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Executive Movements - May 2020

sweetgreen Announces Chris Carr as Chief Operations Officer

 Carr most recently served as Starbucks Executive Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer

May 13, 2020 10:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--sweetgreen, the seasonal restaurant with the mission of connecting people to real food, announced today that Chris Carr has joined as Chief Operations Officer. Carr brings a wealth of experience to sweetgreen as the company looks to further enhance its guest and team member experience.

"Chris’ values and leadership skills will make for an exceptional addition to the sweetgreen team," said Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of sweetgreen. “With his experience in delivering sustainable growth in retail and supply chain, we’re looking forward to Chris furthering his impact on the future of real food and amplifying our growth ahead.”

Carr most recently served as Starbucks Executive Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer, where he was responsible for shaping the global supplier base spend of $7.5 billion and accelerating customer-insight driven innovation. As the EVP, Licensed Stores Americas, he was responsible for the strategic planning, annual operations, market planning and sales for 6,500 licensed stores, generating $3.4 billion in sales. As EVP U.S. Retail Stores, he was accountable for the brand and customer experience across 13,000 company-operated and licensed retail stores.

“Joining a brand like sweetgreen, who over the past 13 years has changed the food landscape, is an honor,” said Chris Carr. “I’m thrilled to join the sweetgreen family at such a pivotal time in the company’s trajectory.”

Prior to Starbucks, Carr spent the majority of his career with ExxonMobil where he developed and implemented retail operational strategies for its Global Fuels Marketing downstream businesses. Throughout his career, he has been recognized for his leadership contribution and was the recipient of the 2016 and 2018 top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine.

To learn more about sweetgreen, visit Follow sweetgreen on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @sweetgreen.

About sweetgreen:

Founded in 2007, sweetgreen passionately believes that real food should be convenient and accessible to everyone. Every day, across its 100+ restaurants, their team creates food from scratch, using fresh ingredients and produce delivered that morning. sweetgreen’s strong food ethos and investment in local communities have enabled them to grow into a national brand with a mission to build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.

View source version at sweetgreen

Potbelly Corporation Appoints David J. Near and Todd W. Smith to Board of Directors

Announces Agreement with Shareholders led by Vann A. Avedisian

May 11, 2020 08:00 ET

CHICAGO, May 11, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Potbelly Corporation (NASDAQ: PBPB) today announced that it has reached an agreement (the “Agreement”) with shareholders led by Vann A. Avedisian (the “Shareholder Investors”) to appoint David J. Near and Todd W. Smith to the Company’s Board of Directors (the “Board”), effective immediately. With the appointments of Messrs. Near and Smith, the Board will be comprised of 10 directors, 9 of whom are independent.

Dan Ginsberg, Chairman of the Board of Potbelly, commented, “We are pleased to have reached this agreement and welcome Dave and Todd to the Board. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic our turnaround plan was gaining traction, and with Dave and Todd’s expertise, we look forward to executing our strategic priorities to enhance value for our shareholders.”

On behalf of the Shareholder Investors, Vann A. Avedisian said, “We believe that Dave and Todd will be invaluable additions to Potbelly’s Board and are confident their deep restaurant operating experience, including Dave’s tenure as Chief Operations Officer of Wendy’s and Todd’s as President and CMO of Sonic Drive-In, will be invaluable to Potbelly.”

Pursuant to the Agreement, the Board also agreed to include David J. Near and Todd W. Smith in Potbelly’s slate of nominees for election to the Board at the 2020 Annual Meeting. The Shareholder Investors agreed to vote in favor of all of the Company’s nominees at the 2020 Annual Meeting and have withdrawn their nomination notice. The Agreement will be included as an exhibit to the Company’s current report on Form 8-K which will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Potbelly is represented by Sidley Austin LLP and Mayer Brown LLP.  The Shareholder Investors are represented by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP.

About David J. Near

Mr. Near is the founding partner of Pisces Foods L.P and is a third-generation restauranteur. For the past five years, he has been the managing partner of Ramen Tatsuya Holdings LLC, which manages Tatsuya Brands, and now serves as a board member. He worked with Coca-Cola Fountain as Territory Sales Manager and previously operated Wendy’s restaurants as a franchisee from 1995 to 2012. Prior to that, he served multiple years as President of the Wendy’s Franchise Advisory council and was appointed Chief Operations Officer at The Wendy’s Company from 2006 to 2009. He was responsible for global operations, franchising, new store development, and served as a board member of Wendy’s National Advertising Program. Mr. Near received his undergraduate degree from Duke University an MBA from The Fuqua School of Business at Duke.

