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Executive Movements - June 2024

Updated: Jun 13

Academy Sports + Outdoors Appoints Scott Boatwright to its Board of Directors

Jun 06, 2024, 18:00 ET

KATY, Texas, June 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Academy Sports and Outdoors, Inc. ("Academy") (Nasdaq: ASO) today announced that Scott Boatwright has been appointed to its Board of Directors (the "Board"), effective immediately. With this change, Academy's Board now comprises 11 directors.

"We are pleased to welcome Scott to Academy's Board of Directors," said Ken Hicks, Chairman of the Board of Academy. "Scott's deep and relevant experience in driving productivity, operational excellence, and scalability in complex business environments, along with building a strong customer base and providing an exceptional customer experience, will be very valuable to the Board as Academy continues to execute its growth strategy."

Mr. Boatwright brings nearly 30 years of operations, strategic planning, digital/technology, customer service and loyalty, real estate and talent experience. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at Chipotle Mexican Grill since May 2023, and previously served as Chipotle's Chief Restaurant Officer from May 2017 to May 2023. Prior to Chipotle, Mr. Boatwright served at Arby's Restaurant Group as Senior Vice President, Operations from April 2015 to May 2017, as Senior Vice President, Operations Services from January 2012 to March 2015, and previously in other senior leadership positions. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

About Academy Sports + Outdoors

Academy is a leading full-line sporting goods and outdoor recreation retailer in the United States. Originally founded in 1938 as a family business in Texas, Academy has grown to 285 stores across 19 states. Academy's mission is to provide "Fun for All" and Academy fulfills this mission with a localized merchandising strategy and value proposition that strongly connects with a broad range of consumers. Academy's product assortment focuses on key categories of outdoor, apparel, sports & recreation and footwear through both leading national brands and a portfolio of private label brands. For more information, visit

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Restaurant Brands International Inc. Announces Election of Directors

Jun 06, 2024, 16:30 ET

TORONTO, June 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ - Restaurant Brands International Inc. (TSX: QSR) (NYSE: QSR) ("RBI") today announced the results of the vote on the election of directors at its Annual Meeting of Shareholders held on June 6, 2024.

The total number of eligible votes represented in person or by proxy at the meeting was 402,555,067 representing 89.5% of all eligible votes.

RBI's proxy circular provided for ten nominees to the Board of Directors. The ten individuals nominated by the Board of Directors for election as directors of RBI were elected, each to hold office until the next annual meeting of shareholders or until their respective successors are elected or appointed. Each nominee was an incumbent director.

The votes cast with respect to each nominee were as follows:

Director Nominee

Votes For


Votes Against


Alexandre Behring





Maximilien de Limburg Stirum





J. Patrick Doyle





Cristina Farjallat





Jordana Fribourg





Ali Hedayat





Marc Lemann 





Jason Melbourne 





Daniel S. Schwartz





Thecla Sweeney





Final voting results on all matters at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders will be filed with Canadian and U.S. securities regulators.

About Restaurant Brands International

Restaurant Brands International Inc. is one of the world's largest quick service restaurant companies with over $40 billion in annual system-wide sales and over 30,000 restaurants in more than 120 countries and territories. RBI owns four of the world's most prominent and iconic quick service restaurant brands – TIM HORTONS®, BURGER KING®, POPEYES®, and FIREHOUSE SUBS®. These independently operated brands have been serving their respective guests, franchisees and communities for decades. Through its Restaurant Brands for Good framework, RBI is improving sustainable outcomes related to its food, the planet, and people and communities. To learn more about RBI, please visit the company's website at

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Farmer Boys® Elevates Executive Leadership Team

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Farmer Boys®, the beloved West Coast brand with over 100 locations, has appointed Noah Chillingworth as its Chief Marketing Officer while also promoting Gisel Villeda to VP of Human Resources. In these new roles, Chillingworth and Villeda will play a crucial role in assisting the brand ramp-up growth efforts in 2024.

Prior to his new venture with Farmer Boys®, Chillingworth served as the VP of Marketing for Del Taco for 15 years, leading consumer-facing efforts and further helping cultivate the brand essence and identity. Before Del Taco, Chillingworth held positions at Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza, leading marketing efforts for the western half of the US.

“Farmer Boys® is truly a special brand that I am thrilled to be joining—especially during such a pivotal time,” said Chillingworth. “The Havadjias brothers have built something very unique over the last 40 years that has resonated with countless communities across the West. I’m looking forward to helping elevate and grow such an iconic brand.”

Additionally, Villeda brings a plethora of experience ranging from HR to quality assurance into her new role as VP of Human resources. With over two decades of HR experience in the food service and retail industries and having been with Farmer Boys® for a year already, Villeda is armed with the skills to further support the brand’s vision of growth.

Chillingworth’s hire and Villeda’s promotion come amid an aggressive and strategic growth plan for Farmer Boys® as the brand sets its eyes on expansion into new and existing markets. The concept aims to open 50 locations over the next five years and enter three new regions.

“As we gear up for aggressive expansion, industry professionals like Noah and Gisel are the perfect people to help take us to new heights,” said Joseph Ortiz, President and CEO of Farmer Boys®. “Strengthening our leadership team with experience in franchising and people development gives us the perfect foundation to lay as we set out to make Farmer Boys® a nationwide brand."

The brand’s diverse menu features a range of items that are made fresh-to-order including burgers, breakfast options, salads, sandwiches and more, all made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.  

Farmer Boys® is seeking franchise partners who have a passion for the restaurant business and are eager to join an established legacy brand. Ideal franchise candidates have the financial means to develop, construct and grow multiple restaurants within a territory, and a commitment to delivering a quality, Farm Fresh restaurant experience in the communities they operate. Qualified individuals are encouraged to apply.  

For more information about owning a Farmer Boys® restaurant please visit

About Farmer Boys®

Farmer Boys® is a leading restaurant concept that offers delicious meals made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. With 100+ locations and counting across California, Nevada, and Arizona, Farmer Boys® has touched the lives of countless communities. Famous for its farm-to-table food, the brand further sets itself apart through its unparalleled support structures, dedicated franchisees and convenient dining capabilities. Farmer Boys® is currently pursuing franchise expansion opportunities in key markets in an effort to bring Farm Fresh food to a neighborhood near you soon.  

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Denny’s Corporation Appoints Hospitality Veteran Mark Vondrasek to Board of Directors

June 04, 2024 11:21 ET

Spartanburg, SC, June 04, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Denny's Corporation (NASDAQ:DENN), owner and operator of Denny's Inc. and Keke's Inc., today announced that Mark Vondrasek has been appointed to its Board of Directors. Mr. Vondrasek is the chief commercial officer for Hyatt and brings more than 20 years of hospitality experience, combined with 10 years at Fidelity Investments and Kemper Financial Services, to the board role.    “Mark’s wealth of knowledge in the hospitality and financial services sectors makes him an invaluable addition to the Denny’s Board of Directors,” said Brenda J. Lauderback, chair of Denny's board of directors. “We welcome his strategic insights and leadership as we continue to improve guest experience and brand elevation for Denny’s and Keke’s.”

Before joining Hyatt, Mr. Vondrasek spent 15 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, where he served as the senior vice president of commercial services, overseeing loyalty, digital/mobile, sales, revenue management, customer contact centers and partnership marketing.   "I am excited to join the Denny's Board to contribute to the growth of such iconic brands," said Mark Vondrasek. "I look forward to working with the Board as we drive the company's strategic vision forward." 

