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Executive Movements - May 2023





Shake Shack Enters Into Cooperation Agreement With Engaged Capital


Appoints Jeffrey D. Lawrence to Its Board of Directors

Agrees to Add One Additional Mutually Agreed Director With Restaurant Operations Experience

Company to Engage Operational Consulting Firm and Enhance Corporate Governance


May 16, 2023 07:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time


NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Shake Shack Inc. (“Shake Shack” or the “Company”) (NYSE: SHAK) today announced that it has entered a cooperation agreement (the “Cooperation Agreement”) with Engaged Capital, LLC (“Engaged Capital”). As part of the Cooperation Agreement, Shake Shack appointed Jeffrey D. Lawrence to its Board as an independent director, effective immediately. The Company will also work with Engaged Capital to identify an additional mutually agreed upon independent director to appoint to the Shake Shack Board with restaurant operations experience. The Company also agreed to take other actions that both the Company and Engaged Capital believe are in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders.

Randy Garutti, Shake Shack’s CEO, commented, “We appreciate our constructive dialogue with Engaged Capital and believe the appointment of Jeff and another new director will benefit our Company and stockholders. We are executing our strategic plan and share Engaged Capital’s view that Shake Shack can drive additional profit growth. We look forward to continuing to increase stockholder value.”

Lawrence, former CFO of Domino’s Pizza Inc., brings strong financial management, business operations, and transformation expertise from leading restaurant and consumer-facing companies. While at Domino’s, he guided the company’s digital transformation and international expansion. Lawrence currently serves as CFO of technology company ShiftKey.

“Jeff is a seasoned leader in the restaurant industry, and we are excited to welcome him to the Board,” said Danny Meyer, Chairman of the Board. “It became clear that Jeff is an ideal addition to our Board after an extensive search that began in January 2023 led by the Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee of the Board. Given his expertise in scaled operations, digital and international expansion, as well as his strong financial leadership experience, we believe he will be able to make immediate and impactful contributions to Shake Shack. I am also pleased that we reached an agreement with Engaged Capital, one of our largest stockholders, that I believe will further our mutual goal of enhancing stockholder value.”

Pursuant to the Cooperation Agreement, Shake Shack has agreed to retain a consulting firm to support its ongoing operational initiatives to improve restaurant execution, cost structure and profitability, and Danny Meyer and certain of his affiliates have agreed to step down their director designation rights over time.

“We are pleased to have aligned with the Board on a constructive path forward to helping Shake Shack achieve its potential. Due to its strong brand, elevated product and uplifting guest experience, Shake Shack has a unique opportunity for substantial profitable growth. Jeff and an additional director with expertise successfully scaling profitable restaurant concepts will be tremendous additions to the Board as the company continues to improve the guest experience, Shack and company profitability and returns on capital,” commented Glenn W. Welling, Founder and Chief Investment Officer at Engaged Capital.

"I am honored to join the Board of such an outstanding global brand, a brand whose mission to Stand for Something Good resonates strongly with me. I have long admired Shake Shack and could not be more excited to partner with Danny, Randy and the rest of the team to continue to build real and sustainable value for all of our important stakeholders,” said Jeff Lawrence.

Engaged Capital has agreed to abide by certain customary standstill and voting commitments in connection with the Cooperation Agreement and will support the Board’s full slate of directors at the 2023 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The agreement will be filed by the Company with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) as an exhibit to the Current Report on Form 8-K.

Jeffrey Lawrence Bio

Jeffrey (Jeff) D. Lawrence has more than 25 years of leadership experience with particular expertise in the consumer retail and restaurant industries globally as well as in digital and technological transformations, franchising and financial strategy. Mr. Lawrence is currently the Chief Financial Officer of ShiftKey, a technology-enabled marketplace connecting licensed professionals to the future of work. Mr. Lawrence previously served as Chief Financial Officer of FIGS, Inc., where he led its successful initial public offering and partnered to grow significant shareholder value during his tenure. Mr. Lawrence previously spent more than 20 years at Domino’s Pizza, Inc., the leader in the global pizza industry, including five years as Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Lawrence was instrumental in Domino’s successful initial public offering, then the largest restaurant IPO ever, as well as the ground-breaking turnaround of the brand including the technological transformation, global expansion and dramatic increase in store level profitability, all of which led to best-in-class shareholder returns for more than a decade. Mr. Lawrence previously served on the Board of Directors of Domino’s master franchisee in China. Mr. Lawrence began his career in public accounting and is a certified public accountant (registered status) in the State of Michigan. Mr. Lawrence holds an MBA with High Distinction from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan as well as a BBA (summa cum laude) from Wayne State University.

About Shake Shack

Shake Shack serves elevated versions of American classics using only the best ingredients. It’s known for its delicious made-to-order Angus beef burgers, crispy chicken, hand-spun milkshakes, house-made lemonades, beer, wine, and more. With its high-quality food at a great value, warm hospitality, and a commitment to crafting uplifting experiences, Shake Shack quickly became a cult-brand with widespread appeal. Shake Shack’s purpose is to Stand For Something Good®, from its premium ingredients and employee development, to its inspiring designs and deep community investment. Since the original Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, the Company has expanded to over 450 locations systemwide, including over 290 in 32 U.S. States and the District of Columbia, and over 150 international locations across London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Mexico City, Istanbul, Dubai, Tokyo, Seoul and more.

About Engaged Capital

Engaged Capital, LLC (“Engaged Capital”) is an investment advisor with a private equity-like investing style in the U.S. public equity markets. Engaged Capital seeks to help build sustainable businesses that create long-term stockholder value by engaging with and bringing an owner’s perspective to the managements and boards of undervalued public companies and working with them to unlock the embedded value within their businesses. Engaged Capital focuses on delivering superior, long-term, risk-adjusted returns for its limited partners. Engaged Capital was established in 2012 and is based in Newport Beach, California. Learn more at www.engagedcapital.com.

View source version at Shake Shack



Arthur F. Starrs Joins the Board of Directors of Dine Brands Global, Inc.







Artie Starrs joins Dine Brands Global Board of Directors

May 15, 2023 04:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time


PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar®, IHOP® and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop® restaurants, announced today that Arthur (Artie) F. Starrs will be joining as a new independent member of its Board of Directors.

Starrs currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Topgolf and has served in such capacity since April 2021. He is responsible for Topgolf’s global businesses, which include domestic and international Topgolf venues, Toptracer, and Topgolf Media.