About Todd W. Smith

Mr. Smith has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, where he has led large public companies, small, fast-growing fast casual companies, and has founded his own restaurant group. In 2017 he took an equity stake in Cafe Rio Mexican Grill, a fast growing, fast casual concept. In 2012, he was tapped to lead the turn-around at Sonic Drive-In after three  straight years of same store sales decline. Mr. Smith ultimately served as President and CMO and helped Sonic Drive-In to five straight years of same store sales growth and record store-level profits. Prior to that, he worked in marketing at Yum! Brands for its KFC domestic business. After successfully turning around a struggling handheld chicken division, he joined Wendy’s International in its innovation and new product marketing group. Mr. Smith received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.

About Potbelly

Potbelly Corporation is a neighborhood sandwich concept that has been feeding customers’ smiles with warm, toasty sandwiches, signature salads, hand-dipped shakes and other fresh menu items, customized just the way customers want them, for more than 40 years. Potbelly promises Fresh, Fast & Friendly service in an environment that reflects the local neighborhood. Since opening its first shop in Chicago in 1977, Potbelly has expanded to neighborhoods across the country - with more than 400 company-owned shops in the United States. Additionally, Potbelly franchisees operate over 40 shops in the United States. For more information, please visit our website at

View source version at Potbelly

Wingstop Appoints Chief Technology Officer

Digital maven returns to the brand with plans to take tech innovation to the next level

May 11, 2020 07:30 ET

DALLAS, May 11, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ: WING) today announced the appointment of Stacy Peterson Androes as Chief Technology Officer. Prior to her brief departure in 2019, Stacy served the brand in several technology-focused roles, most recently as Chief Experience Officer, and enabled Wingstop to be well-positioned for strong performance during COVID-19 via a solid tech stack and strategic digital partnerships including DoorDash.

Stacy joined Wingstop in September 2013 and immediately solidified the brand’s technology strategy, which set the stage for Wingstop to be an industry leader in digital sales. After implementing a consistent point-of-sale platform, she led innovations such as social ordering via Twitter and Facebook Messenger as well as SMS text ordering via Wingbot, to expand how guests could order online. In 2017, Stacy was promoted to a new, tailored role as Chief Experience Officer and was responsible for leveraging guest feedback and insights in relation to consumer-facing technologies. Based on these insights, she led her team to relaunch Wingstop’s website and app, which garnered an average 4.9-star rating on the App Store, to improve the ordering experience and seamlessly integrate with third-party delivery.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Stacy back to Wingstop,” Chairman and CEO Charlie Morrison said. “Stacy laid the digital foundation for the incredible growth we’ve experienced over the past five years and is widely-recognized in the industry as being a digital pioneer. Under Stacy’s leadership, we will continue innovating in the tech space and capitalize on the incredible momentum we’ve seen recently as a result of our digital investments.”

As Chief Technology Officer, Stacy will fortify digital investments domestically and expand the strategy to international markets as the brand continues to scale and grow. In line with Wingstop’s goal of digitizing 100% of transactions, she’ll continue innovating around existing digital platforms while also identifying additional opportunities to tap into fan passion points through consumer insights and trends.

“I’m incredibly excited to return to Wingstop and play a role in achieving the vision to become a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand,” Stacy said. “While I’m proud of the work we accomplished to put digital and delivery in place originally, the next chapter is even more exciting as we strive to digitize every transaction.”

Stacy’s appointment follows Wingstop’s release of first quarter and April 2020 results, noting 9.9% domestic same-store sales growth for the first quarter and more than 33% domestic same-store sales growth for the month of April. Since the closure of its dining rooms on March 16, 2020, Wingstop announced digital orders accounted for nearly 65% of total sales, with app installs up approximately 80%.

About Wingstop

Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dallas, TX, Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ: WING) operates and franchises over 1,400 locations worldwide. The Wing Experts are dedicated to Serving the World Flavor through an unparalleled guest experience and offering of classic wings, boneless wings and tenders, always cooked to order and hand-sauced-and-tossed in fans’ choice of 11 bold, distinctive flavors. Wingstop’s menu also features signature sides including fresh-cut, seasoned fries and freshly-made ranch and bleu cheese dips.

