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Executive Movements - May 2018

Dine Brands Adds Choice Hotels' Exec Thomas Song as CFO

The CEO of Applebee’s and IHOP’s Parent Company Also Hails from the Leading Hotel Chain May 8, 2018--(FoodNewsFeed) Another Choice Hotels executive is joining the Dine Brands team. The parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP announced late Monday (May 7) the appointment of Thomas Song as chief financial officer, effective May 29. Song has held the role of senior vice president of corporate development and innovation at Choice Hotels International, Inc., since 2013. Dine Brands’ chief executive officer, Stephen Joyce, was the former CEO of the leading hotel company. He shifted to the same role for Dine Brands in September. Joyce said in a statement that the move continues the company’s behind-the-scenes overhaul. “Back in February, we outlined our plans for a complete strategic transformation of Dine Brands to return it back to a growth company. Our approach includes strengthening the leadership team and making strategic and meaningful investments. After a comprehensive nationwide search, during which we identified and evaluated a number of highly qualified candidates, Tom emerged as the clear choice to become our next chief financial officer,” Joyce said. “Tom has a unique and varied background that includes over 20 years of experience in finance, M&A, development and franchising, delivering strong business results and creating significant value for shareholders.” Before the move, Dine Brands had executed 10 major executive changes, including: Greg Bever as SVP and chief people officer; Steve Levigne as VP consumer insights; Joel Yashinsky as SVP, chief marketing officer; Kevin Carroll as SVP, operations; Stephen Bulgarelli as chief culinary officer; Brad Haley as CMO of IHOP; Carrie Stojack as VP consumer insights; and Nevielle Panthaky as chief culinary officer. At Choice Hotels, Song led the company’s growth initiatives, including corporate investment and acquisitions. Before, Song was the head of corporate development and strategy for the Hanover Insurance Group. “Having worked with Tom directly, I know what a gifted, results-driven leader he is and also value his skills as an excellent leader of people and team culture,” Joyce added. “I am excited about his joining the team and looking forward to having his ideal combination of skills, knowledge and experience in place as we execute our strategy for long-term growth." Greggory H. Kalvin, Dine Brands’ interim chief financial officer, will continue in his role as senior vice president, corporate controller once Song steps in. "I want to sincerely thank Gregg for his contributions and dedication as our interim chief financial officer during this transitional time for the company. He has been a fantastic partner and will continue to be an important and valued part of the company's go-forward strategy in his role as senior vice president, corporate controller," Joyce said. Dine Brands is coming off one of its better quarters in recent periods, especially for Applebee’s. Applebee’s domestic systemwide comparable same-store sales increased 3.3 percent versus the prior-year period (a 7.9 percent decline in Q1 2017). This was the chain’s highest quarterly comp sales increase since the first quarter of 2011. It was also the second consecutive quarter of positive sales and traffic for Applebee’s. Over the past six months, Applebee’s has enjoyed its best sustained traffic performance in more than a decade. IHOP achieved 1 percent same-store sales growth, year-over-year.

There are 1,791 (1,679 domestic) IHOPs and 1,912 (1,760 domestic) Applebee’s.

Papa John's CMO Departs as Company Shifts Direction

The pizza chain's domestic sales are struggling to gain momentum May 9, 2018--BOCA RATON, FL--(QSRMagazine) Chief executive officer Steve Ritchie put it simply: “It’s not business as usual at Papa John’s,” he said during a May 8 conference call. That might be an understatement. Fiscal 2018 is going to be a transformational year for the 5,212-unit chain, and it’s off to a rocky start. Given the vast changes at hand, Ritchie, who assumed the role January 1 after founder John Schnatter stepped aside, said the downturn was in line with the company’s expectations, although Papa John’s “ we can do better and I'm confident that we will.” Comparable same-store sales dropped 5.3 percent across the company’s 3,424 North America units, year-over-year. Papa John’s company-owned domestic store count dropped 29 stores, a decrease of 4.1 percent, to 679. Internationally, Papa John’s comps lifted 0.3 percent. Broken down, comps declined 6.1 percent at domestic corporate stores and 5 percent at North America franchise units. First-quarter earnings per diluted share were 50 cents compared to 77 cents in the prior-year period. In addition, Papa John’s is making a marketing change at the top. CMO Brandon Rhoten, the former VP of advertising, media, and digital/social at Wendy’s International who joined Papa John’s in late May 2017, is leaving the company at the end of the month. Ritchie said he would lead the marketing department as the chain searches for a new marketing leader who “has the necessary skills to execute our strategy with urgency and agility.” “Given my conversations over these past 100 days and as a franchise owner myself, I know that this company has a lot of upside ahead. But we need to be faster in improving how we communicate and connect with consumers to improve results,” he said. And the executive changes don’t end there. Tim O’Hern is being promoted to president of international and senior vice president, chief development officer. He will now oversee all international restaurant operations. Papa John’s is also promoting Jack Swaysland to SVP, chief operating officer of international. Undoubtedly, it’s been an eventful early stretch for Ritchie, who recently completed his first 100 days as CEO. Ritchie said he spent part of the time traveling around the country, visiting franchisees, leadership, restaurants, and talking with shareholders. He’s confident Papa John’s five strategic priories, which he outlined at the end of fiscal 2017, will get the brand back on solid footing through a renewed brand message. Ritchie added that Papa John’s has “the best quality pizza in the industry.” So much of this comes down to how the company shares and positions its perceived strength, and also ensuring it is presenting the right offerings for customers. This is becoming increasingly critical given the red-hot pizza landscape. Domino’s just blasted the doors off its first-quarter sales report with domestic same-store gains of 8.3 percent, year-over-year. Internationally, comps grew 5 percent. YUM! Brands’ Pizza Hut had same-store sales increases of 2 percent in the U.S. in Q1 and has put together three consecutive positive reports. Pizza Hut also took the spot of Papa John’s as the official sponsor of the NFL in February. “You've heard us say, 'Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.' Our brand was founded on this point of differentiation, yet we have discovered our slogan alone is not enough,” Ritchie said. “We must share the undeniable truths that make the brand uniquely special. In the near future, you'll begin seeing creative that brings the meaning back and explains how we define better, things such as fresh original dough, fresh packed sauce, meats without fillers, and pizzas with no artificial flavors or colors.” In April, Papa John’s unveiled a new marketing campaign centered on value—a new long-term $12.99 meal offering that includes a large, one-topping pizza, choice of bread side, and a 2-liter drink. The company tapped Laundry Service as its new creative agency of record in late October. This was the group’s first campaign. Papa John’s also brought on Olson Engage as its fresh PR firm. This leads into Papa John’s second priority for 2018, Ritchie said—value. He said the $12.99 deal, as well as additional offers the company is testing, “will allow consumers to better calibrate the price of our brand, and always choose Papa John's even when times are a bit tight. We're just a month in and we are already starting to see value perception improvements from this work.” Technology is goal No. 3. Currently, more than 60 percent of Papa John’s sales are coming through digital channels. Ritchie said they can be significantly higher. “We have greatly expanded the size and skill set of our tech teams and have made incredible progress on our stated technical objectives for the year,” Ritchie said. “We have created a number of new consumer insight and analytical capabilities and are beginning field trials of a significant expansion of our industry-leading Papa Rewards loyalty program this quarter. Further, we are nearing completion of a major rewrite of our geocoding platform, which will allow us to reach more customers and serve them better than ever before.” The company launched what it’s calling several forward-facing tech innovations as well, and said it would use its test-and-learn model to pick which solutions deserve additional focus and investment moving forward. Fourthly, Papa John’s is focused on improving unit economics, Ritchie said. The company hired a vice present of unit economics, someone who was a former owner and operator of a multi-unit group. The company didn’t provide further details. Ritchie said Sean Muldoon, the company’s chief ingredient officer, “has identified numerous opportunities to remove costs from the model. While his work continues, it has already resulted in tens of millions of dollars in reduced pricing to our North America system, all without compromising our superior quality standards.” The last focus, Ritchie added, is on Papa John’s people. The company has monthly bonuses to drive short-term results, and also introduced an annual stock grant in February intended to inspire long-term results. “In addition, the recent tax reform changes provided us the opportunity to invest more in our teams. Our corporate team members recently received a one-time spot bonus award in appreciation of their efforts as a further evidence of our commitment to making this an even better place to work,” he said.