“During the last 25 years of his career, Artie has gained tremendous experience as a C-Suite and executive leader of well-known brands and large corporations. His background in management and finance, and his service on the boards of directors of both public and private companies make him a valuable addition to Dine Brands’ Board of Directors,” said Richard Dahl, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dine Brands Global, Inc.

Prior to Topgolf, Starrs was the Global CEO of Pizza Hut, a division of Yum! Brands, from July 2019 until April 2021. Before assuming the role of CEO, he held positions as President, General Manager, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance at Pizza Hut U.S. Starrs also previously served on the Board of Directors for Grubhub, Inc. and currently serves as a board member for Five Iron Golf. He is a member of numerous non-profit boards, including The First Tee of Greater Dallas, First Book, The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, and Greenhill School.

“Artie’s work in the restaurant and hospitality industry, as well as his experience with franchisees, complements the existing Board Members and supports the future growth and innovation of our brands,” Dahl added.

About Dine Brands Global, Inc.

Based in Pasadena, California, Dine Brands Global, Inc. (NYSE: DIN), through its subsidiaries and franchisees, supports and operates restaurants under the Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar®, IHOP®, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop® brands. As of March 31, 2023, these three brands consisted of 3,600 restaurants, across 17 international markets. Dine Brands is one of the largest full-service restaurant companies in the world and in 2022 expanded into the Fast Casual segment. For more information on Dine Brands, visit the Company’s website located at www.dinebrands.com.

View source version at Dine Brands


Eric Stenta Named President and CEO of Polly’s Pies in Planned Management Succession

May 15, 2023




James Kaa stepping down but remaining with Popular family-owned restaurant in part-time role as Vice President of Finance

Orange County, CA  (RestaurantNews.com)  For more than half a century, Polly’s Pies has provided a time-honored tradition for families and communities in Southern California and beyond with its never-ending goal of offering excellent service with the freshest, tastiest “homestyle” cooking and baking. The popular family-owned brand is building upon that promise as it embarks on a new frontier with innovative leadership.

Polly’s is excited to announce that Eric Stenta has been promoted to CEO and President, taking over for James Kaa, who is stepping down to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests. Kaa, who has been with the brand since 2017 and served as CEO and President for the past two years, will remain at Polly’s in a part-time capacity as Vice President of Finance.

“These last six years at the company have been both rewarding and challenging,” said Kaa. “While navigating through a pandemic and recovering together, we remained strong and focused on better staffing, new menu products, facility improvements and so much more that is paying off in better financial results. Polly’s is in such a great place and I can’t think of a better person than Eric to continue to raise the bar.”

Armed with an excellent track record and history of success in the restaurant industry, Stenta joined Polly’s Pies in 2019 as Vice President of Operations and most recently served as Senior Vice President and Chief Concept Officer. Now as CEO and President, he will be responsible for driving the brand’s overall performance with a continued focus on customers, innovation, operational efficiency, but most importantly, team member growth and opportunity.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Jim these last four years as we continued to grow and strengthen the Polly’s brand,” Stenta said. “I’m humbled and honored to now be taking the reins from him and look forward to building upon his success. With the launch of our nationwide pie shipping to go along with our 13 California locations, it’s an exciting time at Polly’s and I can’t wait for everyone to witness what’s to come as we strive to reach new heights.”

For more information, visit pollyspies.com or follow Polly’s on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

About Polly’s Pies

Polly’s Pies was founded in 1968 by brothers Eddie and Donald Sheldrake in Fullerton, California. The legacy restaurant company, which will celebrate 55 years in 2023, is still family owned with Donald sitting on the board of directors and his great niece, Jacklyn Mitosinka, serving as the company’s Director of Brand. The company has 13 locations throughout Southern California offering breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an assortment of fresh bakery items. Known for its premium pies, Polly’s now offers nationwide shipping on its double crusted pies.

View source version at Polly's Pies


Golden Chick Promotes Nancy Jacobi to Vice President of Human Resources to Support Strong Growth Mode for the Brand

May 15, 2023



Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  To prep the brand for a year of incredible growth, Golden Chick has promoted Nancy Jacobi from director to vice president of human resources. The executive has been with Golden Chick’s parent company, Golden Tree Restaurants, since June 2022 and has overseen each of its concept’s employee staffing, payroll, performance and other internal human resource initiatives since.

Jacobi began her career in human resources over three decades ago and has remained in the field across several organizations and industries. Prior to joining Golden Chick and Golden Tree Restaurants, Jacobi held other positions within other food and beverage concepts including Chuck E. Cheese and Yum! Brands. Through these roles, she developed a passion and skill for working with restaurants, especially during a time when human resource practices were shifting to automated systems.

“Nancy has been an integral part in the evolution of our human resource operations, not only for Golden Chick but for our other Golden Tree concepts as well,” said Mark Parmerlee, chairman of Golden Chick. “Vice president of human resources is a role in which an individual has to be cognizant of hundreds of moving pieces, and I can’t think of a single person better suited for this job than Nancy.”

Jacobi has approached the new position with a people-first perspective in order to highlight Golden Chick’s internal emphasis on a strong workspace culture, an attribute of the brand that drew her to the role initially. Alongside fortifying the brand’s internal structure, Jacobi has begun strategizing her plans for improved human resource practices as the quick service chicken concept enters a period of historic growth.

“I’ve loved the concepts and have previously loved the brand, but I’m mostly looking forward to the upcoming growth plan and seeing significant changes take place in the coming years.” said Jacobi. “Based on the corporate plan in place, Golden Chick is hoping to reach 500 locations by 2030, an impressive feat. I’m truly passionate about working with companies in ‘growth mode’ and that’s where Golden Chick’s focus is currently.”

Jacobi plans to evolve and strengthen the brand’s human resources alongside it and is currently aspiring to fully automate the department, implementing smarter, and more efficient, assessment tools. Along with strengthening these baseline procedures, Jacobi hopes to bring in more digital tools to assist in employee hiring processes, staff evaluations, and daily pay practices, allowing employees to access their earnings in real-time, and developing a more hands-on routine when it comes to the brand’s internal relations.

