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Executive Movements - May 2022


May 16, 2022, 17:15 ET


DALLAS, May 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT) announced today that Wyman Roberts will retire as Chief Executive Officer and President of the company, President of Chili's® Grill & Bar and as a member of the Board of Directors effective June 5, 2022. Roberts, 63, will continue to serve the company in an advisory role for 12 months as part of the company's succession plan.

The Board of Directors appointed Kevin Hochman, 48, as President and CEO of Brinker International, President of Chili's, and as a member of the Board of Directors effective June 6, 2022.

"After an extended search for a successor, the Board is pleased to have Kevin serve as Brinker's next CEO," said Joe DePinto, Chairman of the Board. "Kevin is a talented leader and innovative thinker with strategic vision, passion and a successful track record of building brands. We are confident he will create shareholder value and maintain the company's culture as we work to bring Chili's, Maggiano's and our virtual brands to even more Guests."

"On behalf of the Board of Directors and tens of thousands of Team Members, I want to thank Wyman for his dedication and leadership at Brinker for the last 17 years," said DePinto. "Wyman is a leader with that special ability to make big strategic decisions in a way that makes individual Guests feel special at tables in our restaurants around the world. His investment in people and the next generation of leaders, alongside his investment in operating systems and new technologies, have grown our brands through unpredictable challenges and set up our company for continued success in the future. Wyman leaves a legacy that will continue to positively impact Brinker, its Team Members and Guests for years to come."

Roberts has served as Chief Executive Officer and President of the company and as a member of the Board of Directors since January 2013, and in various other executive roles with the company since August 2005, including President of Chili's, Chief Marketing Officer of Brinker and President of Maggiano's Little Italy®.

"Since starting with Brinker 17 years ago, I have been inspired by the passion for making Guests feel special that our ChiliHeads, Maggiano's Teammates and BrinkerHeads bring to our restaurants every single day," said Roberts. "It has been a privilege to lead and be a part of this great company. I am impressed with Kevin's character and leadership skills, and I look forward to seeing him take our company to the next level of success as we make this transition."

Known as an exceptional brand builder and innovation leader, Hochman brings substantial experience and expertise to Brinker. Hochman most recently served as President and Chief Concept Officer of KFC, U.S., having been appointed to that position in March 2017. He concurrently served as President of Pizza Hut, U.S. from December 2019 to January 2022, and previously served as Chief Marketing Officer of KFC, U.S. from January 2014 to February 2017. Prior to that Hochman worked at Procter & Gamble for more than 18 years in various brand management and marketing roles.

"I am honored to be appointed Brinker's President and CEO and appreciate the support of Wyman and the Board," said Hochman. "I've been very impressed with our operations and technology and see huge potential for growing our iconic Chili's and Maggiano's brands. Brinker's mission is about making people feel special, and that's something I've tried to do throughout my career. I look forward to working with our Brinker team to accelerate growth by creating lasting and more frequent connections with our Guests and Team Members."

About Brinker International, Inc. Brinker International, Inc. (NYSE: EAT) is one of the world's leading casual dining restaurant companies and home of Chili's® Grill & Bar, Maggiano's Little Italy® and two virtual brands: It's Just Wings® and Maggiano's® Italian Classics. Founded by Norman Brinker in Dallas, Texas, we've ventured far from home, but stayed true to our roots. Brinker owns, operates or franchises more than 1,600 restaurants in 29 countries and two U.S. territories. Our passion is making people feel special, and we hope you feel that passion each time you visit one of our restaurants or invite us into your home through takeout or delivery. Learn more about Brinker and its brands at

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Kevin Hochman to Depart KFC U.S.; Dyke Shipp, KFC Division President, Continues Oversight of KFC U.S.

May 16, 2022, 16:15 ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky., May 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) announced today that Kevin Hochman will step down from his role as President of KFC U.S. effective June 3 to assume a senior position at another public company. With Kevin’s departure, Dyke Shipp, 56, KFC Division President, will assume direct management responsibility of the KFC U.S. business in the interim until a new President of KFC U.S. is announced.

“I want to thank Kevin for his leadership, his bold and creative thinking and his unwavering focus on keeping the iconic KFC brand culturally relevant for consumers,” said Sabir Sami, KFC Division CEO. “As Kevin moves on to another opportunity, we’re thankful for the strong and experienced leadership team at KFC U.S. Dyke is an accomplished executive with a strong track record of elevating KFC’s unique and distinctive culture, shaping leaders around the world and driving an ambitious global development agenda. He already has oversight of KFC U.S. as Head of the North and South America business units, and will continue working closely with the leadership team to ensure a seamless transition.”

Sami added, “As we look ahead, I couldn’t be more excited about the future of KFC as we continue working with our talented leaders and amazing franchisees to further strengthen and accelerate the development of our iconic, well-loved brand globally.”

SShipp brings over 30 years of experience with Yum! Brands and expertise successfully leading KFC’s development and people and culture strategies. Earlier this year, Shipp was promoted to global KFC Division President, reporting to Sami. In this role, Shipp partners with Sami on KFC’s global people and growth agenda. Shipp also supports General Managers of its businesses in the Americas, including the U.S., Canada and Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to this, Shipp served as both Chief People Officer and Chief Development Officer for KFC Global.

About KFC KFC Corporation, based in Louisville, Ky., has been serving up Finger Lickin’ Good Original Recipe® fried chicken since 1952. Beyond the top secret 11 herbs & spices, KFC specialties include the KFC Chicken Sandwich, Extra Crispy™ chicken and Extra Crispy™ Tenders, KFC Famous Bowls®, Pot Pies, Secret Recipe Fries, biscuits and homestyle sides. There are more than 26,000 KFC restaurants in over 145 countries and territories around the world. KFC Corporation is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc., Louisville, Ky. (NYSE: YUM). For more information, visit Follow KFC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

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Clean Juice Names Tripp Setliff as New Chief Operating Officer

May 17, 2022

Clean Juice, the first and only national USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise and quick-service restaurant announced today it has hired Tripp Setliff to Chief Operating Officer (COO). In the role, Tripp will oversee all store operational initiatives including development, supply chain, training, and field support to grow average unit sales volumes and profitability, while Clean Juice continues its explosive expansion across the United States.

Tripp is a veteran fast-casual, quick-serve franchise restaurant executive having worked with Jersey Mike’s Subs and Cicci’s Pizza brands. Tripp’s franchise operations, development, and marketing experience led him to executive leadership roles at Driven Brands, Inc. and Business Network International where he most recently held the role of Vice President of Global Marketing.

“I am extremely humbled and thankful for the opportunity to join such an amazing company focused on offering clean, all organic food options to people across the nation,” said Setliff. “As a North Carolina native, I am proud to be a part of the Clean Juice family, where my aligned core values and professional experience will be utilized to continue growing Clean Juice into a household name while embracing the brand’s mission of “Healthy in Body, Strong in Spirit” for all people and communities.”

From a leadership development standpoint, Tripp will be tasked with continuing the brand’s significant impact on the quick-serve restaurant segment while exploring new ways to support the implementation of scalable and efficient models. Clean Juice recently announced the signing of its 200th unit in less than 7 years and is on track to reach 500 in a record-setting time. Tripp’s goals not only focus on location growth but mentoring and creating a team of health-minded professionals to take Clean Juice into the next era of its amazing story.

