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Executive Movements - June 2019

Checkers & Rally’s Announces Hiring of Dwayne Chambers as New Chief Marketing Officer

June 18, 2019

Industry Veteran and Former Chief Marketing Officer of P.F. Chang’s to lead marketing of iconic drive-thru burger franchise Tampa, FL  (  Checkers & Rally’s is thrilled to announce the appointment of Dwayne Chambers as Chief Marketing Officer. Chambers brings a rich background in restaurant marketing, leading national brands like Sonic, Red Robin, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc., Krispy Kreme, Fuddruckers & Koo Koo Roo and Noodles & Company. Outgoing Chief Marketing Officer Terri Snyder, who was with Checkers & Rally’s for more than 12 years, is retiring and will move into a non-management board position effective at the end of July 2019. “We selected Dwayne after a thorough and extensive search of the very best CMO talent in our industry,” said Rick Silva, CEO of Checkers & Rally’s. “Dwayne is an experienced marketing leader whose strategic brand-building efforts have produced year over year of same-store sales growth for leading restaurant brands.” Chambers most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer for P.F. Chang’s, where he transformed the brand’s social, digital and interactive marketing efforts and drove significant menu and product innovation successes. “I am privileged to serve the team members, guests and franchisees at an amazing and beloved brand leading marketing, eCommerce, R&D and communications,” said Chambers. “Alongside the talented Checkers & Rally’s team and with the support of Oak Hill Capital, we are on a journey to grow the brand, the business, restaurants and equity for the company and our franchise partners.” An Oklahoma City native, Chambers began his career on the agency side working on the McDonald’s account at Moroch and Associates, Inc. He has more than 32 years of experience working with franchisees in the restaurant industry. About Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants, Inc. Based in Tampa, Fla., Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants, Inc., an iconic and innovative drive-thru restaurant chain known for its “Crazy Good Food,” exceptional value, and people-first attitude, operates and franchises both Checkers® and Rally’s® restaurants. With nearly 900 restaurants and room to grow, Checkers & Rally’s is a proven brand with flexible building formats that is aggressively expanding across the country. Checkers & Rally’s is dedicated to being a place where franchisees and employees who work hard can create opportunity for themselves, their families, and their communities. In recent years, the brand has been awarded several of the industry’s most prestigious awards including: Ranking #88 on Entrepreneur’s 2019 Franchise 500, Top Food and Beverage Franchise by Franchise Business Review, 2016, 2017, & 2018 Best Franchise Deal and “Best Drive-Thru in America” by QSR Magazine, the “Hot! Again” award from Nation’s Restaurant News, and “#1 Most Craveable Fries” by Restaurant Business. For more information about franchise opportunities with Checkers & Rally’s, please visit

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City Barbecue hires CFO, CMO

June 14, 2019 Ohio-based City Barbeque has hired Diane Reed and Judy Kadylak as CFO and CMO, respectively. Reed succeeds former CFO Jim O'Connor, while Kadylak is the chain's first CMO, according to a company press release. Reed, who most recently served as CFO, VP of finance and chief accounting officer at Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, was EVP of finance at Frisch's, VP and controller at Wendy's and controller at Victoria's Secret. Prior to joining City Barbeque, Kadylak led marketing efforts in-house as SVP of marketing at Steak 'n Shake, VP of marketing and culinary at Bruegger's Bagels and regional marketing director at Chipotle. She has also managed brand positioning from the agency side, working with Bob Evans and Perkins Restaurant & Bakery. "Diane and Judy bring a wealth of expertise to the team, and more importantly, they both really understand our purpose of serving and creating happiness," City Barbeque founder and CEO Rick Malir, said in the release. "We're confident they're the perfect fit to lead their respective teams and are excited to welcome them on board.” City Barbeque has more than 40 locations.

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McAlister’s Deli Hires New Chief Marketing Officer

June 11, 2019

Natalia P. Franco strengthens leadership team in newly created role Atlanta, GA  (  McAlister’s Deli®, a leading fast-casual restaurant chain home to handcrafted sandwiches, always-fresh salads, giant stuffed spuds and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™, is excited to announce that Natalia P. Franco will join the brand leadership team as chief marketing officer. In her new role as CMO, Franco will be responsible for leading, developing and executing marketing strategies and programs, while inspiring concepts and solutions to enable continued brand growth and profitability. Franco will also accelerate the evolution of the brand to increase its relevance from a positioning, menu innovation and digital guest experience standpoint. “Natalia’s experience leading iconic brands to exceptional growth will be instrumental as we continue to push the envelope on menu innovation, amplify digital marketing strategies and leverage the strengths of this great brand,” said Joe Guith, president of McAlister’s Deli. “Her leadership in this newly created role of CMO will help propel the brand forward, and we are looking forward to the positive impact she will have on the brand.” Prior to launching her own brand marketing consulting group, BrandMark Global LLC, she was chief brand and strategy officer at California Pizza Kitchen. At CPK, she was responsible for leading strategy, brand repositioning, advertising, brand messaging, consumer insights and culinary development for the restaurant system as well as public relations. Previously, Natalia was the senior vice president of marketing and culinary for IHOP®. She was also the executive vice president and worldwide chief marketing officer for Burger King in Miami. She has held various global leadership roles with The Coca-Cola Company, Pillsbury Company, General Mills and Unilever. Franco holds a degree in business administration in Bogota, Colombia and earned a graduate degree in retailing from Universidad de Valencia in Spain. She also pursued a graduate degree from Harvard with a C.S.S. degree in business management, with a focus on marketing. “McAlister’s is a relevant brand, friendly and casual, with fresh offerings that appeal to a broad set of consumers,” Franco said. “I look forward to partnering with its dynamic leadership team and experienced franchisees to further develop McAlister’s growth in the marketplace. In joining McAlister’s Deli, I will also enjoy being part of the FOCUS Brands family, a wonderful organization with strong brands across the U.S. and around the world.” About McAlister’s Founded in 1989, McAlister’s Deli® is a fast casual restaurant chain known for its genuine hospitality, sandwiches, spuds, soups, salads, desserts and McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™. In addition to dine-in and take-out service, McAlister’s also offers catering with a selection of sandwich trays, box lunches, desserts, a hot spud bar and more. With numerous industry accolades, the McAlister’s brand has more than 400 restaurants in 28 states. The company is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, visit, and find McAlister’s on social media at and