Papa John’s is working on a program to provide employees with better career development opportunities by expanding its existing tuition assistance program as well. “This partnership will empower our people to pursue a more fulfilling life and career by obtaining a discounted and sometimes free college education,” Ritchie said.

Former Dunkin' Exec Named CEO at Cicis

Bill Mitchell has been the company's interim CEO since January May, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Cicis took the interim tag off William Mitchell’s CEO title, the company announced May 8. Mitchell, the former president of Dunkin’ Brands International, held the position since January. “Bill has an outstanding track record as a leader of large franchise systems, improving operations, customer service and overall business growth,” said Arlon managing director Ben Fishman. “We have deep confidence that he will continue to strengthen and improve Cicis in meaningful ways for our strategic partners and most importantly, our guests.” In 2016, Arlon Group acquired Cicis, which was founded in Irving, Texas, in 1983. There are currently 430 restaurants in 31 states and Cicis said the chain has experienced positive sales growth and overall improvements in guest satisfaction and food quality since the purchase. At Dunkin’, Mitchell was responsible for nearly 8,500 Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins stores across 60-plus countries. Before, he was president of global operations at Papa John’s International. Mitchell also held a leadership role at AFC Enterprises (Popeyes Restaurants at the time), where he was responsible for business planning and operation of 1,400 franchise units. “This is a dynamic time to join the Cicis team because while the system has come far, there is still so much more we can do to become stronger operators, serve our guests better and grow the business,” Mitchell said in a statement. “My first area of focus is to get out in the field to meet our franchisees and listen to their ideas about improving how we do things at Cicis.”

Mitchell now officially succeeds Darin Harris, who stepped down in January.

Le Duff America Appoints Lionel Ladouceur as New CEO May 3, 2018--DALLAS, TX--(PRNewswire) Le Duff America, the Dallas-based affiliate of global French bakery-café leader Groupe Le Duff, announces the appointment of Lionel Ladouceur as CEO of Le Duff America. Lionel Ladouceur is from Canada and as the new CEO of Le Duff America, he will be in charge of restaurant operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He brings over 25 years of restaurant industry expertise in operations, franchise and general management in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and he holds a Masters of Management degree from the University of Quebec in Montréal. Lionel Ladouceur will replace Olivier Poirot, who is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. "I am grateful for my time at Le Duff and know that the Le Duff family and all of our franchisees are positioned for continued success in the future," said Poirot. "I thank Olivier for his work during the last two years and wish him the very best for his new challenges," added Louis Le Duff. Lionel Ladouceur started his career with McDonald's in Canada and France. He then spent seven years with Burger King in charge of operations for Continental Europe. He returned to Canada where he became CEO of Bridor Inc. and Brioche Dorée in Canada and the Northeast U.S. From 2001 to 2007 he was CEO of the restaurant division of Auchan Groupe(Agape) and has spent the last eight years as CEO and minority shareholder of Simport Scientific (U.S. and Canada). Louis le Duff, founding president of Groupe Le Duff, said, "We are happy to welcome Lionel, who has strong expertise in the restaurant activity in North America." To carry out his challenge, Lionel Ladouceur will rely on the talented teams of Le Duff America in the U.S. and Canada. About Le Duff America Inc.

Le Duff America Inc. is owned by Rennes, France-based Groupe Le Duff, which was founded by Louis Le Duff in 1976. Groupe Le Duff has annual sales of 2.4 billion USD. Groupe Le Duff's restaurant division serves more than 1 million customers daily at its nearly 2,000 bakery-cafés worldwide. Le Duff America operates multiple restaurant concepts in the U.S., including Brioche Dorée, la Madeleine French Bakery & Café and Mimi's, which focus on fresh ingredients, hand-prepared foods and authentic flavors.

Geoff Goodman Named Executive Vice President for Round Table Pizza May 3, 2018--(RestaurantNewsResource) Global Franchise Group (GFG), the strategic brand management company and franchisor of Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Pretzelmaker, Marble Slab Creamery/MaggieMoo's Ice Cream & Treatery and Round Table Pizza has named Geoff Goodman Executive Vice President of the iconic and popular Round Table Pizza brand. Goodman has more than 20 years' experience in hospitality and franchise leadership and is highly recognized and accomplished in the pizza/restaurant industry. Most recently, Goodman was President of Remarkable Brands Co. LLC (a shared service brand company) where he served simultaneously as President of Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, Crazy Dough's Franchising, Purpose Snackery, and EOTE Coffee Company.  He is also a former Vice President National Brand Excellence for CiCi's Pizza and is a founding member of the National Restaurant Associations' Pizzeria Industry Council. Geoff will lead all operations including bringing Round Table Pizza to the fore-front of the modern pizza space, developing a visionary brand plan, encouraging franchisee growth, and championing GFG's "Franchising First" philosophy. He was attracted to Round Table Pizza because of the brand's quality products, customer loyalty and potential under GFG's leadership.

"Geoff is a talented strategic brand leader who knows what it takes to drive franchisee profitability and build a dynamic brand," said Chris Dull, President and CEO of Global Franchise Group. "GFG's mission is to champion brands and the people who build them – our goal is to do the same for Round Table Pizza and with Geoff at the helm, we believe the future is very bright."

