting teams, and we look forward to working together to grow our MINA Group family so that we can continue to create exceptional dining experiences for our guests." With his culinary and operational expertise, Martino is well-suited to lead MINA Group's current portfolio of more than 30 concepts internationally, and will play an integral role in forthcoming growth plans. "I am thrilled to join the exceptional team at MINA Group and to work alongside Chef Michael Mina and Jason Himber, as well as the entirety of the MINA family," said Eric Martino. "MINA Group has an impressive reputation, known for its culinary excellence and commitment to hospitality and I'm honored to have the opportunity to help shape its future." With Martino's appointment as MINA Group's President, the restaurant group is poised to redefine the boundaries of culinary excellence and expand its presence in the global market. About MINA Group: MINA Group, led by James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michael Mina, is a San Francisco-based restaurant management company specializing in creating and operating innovative full-service dining concepts. Operating for nearly two decades, MINA Group currently manages more than 30 restaurant locations, including: BARDOT BRASSERIE in Las Vegas; BOURBON BURGER BAR in Los Angeles; BOURBON STEAK in DC, Glendale, Miami, Nashville, Orange County, Scottsdale and Seattle; BOURBON PUB at San Francisco International Airport and Lake Tahoe; THE BUNGALOW KITCHEN BY MICHAEL MINA in Belmont Shore and Tiburon; CLOCK BAR in San Francisco; ESTIATORIO ORNOS A MICHAEL MINA RESTAURANT in Miami and San Francisco; THE HANDLE BAR in Jackson Hole; INTERNATIONAL SMOKE in Las Vegas and San Francisco; MICHAEL MINA in Las Vegas; MINA BRASSERIE in Dubai; MINA'S FISH HOUSE in Oahu; PABU IZAKAYA in San Francisco; STRIPSTEAK in Las Vegas, Miami Beach and Waikiki; TOKYO HOT CHICKEN in San Francisco; TRAILBLAZER TAVERN in San Francisco; and WIT & WISDOM in Sonoma. For a complete list of restaurants and more information, please visit michaelmina.net  and follow Chef Michael Mina on Facebook and Instagram at @ChefMichaelMina.

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Ruby Slipper Appoints Elizabeth McGee as New CEO

July 12, 2023


Acclaimed New Orleans-based eatery bolsters its executive team with landmark promotion


New Orleans, LA  (RestaurantNews.com)  For the past 15 years, Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group has established itself as the premier place for brunch. And now, the popular New Orleans-based eatery is excited to move into an even brighter future with the promotion of Elizabeth McGee as its new Chief Executive Operator. Boasting over 25 years of leadership in the casual dining industry, McGee originally joined Ruby Slipper in November of 2022 as its new Chief Operating Officer where she spearheaded the leadership of all talent and human resources functions, while also monitoring daily operations as well as food and beverage innovation. She is now excited to take on an even bigger role with the brand as it continues to grow. “When I first joined Ruby Slipper last year, I immediately knew that this was a place where I wanted to stay,” said McGee. “In the short time that I’ve been here, it’s been fun to see all the milestones we’ve already reached as we continue to provide guests That Brunch Life experience. I’m so honored to take over as CEO and can’t wait to see what the future holds.” Prior to coming to Ruby Slipper, McGee served as COO, CFO and Vice President of HR for privately held Apple Gold Group and most recently served as the Vice President of Company Operations at Dine Equity – the Franchisor of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar. “Elizabeth’s proven track record of building high performing teams and her operational expertise is the best in the industry, so it was a no-brainer to name her CEO,” said Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group Board Chair Jack Murphy. “We are so blessed to have her passion for people and operations with the company and can’t wait to see what she has in store for Ruby Slipper and Ruby Sunshine.” The original Ruby Slipper Café opened in New Orleans over 14 years ago and has since expanded with Ruby Slipper and Ruby Sunshine locations across Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. To learn more, visit rubybrunch.com. About Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group was founded in New Orleans in 2008 to help bring the community together over a shared love for brunch. Now, over a decade since that first cozy Ruby Slipper Café, the group has grown to operate two brands with over twenty restaurants in six states. Serving all-day brunch and eye-opening cocktails, both Ruby Sunshine and Ruby Slipper Café are open seven days a week. For more, follow Ruby Sunshine on Facebook and Instagram, and visit online at www.rubybrunch.com.

View source version at Ruby Slipper Restaurant Group







Marco's Pizza® Appoints 20-year Marketing Veteran Denise Lauer as Chief Marketing Officer



11 Jul, 2023, 10:10 ET





One of the Nation's Fastest-Growing Pizza Brands Adds Top Talent and Food Experience to C-Suite TeamTOLEDO, Ohio, July 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Marco's Pizza, one of the nation's fastest-growing pizza brands, has appointed seasoned brand marketing leader Denise Lauer as Chief Marketing Officer. This appointment comes at a pivotal time as Marco's focuses on aggressive franchise development, product innovation, and accelerates unit level sales strategy. Lauer holds an impressive 20-plus-year history of building brands and accelerating growth for companies domestically and internationally, including over a decade of experience specifically within the food industry. She has an extensive background developing high-performing, data-driven marketing and communications strategies for both startups and leading brands, including Morton Salt, PepsiCo – Quaker Foods & Snacks, FedEx, and Eaton Corporation. As Chief Marketing Officer of Marco's Pizza, she is responsible for brand strategy, national advertising and media buying strategy, digital and social media, web/app experience, product development and innovation, promotions, multicultural marketing, field/regional marketing and consumer engagement. "Having grown up in Northeast Ohio, Marco's Pizza was always a family favorite, so this opportunity really comes full circle for me," said Lauer. "Marco's is a brand I believe in – and I look forward to expanding its reach in the U.S. and beyond by delivering transformative marketing strategies that unleash its power and potential." Lauer's expertise lies in unlocking growth potential in businesses, brands, and teams, by partnering with cross-functional leaders on growth strategies, including innovation, e-commerce, digital transformation, and new product launches. She has a proven track record of developing and executing strategies that help strengthen financial performance and brand equity. "The leadership team at this organization is second to none, and I'm thrilled to be part of a franchise with such an impressive growth trajectory fueled by its people-first culture and commitment to quality," added Lauer. "As franchise expansion continues to surge, I plan to play a strategic role in further driving the growth and development of Marco's Pizza and catapulting the brand into the national spotlight." Lauer will report directly to Steve Seyferth, EVP, Chief Growth Officer, and serve on the Marco's Pizza Executive Leadership Team. "Denise is an insightful brand leader with great character and a team-oriented mentality," said Seyferth. "Her skillset and experience in past CMO roles at large and respected organizations speak directly to the objectives we're looking to accomplish as it relates to helping drive results and new levels of customer engagement. Having her on our side will be instrumental in achieving our goals in the years ahead." At the crux of Marco's ongoing growth and strong performance is its renowned high-quality pizza, which has provided the basic foundation to scale. As momentum builds, the brand is prioritizing investments in the franchise development program, new technology, customer experience, strategic partnerships, multi-channel national advertising, and more – all with an eye on maximizing franchisee profits while meeting the needs of today's modern consumer. According to the brand's Franchise Disclosure Document, the Top 50% of Marco's franchised stores generated $1,222,684 for 2022*. In the last six years, the fast-growing brand has doubled its store footprint with no intention of slowing down. Company leadership has identified 4,200 potential U.S. locations. For more information on Marco's Pizza franchise opportunities, visit https://www.marcos.com/franchising/ or call 866-731-8209 to speak with Shannon Iverson, Vice President of Franchise Sales. ABOUT MARCO'S PIZZA  Marco's Pizza is one of America's Top 10 Favorite QSR Brands according to the 2022 Market Force Information Study. Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco's Pizza is one of the fastest-growing pizza brands in the United States. Marco's was founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale ("Pat") Giammarco and thrives to deliver a high-quality pizza experience, known for its dough made from scratch and its three fresh signature cheeses. The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate over 1,100 stores in 34 states with locations in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Most recently, Marco's Pizza was ranked No. 51 on Entrepreneur Magazine's 2023 "Franchise 500" ranking. Other recent accolades include a high ranking on Newsweek's 2023 "America's Best Customer Service" in pizza chains list, ranked No. 40 on QSR's Top 50 and has been featured six consecutive years on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious "Top 500" ranking. *Based on the Average Sales Volume of the top 50% of our Franchised Stores for our fiscal year 2022. Based on our fiscal year 2022, 160 of 414 Franchised Stores in the category (or 39%) met or exceeded this average. This information appears in Item 19 of our 2023 FDD – please refer to our FDD for complete information on financial performance. Results may differ. There is no assurance that any franchisee will perform as well.