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Wahlburgers snags Dunkin exec

June 10, 2019 Wahlburgers, which has 30 locations throughout North America and in London, has hired Dan Wheeler as senior vice president of marketing and innovation, according to a press release. "Dan's creativity and expertise in developing consumer-centric digital experiences and product platforms will be instrumental as Wahlburgers prepares to bring guests a new mobile app, loyalty programs and innovative experiences in our restaurants," Patrick Renna, president of Wahlburgers, said in the release. Wheeler will lead the marketing team in expanding the "Go Wahl Out" brand platform while helping take Wahlburgers to its next level of growth. Wheeler is an accomplished brand, marketing and innovation leader with a consistent record of driving growth for foodservice, retail and packaged goods companies, Renna said in the release. For the last eight years, Wheeler has held multiple roles at Dunkin Brands where he spearheaded global innovations in marketing technology, new products and new concepts resulting in significant sales and margin impact for their franchisees.

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BRUXIE Brings on Two Executives to Take its Creative & Craveable Fried Chicken Global

June 7, 2019

The Original Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich becomes aggressive expanding Domestic & International Franchising opportunities Santa Ana, CA  (  On the heels of introducing domestic and international franchise opportunities, Bruxie, the creator of The Original Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich, has brought on two industry leaders to expand the brand’s footprint. Bruxie has appointed John Ramsay as Vice President of Development for Bruxie Franchising and Danielle Contreras as Director of Operations for Bruxie. Ramsay and Contreras will lead the charge in overseeing expansion for one of the most successful, innovative concepts to be tapped in the U.S. and in markets around the world. “Bruxie found itself on the forefront of the Fried Chicken frenzy by appealing to adventurous eaters and gaining buzz as the creator of The Original Fried Chicken & Waffle Sandwich,” explained Bruxie CEO Anthony Smith. “Now, as fried chicken concepts grow in popularity, John Ramsay and Danielle Contreras have joined our team to help Bruxie separate itself from others as a chef-driven concept and gain the momentum to take advantage of unique franchise opportunities to grow both domestically and internationally.” Ramsay’s industry experience includes developing more than 900 restaurants, throughout the U.S. and in 10 countries. He has led franchise sales and development with large, mature organizations and emerging growth concepts, alike, including Marco’s Franchising, T.G.I. Friday’s, Jack in the Box and Rubio’s Restaurants. His background includes real estate, design and construction. Contreras’s position as Director of Operations for Bruxie, which includes company owned restaurants and franchise locations, will benefit from her rich industry experience, which includes nearly two decades of multi-unit leadership, most recently with Yogurtland Franchising as Director of Operations. There, she pioneered operations systems within a developing franchise business. Prior to her time at Yogurtland, Contreras spent 18 years with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, working to position of Senior Director of the South Region, overseeing all company-owned stores in California and Arizona. In that capacity, Contreras directly oversaw 100 stores and 8 District Managers. She was responsible for setting strategic vision and deploying tactics for sales and profit building, operational excellence, and succession planning for more than 200 company-owned stores. Together, Ramsay and Contreras will oversee domestic and international expansion out of Bruxie headquarters based in Orange County, California, where its original location still ranks as among the most successful restaurants in the region. The two new Bruxie executives will work alongside Bruxie’s management team led by Chief Executive Officer Anthony Smith, Chief Financial Officer Scott M. Miller, and Bruxie Founder & Chef Kelly G. Mullarney. The Appeal of Bruxie Bruxie is a truly unique concept serving creative and craveable fried chicken executed with layers of flavor, original combinations and a definite “wow” factor. Taking the undisputed protein of choice in the U.S. and around the globe – Chicken – Bruxie is a chef-driven concept that prides itself on satisfying those with a sophisticated palate and gluttons, alike. From its innovative sandwiches that replace bread with satisfying waffles, to awesome chicken tenders and sauces, expect Bruxie to be bold, fun and unconventional.

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Casey’s Announces CEO Transition