In 2019, Wingstop’s system-wide sales increased 20.1% year-over-year to $1.5 billion, marking the 16th consecutive year of same store sales growth, and Wingstop achieved over 400% shareholder return since its 2015 initial public offering. With a vision of becoming a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand, its system is comprised of independent franchisees, or brand partners, who account for more than 98% of Wingstop’s total restaurant count of 1,413 as of March 28, 2020. In February 2019, the Company launched its new tagline and creative campaign “Where Flavor Gets Its Wings” and continued the rollout of national delivery. As of March 28, 2020, Wingstop generated 47% of sales via digital channels including and the Wingstop app. The Company has been ranked on Franchise Business Review’s “Top 30 Food and Beverage Franchises” (2019), Fast Casual’s “Movers & Shakers” (2019), QSR Magazine’s “The Industry’s 9 Best Franchise Deals” (2019) and “The QSR Top 50” (2019) for limited-service restaurants in the U.S.

View source version at Wingstop

R&R BBQ Names Industry Veteran Neil Harfert as President

-- Harfert brings 26 years of food and beverage experience to R&R BBQ as the company plans further expansion --

May 08, 2020, 10:00 ET

LEHI, Utah, May 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, R&R BBQ appointed industry veteran Neil Harfert as president to lead the fast-growing restaurant chain in its next chapter of growth. Founders, Rod and Roger Livingston, will be retiring to pursue other interests.

"Neil is a proven and respected leader who has delivered strong operating results through a long career in the food and beverage industry, with powerhouse brands like Qdoba, Modern Market Eatery and MOD Pizza," said Greg Warnock, a member of the R&R BBQ board of directors and managing partner of Mercato Partners' Savory Fund. "I am confident that Neil will continue to lead our executive team and 350-plus team members to achieve great success and carry on the incredible brand the Livingstons created over five years ago."

Harfert brings over 26 years of experience operating and growing successful restaurant chains. Prior to joining R&R BBQ, Harfert served as Vice President of Field Operations for MOD Pizza where he helped lead the chain through explosive growth from 25 restaurants in five states to more than 255 units in 18 states over a five-year period. His experience also includes heading up operations for other polished casual restaurant chains like Modmarket Farm Fresh Eateries, Qdoba Mexican Eats, and others.

"Having served in leadership capacities for over 26 years in the restaurant industry, I am excited for this opportunity to work with such a beloved brand that is poised for great success," said Harfert. "The Livingstons created the best championship BBQ concept I have seen in America. That is why I decided to move my family from Seattle to Salt Lake City – to make sure more people have the opportunity to enjoy the amazing food that R&R BBQ smokes each day as we grow throughout the Western United States."

Under Rod and Roger Livingston's leadership, the company grew from a championship BBQ competition team to a chain of eight restaurants along the Wasatch Front. The duo's passion for great BBQ has made R&R BBQ a beloved brand, and one of the state's fastest-growing restaurant chains.

"We have loved serving this community for the past five years. It has been one of the greatest accomplishments of our lives," said Rod Livingston. "We hope all of our guests will continue to enjoy our championship BBQ for years to come."

Roger Livingston said, "It is exciting to see how far we have come from the early days of R&R BBQ to now. Rod and I are so grateful for the entire community's support."

R&R BBQ was born out of the top spot as Utah's best competition barbeque team—a position the Livingstons proudly hold today. With eight locations serving the Wasatch front, one in the Vivint Smart Home Arena and a full-service catering kitchen, R&R is currently the leader in Southern BBQ in the Beehive State. Additional locations will be added within the state and surrounding geographies in the coming months and years.

View source version at R&R BBQ

Taco John’s Welcomes Barry Westrum as New Chief Marketing Officer

April 30, 2020

Popular quick-service restaurant hires industry veteran to oversee marketing strategy

Cheyenne, WY  (  Jim Creel, CEO of Taco John’s, announced today that Barry Westrum will join the team as chief marketing officer on Monday, May 4.

Westrum brings more than 26 years of experience to his new role at Taco John’s. Prior to joining Taco John’s, Westrum held several different leadership positions at YUM! Brands for nearly 20 years. Most notably, he served as senior director of brand marketing for Taco Bell Corp., chief marketing officer for A&W and Long John’s Silver Restaurants, and chief marketing officer for KFC Corporation. From 2012 to 2017, he was executive vice president of marketing for International Dairy Queen and most recently served as chief marketing officer of Del Taco.