View source version at Marco's Pizza







Wingstop Appoints Anne Fischer as Chief Growth Officer



11 Jul, 2023, 08:58 ET




DALLAS, July 11, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Wingstop (NASDAQ: WING) announced today that Anne Fischer joins the team as SVP, Chief Growth Officer. Anne will lead Wingstop's marketing and digital strategies. Anne brings a deep understanding of the restaurant industry, with a proven track record. Prior to joining Wingstop, Anne held the Chief Marketing & Digital Officer title at Papa John's International, where she spent eight years of her career. She has more than 20 years of combined experience in QSR and hospitality industries, including marketing and sales leadership roles at The Walt Disney Company and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. "I truly believe we are just getting started at Wingstop, and I couldn't be more excited to have Anne join our team," said Wingstop's President & CEO, Michael Skipworth. "Anne is a natural culture fit and a proven leader who will help Wingstop continue to execute its marketing and digital strategies on our mission to Serve the World Flavor." Anne's appointment comes as Wingstop sets it sights on 20 consecutive years of same-store sales growth and makes strategic investments in its digital platform, with more than 35 million users in Wingstop's digital database. "Chicken wings and chicken sandwiches sauced-and-tossed in craveable flavors … what's not to love?" said Fischer. "I'm a huge fan of the brand and I can't wait to join this best-in-class team to scale Wingstop in our journey to become a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand and make Wingstop a household name." About Wingstop Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dallas, TX, Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ: WING) operates and franchises more than 2,000 locations worldwide. The Wing Experts are dedicated to Serving the World Flavor through an unparalleled guest experience and use of a best-in-class technology platform, all while offering classic and boneless wings, tenders, and chicken sandwiches, always cooked to order and hand sauced-and-tossed in fans' choice of 11 bold, distinctive flavors. Wingstop's menu also features signature sides including fresh-cut, seasoned fries and freshly-made ranch and bleu cheese dips. In fiscal year 2022, Wingstop's system-wide sales increased 16.8% to approximately $2.7 billion, marking the 19th consecutive year of same store sales growth. With a vision of becoming a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand, our system is comprised of independent franchisees, or brand partners, who account for approximately 98% of Wingstop's total restaurant count of 1,996 as of April 1, 2023. A key to this business success and consumer fandom stems from The Wingstop Way, which includes a core value system of being Authentic, Entrepreneurial, Service-minded, and Fun. The Wingstop Way extends to the brand's environmental, social and governance platform as Wingstop seeks to provide value to all guests. Rounding out a strong year in 2022, the Company made Technomic 500's "Fastest Growing Franchise" list, was ranked #16 on Entrepreneur Magazine's "Franchise 500," won Fast Casual's Excellence in Food Safety award, and was named to Fast Company's "The World's Most Innovative Companies" list ranking #4 in the dining category. For more information visit www.wingstop.com or www.wingstop.com/own-a-wingstop and follow @Wingstop on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Learn more about Wingstop's involvement in its local communities at www.wingstopcharities.org.

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Mohaimina Haque Appointed Interim CEO of Romacorp., Inc.

July 10, 2023



Orlando, FL  (RestaurantNews.com)  Romacorp, Inc., the parent company of Tony Roma’s®, Tony Roma’s Legendary Grill® and Tony Roma’s Bones & Burgers™, announced today that Mohaimina Haque, the company’s current outside General Counsel, has been appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Romacorp., Inc. Mohaimina “Mina” Haque is the founder of The Law Office of Mohaimina Haque, PLLC. For the last two years, she has served as the outside counsel to Romacorp, Inc., managing all legal matters for the global company in addition to serving as a close, strategic advisor. Ms. Haque has both litigation and transactional skills in a wide range of areas including business and franchise law. Ms. Haque’s clients have ranged from a variety of industries including food and beverage, financial services, and luxury brands. For each, she applies a unique combination of legal and strategic business acumen in order to support their overall business objectives and optimize shareholder value. She also teaches business and leadership skills to law students based on a curriculum that she created. In 2021, she was recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the Outstanding Women in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. “It is an honor to accept this broader role within Romacorp., Inc. as we bring our mouth- watering ribs and other menu items to loyal and new customers alike,” commented Ms. Haque. “I am excited to bring a fresh perspective from outside the food industry to Romacorp, Inc. and help each of the brands drive innovative thinking within our current and future locations.” In her new role within Romacorp, Inc., Ms. Haque will focus on strategies to attract a broader range of customers to the global family of restaurants. As the first female CEO of the Company, Ms. Haque will also encourage the invigoration of the company’s Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) initiatives. Ms. Haque added, “These are exciting times for women leaders globally, and it is a true honor to be able to spearhead ESG actions as part of my new role within Romacorp, Inc. With our 50plus years history of amazing food and beverage choices, it is a wonderful time to build upon this rich history and add modern delivery techniques that will successfully guide the company.” Ms. Haque obtained her Juris Doctor (J.D) degree Cum Laude from American University’s Washington College of Law and earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Georgetown University. In 2022, Romacorp., Inc., announced a new architectural prototype for its new restaurants in addition to the Tony Roma’s Bones & Burgers™ brand which instantly captivated burger enthusiasts with its irresistible creations. Franchise sales are currently available for both the Tony Roma’s Legendary Grill® and Tony Roma’s Bones & Burgers™ brands. About Romacorp, Inc. Romacorp, Inc. is the parent company of Tony Roma’s, Tony Roma’s Legendary Grill® and Tony Roma’s Bones & Burgers™. With a commitment to culinary excellence, Romacorp boasts a rich history of providing exceptional dining experiences across the globe. From their mouthwatering ribs to their gourmet burgers, Romacorp’s brands continue to set new standards in the restaurant industry. For more information or to find a location near you, visit www.tonyromas.com or follow the company at https://www.facebook.com/TonyRomasofficial/, https://www.linkedin.com/company/tonyromas/, and https://www.instagram.com/tonyromasofficial/.