About Golden Chick

Founded in Texas in 1967, Golden Chick is a growing quick-service restaurant franchise that prides itself on providing delicious food and great customer service. The family-oriented brand is the creator of the Original Golden Tenders® and the Big & Golden™ Chicken Sandwich, along with other chef-inspired menu items including its Golden Roast Chicken and Zagat-recognized Chicken Salad. In 2022, Golden Chick was included in Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 Restaurant Brands in the U.S. (#142). Focused on innovation and growth, Golden Chick recently introduced its first modular constructed restaurant. With dine-in, drive-thru, curbside pickup, catering and third-party delivery service capabilities, Golden Chick has more than 210 locations throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Louisiana and soon Mississippi and Nevada. For more information about Golden Chick, or how to become a franchisee, please visit http://goldenchick.com, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and check out our Twitter.

View source version at Golden Chick


The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill Appoints Vice President of Operations Amid Accelerated Growth

May 11, 2023



Leading Mediterranean franchise also welcomes an additional trainer and business advisor to franchise support team

West Palm Beach, FL  (RestaurantNews.com)  The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill®, an award-winning fast casual restaurant concept, announced today that it has appointed Angelo Freites to Vice President of Operations. The brand, which experienced its most successful year in company history in 2022, has continued its rapid growth trajectory in the first quarter of 2023, opening two new locations and expanding its footprint into California for the first time. In his new role as Vice President of Operations, Freites will drive operational excellence for The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, ensuring customer experience satisfaction, unit-level profitability and sales growth, and franchise owner success.

“We are so pleased to welcome Angelo to our growing team to oversee our operations at this exciting time in our brand story,” said Bob Andersen, President of The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill. “Angelo brings with him a wealth of knowledge in restaurant franchise operations, with a career spanning more than four decades. With The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill in position for exponential growth in the coming years, we’re excited to tap into Angelo’s vast expertise and leverage his unique strengths that will further the success of our brand.”

Angelo Freites has had an extensive career in the restaurant and franchising space, with over 40 years of experience serving in various capacities. He has worked his way up from a dishwasher to becoming CEO of a large QSR brand. His experience spans all levels of restaurant site development, management, and operations, and he has owned several leading QSR restaurants as a multi-unit franchisee, including Wendy’s, Checkers Drive-In and Popeyes. In recent years, Angelo has shifted his focus to consulting with emerging and established restaurant brands on every aspect of their business – from Strategic Planning, operations and Executive Mentoring to marketing and branding.

“The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill immediately captured my attention as a stand-out concept in its category, defining a niche in the ‘fine fast casual’ space and leading the way in its food and customer experience,” said Freites. “I’m so excited to join this concept at a pivotal point in its journey and leverage my expertise to streamline and enhance its operations during what will continue to be a significant growth phase for the brand. Not to mention, I Iove the great tasting food!”

Additionally, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill has welcomed back Tricia Rowe to its franchise support team as a trainer-business advisor where she will report to David Espin, Manager of New Restaurant Openings. Originally hired as a manager to help hire and train the staff at The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill in Palm Beach Gardens, Rowe rejoins The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill as the brand plans to open more than 20 restaurants in 2023 and make entry into six new states, with over 50 locations in active development. In her new role, Rowe will leverage The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill’s enhanced training protocols to support all aspects of new restaurant openings and position franchise owners and team members for success.

Known for authentically prepared dishes created from classic family recipes, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill is a member of the Starpoint Brands™ family of trusted companies, a division of United Franchise Group™ (UFG) representing the very best in their industries.

About The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill

The award-winning Great Greek Mediterranean Grill® was co-founded in 2011 by two third-generation culinary trained restaurateurs with more than 30 years of experience in the food and hospitality business, Nick A. Della Penna and Trent Jones, purchased The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill’s first location in Henderson, Nevada. After successfully opening two additional Las Vegas locations, Della Penna and Jones started franchising the concept. The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill is among the Starpoint Brands™ constellation of trusted companies representing the very best in their industries. For more information about The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, visit www.thegreatgreekgrill.com and for franchise information, visit www.thegreatgreekfranchise.com.

About Starpoint Brands

A family of trusted brands representing the very best in their industries, including retail, food & beverage and professional services, Starpoint Brands™ is the mark of quality for customers. It brings together a constellation of brands within United Franchise Group™ (UFG), including Signarama®, Fully Promoted®, Transworld Business Advisors®, Venture X®, Office Evolution®, Network Lead Exchange™, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill® and Graze Craze®. A brand under the Starpoint Brands division is one that business-to-consumer and business-to-business customers can be sure will provide the ultimate in service, reliability, and value.

View source version at The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill



Restaurants Canada Appoints Kelly Higginson as New President and CEO

As former Chief Operating Officer of Restaurants Canada and over 25 years of experience in hospitality operations, Higginson steps in to deliver impact

May 10, 2023 11:45 ET



TORONTO, May 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, Restaurants Canada (RC), the not-for-profit member-based association representing Canada’s foodservice sector, has announced Kelly Higginson as new President and CEO, effective immediately. The news is also accompanied by the announcement that former President and CEO, Christian Buhagiar, who joined RC in 2022, has departed from the organization.

“It is truly an honour to be taking on this role. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the business of hospitality is an integral part of who I am now, and who I’ve been for a long time,” said Higginson. “Canadian restaurants have hit a pivotal moment in our industry’s post-pandemic recovery. With this, we need to offer our members strong leadership and advocacy to retain those already in foodservice, while also looking forward to elevate our sector entirely, reminding Canadians that foodservice is a $100 billion industry and the 4th largest private-sector employer with over 1.2 million employees. As the new President and CEO, I will embrace the opportunity to represent and advocate for the industry to restore stability and predictability to our sector’s business environment.”

Kelly Higginson takes on the role of President and CEO after serving the organization as Chief Operating Officer since 2022. Prior to this, she served as the Executive Vice President of Operations at The CFW Group, leading operational strategy for North American hospitality brands like ki modern japanese + bar, The Shore Club and Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House. During her time with The CFW Group, Higginson had first-hand experience navigating copious challenges as she worked to further the development and retention of employees through the global pandemic.

“Kelly not only brings a wealth of knowledge from her years in Canadian foodservice, but also has an incredible passion for developing strong and inclusive teams to maximize impact; something our members need from us now more than ever,” said Jeremy Bonia, Chair of the Board, Restaurants Canada. “We are fortunate to have Kelly jump into the role of President and CEO, her vision is clear, and we look forward to supporting her as Restaurants Canada works to build the industry back stronger than ever,” added Bonia.