“Kat and I are very proud to welcome Tripp and his family to our Clean Juice family,” said Landon Eckles, CEO of Clean Juice. “Tripp brings a level of expertise, drive, and passion that is reflective of our core values, and we are inspired by his commitment and vision as Clean Juice continues a historic growth march and storied journey.”

Tripp earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degree from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. When Tripp isn’t working on fine-tuning the operations at Clean Juice, he is found coaching his children’s sports teams or on an outdoor adventure exploring North Carolina’s majestic Blue Ridge mountains with his family.

For more information about Clean Juice, its leadership team, its core values, and franchising opportunities, please visit or

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Freshii Inc. Announces First Quarter 2022 Results and Executive Changes

May 11, 2022 16:30 ET

        Daniel Haroun promoted to CEO of Freshii Inc.; Founder Matthew Corrin becomes Executive Chairman Victor Diab to join the Company as CFO Q1 2022 Company-wide revenue up 162% vs. prior year, driven by growth across all business lines and Natura Market acquisition North American franchised restaurant development pipeline of committed locations reaches over 100 units with more than 90% from existing franchisees North American Franchised Restaurant Segment records Q1 2022 System sales growth1 of 11% and Franchise Revenue growth of 10% vs Q1 2021 Natura Market records 6% revenue growth vs. the corresponding period in 20212 CPG business records CPG system sales growth of 85% in Q1 2022 vs. Q1 2021

TORONTO, May 11, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Omnichannel health and wellness brand, Freshii Inc. (TSX: FRII) (“Freshii”, the “Company”, “us”, “our” or “we”), today announced financial results for the first quarter ended March 27, 2022 (“Q1 2022”). The Company also announced that, effective May 12, 2022, Daniel Haroun will be promoted to CEO of Freshii Inc., Founder Matthew Corrin will move to the role of Executive Chairman and, as of June 13, 2022, Victor Diab will join the Company as CFO.

On the change in Company leadership, Matthew Corrin said: “Since founding Freshii more than 17 years ago, we've grown from a single, salad-focused food court counter in downtown Toronto into a global health and wellness brand spanning 13 countries, now with three distinct business units bringing healthy food to citizens of the world.

The omni-channel health and wellness brand that I’d envisioned for Freshii has become a reality and I believe that we are well positioned to serve the health-conscious consumers of the future.

As the Company works to realize its full omnichannel potential, I believe that we will be best served by the appointment of Daniel Haroun as our CEO. Daniel and I have worked extremely closely together during his years as Freshii’s CFO and I have come to rely on his expertise and judgment in all areas of the business.

This expertise and judgment, combined with Daniel’s pre-Freshii leadership experience at global franchised-restaurant and retail/grocery operators, give me great confidence that Daniel is the right person to lead Freshii through the next phase of our omnichannel growth.

I want Freshii to have intergenerational relevance for our customers, our team members, our franchise owners and our shareholders, and I believe this vision will be best realized by transitioning responsibility for the day-to-day leadership of the Company to Daniel and the incredible team he has today and that he will continue to build around him.

In my role as Executive Chairman, I intend to maintain my significant shareholdings in Freshii, be our biggest brand champion, and our most loyal guest - for the long term.  I am confident in Daniel’s ability to lead our brand and culture on a path that is accretive to the Company’s share value.

Thank you to all our team members, our franchise and retail partners, and our shareholders.  I believe the best is yet to come!”

On his appointment to the role of CEO, Daniel Haroun said: “The opportunity to lead Freshii is a great privilege and I am honoured to build on the foundation Matthew has created.  Our industry's current operating environment brings both opportunity and challenges and I am excited to work closely with our incredible franchise partners, team members, and supplier and retail partners to position our business to embark on Freshii's next chapter of omnichannel growth. I want to thank Matthew and Freshii's board of directors for the opportunity to lead this incredible organization and I believe the best is yet to come for our Company."

Victor Diab joins Freshii with more than a decade of finance and strategy experience at large Canadian public companies with retail, franchising and ecommerce operations. Victor brings broad finance experience in supply chain, real estate and loyalty strategy as well as in M&A and Corporate Development. On joining Freshii, Victor said: “I have long been a Freshii customer as well as an impressed observer of the brand’s expansion to date. I am so pleased to be joining the executive leadership team here and I believe the Company has a significant opportunity for growth in front of it. I am excited to work with Daniel, Matthew, the Board and all of our partners as we build the next phase of Freshii’s omnichannel growth.”

On the changes in executive leadership, lead independent director, Steve Smith, said: “Over the years working closely with Daniel, I have developed a great deal of confidence in his leadership and strategic abilities, as well as his focus on sustainable growth for our business. With the addition of Victor to the team as CFO and the skills and experience he will bring to that role, along with the continued availability of Matthew as Executive Chairman, I believe that Daniel and his team are well positioned to drive the Freshii mission forward, creating value for our franchisees, partners and shareholders.”

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Zaxby’s Appoints Michelle Morgan as First Chief People Officer

May 10, 2022

Zaxby’s veteran to guide ‘People First’ culture

Athens, GA  (  Zaxby’s, the Georgia-based premium quick-service restaurant franchise known for its Signature Sandwich, Chicken Fingerz™ and flavorful signature sauces, announced today that Michelle Morgan has been named chief people officer. The executive leadership position is designed to elevate the brand’s “People First” culture and strengthen guidance around its core values. Morgan will be the first chief people officer in Zaxby’s 32-year history.

“Our values reinforce our everyday leadership behaviors, which are ultimately aimed to enrich lives,” said Bernard Acoca, Zaxby’s CEO. “Michelle is a strong servant leader who will continue to work consistently to strengthen our foundational commitment to put our team members and franchisees first. Her long history with Zaxby’s gives her a unique vantage point on people-related issues.”

Morgan most recently served as executive vice president of culture & brand experience at Zaxby’s and has been with the company for over 20 years. She started out as a front-line store cashier and progressively grew into various leadership roles in operations and human resources. Morgan was instrumental in developing and implementing company-wide standards for diversity and inclusion, talent development, corporate citizenship and guest service.

“Michelle is known not only for her business acumen but for her courage in championing solutions, fostering collaboration, and advocating for people,” Acoca added. “The guest experience will never exceed the employee experience, and in a time where a challenging but fun and inspirational environment is vital to a company’s success, Michelle has proven that she can lead through our values while building talent and capability across the organization.”

As chief people officer, Morgan will be responsible for optimizing recruitment, performance and professional development as well as elevating and reinforcing Zaxby’s culture and aligning the mission with values, decisions and commitments.

“Zaxby’s has the talent, the drive, and the vision to provide incredible opportunities for employees, franchisees, and communities across the country,” said Morgan. “I am excited to lead the employee experience and ensure that we continue to ‘enrich lives’ through our support center, in the restaurants, through the guest experience and into the communities we serve.”

About Zaxby’s

Founded in 1990, Zaxby’s is committed to serving delicious chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads in a fun, offbeat atmosphere where customers are considered friends. For the second year in a row, Zaxby’s iconic Signature Sandwich won Thrillist’s 2022 Fasties Award for Best Fried Chicken Sandwich. Zaxby’s has grown to more than 900 locations in 18 states and is headquartered in Athens, Georgia. For more information, visit or

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Cotton Patch Cafe Adds Chief Growth Officer

May 10, 2022, 09:03 ET

Former Torchy's Taco senior executive joins restaurant bringing over 20 years of experience

DALLAS, May 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Cotton Patch Cafe, a Texas-inspired, scratch-made restaurant serving Southern classics, today announced Scott Hudler has joined the company as its Chief Growth Officer (CGO). Hudler will oversee all marketing, guest experience technologies and development. He will report directly to the CEO and serve on the Cotton Patch Cafe leadership team.