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Golden Corral Announces Dawn Gillis as New CIO

July 6, 2023



Veteran technology expert chosen to lead America’s #1 buffet into innovative spaces as it continues to grow Raleigh, NC  (RestaurantNews.com)  In its mission to remain an industry leader and leverage cutting-edge technology systems and applications to further establish itself as an innovator in a constantly evolving industry, Golden Corral is proud to welcome Dawn Gillis as its new Chief Information Officer. A savvy leader with more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant, hospitality and consumer goods industries, Gillis is a respected leader who has proven to be a forward thinker while consistently delivering results. As CIO, she is tasked with leading Golden Coral’s digital growth strategy while modernizing its technology stack. “We are excited to welcome Dawn to the Golden Corral family and believe her depth of technological knowledge and outstanding leadership experience makes her the right person to help us continue to evolve as a brand while growing to meet our guests’ and franchisees’ needs,” said Golden Corral CEO Lance Trenary. “She’s smart, tough and has a proven track record of navigating our constantly changing industry. We believe Dawn will play a significant role in future-proofing our brand, while positioning Golden Corral as a front runner in what’s new and next across the restaurant industry.” Gillis most recently served as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for Tavistock Freebirds, LLC. She led Freebirds World Burrito through turbulent market conditions the past two years, helping the QSR brand transform its technological infrastructure to maximize efficiencies, become more nimble and ultimately, to better serve its customers. Prior to Freebirds, Gillis served as CTO for Torchy’s Tacos. She was tasked with the unprecedented challenge of evolving the brand during a global pandemic and succeeded by increasing its business model from 30% pick-up and delivery to 100% in a short amount of time. Gillis propelled her career through multiple senior-level roles during her 15-year tenure at 7-Eleven. Among her many accomplishments at the convenience store giant were:

  1. Leading the technological integration of over 1,030 Sunoco stores after an acquisition

  2. Establishing the Business Transformation Program, which combined consolidated logistics and store simplification measures

  3. Centralizing the technological support functions for all 7-Eleven locations

  4. Overseeing the installation of several corporate infrastructure upgrades

  5. Being recognized as one of only five recipients of the Top Women in Convenience award in 2018 “I am honored to join this dynamic team and help Golden Corral maintain its legacy as a beloved buffet and a go-to dining destination, while elevating its new developments such as our up-and-coming fast-casual concept, Homeward Kitchen,” Gillis said. “You don’t get to celebrate 50 years of success without being able to evolve and I’m proud to be at the forefront of the technological advances that will help our brand continue to grow and prosper for many years to come.” To find a Golden Corral near you, visit goldencorral.com/locations or order online at goldencorral.com/order-online/ to donate. About Golden Corral Founded in 1973 and based in Raleigh, N.C., Golden Corral is the nation’s largest grill-buffet restaurant chain. Golden Corral strives to make pleasurable dining affordable for all families. While its commitment begins each day with preparing delicious food, Golden Corral also believes in providing outstanding hospitality and giving back. Service to others is a hallmark of the Golden Corral brand. In 2023, Golden Corral was recognized as one of the nation’s top 50 “Most Loved Brands” by Yelp. Golden Corral restaurants nationwide have long been strong supporters of the U.S. Military and DAV (Disabled American Veterans). Golden Corral is also the founding sponsor of Camp Corral, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt, nonprofit corporation, which provides free, one-of-a-kind summer camp experiences for children of wounded, injured, ill or fallen service members. For more information, visit goldencorral.com and follow Golden Corral on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Farmer Brothers names vice president, head of coffee and reports inducement grants under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4)

July 05, 2023 16:05 ET



NORTHLAKE, Texas, July 05, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmer Brothers Company (NASDAQ: FARM) today announced John Moore has been appointed as the company’s new vice president and head of coffee. Mr. Moore will lead the company’s green coffee procurement, sustainability, coffee research and development, blend development, coffee excellence, manufacturing and food safety and quality assurance efforts. “John’s more than two decades of experience in all aspects of the coffee value chain, on both the national and international fronts, will help us realize additional efficiencies and process enhancements,” said Farmer Brothers President and Chief Executive Officer Deverl Maserang. “His leadership will also ensure we continue to provide the wide variety of high-quality, full-flavored coffee products our customers rely on and which have made us an industry leader for more than 110 years.” Before joining Farmer Brothers, Mr. Moore served as the chief executive officer for Vassilaros Coffee. Prior to Vassilaros, he was the New York 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. Mr. Moore has 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 also a Certified Q grader and Cup of Excellence Head Judge. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Earlham College.

“I am extremely excited to be joining Farmer Brothers – a family business, which has grown to become one of the most significant coffee companies in North America. This will be my third “100-year start up” and I cannot wait to learn more about the rich history of Farmer Brothers and its truly exceptional offerings,” said Mr. Moore. In conjunction with this appointment, the company also announced the issuance of 24,916 restricted stock units under the company’s 2020 Inducement Incentive Plan, which were issued to Mr. Moore on July 3, 2023. This award will ratably vest over a three-year period on each anniversary of the award date, subject to Mr. Moore’s continued employment with the company. The inducement plan is used exclusively for the grant of equity awards to individuals who were not previously employees of Farmer Brothers, as an inducement material to such individuals entering into employment with the company, pursuant to Rule 5635(c)(4) of the Nasdaq listing rules. About Farmer BrothersFounded 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. With a robust line of coffee, hot and iced teas, cappuccino mixes, spices and baking/biscuit mixes, Farmer Brothers delivers extensive beverage planning services and culinary products to its U.S.-based customers. It serves a wide variety of customers, 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. Headquartered in Northlake, Texas, Farmer Brothers generated net sales of $469.2 million in fiscal 2022. The company’s primary brands include Farmer Brothers, Artisan Collection by Farmer Brother, Superior, Metropolitan, China Mist and Boyd’s.