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About Restaurants Canada

Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit member-based trade association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Canada’s foodservice sector is a $100 billion industry that serves 22 million customers across the country every day. As the fourth-largest private-sector employer, Canadian foodservice directly employs 1.2 million people and indirectly supports another 290,000+ jobs in related industries, with $32 billion in food and beverage products purchased every year. www.restaurantscanada.org

View source version at Restaurants Canada



BurgerFi Announces Retirement of Chief Executive Officer

Board Has Begun Comprehensive Search for New CEO

May 08, 2023 16:15 ET



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., May 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- BurgerFi International, Inc. (NASDAQ: BFI, BFIIW) (“BurgerFi”), owner of one of the nation’s leading fast-casual “better burger” dining concepts through the BurgerFi brand, and the high-quality, casual dining pizza brand under the name Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings (“Anthony’s”), today announced that Ian H. Baines has retired from his role of Chief Executive Officer, effective as of June 7, 2023, but, in lieu of any severance that would otherwise be payable under his employment agreement, has agreed to serve as an outside consultant to the Company for the next 12-months following his resignation. The Board has begun a comprehensive search for a new CEO.

“On behalf of the Board, we would like to thank Ian for his service to BurgerFi and for leading Anthony’s through its sale to BurgerFi. We wish Ian all the best in this new chapter of his life,” says Ophir Sternberg, Executive Chairman at BurgerFi.

Sternberg continued, “As we search for a new CEO, John Iannucci, our Chief Operating Officer, will lead the organization on an interim basis. Mr. Iannucci has immersed himself into the Company and has proven himself to be a dynamic and effective leader. We look forward to naming a new CEO once that individual has been identified.”

Ian Baines, Chief Executive Officer of BurgerFi, added, “It has been an honor to lead this Company but the time is now ripe for me to retire. I am proud of what our teams have accomplished in integrating Anthony’s into the BurgerFi system -- the Company now has two high-quality brands with growth potential. I wish everyone at BurgerFi all the best.”

Mr. Iannucci has almost 20 years experience in the restaurant industry and has acted as Chief Operating Officer of BurgerFi since January 2023. Prior, he was the Chief Operating Officer of Anthony’s since June 2022. He has held multiple restaurant leadership roles at various companies such as The Cheesecake Factory, Max Brenner, Logan’s Roadhouse, Sharis and Birdcall. Mr. Iannucci holds a certificate in food and beverage management from Cornell University.

About BurgerFi International (Nasdaq: BFI, BFIIW)

Established in 2011, BurgerFi is a leading multi-brand restaurant company that develops, markets, and acquires fast-casual and premium-casual dining restaurant concepts around the world, including corporate-owned stores and franchises. BurgerFi is among the nation’s better burger concepts with 112 BurgerFi restaurants (85 franchised and 27 corporate-owned). As of April 3, 2023, BurgerFi is the owner and franchisor of the two following brands with a combined 172 locations.

BurgerFi. BurgerFi is chef-founded and committed to serving fresh, all-natural and quality food at all locations, online and via first-party and third-party deliveries. BurgerFi uses 100% American Angus Beef with no steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or additives. BurgerFi’s menu also includes high quality wagyu beef, antibiotic and cage-free chicken offerings, fresh, hand-cut sides, and custard shakes and concretes. BurgerFi was named “Best Fast Casual Restaurant” in USA Today’s 10Best 2022 Readers Choice Awards for the second consecutive year, QSR Magazine's Breakout Brand of 2020, Fast Casual's 2021 #1 Brand of the Year and included in Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies List. In 2021, Consumer Report’s Chain Reaction Report praised BurgerFi for serving “no antibiotic beef” across all its restaurants, and Consumer Reports awarded BurgerFi an “A-Grade Angus Beef” rating for the third consecutive year. To learn more about BurgerFi or to find a full list of locations, please visit www.burgerfi.com. Download the BurgerFi App on iOS or Android devices for rewards and 'Like' or follow @BurgerFi on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. BurgerFi® is a Registered Trademark of BurgerFi IP, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BurgerFi.

Anthony’s. Anthony’s was acquired by BurgerFi on November 3, 2021 and is a premium pizza and wing brand that operates 60 corporate-owned casual restaurant locations, as of April 3, 2023. Known for serving fresh, never frozen and quality ingredients, Anthony’s is centered around a 900-degree coal fired oven with menu offerings including “well-done” pizza, coal fired chicken wings, homemade meatballs, and a variety of handcrafted sandwiches and salads. Anthony’s was named “The Best Pizza Chain in America” by USA Today's Great American Bites and “Top 3 Best Major Pizza Chain” by Mashed in 2021. To learn more about Anthony’s, please visit www.acfp.com.

View source version at BurgerFi







Denny's Hires Restaurant Industry Veteran Alex Williams as Chief Operating Officer



May 08, 2023, 13:15 ET





SPARTANBURG, S.C., May 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Denny's Corporation (NASDAQ: DENN) today announced the appointment of Alex Williams as Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer (COO), reporting to Denny's President John Dillon. Williams brings with him decades of experience in the restaurant industry, having served in key operations roles with Starbucks, McDonald's, Outback Steakhouse, Fleming's Steakhouse and Moe's Southwest Grill.

"Alex possesses an impressive blend of operations expertise and restaurant industry credentials. As importantly, he is a collaborative, purpose-driven leader and has true passion for the Denny's brand," said Dillon. "Alex's role will be pivotal in taking Denny's to the next level-- ensuring that our world-class food and operational excellence continue to be the hallmark of the Denny's experience. I am thrilled to welcome Alex to the Denny's family."

In his new role, Williams will oversee the day-to-day operational functions of the Denny's business and develop and execute a strategic vision for the operations of the Denny's brand.

"Denny's is a true icon of the restaurant industry—a brand with a rich history and an even richer future," said Williams. "I cannot wait to join this incredible group of operators and franchisees to deliver an unparalleled experience for all our Denny's guests."

Williams will assume the position effective May 8, 2023. For more information, please visit dennys.com.

About Denny's Corp 

Denny's is a Spartanburg, S.C. based family dining restaurant celebrating its 70th anniversary year and founding purpose: We love to feed people. That purpose has led us to become a restaurant brand that guests worldwide rely on for delicious value and craveable contemporary meals across breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night. Every day, we welcome guests to dine whenever and however they prefer, whether it's at our brick-and-mortar locations, via Denny's on Demand – the first delivery platform in the family dining segment, or at The Meltdown and The Burger Den, our two virtual restaurants. Our longstanding commitment to supporting our local communities is brought to life with our Mobile Relief Diner that delivers hot meals to our neighbors during times of disaster.