IHOP® President Darren Rebelez Named Casey’s President and CEO

Casey’s President and CEO Terry Handley to Retire

Company Reaffirms Fiscal Year 2019 Guidance

June 05, 2019 04:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time

ANKENY, Iowa--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Casey’s General Stores, Inc. (Nasdaq: CASY) (“Casey’s” or “the Company”) today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Darren Rebelez, IHOP® President, as Casey’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective June 24, 2019. Mr. Rebelez will also join Casey’s Board of Directors. Mr. Rebelez will succeed Casey’s President and CEO Terry Handley, who will retire from the Company and Board, after a 38-year career with Casey’s. Mr. Rebelez joins Casey’s with over 25 years of business leadership experience focused on operations, marketing and merchandising for large corporations in each of the convenience store, fuel and restaurant industries. Mr. Rebelez is currently serving as President of IHOP® Restaurants, a unit of Dine Brands Global (NYSE: DIN), where he has overseen operational performance and segment earnings growth, developed and implemented digital strategies to connect guests via mobile platforms and online channels, and grown the brand to become the largest full-service restaurant concept in the US by unit count. “We are thrilled to welcome Darren to the Casey’s family,” said H. Lynn Horak, Chairman of the Board. “Darren brings a remarkable combination of leadership experience in the convenience store, fuel and restaurant industries, and he has an impressive track record of driving performance and innovation. We have enjoyed getting to know Darren through our succession planning process and are confident that he will build on Casey’s strong heritage of customer service, employee development, giving back to our communities, and our focus on creating sustainable growth and profitability.” “I am honored to join the Casey’s team at an exciting and dynamic time for both the Company and the industry,” said Mr. Rebelez. “I have long admired Casey’s and look forward to working closely with its talented team to continue providing outstanding service to local communities across our markets and creating value for all of Casey’s stakeholders.” Mr. Horak continued, “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Terry for his dedication and tremendous contributions to Casey’s over his nearly four decades with the Company. The Company has benefitted greatly from Terry’s contributions over the years. We wish Terry many years of enjoyment and fulfillment in his retirement.” “I would like to sincerely thank everyone at Casey’s for their support and partnership throughout my career,” said Mr. Handley. “I have great pride in our many accomplishments and the hard work and dedication of all Casey’s employees. It has been a privilege to lead and be part of such a talented team, and I look forward to seeing Casey’s continue to build on its momentum in fiscal 2020 and beyond.” As previously planned, Casey’s will announce its fourth quarter and fiscal 2019 earnings results on Monday, June 10, 2019, and host its earnings conference call on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 before market open. Additionally, today the Company reaffirmed its previously issued guidance for fiscal 2019. About Darren Rebelez Darren Rebelez currently serves as President of IHOP® Restaurants, a position he has held since 2015. He also serves as an independent director of Torchmark Corporation (NYSE: TMK), since 2010. Prior to joining IHOP®, Mr. Rebelez spent nearly eight years with 7-Eleven, Inc., where he served as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer. Before 7-Eleven, Mr. Rebelez held numerous management roles within ExxonMobil and before that, at Thornton Oil Corporation. Mr. Rebelez was an Infantry Officer in the First Cavalry Division for the United States Army, and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. He holds a Master’s of Business Administration degree in International Business from the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Area Studies from the United States Military Academy at West Point. About Casey’s General Stores Casey’s General Stores is a Fortune 500 company (NASDAQ: CASY) operating 2,100 convenience stores in 16 states throughout the Midwest. Casey’s strives to consistently deliver quality gasoline, freshly-prepared foods, clean environments and friendly service at every retail location. At Casey’s General Stores, customers can enjoy famous, made-from-scratch pizza, donuts, other assorted bakery items and (at select stores) Casey’s made-to-order sub sandwiches. Casey’s is currently the fourth largest convenience store chain, and the fifth largest pizza chain, in the United States.

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IHOP's President Steps Down, Jay Johns Takes Over


By Rachel Taylor

IHOP president Darren Rebelez is stepping down. IHOP’s parent company, Dine Brands Global, which also runs Applebee's, named Jay Johns as the new president. The changes were revealed in a federal securities filing on June 3. The change will take effect June 13. Johns has been with the pancake chain since 2009. Since April 2017, Johns served as IHOP’s senior vice president of operations. “The Board of Directors believes that Mr. Johns’ knowledge of the business, solid relationships with our franchisees, and his strategic leadership over the years position him as the ideal candidate to lead IHOP into its next phase,” the company said in the filing. Rebelez is leaving to pursue another opportunity to become a chief executive officer at an undisclosed company, the filing said. No further details were shared. Before joining IHOP as president in 2015, Rebelez worked as the chief operating officer of 7-Eleven. Charles Scaccia, who has been with IHOP for the past two decades, will step into Johns previous position. Scaccia most recently held the position of regional vice president for franchise operations.

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True Food Kitchen Hires Industry Veteran Peggy Rubenzer As First Chief People Officer

Nation's leading health-driven restaurant brand hires former Shake Shack culture and people executive to support its growth strategy, attract talent, develop employees and continue to define and strengthen its culture

Jun 06, 2019, 09:30 ET

PHOENIX, June 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- True Food Kitchen, the award-winning restaurant brand that has pioneered health-driven dining, today announced that Peggy Rubenzer has been named chief people officer to lead the brand's human resources and training function as the brand continues to grow.  Rubenzer will be responsible for developing and executing people strategies that support the company's operational goals and help drive performance within the organization.  As a member of the True Food Kitchen executive leadership team, reporting to CEO Christine Barone, she will work to scale the team's vision for True Food while protecting the brand values at its foundation.

Rubenzer most recently served as senior vice president of people resources for Shake Shack for the past eight years and played a significant role in the growth and development of the rapidly expanding brand, helping to take it from nine locations in 2011 to more than 200 locations in 13 countries around the globe.  Rubenzer led HR strategy and was instrumental in the creation and execution of the people and talent strategies that helped successfully define Shake Shack's lively and inspiring culture of service and hospitality.