Vondrasek joins a board of eight directors, with leaders from retail, restaurant and hospitality, that is 56% people of color and 63% women.    "Mark's experience in revenue generation and his understanding of the needs of guests will be instrumental in transforming the brand and preparing for our next chapter of growth,” said Kelli Valade, CEO, Denny's Corp. “We are excited to welcome him to the Denny’s family."


About Denny's Corporation: Denny’s Corporation is one of America’s largest full-service restaurant chains based on number of restaurants. As of March 27, 2024, the Company consisted of 1,614 restaurants, 1,539 of which were franchised and licensed restaurants and 75 of which were company operated.Denny's Corporation consists of the Denny’s brand and the Keke’s brand. As of March 27, 2024, the Denny's brand consisted of 1,553 global restaurants, 1,489 of which were franchised and licensed restaurants and 64 of which were company operated. As of March 27, 2024, the Keke's brand consisted of 61 restaurants, 50 of which were franchised restaurants and 11 of which were company operated. For further information on Denny's Corporation, including news releases, links to SEC filings, and other financial information, please visit

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Aimbridge Hospitality Names William Davenport Chief Financial Officer

Accomplished finance executive brings 30-plus years of extensive experience across hospitality, foodservice and retail to the top third-party hotel management company

PLANO, Texas, June 4, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Aimbridge Hospitality, a leading, hospitality management company and the world's largest third-party hotel operator, today announced William Davenport as its new Chief Financial Officer, effective July 8. Davenport will sit on the organization's executive leadership team and report directly to Craig S. Smith, Chief Executive Officer.

As Chief Financial Officer, Davenport will oversee the financial management of the company and have direct responsibility for accounting, financial planning and analysis, compliance, tax, treasury, and procurement. He will utilize more than three decades of strategic experience across high growth businesses in hospitality, restaurants, franchising, and private equity to help drive Aimbridge's global expansion strategy, build new core competencies, transform financial reporting systems, and simplify processes to enhance the comprehensive, best-in-class services provided to the company's owners, brand partners, and vendors. 

"As we build on our industry leadership and focus in on cultivating a collaborative, performance-driven culture, we plan to leverage William's proven experience and leadership to strengthen our team and services," Smith said. "His track record of establishing dynamic infrastructures, capabilities, and systems will enhance our business model by creating speed, efficiencies, and sustained property performance, leading to the outsized results for our owners and partners."

Davenport joins Aimbridge following his most recent role as Chief Financial Officer with Velvet Taco, a fast-growing restaurant chain. Prior to Velvet Taco he served as Chief Financial Officer at Topgolf for a decade where he helped the concept grow from nine venues to its current scale of more than 80 U.S.-based locations, a global footprint, and revenues exceeding $1.75 billion. Davenport was instrumental in Topgolf's growth journey, including hiring critical functional talent and scaling the team, working with capital markets, and overseeing the integration of Topgolf into Callaway Golf following the brand acquisition.

"Aimbridge is incredibly well positioned for growth, which makes this an exciting time to join the company and be part of shaping the vision for the future," said Davenport. "I look forward to leveraging my diverse experience in hospitality and franchising to help the company deepen its hotel-centric approach, improve the services we provide at scale, and realize its partners' aggressive growth goals."

Davenport's experience also includes senior level finance leadership roles at Haggar Clothing Co, Neiman Marcus Group, and Brinker International Inc., after beginning his career at KPMG Peat Marwick.

Davenport will work closely with the senior leadership team, including the company's recently appointed Chief Global Growth Officer, Eric Jacobs, and its news Chief Legal Officer, Greg Moundas.

About Aimbridge Hospitality

Aimbridge Hospitality is the world's leading global hospitality management company. A trusted operator of over 80 globally recognized lodging brands and distinctive luxury and lifestyle assets, Aimbridge delivers compelling results for hotel owners by leveraging proprietary data and insights as an authority in key markets and destinations, while creating exceptional guest experiences. Aimbridge continually strives to set the new standard in hospitality excellence, leading the industry into the future through a wealth of unmatched resources and best-in-class supplier agreements, while recruiting and developing top industry talent in all key verticals and geographies. To learn more, visit Connect with Aimbridge on LinkedIn.

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Condado Tacos Announces Derrick Pratt as New Chief Executive Officer

Following his success as Chief Operating Officer at Portillo’s, and prior tenure leading world-class operations at Starbucks and McDonald’s, Pratt will lead Condado into its next phase of growth

COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Condado Tacos (the “Company”), today announced that after an exhaustive nationwide search it has appointed Derrick Pratt as the Company’s next Chief Executive Officer, effective July 1, 2024.

“On behalf of the entire Board of Managers, we are thrilled to welcome Derrick as the next CEO of Condado Tacos,” said John G. Troiano, Chairman of the Board. “Derrick brings a wealth of experience in running successful growth-oriented restaurant brands and has an exceptionally strong track record of guiding companies through periods of significant expansion through strong leadership and innovation. Condado Tacos has doubled over the last three years to 50 locations across 10 states and 18 markets to date, and we are thrilled to have Derrick lead the Company through its next phase of growth.”

Mr. Pratt is a seasoned restaurant executive that brings nearly four decades of restaurant experience to Condado Tacos, with a proven track record in driving best-in-class operations, performance results, world class culture and people development. Since 2021, he has served as Chief Operating Officer of the fast-growing restaurant brand, Portillo’s (NASD: PTLO), where he had leadership experience in operations, real estate development, marketing and supply chain management. As COO, Mr. Pratt was instrumental in the implementation of various technology initiatives and driving industry leading net promoter and guest satisfaction scores and helped lead the organization through its successful IPO in 2021. Prior to joining Portillo’s in 2020, Mr. Pratt served in a variety of operations-focused roles of increasing responsibility at Starbucks (NASD: SBUX), where he was Regional VP of Operations leading 800 locations and $1.4 billion in revenue. Prior to Starbucks, Mr. Pratt spent 22 years in various VP-level positions within the McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) organization and was also a franchise owner/operator.

“I’m excited to join the Condado Tacos family in this leadership role as we focus on strategic expansion, operational processes and people development,” said Derrick Pratt. “I aligned quickly with the Condado team on a shared vision and strategy to pair best-in-class operations with craveable food in a unique ‘Come As You Are’ culture and environment. I believe that Joe Kahn (Founder of Condado Tacos) and the rest of the management team have built something truly special, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with the entire Condado team to lead and scale this authentic and differentiated restaurant brand.”

About Condado Tacos

Condado Tacos provides an all-inclusive dining experience for its guests and its 2,000+ team members, with "Enough Yum for Everyone." The brand started in 2014 with its first location in Columbus, Ohio. Since its founding, the award-winning taco concept has grown to 50 restaurants in 10 states and was recently listed among the Fastest Growing Private Restaurant Companies by Inc. 5000. To learn more, go to

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Sonny's BBQ Announces Kris Larson as Vice President of Franchise Development

Jun 03, 2024, 08:39 ET

Larson will manage Sonny's BBQ's growth and development as the brand continues to expand.