"We are excited to have someone of Scott's caliber join our leadership team," said Mazen Albatarseh, CEO of Cotton Patch Cafe. "We have taken our time in searching for and hiring the most qualified person for this position. We believe Scott's passion for people, knowledge and prior experience, combined with his aptitude for technical growth, make him the ideal individual for the position. We look forward to having Scott help us elevate our brand and continue to grow."

Hudler has a proven track record of delivering measurable results to brands through innovation, product development and consumer engagement. He takes a measured approach to understanding a brand's unique qualities to create and lead its brand strategy, category management, advertising and marketing efforts.

"What Cotton Patch Cafe has accomplished to date is extremely impressive. I'm looking forward to working with this dynamic team," said Hudler. "Cotton Patch Cafe is an iconic brand. I believe the growth potential for us is unlimited."

Prior to joining Cotton Patch Cafe, Hudler held c-level positions, including CMO of Torchy's Tacos, SVP and CMO of Dick's Sporting Goods and SVP and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) of Dunkin' Donuts. He graduated from Valdosta State University with a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts.

About Cotton Patch Cafe

Founded in Nacogdoches, Texas, in 1989, Dallas-based Cotton Patch Cafe is a Texas-inspired, homestyle restaurant serving Southern classics in its 49 locations across Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Cotton Patch is deeply committed to being a community partner in each town it calls home and gives to many local organizations and charities in addition to being a major donor to Scottish Rite for Children. For more information, visit or follow Cotton Patch Cafe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Famous Toastery Announces Joe Gillie as New Vice President of Operations

May 10, 2022

The franchise and restaurant-industry veteran will support the operations of both new and existing Famous Toastery franchisees as the North Carolina-based better breakfast, brunch and lunch brand continues to expand its footprint.

Charlotte, NC  (  Famous Toastery, the 25-plus unit better breakfast, brunch and lunch franchise, has announced the addition of Joe Gillie to its executive team as Vice President of Operations. Gillie will play an instrumental role in supporting incoming franchise owners as the brand moves closer to achieving its goal of reaching 50 units — doubling its current footprint — by 2024.

Gillie brings many years of experience in the restaurant and franchising industries. Most recently, Gillie worked as Chief Financial Officer for Charleston Hospitality Group, which includes several restaurant brands, including Toast All Day. Prior to that, Gillie worked with a number of legacy QSR brands, including Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, both in operations and on the financial end. Gillie also has experience on the franchisee level as the Chief Operating Officer for a restaurant group that owned 18 Popeyes franchise locations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Basically, I’ve worked in every role imaginable in the restaurant industry,” said Gillie. “I started working in restaurant kitchens 30 years ago, and have worked my way up to general manager, franchisee and executive.”

While looking to get back into operations this year, Gillie discovered the opportunity to join the Famous Toastery team and was immediately drawn to the ‘famous’ better breakfast, brunch and lunch brand.

“I was tired of sitting behind a desk, and wanted to be hands-on in restaurants again,” said Gillie. “I knew about Famous Toastery and its scratch menu and loved the better breakfast segment. It is a white-hot segment in the restaurant industry right now. I also knew the North Carolina market well — I am from the Triangle area. I started the conversation with CEO Robert Maynard and heard about the aggressive growth plan and that was very exciting. I felt like I could offer the benefit of my experience in the growth trajectory of the system. I knew we’d make a great team.”

As Vice President of Operations, Gillie’s role is to oversee both corporate and franchised Famous Toastery restaurants, support relationships with franchisees and ensure that the procedures and processes in place are being met consistently on a systemwide basis.

“My role as part of the franchisor team is to offer the benefit of advice, experience and coaching,” said Gillie. “I will be sharing suggestions on best practices within the restaurants, as well as vetting and training new franchisees. My primary role is to coach, mentor and help with initiatives within the system, whether that be updated product lists, new procedures or vendor relationships. Franchisees are paying us a royalty fee for the benefit of our expertise, and we owe it to them to support them in every way possible.”

From the initial onboarding to long after the grand opening, Famous Toastery provides franchisees with the support and training needed to establish a successful business in their local community.

Looking ahead, Maynard is confident that Gillie’s addition to the leadership team will help fuel the brand’s success as it grows out of its home market of Charlotte, closing out the Carolinas and further expanding into Virginia and Tennessee.

“We are at a better point than ever before to enter new markets, especially beginning with our home state of North Carolina, where consumers know us,” said Maynard. “With the strong foundation we already have, we’re poised for growth. And with expert guidance from Gillie, someone who knows nearly every aspect of the franchise and restaurant industries, we have a winning team in place who will be able to support owners through every step.”

With a marketing plan to saturate the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee, Maynard’s vision is to sell eight to 10 deals in 2022 and to open four to six restaurants next year. Looking long-term into 2024, Maynard and his team are aiming to have 50 open restaurants. The rollout strategy is to first target Charlotte, then the Triangle, then the Blue Ridge Mountains before expanding elsewhere.

“There is a lot of untapped potential right now,” said Gillie. “We have a high-level, high-energy executive team that understands how to grow this concept the right way. Our recipes stand out in the industry and our freshness is unparalleled. We create operational processes around keeping that integrity of quality and making sure that we have the systems so franchisees don’t have to compromise. Breakfast is also a desirable daypart and we have the quality of life benefit for owners and team members, which helps us stand out in this competitive labor environment. Many of the differentiators are there — we are not reinventing the wheel, we are just taking what was already working and making it consistent as we scale. With this model in place, the sky’s the limit for Famous Toastery and I’m thrilled to be part of the team.”

The cost to open a Famous Toastery franchise ranges from $605,500 to $1,029,500 including a franchise fee starting at $45,000.

About Famous Toastery

Charlotte, N.C. based Famous Toastery began in 2005 in a small house-turned-restaurant where best friends Brian Burchill and Robert Maynard opened their first breakfast spot. Never compromising fresh ingredients or friendly service, Famous Toastery evolved into a franchise system in 2013 and now has over 25 locations. In 2020 and 2019, Famous Toastery placed on Restaurant Business’ The Future 50, featuring the fastest-growing small chains. Famous Toastery was ranked No. 9 in the Full-Service Restaurants category of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top Food Franchises of 2019 and on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 Rankings in 2019. In 2018, Famous Toastery received recognition by CNBC as a top franchise to buy, FSR Magazine as one of the Top 14 restaurant chains ready for lift-off, Inc. 5000’s list of the fastest growing companies and Franchise Times’ Top 200+ franchise opportunities. For more information about Famous Toastery, visit To learn about franchising opportunities, please visit

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Kura Sushi USA Announces the Resignation and Retirement of Chief Financial Officer Steven Benrubi

Search Process Underway to Identify Successor

May 09, 2022 16:05 ET

IRVINE, Calif., May 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kura Sushi USA, Inc. (“Kura Sushi” or the “Company”), (NASDAQ: KRUS), a technology-enabled Japanese restaurant concept, today announced that Steven H. Benrubi, the Company’s Chief Financial Officer has notified the Company of his decision to resign as Chief Financial Officer and retire. Mr. Benrubi’s CFO resignation will be effective on the earlier of August 1, 2022 or when his successor is named, to ensure a smooth transition. The Company has initiated a search process to identify his successor.