Upward Projects Names Kristina Cashman As New CFO

Former CFO for P.F. Chang's China Bistro and Hopdoddy Burger Bar joins growing Phoenix-based hospitality group behind brands such as Postino WineCafé and Joyride Taco House May 2, 2018--PHOENIX, AZ--(PRNewswire) Upward Projects, the locally grown Phoenix-based hospitality group with a cult-like following is proud to announce the hiring of Kristina Cashman as its new Chief Financial Officer. Founded in 2009, Upward Projects' portfolio features eight unique Postino WineCafé locations in communities throughout Arizona, Colorado and Texas (and coming soon to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport); plus Windsor & Churn, a pub-style neighborhood hangout with an adjoining nostalgic ice cream parlor; Federal Pizza, a wood-fired pizzeria and craft beer spot; and two Joyride Taco House locations, a kicked-back hangout with a well-worn, mid-century beach vibe. In late 2017, Upward Projects entered into an exciting partnership with the progressive L.A.-based private equity firm, Brentwood Associates, to grow the Postino WineCafé brand across Arizona, Colorado, Texas and more. "I'm beyond ecstatic to join such a locally beloved and magnetic company like Upward Projects. I've been a guest of Postino since I discovered its original location in Phoenix's Arcadia neighborhood. Upward Projects has cultivated such a remarkable and fresh, people-first company culture. Combined with a solid partner like Brentwood, there's an exciting path ahead of us. The opportunity to be a part of Upward Projects is absolutely thrilling." Cashman, who graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelors of Business Administration (and captained UT's NCAA women's volleyball team to back-to-back Final Four appearances), started her career at Ernst & Young before spending a decade as the Controller/CFO for P.F. Chang's China Bistro, helping the Scottsdale-based company grow from four locations into an international brand with nearly $1 billion in annual sales, and taking them public in 1998. Next, Cashman served as the CFO of Eddie V's Restaurants in Scottsdale, playing a key role in its successful sale to Darden Restaurants. Most recently, Cashman served as the CFO of the fast-growing Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin, TX. "Kristina's the perfect fit. Not only is she a heavy hitter that brings deep knowledge, experience and an incredible track record of success, but she's culturally aligned with what we're set out to do – grow this company with an unwavering interest in protecting its soul and authenticity," says Upward Projects CEO and Co-Founder, Lauren Bailey. "I've watched Upward Projects grow and thrive for years. The team is stacked with some of the most talented and passionate individuals you'll meet," Cashman says. "It's an honor to join forces and be a part of the magic that is Upward Projects." About Upward Projects

Upward Projects creates inspired restaurants that are connected to the communities they serve. Founded 17 years ago with the Valley's original local wine cafe, Postino Arcadia, and formalized as Upward Projects in 2009, owners Craig DeMarco and Lauren Bailey built a foundation on historically relevant buildings integral to the neighborhoods they surround. Hallmarks include pairing delicious food with local ingredients, bespoke beverage programs and a warm, friendly culture that brings everyone together. Upward Projects also promotes in-fill development by focusing on adaptive reuse projects and creating modern "third places" that enhance the neighborhood culture they inhabit. For 2018, Upward Projects opened their first Texas location, inside Heights Mercantile in the Heights neighborhood of Houston, announced two new locations coming to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and a second outpost of Postino WineCafé in the Denver market.

Subway CEO Suzanne Greco to Retire in June

Trevor Haynes, chief business development officer, is stepping in as interim CEO May 2, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Subway’s chief executive officer Suzanne Greco is stepping down, the company announced Wednesday afternoon (May 2). Greco has led the world’s largest quick-service chain since her brother Fred DeLuca’s death in 2015. DeLuca founded Subway at the age of 17 in 1965. According to a company release, Greco informed Subway’s shareholders of her intent to retire. Trevor Haynes, the 44,000-unit chain’s chief business development officer, is stepping in as interim CEO to oversee day-to-day operations, effective immediately. Haynes joined Subway in 2016. Greco will work with Haynes to ensure a smooth transition, Subway said, until Greco officially retires on June 30. She will serve as a senior adviser to the company after that. Greco joined Subway in 1973 making sandwiches, although she was part of the company ever since the first store. Before CEO, Greco served on Subway’s research and development team for more than 20 years, and was promoted to lead the group as vice president of operations and research and development in 2013. “Subway has been part of my life since I was 7 years old. I love the brand and the company, and I always will, but it's time for me to have more balance in my life. I feel very good about the strategic moves we've made in the last three years, and I have confidence in the future of the company," Greco said in a statement. Haynes started with Subway as territory manager in Australia before moving to the U.K. in 2009 to serve as senior area development manager for the U.K. and Ireland. In 2014, he joined Subways’ Milford, Connecticut, team as global director of operations. The company said it will launch a search for a permanent CEO right away. "We would like to express our deep appreciation to Suzanne for her lifetime of service in building Subway into one of the world's greatest successes,” Subway’s shareholders added in a statement. “She was there when the first sandwich shop opened, and as CEO she focused on helping the company adapt to a more competitive and dynamic environment. As we work with Suzanne on a smooth transition for the business we cherish, we are grateful for her extraordinary contributions and her insightful and dedicated leadership.  We are optimistic about the brand and look forward to working with the next CEO to ensure a robust future for the company." Subway has contracted its massive footprint in a significant way in recent years. It closed over 900 restaurants in 2017 and is reportedly shuttering some 500 units this year as it reimagines stores through the Fresh Forward campaign, and searches for prime locations through relocations. Subway unit count fell by 359 in 2016, and, according to Bloomberg, saw its sales fall 1.7 percent in 2016 from $11.5 billion in 2015 to $11.3 billion. The New York Post, citing an internal memo it obtained, said traffic declined 25 percent in the past five years heading into 2018. But Greco told QSR in February that Subway’s recent trials are a relatively short-term setback in the longer arc of the brand’s history, and that changes to remedy the downturn are in place. A key change involves the company’s Fresh Forward design. The new model—mandatory for all new locations and store remodels—features a vivid color palette, updated beverage stations, new ordering kiosks, and digital menu boards. Fresh Forward also highlights the fresh produce used in stores with a vegetable display case behind the sandwich line. The new design is already driving sales and traffic in stores across the country, Greco said. Subway is expanding delivery options with third-party providers—some overseas locations have even pioneered in-house delivery service. On February 22, Subway announced plans for a new loyalty program, called Subway MyWay Rewards, which promises a customized experience that allows users to collect and redeem rewards in flexible ways. An improved app is also expected to make online ordering easier for those customers who want to order on their phone rather than go down the sandwich line. Also, on February 15, Subway launched “Make It What You Want,” a multi-platform marketing campaign designed to highlight the customization of Subway’s offerings in a more contemporary fashion. It marked a shift in strategy as Subway consolidated its U.S. and Canadian media and creative business with one partner for the first time in more than 25 years. About Subway® Restaurants

Subway® offers a fresh alternative to traditional fast food, serving 7 million made-to-order sandwiches a day. Guests choose from 37 million combinations of quality proteins, fresh vegetables, and bread baked daily. The world’s largest restaurant chain serves nutritious and delicious subs, soups, and salads at about 44,000 restaurants in 112 countries. Founded by then 17-year-old Fred Deluca and family friend Dr. Peter Buck more than 52 years ago, Subway is still a family owned business, working with more than 21,000 dedicated franchisees in communities around the world.

Aloha Poke Hires New CEO, Chris Birkinshaw

Former Potbelly Sandwich Works Executive to Lead Aggressive Expansion Plan for Thriving Fast Casual Restaurant Chain May 1, 2018--CHICAGO, IL--(PRNewswire) Aloha Poke Co, Chicago’s Hawaiian-style Fast Casual poke restaurant chain, has announced that Chris Birkinshaw has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer. Birkinshaw joins Aloha Poke following six years in successive senior management positions at Potbelly Sandwich Works. “I am thrilled to step in as CEO. My passion for Aloha Poke comes not only from my love for Poke Bowls, but also for the opportunity to seize the growing movement toward ‘clean food’ in the Fast Casual market,” said Birkinshaw. “I look forward to building and streamlining company operations and working with our passionate team to drive the business forward.” Birkinshaw brings 18 years of deep expertise working with national chains in the Fast Casual restaurant industry. He started his career at Starbucks in store-level operations, eventually moving to Potbelly Sandwich Works, where he held senior management positions across departments including Operations Services, District and Regional Operations and Franchising. As CEO, Birkinshaw will lead Aloha Poke’s growth trajectory, focusing on driving operational excellence through multi-unit store operations, new market development, franchise growth and joint venture partnerships. Birkinshaw will leverage his hands-on management style to foster high levels of engagement with corporate and store teams while creating a superior in-store environment for customers. “Chris’ reputation as a dynamic and incisive leader combined with his broad industry knowledge quickly made it clear to us that he was the right person to lead Aloha Poke,” said Michelle Joseph, CEO & Founder of PeopleFoundry, the executive recruitment consultancy that handled the search for Aloha’s CEO. “Over the course of his career, Chris has demonstrated an exceptional ability to foster teamwork, build corporate culture and earn the trust of those around him – qualities that will be central to the company’s aggressive growth plans in the years ahead.” In addition to its nine Chicago-area locations, Aloha Poke also has locations in Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, Orange County, and Washington D.C. Aloha Poke is backed by investor partners including Levy Family Partners and Lakeview Investment Group. The company has plans to grow its brand with the addition of eight new locations across the U.S. in 2018. About Aloha Poke Co