ORLANDO, Fla., June 3, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Sonny's BBQ, the mission-driven BBQ restaurant known for quality BBQ and spreading kindness in the communities they serve, today announced the hiring of Kris Larson as Vice President, Franchise Development. Larson brings with him a breadth of experience supporting franchised brands Bojangles, School of Rock, Ace Hardware, Dunkin Brands and more. In his new role, Larson will lead the brand's growth through strategic expansions and enhancing franchise performance across Sonny's BBQ's footprint.

Kris Larson

"We are beyond thrilled to welcome Kris Larson to our team, and to have him work alongside us as we continue to support our franchisees in this period of growth and expansion," exclaims Jamie Yarmuth, Sonny's BBQ Chief Executive Officer. "Kris' franchise and leadership experience will be invaluable to us as the brand evolves moving forward."

Kris Larson's leadership is poised to usher in a new era of growth and community engagement for Sonny's BBQ, ensuring that the brand continues to be a beloved gathering place for families and friends while embracing new opportunities to grow their footprint for expansion. Kris will work closely with Sonny's BBQ headquarters and franchisees to create market strategies to position Sonny's BBQ for growth and expansion, while managing the ongoing and ever- changing needs of the brand's franchisees to ensure consistent success at every location.

Larson's impressive career, which spans over two decades, has seen him make substantial contributions to the franchise development sector. His tenure at Dunkin' Brands showcased his ability to create and execute market strategies that led to significant brand expansion and enhanced franchisee performance. As vice president of Franchise Development at School of Rock, Kris demonstrated his knack for franchisee recruitment and played a pivotal role in enhancing CRM capabilities and improved tracking of key franchise documents. . His strategic vision and ability to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams proved instrumental in driving growth and operational efficiency across the enterprise.

Before joining the Sonny's BBQ family, Kris's role as Senior Director of Franchise Sales at Bojangles highlighted his adeptness at navigating the complexities of franchising a regional brand by building meaningful relationships with franchise candidates. His strategies not only helped to propel the brand's national expansion but also underscored his comprehensive understanding of the franchise model.

"Joining the Sonny's BBQ family is both an honor and an exciting new challenge. The brand's commitment to community, family, and authentic Southern hospitality resonates deeply with me," Larson explains. "I look forward to leveraging my experience to not only expand our presence but also to enhance the connections we have with each community we serve. Together, I believe we can bring Sonny's BBQ to new heights, making every meal a memorable experience for our guests."

For more, visit or follow them on Facebook, Instagram, X and YouTube. Franchise opportunities can be found at

About Sonny's BBQ

With nearly 100 locations spanning the southeast, Sonny's BBQ® is one of the largest barbecue restaurant brands in the country. Its signature pulled pork, sweet tea, and unique appetizers have afforded the restaurant the title of "Best Barbecue Chain in America" by The Daily Meal. Floyd "Sonny" Tillman and his wife, Lucille, founded Sonny's BBQ in 1968 in Gainesville, Fla. in hopes of creating a local BBQ joint for their community to enjoy. 55 years later, Sonny's BBQ continues to do just that under the direction of CEO Jamie Yarmuth and local pitmasters spreading the spirit of BBQ in each of their communities through the Q the Kindness and Random Acts of BBQ initiatives. The brand gives back more than $1.2 million annually across the eight states it serves, and reaches tens of thousands of community members with its generosity. Sonny's BBQ is a leader in the hospitality industry with its commitment to creating unique consumer experiences, ability and willingness to utilize cutting-edge technology, and network of successful franchisee relationships. For information and to find the Sonny's BBQ location closest to you, please visit

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Leading Restaurant Executive Joins Dutch Bros Board of Directors

G.J. Hart joins Dutch Bros Board of Directors

June 03, 2024 04:05 PM Eastern Daylight Time

GRANTS PASS, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dutch Bros Inc. (NYSE: BROS; “Dutch Bros”) a west coast-based drive-thru beverage company focused on making a massive difference one cup at a time, has announced the appointment of G.J. Hart to its Board of Directors, where he will serve as an independent director and as Chair of the Compensation Committee. Hart brings four decades of executive experience at foodservice operations including Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, California Pizza Kitchen, Torchy’s Tacos and Texas Roadhouse, and has a proven track record of growing casual and fast-casual dining concepts.

“From his early involvement building Texas Roadhouse into a beloved, highly successful brand, to his current roles leading the comeback of Red Robin and serving on the Board of Directors for Portillo’s, G.J. has brought heart and a dedication to giving back that aligns perfectly with Dutch Bros,” said Christine Barone, CEO and president of Dutch Bros. “He understands deeply that to build a great business, you start with your team members. G.J. knows what it’s like to sit in the CEO seat; we look forward to leveraging his extensive industry experience as we continue to strengthen and diversify our Board of Directors.”

Hart has spent nearly 40 years scaling both private and public companies. Since September 2022, Hart has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB), an American casual dining restaurant chain, where he has served on the board of directors since November 2019. He previously served as Chief Executive Officer of Torchy’s Tacos, a privately held fast-casual restaurant chain, from 2018 to 2021. Prior to that, he served as Chief Executive Officer of California Pizza Kitchen Inc. from 2011 to 2018, and as President and Chief Executive Officer of Texas Roadhouse Inc. (NASDAQ: TXRH) from 2000 to 2004 and 2004 to 2011, respectively.

“Dutch Bros is in the early innings of its growth story. I’ve seen first hand how important it is to keep team members, culture, and community engagement at the forefront of the business as you scale,” said Hart. “I look forward to working with Christine, the leadership team, and the Board of Directors to ensure Dutch Bros scales in a meaningful way while keeping the elements that differentiate it in the industry.”

In addition to Dutch Bros and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Hart serves on the board of directors of Portillo’s Inc. (NASDAQ: PTLO) and Blessings in a Backpack, a national non-profit organization that works to combat childhood hunger by providing children in need with a backpack full of nutritious, easy-to-prepare food on the weekend.

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 876 locations across 17 states as of March 31, 2024.

To learn more about Dutch Bros, visit, follow Dutch Bros on Instagram, Facebook, X, and TikTok, and download the Dutch Bros app to earn points and score rewards!

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Swig Taps Dutch Bros Executive Amidst International Expansion

June 3, 2024

Home of the Original Dirty Soda™ names Daniel Batty its Chief Development Officer as both corporate and franchise growth pop

Lehi, UT  (  With strong corporate growth and over 500 franchise units signed across the U.S. and Canada, Swig has expanded its C-Suite and named Daniel Batty Chief Development Officer.

Batty comes to Swig with more than 20 years of experience in the QSR segment and involvement in more than 2,000 development projects. For the past five years, he was Vice President of Design and Construction at Dutch Bros Coffee, where he oversaw development growth of 29 new stores in 2018 to 180 new stores in 2024.

Prior to Dutch Bros, Batty worked at McDonald’s, CKE Restaurants, and Dunkin Brands, where he built and led strategies for development, franchise growth, operations management, vendor partnerships, business acceleration, and team leadership in high-visibility, highly competitive markets. His penchant for problem-solving has led to productive work environments that have gained national recognition amongst leading brands.

“Daniel is a game-changer. He is experienced, strategic, and uniquely qualified to help lead Swig’s expansion across North America,” said Alex Dunn, CEO of Swig. “Swig is more than a beverage company; we need leaders who understand our mission of fostering human connections and sharing ‘happiness in a cup.’ It’s clear Daniel is cut from the same culture cloth, and we’re honored to have him join team Swig.”