Before joining Shake Shack in 2011, Rubenzer held leadership positions at P.F. Chang's China Bistro – first, as vice president of people services from 2002 to 2007 supporting 300 restaurant locations with more than 27,000 employees around the globe, before taking on the role of vice president of training and development from 2007 to 2011.  She began her human resources career in 1989 with Southwest Airlines, internationally recognized for being on the leading edge of people and culture, where she spent 10 years developing an expertise in the selection and training of service employees and corporate management. "Peggy's expertise leading growth companies with great culture will help us continue to push True Food Kitchen forward and advance our goal of being one of the industry's best places to work," said CEO Christine Barone. "Her impressive background of driving organizational change and leading restaurant brands through hypergrowth make her exactly the right people leader to help scale and fulfill our mission to bring delicious, healthy food to more people." "I was drawn to True Food Kitchen because it is a strong brand made up of people who are deeply committed to eating better, feeling better and living better," said Rubenzer. "While our food is good for the body, I am excited to focus on the types of employee initiatives that are good for the soul. Our people have the passion to serve our guests and my passion is to serve our people in a way that allows them to grow and thrive, which is the key to growing our brand." Rubenzer will play a critical leadership role in driving the company's talent management strategy, which includes: leading people operations; attracting industry top talent, building leading-edge learning and development programs; and developing rewards and recognition strategies – all in an effort to bring True Food Kitchen's already strong brand and culture to new and exciting heights through its people initiatives. Founded in 2008, True Food Kitchen has received national recognition as a culinary leader, with a health-driven menu of seasonal dishes and natural beverages guided by the principles of founder Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid. Today, True Food Kitchen operates 28 restaurants in 12 states, with a robust growth strategy that includes focus markets on the east coast in New York, New Jersey and North Carolina, in addition to expanding its existing presence throughout Florida, Virginia and more.  The restaurant brand currently has 3,000 employees nationwide. In the midst of the brand's geographic growth is the thoughtful expansion of its world-class leadership team to support its national growth and expansion in recent years. In 2016, True Food Kitchen named the following executives to its leadership team: CEO Christine Barone, former Starbucks executive; CFO Allison Schulder, of P.F. Chang's China Bistro; and COO James Liakakos, former VP of Operations for Jean-Georges Management.  Earlier this year, True Food Kitchen named Shannon Keller as Chief Marketing Officer following the 2018 appointment of Robert McCormick, former Daniel Boulud corporate chef, to True Food Kitchen brand chef. Founded in 2008, True Food Kitchen has received national recognition as a culinary leader, with a health-driven menu of seasonal dishes and natural beverages guided by the principles of founder Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid. Today, True Food Kitchen operates 28 restaurants in 12 states, with a robust growth strategy that includes focus markets on the east coast in New York, New Jersey and North Carolina, in addition to expanding its existing presence throughout Florida, Virginia and more.The restaurant brand currently has 3,000 employees nationwide. About True Food Kitchen True Food Kitchen is a restaurant and lifestyle brand inspired by the philosophy that food should make you feel better, not worse, and that great tasting food and thoughtfully crafted beverages can serve as the foundation for a life well lived. The restaurant brand is driven by a passionate collective of accomplished chefs, visionary restaurateurs and a renowned doctor of integrative medicine, who believe delicious dining and conscious nutrition can go hand in hand without sacrificing flavor, creativity or indulgence. True Food's seasonal menu is guided by the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid. True Food Kitchen emphasizes wholesome, simple ingredients with thoughtful preparations to highlight the natural health benefits and flavors of each ingredient. From nutrient-dense staples and carefully sourced proteins to little-known superfoods, True Food Kitchen is committed to sourcing the most responsible, creative and freshest in-season ingredients. True Food Kitchen currently has 28 locations in 12 states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia with restaurants slated to open later this year in Louisiana and Nevada. Following the investment from Oprah Winfrey in 2018, Centerbridge Partners remains the company's controlling shareholder.  For more information and to find a True Food Kitchen location, visit

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SHACK HIRES INDUSTRY VET AS HUMAN RESOURCES SVPDiane Neville most recently worked as chief people officer for The Piada Group.

By Heather Lalley on Jun. 04, 2019

Shake Shack has hired a 20-year human resources veteran as its senior vice president of people resources, the fast-casual burger chain announced Tuesday.Diane Neville, who most recently served as chief people officer for The Piada Group, begins work with Shake Shack on June 17. She will be responsible for the development and oversight of all human resources workforce strategies and functions.Neville has also worked in human resources for P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria Inc. and several other firms.Shake Shack has been bolstering its executive ranks in recent months as it ramps up for expansion. The company recently hired its first chief marketing officer, as well as a chief development officer, chief global licensing officer and chief information officer.

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Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza Appoints Three New Executive Officers

Three C-suite execs added as company ushers in new era of growth and expansion

Jun 04, 2019, 09:12 ET

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza announces four new appointments to complete its executive team and board of directors as the company heads toward a new phase of guided growth.

John Reale has been named Anthony's Chief Operating Officer. A seasoned industry veteran, Reale has all the ingredients required to guide Anthony's into its next stage of growth and ensure its continued long-term success. His passion for operations, his entrepreneurial spirit and his "people first" approach come from years of experience in the food and beverage industry, including four years as Chief Operating Officer of Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, and four years as COO of Focus Brands.

Katie Knight has joined Anthony's as its new Chief Marketing Officer. She brings a wealth of experience from her prior roles, including Vice President of Advertising and Marketing at Total Wine & More, and as CMO for Carrabba's Italian Grill. Knight's collaborative approach and ability to successfully manage large-scale growth projects and find innovative solutions that improve profitability and market position will serve her well as Anthony's writes its next chapter. Late last year Anthony's also hired a new Chief Culinary Officer, Dean Courtelis. His passion for food was forged during his two-year tenure at Amazon's Seattle headquarters, where he designed, opened and oversaw the company's first FDA-certified food manufacturing facility, and at The Cheesecake Factory, where he spent 12 years managing operations for eight restaurants in various states. With his mastery of kitchen operations, leadership skills and ability to maximize profit margins, he is set to help Anthony's culinary team reach a new level of success. Claudia Schaefer has been appointed to the Board of Directors for Anthony's. Claudia's deep experience leading Brand Marketing and Culinary during her tenure as CMO of both Jamba Juice and Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, as well as her prior experience with Chili's, uniquely positions her to advise the Anthony's executive team as they continue to drive a consumer-led approach to strategy and differentiation. "As Anthony's plans further expansion across the U.S., we are thrilled to have these dynamic individuals join Chief People Officer Michele Zavolta and Chief Financial Officer Rebekah Cooksey on our executive team, and welcome Claudia onto our board," said Wayne Jones, CEO of Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza. "There is no doubt that John, Katie and Dean will help lead our brand to even greater heights in a competitive market, and grow our reputation as the go-to place to enjoy an authentic coal-fired oven pizza, wings, pasta or salad sourced from the freshest, most authentic ingredients." In recent years Anthony's has grown to include 67 company-owned restaurants, including its newest location in Natick, Massachusetts, and continues to build a dedicated following of diners who appreciate its unique coal fired-focused menu and traditional Italian-American approach to cooking (no microwaves, no freezers) that makes it stand out from the rest. About Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza Founded in 2002, and now comprising 67 company-owned restaurants in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza has built its reputation on the heart and hard work it puts into crafting the very best pizza. Taught to demand nothing but the best by Anthony himself, the company's employees take pride in embracing authenticity and excellence in everything. Restaurant signatures include best-quality ingredients and a 900°-degree coal fire that turns out a perfectly golden charred-and-chewy crust. Popular dishes include a variety of coal-fired pizzas, oven-roasted chicken wings, homemade meatballs, Eggplant Marino (named after partner and NFL hall of famer Dan Marino), and Anthony's Classic Italian Salad. For more information, visit or  follow us on Instagram at anthonyscoalfiredpizza and on Facebook at