Aloha Poke Co. is a rapidly growing Fast Casual, Hawaiian style restaurant chain based in Chicago. Since it was founded in 2016, the company has rapidly expanded from its flagship location in a Chicago train station to include more than 13 locations in six cities across the U.S. Guided by its mission to rethink fast food, Aloha Poke upholds a simple principle: pack fresh, fast and tasty bowls of quality raw ingredients.

Boston Market Names Frances Allen As Chief Executive Officer

The former Jack in the Box president is taking over for George Michel May 1, 2018--GOLDEN, CO--(PRNewswire) Boston Market®, the rotisserie cooking and contemporary home style meal experts, today announced that Frances Allen has been named as Chief Executive Officer effective immediately.  Ms. Allen succeeds George Michel upon his retirement. With a proven track record of concept revitalization and growth in the restaurant industry, Ms. Allen joins Boston Market from Jack in the Box, where she has served as President since October 2014.  Prior to Jack in the Box, Allen spent four years as Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Denny's, helping lead the successful Denny's turnaround through the 'America's Diner' repositioning.  Prior to that she played a pivotal role elevating the Dunkin' Donuts brand from a beloved regional to a national brand.  She has also held leadership roles with Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications, PepsiCo, and Frito-Lay. "Serving as CEO of Boston Market has been an honor and the highlight of my career," said Michel.  "I would like to thank the entire team for their tireless effort and commitment to making Boston Market a success and a great place to work.  Frances is both a strategic and operational leader and I am confident that Boston Market will benefit greatly from her deep experience and expertise." "I am delighted to join the Boston Market team and lead this great company into its next chapter of strategic growth, brand building and culinary innovation," said incoming Chief Executive Officer Frances Allen. "No other restaurant concept is more responsible for the rising popularity of rotisserie cooking and we see significant runway for further building the Boston Market brand.  I am proud to lead a team whose top priority is serving high-quality, delicious, healthy and affordable home style rotisserie meals to our guests." Allen added, "Under George's leadership, Boston Market launched its "Quality Guarantee," which acts as a continued commitment to all guests that Boston Market will serve all-natural and fresh, never frozen, gluten-free, whole chicken with no added hormones, steroids, antibiotics or MSG.  In addition, we have become the first national chicken-specialty chain to reach the goal of serving our customers 100 percent antibiotic-free rotisserie chicken.  These commitments to transparency, ethical business practices, and quality are critical to building trust and brand loyalty with today's consumer.  We will build on the strong legacy that Boston Market has established since the 1990s to further improve our relevance with today's busy families." An English native, Allen grew up in the town of Basingstoke. She graduated from the University of Southampton in 1983, studying Math and Actuarial Sciences, and briefly served as an Officer in the Royal Army Corps, attending Officer Training at Sandhurst Military Academy. She started her career in Advertising in London before moving to Asia and then the USA. About Boston Market 

At Boston Market, dinner is always ready. Headquartered in Golden, Colorado, Boston Market Corporation has given time back to busy families and individuals for more than 30 years with quality, home style rotisserie meals at a convenient value in more than 450 U.S. locations. Known as the experts in rotisserie cooking, the company prepares fresh chicken and all natural turkey in signature rotisserie ovens and features an extensive selection of home style sides and made-from-scratch cornbread. As one of the country's largest providers of catering services, Boston Market offers convenient, same-day orders and delivery for corporate and personal events of all sizes. In January 2017, Boston Market officially launched its "Quality Guarantee," which acts as a continued commitment to all guests that Boston Market will serve all-natural and fresh, never frozen, gluten-free, whole chicken with no added hormones, steroids, antibiotics or MSG.

Papa John’s Promotes Joe Smith to Chief Financial Officer April 27, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Papa John’s International, Inc. announced that Joe Smith, most recently Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Development for Papa John’s, has been promoted to Chief Financial Officer, effective immediately. Smith, 54, has approximately 33 years of experience in finance, development and auditing, and is a Certified Public Accountant. He joined Papa John’s in 2000, serving most recently as Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Development since 2016 and as Vice President, Global Sales and Development from 2010 to 2016. He served as Vice President of Corporate Finance from 2005 to 2010 and as Senior Director of Corporate Budgeting and Finance from 2000 to 2005. Prior to joining Papa John’s, Smith served as Corporate Controller for United Catalysts, Inc. from 1998 to 2000. Smith began his career in public accounting in 1985 at Ernst & Young. President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Ritchie says, “Joe has had an integral role in the growth of Papa John’s during his 18 years with the Company, including 10 years in Finance and 8 years in our Global Development departments. His knowledge and experience position him well to serve as our new CFO, particularly given the work underway to evaluate and invest in new opportunities for value creation. I look forward to working with Joe in his new role.” Founder and chairman John Schnatter added, "Joe has demonstrated strong finance skills and integrity in his many years with Papa John’s, and his promotion is well deserved. His extensive knowledge of our Company and industry make him the ideal person to lead our finance team.” “I’m excited to be named Papa John’s CFO,” Smith say. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with Steve Ritchie and our entire management team, John Schnatter and our Board of Directors and our franchise system.”

Steve Coke, who has been serving as interim principal financial and accounting officer, will continue to serve as Vice President, Investor Relations and Strategy.

Chicken Salad Chick Appoints Barbara Blackwell as Director of Catering

Foodservice and Marketing Veteran to Propel Catering Strategy for Leading Fast Casual Concept April 26, 2018--AUBURN, AL--(RestaurantNews) Chicken Salad Chick, the nation’s only southern inspired, fast casual chicken salad restaurant concept, announced today it has appointed Barbara Blackwell as director of catering. In her new role, Blackwell will oversee the brand’s catering operations and spearhead initiatives to drive incremental catering sales and streamline operations across all 86 Chicken Salad Chick locations. With nearly two decades of experience in the foodservice industry, Blackwell is an accomplished sales and marketing leader whose strategies have proven to increase revenue and catering sales during her tenure at various fast casual, quick service and fine dining concepts, including Corner Bakery Café, Arby’s and LeDuff America. Prior to Chicken Salad Chick, Blackwell served as director of catering for Bruegger’s Bagels, where she developed and managed catering sales strategies, marketing promotions, training and menu optimization for all corporate and franchised locations across North America. In addition to fueling Chicken Salad Chick’s catering excellence, Blackwell will also play an instrumental role in training the company’s corporate catering managers. “Barbara brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Chicken Salad Chick and has already become a valuable asset to our brand,” said Scott Deviney, CEO of Chicken Salad Chick. “With Barbara’s catering and marketing expertise and proven track record, we’re confident that her skillset is exactly what we need to elevate our catering program and catapult our brand to the next level.” The Chicken Salad Chick concept, born in Auburn, Ala., was established in 2008 in the kitchen of founder, Stacy Brown. When Stacy discovered that the local county health department would not allow her to continue making and selling her delicious recipes out of her home kitchen, she overcame that obstacle by launching her first restaurant with the business expertise of her future husband and fellow founder, Kevin Brown. Together, they opened a small takeout restaurant, which quickly grew; the company now has 86 restaurants across the Southeast. About Chicken Salad Chick

