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Executive Movements - March 2023






The Habit Burger Grill Welcomes Jack Hinchliffe as Its New Global Chief Marketing Officer

March 09, 2023 07:30 ET



IRVINE, Calif., March 09, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Habit Burger Grill, the California-based restaurant company renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame, signature sandwiches, fresh salads, and more, welcomes their new Global Chief Marketing Officer, Jack Hinchliffe.

Jack is a passionate leader with 15 years experience working on some of the world’s most beloved food brands. He has been a part of Yum! Brands for more than eight years, joining KFC UK and Ireland (UKI) in 2015 as Senior Marketing Manager and quickly ascending to Head of Innovation that same year. He continued his career growth with two promotions to Marketing Director in 2019, and to Chief Marketing Officer in 2021, where he was instrumental in driving change across food, communications, and media to make KFC more relevant, more distinctive and easier to access. He is also renowned for building one of the most exceptional marketing teams in the industry.

“I had the pleasure of working with Jack at KFC, and I’m elated to have him join our team,” says Shannon Hennessy, The Habit Burger Grill President. “Under his leadership, KFC UKI was awarded Brand of the Year by Marketing Week in 2021 and took home a Gold IPA Effectiveness Award for Business Transformation. Jack is a true marketing powerhouse; I know first-hand that he has the skills, experience, and passion to take The Habit to the next level of brand awareness and distinctiveness.”

From introducing the vegan burger to coordinating the marketing response to the pandemic, and most recently overseeing KFC’s first pub, Jack has been at the forefront of the brand’s award-winning creative work in recent years. He has also spearheaded the growth of KFC’s digital transformation with the move to omnichannel retailing, culminating in the launch of its own delivery channel in 2022.

“When the opportunity to work for The Habit Burger Grill presented itself, I just couldn’t pass it up,” says Jack. “The food and hospitality at The Habit Burger Grill are world class; it’s an incredible business but there is still work to be done to build a brand that connects with people in a competitive and cluttered category, and I’m excited for the challenge. I am very grateful to be a part of this exciting next chapter as we embark on creating a modern and distinctive brand that has crafted, quality food at its heart.”

The news comes as Iwona Alter, former Chief Brand Officer, was appointed as Chief Operating Officer for The Habit Burger Grill. Under Iwona’s leadership, the brand accomplished many firsts such as The Habit Burger’s first-ever advertising campaign, establishing a consumer insights discipline, and growing digital marketing. With over 350 restaurants and growing, The Habit Burger Grill is now a brand poised to become a household name. A marketing visionary, Jack plans to provide innovation, leadership and excitement to this important moment in the brand's history.

About The Habit Restaurants, Inc. Born in Santa Barbara, California in 1969, The Habit Burger Grill is a burger-centric, fast-casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, cooked-to-order chargrilled burgers and handcrafted sandwiches featuring grilled tenderloin steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade ahi tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh handcrafted salads and an appealing selection of sides and shakes. The Habit Burger Grill was featured in Newsweek’s “America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains 2023;” its Tempura Green Beans was named as the top green bean dish in The Daily Meal’s “Ranking Green Bean Dishes From 11 Chain Restaurants” in 2023; and it was named in Thrillist’s list of “Underrated Burger Chains that Need to be in Every State!” The Habit Burger Grill has since grown to over 350 restaurants in 14 states throughout Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington as well as 12 international locations, five in China and seven in Cambodia. More information is available at www.habitburger.com.

View source version at The Habit Burger


FAT Brands Inc. Founder Andy Wiederhorn to Step Aside as CEO and Transition to Strategic Advisory Role in May 2023

March 06, 2023 16:30 ET



Veteran Restaurant Executive Will Assume New Position as Outside Consultant and Strategic Advisor

LOS ANGELES, March 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. announces that its founder and CEO, Andy Wiederhorn, will transition to a new role as an outside consultant and strategic advisor to the Company effective May 5, 2023. Mr. Wiederhorn will remain a FAT Brands Board member and his family office, Fog Cutter Holdings LLC, will continue as the controlling shareholder of FAT Brands. The appointment of an interim CEO will be announced prior to the transition date, and Mr. Wiederhorn will continue as CEO until then.

In his strategic advisory role, Mr. Wiederhorn will continue to support the management team and the Company while focusing his time on the Company’s long-term strategy and capital allocation plans. In transitioning from his role as CEO, Mr. Wiederhorn seeks to eliminate the distraction of the previously announced government investigation tied to him, and allow senior management to focus on continuing to drive shareholder value.