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Sean Tresvant Promoted to Taco Bell Division CEO, Effective January 1, 2024

June 29, 2023


Louisville, KY  (RestaurantNews.com)  Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) today announced the promotion of Sean Tresvant to Taco Bell Division Chief Executive Officer, reporting to Yum! Brands Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs, effective January 1, 2024. Tresvant, who currently serves as Global Chief Brand and Strategy Officer of Taco Bell, will succeed Mark King, who has announced his decision to retire at the end of 2023. As CEO, Tresvant will assume global responsibility for driving Taco Bell’s growth strategies, franchise operations and overall performance. “Sean is a visionary business leader and best-in-class brand builder who is driving transformative R.E.D. (relevant, easy, distinctive) sales-powering efforts, from omni-channel initiatives to digital customer touchpoints, to accelerate growth and further elevate and differentiate the Taco Bell fan and team member experience,” said Gibbs. “Sean is laser focused on keeping our powerhouse Taco Bell brand at the leading edge of culture and redefining innovation in the industry. That’s why he is the ideal executive to continue successfully executing Taco Bell’s long-term global growth strategies and take them to the next level in partnership with the brand’s strong and accomplished leadership team and incredible franchisees. Sean, Mark and I will continue to work closely together over the coming months to ensure a seamless transition.” Tresvant joined Taco Bell in January 2022 as Global Chief Brand Officer. He was promoted to an expanded role as Global Chief Brand and Strategy Officer earlier this year, focused on developing perspective and ambition for long-term global growth. As Global Chief Brand and Strategy Officer of Taco Bell, Tresvant has overseen the brand’s Strategy, Food Innovation, Architecture and Design and Global Communications functions as well as the Taco Bell International business. During his time with Taco Bell, Tresvant has set a powerful strategic framework that has created iconic moments within culture and driven massive awareness and buzz for the brand, including several high-profile celebrity partnerships and the return of the fan favorite Mexican Pizza. Prior to joining Taco Bell, Tresvant spent more than 15 years in leadership roles at Nike including Chief Marketing Officer of the Jordan Brand. “The love our fans and team members have for Taco Bell is extraordinary and means we’re in a unique position to push the limits on culture and become a brand that inspires and enables the world to Live Más,” said Tresvant. “I’m grateful to have worked alongside Mark, and I’m incredibly honored and excited to continue partnering with our talented team and amazing franchisees on Taco Bell’s magic formula of brand buzz, innovation, value and digital initiatives to deliver industry-leading results in the U.S. and internationally.” King joined Taco Bell in 2019 after successfully leading global sporting goods businesses with adidas. Under King’s leadership, the Taco Bell business prioritized on-trend innovation, leaned into everyday value and grew from strength to strength, finishing 2022 with same-store sales growth of 8%. Taco Bell’s digital business keeps growing, reporting 40% growth year over year in 2022, and the brand is leading the industry in exciting asset innovation such as the first-of-its kind Defy restaurant featuring a two-story design with a proprietary vertical lift to transport iconic Taco Bell menu items straight from the kitchen to fans. Additionally, the brand’s international business hit a significant development milestone as it reached 1,000 units globally in 2022. In 2023, Taco Bell earned the top spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 Ranking for the third year running and was recently named on the TIME100 Most Influential Companies list. In addition, as Vice Chairman of the Taco Bell Foundation Board of Directors, King helped unlock the power of Good Growth, supporting young people in the communities where Taco Bell operates as well as unlocking education and entrepreneurial opportunities for restaurant Team Members. In 2023, the Taco Bell Foundation awarded $15 million in grants to 452 charities that champion youth and provided more than $10 million in Live Más Scholarships, the most in the nonprofit’s history. “Taco Bell, our employees and our world-class franchisee partners have thrived under Mark’s leadership as he and his team have accelerated the innovation, sales growth and unique brand identity that make Taco Bell an undisputed global icon,” said Gibbs. “It was no surprise our industry recently recognized Mark as the Restaurant Leader of the Year, because he exemplifies what it means to be an innovator, risk taker and growth maker. I want to thank Mark for his outstanding leadership that not only drove strong results but also inspired restless creativity and enabled a people-first environment for everyone to thrive. While we will miss Mark, we wish him well as he enjoys this new phase of life with his family.” About Taco Bell For more information about Taco Bell, visit our website at www.TacoBell.com, our Newsroom at www.TacoBell.com/news or www.TacoBell.com/popular-links. You can also stay up to date on all things Taco Bell by following us on LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and subscribing to our YouTube channel. About Yum! Brands Yum! Brands, Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, and its subsidiaries franchise or operate a system of over 55,000 restaurants in more than 155 countries and territories under the Company’s concepts – KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and the Habit Burger Grill. The Company’s KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut brands are global leaders of the chicken, Mexican-style food, and pizza categories, respectively. The Habit Burger Grill is a fast casual restaurant concept specializing in made-to-order chargrilled burgers, sandwiches and more. In 2023, the KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut brands were ranked in the top five of Entrepreneur’s Top Global Franchises Ranking. In addition, in 2023 Yum! Brands was included on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index; Forbes’ list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity; and Newsweek’s lists recognizing America’s Most Responsible Companies, America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity and America’s Greatest Workplaces for Women. In 2022, the Company was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America.