Hajime Uba, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Kura Sushi, stated, “Throughout his two years at Kura, Steven has been an integral member of our management team and a tremendous partner to me. He has successfully led our finance team through a challenging COVID and inflationary environment and we are pleased that he will remain with us to ensure a seamless transition as we conduct our CFO search. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors and the management team, we want to thank Steven for his contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

“We’ve made great progress positioning the company for success as we continue to benefit from our recent sales momentum. It has been an honor to work alongside such a talented and dedicated team,” Steven Benrubi said. “I have enjoyed a long career in corporate finance leadership and I believe Kura has one of the strongest management teams in the industry. I look forward to watching the Company’s continued growth in the years ahead as well as exploring life interests outside the corporate finance realm.”

About Kura Sushi USA, Inc. Kura Sushi USA, Inc. is a technology-enabled Japanese restaurant concept with 37 locations across 11 states and Washington DC. The Company offers guests a distinctive dining experience built on authentic Japanese cuisine and an engaging revolving sushi service model. Kura Sushi USA, Inc. was established in 2008 as a subsidiary of Kura Sushi, Inc., a Japan-based revolving sushi chain with over 500 restaurants and more than 35 years of brand history. For more information, please visit

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Eggs Up Grill Continues Rapid Growth, Taps 20-Year Vet Kenneth Phipps for Franchise Growth

May 3, 2022

Spartanburg, SC  (  Eggs Up Grill, ranked two years consecutively as the no. 1 breakfast franchise in 2021 and 2022 by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® and recently named a 2022 Top Franchise by Franchise Business Review, has named Kenneth Phipps vice president of franchise growth. Phipps leads the entire development process, from franchisee recruitment through signing, and restaurant development. He will also manage Eggs Up Grill’s strategic partnerships with its real estate and architectural and design firms.

“What Ken brings to the table is his years of experience in recruiting a high caliber franchise candidate and that is exactly what we are looking for as we grow the brand,” says Eggs Up Grill CEO Ricky Richardson. “Where he really punches above his weight is after the sale and his ability to foster the acceleration of future development. Ken is a trusted advisor for our current and future franchise partners and it’s that kind of experience that sets us apart.”

Phipps has more than 20 years of experience in franchise sales. He was formerly the senior director of franchise recruitment for Urban Air Adventure Parks, where he was recruited to manage all domestic franchise recruitment. Over the course of his career, he has worked for top tier brands such as Gold’s Gym, Boston’s Pizza and 7-Eleven. Phipps says his expertise is in attracting multi-brand, multi-unit franchisees with existing portfolios looking to diversify, as well as those seeking a first-time franchise opportunity.

“One of the biggest solidifiers of a franchise business is when your existing franchise partners are growing with you,” said Phipps. “That is certainly true of Eggs Up Grill and is just one part of what makes Eggs Up Grill so special. I am looking forward to popping the cork and exploding that potential.”

Eggs Up Grill now has 56 restaurants, opening three in 2022 with another 15 set to open before the end of the year.  The Brand signed four deals with new and existing franchisees in the first quarter of 2022 and is in active discussions with multi-unit prospects in Texas and Mississippi. In addition to record-breaking growth, the Brand closed out the first quarter of 2022 with an average annual unit volume (AUV) exceeding $1.1 million, and same-store sales up 24 percent over 2021. Last year, Eggs Up Grill recognized more than 60% of its restaurant locations for achieving annual sales exceeding $1 million in 2021.

With locations across Georgia, Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee, and opening in the state Alabama this summer, Eggs Up Grill offers seasonal items and its full menu for dine-in or order online for takeout or delivery. Menu categories include omelets and benedicts prepared with fresh, hand-cracked eggs, pancakes, waffles and breakfast sandwiches, as well as classic breakfast entrees. Lunch choices include juicy burgers, tasty sandwiches, wraps, salads and bowls. The menu also offers gluten-friendly options and a kids’ menu. The full menu is available open to close, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. All locations are individually owned and operated by a local member of the community, providing great-tasting, freshly prepared breakfast, brunch and lunch options.

About Eggs Up Grill

Eggs Up Grill is home to the whole neighborhood, serving smiles from sunup through lunch. The aromas of freshly brewed coffee, savory bacon and hand-cracked, farm-fresh eggs and juicy burgers on the griddle, and warm, attentive team members will make you feel right at home. We are “neighbors serving neighbors” daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ranked as the no. 1 breakfast franchise by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® two years in a row, Eggs Up Grill is experiencing record growth across the Southeast. Originally founded in Pawleys Island, S.C., Eggs Up Grill now has 56 locations with plans underway to reach the 100-restaurant mark by 2023.  For more information, visit

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California Pizza Kitchen Announces Appointment of Ashley Sheetz to Board of Directors

New Board Member is a transformational leader in retail technology and brings vast experience across a range of marketing functions

Ashley Sheetz is appointed to California Pizza Kitchen's Board of Directors.

May 03, 2022 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

COSTA MESA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California Pizza Kitchen (CPK), the creator of California-style pizza, today announced the appointment of Ashley Sheetz to its board of directors. With a demonstrated history of experience spanning marketing, public relations, CRM and loyalty, consumer insights, e-commerce and omnichannel efforts, Ms. Sheetz brings a unique perspective to the company’s board.

Ashley currently serves as Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Customer Officer of the popular home décor superstore At Home Group Inc. In 2021, she received an award from Chain Store Age magazine recognizing her as a Top Woman in Retail Technology for use of innovative retail technologies and advancements. Under her leadership, her team transformed At Home’s marketing capabilities to a powerhouse of digital and analytical marketing, including the company’s Insider Perks loyalty program, which now has more than 11.5 million members. Prior to her role at At Home, Ms. Sheetz held the titles of Chief Marketing Officer and Group Vice President at Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc., as well as Chief Marketing Officer at GameStop, Inc. She also served on the board of directors at Springs Window Fashions Manufacturing Co. from 2018 to 2021.

“Throughout her career, Ashley has played pivotal roles in positively transforming the marketing strategies for various companies, and applying innovative technologies to drive topline growth,” said Jim Hyatt, Chief Executive Officer of California Pizza Kitchen. “Ashley’s appointment to CPK’s Board of Directors is a significant step forward as we continue to build on our strong business momentum and deliver on our long-term strategic vision for the brand and overall guest experience.”

California Pizza Kitchen has returned to pre-pandemic performance levels due to its success with off-premise dining, upgrades to its digital experience and continued emphasis on culinary menu innovation.

About California Pizza Kitchen

In 1985, California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) opened its first restaurant in Beverly Hills and introduced diners to innovative California-style pizza. With a passion for combining fresh, seasonal ingredients with flavor inspirations from around the world, today CPK is a global brand serving creative California cuisine in nearly 200 restaurants in 8 countries and U.S. territories. From signature, hand-tossed pizzas and high-quality main plates to inventive better-for-you options, Lunch Duos, premium wines, and handcrafted beverages, CPK adds an imaginative twist to create a memorable dining experience. For more information, visit Chat with us on Twitter at @calpizzakitchen, Instagram at @cpk, and Facebook at Download the CPK Rewards® app for iOS and Android to earn & redeem delicious rewards, order online, and enjoy exclusive pizza perks all year long.