“While I will be stepping aside as CEO, I will continue to support the growth and evolution of FAT Brands, including championing our talented executive team, which has over the past five years taken the Company from two brands to 17 iconic restaurant brands with over 2,300 units and systemwide sales of $2.2 billion annually,” said FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn. “In 2022 we were named Public Company of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal, due in large part to the hard work and dedication of our corporate teams and franchise partners.”

For more information on FAT Brands, please visit www.fatbrands.com.

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

View source version at FAT Brands


Just Salad taps Goldman Sachs vet as CFO

Published March 6, 2023

Emma Liem Beckett

Lead Editor

As CFO, Garber will oversee all of Just Salad’s financial operations and help the chain grow in new and current markers, according to a company release emailed to Restaurant Dive.

Garber covered IPOs of fast-growing QSR chains in addition to health-forward fast casual companies while working as the lead equity research analyst for Goldman Sachs’ restaurant division. This expertise could help Just Salad as it looks to scale its footprint beyond its 70-plus locations. The company is currently navigating the fastest growth period in its 17-year history, CEO Nick Kenner said in a statement.

“Jared brings extensive industry experience as well as an impressive feel for the restaurant sector, both financial and beyond, which will make him a valuable asset to our company and leadership team as we continue to grow fast,” Kenner said.

Prior to working at Goldman Sachs, Garber served in several roles at Macy’s, where he gained nearly six years of retail management experience.

“After closely following publicly traded restaurant companies for the past seven years, I am inspired by Just Salad’s brand, business model, team and white space and admire the company’s innovative and distinctly unique approach to food and sustainability within the fast casual category,” Garber said.

View source version at Just Salad


Church’s Texas Chicken® Hires Industry Veteran Natalia Franco for Global Chief Marketing Officer Role


Franco will utilize her extensive industry knowledge to position the brand strategically and successfully for future growth



March 06, 2023 11:40 AM Eastern Standard Time


ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Quick-service chicken restaurant chain Church’s Texas Chicken® has hired Natalia Franco for its Executive Vice President, Global Chief Marketing Officer role effective March 6, bringing more than 30 years of executive leadership experience to the brand.

As EVP, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Franco is responsible for providing a strategic vision for the brand and creatively leading marketing ideation, brand execution and digital prowess across the organization to drive brand awareness and positioning, resulting in continued growth and stronger franchise relationships.

“I’m thrilled to join this iconic brand as it continues on a strong growth trajectory and secures a leading position in the fried chicken category,” said Franco. “It is an exciting time to join a company with such tremendous potential in an exciting, dynamic category.”

Prior to joining Church’s Texas Chicken®, Franco held numerous executive roles such as EVP, Chief Brand and Strategy Officer for California Pizza Kitchen; President and Founder of Brandmark Global, LLC; SVP, CMO of IHOP under DineEquity; and Global CMO, EVP for Burger King. More recently, she was promoted within Focus Brands to be the Marketing Senior Vice President for the non-restaurant brands including Jamba, Auntie Ann’s, Cinnabon and Carvel. This promotion followed her success as Chief Marketing Officer at McAlister’s Deli. Throughout her career, Franco has gained extensive experience in P&L and business development, portfolio management and profit optimization, customer relationship management, leadership development and additional skills that are vital in the quick-service industry.

“Natalia is a veteran marketing executive with whom I previously worked during a major brand acceleration. Her vision for brand positioning and her leadership in building great teams is very strong. Natalia’s expertise will be key as we continue to strengthen and grow this beloved brand,” said Joe Guith, CEO, Church’s Texas Chicken® and Texas Chicken™.

About Church’s Texas Chicken® / Texas Chicken™

Founded in San Antonio, TX, in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Texas Chicken®, along with its sister brand Texas Chicken™ primarily outside of the U.S., is one of the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chains in the world. The brands specialize in Original and Spicy Chicken freshly prepared throughout the day in small batches that are hand-battered and double-breaded, tenders, sandwiches, Honey-Butter Biscuits™ made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, home-style sides all for a great value. Texas Chicken™ and Church’s Texas Chicken® have more than 1,500 locations in 26 countries and global markets and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information about Church’s Texas Chicken®, visit churchstexaschicken.com. For information on Texas Chicken™, visit texaschicken.com. For information on how to become a Church’s Texas Chicken® Franchisee, visit https://www.churchs.com/franchising/.