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Smokey Bones Announces Hal Lawlor As President & Chief Operating Officer

June 29, 2023


The seasoned operator is tapped in to drive the casual dining brand’s success by optimizing technology and throughput. Plantation, FL  (RestaurantNews.com)  Smokey Bones has elevated its Chief Operating Officer and industry veteran, Hal Lawlor, to the newly-created role of President and COO. Lawlor takes the reins following the departure of CEO James O’Reilly, who led the brand for four years. With over 25 years in the restaurant industry as a high-performing executive, Lawlor brings with him to the role invaluable insights into restaurant operations, customer preferences, off- premise programs, and market trends. Lawlor has served as Chief Operating Officer at Smokey Bones since 2019 and has been instrumental in the revitalization of the brand. He has helped implement processes to increase efficiency, enhance the guest experience, and optimize the company’s cost structure. Under Lawlor’s leadership, Smokey Bones has been implementing AI machine learning to assist in operations, including table management and labor scheduling. “I’m honored to take the reins and lead both my peers and the field at this exciting time for Smokey Bones, as we continue to build on our momentum,” said Lawlor. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of this amazing brand for a few years, and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop the brand through our restaurant operations, our dining experience and our people, who make both of those possible.” Before joining Smokey Bones, he held several leadership roles at Red Lobster, including Vice President of Operations, and served as Regional Vice President at PF Chang’s. To learn more about Smokey Bones, please visit www.SmokeyBones.com. To make a reservation at your nearest location, visit the link here. About Smokey Bones The ‘Masters of Meat,’ Smokey Bones is a full-service restaurant delivering great barbecue, award winning ribs, crave-worthy cocktails and memorable moments in 62 locations across 16 states. Smokey Bones serves lunch, dinner, and late night everyday, and an all-day Sunday brunch menu. Smokey Bones also has a full bar featuring a variety of bourbons and whiskeys; a selection of domestic, import and local craft beers; and signature, handcrafted cocktails. The restaurant offers a variety of meats that are slow-smoked, fire-grilled, and roasted to perfection available for dine-in, pick-up, online ordering, catering, and delivery. Smokey Bones offers a 10 percent discount to active duty and veterans with ID. For additional information and a list of locations nationwide, please visit www.SmokeyBones.com.  Smokey Bones, Meat is What We Do!

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Jeremiah’s Italian Ice Announces New CEO and Executive Leadership Team Appointments

June 28, 2023


Premier Frozen Dessert Brand Bolsters Bench Strength as Franchise Growth Accelerates Orlando, FL  (RestaurantNews.com)  Jeremiah’s Italian Ice – the premier concept in frozen desserts – is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Keller as its new CEO and President. The brand, which recently celebrated the opening of its 116th location, has also brought on its first ever Director of Research & Development, named a new Director of Supply Chain, and promoted an existing leader to Senior Director of Franchise Operations as it prepares for its next phase of growth. “Jeremiah’s has grown at an incredible pace,” said Jeremy Litwack, founder of Jeremiah’s. “After 27 years and more than 100 locations opening and operating, I feel that now is the time to pivot my focus, opening the door for new leadership with the skillset and background necessary to take our brand to the next level.” Litwack will remain involved in the business serving as brand ambassador, leaving Keller to oversee moving the brand, business, and franchise system forward. Keller brings to Jeremiah’s an extensive breadth of experience, having held numerous leadership roles in the industry, including CEO/President of Pearson Candy Company, Chief Marketing Officer of International Dairy Queen, VP of Marketing for Jamba Juice, and SVP of Marketing for Baskin Robbins USA, among others. Adding to the strength of its leadership bench, Erin Buono joins Jeremiah’s Italian Ice as its first ever Director of Research and Development, bringing over a decade of experience in leading breakthrough innovation and product design, formerly for Sonic Drive-In and Virtual Dining Concepts. Additionally, Adam Hing, formerly of Ruth’s Chris, Bloomin’ Brands, Darden Restaurants, and other chains, has been brought on as Supply Chain Director, while Julianna Voyles, formerly Operations Director at Jeremiah’s, has been promoted to the role of Senior Director of Franchise Operations. ‘With a record number of stores opened in 2022, and even more in store for 2023, I am confident that Jeremiah’s growth will continue, and we are proactively positioning the brand and building the necessary infrastructure to support both our current and future franchisees,” said Keller. “I’m honored to step into the role of CEO/President, and work with Jeremy and the new management team to continue the momentum and success the brand has seen within these last few years.” Jeremiah’s strategic talent moves are not the only changes the brand is making in preparation for a new wave of growth. Sundell & Associates has been brought on to provide distribution/logistics support for the company’s supply chain while senior leadership has focused on a way to strengthen franchisor/franchisee relations with its recently launched Jeremiah’s Franchisee Advisory Council (JFAC). The council, which is made up of Area Representatives and multi-unit and single unit operators representing seven different U.S. regions, is designed to give franchisees a voice in shaping the future of the brand while collaborating with the Support Center team on decision making for the system. Since Jeremiah’s franchise launch in 2019, the Italian Ice brand has awarded over 280 franchise units across more than 120+ franchise groups and has seen over a +500% increase in new units in less than 4 years. Its rapid growth in the US saw 38 new stores opened in 2022, including entry in four new territories- Colorado, Nevada, Tennessee, and Alabama- bringing Jeremiah’s delicious frozen desserts to 11 states across the country. In addition to its rapid expansion, the franchise brand has ranked in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 for 2023, jumping more than 150 spots from 2022 to #212, and listed in Entrepreneur’s Fastest Growing Franchises list. Jeremiah’s was also recognized in 2022 as one of QSR’s Best Brands to Work For and as a part of Franchise Times Top 500, and was recognized by Franchise Times as a Top Brand to Buy within the Sweet Tooth Category as part of its annual Zor Awards. The success that Jeremiah’s Italian Ice has seen so far has been groundbreaking, and the brand is expected to continue at this momentum throughout 2023 and beyond. To learn more about Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, or its franchise opportunities, please visit https://jeremiahsfranchise.com. About Jeremiah’s Italian Ice Founded in 1996 and franchising since 2019, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice has come to be known not only for its superior frozen treats, but also for its outstanding customer service, community involvement, and an exciting brand image that exudes the Jeremiah’s motto – LIVE LIFE TO THE COOLEST®. Focused on delivering flavorful experiences to each and every guest, Jeremiah’s is committed to serving its vibrant, flavorful treats up with a smile in a lively environment. With over 100 locations throughout Florida, Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Louisiana, Colorado, Nevada, Tennessee, Alabama and Texas, Jeremiah’s is offering franchises across the Southern United States. To help guide the brand’s rapid expansion, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice has partnered with Pivotal Growth Partners – a team of franchising veterans who’ve led some of the top brands in food service to award-winning growth. For more information about Jeremiah’s franchise opportunity, visit https://jeremiahsfranchise.com. About Pivotal Growth Partners Pivotal Growth Partners (PGP) is a full-service Growth & Development Firm with an unparalleled track record of success in growing franchise brands. The experienced team at PGP has awarded & developed more than 5000 franchised businesses across the US and internationally, working with startups and some of the world’s largest companies.  With a combined 50+ years of experience and a network of growth and development partners, Pivotal Growth Partners creates value, growing small, regional companies into nationally acclaimed brands. PGP deploys proven processes and systems to effectively grow a business, by creating a “Results Focused” Franchise Growth & Support Culture within its brands. For more information, visit www.pivotalgrowthpartners.com.