With over 80 stores open, 500 franchise stores signed, and hundreds more corporate stores planned, Batty’s development acumen comes at the perfect time in Swig’s growth trajectory.

“Throughout my time in the industry, I had the pleasure of connecting with Swig’s leadership team and was struck by their commitment to culture in the workplace. Swig founder Nicole Tanner is a visionary, and the ideas she and the team have in development will change the industry and put Swig on the map,” Batty said. “In the end, I am a builder. The opportunity to join Swig in their journey will allow me to share in their vision for the brand, work alongside the team as they grow, and celebrate in our future success.

Founded in 2010 in St. George, Utah, Swig has grown to 81 locations across seven states and is the OG of the Dirty Soda phenomenon.

Batty’s hire follows many strategic C-suite appointments for Swig in the last year: Dylan Roeder was named CMO, Chase Wardrop, COO, and Bill Ayers, CFO.

About Swig

Swig, Home of the Original Dirty Soda™, is one of the fastest-growing and most successful beverage-focused brands in the country. Founded in 2010 in St. George, Utah, by Nicole Tanner, Swig has expanded to 81 locations in seven states, becoming thousands of peoples go-to destination for drinks and sweets. In 2022, The Larry H. Miller Company purchased Swig from Savory Fund, with Savory maintaining a minority stake. For more information, visit

About The Larry H. Miller Company

The Larry H. Miller Company oversees the Miller family’s business platforms, including real estate, senior health, sports and entertainment, and investments. For more information, visit

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José Andrés Names Sam Bakhshandehpour CEO

RockCreek Makes Significant Investment in Leading Hospitality Company's Growth

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- José Andrés today announced key leadership appointments reflecting a dynamic stage of domestic and international expansion for the leading hospitality and media company, coupled with a growth investment by RockCreek. 

Sam Bakhshandehpour will now serve as the Global Chief Executive Officer of José Andrés Group (JAG), working closely with Ron Parker as President & Chief Operating Officer and Nestor Nova as Chief Financial Officer to run daily operations.

José Andrés continues to serve as the Founder and Executive Chairman of José Andrés Group, the creative force who continues to inspire the growing company's teams worldwide, lead culinary innovation across its restaurants globally, and create award-winning books, television and content platforms through José Andrés Media.

"Sam understands the power of restaurants to transport us, for food to be the language of connection, and how we can be a part of communities in a meaningful way, all over the world," said José Andrés.

"José's vision of food as an agent of change has had an undeniable impact globally," said Sam Bakhshandehpour. "Staying true to our higher purpose is crucial at this inflection point in our growth trajectory, which is what unites our talented team and attracts like-minded partners."

Long-standing JAG culinary leaders Chef Rick Billings will become Chief Culinary Officer and Chef Carles Tejedor will be Chief Creative Officer.

Newly joining the Board of Directors will be Justin Heyman, Managing Director at global investment firm RockCreek, and Carlota Andrés, Senior Associate of Partnerships at the fast-growing food tech start-up Wonder.

"RockCreek is excited to partner with José, Sam, and the rest of the JAG team to support this next phase of the company's growth," said Justin Heyman. "JAG is a model of how the food and hospitality industry can both be a great business and change the world for the better, and we are looking forward to working with the company to help it grow." In addition, EagleBank is leading a debt refinancing for JAG.

With almost 40 restaurant concepts across the country and internationally, José Andrés Group began 2024 unveiling significant expansion in key markets with prominent strategic partnerships brokered by JAG business development partner, Cultivate Hospitality.

JAG recently announced its first development project with Hyatt Hotels by managing all of the food & beverage of the debut of the Andaz brand in Miami Beach, Florida.

Additionally, JAG newly revealed plans to partner on its first luxury waterfront residential development project in West Palm Beach at Olara managing all of the food & beverage.

This summer will bring the first in a series of openings with Simon Property Group, starting with the debut of Bazaar Mar and Bar Centro at The Shops at Crystals on the Las Vegas Strip, later at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and then Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

With its launch over 30 years ago, JAG brought to America the Spanish art of sharing small plates. 30 years later, while rooted in Spanish cuisine, the spirit of sharing continues with JAG's multi-cuisine and multi-price point format. 

JAG will continue to expand its wide-ranging concepts from its Signature Collection (The Bazaar by José Andrés and barmini) to Small Plates Collection (Jaleo, Zaytinya, China Poblano, Oyamel and China Chilcano) to JAG fast casual division, FastGood (Beefsteak, Butterfly Tacos, Pepe and more).

In the last two years, JAG has significantly broadened its footprint by opening highly acclaimed restaurants and bars in partnership with esteemed hotel brands including Conrad Los Angeles, Waldorf-Astoria Washington DC, The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad, and The Ritz-Carlton South Beach. José Andrés Media has garnered critical acclaim for its Emmy-Award winning TV show, José Andrés and Family in Spain, as well as its recently released New York Times-bestselling cookbook ZAYTINYA: Delicious Mediterranean Dishes from Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon.

For more information about José Andrés Group, go to:

About José Andrés Group José Andrés Group (JAG) is the creative team behind renowned dining concepts and the dynamic media company named for Chef and Founder José Andrés. Originally conceived as ThinkFoodGroup with co-founder Rob Wilder, and now led by CEO Sam Bakhshandehpour, the newly named company reflects the breadth of its mission to change the world through the power of food, through its innovative restaurants and thoughtful storytelling across multi-media platforms. With almost 40 restaurant concepts in Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Orlando, and Washington D.C, The Bahamas and Dubai, José Andrés Restaurants offer culinary experiences that span from food trucks to world-class tasting menus, including the two Michelin starred minibar by José Andrés in Washington, D.C.  Formed in 2021, José Andrés Media was created to share how food connects people around the world. The production company specializes in unscripted and scripted television series, books, podcasts, and digital short- and mid-form content with a focus on food-related stories and characters, and the culture of food. José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator, New York Times bestselling author, educator, television personality, and humanitarian, twice named one of Time's "100 Most Influential People," and awarded "Outstanding Chef" and "Humanitarian of the Year" by the James Beard Foundation as well as the inaugural "American Express Icon Award" by the World's 50 Best Restaurants. For more information, visit

About RockCreek RockCreek is a global investment firm that with over $17 billion in assets. RockCreek partners with corporations, pensions, and other institutional investors to mobilize capital to create long term value and create a more sustainable future. RockCreek is led by its founder and CEO, Afsaneh Beschloss, and invests directly in high-growth companies and in funds across asset classes.

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Smashburger® Welcomes Thomas Prather as Chief Marketing Officer

May 30, 2024, 09:00 ET

Longtime Starbucks executive joins leading fast casual brand

DENVER, May 30, 2024  /PRNewswire/ -- Smashburger®, a leading fast-casual better burger brand is pleased to announce the appointment of Thomas Prather as Chief Marketing Officer. With over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Prather is primed to fuel the company's global brand strategies.

Smashburger's Chief Marketing Officer, Thomas Prather

"We are delighted to welcome Thomas Prather as Smashburger's CMO and are confident that he will be an invaluable addition to our team," said Denise Nelsen, CEO of Smashburger. "Having previously worked alongside Thomas, I know his consistency, attention to detail, and ability to stay current on emerging trends and consumer expectations will help us deliver on our commitment to exceeding guest expectations."