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Denny’s Corporation Executes Management Succession Plan Through Appointment of Kelli Valade as New Chief Executive Officer and President

May 03, 2022 16:05 ET

SPARTANBURG, S.C., May 03, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Denny’s Corporation (NASDAQ: DENN) today announced the appointment of Kelli Valade as Chief Executive Officer and President, effective June 13, 2022. Ms. Valade will succeed John Miller, who previously announced his retirement, effective August 3, 2022. The Company also announced the retirement of Denny’s President Mark Wolfinger, who served Denny’s for 17 years, effective June 1, 2022. Mr. Miller and Mr. Wolfinger will retain their existing positions on the Board of Directors, which will help ensure a seamless transition.

“The Denny’s Board of Directors conducted an extensive search to identify a forward-thinking, strategic CEO and President who will build on the successful leadership and growth established by John and Mark. In appointing Kelli, we have found a proven leader in the restaurant industry with the right combination of talent and experience to accelerate the current momentum of the Denny’s brand. The future of Denny’s is bright, and we are excited to have her at the helm as we build on our past successes,” said Brenda Lauderback, Chair of Denny’s Board of Directors. “On behalf of the Board, we are extremely appreciative of the successful foundation John and Mark created and congratulate them on well-deserved retirements from their executive positions. We also look forward to their continued contributions as members of the Denny’s Board of Directors.”

Ms. Valade, a 30-year restaurant veteran, brings to Denny’s a proven history of developing and executing bold strategies within the restaurant industry. She has deep experience in marketing, talent and people development, digital transformation, operational rigor and strategic development. While at Brinker International, she held roles as President, Chief Operating Officer, and Senior Vice President of Human Resources and was instrumental in helping the company accelerate its growth, drive greater operational efficiencies, and cultivate a purpose-driven culture to attract and retain employees. She was the first woman Brand President for Chili’s Bar & Grill where she led the strategic growth of more than 1,600 global restaurants and over 80,000 employees globally. Prior to her role as Red Lobster Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Valade served as Chief Executive Officer of Black Box Intelligence from 2019 to 2021.

Ms. Valade holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Binghamton and a Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University. She is on the Board of Directors of, the Women’s Foodservice Forum, and the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

“Denny’s is a world-class brand that has earned the trust and loyalty of generations of guests as the leading family dining restaurant. I admire the Company’s guest-first approach and unwavering purpose of loving to feed people,” said Valade. “I am excited to work alongside a strong and highly experienced management team, a stellar franchise organization, and dedicated team members as we deliver further innovations while enhancing the guest experience. Stepping into this role, I am incredibly confident about the future opportunities for Denny’s and our commitment to driving long-term sustainable growth for our shareholders.”

About Denny’s

Denny's Corporation is the franchisor and operator of one of America's largest franchised full-service restaurant chains, based on the number of restaurants. As of March 30, 2022, Denny’s had 1,634 franchised, licensed, and company restaurants around the world including 153 restaurants in Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Philippines, New Zealand, Honduras, the United Arab Emirates, Costa Rica, Guam, Guatemala, El Salvador, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom. For further information on Denny's, including news releases, links to SEC filings, and other financial information, please visit the Denny's investor relations website at

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Subway Restaurants Announces Taylor Bennett as Vice President of Non-Traditional Development

May 3, 2022

Milford, CT  (  Subway® restaurants announced today that Taylor Bennett has joined the company as Vice President of Non-Traditional Development. Bennett will oversee the strategic growth and innovation of Subway’s non-traditional locations, such as in airports, hospitals and gas and convenience stores, to deliver the convenience, accessibility and value our guests crave.

Bennett comes to Subway with a diverse professional background in franchisee development, sales, and legal. Prior to joining Subway, Bennett served as the Chief Development Officer at HOA Brands where he oversaw global development for the company’s multi-brand restaurant portfolio. He also served as Vice President of Franchise Sales and Development at Focus Brands where he led the sales and development teams and was responsible for growth across seven brands in Focus’ portfolio.

“Taylor brings a wealth of experience to Subway, from his background in law to working alongside franchisees to develop and grow their businesses,” said Mike Kappitt, Subway’s Chief Operating and Insights Officer. “As Subway continues on its transformation journey, Taylor’s understanding of franchising and how to meet guests’ needs will help solidify Subway as a leader in non-traditional innovation and drive profitability for the brand and our network of franchisees.”

“I am thrilled to be joining team Subway and continuing the great work started by the non-traditional team, such as piloting Grab & Go and unattended retail solutions,” said Bennett. “I look forward to bringing to life new, exciting and unexpected ways for guests to get their favorite Subway sandwiches.”

Bennett is graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a degree in international affairs and received his J.D. from John Marshall Law School.

About Subway ® Restaurants

As one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant brands, Subway serves freshly made-to-order sandwiches, wraps, salads and bowls to millions of guests, across more than 100 countries in more than 37,000 restaurants every day. Subway restaurants are owned and operated by Subway franchisees – a network that includes more than 20,000 dedicated entrepreneurs and small business owners – who are committed to delivering the best guest experience possible in their local communities.

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WOWorks Welcomes Back Jean Boland in Newly Created Role of Chief People and Culture Officer

May 03, 2022, 11:42 ET

Holding Company of Better-For-You Restaurant Concepts Fills New Leadership Role with Former WOWorks Chief People Officer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., May 3, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- WOWorks, the holding company of better-for-you restaurant brands, SaladworksFrutta BowlsGarbanzo Mediterranean Fresh and The Simple Greek, announced that Jean Boland has been appointed as the company's Chief People and Culture Officer, effective April 11, 2022. Boland has more than 30 years of experience in multiple service-focused industries in a Human Resources and Leadership Development capacity and served as Chief People Officer and Vice President of Human Resources for WOWorks from 2019-2021. Most recently she served as Chief People Officer for OMS360.

"We created our new Chief People and Culture Officer role because culture is such an important part of every great company," said Kelly Roddy, CEO of WOWorks. "It is so important to have an experienced officer in the company responsible for bringing it to life every single day, and Jean is the best person for the job. She was instrumental in developing the mission, vision, and values that would create the foundation for the WOWorks family of brands. She had also established the Culture Committee and helped the organization transition to fully remote work when the pandemic changed the way the world does business."

Boland will report to Roddy and oversee all four of WOWorks' restaurants' culture development and growth; leadership development; talent acquisition; employee engagement and retention; human resources policies and HRIS systems. Boland has previously spent eleven years at FOCUS Brands, the franchisor of Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Schltozsky's, Moe's, Auntie Anne's and other quick service brands. She has also worked in multiple positions at RARE Hospitality International, prior owners of Longhorn Steakhouse, Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse, and The Capital Grille.

"I'm looking forward to further developing the WOWorks' culture and tailoring each department's goals and strategies to unify their engagement," said Boland. "Infusing our values into everything we do and stand for is at the top of my mind. I want to reconnect with our mission and vision and realign our strategic efforts with those values for our restaurant franchise partners, employees and vendors."