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Papa Johns Appoints Ravi Thanawala As Chief Financial Officer






Papa Johns today announced the appointment of Ravi Thanawala to Chief Financial Officer.

June 26, 2023 07:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) today announced the appointment of Ravi Thanawala to Chief Financial Officer, effective July 24, 2023. Mr. Thanawala brings financial leadership experience with global consumer brands to the role, including seven years at Nike where he most recently served as CFO of Nike North America, its largest division, with fiscal year 2022 revenue of approximately $18 billion. “Ravi is a multi-faceted leader who brings a combination of strategic financial leadership experience, operational acumen and international expertise. Ravi’s proven track record of leading companies with diversified business models and robust e-commerce platforms will be key to enabling our continued growth through both our corporate-owned and franchisee-led restaurants,” said Rob Lynch, President and CEO of Papa Johns. “His focus on mentorship and creating high-performing, collaborative teams also aligns with our number one strategic priority of building a culture of leaders who believe in diversity, inclusivity and winning.” “Papa Johns is a proven leader in the pizza delivery segment with its people-first culture, differentiated brand and innovative mindset,” said Mr. Thanawala. “The Company’s vast whitespace available for development in the U.S. and internationally, a focus on operational excellence and a strong financial position make Papa Johns well-positioned to achieve long-term, profitable growth for the benefit of all of its stakeholders. I couldn’t be more excited to join the team.” During his time at Nike, Inc., Mr. Thanawala also served as the Global VP and CFO of the Converse brand, which included working within a franchise model that comprised most of the brand’s international business. In addition, he was the Global VP of Retail Excellence, overseeing the brand’s performance across its business channels of franchises, licenses, direct to consumer and wholesale during a time of digital transformation for the business. Prior to Nike, Inc., Mr. Thanawala spent eight years at ANN INC. with progressively increasing responsibilities in finance and operations. He served in the finance leadership role for LOFT; led ANN INC’s Asia operations, global logistics and international trade based in Hong Kong; and eventually became CFO of the ANN INC. business, a subsidiary of Ascena Retail Group, Inc. He graduated from Stern School of Business at New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Policy Economics. Chris Collins, who served as the Interim Principal Financial and Accounting Officer and finance team leader since March, will resume his role as VP of Tax and Treasury. “We thank Chris for his leadership during this transition period,” said Mr. Lynch. About Papa Johns Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) opened its doors in 1984 with one goal in mind: BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA. Papa Johns believes that using high quality ingredients leads to superior quality pizzas. Its original dough is made of only six ingredients and is fresh, never frozen. Papa Johns tops its pizzas with real cheese made from mozzarella, pizza sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes that go from vine to can in the same day and meat free of fillers. It was the first national pizza delivery chain to announce the removal of artificial flavors and synthetic colors from its entire food menu. Papa Johns is co-headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. and Louisville, Ky. and is the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,700 restaurants in approximately 50 countries and territories. For more information about the Company or to order pizza online, visit www.papajohns.com or download the Papa Johns mobile app for iOS or Android.

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Noodles & Company Names Michael Hynes as Chief Financial Officer

June 26, 2023 16:05 ET



BROOMFIELD, Colo., June 26, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noodles & Company (NASDAQ: NDLS) today announced that Michael (“Mike”) Hynes has been named the Company’s Chief Financial Officer, effective July 24, 2023.

“Mike brings a strong track record of driving results through his financial leadership, and we are thrilled to welcome him to our team,” said Dave Boennighausen, Chief Executive Officer of Noodles & Company. “We believe Mike’s extensive experience in the public company restaurant sector, his numerous skills across critical financial disciplines, and his credibility in the financial community will be a winning combination for our Company as we focus on achieving our full potential.”

Mr. Hynes brings nearly 25 years of finance and accounting experience to Noodles & Company. Mr. Hynes held several roles in finance and accounting since he joined Ruth’s Hospitality Group in 2008. Most recently, he spent three years as Vice President of Finance and Accounting for Ruth’s Chris, one of the largest fine-dining steakhouse concepts in the United States. In this role, he helped lead the investor relations function, oversaw strategic financial planning and analysis, was responsible for budgeting, forecasting, sales and restaurant expense analysis, and new restaurant financial site evaluation. Additionally, he continued to oversee accounting and financial reporting as well as treasury. Before joining Ruth’s Chris, he held managerial positions in several accounting firms, including RSM and Deloitte, where he started his career in 1998. Mr. Hynes is a Certified Public Accountant, holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: Accounting from Auburn University as well as Master of Accountancy from The University of Georgia.

“I am excited to step into the CFO role at Noodles & Company to help the company execute its strategic plan, grow the business and deliver value to shareholders,” said Mike. “I look forward to working with the entire Noodles team to build on the company’s vision and strategy, and I am energized about what we will be able to achieve.”

About Noodles & Company

Since 1995, Noodles & Company has been serving guests Uncommon Goodness and noodles your way, with noodles and flavors you know and love as well as new ones you’re about to discover. From indulgent Wisconsin Mac & Cheese to better-for-you Zoodles, Noodles serves a world of flavor in every bowl. Made up of more than 450 restaurants and 8,000 passionate team members, Noodles is dedicated to nourishing and inspiring every guest who walks through the door. To learn more or find the location nearest you, visit www.noodles.com.

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Darden Restaurants, Inc. Announces Retirement of Board Chairman



22 Jun, 2023, 07:05 ET




ORLANDO, Fla., June 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI) ("Darden" and "the Company") and Eugene I. Lee, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company, today announced that Mr. Lee has decided not to stand for reelection at the Company's 2023 Annual Meeting. Following the annual meeting, the Board will be comprised of nine members. "Serving as Darden's CEO and as a member and Chairman of the Board of Directors has been an honor," said Mr. Lee. "I am proud of what we have accomplished and believe that Darden is well-positioned to continue to grow and prosper for years to come." Darden Chief Executive Officer, Rick Cardenas, stated, "Gene is an extraordinary leader and has been a source of support and counsel during this past year. His impact on Darden and the restaurant industry cannot be overstated and lives on in the thousands of restaurant leaders he has mentored during his long and successful career. On behalf of Darden's 190,000 team members, I want to extend our sincere gratitude to Gene for his leadership and vision. We wish him well as he begins this next chapter." About Darden Darden is a restaurant company featuring a portfolio of differentiated brands that include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Eddie V's and Bahama Breeze. For more information, please visit www.darden.com.