Founded in Auburn, Alabama, in 2008, Chicken Salad Chick serves full-flavored, Southern-style chicken salad made from scratch and served from the heart. With more than a dozen original chicken salad flavors as well as fresh side salads, gourmet soups, signature sandwiches and delicious desserts, Chicken Salad Chick’s robust menu is a perfect fit for any guest. Today, the brand has more than 86 restaurants in 9 states and is continuing its rapid expansion with both franchise and company locations. Chicken Salad Chick was recently named as one of’s top Movers and Shakers and one of Nation’s Restaurant News 2017 Next 20 brands. The brand also ranked #37 on the 2016 Inc. list of the 500 fastest-growing companies in the U.S.

Zaxby’s Announces New Chief Marketing Officer April 24, 2018--ATHENS, GA--(RestaurantNews) Zaxby’s Franchising LLC is excited to announce that Joel Bulger has joined the company as the company’s first Chief Marketing Officer. In this new role, Joel will lead the marketing team to strengthen digital and social platforms and drive results through advertising and strategic partnerships. “We took our time finding the ideal candidate,” said CEO and co-founder Zach McLeroy. “After an extensive search, we are confident that Joel is the right person to help take Zaxby’s branding and marketing to the next level.” Joel is a 25-year industry veteran, most recently serving as Johnny Rockets’ chief marketing officer. Before that, he held senior marketing leadership positions with several restaurant brands, including Wendy’s, Church’s Chicken, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Darden Restaurants. Joel has a B.A. in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Georgia and holds an M.B.A. in International Business from Mercer University’s Stetson School of Business and Economics. “I’m excited to join the Zaxby’s family,” Joel said. “Even when I lived on the west coast, I remained a fan. It’s an amazing brand with a history of quality, culture and growth.” About Zaxby’s

Enjoying great chicken in an atmosphere where you could be yourself? That’s what childhood friends Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley wanted to achieve when they founded Zaxby’s back in the 1990s. Many years and locations later, Zaxby’s is still delivering on that promise: to serve delicious chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads in a fun, offbeat atmosphere where we welcome customers as friends. As of April 2018, Zaxby’s has grown to nearly 900 locations in 17 states and is headquartered in Athens, Georgia.

Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. Names Stephanie Meltzer-Paul Vice President, Digital and Loyalty Marketing April 24, 2018--CATON, MA--(RestaurantNews) Dunkin’ Donuts has announced the appointment of Stephanie Meltzer-Paul as Vice President, Digital and Loyalty Marketing, Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. With more than 20 years of experience in customer loyalty and digital marketing, Ms. Meltzer-Paul will lead the further development of the brand’s DD Perks® loyalty platform, continue the expansion of On-the-Go Mobile Ordering, and further strengthen the brand’s strategic partnerships. She will report to Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ Donuts U.S., and will officially join the company in early May. Ms. Meltzer-Paul joins Dunkin’ Donuts after most recently serving as Vice President, Member Engagement and Loyalty at BJ’s Wholesale Club. In this role, she led a team responsible for developing and spearheading the marketing strategy for the My BJ’s Perks® Program and customer relationship management efforts. Meltzer-Paul also drove membership engagement and retention for the company, and leveraged data to improve conversion rates in-store and drive member visit frequency. Previously, Meltzer-Paul was Senior Director of Global Loyalty Marketing for Starwood Hotels & Resorts where she transformed, rebranded and greatly increased membership in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. She also served as Director of Marketing, Loyalty & Communications for American Express, leading a highly successful team responsible for increasing Card spend in the Company’s Blue rewards program. Earlier in her career, Ms. Meltzer-Paul was in marketing and customer acquisition for TIME Inc. A native of New Jersey, Ms. Meltzer-Paul received her B.S. in Marketing from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She is the recipient of numerous marketing industry awards including a prestigious Freddie Award for Best Hotel Loyalty Promotion. According to Tony Weisman, Chief Marketing Officer, Dunkin’ Donuts U.S., “Stephanie is a talented business leader who has excelled at delivering exponential customer growth, retention and revenue generation through best-in-class marketing strategies, and we are thrilled to have her head up our digital and loyalty marketing efforts. This is a very exciting time in the evolution of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand, and we believe Stephanie is exactly the right person to help us further engage with our customers, including building on the strength of our DD Perks program, one of the fastest growing loyalty programs in the quick service restaurant industry.” “I am excited to join Dunkin’ Donuts and look forward to leading the digital marketing and loyalty team,” said Meltzer Paul. “This is a brand renowned for its digital technology innovation, and I can’t wait to be part of the efforts to deepen our customer relationships and make Dunkin’ Donuts ever more convenient for guests.” Dunkin’ Donuts has invested in new technologies and digital innovations in recent years to offer guests greater speed and convenience for ordering their favorite menu items. As of the end of 2017, with more than 18 million app downloads and over 8 million members in the DD Perks® Loyalty Program, the Dunkin’ Mobile App is one of the most successful and highest-rated merchant applications in the quick service restaurant industry. About Dunkin’ Donuts

Founded in 1950, Dunkin’ Donuts is America’s favorite all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods. Dunkin’ Donuts is a market leader in the hot regular/decaf/flavored coffee, iced coffee, donut, bagel and muffin categories. Dunkin’ Donuts has earned a No. 1 ranking for customer loyalty in the coffee category by Brand Keys for 12 years running. The company has more than 12,500 restaurants in 46 countries worldwide. Based in Canton, Mass., Dunkin’ Donuts is part of the Dunkin’ Brands Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: DNKN) family of companies.