Thomas' appointment comes at a time when the fast-casual industry is experiencing an influx of creativity and menu refocus. As CMO, his role will define the brand proposition, ensure consistent brand expression, and establish a solid foundation for growth.

Before joining the fast-casual brand, Prather held multiple roles at Starbucks where he contributed to domestic and international marketing, brand development, and product innovation.

"I'm honored to step into the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Smashburger and join a strong leadership team with an unwavering commitment to bring the brand to new and delicious heights," said Thomas Prather, Chief Marketing Officer of Smashburger. "Smashburger's use of high-quality ingredients, proprietary smashing process, and authentic burger preparation method are unmatched within the fast casual industry. I look forward to working closely with our passionate employees to continue sourcing the best ingredients to elevate our delicious smash burgers and delight our guests."

For more information about Smashburger, please visit

About Smashburger®

Smashburger® is a leading fast-casual better burger restaurant known for its Certified Angus Beef® burgers that are smashed on the grill to sear in the juices and seal in the flavor. In addition to burgers, Smashburger® offers veggie burgers, signature side items such as SmashFries® and SmashTots®, and hand-spun shakes. Founded in 2007 in Denver, Colorado, Smashburger is recognized as a 2023 Stevie American Business Award winner for Achievement in Product Innovation, named one of the 2023 Top Workplaces by The Denver Post and ranked as one of Fast Casual's top 50 brands in its 2024 Top 100 Movers & Shakers Award. The brand has 235 corporate and franchise restaurants operating in 32 states and six countries. To learn more, visit  

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Hargett Hunter Appoints Scott Taylor CEO of New Full-Service Restaurant Platform, Cherry Bounce Hospitality

May 29, 2024

Private equity firm focused on hospitality industry beefs up executive team

Raleigh, NC  (RestaurantNews.comHargett Hunter announced today that 30-year hospitality industry veteran Scott Taylor has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of its newly created full-service restaurant platform, Cherry Bounce Hospitality. Taylor joins the leading private equity firm after serving in C-level executive positions at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, Beef ‘O’Brady’s and the University of Florida.

Taylor will oversee the full-service brands Trudy’s Authentic Tex-Mex, Cajun Steamer Bar & Grill and Live.Eat.Surf Restaurants as he builds out the new platform. Additionally, Cherry Bounce is currently seeking prospective additions to the platform and is in discussions with several brands interested in joining the newly established group.

“I’m excited to join the Hargett Hunter family in this important leadership role as we focus on strategic expansion with our newly created restaurant platform,” said Taylor. “I believe the right culture attracts the right people and creates special opportunities. I aligned quickly with the Hargett Hunter team on a shared vision and strategy to build best-in-class teams and partnerships across the full-service restaurant space.”

Hargett Hunter is led by Founding Partner & Managing Director Jeff Brock and Partner Brian Fauver. The partners have been investing debt and equity in leading food & beverage businesses for a combined 45 years. Having invested in nine emerging chains – most recently from a dedicated restaurant fund raised in 2019 – Hargett Hunter’s brands operate across the U.S. in a variety of service formats and food categories.

Establishing Cherry Bounce is the latest move in the group’s endeavor to bring unmatched resources to the nation’s most promising emerging and established restauarant brands. The platform is designed to support the leadership teams of the regional casual dining brands to achieve their respective growth, profitability and operational goals. Taylor’s restaurant-industry expertise will be instrumental to the platform’s success and continued expansion.

“The opportunity to successfully scale authentic, differentiated and approachable restaurant brands has never been greater,” said Brock. “Part of being the preferred partner for emerging brands is providing them with resources and advantages to de-risk the challenges associated with operations and growth in our industry. We’re committed to bringing the industry’s top talent to our platform as we continue to execute the exciting growth plans for these truly special brands. Scott’s presence allows us to stack the deck to enable our brands to reach their full potential. His passion for hospitality and incredible track record of driving growth will help us continue to realize the vision for building the strongest growth brands in the industry. We could not be more excited to have his energy focused on supporting our dynamic brands.”

“Jeff and the Hargett Hunter team have built something truly special,” continued Taylor. “They operate with an offense vs. defense mindset and invest the appropriate time and resources to drive success across each brand. Culture is everything and I’m looking forward to building on the incredible foundation in place to leverage some of the tremendous opportunities for growth ahead.”

About Hargett Hunter

Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Hargett Hunter is an operationally focused private equity group investing exclusively in emerging restaurant brands. Having invested over $250 million in more than a dozen emerging concepts across the U.S., the partners have purposefully built the Hargett Hunter platform to address the common needs met by emerging restaurant chains as they scale. Established as a preferred partner for emerging brands with 5-50 units, Hargett Hunter’s dynamic team of highly respected industry leaders, service providers and platform partners is dedicated to driving value and mitigating common risks for the country’s premier emerging concepts. For more information, please visit

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May 28, 2024, 08:00 ET

LEBANON, Tenn., May 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® (NASDAQ: CBRL) today announced that Cheryl Henry, 50, has been elected to the company's Board of Directors, effective immediately.  Ms. Henry is replacing director William Moreton, who will step down from the Board for personal reasons effective May 28, 2024.  Despite his departure, Mr. Moreton will continue to serve as an advisor to the Board and to management through the end of calendar 2024.

Ms. Henry is the former President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairwoman of Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc., a fine-dining restaurant company operating over 150 Ruth's Chris Steak House restaurants worldwide. A seasoned restaurant and public company executive with extensive operational leadership experience, Ms. Henry served in numerous senior leadership roles at Ruth's Chris, including Chief Operating Officer, Senior Vice President and Chief Branding Officer, and Chief Business Development Officer, before she assumed the role of CEO in 2018. Prior to joining Ruth's Chris in June of 2007, Ms. Henry served as Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Orlando.

Carl Berquist, Chairman of the Cracker Barrel Board of Directors, stated of Ms. Henry's appointment, "Cheryl brings to our Board a wealth of industry knowledge and executive leadership experience. Her success in overseeing the revitalization of Ruth's Chris will be particularly relevant to Cracker Barrel as we undertake our own strategic transformation." Mr. Berquist added, "As we welcome Cheryl, we also thank Bill for his significant contributions to the Board and to the Company. Although he is stepping down from the Board in an official capacity, Bill will remain a trusted advisor and part of the Cracker Barrel family."

About Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. (NASDAQ: CBRL) is on a mission to bring craveable, delicious homestyle food and unique retail products to all guests while serving up memorable, distinctive experiences that make everyone feel welcome. Established in 1969 in Lebanon, Tenn., Cracker Barrel and its affiliates operate approximately 660 company-owned Cracker Barrel Old Country Store® locations in 44 states and own the fast-casual Maple Street Biscuit Company. For more information about the company, visit

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FAT Brands Foundation President, Jessica Wiederhorn Named Non-Profit Executive of the Year by Los Angeles Business Journal

FAT Brands Foundation Also Received Nomination for Non-Profit of the Year

LOS ANGELES, May 23, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc., a leading global franchising company that owns 18 restaurant brands, is pleased to announce its charitable foundation, the FAT Brands Foundation, was recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal at the annual Non-Profit and Corporate Citizenship Awards. President and Founding Member of the FAT Brands Foundation, Jessica Wiederhorn, was named as Non-Profit Executive of the Year (Emerging), and the FAT Brands Foundation received a nomination for Non-Profit of the Year.