Denny's is one of the largest franchised full-service restaurant brands in the world, based on number of restaurants. As of March 29, 2023, Denny's had 1,594 franchised, licensed and company restaurants, which includes 161 restaurants in Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

To learn more about Denny's, please visit our brand website at www.dennys.com or the brand's social channels via FacebookTwitterInstagramTikTokLinkedIn or YouTube.

View source version at Denny's


Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe Appoints Philip Parsons as CEO

May 8, 2023



Addison, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe®, the spirited casual eatery that spotlights the flavor, fun, and festivity of New Orleans, announced today that Co-Founder & CEO Jeff Powell, will assume the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors and has appointed Philip Parsons as the brands Chief Executive Officer. Parsons has served as President since 2022 and previously served as CFO of the brand from 2019 to 2021.

“Over the past five years, Philip and I have worked to build a team to strengthen the business and set Razzoo’s up for accelerated growth. Philip has provided the strategic leadership we needed to transform our business, he is aligned with our culture and values and is the right person to lead this brand,” said Jeff Powell, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe.

During his tenure as President of Razzoo’s, Parsons was instrumental in driving the brands profits to record levels. As CEO, Parsons plans to lead the Texas-based full-service brand into a new era of growth and success.

“It has been an honor to work alongside such a passionate founder to build this incredible brand,” said Philip Parsons, Chief Executive Officer of Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe. “I look forward to leading the continued growth of our team and bringing the Razzoo’s “Joie de Vivre” experience to more guests across the country.”

Razzoo’s has two new restaurants under construction and a pipeline of several additional restaurants, with the goal of opening two to four new units a year.

For more information about Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe, including their menu and locations, visit www.razzoos.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

About Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe®

Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe passionately creates bold, flavorful, Cajun-inspired dishes that bring to life all the flavor, fun and festivity of New Orleans and the French Quarter. Founded in Dallas in 1991, Razzoo’s operates 22 restaurants in TX, OK and NC. Razzoo’s is privately owned. Learn more about Razzoo’s by visiting www.razzoos.com or www.facebook.com/razzoos.

View source version at Razzoo's Cajun Cafe


Papa Johns Announces Mark Shambura As Chief Marketing Officer

May 2, 2023



Atlanta, GA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) (“Papa Johns”) today announced the appointment of Mark Shambura to Chief Marketing Officer, effective May 8, 2023. Mr. Shambura is a brand marketing leader with deep expertise in growing multi-unit restaurant brands. He will oversee brand and advertising; media and field activation; menu strategy and product innovation; and the digital customer experience, including Papa Johns owned channels, loyalty program and aggregator partnerships.

“Mark joins our Papa Johns team with over two decades of marketing experience, including a decade with restaurants, where he’s delivered impactful marketing strategies with a digital-first, analytics-led approach,” said Rob Lynch, President and CEO of Papa Johns. “Mark’s consumer-centric mindset will be critical as we continue to enhance every single touchpoint of the customer experience – from our digital channels to our menu to our brand – to drive engagement and growth.”

Mr. Shambura joins Papa Johns from MOD Pizza, one of the fastest growing fast casual concepts in the U.S., where he served as Chief Marketing Officer. In this role he transformed the marketing organization and drove growth by scaling digital and product innovation and further ignited brand engagement across advertising, paid, social, loyalty and field marketing. Prior to MOD Pizza, he served as Executive Director of Marketing at Chipotle Mexican Grill where he helped spearhead the “Real Ingredients” brand strategy and integrated campaign execution.

Mr. Shambura will report to Mr. Lynch and serve on the Papa Johns Executive Leadership Team. He replaces Anne Fischer, who departed earlier in the year.

“Papa Johns is the most exciting brand in the pizza category, with high brand recognition, an innovation track record and tremendous opportunity for growth in the U.S. and globally,” Mr. Shambura said. “By delivering on its iconic brand promise of BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA, Papa Johns has consistently set itself apart with its premium positioning. In addition, I’m excited to join a team that emphasizes the importance of culture and lives its core values.”

Mr. Shambura also held roles at a variety of agencies focusing on leading food and beverage clients. He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in marketing from Boston College.

About Papa Johns

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

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FAT Brands Announces Ken Kuick and Rob Rosen as Co-CEOs

May 01, 2023 06:00 ET



Senior FAT Brands Executives Appointed to Lead Global Restaurant Franchising Company

LOS ANGELES, May 01, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. announces Ken Kuick and Rob Rosen as Co-CEOs, effective May 5, 2023. As previously announced, Andy Wiederhorn will step down as CEO and continue in his role as Chairman of the Board, where he will focus on the strategic direction of the company, the allocation of capital, and ensuring the management team executes the Company’s business plan while maintaining quality restaurant operations.

Joining FAT Brands in 2021, Mr. Kuick, Chief Financial Officer, and Mr. Rosen, Executive Vice President of Capital Markets, have both played an integral role in the growth of the Company with a focus on strategic growth initiatives, including acquisitions and driving company profitability. Mr. Kuick and Mr. Rosen will also continue in their respective roles as Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Capital Markets while assuming the Co-CEO role. Together, they will focus on driving forward the Company’s overarching goals of increasing organic growth through new store openings, growing the utilization of its manufacturing facility, and bolstering the success of high-growth brands, including Twin Peaks.

Mr. Kuick’s past roles include Chief Financial Officer, Noodles & Company, Chief Accounting Officer, VICI Properties, and Chief Accounting Officer, Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, a subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment. Mr. Rosen is a Wall Street veteran with over 30 years of experience in structured finance, banking, lending, and portfolio management. Mr. Rosen has held positions at Fleet Bank, Kidder Peabody, and Bank of Tokyo, and has 20 years of experience with Black Diamond Capital Management in a variety of management, board-level, and advisory capacities.

“Over the last few years, Ken and Rob have played a tremendous role in the unprecedented growth of FAT Brands,” said Andy Wiederhorn, CEO of FAT Brands. “Their financial acumen and track record for hitting key company benchmarks make them well-positioned to take on the CEO role together. I look forward to continuing to work with Ken and Rob in the Chairman of the Board position to aid in the continued success of FAT Brands.”

“Andy is a great leader and I’m extremely humbled to take on this new responsibility and drive forward the key goals of the company,” said Ken Kuick, Chief Financial Officer of FAT Brands. “We are fortunate to have such a talented team at FAT Brands and I see great opportunity ahead in building upon our positioning as one of the largest restaurant companies in the U.S.”