View source version at Church's Chicken



PAPA JOHNS ANNOUNCES BOARD CHAIR TRANSITION AND MAJOR SHARE REPURCHASE TRANSACTION


  1. Jeff Smith to Depart the Board, Christopher Coleman Appointed New Independent Chair

  2. Papa Johns Announces Share Repurchase from Starboard Value Under Previously Announced Authorization

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar. 2, 2023-- Papa John's International, Inc. (“Papa Johns”), (NASDAQ: PZZA) today announced that Jeffrey Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Starboard Value LP (“Starboard”), and Chair of the Papa Johns Board of Directors (the “Board”), has resigned from the Board effective as of March 1, 2023. Christopher Coleman, a Papa Johns director since 2012, has been appointed the new independent Chair of the Board. Papa Johns also announced it has entered into an agreement to repurchase 2,176,928 shares of Papa Johns common stock beneficially owned by Starboard at a purchase price of $82.52 per share.

“Starboard, led by Jeff Smith, invested in Papa Johns at a challenging time for the company. The Starboard team has provided crucial guidance and insights that have helped drive our turnaround and growth over the last four years. We thank Jeff for his dedication to the Papa Johns brand and his leadership of the Board,” added Rob Lynch, President and CEO of Papa Johns. “I will thoroughly miss his presence in the Boardroom and the test kitchen. I wish him all the best.”

“When we invested in the Company four years ago, it faced substantial challenges,” said Smith. “I am extremely proud of the significant progress Papa Johns has made in its customer experience, financial performance, share price performance and corporate governance. With this incredible improvement, we have been thinking for some time about the right moment to transition the Board Chair role. Given the strength of the team, board and overall health of Papa Johns, I felt like now was the right time for me to step down and transition Board leadership.”

Mr. Smith continued, “It has truly been an honor to work with Rob and this incredible management team, as well as this fantastic board. Since Starboard initially invested in Papa Johns, the stock price and operating income have more than doubled. But just as importantly, the company has become a leader in product innovation, differentiated itself in the pizza delivery category and significantly improved its overall corporate governance. It has also been recognized for its diverse and inclusive culture. In 2022, Papa Johns was named in the Forbes World’s Best Employers and Best Employers for Diversity lists and achieved a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index for the second year in a row. This is a remarkable feat, given where we started, and it could not have been accomplished without incredible leadership from Rob and the team. While there is still more to accomplish, I feel confident the team is well equipped to continue driving success at Papa Johns, and that the Board has the right leadership and experience to oversee Papa Johns’ continued success.”

“Jeff has been an effective leader of the Papa Johns Board and we are sad to see him depart,” said Christopher Coleman, Chair of Papa Johns. “We have been discussing with Jeff the right moment for this transition and given the Company’s great progress, Jeff felt this was the right time for him to step back from the Board. We are grateful for his valuable contributions.”

The price of the share repurchase represents a discount of approximately 4% to the closing price of Papa Johns common stock on March 1, 2023. Following the repurchase, Starboard will beneficially own 582,432 shares, representing approximately 2% of Papa Johns’ outstanding shares.

Coleman added, “This agreement provided us with a unique opportunity to repurchase a meaningful number of outstanding shares while reducing any potential overhang from an expected Starboard sale. We are using capital earmarked for an open-market share buy-back to support this transaction, which puts us in a position to lock in what we believe to be an attractive repurchase price in a single transaction.”

The Company will fund the share repurchase with cash on hand and funds available under its revolving credit facility and remains well positioned to continue funding its strategic plan from its operating cash flows. The share repurchase from Starboard is being made pursuant to the Company’s existing share repurchase authorization.

Papa Johns previously announced a share repurchase program for up to $425.0 million of the Company’s common stock, in addition to a $75 million share repurchase authorization announced in 2020. As a result of the shares already repurchased in the open market and this transaction, Papa Johns will have approximately $90 million remaining available under its current authorization. With this repurchase from Starboard, Papa Johns will have spent more than $410 million on share repurchases, buying back more than 10% of its shares outstanding since 2020.

The transaction was negotiated by an independent committee of the Papa Johns Board formed for the purpose of evaluating a possible transaction with Starboard. Papa Johns’ independent director, Christopher Coleman, will succeed Jeffrey Smith as Board chair effective immediately. Mr. Coleman was appointed a director of Papa Johns in 2012. He currently serves as the Chair of the Corporate Governance and Nominating Committee, serves on the Compensation Committee and has previously served on the Audit Committee. Mr. Coleman is a Global Partner and Group Head of Banking at Rothschild & Co. and is based in the United Kingdom. He is Chairman of Rothschild & Co. Bank International and serves on a number of other boards and committees of the Rothschild & Co. Group.