Soulman’s Bar-B-Que Poised to Grow with New Executive Hires April 23, 2018--(QSRMagazine) For more than 40 years, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has been a mainstay in North Texas with the support of longtime loyalists, locals and travelers alike. In recent years, the barbecue institution has seen rapid and impactful growth that garnered attention from national outlets which have covered the positive business trajectory and expanded menu offerings. In 2017, the company pulled in over $20 million in sales, achieving a growth rate of more than 6 percent in same store sales over 2016. Soulman’s Bar-B-Que is certainly exceeding industry trends and is poised for even more growth and innovation with a laser-tight focus on customer service in 2018. With plans to increase the brand’s presence regionally through 2018 and beyond, Brett Randle, CEO of Soulman’s Bar-B-Que explains what makes Soulman’s so successful and what they are doing to better equip the company for the future. “As a team, we have been consistently committed to keeping things authentic and simple. Our future growth depends on a daily focus on what makes our restaurants successful--great food, great service and clean environment to enjoy it. Preserving our heritage is vital to us at Soulman's.  We know what we are: a traditional Texas Bar-B-Que house. We do things the traditional way, the right way, and we’re resolved to continue that through our growth,” says Randle. A gradually improving economy will help restaurant-industry sales continue to advance in 2018, even as restaurant operators face continued margin pressures, a tightening labor market and some lingering consumer uncertainty. Lockstep with fiscal growth, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que has laid the groundwork to support company stores as well as franchisees in 2018 by expanding its executive leadership, evolving culinary offerings, especially in the rapidly growing catering market, and keeping the drive for new franchisees constantly moving forward. Soulman’s Bar-B-Que expanded its leadership team to include two new roles within the company: Director of Marketing and Corporate Executive Chef. The hiring of Baylea Wood as the Director of Marketing activated the incremental regional growth of company-owned locations and the necessity for in-house franchise marketing support. “I have been working closely with Soulman’s for more than four years from the agency side and can honestly say that this company is family to me. When they asked for me to work in-house, it was like being called home,” Wood says. “Being trusted to execute an effective multi-channel marketing strategy for such a beloved family brand comes with challenges, as with any fast-casual concept. Soulman’s, from the CEO to the Meat-cutter, operates all aspects of the company with integrity and that is often more of a testament to longevity than anything. That’s not to say that I don’t believe that we shouldn’t use creativity, efficiency and innovation in each of our marketing activities. I know that I, and the marketing support team, are up for the challenge for continued success.” Charlie Guajardo, who is, in his heart, obsessed with bar-b-que, came to Soulman’s originally as a General Manager in early 2017, but his talent and pedigree as an Executive Chef quickly became apparent to upper management. “Rather than let a great resource go untapped by our company, we were able to create a role for Charlie as our Corporate Executive Chef. In this position, his priorities are to oversee the quality and consistency of our menu items in all 19 locations and find innovative ways to step-up our catering and culinary event experience,” Randle said. “My skill set is unique, for sure. I am an expert ice-carver, accomplished bar-be-que competitor, 5-star chef and lover of food.  I have been ‘playing with my food’ far longer than most would expect, but I value the canvas that delicious tastes can embellish for weddings, corporate festivities and family events,” said Guajardo. “Unlike the overall restaurant industry, our sales have been climbing,” Soulman’s COO Randall McGee says. “2017 was the 10th consecutive year for growth. We’re very happy with our future and never has there been a better time to join the Soulman's family.”  So far in 2018, Soulman's Bar-B-Que has opened a new store in Wylie, is slated to open a second location in Hurst and will begin construction on additional stores.  “Time will tell how far and wide we go, but right now, we are staying close to our core region. This way we can be hands-on to promote best practices from the very beginning.”

Brett Randle sums up this outlook best: “We all believe in the foundation and standards that Soulman’s is firmly rooted in: Great BBQ, Great Service and Great God. From the quality of food to the quality of life, Soulman’s Bar-B-Que is looking at the next weeks, months and years with great anticipation of the progress in our business.”

Veteran Restaurant Executive Joins On Brand Media

Bobby Shaw Becomes Senior Partner, Restaurants April 32, 2018--TAMPA, FL--(RestaurantNews) Veteran restaurant industry executive Bobby Shaw has joined the restaurant consulting practice of On Brand Media. Shaw will help clients understand and leverage their strengths to improve results, focusing especially on operations and strategy. Shaw is a longtime restaurant operator, most recently as CEO of Salad and Go and as President & COO at Freebirds World Burrito. Previously, he was Executive Regional Director at Chipotle Mexican Grill where he oversaw 228 restaurant locations and led more than 100 new restaurant openings. He began his career at McDonald’s and rose through the ranks to eventually become a multi-unit leader. “I am really looking forward to working with On Brand’s restaurant clients,” Shaw said. “The industry is in a very interesting position now with the generational shift from Boomers to Millennials and the resulting disruption that is causing. Now more than ever the industry needs strong leadership and our team at On Brand is ready to help.” “Bobby Shaw has a strong reputation for developing high-performance operating teams and high- caliber leaders in Fast Casual and QSR segments,” added Chris Petersen, CEO at On Brand Media. “We feel very fortunate to be able to add someone of Bobby’s caliber to our already strong team, and we are anxious to put his talent to work for our clients.” Shaw is based in Austin, Texas and works with clients in virtually any location. About On Brand Media

On Brand Media provides Brand, Marketing and Management Solutions for a disrupted world. Among the company’s core competencies, the restaurant industry is a particular emphasis due to its size, scope and current market challenges. On Brand leaders have worked with more than 60 restaurant brands in recent years. The company is headquartered in Tampa, Fl with offices in Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Lexington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Muscle Maker's CEO Resigns, Company Shifts to Military Growth

Muscle Maker, founded in 1995, is known for its fitness-inspired menu. April 23, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Muscle Maker, Inc.’s chief executive Robert E. Morgan resigned for personal reasons, the company announced, and Kevin J. Mohan is stepping in as interim president. “We thank Bob for his many years of service to Muscle Maker Grill. We wish him all the best and we are currently in discussions with several potential CEO candidates with extensive industry experience,” Mohan said in a statement. Mohan, who was vice president of capital markets for American Restaurant Holdings, added that the company has registered its common stock with the SEC and is now a public company. In late March it elected to terminate a proposed mini IPO and register as an over-the-counter stock instead. The IPO qualified in December and the company, which hoped to raise as much as $20 million through a Regulation A+ offering, ended up selling just 44,153 shares at $3.25 per share, or $143,497. The brand had 53 locations earlier this year and said it was closing seven company stores to focus on military units. “We intend to apply for quotation of our common stock on the OTC Markets in the near future. Within the next twelve months, we will be strategically streamlining our operations, which has included closing seven of our non-military corporate stores so that we can focus exclusively on our military buildout,” Mohan said. “We will also continue to work closely with our franchisees both domestically and internationally. We expect that this calculated shift should have a significant cost savings impact on our company going forward as we focus on achieving profitability.” Muscle Maker, founded in 1995 and known for its fitness-inspired menu, also announced that it added 10 military locations to its pipeline and signed nine new franchise agreements in the last 90 days. The franchise agreements represent a mix of single and multi-unit deals, the company said, including plans to open 10 locations throughout Hawaii, 10 in and around Virginia Beach, Virginia, five additional locations in the greater Houston area, and one on Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. Recent franchise agreements include:

  1. Atlanta, Georgia (2 franchise groups)

  2. The Hawaiian Islands

  3. Orlando, Florida

  4. Raleigh, North Carolina

  5. Houston, Texas

  6. Virginia Beach, Virginia

  7. Katy, Texas

  8. Rice Village, Texas

  9. Kuwait Muscle Maker said the following locations are coming soon:

  10. Fort Benning, Georgia (second location)

  11. Fort Benning, Georgia (third location—food truck)

  12. Fort Sill, Oklahoma

  13. Fort Bragg, North Carolina

  14. Offutt (Offutt Air Force Base), Nebraska

  15. MacDill Air Force Base, Florida

  16. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  17. West Palm Beach, Florida

  18. Chesapeake, Virginia

  19. Fountain Valley, California

  20. Ventnor, New Jersey

  21. Norfolk, Virginia Mohan added some details about the military expansion.

“As it relates to our military business, I will be working closely with our Chief Development Officer Pat Chiacchia. Pat is a former Navy Pilot who has worked with the Army and Air Force Exchange since 2001 and has been a key part of our military expansion to date. In addition, he has been building restaurants since 1980,” he said. “As we shift our focus solely to new corporate stores for the military along with our franchise operations we believe that Pat will be instrumental as we look to increase our footprint.”