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Josh Kern Named CEO of SPB Hospitality

June 21, 2023


Earns Role by Steering Company Through Krystal Merger and Operational Efficiency Overhaul Houston, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  SPB Hospitality, an industry-leading operator and franchisor of restaurants spanning a national footprint, announced today the appointment of Josh Kern as Chief Executive Officer. He was named interim CEO in August of 2022.  SPB Hospitality encompasses a wide array of brands in the casual, fast casual, quick service and fine dining categories, as well as bars and breweries. Kern steered the company’s merger with Krystal, the original quick-service slider concept in the south. Furthermore, he has blended the companies while streamlining costs and launched the first major refranchising effort for the Krystal brand. “By fostering an environment that encourages collaboration and open communication, we can leverage the collective expertise and diverse perspectives within our organization to achieve extraordinary results,” Kern said in an open letter to employees and franchisees, thanking them for their continued belief in his leadership. “I am truly honored and excited to lead this incredible team and look forward to a future filled with limitless possibilities.” Kern noted that his people-first vision for SPB Hospitality remains centered on three core principles:  collaboration, innovation, and customer-centricity. “Josh is absolutely the right person for the job, with the energy to drive our business forward and accelerate our growth. With his experience in the marketing, culinary, supply chain and IT disciplines, he is well positioned to expand SPB Hospitality and develop strategies to navigate ongoing inflationary pressures and fast track innovative ways to reach out to guests,” said Morgan McClure, Managing Director at Fortress Investment Group. Kern joined SPB Hospitality in 2018 as Chief Marketing Officer before taking on the President of Concepts role, overseeing marketing, culinary, beverage, supply chain and information technology. Kern’s other restaurant experience includes serving as Chief Marketing Officer for Cerca Trova Restaurant Concepts (largest Outback Franchise system), Chief Marketing Officer for Smashburger and Vice President of Marketing for Quiznos. To learn more about SPB Hospitality’s brands and locations, visit www.spbhospitality.com. About SPB Hospitality SPB Hospitality is a leading operator and franchisor of full-service dining restaurants, spanning a national footprint of hundreds of restaurants and breweries in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The Company’s diverse portfolio of restaurant brands includes Krystal Restaurants LLC, Logan’s Roadhouse, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, and a collection of high-end restaurant brands including J. Alexander’s, Merus Grill, Redlands Grill and Stoney River Steakhouse and Grill. SPB Hospitality is also one of the largest operators of craft brewery restaurants in the country, including Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, ChopHouse & Brewery, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, AIA Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery. About Fortress Fortress Investment Group LLC is a leading, highly diversified global investment manager with approximately $44.2 billion of assets under management as of March 31, 2023. Founded in 1998, Fortress manages assets on behalf of over 1,900 institutional clients and private investors worldwide across a range of credit and real estate, private equity and permanent capital investment strategies.

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Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux names Chris Dawson CEO Former president at Driven Brands to lead casual-dining company Ron Ruggless | Jun 20, 2023 Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux has named Chris Dawson as CEO, the company said Tuesday. The Baton Rouge, La.-based Walk-On’s said Dawson most recently served as the president of the paint and collision division of Charlotte, N.C.-based Driven Brands Inc. Dawson succeeds Scott Taylor in the role. “Dawson quickly rose from his initial role establishing the Take 5 Oil Change brand to his most recent role as president of the more than 1,400-unit paint and collision vertical at Driven Brands,” Walk-On’s said in a press release. “Walk-On’s has been recognized as one of the top concepts in the industry, a testament to the high-quality food and family-friendly atmosphere,” said Dawson in a statement. “My last few years have been spent scaling brands nationally, and I look forward to leading Walk-On’s on this same journey.” Brandon Landry, co-founder and chairman of Walk-On’s, added: "Chris and I share a passion for building a strong culture and a winning team. He has built successful franchise systems, and the teams that allow him to deliver on the goals of franchisee profitability and amazing guest satisfaction.” Atlanta-based 10 Point Capital in October 2020 made a growth investment in the Walk-On’s brand. “The next few years are about leadership and building a world-class infrastructure to support our franchisees as we scale,” said Scott Pressly, managing director of 10 Point Capital. “Chris joining the brand underscores our commitment to investing in support of this growth.” Walk-On’s, founded in 2003, recently opened it 78th location.

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Dutch Bros Appoints Tana Davila as Chief Marketing Officer



June 20, 2023 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

GRANTS PASS, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dutch Bros Inc. (“Dutch Bros”) (NYSE: BROS), one of the fastest-growing brands in the foodservice and restaurant industry in the United States by location count, announced Tana Davila as its Chief Marketing Officer, effective June 12, 2023. Davila has worked in the food service industry for more than a decade and most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer at CKE Restaurant Holdings, Inc., a leading QSR brand. Prior to that, she served as Chief Marketing Officer at P.F. Chang’s. She holds a BA in International Studies and German and an MBA, Brand Management from Emory University. As Chief Marketing Officer of Dutch Bros, Davila will report to President Christine Barone and serve as a member of the leadership team, overseeing brand and product marketing, creative and the Dutch Bros rewards program. Her extensive knowledge of the service industry, digital marketing, and managing marketing campaigns at scale will be crucial in Dutch Bros’ next phase of growth. “Tana is an accomplished marketer and has proven talent for elevating the efforts of exciting, established brands,” said Christine Barone, president of Dutch Bros. “Her strategic skills and ability to create customer connections will be key as we continue toward our target of 4,000 shops in the next 10-15 years.” Davila said, “I’m coming to Dutch Bros as an avid customer and fan of the brand. I’m looking forward to helping Dutch Bros navigate its next phase of growth by tapping into the brand magic, unique culture, and products that make it a standout in the industry.” About Dutch Bros Inc. Dutch Bros Inc. (NYSE: BROS) is a high growth operator and franchisor of drive-thru shops that focus on serving high QUALITY, hand-crafted beverages with unparalleled SPEED and superior SERVICE. Founded in 1992 by brothers Dane and Travis Boersma, Dutch Bros began with a double-head espresso machine and a pushcart in Grants Pass, Oregon. While espresso-based beverages are still at the core of what we do, Dutch Bros now offers a wide variety of unique, customizable cold and hot beverages that delight a broad array of customers. We believe Dutch Bros is more than just the products we serve—we are dedicated to making a massive difference in the lives of our employees, customers and communities. This combination of hand-crafted and high-quality beverages, our unique drive-thru experience and our community-driven, people-first culture has allowed us to successfully open new shops and continue to share the “Dutch Luv” at 716 locations across 14 states as of March 31, 2023. To learn more about Dutch Bros, visit www.dutchbros.com, follow Dutch Bros Coffee on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, and download the Dutch Bros app to earn points and score rewards!