“I’m honored to take on the Co-CEO position of a company that continues to surpass growth expectations,” said Rob Rosen, Executive Vice President of Capital Markets at FAT Brands. “In the near term, Ken and I will look to build on the strong foundation FAT Brands has already laid, which includes our robust growth pipeline, exciting innovations, and a commitment to our franchisees and customers.”

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

About FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands

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

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Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. Announces Executive Leadership Appointments


Global marketing leader Kevin Mayer joins as Chief Marketing Officer; Company promotes Jason Rusk to Chief Business Development Officer

Veteran hospitality leader Mark Simpson to serve as Interim Chief People Officer


May 01, 2023 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time


ENGLEWOOD, Colo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB), a full-service restaurant chain serving an innovative selection of high-quality gourmet burgers in a family-friendly atmosphere, under its North Star growth plan, today announced a series of key appointments toward the completion of its Executive Leadership Team that will continue to position the Company for success and create long-term shareholder value. This includes the appointment of Kevin Mayer to Chief Marketing Officer and Mark Simpson as Interim Chief People Officer beginning May 1. In addition, Jason Rusk has been promoted to Chief Business Development Officer.

“I’m pleased to announce the addition of three talented leaders to Red Robin’s Executive Leadership Team who will provide tremendous expertise to our organization as we continue to execute our strategic North Star growth plan,” said Red Robin President and Chief Executive Officer GJ Hart. “With these crucial leadership positions in place, we are well-positioned to deliver on our goal to establish Red Robin as a most loved restaurant brand in the communities we serve and drive growth and value for our team members, partners and shareholders. As we near completion of our best-in-class leadership team, we congratulate Kevin, Mark and Jason in their new roles and look forward to sharing more regarding our permanent Chief Technology Officer in the near future.”

As CMO of Red Robin, Mr. Mayer will be responsible for brand development, marketing, digital, innovation and menu development. He brings a wealth of global marketing, sales and brand building experience and has successfully led iconic public brands during key growth periods such as BJ’s Restaurants, Volkswagen, Subaru and Chevrolet. Most recently, Mr. Mayer served as Chief Marketing Officer of Pedego Electric Bikes, where he led sales and digital marketing initiatives for the private equity-backed company. Prior, he served as EVP, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Growth Officer at BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., where he oversaw cross-functional innovation, marketing, product development, off-premise, digital and earned media, and local marketing. Mr. Mayer and his team played a crucial role in transforming the BJ’s Restaurants brand, driving it from a regional casual dining player to a nationally recognized lifestyle brand. Their efforts resulted in numerous successful product launches, one of the best retention programs in the industry and record levels of familiarity and brand love contributing to nine straight quarters of same-store traffic growth over the category.

“Kevin is an accomplished marketer and sales builder with proven experience guiding brands in transformation,” Hart continued. “He understands the critical importance of addressing every aspect of the guest experience and engaging current and future Red Robin fans.”

Mark Simpson, a 35-year human resources and hospitality industry veteran, also joins Red Robin May 1 in the role of Interim Chief People Officer, with incumbent Wayne Davis’ recent departure to pursue other personal and career interests. Mr. Simpson recently retired from Texas Roadhouse, where he served as Vice President of Legendary People for many years and assisted in guiding the success of the company’s growth and award-winning culture, including administering its Operations-focused market & managing partner program, executive and senior-level staffing, benefits & compensation, field HR and employee relations, HR administration and more. He also has served in senior HR roles with Al Copeland Investments, Tia’s Tex-Mex (Ruby Tuesday Inc.) and Peasant Restaurants (Quantum/Morton’s Restaurant Group) and has served on the boards of the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Kentucky Restaurant Association. Mr. Simpson will provide senior leadership on key People initiatives during this transition and assist in the search for Red Robin’s permanent CPO.

In addition, Jason Rusk has been promoted to Chief Business Development Officer. Most recently serving as SVP of Transformation & Business Development, Mr. Rusk has played a leadership role in a number of key initiatives impacting operations, franchise, marketing and branding during his 25 years with Red Robin. In his expanded role, he will continue to spearhead business transformation initiatives including franchise development, culinary upgrades, off-premise channel growth, supply chain, in-restaurant guest experience, real estate and new restaurant growth as well as deepening key brand partnerships with Donatos and others.

Hart added, “Mark and Jason bring deep experience to their respective areas. Mark played a central role in cultivating Texas Roadhouse’s best-in-class culture and will lead our People Team in facilitating processes and support structures that enable our team members to continue to thrive. Further, Jason’s track-record leading several successful operational, guest experience and sales driving initiatives during his impressive tenure have made him an invaluable member of our team, and we look forward to his continued strategic oversight in his expanded role.”

About Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB) Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (www.redrobin.com), is a casual dining restaurant chain founded in 1969 that operates through its wholly owned subsidiary, Red Robin International, Inc., and under the trade name, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews. We believe nothing brings people together like burgers and fun around our table, and no one makes moments of connection over craveable food more memorable than Red Robin. We serve a variety of burgers and mainstream favorites to Guests of all ages in a casual, playful atmosphere. In addition to our many burger offerings, Red Robin serves a wide array of salads, appetizers, entrees, desserts, signature beverages and Donatos® pizza at select locations. It’s now easy to enjoy Red Robin anywhere with online ordering available for to-go, delivery and catering, or you can download our new app for easy customization, access to the Red Robin Royalty® dashboard and more. There are more than 510 Red Robin restaurants across the United States and Canada, including those operating under franchise agreements. Red Robin… YUMMM®!

View source version at Red Robin







Wingstop Appoints Raj Kapoor as SVP, President of International as Brand Sets Its Sights on 7,000+ Units Globally



Apr 26, 2023, 16:05 ET





DALLAS, April 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Wingstop (NASDAQ: WING) – the global chicken chain with nearly 2,000 restaurants worldwide – announced the appointment of Raj Kapoor as SVP, President of International. Raj will be responsible for driving Wingstop's growth and development strategy for markets outside of the U.S. and oversee the performance of the brand's existing international markets.

Raj joins Wingstop from 7-Eleven, where he spent 28 years in a variety of leadership roles including VP of International; SVP and Chief Information Officer; and, most recently, SVP of Fresh Food, Beverage and Restaurants. Throughout his tenure, he was responsible for numerous functions including logistics, sales and merchandising, operations and more.