Chipotle Adds Ex-Starbucks Leader as Chief Human Resources Officer

Marissa Andrada joins new CEO Brian Niccol's team at the fast casual April 23, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Chief executive officer Brian Niccol expanded Chipotle’s evolving leadership team with the appointment of Marissa Andrada as chief human resources officer, effective Monday (April 23). Andrada held several senior-level positions in human resources at Starbucks, including senior vice president, partner resources for the Americas, where she led innovation and strategy for retail employee programs, including employee experience, management, and compensation. Most recently, Andrada was senior vice president of human resources and chief human resources officer at Kate Spade & Company. There she led positioning for the company. She was responsible for developing and implementing plans to recruit top-tier executive and design talent for the lifestyle company. "Marissa is an exceptional human resources executive and a valuable addition to our management team," Niccol said in a statement. "With near-term priorities that include building the right structure and capabilities for sustained growth, and creating a culture of recognition and innovation throughout our company, Marissa's expertise and leadership will be essential as we look to strengthen those key areas." Before Starbucks and Kate Spade & Company, Andrada held a variety of HR roles at companies such as Gamestop, Red Bull North America, Universal Studios, and Pepsico/Pizza Hut. "Chipotle is a tremendous brand with so much potential," Andrada said in a statement. "I'm thrilled to be joining the company as they look to strengthen the talent and the team in ways that will set the company up for success in the next chapter."

On March 20, Chipotle announced the hiring of Chris Brandt, formerly the executive vice president and chief brand officer at Bloomin,’ Brands’ Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill, and Fleming’s, will step into the position. He’s been in the role since April 2. Brandt replaced Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle’s CMO since January 2009, who stepped down March 15. Brandt worked with Niccol at Taco Bell. Before Bloomin’, he served as chief brand and marketing officer at YUM! Brands’ chain, where he led marketing and food innovation. Niccol was president of Taco Bell from 2013–2014 and then served as CEO from January 2015 until he took the Chipotle job in early March.h

Roy Rogers Names Jeremy Biser Executive Vice President

Veteran QSR Leader Will Focus on Positioning The Legacy Brand for More Strength Today, Greater Growth Potential and Long-Term Viability April 19, 2018--FREDERICK, MD--(RestaurantNews) Roy Rogers Restaurants announced today that it has appointed Jeremy Biser executive vice president. Based in the company’s headquarters in Frederick, Md., he will report to Co-President Jim Plamondon and oversee all aspects of the Roy Rogers brand. Biser joins Roy Rogers from Dunkin Brands Group, Inc., where he most recently was Vice President, International Operating Systems, Learning, Food Safety and Equipment. In that role, he covered an international group of more than 8,000 locations around the world. Earlier in his career, he held various leadership positions within both the Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks organizations. In his new position, he will concentrate on optimizing performance of existing company and franchise locations, while also positioning the brand to grow throughout the Mid-Atlantic United States. “We’re delighted to have Jeremy join our organization,” says Plamondon. “With his arrival, we are better equipped than ever before to strengthen our existing system, increase our sales and profitability, grow within our existing markets and expand into new ones.” Biser says Roy Rogers has enjoyed great popularity for its menu and atmosphere over the past 50 years – the company is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary with a campaign featuring baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. – and he will look for ways to enhance brand differentiation, customer loyalty and relevance with current and future generations of guests. Biser will be responsible for advancing the concept to a new standard for image, offering and operations. “Roy Rogers differentiates itself through its values as an organization and its promise to deliver good food and fast, friendly service to every guest, every time,” he says. “There is a great team in place and a lot of passion for the brand in the organization and among our guests.  I look forward to drawing on these strengths to help make the brand even more successful today and long into the future.” Roy Rogers is currently enjoying a resurgence in the Mid-Atlantic United States. It opened 10 new locations in the past three years, bringing its crowd-pleasing menu of USDA choice top round roast beef, hand-breaded, fresh fried chicken and great-tasting burgers to guests in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. “This year, we are celebrating 50 years of bringing quality, variety and choice to our guests,” Plamondon says.  “We look forward to celebrating many more decades of success, and we’re excited to have Jeremy on board to lead the team into the future.” About Roy Rogers® Restaurants

Based in Frederick, Md., Roy Rogers® is a chain of western-themed quick-service restaurants offering broad appeal across multiple dayparts and generations. The company is famous for serving up a “Triple Threat” – three popular main dishes including USDA choice top round roast beef, hand-breaded, fresh fried chicken and great-tasting burgers. Roy Rogers is also known for its famous Fixin’s Bar®, where guests can customize their orders with a variety of fresh produce, condiments signature sauces. Roy Rogers Restaurants was founded in 1968, and the system currently consists of 24 company-owned restaurants and 29 franchise restaurants in six states.

Kolache Factory Promotes Dawn Nielsen to Chief Operating Officer April 18, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Kolache Factory announced the promotion of Dawn Nielsen from Vice President to Chief Operating Officer, effective immediately. The daughter of Kolache Factory co-founders John and Jerri Banks, Nielsen has been groomed for this position for 36 years, ever since her parents popularized the kolache—a Czech pastry filled with fruits, meats and cheeses—in West Texas, by opening the first Kolache Factory store in Houston in 1982. “I am so proud of what my parents built. It’s not easy to go into the restaurant industry with a totally new concept and make it. They blazed a path and I am excited and honored to move it forward and continue building on their amazing legacy with an aggressive nationwide franchise expansion,” Nielsen says. Nielsen started out sweeping floors at the first Kolache Factory store when she was nine years old. As a teenager she worked behind the counter and as a kolache baker. After graduating from Houston Baptist University with degrees in business administration and art, she began working in marketing and advertising and was instrumental in marketing the Kolache Factory’s transition to a franchise company in 2000. Her role expanded upon her mother’s death ten years ago and she became Vice President. Now she is ready to step up again to lead the successful franchise her parents built from scratch as Chief Operating Officer, overseeing the company’s 175 corporate employees and 28 franchised stores. Kolache Factory President and co-founder John Banks said his daughter is ready for the challenge. “Dawn has literally grown up with the Kolache Factory and has continually added the knowledge and skills necessary to help grow the brand. She has already brought great things to the family franchise and I am excited to see where we can take this company together in the future,” Banks says. The kolache has a rich history dating back centuries in Eastern Europe and to the 1850s in the Czech belt of Texas. Still, there are places around the country and world that have never heard of a kolache and Nielsen’s goal is to bring the fresh, high-quality breakfast food created by master bakers, to the masses. “I think we have a unique product that hasn’t even scratched the surface of what its potential can be. There are still markets that don’t know what we are. Expansion is the goal. John and I share the vision of making kolache a household name,” Nielsen says. The fresh doughy pastry that started out stuffed with fruits has evolved to include all sorts of savory and spicy meat and cheese fillings, and in many communities, the kolache has a cult following. Today, Czech-Americans hold kolache festivals all over the country, adding to the pastry’s rising popularity. Bon Appetit magazine predicted the kolache would be the new breakfast trend and entrepreneurs now praise it as the “new generation of donut.” The breakfast daypart is growing, and according to a Mintel report, breakfast sales are expected to increase by more than 20 percent over a two-year period. To capitalize on that growth and take the company to the next level, Nielsen is focusing on creating strategic partnerships. She has already invested in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to use new technology to improve business relationships and has partnered with a leading content marketing firm, social media firm and franchise development firm. “I am focused on building the most efficient systems and processes with our partners so that both our corporate stores and franchisees will benefit. The better our system, the more attractive we will be to future franchisees,” Nielsen says. There are currently 27 corporate stores and 31 franchise stores with three more stores slated to open this year.