Since the conception of the foundation in 2022, Wiederhorn has brought together a diverse team of board members and developed the overarching vision of the non-profit: champion local causes that unite and uplift communities across America. In its inaugural year of giving in 2023, the FAT Brands Foundation awarded over $250,000 to 43 deserving non-profits in FAT Brands’ communities. Looking to 2024, Wiederhorn has been key in driving fundraising efforts for the foundation, increasing the funds available to provide to deserving non-profits by approximately 37 percent.

“I am incredibly humbled to receive this prestigious honor from the Los Angeles Business Journal,” said Jessica Wiederhorn, President of FAT Brands Foundation. “I share this accolade with my fellow board members as, without their unwavering commitment to the foundation, we wouldn’t be where we are today. This is also dedicated to the non-profits that we support—they are changing lives every day. Many organizations that we have provided grants to were also recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and we are honored to work with them.”

For more information on the FAT Brands Foundation, please visit

For more information on FAT Brands, visit

About FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands

FAT Brands (NASDAQ: FAT) is a leading global franchising company that strategically acquires, markets, and develops fast casual, quick-service, casual dining, and polished casual dining concepts around the world. The Company currently owns 18 restaurant brands: Round Table Pizza, Fatburger, Marble Slab Creamery, Johnny Rockets, Fazoli’s, Twin Peaks, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Buffalo’s Cafe & Express, Smokey Bones, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Pretzelmaker, Elevation Burger, Native Grill & Wings, Yalla Mediterranean and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, and franchises and owns over 2,300 units worldwide.

About FAT Brands Foundation

Founded in 2022, the FAT Brands Foundation was created to uplift and unite the communities in which FAT Brands operates. While the company’s 18-brand portfolio is deeply rooted in charitable initiatives both locally and nationally, FAT Brands, as an organization, is seeking to magnify those efforts further. The 501(c)(3) organization is aimed at partnering with local non-profit organizations to provide essential programs to help families and communities thrive.

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The Wendy's Company Names Abigail Pringle President, U.S. and E.J. Wunsch President, International

Elevation of Current Senior Leadership Team Members Supports Growth of Core Business Segments

DUBLIN, Ohio, May 23, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- The Wendy's Company (Nasdaq: WEN) announced the appointment of Abigail Pringle to the newly-created role of President, U.S. and E.J. Wunsch to President, International effective June 17. Ms. Pringle has served as President, International and Chief Development Officer since 2019, and in numerous leadership roles across Development, Operations and Strategic Initiatives since joining the Company in 2002. Mr. Wunsch has served as Chief Legal Officer since joining the Company in 2016. He has been a strategic partner on various international initiatives across Australia, Asia, Europe and South America. Prior to Wendy's, Wunsch oversaw a substantial international legal portfolio with The Procter & Gamble Company, including four years stationed in Singapore with responsibility throughout Asia.

As President, U.S., Pringle will direct all aspects of the Wendy's® U.S. business, which includes more than 6,000 Company-operated and franchised restaurants. Wunsch will assume similar accountability for the Wendy's International business across 33 countries and U.S. territories.

"Since joining Wendy's earlier this year, I've carefully reviewed our business strategy and structure, and believe dedicated Presidents for our U.S. and International business segments alongside our global centers of excellence will help us accelerate our growth in same restaurant sales, digital and new restaurant development even faster," said President and CEO Kirk Tanner. "I believe having one leader with clear accountability for development and operational performance in both the U.S. and International businesses, along with a singular voice to those respective franchise systems, will be a catalyst to accelerating growth and performance. Fortunately, we have exceptional leaders for these important roles on the leadership team today. Abigail has been a critical architect of our restaurant development journey and has put our International business on firm footing that is ready for accelerated growth. She will now bring that discipline and drive for outsized performance to our U.S. business. E.J. is a strong, strategic business leader who has been deeply involved in the business in his current role. I'm confident he will bring his global experience and keen business acumen to support the health of our existing International business and grow our footprint further around the world."   

"It has been a career highlight to lead our Global Development and International business over the past five years," said Pringle. "I know our U.S. business and franchisees exceptionally well and am confident that we still have much potential opportunity ahead for sales, profit and restaurant growth."

Wunsch said, "I see a huge opportunity for Wendy's on the international stage. I'm eager to support our current franchise and Company operations in driving outsized growth, while also advancing our footprint to bring more Wendy's to more customers around the globe."

Forward-Looking Statements This release contains certain statements that are not historical facts, including statements regarding our anticipated future performance and growth. Those statements constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (the "Reform Act"). The forward-looking statements are based on our expectations at the time such statements are made, speak only as of the dates they are made and are susceptible to a number of risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statement. These factors include, but are not limited to, the factors identified in the "Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements and Projections" and "Risk Factors" sections of our Annual Reports on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For all forward-looking statements, the Company claims the protection of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in the Reform Act.

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

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Farmer Brothers Names Vance Fisher Chief Financial Officer

May 22, 2024 16:30 ET

NORTHLAKE, Texas, May 22, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Farmer Brothers (NASDAQ: FARM) a leading roaster, wholesaler and distributor of coffee, tea and allied products, announced today it has appointed Vance Fisher as chief financial officer. Brad Bollner, who has served as the company’s interim CFO since August 2023, will remain with the company as its vice president of finance.

“Vance is an experienced CFO with a proven track record of helping organizations grow revenue and EBITDA,” said Chief Executive Officer John Moore. “We are excited to have him join our leadership team as we continue to unlock the full potential of our direct store delivery (DSD) network and drive strategic, long-term growth. We are also especially appreciative of Brad’s diligence and contributions throughout our recent transition.”

Mr. Fisher, who has more than 25 years of financial leadership experience, most recently served as CFO of Nothing Bundt Cakes, where he helped triple the company’s EBITDA in as many years. He has also previously served as CFO of Dunn’s River Brands, a DSD food and beverage company, and Daisy Brand, where he helped drive revenue and profitability growth by four-fold during his nine-year tenure. Mr. Fisher holds bachelor’s degrees in both accounting and finance from the University of Oklahoma.

“Farmer Brothers has long been regarded as an industry leader and expert in coffee and I am excited to be joining the company at such a pivotal time as it refocuses on its DSD business,” said Mr. Fisher. “I look forward to working with John and team to build on recent success as the company focuses on further improving our cost structure, generating revenue and driving top line growth.”

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

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

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Pizza Hut Announces Kalen Thornton as Global Chief Brand Officer

Melissa Friebe To Become Chief Marketing Officer, Pizza Hut U.S., from Taco Bell

Plano, TX  (RestaurantNews.comPizza Hut has announced two new executive marketing appointments.

Kalen Thornton will join the company as Global Chief Brand Officer reporting to Pizza Hut Division Chief Executive Officer, Aaron Powell, effective June 10. In this role, Thornton will lead Pizza Hut’s global brand strategy and oversee all aspects of marketing across 110 markets and territories. Thornton will also be responsible for guiding the brand to a new chapter of relevance – harnessing the power of strategic, engaging customer connections across physical and digital touchpoints and ensuring that the brand maintains its status as a cultural icon.