"I'm excited to have Raj join the Wingstop team as we embark on our next phase of growth," said Wingstop's President & CEO Michael Skipworth. "Our international business has incredible momentum and I'm confident Raj's leadership will further support our vision of scaling to more than 3,000 international units and becoming a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand."

This announcement comes on the heels of the first restaurant opening in South Korea – with the potential to operate 200-250 in the country – contributing to the established target of 7,000 plus restaurants globally.

About Wingstop Founded in 1994 and headquartered in Dallas, TX, Wingstop Inc. (NASDAQ: WING) operates and franchises more than 1,950 locations worldwide. The Wing Experts are dedicated to Serving the World Flavor through an unparalleled guest experience and use of a best-in-class technology platform, all while offering classic and boneless wings, tenders, and chicken sandwiches, 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 fiscal year 2022, Wingstop's system-wide sales increased 16.8% to approximately $2.7 billion, marking the 19th consecutive year of same store sales growth. With a vision of becoming a Top 10 Global Restaurant Brand, our system is comprised of independent franchisees, or brand partners, who account for approximately 98% of Wingstop's total restaurant count of 1,959 as of December 31, 2022.

A key to this business success and consumer fandom stems from The Wingstop Way, which includes a core value system of being Authentic, Entrepreneurial, Service-minded, and Fun. The Wingstop Way extends to the brand's environmental, social and governance platform as Wingstop seeks to provide value to all stakeholders.

Rounding out a strong year in 2022, the Company made Technomic 500's "Fastest Growing Franchise" list, was ranked #16 on Entrepreneur Magazine's "Franchise 500," won Fast Casual's Excellence in Food Safety award, and was named to Fast Company's "The World's Most Innovative Companies" list ranking #4 in the dining category. For more information visit www.wingstop.com or www.wingstop.com/own-a-wingstop and follow @Wingstop on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Learn more about Wingstop's involvement in its local communities at www.wingstopcharities.org.

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Milkshake Concepts Bolsters Executive Team to Fuel Rapid Growth

April 26, 2023



Acclaimed hospitality group brings on industry heavyweights Bryan McVay as Chief Financial Officer and Matt Smith as Chief Marketing Officer

Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  In its quest  to continue to raise the bar and support its explosive growth, Milkshake Concepts is proud to announce the additions of Bryan McVay as CFO, and Matt Smith as CMO to its executive leadership team.

“Continuing to add the best talent is vital as we strive to scale our brands nationally, and bringing in Bryan and Matt is a crucial step to help us achieve this,” said Milkshake Concepts Co-Founder and CEO Imran Sheikh. “Not only do they both bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in the hospitality industry, but they are also two genuine cultural fits who will help push Milkshake to new heights.”

McVay comes to Milkshake with 10 years of experience, most recently with Front Burner Society and its collection of nationally recognized restaurant brands, such as Velvet Taco, Mexican Sugar, Whiskey Cake, Sixty Vines and many more. With expertise in cash management and financial analysis, McVay’s strategic skills and dedication to the financial success of his brands are unrivaled.

McVay’s duties include overseeing the financial obligations across Milkshake’s portfolio, as well as heading up all financial strategy across the brands. He will ensure that each restaurant concept is efficiently tracking cashflow, optimizing financial planning, analyzing the portfolio’s strengths and weaknesses, and proposing corrective actions.

Smith joins Milkshake after previously serving as the CMO of The Madera Group, which included fast-casual Tocaya Organica and the high-energy fine-dining concept, Toca Madera. Following Tocaya’s combination with Tender Greens, Smith joined their newly formed holding company – One Table Restaurant Brands – where he also served as Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing all marketing operations.

Armed with eight years of experience in restaurant marketing, Smith will now oversee marketing efforts across all Milkshake Concepts brands and will facilitate all growth, sales and marketing strategies within its diverse and expanding portfolio. He will also spearhead activations and initiatives to enhance brand awareness while driving the ideation of new concepts.

McVay and Smith join Sheikh, co-founder and COO James Faller, VP of Operations Tommy Hamilton and Director of Culinary, Rodman Shields, to round out the senior leadership team. Together they plan to build on the huge success Milkshake Concepts has already achieved and the experiential hospitality group has announced six new restaurant openings this year, with an additional five confirmed for 2024 and even more in the pipeline moving forward.

For more information about Milkshake Concepts and its eclectic group of restaurant and nightlife brands, visit milkshakeconcepts.com.

About Milkshake Concepts

Founded in 2015 by Imran Sheikh, Asim Sheikh & James Faller, Milkshake Concepts is a Dallas-based experiential hospitality group responsible for an exciting array of restaurants and nightlife. The group currently operates eight brands, including The Finch, Vidorra and Harper’s, across 11 locations and expects to have a total of 23venues open by the end of 2024.

View source version Milkshake Concepts


Biscuit Belly Welcomes New Vice President to Leadership Team

April 19, 2023




Restaurant Operations Expert Tarah Freestone Joins the Innovative Southern Brunch Brand as the New VP of Operations

Louisville, KY  (RestaurantNews.com)  Biscuit Belly, a Kentucky based “craft casual” brunch restaurant serving up warm hospitality and chef-driven gourmet biscuit breakfast sandwiches, recently welcomed Tarah Freestone to the team as Vice President of Operations. Tarah is thrilled to be joining the team to help assist in streamlining processes and allowing the entire leadership team to focus on specific areas.

Boasting an extensive background working with both emerging and large brands in the restaurant franchising space, Freestone will be an incredible asset in helping to shape the systems and processes in place for future franchise partners and management, with the goal of developing a team of strong operators to assist in the support of Biscuit Belly’s franchise system as the brand grows.

“I am a true believer that treating your guests and teams like family will always lead to a successful brand, and Biscuit Belly does just that,” said Tarah Freestone VP of Operations of Biscuit Belly. “There’s more to the brand than just the amazing menu that made this the right fit for me. I really believe in the vision and promise the Coulters are leading this brand with. From their passion for everyone they meet, whether crew, guest, or franchise partner, to the food quality and product innovation, Biscuit Belly checks all of my boxes and I’m thrilled to be a part of this journey with them.”

Freestone has over 15 years of expertise working in the restaurant franchise industry across several different brands. Most recently, Freestone served as Vice President of Learning and Development at Bubbakoo’s Burritos where she developed all their systems, processes, and procedures for operations and training, as well as, assisting in the brads explosive growth, opening over 60 locations in just over 18 months with her team. Freestone’s additional experience includes serving in operations and management leadership roles at Golden Krust, Domino’s, Saladworks, and Arby’s.