WOWorks franchise owners come from different backgrounds, including existing franchise owners of different brands; varied business ownership backgrounds, such as construction, hotels, and fitness; former professional athletes; and military veterans. The company has franchising opportunities available in 49 states (all states excluding Hawaii) and offers 25 percent off franchise fees for veterans.

If you are interested in owning a WOWorks restaurant brand franchise, visit SaladworksFrutta Bowls and Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh's franchising websites to learn more.

ABOUT WOWORKS: WOWorks was formed in 2020 with a mission to help guests pursue their passions and live their best lives by serving healthy, nutritious and flavorful meals along with its Vow to "WOW!" guest hospitality. Fully owned by Centre Lane Partners, LLC, WOWorks' portfolio consists of: Saladworks, the nation's leading fast-casual salad brand; Frutta Bowls, a unique restaurant franchise serving a variety of superfood bowls, fresh fruit smoothies, protein bites and more; Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, a popular Mediterranean restaurant concept; and most recently, The Simple Greek, which offers a fresh and healthy take on traditional Greek recipes in a fast-casual setting. WOWorks seeks to drive explosive growth across all of its brands through a variety of channels, both traditional and non-traditional, including ghost kitchens, food trucks, grocery retail and more.

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Marlene Gordon Joins Panera Bread & Panera Brands as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary

May 02, 2022 07:19 AM Eastern Daylight Time

ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Panera announces the appointment of Marlene M. Gordon as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary effective May 2.

With over 20 years of industry experience, Gordon joins Panera from Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., where she most recently served as Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer, General Counsel and Secretary. During her tenure at Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc., the global food company, Marlene was a member of the company’s Global Leadership Team, where she led legal, corporate communications and people strategies to best support the company’s short and long-term business objectives. Gordon was also instrumental in the redesign and deployment of the company’s new vision, values, five-year strategic objectives, global operational priorities and go to market plan.

Gordon’s career spans multiple industries and includes high-level roles at Bacardi, Burger King Corporation, Republic Industries Inc. and Blockbuster Entertainment Group. She holds a B.A. in Economics with honors from the University of Chicago, a JD from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and is also a Harvard Business School Certified Organizational Leader.

“We are thrilled to extend a warm welcome to Marlene as she joins the executive team as Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer & Secretary for both Panera Brands and Panera Bread,” said Niren Chaudhary, Chief Executive Officer, Panera Brands and Panera Bread. “Having a leader of Marlene’s caliber on board will support us during this exciting time for our portfolio of brands and expand our best-in-class executive team.”

“I’m excited to join Panera Brands at a such a transformational time. There are countless opportunities where I can dive in and add value, between Panera's growth strategy for its complementary and iconic brands, the company's focus on innovation and its people-first culture,” Gordon said. “I am thrilled to start working alongside Niren, the leadership team, and all of our associates in achieving the company's business objectives and taking the company to the next level.”

Gordon’s hire is the latest addition to Panera’s leadership team, which has expanded to bring on industry veterans from world-class companies including Kraft, Yum! Brands, sweetgreen, Unilever, Pepsi, CVS, Accenture and Coca-Cola. For more information, visit

About Panera Bread

30 years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. We believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To us, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.

So, we began with a simple commitment: to bake bread fresh every day in our bakery-cafes. No short cuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbors in need.

These traditions carry on today, as we have continued to find ways to be an ally for wellness to our guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches that we are proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on our salads and sandwiches. A commitment to transparency and options that empower our guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavors and whole grains. And a commitment to food that does not contain the artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, and colors from artificial sources set forth on our No-No list in the food in our U.S. bakery-cafes. Why? Because we think that simpler is better and we believe in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating.

We’re also focused on improving quality and convenience. With investments in technology and operations, we now offer new ways to enjoy your Panera favorites – like mobile ordering and Rapid Pick-Up® for to-go orders and delivery – all designed to make things easier for our guests.

As of March 29, 2022, there were 2,117 bakery-cafes in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread® or Saint Louis Bread Co.® names. Panera Bread is part of Panera Brands, one of the largest fast casual restaurant companies in the U.S., comprised of Panera Bread®, Caribou Coffee® and Einstein Bros.® Bagels. For more information, visit or find us on Twitter (@panerabread), Facebook ( or Instagram (@panerabread).

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Papa Johns Announces Executive Appointments and Retirement

Chief Operating Officer, International, Jack Swaysland to Retire; Amanda Clark Promoted to Chief International and Development Officer; Liz Williams Named Chief International Operations Officer

April 29, 2022 07:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) today announced the retirement of Chief Operating Officer, International, Jack Swaysland. Amanda Clark was promoted to Chief International and Development Officer and will now oversee international strategy in addition to her global development responsibilities. Liz Williams was also named Chief International Operations Officer, reporting to Ms. Clark. She will assume Mr. Swaysland’s role and will be responsible for Papa Johns international markets and international team.

Ms. Clark joined Papa Johns in 2020 as Chief Development Officer, after eight years at Taco Bell where she led restaurant experience, North America development and also served as General Manager of Canada during her time there. During her two years with Papa Johns, the Company has reinvigorated development, achieving one of its best years ever of net new restaurants opened in 2021. In addition, under Ms. Clark’s leadership Papa Johns has forged its largest domestic and international development deals in the Company’s history. Among these, the agreement with FountainVest Partners to open over 1,350 new stores across South China by 2040 is the largest development deal ever announced in the pizza industry and alone will grow Papa Johns global unit count by 25 percent.

“Amanda and her team have been a significant driver of the growth of Papa Johns over the past year,” said Papa John’s President and CEO Rob Lynch. “There’s no doubt that our international business is becoming more and more important as we continue to take advantage of the vast whitespace available to us outside of North America. In addition, Amanda will enhance the integration between our North American and International businesses, which will be critical as we look to accelerate growth and create more efficiencies globally.

“I also want to thank Jack for his leadership during his 16 years with the Company. Papa Johns would not be the global brand it is today without his many contributions.”

Liz Williams joined Papa Johns in 2018 as the Managing Director of Papa Johns United Kingdom, overseeing the Company’s largest market outside of the U.S. She was later promoted to Managing Director of the UK and Major Markets, leading some of the Company’s largest and best-performing countries including China, Chile and Korea. Ms. Williams has more than 25 years’ experience in various operations roles in the QSR, casual dining and fine dining industries.

“Liz is a great asset to Papa Johns and has led our largest international markets as well our UK Quality Control Center during one of the most challenging operating environments in history, managing through a global pandemic and now unprecedented economic and geopolitical pressures,” said Mr. Lynch. “There’s nothing that gives me more pride than developing our best talent from within and providing them with new growth opportunities. I welcome Liz to our Executive Leadership Team.”

Ms. Clark and Ms. Williams’ appointments are effective May 2, 2022. Mr. Swaysland will continue to support the transition through the end of the year.

About Papa Johns

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

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Moe's Southwest Grill® Strengthens Leadership Team

Apr 28, 2022, 07:55 ET

ATLANTA, April 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today Moe's Southwest Grill® announced the hiring of two new senior leaders: Annica Conrad, Vice President of Marketing and Mike Smith, Vice President of Operations.

"Moe's is currently in the middle of a transformation, and we are committed to revitalizing the brand through improved operations and brand positioning in the marketplace," said Tory Bartlett, Chief Brand Officer of Moe's Southwest Grill. "Annica and Mike have a combined 40+ years of restaurant operations and consumer marketing experience, and with their expertise and leadership, I am confident in the brand's forward momentum."