About Papa Johns

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) opened its doors in 1984 with one goal in mind: BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.® Papa Johns believes that using high quality ingredients leads to superior quality pizzas. Its original dough is made of only six ingredients and is fresh, never frozen. Papa Johns tops its pizzas with real cheese made from mozzarella, pizza sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes that go from vine to can in the same day and meat free of fillers. It was the first national pizza delivery chain to announce the removal of artificial flavors and synthetic colors from its entire food menu. Papa Johns is co-headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. and Louisville, Ky. and is the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,700 restaurants in approximately 50 countries and territories as of December 25, 2022. For more information about the Company or to order pizza online, visit www.papajohns.com or download the Papa Johns mobile app for iOS or Android.

View source version at Papa Johns


Eggs Up Grill Hires Julie Krupa as Director of Development

February 28, 2023



Number one breakfast franchise grows team in preparation for a record-breaking year

Spartanburg, SC  (RestaurantNews.com)  Eggs Up Grill, a rapidly growing breakfast, brunch and lunch concepthas named Julie Krupa Director of Development. Krupa will assist franchisees in the development of new Eggs Up Grill restaurants, from site selection through design and construction, leading to top-tier locations and swift opening timelines.  She will also manage Eggs Up Grill’s strategic partnerships with real estate, architectural and construction resources.

Eggs Up Grill recently welcomed its 61st location last week and has more than 20 new restaurants in development for 2023 openings.  The company continues to add record levels of new franchise signings, bringing a region-wide presence of more than 170 Eggs Up Grills open, under development or committed to open by local franchise partners.

“As we approach 80 restaurants by year’s end, it’s time to enhance our leadership capabilities and processes as we continue to accelerate our growth,” said Ricky Richardson, CEO of Eggs Up Grill.  “We remain committed to being a best-in-class franchisor and Julie’s expertise and extensive experience in restaurant portfolio expansion will help Eggs Up Grill and our franchise partners maximize our growth potential.”

Krupa most recently served as a real estate manager for Inspire Brands, which includes Baskin Robbins, Jimmy John’s and Dunkin’, having overseen development in southern Virginia and the Carolinas. She spent seven years with Taco Bell as senior manager of franchise development in charge of opening restaurants in multiple markets across the southeast; Krupa was awarded the President’s Award at Taco Bell for breakthrough results in growth during her tenure. She also worked for such brands as Torchy’s Tacos and Kangaroo Express.

“Eggs Up Grill has a long, successful history of organic growth that is now attracting larger, multi-location franchisees that want to expand their portfolio. Additionally, there is a high percentage of existing franchise partners who are excited about their successes and are now pursuing new locations for their Eggs Up Grill businesses,” said Krupa. “I’m excited to join one of the most successful and fastest growing better breakfast concepts. I look forward to contributing to that growth, assisting franchise partners through the entire process, from soup to nuts, while maximizing the best practices already in place.”

With locations across the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and soon entering Texas and Mississippi, Eggs Up Grill offers an attractive experience for guests and franchise partners. Its great tasting products, uniquely friendly service and everyday affordability make Eggs Up Grill a number one choice for guests.  The single daypart operation, appealing investment economics and top-quality franchisor support are highly attractive to franchisees.

About Eggs Up Grill

Eggs Up Grill is home to the whole neighborhood and has been serving smiles for more than 25 years. The aromas of freshly brewed coffee, savory bacon and hand-cracked, farm-fresh eggs and juicy burgers on the griddle, and warm, attentive team members will make you feel right at home. We are “neighbors serving neighbors” daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ranked as the No. 1 breakfast franchise by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® three years in a row, Eggs Up Grill is experiencing record growth across the Southeast. Founded in Pawleys Island, S.C., Eggs Up Grill now has 61 locations open, with a region-wide presence of 150 Eggs Up Grills open, under development or committed to open by local franchise partners. For more information, visit eggsupgrillfranchise.com.

View source version at Eggs Up Grill



Church’s Texas Chicken® Names Danton Nolan as EVP, Chief Financial Officer as Brand Pursues Strategic Growth in U.S. and Internationally


Industry veteran brings nearly 15 years of franchised QSR experience and a proven track record in financial leadership to the company



February 27, 2023 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time


ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Church’s Texas Chicken®, one of the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chains in the world, has hired Atlanta-based executive Danton Nolan for the company’s EVP, Chief Financial Officer role, effective February 27, 2023. Nolan is replacing Louis Profumo, Church’s former EVP, Chief Financial Officer, who is retiring after 18 years of service with the brand.