“Barry brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our team at Taco John’s,” Creel said. “He has been a leader in the industry for many years and has a proven track record of success working in marketing for several other popular quick-service restaurants. We have full confidence that his skills will add incredible value to our brand.”

Westrum will reside in the new Minneapolis satellite office of Taco John’s, allowing the brand to tap into the considerable marketing and culinary resources the city provides. As chief marketing officer, he will oversee brand and marketing strategy, advertising, digital innovation, menu development, creative services and the overall brand experience for Taco John’s.

“I am thrilled to take on my new position at Taco John’s,” Westrum said. “This is a widely successful company that has established itself as a staple in many communities for its signature items and specials. Taco John’s is already a bold brand, but I look forward to taking its marketing to the next level.”

With its fusion of distinctive flavors and south-of-the-border spices, the Taco John’s menu offers several signature items, including Meat & Potato Burritos, Stuffed Grilled Tacos and Potato Olés®. Taco John’s features signature specials like Taco Tuesday® and discounted breakfast burritos on Wake Up Wednesday!® Download the Taco John’s App and like Taco John’s Facebook page for exclusive deals.

About Taco John’s®

Founded in 1969 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Taco John’s® has been serving bigger. bolder. better. flavors for more than 50 years. Now, Taco John’s operates and franchises nearly 400 restaurants in 22 states – making it one of the largest Mexican quick-service restaurant brands in America. With bold originals like Potato Olés®, Taco John’s knows how to Olé The Day. Taco John’s prides itself on serving generous portions of its signature menu items that are made-to-order using fresh, high-quality ingredients, seasonings and sauces. Taco John’s is led by CEO Jim Creel who was recently named one of “The Most Influential Restaurant CEOs in the Country” by Nation’s Restaurant News. For more information, visit and follow Taco John’s on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

View source version at Taco John's

FOCUS Brands Appoints Beto Guajardo as President of FOCUS Brands International and Tory Bartlett to COO and Brand Lead of Schlotzsky’s

April 28, 2020

Atlanta, GA  (  FOCUS Brands (the “Company”), a parent company of Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, Schlotzsky’s®, and Seattle’s Best Coffee® (in certain military bases and in certain international markets), announced that Beto Guajardo will lead its international business, effective at the end of the month. Beto succeeds Mike Kehoe, who has chosen to leave the company after nearly five years with FOCUS Brands. Tory Bartlett, currently Chief Customer Experience Officer of Schlotzsky’s, will become the COO and Brand Leader of Schlotzsky’s.

Beto joined FOCUS Brands in September of 2019 as the President of Schlotzsky’s®. “When considering who would take the reins of our international business, we didn’t need to look far. In the short time that Beto led Schlotzsky’s, he’s demonstrated exceptional strategic ingenuity in the transformation of the Schlotzsky’s brand. His leadership ability, motivational approach, and executional acumen have been instrumental in achieving many successes during his tenure,” said Jim Holthouser, CEO of FOCUS Brands.

Beto has spent more than 25 years as a senior executive and management consultant. He most recently served as Senior Vice President, Global Strategy at Starbucks Coffee Company. Earlier in his career, he spent eight years in management consulting with McKinsey & Company and Deloitte Consulting, LLP. In these roles, Beto was responsible for developing and implementing global brand transformation and growth strategies over five continents and in more than 30 countries, gaining a vast knowledge of the diversity across international markets. In addition, he has lived abroad in both Singapore and Hong Kong. “I am incredibly excited and privileged to have the opportunity to work with our FOCUS Brands global leaders and international franchisees to drive breakthrough innovation and growth,” adds Beto Guajardo.

Tory Bartlett has over two decades of brand, operations and franchise executive leadership with Hooters as well as Tin Lizzy’s and Southern Proper Hospitality Group. He came into Schlotzsky’s one year ago and made a tremendous impact, driving value for franchisees and rallying the team.

“We are fortunate to be able to promote incredible talent from within when leadership opportunities present themselves. Beto’s experience and accomplishments as a strategist and transformational leader and his ability to bring a critical eye and global perspective is imperative to leading our international business to many years of future success.  Similarly, Tory’s relationships with franchisees, impeccable operational management style and business acumen make him a logical successor as Schlotzsky’s brand leader,” said Kat Cole, President and COO of FOCUS Brands. “Both will raise the bar and enable the strategic capabilities that continue to drive expansion for our franchisees and brands.”