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Ruby Tuesday Names Jenifer Boyd Harmon as Chief Marketing Officer

Proven restaurant marketing leader will spearhead brand and retail strategy for Ruby Tuesday

June 04, 2019 09:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time

MARYVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Ruby Tuesday, Inc. today announced the appointment of Jenifer Boyd Harmon as its chief marketing officer. Harmon will lead the company’s marketing strategy, customer experience and advertising efforts for their 486 restaurants located across the U.S. and around the world. “Jenifer is a growth-oriented leader and the ideal person to further support our commitments to energize the Ruby Tuesday brand,” said Ruby Tuesday President Marty Ritson. “Her ability to integrate the operational and customer-facing aspects of marketing makes her an invaluable addition as our team continues to innovate and evolve the Ruby Tuesday experience in line with our guests’ expectations." “I am excited to join the Ruby Tuesday team and inspired by the opportunity to build on the legacy of this long-standing brand,” said Jenifer Harmon. “We have a clear vision to enhance our relevance for today, while staying true to the long-time tenets of the Ruby Tuesday brand. By focusing on the outstanding value of our entire guest experience, and particularly the freshness and variety made possible by the Garden Bar, we offer an experience in step with what casual diners are looking for.” Harmon has nearly three decades of proven success in integrated marketing, advertising, retail business development and franchising for high-profile brands across casual, family and fast-casual dining. Most recently, she spent nearly 15 years as executive vice president and account group director for St. John & Partners, where she led the Zaxby’s team to help their brand achieve consistent AUV growth year after year. Harmon’s previous leadership roles include senior director of advertising for Denny’s for nearly 10 years, where she led strategic development, advertising and promotion, co-op development and merchandising for the national restaurant chain. She also served as an account director for Erwin Penland, where she managed client relationships and developed strategies to achieve long-term growth. Her brand experience also includes work with Firehouse Subs, Fatz Cafes, Smoothie King, El Pollo Loco, Hardee’s and Corona Beer, among others. Harmon is a graduate of the University of Mississippi. For more information, visit About Ruby Tuesday, Inc. Founded in 1972 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Ruby Tuesday, Inc. is dedicated to delighting our guests with exceptional casual dining experiences that offer uncompromising freshness and quality, paired with passionate service and gracious hospitality every time they visit. From our signature hand-crafted burgers to the farm-grown goodness of our Endless Garden Bar, we are proud of our long-standing history as an American classic and international favorite for nearly 50 years. Ruby Tuesday currently owns, operates and franchises 486 locations in 39 states, along with 11 countries and territories from around the globe. For more information, visit

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Subway’s Len Van Popering Named Chief Brand and Innovation Officer

Van Popering previously served as VP of brand management and culinary innovation at Subway.

Subway announced four leadership changes Thursday, including the promotion of Len Van Popering to chief brand and innovation of the world’s largest restaurant chain. Marie Silloway was named vice president of brand management; Renee Hourigan director of convenience innovation; and Ciaran Duffy senior corporate executive chef. Van Popering previously served as VP of brand management and culinary innovation at Subway. He will now oversee global brand strategy, culinary, and broader innovation, convenience programs, including catering and delivery, as well as Subway’s design and packaging teams, the brand said. Additionally, Van Popering will lead Subway’s global beverage partnerships, guest experience, community engagement, public relations, and corporate communications. He joined the company in 2017 and was actively involved in Subway’s global “Fresh Forward” transformation. That included introducing new menu items such as the Ultimate Cheesy Garlic Bread, Signature Wraps Collection, and working with Tastemade on Subway’s “innovation alliance.” Read more about the partnership here. Silloway previously worked as chief brand equity and customer experience officer for Godiva, VP of marketing and category for Starbucks China, and SVP of Estee Lauder. Subway said she’ll guide “the brand’s center of design excellence, global packaging functions, and convenience strategies.” Hourigan most recently served as VP of marketing at Victorinox Swiss Army. Hourigan’s duties will include building Subway’s delivery platform, among other initiatives. The company announced in October it was launching third-party delivery at 9,000 restaurants. “Marie, Ciaran, and Renee are extremely talented leaders, each with their own impressive track record of building brands and deepening relationship with customers,” Van Popering said in a statement. “Their experience and expertise make them ideal additions to our Subway family. I’m confident in their ability to build on the great work our team is doing as we continue to create and even better guest experience.”

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TIJUANA FLATS TAPS 35-YEAR CHAIN VETERAN FOR CEO POSTThe appointment is part of a realignment of top management at the regional fast-casual brand.