Reporting to CEO Joe Guith, Nolan brings a wealth of industry experience including several years at Arby’s in the role of Senior Vice President of Finance, where he contributed to a successful brand turnaround initiative during his tenure. He joins Church’s Texas Chicken® from Inspire Brands, the second largest restaurant company in the U.S., where he was the Senior Vice President, Company Finance, Capital and Real Estate. While there, he led a team covering company operations finance, real estate and development finance, capital and services transformation.

“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to join the Church’s Texas Chicken team and share my experience with such an iconic brand in an expanding category,” said Nolan. “This is truly an exciting time to join the company, its team members and franchisees in making a lasting and strategic impact on a growing business.”

In his new role at Church’s Texas Chicken®, Nolan will work closely with the corporate and brand finance teams to deliver on strategic priorities as the brand looks to add restaurants both domestically and internationally in 2023.

“In addition to his deep industry expertise, Danton brings an operational focus and a firm understanding of where we’re going and how to help us get there,” said Joe Guith, CEO, Church’s Texas Chicken®. “I am eager to collaborate with Danton as we take the brand into its next phase of growth. I would also like to thank Louis 'Dusty' Profumo for his many years of dedicated service to the brand.”

About Church’s Texas Chicken® / Texas Chicken™ Founded in San Antonio, TX, in 1952 by George W. Church, Church’s Texas Chicken®, along with its sister brand Texas Chicken™ primarily outside of the U.S., is one of the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chains in the world. The brands specialize in Original and Spicy Chicken freshly prepared throughout the day in small batches that are hand-battered and double-breaded, tenders, sandwiches, Honey-Butter Biscuits™ made from scratch and freshly baked, and classic, home-style sides all for a great value. Texas Chicken™ and Church’s Texas Chicken® have more than 1,500 locations in 26 countries and global markets and system-wide sales of more than $1 billion. For more information about Church’s Texas Chicken®, visit churchstexaschicken.com. For information on Texas Chicken™, visit texaschicken.com. For information on how to become a Church’s Texas Chicken Franchisee, visit https://www.churchs.com/franchising/

View source version at Church's Texas Chicken


Twin Peaks Adds New VP of Franchise Sales & Development

February 27, 2023



Ray Bodnar brings experience and success to the ultimate sports lodge expansion plans

Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  As Twin Peaks Restaurant continues the march toward its monumental 100th restaurant, it will turn to a new leader to oversee its increased growth across the country and more markets around the globe.

Twin Peaks CEO Joe Hummel announced today that industry veteran Ray Bodnar is joining the ultimate sports lodge’s team as Vice President of Franchise Sales and Development. Bodnar, who was most recently Director of Franchise Sales for Captain D’s, brings more than 18 years of experience in franchising, enterprise sales and business development.

“Our goal in 2023 and beyond is to start painting the globe buffalo plaid,” said Twin Peaks CEO Joe Hummel. “We believe Ray is the perfect candidate to help us get there. We’re excited to hit the 100-restaurant mark this year and turn our focus towards growing our footprint stateside before switching to international growth. Ray’s experience and emphasis on relationship building will show everyone that Twin Peaks is the top sports viewing spot in the world.”

Bodnar is known industrywide for his broad experience in emerging technologies, franchise sales and development in the hospitality and telecom industries. His success speaks for itself, with huge wins at Dickey’s Barbeque Pit and Radisson Hotel Group. As the VP of franchise development at Dickey’s, Bodnar grew the number of total open franchises from 502 to 706 in 2021 and sold the largest multi-unit development deal in company history. As the VP of franchise development and sales at Radisson Hotel Group, Bodnar managed all seven brands in the southeastern region of the US and closed the $32 million sale of the Radisson Red hotel in downtown Nashville.

“I’m ecstatic to join the Twin Peaks team and work with what I believe to be the most successful sports bar brand in the world,” Bodnar said. “To work with a group that is committed to delivering the best food and customer experience in the industry is something that anyone would want to do, and I get to focus on that task moving forward.”

For more information on Twin Peaks, visit twinpeaksrestaurant.com.

About Twin Peaks

Founded in 2005 in the Dallas suburb of Lewisville, Twin Peaks now has 95 locations in the US and Mexico. Twin Peaks is the ultimate sports lodge featuring made-from-scratch food and the coldest beer in the business surrounded by scenic views and the latest in high-definition TVs. At every Twin Peaks, guests are immediately welcomed by a friendly Twin Peaks Girl and served up a menu made for MVPs. From its smashed and seared to order burgers to its in-house smoked brisket, pork and wings, guests can expect menu items capable of satisfying every appetite. To learn more about franchise opportunities, visit twinpeaksfranchise.com. For more information, visit twinpeaksrestaurant.com.

View source version at Twin Peaks

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