Annica Conrad joins Moe's from FAT Brands where she most recently served as the Chief Marketing Officer of the QSR Division.  Annica brings a strong understanding of consumer marketing, having worked at the enterprise level at FAT Brands, supporting an international portfolio of five brands with over 1,400 locations.

Mike Smith served as the COO of Taziki's for the past two years, successfully overseeing in-restaurant technology, training, supply chain and purchasing and store support teams. Working at Hooters and Taziki's throughout his career, Mike has over 20 years of experience in restaurant operations.

In March 2022, Moe's Southwest Grill announced Tory Bartlett as Chief Brand Officer. Most recently, Tory served as the Schlotzsky's Chief Brand Officer, leading the brand to a record growth year in 2021. The addition of these two new vice presidents completes the Moe's Southwest Grill leadership team. Both Annica and Mike report directly to Tory and will lead all marketing and operations functions for Moe's Southwest Grill.

About Moe's Southwest Grill® Welcome to Moe's!® Founded in 2000 and based in Atlanta, GA, Moe's Southwest Grill is a fast-casual restaurant franchise that serves high quality and fresh southwestern food. Moe's has an extensive variety of menu items to please the entire family – from burritos to specialty items like quesadillas, nachos and stacks. Whether you visit one of the 650+ franchised locations across 38 states or have us cater your next event, free chips and salsa come with every order. Check us out online at to find a store near you, and then connect with us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

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 6,400 restaurants, cafes, ice cream shoppes, and bakeries in the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and over 55 foreign countries under the Auntie Anne's®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe's Southwest Grill®, McAlister's Deli®, and Schlotzsky's® brand names, as well as the Seattle's Best Coffee® brand on certain military bases and in certain international markets. Please visit to learn more.

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Bojangles Names David Whitaker as New COO

Seasoned executive brings extensive experience in multi-unit operations, franchising, and training

Bojangles has named senior restaurant executive David Whitaker as its new Chief Operating Officer, overseeing company and franchise operations to drive systemwide sales and growth. With 35 years of experience as a strategic operator and systems implementation expert for major industry players, the seasoned executive brings to Bojangles extensive experience in multi-unit operations, franchising, and training.

April 25, 2022 02:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bojangles has named senior restaurant executive David Whitaker as its new Chief Operating Officer, overseeing company and franchise operations to drive systemwide sales and growth.

Whitaker will join Bojangles on May 2, succeeding Brian Unger, who is retiring after three years at Bojangles and a career in the restaurant business that spans four decades.

“I can’t say enough about Brian’s contributions to Bojangles,” said Jose Armario, CEO of the Southern food chain known for its chicken, biscuits and legendary tea. “He represents the very best in our industry and has helped our company navigate the past few years with outstanding leadership and dedication. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Whitaker brings over 35 years of experience as a strategic operator and systems implementation expert for major industry players, including Bloomin’ Brands, Wendy’s, and Arby’s. He began his career as an hourly team member working for local fast casual chain Papa Gino’s based in Dedham, Massachusetts, and worked through the ranks into executive leadership roles. Prior to Bojangles, Whitaker spent seven years at Inspire Brands, most recently as Senior Vice President for Arby’s largest division, supporting 300 corporate locations and more than 1,000 franchise units spanning the Southeast to Northwestern Continental U.S.

“We are thrilled to welcome David to Bojangles. His leadership experience, extensive operational knowledge and successful track record working with franchisees are all substantial assets for our team and the Bojangles brand,” Armario said. “David brings a wide base of experience leading Operations and Ops Services functions for multiple brands – inside and outside of the QSR category that will be essential to ensuring Bojangles is keeping up with our customers’ expectations and making excellent operations a priority in all our restaurants.”

“I am very excited to join Bojangles as COO. I can’t think of a better time to be part of this impressive team and help build on all the great work Bojangles is doing today,” said Whitaker. “With such an iconic brand and passionate fanbase, Bojangles has a strong foundation to grow in the years to come, and I look forward to working closely with our Ops leaders, franchisees and executive leadership as we endeavor to bring Bojangles to a much wider audience with a sharp focus on providing exceptional service to our guests and great environments for our team members across the system.”

About Bojangles, Inc.

Bojangles, Inc. is a highly differentiated and growing restaurant operator and franchisor dedicated to serving customers high-quality, craveable food made from our Southern recipes, including breakfast served All Day, Every Day. Founded in 1977 in Charlotte, N.C., Bojangles® serves menu items such as made-from-scratch biscuit breakfast sandwiches, delicious hand-breaded bone-in chicken, flavorful fixins (sides) and Legendary Iced Tea®. Currently, Bojangles has approximately 760 system-wide restaurants in 14 states. For more information, visit or follow Bojangles on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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Focus Brands Announces Tim Voss as New Chief Technology Officer

Apr 21, 2022, 08:08 ET

ATLANTA, April 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Focus Brands®, parent company of iconic brands including Auntie Anne's®Carvel®Cinnabon®Jamba®McAlister's Deli®Moe's Southwest Grill® and Schlotzsky's®, announced today that Tim Voss is joining the company as its  new Chief Technology Officer.

"Focus Brands is undergoing a major transformation in the digital and technology space, so it is critical to have a strong l,eader to help drive change across the business," said Jim Holthouser, CEO of Focus Brands. "Having the right technology in place will add value to our franchisees and provide a greater experience for our guests. With Tim's proven track record for driving tech and digital evolution, we are set up for continued success."

As Chief Technology Officer, Tim will oversee the technology piece of all digital channels, with the primary goal of leveraging technology to create more user-friendly ecommerce and loyalty platforms and programs. There will be a continued focus on retail IT, store POS systems and data security. That will be led by Focus Brands Chief Information Officer, Steve Roach, who will report directly to Tim.

Tim joins Focus Brands from Gem Shopping Network where he served as Chief Technology Officer, overseeing all operations, technology, and the company's digital transformation. He has also led digital transformations and consulted with some of the world's most recognized brands such as Estée Lauder, Citigroup, Reuters and Wyndham Worldwide. Additionally, he has served on advisory boards for Fortune 500 IT companies such as Cisco, Symantec, Lenovo and HCL.

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.

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Whataburger Hires New Chief People Officer

Apr 19, 2022, 09:00 ET

SAN ANTONIO, April 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Whataburger has hired Peggy Rubenzer as its new Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer. Rubenzer is a seasoned executive with more than 30 years in the human resources industry, building people teams at True Food Kitchen, Shake Shack Enterprises, PF Chang's China Bistro Inc., Southwest Airlines and more.

During her time at True Food Kitchen as their Chief People Officer, Rubenzer oversaw all HR-related functions, from leadership development to compensation, benefits, performance management and training. Prior to joining True Food in 2019, Rubenzer held the Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer role and led the entire People and HR function at Shake Shack between 2011 and 2019 – leading the HR strategy and developing the people model during the company's explosive growth phase both pre- and post-IPO. In addition, during Rubenzer's tenure, Shake Shack was recognized for its innovation in employee engagement and training.

Prior to Shake Shack, from 2002 to 2011, Rubenzer held the VP of People Services, Training and Development for P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc. (which included P.F. Chang's, Pei Wei and their global licensed partner companies).