By Peter Romeo on May. 29, 2019

Brian Wright, a 35-year veteran of chains such as Au Bon Pain and Einstein Bros. Bagels, has been named CEO of Tijuana Flats as part of a realignment of senior management at the regional fast-casual chain.Louie Psallidas was hired as CFO, and Steve Culbert was appointed SVP of operations.The majority stakeholder of Tijuana Flats, AUA Private Equity Partners, said the reshuffling underscores its commitment to expanding the brand, which currently has 135 locations.Wright was previously CEO of Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, the 58-unit regional full-service chain that was recently acquired by Earl of Sandwich principal Robert Earl. Wright succeeds Rick Van Warner, a longtime Tijuana Flats director who served as interim CEO for more than a year. Van Warner remains on the chain’s board.Wright has also served as COO of Au Bon Pain, a pioneer of the fast-casual segment, and Chevys, the full-service Tex-Mex concept once owned by Taco Bell. He has also logged time with Einstein Noah’s Bagels, which now operates as Einstein Bros., and its then-parent, Boston Market.“I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue moving the company forward alongside Louie, Steve, and the rest of our dedicated and passionate team and franchisees,” Wright said in a statement.Psallidas formerly worked for Uno & Grill parent Uno Restaurant Holdings in a variety of positions, including CEO, president and CFO.Culbert also worked for Au Bon Pain, most recently as VP of operations. He has also served as a managing partner for Carrabba’s Italian Grill, a sister to Outback Steakhouse within the Bloomin’ Brands fold.Tijuana Flats restaurants are located in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia. The brand's systemwide sales for 2018 are estimated by Technomic at $141 million.

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Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Addition of Two New Independent Directors to Board

May, 29 2019

Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ:JACK) announced yesterday, pursuant to the Cooperation Agreement between the company and JANA Partners LLC dated October 29, 2018, as amended, that it has increased the size of its Board of Directors and added two new independent directors to its Board: Jean M. Birch and John P. Gainor. Their biographical information is provided below. With these actions, the Board now consists of 11 directors. David Goebel, Lead Independent Director of the Jack in the Box Inc. Board, said, “JANA presented us with several exceptional candidates, and we’re delighted to be able to add two directors to our Board with a breadth of experience in the restaurant industry and a deep knowledge of franchising. We believe that the expertise Jean and John bring to our Board will enhance our ongoing efforts to maximize shareholder value.” Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Lenny Comma said, “Jean has gained valuable insight on restaurant operations and franchising during nearly three decades of leadership in this industry while John is highly regarded as an industry leader in franchising, customer service and brand development. We welcome them to our Board and look forward to their contributions as we continue to execute our long-term strategic plan while balancing the interests of all of our stakeholders, including our franchisees, customers, employees and shareholders.” Barry Rosenstein, Managing Partner of JANA Partners LLC, added, “We are pleased to have worked with the company in identifying John Gainor and Jean Birch as new Board members. They bring extensive experience as executives in the restaurant industry and track records of successfully partnering with franchisees, which we believe will help the company’s efforts to drive growth, accelerate operational performance and create shareholder value. We look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue with the company.” Biographical Information on New Directors Jean Birch has nearly 30 years of experience leading restaurant brands and working with franchisees. From April 2015 until May 23, 2019, she served on the Board of Directors of Papa Murphy’s, Inc., a Take ‘n’ Bake pizza company, where she held the position of Board Chair from September 2016 until May 23, 2019. On May 23, 2019, Papa Murphy’s was sold to MTY Food Group. From December 2016 to July 2017, Birch was Papa Murphy’s interim President and Chief Executive Officer. Since February 2018, she’s been a director of Forrester Research, a global research and advisory firm, where she currently serves as Chair of that board’s Audit Committee; and since September 2018, Birch has been a director of CorePoint Lodging Inc., a real estate investment trust, where she currently serves on that board’s Audit and Nominating & Governance Committees. From 2014 to 2016, Birch was a director on the board of Darden Restaurants, Inc., a restaurant company with multiple full-service brands, and from 2013 to 2017, she was a director on the board of Cosi, Inc., a fast-casual restaurant chain. From 2009 to 2012, Birch was President of IHOP Restaurants, Inc., a division of DineEquity, Inc. She was previously with Brinker International, Inc., where she served as President of Romano’s Macaroni Grill from 2005 to 2007 and as President of Corner Bakery Café from 2003 to 2004. From 1991 to 2003, Birch held various roles with YUM! Brands, Inc., including as Vice President of Operations for Taco Bell, Inc. and as Senior Director, Concept Development for Pizza Hut, Inc. Since 2007, Birch has also served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of her own strategy and leadership consulting practice, Birch Company, LLC. John Gainor brings significant business experience to the Board as President and CEO of an internationally known fast-food restaurant chain and as an executive with over 40 years of experience in logistics, supply chain and transportation. As President and Chief Executive Officer of International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ) from July 2008 until his retirement in December 2017, he was responsible for overseeing all aspects of that $4.5 billion brand, which included 6,900 restaurants in the Dairy Queen, Orange Julius and Karmelkorn systems throughout the U.S., Canada and 28 other countries. He began his career with IDQ in September 2003, as Chief Supply Chain Officer for Unified Supply Chain, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of IDQ. In this capacity, he oversaw the management of all supply chain functions for IDQ, including purchasing, logistics, distribution, dairy, frozen novelties, equipment and supplies. From 2000 to 2003, he was the President and co-founder of Supply Solutions, Inc., which designed and implemented supply chain and logistics solutions for national chain restaurants. Gainor has extensive experience working with franchisees as well as the distribution side of the quick-service and casual dining restaurant industries, including leadership roles with Burger King Distribution Services, ProSource Inc., AmeriServe and as a founding partner with Consolidated Distribution Corporation, a leading foodservice redistributor. Gainor launched his career in the transportation industry in 1982, and for a decade he held executive positions with Warner Lambert, a Fortune 150 pharmaceutical and consumer products company. He currently serves as a director on the board of Saia, Inc. – a leading regional and inter-regional less-than-truckload carrier that services 41 states, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. He is Chair of Saia’s Nominating and Governance Committee and also serves on the company’s Audit Committee. He also currently serves as a National Trustee on Ohio University’s Board of Trustees and is a member of the Academics and Student Success Committee and the Governance Committee. Birch and Gainor will each serve on the Compensation and Nominating & Governance Committees of the Jack in the Box Inc. Board.