Thornton most recently served as Vice President of Sports and Entertainment Marketing for PepsiCo North America, where he led partnerships and built brand affinity across sports entertainment properties – leveraging media, content, and activation investments to drive growth for the beverage portfolio. During his time at PepsiCo, Thornton also served as Chief Marketing Officer of Gatorade. Before diving into the beverage business, Thornton held multiple marketing leadership roles for the Nike and Jordan brands over nearly ten years, where he was instrumental in leading transformational brand initiatives.

“Kalen is a visionary and a proven leader who understands how to create memorable moments for consumers,” shared Powell. “With a strong record of building celebrated global brands, Kalen is the right leader to help us connect a new generation through the joy of pizza. I am thrilled for him to join our team and help us take Pizza Hut to the next level.”

“I believe creativity, community and culture bring people together,” said Thornton. “I’m humbled at the opportunity to contribute to Pizza Hut’s long legacy as a brand that connects across those dimensions, and I’m thrilled to help shape the future resonance and growth of this iconic brand.”

In addition to Thornton’s appointment, Melissa Friebe will become Chief Marketing Officer, U.S., reporting to incoming Pizza Hut U.S. President, Carl Loredo. Friebe joins Pizza Hut from Taco Bell, where she served in a number of positions over nearly three decades with the brand, most recently as Chief Brand Strategy Officer. In her new role at Pizza Hut, she will lead all aspects of marketing for the brand’s U.S. business. Friebe will succeed Lindsay Morgan, who is departing the brand after serving more than eight years in various marketing leadership roles.

“I am proud and excited that Pizza Hut is attracting top talent in the industry, and I’m confident that Kalen and Melissa will do great things in their new roles,” said Powell. “I’m also very grateful for the contributions that Lindsay Morgan has made to the Pizza Hut brand over the last many years, including our record-breaking World’s Largest Pizza activation and the successful launch of Melts, and we wish her well in her future endeavors.”

About Pizza Hut®

Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), was founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas and since then has earned a reputation as a trailblazer in innovation with the creation of icons like Original® Pan and Original® Stuffed Crust pizzas. In 1994, Pizza Hut pizza was the very first online food order. Today, Pizza Hut continues leading the way in the digital and technology space with over half of transactions worldwide coming from digital orders. Pizza Hut is committed to providing an easy pizza experience – from order to delivery – and has Hut Rewards®, the Pizza Hut loyalty program that offers points for every dollar spent on food any way you order. Hut Rewards is open to U.S. residents 16+. See applicable terms at A global leader in the pizza category, Pizza Hut operates more than 19,500 restaurants in 110 markets and territories. Through its enormous presence, Pizza Hut works to unlock opportunity for its team members and communities around the world.

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CEC Entertainment Appoints Scott Drake as New Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Names New Executives

Veteran industry leaders will drive new strategies and further growth initiatives as the iconic family entertainment brand continues the most aggressive transformation in its history

May 20, 2024 09:00 ET

IRVING, Texas, May 20, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CEC Entertainment, LLC., the nationally recognized leader in family entertainment and dining with its Chuck E. Cheese, Peter Piper Pizza brands and virtual kitchen concept, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings, has appointed Scott Drake as new EVP, Chief Financial Officer. Scott brings over 30 years of experience in financially led transformational roles impacting operations, franchising international licensing, store unit growth and venue-level revenue management. The Company has also named three seasoned industry executives to new leadership positions.

Drake’s experience in the restaurant, retail, gaming, and consumer product categories will complement his new role as he will be charged with building a new revenue management strategy and team and will oversee the Company’s finance functions, internal audit, and real estate development. Most recently, he served as CFO & Treasurer of Farmer Bros. Co., guiding the public company through the pandemic, after a 5-year run at GameStop, as SVP of Finance & Treasurer, and he’s held other roles with 7 Eleven, PWC, Coca-Cola Enterprises, La Madeleine French Bakery & Café and Arthur Anderson. 

"I am excited by the opportunity to join a company with such great leaders and iconic brands that resonate strongly to so many households," said Scott Drake. "I hope to leverage my experience in order to play a meaningful role in the growth trajectory as we write the next chapter for CEC Entertainment."

As the company adjusts for the changing business trends, additional leadership changes include a new corporate structure with the appointment of Antonio Barron, as VP of Purchasing & Games for both Chuck E. Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza, consolidating departments to accelerate games revenues and save costs across the enterprise. His promotion comes as veteran Mike Johnson announces his retirement after leading the purchasing department on two different occasions for a combined 26 years. Antonio has been with CEC for nearly a decade and is a proven leader, responsible for driving innovation within the industry and internally, spearheading the brand’s new active-play and entertainment installation strategies.

In addition, Justin Lee has been promoted to Vice President, Construction, Design & Facilities. Justin has led the company’s national remodel program, one of -if not the- most aggressive brand makeovers in the industry. He’s also been responsible for reducing costs on construction initiatives with creative value engineering efforts. Both Antonio and Justin will continue reporting to Randy Forsythe, Chief Operating Officer.

David Deck has been promoted to Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer. David has been with C.E.C Entertainment for 25 years and has been leading the Company’s legal, franchising, and licensing efforts and given his tenure is an expert in safety and security within the ever-changing family entertainment business.  

"Scott’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment as our business is rapidly changing with more competition, higher costs, the need for more real-time insights and effective revenue management,” said David McKillips, President, and CEO of CEC Entertainment. “I am confident and excited to see us execute on our plans this year and know we’re poised for another strong year of growth with the right leaders in place.”

The new leaders will be based at the CEC Entertainment corporate support center in Irving, Texas.

About CEC Entertainment, LLC.

CEC Entertainment, LLC. is the nationally recognized leader in family entertainment and dining with its Chuck E. Cheese, Peter Piper Pizza brands and virtual kitchen concept, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings. Chuck E. Cheese is the place where half a million happy birthdays are celebrated every year, and where positive, lifelong memories for families are made through fun, food, and play. It’s the place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid® with a commitment to providing a fun, safe environment, and helping to protect families through industry-leading programs such as Kid Check®. As a strong advocate for its local communities, Chuck E. Cheese has donated more than $21 million to schools through its fundraising programs. Peter Piper Pizza features dining, entertainment and carryout with a neighborhood pizzeria feel and "pizza made fresh, families made happy" culture. Peter Piper Pizza takes pride in delivering quality food and fun that reconnects family and friends. Created in 2020, Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings offers a distinct, customized eating experience outside of a restaurant environment that amplifies classic pizza and wings and operates out of 400 ghost locations nationwide. The Company and its franchisees operate a system of nearly 600 Chuck E. Cheese fun centers and more than 120 Peter Piper Pizza venues, with locations in 45 states and 17 foreign countries and territories. For more information, visit,, and   

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Sbarro names Mario Bojorquez as President, North America

May 16, 2024, 10:00 ET

Former Restaurant Brands International Executive joins Sbarro Leadership Team to help drive growth and strengthen brand

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 16, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Sbarro, the leading global brand in the impulse pizza category known for its Original New York Style Slices and Strombolis, announced the appointment of Mario Bojorquez as its new President, North America.