About FOCUS Brands

Atlanta-based FOCUS Brands is a leading developer of global multi-channel foodservice brands. FOCUS Brands, through its affiliate brands, is the franchisor and operator of more than 6,000 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes, and bakeries in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and over 50 foreign countries under the brand names Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, and Schlotzsky’s®, as well as Seattle’s Best Coffee® on certain military bases and in certain international markets. Please visit to learn more.

View source version at FOCUS Brands

Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Darin Harris to Become Chief Executive Officer

David Goebel to Become Non-Executive Chairman of the Board

April 16, 2020 04:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time

SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) announced today that Darin Harris has been appointed by its Board of Directors as Chief Executive Officer and will join the Jack in the Box Board of Directors, both effective on the start of his employment no later than June 15, 2020. The Board of Directors has elected David Goebel to serve as non-executive Chairman of the Board, effective when Harris begins employment with the company.

Harris has more than 25 years of experience leading franchised and corporate multi-unit retail and service businesses. Most recently, Harris has served as Chief Executive Officer of North America for IWG PLC (“IWG”), the holding group for several leading providers of over 1,000 flexible workspaces. Brands in the IWG portfolio include Regus, Spaces, HQ, No18 and Signature by Regus.

Harris has extensive leadership experience in the restaurant industry encompassing operations, franchising, brand strategy and restaurant development. Most notably, Harris is the former Chief Executive Officer of CiCi’s Pizza. Harris also previously held franchise leadership roles as Senior Vice President at Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. and Vice President, Franchise and Corporate Development at Captain D’s Seafood, Inc. He was also a prior franchise operator of Papa John’s Pizza and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

“We are enthusiastic about the breadth of experience Darin brings to the Jack in the Box team. Darin is a proven leader with a strong background in franchised organizations, both in leadership positions and as a franchisee himself. I am confident in his ability to lead this organization and continue to elevate the Jack in the Box business for guests, employees, and franchisees.” said David Goebel, current independent Lead Director.

Harris will leave his current position as Chief Executive Officer of North America, IWG PLC to join Jack in the Box Inc. He joined IWG in April 2018, where he developed a clear and focused strategy for the business and a disciplined process for execution in key areas of operations, business development, customer service, revenue, and profit objectives. Prior to that, Harris was Chief Executive Officer of CiCi’s Enterprises, LP, from August 2013 to February 2018 in Dallas, Texas, where he was responsible for both CiCi’s Pizza, an American pizza buffet restaurant chain with over 400 locations, and JMC Distribution LP, a restaurant distribution company. Harris has an MBA from Xavier University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Creighton University.

“I am thrilled to join this strong leadership team and build a great future for the Jack in the Box brand, our talented employees, and all Jack in the Box franchisees. Given my extensive background in franchising, brand building, and operations, I have been able to observe the potential of this company, and I look forward to leading the organization toward this potential,” said Harris. “My first order of business will be to learn this iconic brand and listen to our team members, partners, and franchisees on how best to serve our guests.”

Harris takes over from Lenny Comma, who announced his intent to retire in December 2019 and has served as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board since 2014. Comma’s last day with Jack in the Box will be effective upon Harris’ start date, at which time Comma will also leave the Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the Jack in the Box Board of Directors, I would like to personally thank Lenny for his commitment to the company over his 18 years at Jack in the Box, and specifically his fearless leadership over the last six-plus years as CEO and Chairman. Lenny has had an enormous impact on the company with countless accomplishments, including driving same-store sales growth every year as CEO with industry-leading margins, transforming the business model from a multi-branded mixed model of franchise and company restaurants to a single-branded, primarily franchised company, all while developing the people and culture in the organization. We appreciate the continuity that Lenny will provide as a result of this transition and we wish him well in all his future endeavors,” said Goebel.

About Jack in the Box Inc.

Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK), based in San Diego, is a restaurant company that operates and franchises Jack in the Box® restaurants, one of the nation’s largest hamburger chains, with more than 2,220 restaurants in 21 states. Known as the pioneer of all-day breakfast, and the late night category, Jack in the Box prides itself on being the curly fry in a world of regular fries. For more information on Jack in the Box, including franchising opportunities, visit If you have media inquiries, please reach out to

View source version at Jack in the Box

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