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Smoothie King Introduces New Chief Information Officer

World's Leading Smoothie Franchise Welcomes Chris Andrews to Leadership Team

May 28, 2019, 09:17 ET

DALLAS, May 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Smoothie King announced Tuesday IT executive Chris Andrews has joined the franchise as its new chief information officer. In his new role, Andrews is responsible for managing the overall design and successful execution of Smoothie King's IT strategy while also further developing the franchise's digital infrastructure. With the quick-service industry continuing to move toward digital and consumers engaging with brands across countless mediums, Andrews is aiming to ease the transaction process and provide as many avenues as possible for guests to interact with the brand. " brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in both IT and the restaurant industry, and his technical skills are second-to-none," said Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim. "What makes him especially unique, though, is his leadership style, which aligns seamlessly with our mission and vision. He's going to be a key piece for helping our brand grow in 2019 and beyond." Andrews comes to Smoothie King following two years at Pei Wei Asian Diner, most recently holding the CIO title. Prior IT experience in the restaurant industry also includes roles at On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina as the vice president of IT and at Chuck E. Cheese's parent company, CEC Entertainment, as the director of systems architecture/integration. "Right now, I'm going through the same training our franchise partners go through, and to see the brand through the eyes of people who've made the financial commitment to Smoothie King has me fired up," said Andrews. "When you talk with , you see and feel his passion for our mission and vision immediately. I'm excited to leverage my experience and help inspire people to live healthy and active lifestyles." Andrews becomes the third new executive to join Smoothie King's leadership team in 2019, as the health and wellness brand also tabbed Rebecca Miller as its CMO and Thomas Kim as its CFO in March. The hires help reinforce Smoothie King's rapid franchise development and growth, which continued to flourish in the first quarter of this year. Smoothie King received agreements for 32 committed stores from 22 franchisees in 12 states, including a 10-unit area development agreement for Tucson, Phoenix and El Paso. Additionally, the franchise is coming off its single-most prosperous growth year in its 45-year history after opening a record number of stores in 2018 (106 North American locations) and reaching the 1,000-location milestone in August. For 2019, the franchise is targeting 130 signed franchise agreements and 116 new store openings. ABOUT SMOOTHIE KING  Founded in 1973, Smoothie King is a lifestyle brand inspiring people to live a healthy and active lifestyle via nutritious, great-tasting smoothies with over 1,000 locations in 34 U.S. states, the Caymans, Trinidad and the Republic of Korea. Earlier in 2019, the franchise earned the No. 1 ranking among smoothie concepts for the 28th-consecutive year, and the No. 22 spot overall, on Entrepreneur's prestigious Franchise 500 list.

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Jim Stevens Named President of Golden Chick

May 24, 2019

Restaurant franchisee appointed to leadership position Dallas, TX  (  Golden Tree Restaurants today announced it has named Jim Stevens as the new president of Golden Chick. Stevens will take over the 52-year-old brand after spending one year as a Golden Chick franchisee. Mark Parmerlee, the former president, will continue as chairman of the board and as president of Golden Tree Restaurants, including The Jalapeno Tree, Fireside Pies, Texadelphia, JC’s Burgers, Heff’s Burgers, Lola’s and Happy Taco brands. “I purchased Golden Chick 30 years ago, and I am excited to welcome Jim Stevens as the new president,” said Parmerlee. “Jim has served as an active franchisee for the brand, and with his impressive resume and dedication to our culture, I believe he will further the vision and growth of Golden Chick” As a Golden Chick franchisee with five locations, Stevens is no stranger to the restaurant industry. He began his career at Yum! Brands, working as a general manager, area and market coach for KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. He went on to become the region president for Arby’s, president of Captain D’s and executive vice president of Checker’s Drive In. He most recently served as president of Yoshinoya America, where he achieved same store sales growth. As a multi-unit Golden Chick franchisee, Stevens opened three locations as president of the holding company, Prosperity Brands LLC, and manages six total Golden Chick locations. “I am very excited to lead Golden Chick into the next phase of development and growth,” said Stevens. “As a franchisee, I have a unique perspective on what it will take to grow our brand beyond 500 locations, which will, in turn, give our franchisees and employees opportunities to grow both professionally and financially.” Stevens new position starts immediately and he plans to focus on growing the people and culture, sales and profits with a goal to expand Golden Chick to 500 locations by 2030. About Golden Chick Founded in Texas in 1967, Golden Chick is a family-oriented, quick-service restaurant that prides itself on perfecting its Golden Fried Chicken, Golden Roast Chicken and Golden Tenders®, along with offering a variety of other chef-inspired menu items. The brand was ranked the #4 chicken franchise by Entrepreneur. With dine-in, drive-thru, catering and home delivery service capabilities, the Golden Chick restaurant chain has more than 180 locations throughout Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. For more information about Golden Chick, its signature menu items, or how to become a franchisee, please visit and like us on Facebook.

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National Restaurant Association President & CEO Announces Retirement