When she is not overseeing the strategic growth of the Kolache Factory, Nielsen and her husband Aaron, Director of Franchise Sales for the company, and daughters Sabrina and Paige, enjoy going to the lake and spending time at their ranch in East Texas. She also enjoys keeping up with her menagerie of horses and chickens.

Industry Vets Jim Mizes, Andy Howard Join Pincho Factory Board of Directors April 17, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Pincho Factory, the family owned Latin American fast-casual concept known for pioneering the combination of premium hamburgers and grilled kebabs with a Latin-twist, announced the appointment of Jim Mizes and Andy Howard to the company’s Board of Directors. “It is a distinct honor to add these highly respected and valued members in the restaurant industry to our Board of Directors,” says Nedal Ahmad, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Pincho. “Their leadership and extensive experience with emerging concepts in the competitive restaurant space will be invaluable as we enter our next chapter of growth.” Jim Mizes, CEO & president of Blaze Pizza, joins Pincho Factory’s Board with 30 years of industry experience. Under Jim’s leadership, Blaze Pizza is the fastest growing restaurant chain in the United States growing from 2 locations to over 200 in just the past four years. Jim has a proven history of leading consistent, accelerated growth of multi-unit retail and foodservice concepts through strategy, execution, communication, cultural alignment and systems as well as financial and operational turnaround of multiple businesses. Prior to joining Blaze Pizza, Jim was responsible for growing Jamba Juice from 40 to 400 locations and also helped lead Noah’s Bagels U.S. expansion. “From my first meeting with the Pincho founders, I’ve been very impressed with their energy, story and especially the quality and flavor of their food,” Mizes says. “Their authentic approach to Latin street food combined with their premium fast-casual approach makes it a truly unique concept that differentiates them within the restaurant industry. I look forward to leveraging my experience and insight as they chart their growth ahead.” Currently CEO of Huey Magoo’s Restaurant, Andy Howard brings nearly four decades of leadership experience in the restaurant space to Pincho’s Board. Prior to this role, he held the position of Executive VP, CMO at Wingstop, where he helped the company grow from 80 units to over 600 units while leading menu expansion efforts credited with dramatically growing sales. Mr. Howard has also served in a range of leadership roles at Ranch One and Kenny Rogers Roasters after getting his start at Wendy’s. “I’m excited to be joining Pincho Factory’s Board of Directors at such an important time in their evolution,” Howard says. “This is a young and vibrant brand that has significant opportunities to expand in new and existing markets and I look forward to working with the team to bring Pincho Factory to a broader audience.”

Pincho currently has five company owned and five franchised locations throughout South Florida, with plans to expand to 100 locations nationwide over the next five years. The Company opened its first location in Miami in 2010.

Upstart Fish City Grill Hooks Big-Chain Vet as New President

Dave Orenstein is joining the 19-unit venture after serving as CEO of Lone Star, among other casual players. April 12, 2018--(RestaurantBusiness) Dave Orenstein, a former head of Lone Star Steak House and On The Border, has joined the 19-unit Fish City Grill and Half Shells casual-dining group as president and COO. Orenstein was most recently the president of Snappy Salads, a tossed-to-order fast-casual salad concept based in Dallas, where Fish City/Half Shells is also based. The twin seafood concepts strive to function as neighborhood joints with a focus on fresh seafood dishes prepared by chefs, often featuring local specialties. In addition to Texas, the company has restaurants in Florida, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Before leading Snappy Salads, Orenstein served as CEO of Lone Star Steakhouse, president of On The Border while the Tex-Mex concept was owned by Brinker International, and regional director of operations for Chili’s, Brinker’s main concept. In his 24 years in the business, Orenstein also operated his own restaurant, in Atlanta. “We are excited to bring on a leader with such great experience and great integrity,” said Bill Bayne, CEO, co-founder and self-appointed chief seafood officer of Fish City/Half Shells. “Dave’s strength at growing concepts and his understanding of how critical it is to promote and nurture the culture of the company makes him a great fit for us as we grow.”

“I'm thrilled to be joining such a great organization with incredible food and passionate fans and team members,” said Orenstein. “The people-first culture is like no other.”

Kristen Hartman Promoted to Brand President of Cinnabon April 12, 2018--(QSRMagazine) Cinnabon Inc., the brand synonymous with the world's most delicious cinnamon roll, announced that Kristen Hartman has been promoted to Brand President. In her new role, Hartman will be responsible for the brand's strategy and continued business growth. "We are thrilled to have Kristen step into the role as President of Cinnabon. With her business expertise, love of the customer and passion for the brand teams, we are excited for her to lead Cinnabon through its continued growth," says FOCUS Brands COO and President, North America, Kat Cole. After a 16-year career with Burger King, Hartman joined FOCUS Brands in 2012 as Vice President of Marketing, where she oversaw brand marketing, menu innovation and consumer engagement strategies for Cinnabon. Her leadership was instrumental in the brand's resurgence as a global icon. In 2015, she advanced to SVP of Global Marketing for the Snack Brands where she developed unique, multichannel marketing solutions in support of FOCUS Brands' strong global footprint. Most recently, as SVP Brand Marketing Strategy, Hartman led social media, public relations, and new concept development for all brands, and was a key contributor to marketing strategy for licensing and the Global Channels division. Hartman's previous contributions to Cinnabon included strategic brand positioning, evolving identity and store design, as well as comprehensive marketing and menu development to strengthen appeal among existing and new consumers. The world-renowned bakery has stayed true to its 33-year heritage of providing irresistibly delicious treats while growing to nearly 1,400 locations around the globe.  In addition to the increasing number of bakeries, Cinnabon now has over 80 licensed products in the retail marketplace.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to return to Cinnabon and, most importantly, reconnect with the franchisees who have contributed so much to the brand's accomplishments. I've enjoyed watching them flourish and am excited to contribute to their future success," says Hartman. "It's a wonderful feeling to be part of a brand that brings a smile and so many special memories to mind whenever it's mentioned."

Paul Twohig Named President at MOD Pizza

The chain’s chief operating officer gets a promotion, among a number of new executive appointments. April 12, 2018--(RestaurantBusiness) MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings on Thursday said it has given Chief Operating Officer Paul Twohig the additional title of company president, amid a number of executive promotions at the Seattle-based chain. In addition to Twohig’s promotion, Lisa Luebeck was named senior vice president of legal and general counsel, and Megan Hansen will be promoted to senior vice president of people. Twohig joined MOD in 2017 from Dunkin’ Donuts, where he had been president. He had previously been chief operating officer for Panera Bread and spent 14 years at Starbucks. At MOD, he will continue to oversee daily company operations while also leading store development, culinary, supply chain, innovation and international and franchise operations. He’s been on MOD’s board since 2008. Luebeck joined MOD in 2016 as vice president of legal and the company’s first general counsel. Hansen joined the company that same year and has built MOD’s human resources team. MOD generated $275 million in system sales last year, an 81% increase over 2016. The company opened 110 new locations and now operates 302 units systemwide. Same-store sales grew 5.2%.

“As we continue our journey of building the world’s leading fast-casual pizza brand, we will continue to rely on the enormous contributions of Paul, Lisa and Megan,” CEO and co-founder Scott Svenson said in a statement.

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