"Peggy has designed, developed and executed people models and training programs for some top-notch brands," says Whataburger CEO Ed Nelson. "Her experience shaping HR and Training functions will be extremely valuable as Whataburger continues its growth into new markets and new states – and expands its 51,000+ employee workforce. Our people are the heart of our brand."

Rubenzer hails from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, and completed the Executive HR Program at Stanford University for seasoned HR professionals. Her first career role out of college was with Southwest Airlines, where she grew up in the 'Herb Kelleher school of people management.' She started in customer relations and eventually led and supported all People and Recruitment efforts for the Southwest Airlines Midwest People Department as the brand spread its wings to open its Midwest and East Coast operations.

"Whataburger is a 72-year-old company with a unique family-like culture and a growth mindset," Rubenzer says. "I'm excited to join this brand and help build on the strategy and vision to achieve long-term success by strengthening engagement, retention and leadership opportunities for all employees. It really all boils down to people – people in the guest-facing positions on the front lines who deliver the brand hospitality to customers; and people behind the scenes who work so hard to support and help to drive those successes."

Rubenzer's first day on the job at Whataburger is Monday, April 25, 2022. She will work in Whataburger's San Antonio-based Home Office.


Whataburger has focused on its fresh, made-to-order burgers and friendly customer service since 1950 when Harmon Dobson opened the first Whataburger as a small roadside burger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas. Today, the company is headquartered in San Antonio with more than 884 locations across its 14-state footprint, and sales of more than $3 billion annually. Whataburger is recognized as a Top Workplaces 2021 Employer by the San Antonio Express-News Top Workplaces and placed No. 2 for Newsweek's "Fast-Food Restaurant Chains" in its annual "America's Best Customer Service" rankings. Whataburger has also been named among the "Best Regional Fast Food Restaurants" on the USA Today's 10Best Readers' Choice Awards consecutively since 2019. Whataburger has more than 50,000 Family Members (employees) and more than 60 million customers who like to customize their Whataburgers just the way they like it. Visit for more information. To apply for Whataburger jobs, visit

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Papa Johns Appoints Joe Sieve as Chief Restaurant Officer

April 19, 2022

20-year restaurant and pizza industry veteran to lead restaurant operations and operations excellence

Louisville, KY  (  Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) today announced the appointment of Joe Sieve as the Company’s new Chief Restaurant Officer. Mr. Sieve, who will begin his new position on May 2nd, will oversee the operations of Papa Johns corporate and franchise restaurants in North America, reporting to Max Wetzel, EVP, Chief Commercial Officer.

Mr. Sieve brings broad-based experienced as a strategic operator and development leader for major industry players, including Domino’s and Inspire Brands. He began his career out of college as a franchisee and later built a portfolio of 58 Domino’s restaurants. Most recently, Mr. Sieve spent six years at Inspire Brands as Vice President of Franchise Development, where he was involved in the creation and growth of the multi-brand organization. Prior to his time at Inspire and as a Domino’s franchisee, Mr. Sieve was Director of Strategic Market Growth at Domino’s Pizza, Inc., where he and his team developed and executed the company’s fortressing strategy, among other contributions.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joe to Papa Johns. His leadership experience, extensive operational knowledge and successful track record working with franchisees and as a franchisee himself are all substantial assets for our team and brand,” said Mr. Wetzel. “I’m particularly excited about Joe’s deep background in the pizza industry, which will help accelerate the progress we’re already making to create a winning culture in our restaurants, deliver fantastic customer service and run the most efficient operations possible.”

“I can’t think of a better time to join this impressive team and help build on all the great work Papa Johns is doing today,” said Mr. Sieve. “The work and investments in technology and operations have created a unique platform for long-term growth, and I look forward to contributing my experience, as we strive to build the best pizza company in the world.”

As Chief Restaurant Officer, Mr. Sieve will lead the Company’s franchise operations support team, company-owned restaurants, and operations excellence team. Along with his team, he will be responsible for driving continuous operations improvements through innovation and delivering customer satisfaction growth for the brand across both its corporate and franchise restaurants.

About Papa Johns

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) opened its doors in 1984 with one goal in mind: BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.® Papa Johns believes that using high-quality ingredients leads to superior quality pizzas. Its original dough is made of only six ingredients and is fresh, never frozen. Papa Johns tops its pizzas with real cheese made from mozzarella, pizza sauce made with vine-ripened tomatoes that go from vine to can in the same day and meat free of fillers. It was the first national pizza delivery chain to announce the removal of artificial flavors and synthetic colors from its entire food menu. Papa Johns is co-headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. and Louisville, Ky. and is the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,600 restaurants in 50 countries and territories as of Dec. 26, 2021. For more information about the company or to order pizza online, visit or download the Papa Johns mobile app for iOS or Android.

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Zaxby’s Appoints New Chief Operating Officer as Brand Seeks To Accelerate Growth

April 18, 2022

Restaurant veteran Sharlene Smith named to the position

Athens, GA  (  Zaxby’s, a Georgia-based premium quick-service restaurant franchise known for its Signature Sandwich, Chicken Fingerz™ and flavorful signature sauces, announced today that Sharlene Smith will serve as chief operating officer effective April 25, 2022. With more than 30 years of experience at some of the nation’s leading restaurant concepts, Smith will be instrumental in driving the company’s national expansion through operational effectiveness, system improvements and people development.

“Given that culture and quality have always been hallmarks of our brand, we needed an exceptional leader who has demonstrated capabilities for operational excellence as well as a passion for people,” said Bernard Acoca, Zaxby’s CEO. “Sharlene is an executive who balances vision with execution, and that makes her ideally suited to help accelerate our growth.”

With over three decades of operational experience within the restaurant industry and franchising, Smith is a proven leader of teams as well as growth strategies. Most recently, Smith served as vice president of operations excellence, North America for Papa John’s International, responsible for operations execution across 3,000 locations. There, she worked closely with a franchisee advisory council to ensure alignment on vision, strategic growth plans and system-wide initiatives.

“Our industry is experiencing rapid off-premise growth and the digitalization of practically every aspect of our business,” said Acoca. “Sharlene’s vast foundational experience with iconic brands in the areas of drive-thru and delivery, along with her abilities to build strong teams while scaling for growth will prove vital in the evolution of Zaxby’s.”

Before joining Papa John’s, Smith spent the bulk of her career in field leadership positions at McDonald’s Corporation where she led one of the largest, high-growth regions in the system with more than 850 company and franchised locations. She consistently exceeded year-over-year income growth and guest counts by improving performance metrics and adding new restaurants annually. Smith’s ability to lead and train cross-functional teams and her commitment to developing top talent garnered her recognition as a “National People Leader” through her work with the McDonald’s Corporation.

“Helping organizations develop talent, grow revenue and create systems for excellent service are my passion,” said Smith. “Zaxby’s is a company I am proud to join and has teams that I am honored to lead. I am particularly excited to be part of Zaxby’s during its next phase of growth.”

About Zaxby’s

Founded in 1990, Zaxby’s is committed to serving delicious chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads in a fun, offbeat atmosphere where customers are considered friends. Zaxby’s iconic Signature Sandwich won Thrillist’s 2021 Fasties Award for Best Fried Chicken Sandwich. Zaxby’s has grown to more than 900 locations in 17 states and is headquartered in Athens, Georgia. For more information, visit or

View source version at Zaxby's

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