May 16, 2019

Dawn Sweeney to Lead the Association on Continued Growth Trajectory Through 2019 Washington, DC  (  After 12 years successfully leading one of Washington’s largest and most influential trade associations, advancing and protecting all aspects of the restaurant and foodservice industry, National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation President & CEO Dawn Sweeney announced today that she will step down when her current contract ends at the end of 2019. Until then, she will continue to lead the Association and Foundation, gain Board approval for the 2020-2024 strategic plan, and assist Board leadership in the search for a new CEO. “Serving and leading the restaurant industry during this historic timeframe, when foodservice has grown to an $863 billion business employing over 15 million professionals, has been the most fulfilling experience of my career,” said Dawn Sweeney. “We have accomplished much together, including important public policy victories at all levels of government, a broadened membership base representative of the industry at large, and a revitalized organization that has expanded and bolstered its advocacy and business capabilities. I have had the privilege of serving for 12 years — the longest tenure of any position in my career. It is vital to me that we work to ensure the Association and Foundation have a smooth and seamless transition to plan for the future.” Since Sweeney joined the Association in 2007, membership has grown by almost 50 percent, and the organization has added members from every sector of the industry. The enterprise has more than doubled its overall revenues and nearly tripled its growth in ServSafe® food safety training and certification, expanding into adjacent industry sectors and certifying more than eight million industry professionals. In 2018, she led the largest business transaction in the history of the organization with the creation of an equity partnership with Winsight Media and the operational sale of the National Restaurant Association Show. Dawn refocused the Educational Foundation to attract, empower, and advance the future workforce of the restaurant industry. During her tenure, she built a Unified Partnership Agreement with the State Restaurant Associations, better aligning the work of the national and state organizations through advocacy and business solutions. “Dawn has been an extraordinary leader for the restaurant and foodservice industry during a time of both challenge and opportunity,” said Joe Essa, 2019 Association Chair and President & CEO of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide. “She has unified our industry, expanded our impact, heightened our effectiveness, and navigated a number of significant public policy challenges. The organization is well-positioned to continue to fulfill its mission to advance and protect the industry and has a strong foundation on which her successor will build.” Board leadership have selected Spencer Stuart to assist with the CEO search. Sweeney joined the National Restaurant Association after having served as President of AARP Services, the taxable subsidiary of AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. Prior to that, she worked for almost a decade at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and began her career at the International Dairy Foods Association. She is active in several organizations, including the Women’s Foodservice Forum, which is dedicated to accelerating the advancement of women leaders in the industry; Save the Children, the global humanitarian organization on whose board she serves; and the Bryce Harlow Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting ethics and integrity in lobbying, and where she served as 2018 Board Chair. About the National Restaurant Association Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than one million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15 million employees. The Association represents the $863 billion restaurant and foodservice industry at the federal, state, and local levels, and advocates on its behalf. We host the industry’s largest trade show, the National Restaurant Association Show, in Chicago each May, and administer the industry’s leading food safety training and certification program, ServSafe®. In addition, through the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, we offer ProStart™, a unique career-building high school program available at more than 1,900 schools across the country.

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Dan Gertsacov Named Global Chief Marketing Officer for Focus Brands

May, 16 2019

Gertsacov joins Focus Brands from Arcos Dorados, the world's largest independent franchisee of McDonald's, where he held the title of Chief Marketing and Digital Officer.

Focus Brands Inc., the franchisor and operator, through its affiliates, of brands including Auntie Anne's®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba Juice®, McAlister's Deli®, Moe's Southwest Grill® and Schlotzsky's®, announces that Dan Gertsacov will join its executive team in the newly created role of Global Chief Marketing Officer. Through a combination of disruptive marketing strategies, menu innovation and continued digital investment, Gertsacov will be responsible for working with each brand leadership team to maintain and grow market leadership and brand love. "Dan's digital roots and his deep experience deploying effective, data-driven marketing strategies will prove invaluable for our brands," said Steve DeSutter, CEO of Focus Brands.  "Dan has a great blend of experience with 'fast company' cultures, high-growth startups and a huge, multinational restaurant brand. I am delighted to be strengthening our leadership bench in areas where we see the most potential to win." Gertsacov joins Focus Brands from Arcos Dorados, the world's largest independent franchisee of McDonald's, where he held the title of Chief Marketing and Digital Officer. In this role, Gertsacov leveraged his significant experience in digital marketing, analytics and menu innovation to re-position the McDonald's brand in Latin America through different cultures, multiple languages and a complex, 20-country franchise system. Prior to joining Arcos Dorados, Gertsacov worked for Google in multiple leadership roles, most recently as Head of New Markets for Google Latin America and the Caribbean. Previous to Google, Gertsacov was Vice President of Business Development for Univision Networks and CEO, Americas of Lenddo, a venture-backed FinTech startup. Dan holds an undergraduate degree with honors in Economics and International Development from the University of Richmond and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was a Goldsmith Scholar. "I am excited to join the Focus Brands team at such an important moment in the company's growth trajectory," Gertsacov said. "Focus has a family of well-loved brands, each with a special connection to their respective customers. I see a huge opportunity for Focus Brands to double-down as a leader in their segments and quickly become best-in-class in 'modern marketing' in the restaurant industry."

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Nathan’s Famous Names James Walker Senior Vice President, Restaurants

May 16, 2019

Industry Veteran to Oversee Nathan’s Famous Restaurants Jericho, NY  (  Nathan’s Famous announced today that it has hired James Walker, CFE, as the company’s Senior Vice President, Restaurants. Walker comes to Nathan’s Famous from Subway where he was Vice President, North America, overseeing all franchised restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. “We are excited to have James on board to lead our all-important restaurant division,” said Eric Gatoff, CEO of Nathan’s Famous. “While our success over the last decade has largely come from our product licensing and foodservice businesses, Nathan’s started as a restaurant company in 1916. James’ skill set includes extensive experience in restaurant operations, franchising and product development. Adding someone as accomplished and innovative as James demonstrates our continued commitment to our restaurant business operations.” A recognized expert in retail and hospitality, Walker brings more than 30 years of broad based, senior level, management experience to Nathan’s Famous. He has held President, Chief Development Officer, Senior Operations and New Product Development positions, for brands such as Baja Fresh®, Cinnabon®, Johnny Rockets® and Subway®. Walker has conducted business in more than 65 international markets, including such emerging markets as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Pakistan and Mongolia. “I’m thrilled to join Nathan’s Famous, a truly iconic brand that started on the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island and is now a global player in the restaurant and retail spheres,” said Walker. “I look forward to making every guest experience in our restaurants rewarding and enjoyable on every level.” A Certified Franchise Executive, Walker earned his MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. He has achieved additional certificates and diplomas from Yale, Harvard, and MIT. In 2016, Walker was awarded the President’s “E” award from President Obama for Excellence in Furthering American Business Internationally. About Nathan’s Famous Nathan’s Famous products are currently sold in more than 78,000 retail and food service locations, and are available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Cayman Islands, and in 16 foreign countries. Nathan’s products are available in arenas and stadiums all over the country, movie theaters, colleges and universities, travel plazas, amusement parks, casinos and hotels.

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