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Blaze Pizza Amplifies Leadership Team to Ignite Future Growth and Fuel Next-Generation Innovations



20 Jun, 2023, 18:05 ET





Industry Veterans Kevin Moran and Johnny Tellez Join as Chief Development Officer and Chief Operations Officer, Set to Propel Blaze Pizza's Expansion and Elevate Operational ExcellenceLOS ANGELES, June 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Blaze Pizza, the premier innovator in the fast-casual pizza space, proudly announced today the induction of industry veterans Kevin Moran and Johnny Tellez to its executive leadership team. As the newly appointed Chief Development Officer (CDO) and Chief Operations Officer (COO), respectively, they arrive during a pivotal phase of advancement for the dynamic brand, keen to enrich the customer journey, pioneer operational initiatives, and expand its domestic and global footprint. "We are pleased to announce the addition of Kevin and Johnny to our executive team at Blaze Pizza. Their outstanding qualifications and proven track record of success assure us of our continued ability to provide an exemplary experience for our franchisees and patrons as we move forward into our next phase of expansion," asserted Beto Guajardo, CEO of Blaze Pizza. "As we maintain our leadership position in the fast-casual pizza industry, their contributions will be vital in achieving our strategic goals." Kevin Moran, Chief Development Officer Joining Blaze with an impressive portfolio of over two decades in financial planning and accounting, Kevin Moran has a history of steering development teams towards outstanding performance through the alignment of fiscal goals with comprehensive strategies. Prior to his current role, Moran held the position of Vice President of Strategic Development at Focus Brands International, where he excelled in driving strategic development for the global franchisor and operator of over 6,600 restaurants. As CDO at Blaze, Moran will apply his seasoned expertise to nurture strategic alliances and accelerate the brand's global growth trajectory. Johnny Tellez, Chief Operations Officer Johnny Tellez, a proven thought-leader in operations and training, is joining the Blaze Pizza family. He has a solid track record in several leadership roles at high-profile restaurant chains, where he played pivotal roles in enhancing customer experience and operational effectiveness. Before Blaze, Tellez was Vice President of Training and Operations at Focus Brands International, where he uplifted operational management and franchise support globally. As the newly minted COO, Tellez will be the driving force behind Blaze Pizza's operational endeavors, ensuring flawless delivery and uniform quality across the brand. In light of Blaze Pizza's ongoing dynamic expansion phase with a multitude of new locations forthcoming, the brand is enthusiastically seeking experienced and capable multi-unit franchisees from across the U.S. and internationally to bolster its rapidly growing franchise network, thereby creating a future full of innovation and growth. For more information about partnership opportunities, visit BlazeFranchising.com and stay connected with @BlazePizza across all major social media platforms. About Blaze Pizza Founded in 2011, Blaze Pizza is the nation's leading fast-casual pizza franchise concept with more than 330 restaurants across 38 states and six countries. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Blaze Pizza is committed to delivering a one-of-a-kind customer experience and unparalleled high-quality products. Known for its savory artisanal pizzas and customizable made-to-order menu, Blaze leads the industry in menu innovation and product excellence. The rapidly growing franchise has received numerous accolades including Entrepreneur's Franchise 500, as well as #1 spots on Fast Casual's Top 100 Movers and Shakers and Franchise Times' Fast and Serious list. Visit blazepizza.com for additional information and stay connected @BlazePizza.

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Salata Salad Kitchen, the Growing Salad Concept, Announces Michele Maerz as President


Maerz originally joined the Salata team in 2021 as vice president of operations






June 20, 2023 10:42 AM Eastern Daylight Time

HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Salata, a leading built-to-order salad kitchen, announces the promotion of former vice president of operations, Michele Maerz, to president. Maerz joined the growing salad brand in 2021 and steps into her new role as Salata is poised for growth. The role was previously occupied by Michelle Bythewood from 2019-2023; Bythewood was an integral part of selecting Maerz to step into the role after achieving what she came into the role to accomplish. On moving on from Salata, Bythewood says, “While it is a very hard decision to leave Salata, I am confident that Michele, with her operational background, will continue to grow the brand in the right direction. My passion is rebranding companies and putting systems and processes in place for growth and franchisee expansion. When presented the opportunity to do just that with another brand out of California, I decided the time was right to make a move.” Bythewood adds, “Michele and I have had a great tandem working relationship since she joined the team and I feel confident that moving forward Salata is in the hands of someone who truly cares about the brand and can take it to the next level as they continue to grow.” Michele Maerz brings over 30 years of restaurant industry experience to her role as president of Salata. During her time as vice president of operations of Salata, Michele and her team improved operational procedures; solidified a partnership that opens new revenue streams on major corporate campuses and facilities in Houston and Dallas; rolled out several new menu items including a Certified Angus Beef® steak protein to the salad menu; and launched the Salata Mobile Kitchen to assist operations during restaurant remodels and create an opportunity for greater community involvement. Prior to joining Salata, Michele served as regional vice president of On The Border Grill & Cantina where she was responsible for leading operations of 39 casual dining restaurants operating in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Prior to On The Border, Maerz spent 4 years at Lazy Dog Restaurants as regional director of the Texas and North California markets. Michele also served as area vice president with BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. opening 23 new restaurants across the country and overseeing operations of up to 45 restaurants from California to Florida. She broke into the industry serving 15 years at Brinker International, Inc. and credits executives at both BJ’s and Brinker for giving her a firm foundation on which to drive operational excellence and brand growth. In her role as president, Michele will be responsible for the overall strategic vision and leadership of the Salata brand and ensuring operational excellence across Salata’s more than 90 corporate and franchised restaurants along with franchise expansion across the country. “I’m excited to step into this new role and take over where Michelle left off. I can’t express my thanks enough to Michelle for her confidence, leadership, mentorship, and friendship built during our time together,” says Maerz. “My focus as president will be to carry the brand forward with quality as our compass, build upon operational efficiencies, and double our restaurant count over the next 5 years.” Maerz adds, “I am passionate about Salata’s mission to make healthy, fresh, and customizable meal options more accessible to communities around the country and look forward to leading the charge as president.” For more information on Salata, please visit www.salata.com. ABOUT SALATA: Founded in 2005, Houston-based franchisor Salata is a fully customizable, built-to-order salads and wraps concept with endless combinations tailored to any lifestyle. Salata has 92 corporate-owned and franchise locations in Texas, Georgia, Southern California, Louisiana, and North Carolina. For more information, visit salata.com or facebook.com/salatasalads. For franchising information, please visit salata.com/grow-with-us/franchising.

View source version at Salata Salad Kitchen

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