“I am genuinely excited to introduce this brand in new markets,” said Freestone. “I’m looking forward to connecting with others seeking to grow either their restaurant portfolio or open their own locations who feel the same passion about the brand that I do.”

In 2022, Biscuit Belly brought on Lisa Dwelly as VP of Operations and Training to strengthen the brand’s development efforts. By hiring Freestone, Dwelly is now able to focus her efforts entirely on training, while Freestone will center around operations. This will allow the brand to streamline their focus in both individual departments, leading to overall brand success as they continue to expand.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to work alongside Tarah to help develop our operators and team members to support Biscuit Belly’s growth,” stated Lisa Dwelly VP of Training at Biscuit Belly. “The experience she brings from the restaurant and franchise industries, as well as her commitment to people development and damn good culture makes Tarah the perfect fit for this role. Her addition to the team will allow us all to be even more detailed and committed to our current and future operators.”

Biscuit Belly has experienced rapid success locally and is eager to continue expansion across North America with a focus in the South and Midwest. With plans to have at least eight locations open by the end of 2023, the brand has remained a favorite among Kentucky locals and is now bringing their unique brunch concept to new markets with their newest franchise locations open in Hoover and Huntsville Alabama, with a new location set to open in Chesapeake Virginia soon.

Biscuit Belly is actively seeking single and multi-unit franchise partners. The brand currently has eight locations open and 20+ locations in development, with plans to sign four to five additional multi-unit deals by the end of 2023. Including the franchise fee, the initial investment for a Biscuit Belly franchise is between $697,000 to $1,102,000.

For more information about Biscuit Belly’s franchising opportunities, please visit https://biscuitbellyfranchise.com.

About Biscuit Belly

Founded in 2019 and franchising since 2020, Biscuit Belly opened its first location in Louisville, Kentucky where it became known for its creative approach to Southern comfort food classics with a focus on large, gourmet biscuit sandwiches. With a chef-cultivated menu, the brand has paired their Southern inspired offerings with genuine hospitality to create an upbeat, fun environment where guests can enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends. With eight locations currently open in Kentucky, Georgia, Indiana, and Alabama the brand has three more stores under construction in Georgia and Alabama, both set to open before the end of the year and more locations that will be announced soon. For more information, please visit https://biscuitbelly.com.

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Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. Appoints Deborah M. Derby as Chief Executive Officer

April 13, 2023 08:00 ET



SYRACUSE, N.Y., April 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. (“Carrols” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: TAST) announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Deborah M. Derby as the Company’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective May 1, 2023. Ms. Derby will succeed Paulo A. Pena, the Company’s former President and CEO who passed away unexpectedly on December 31, 2022, and Anthony Hull, the Company’s Interim President and Chief Executive Officer, who will continue to serve as the Company’s Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer. Ms. Derby, who has served as an independent member of the Company’s Board of Directors since June 2018, will continue to serve as a director of the Company.

Ms. Derby, age 59, has significant experience leading multi-unit, consumer-focused companies that includes an almost 15-year career at Toys “R” Us, Inc. between 2000 and 2015 where she served in a variety of senior executive positions including President of Babies “R” Us and Vice Chairman of Toys “R” Us. She has also served as the President of Horizon Group USA, Inc., a wholesaler of craft components and activity kits, from 2016 until June 2020. Ms. Derby has served as a director of Henry Schein, Inc. since February 2021. She also served as a director of the Vitamin Shoppe, Inc. from 2012 to December 2019.

“We are excited to welcome Deb as our new Chief Executive Officer,” said David Harris, the Chairman of the Board of Carrols. “We are confident that we have identified an exemplary individual with the skills and experience necessary to lead Carrols and complement the strong management and restaurant operations team we have in place at the Company. We would also like to express our appreciation to Tony Hull for his leadership as Interim President and CEO for the first four months of 2023.”

Ms. Derby stated, “I am honored to have been named the next Chief Executive Officer of Carrols and am grateful for the confidence that the Board has placed in me. I look forward to working with the Board and Carrols’ talented management and restaurant operations team to drive further improvement in our financial and operational performance and capture what I believe are the immense opportunities ahead of us.”

About the Company Carrols is one of the largest restaurant franchisees in North America. It is the largest BURGER KING® franchisee in the United States, currently operating 1,019 BURGER KING® restaurants in 23 states as well as 65 POPEYES® restaurants in seven states. Carrols has operated BURGER KING® restaurants since 1976 and POPEYES® restaurants since 2019. For more information, please visit the Company's website at www.carrols.com.

View source version at Carrols



Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. Appoints Dirk Montgomery as President and Chief Executive Officer


April 13, 2023 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time


DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. ("Fiesta" or the "Company") (NASDAQ: FRGI), parent company of the Pollo Tropical® brand, today announced that the Board of Directors has appointed Dirk Montgomery as its permanent President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 13, 2023. Mr. Montgomery has served as Interim Chief Executive Officer since December 8, 2022 and previously served as Chief Financial Officer since September 9, 2019.

“The Board and I are confident that Dirk is ideally suited to serve as our President and CEO,” said Stacey Rauch, who chairs the Company’s Board of Directors. “We believe that his deep knowledge of the Pollo Tropical brand and its operations from having served as our CFO, together with his vast industry experience and disciplined business style, provide him with the right background and attributes to lead Fiesta and Pollo Tropical. As the interim CEO, Dirk moved quickly to maintain momentum and sharpen the focus of the leadership team on key opportunities.”

“Since transitioning to the interim CEO role, I have been working with our talented team to prioritize and accelerate the key strategic initiatives that we believe will have the most significant impact on transaction growth and margin expansion,” said Montgomery. “Consistent with this approach, we have placed tremendous focus on building operations excellence and creating a great guest experience, all while continuing to enhance our brand presence and developing the teams necessary to support these initiatives. I am very excited to have the opportunity to continue working with the leadership team and our Board to unlock the significant growth potential of this special brand.”

About Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc.

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. owns, operates and franchises the Pollo Tropical® fast-casual restaurant brand. The brand features fresh-made cooking, offering distinct and unique flavors with broad appeal at a compelling value through dine-in service, drive-thru service and catering. For more information about Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc., visit the corporate website at www.frgi.com. For more information about Pollo Tropical, visit the restaurant brand website at www.pollotropical.com.

View source version at Fiesta Restaurant Group

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