Former Restaurant Brands International Executive joins Sbarro Leadership Team to help drive growth and strengthen brand

The addition of Bojorquez marks an exciting stage for Sbarro as it expands its leadership team by adding a proven industry leader to support its rapid domestic growth. In his role as President, North America, Bojorquez will work closely with the Senior Team to focus on supporting company restaurants and franchisees on business expansion, operational execution, and brand growth.

"Mario is a talented restaurant executive with a proven track record of results and a solid understanding of franchising in our industry," said David Karam, Sbarro CEO and Chairman of the Board." He is a great cultural fit for Sbarro. His strong people focus and industry expertise will complement the experience and skills of our leadership team as we continue to grow and strengthen our brand."

Mario spent the last 11 years with Restaurant Brands International (RBI), including the last four as Head of Asia-Pacific Operations for Burger King, Popeyes, Tim Hortons and Firehouse Subs, based in Singapore. There, he guided the company through the pandemic, created the infrastructure to support rapid restaurant expansion in existing and new countries, and drove operational improvements leading to elevated guest experience and improved franchisee profitability. Mario previously served as the Head of Marketing for Burger King Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), based in Switzerland, and also had extensive domestic experience in several roles, including as General Manager of the Midwest Division where he oversaw a portfolio of 1,500 Burger Kings. Before joining RBI, Mario was himself a restaurant entrepreneur, co-founding a sandwich concept in Miami.

"I am honored to be joining an iconic brand with a rich legacy of serving handmade, freshly prepared, quality products. I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to work with David and the team to help continue growing Sbarro by supporting our company operators and franchisees and bringing the best food to our guests; every shift, every day," Mario said. "Despite already being the leader in the impulse pizza category, there is a tremendous space to continue scaling our footprint, and I am looking forward to accelerating our restaurant development, supporting our operations, and strengthening our brand."

Sbarro continues its record setting growth, opening more than two hundred new restaurants in the last two years including in new countries such as Colombia, Panama, Poland, Denmark, and North Macedonia. In 2022, Sbarro was named the fastest growing domestic pizza chain in terms of net unit growth percentage. While historically Sbarro had been focused primarily on malls and airports, the brand has evolved its positioning and operational innovation has allowed Sbarro to expand into new segments like convenience stores, travel centers, universities, military bases, hospitals, and casinos. New segments and strong profitability are the driving forces behind the recent growth, and Sbarro is on pace to open well over one hundred net new restaurants in 2024.

About Sbarro

Sbarro is the global leader in the impulse pizza category, offering our Original New York Style Pizza, handmade every day, with freshly prepared and hand stretched dough, 100% whole milk mozzarella cheese, and San Marzano-style tomatoes in a variety of venues including malls, casinos, airports, universities, convenience stores and travel plazas. Sbarro is proud to be certified by Great Place to Work® and was named by QSR as a "Top 25 Brands to Work For." To order online, to find a location near you, or for franchising opportunities, visit Get social with us on @sbarro on Facebook, and TikTok and @sbarroofficial on Instagram. 

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Cousins Maine Lobster Announces Key Leadership Changes to Accelerate Growth

May 15, 2024, 12:43 ET

Focused on accelerating US growth, Cousins Maine Lobster announces appointment of Shaun Higgins as President, Marion Thomas as SVP, Marketing, and Lindsay Herberger as Director, Franchise Development.

PORTLAND, Maine, May 15, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Cousins Maine Lobster Co-Founders, Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac, announced today a series of leadership changes in support of their continued plans for expansion, anchored by the appointment of Shaun Higgins as President. Over the past fifteen months, CML has opened 22 new units and has more than 20 new unit openings planned for 2024. The brand continues to drive profitable, sustainable growth and has expanded its footprint across 26 states, with more than 65 units in operation. Notorious for their legion of ever roaming black food trucks, they continue to leverage their mobility to evaluate new markets and are actively recruiting new franchisees to fuel growth through the Midwest and beyond.

Cousins Maine Lobster's new key leadership changes include Shaun Higgins as President, Marion Thomas as Senior Vice President of Marketing, and Lindsay Herberger as Director of Franchise Development.

Shaun Higgins, President - Shaun joined Cousins Maine Lobster in 2014 as the Head of Franchise Development, charged with establishing the brands' capabilities to launch the franchise business. For more than ten years Shaun has taken on increasing responsibilities, driving various aspects of new unit development, franchise development, franchise operations, finance, and supply chain. His leadership has been integral to the brand, with his efforts enabling CML to drive the realization of many successful, long-term franchisees who have driven expansion of new units across new markets. Lomac shared, "Shaun has been an integral part of our CML family and leadership team from the signing of our very first franchisee. He has selflessly led the brand through years of sustained growth and demonstrates the passion and tenacity that will lead us through our continued expansion. We are appreciative of his partnership, and we are so excited for him as he takes on this expanded role."

Marion Thomas, Senior Vice President of Marketing - Marion, a seasoned marketing and business executive with over twenty years of experience, joined CML in April 2024. Tasked with spearheading the company's marketing strategy, her focus lies in enhancing the customer experience and amplifying brand messages to fuel growth. With a history of driving transformation in diverse settings, including startups and industry disruptors like Wayfair, ZipCar and VistaPrint, Marion's mission is to drive measurable growth for new and existing units, anchored in customer success. Her leadership aims to capitalize on CML's momentum fueled by its high off-premise customer engagement and multi-faceted digital channels, ensuring a cohesive and impactful marketing approach that drives incremental reach with the brand's expanding customer base.

Lindsay Herberger, Director of Franchise Development - As the brand has solidified growth plans, they've also been working to build further development capability, driving the hiring of Lindsay Herberger as Director, Franchise Development. Lindsay joins Cousins Maine Lobster with more than eight years of franchising acumen from The Wendy's Company. Lindsay's vast restaurant experiences have traversed Operations, Training, Franchising and Development. During her tenure, she played an integral role in driving and enabling net new unit growth through the recruitment of new franchisees in the US and abroad. In her new role, Lindsay will spearhead efforts to launch new franchise recruitment and onboarding programs that will further support CML's vast expansion plans.

The appointment of Shaun Higgins was announced internally in the back half of 2023, following the hiring of CML's Head of Development, Angela Coppler. The executive team, also including CML Chief of Operations, Mike Carmody, and Head of Branding & Digital, Jameson Lyons, have been leading the charge to prepare the organization for an influx of new franchisees and increased new units.

For more information, contact:

Danielle Donovan, 360PR+ddonovan@360pr.plus603-560-4303

About Cousins Maine Lobster:

Cousins Maine Lobster is a leader in fast casual seafood, partnering with local entrepreneurs to bring the highest quality Maine lobster rolls to neighborhoods everywhere by way of their infamous food trucks, brick & mortar restaurants, and a shore-to-door gourmet online shop that delivers the highest quality live Maine lobsters directly to your home. In 2012, Cousins Maine Lobster was co-founded by cousins Sabin Lomac and Jim Tselikis with the desire to bring their local Maine family traditions to the West Coast masses. They later appeared on Shark Tank where they partnered with real estate mogul and shark, Barbara Corcoran. Since then, Cousins Maine Lobster has franchised to expand their footprint across the U.S. and has become one of the top Shark Tank investments of all time. For more information, visit: and follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube @cousinsmainlobster and Twitter @cousinsmainlob. For information on new franchising opportunities, visit:

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