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Executive Movements - November 2021





Tropical Smoothie Cafe Names New CMO

November 10, 2021



Veteran restaurant/advertising exec Deborah von Kutzleben joins growing brand Nov. 1

Atlanta, GA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the fast-growing national franchise brand known for its better-for-you smoothies and food with a tropical twist, has named Deborah von Kutzleben its new CMO, effective Nov. 1.

Von Kutzleben most recently served as vice president of brand strategy, advertising and menu at Arby’s. Prior to that, she spent 22 years at BBDO Worldwide, where she was executive vice president and senior director for the global advertising powerhouse, leading campaign strategy and execution for many large national brands.

At Tropical Smoothie Cafe, she will manage marketing strategy, menu innovation, and brand perception and growth while bringing the brand’s Inspire Better® mission to life for guests, as well as franchisees and their team members.

“Deborah has a strong track record of creating and executing strategies to take brands to the next level, and we believe she can help us elevate Tropical Smoothie Cafe to become a household name,” said Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café, LLC. “With her purpose-driven approach, she is the right leader to drive guest awareness and connection with the brand as we remain focused on our aggressive growth initiatives.”

Von Kutzleben joins the company as it continues to post great numbers and breaks its own records. The brand recently celebrated its 1,000th-cafe milestone and is currently on a nine-year streak of same-store sales increases. Year to date, it has also exceeded its record-setting number of franchise agreements signed in a single year, with months to go.

“Tropical Smoothie Cafe offers an incredible opportunity with a growing brand that is pioneering a new paradigm in healthier eating and community involvement,” said von Kutzleben. “I look forward to making a positive impact and inspiring better for our franchisees, their crew members, guests and the support center team.”

The company is on track to hit 130 total openings in 2021 and its long-term goal of reaching 1,500 units by the end of 2024. More information on franchise opportunities is available to www.tropicalsmoothiefranchise.com.

About Tropical Smoothie Cafe®

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a national fast-casual cafe concept inspiring a healthier lifestyle with more than 1,010 locations nationwide. Serving better-for-you smoothies, wraps, sandwiches and flatbreads, Tropical Smoothie Cafe also offers upgraded app technology and enhanced mobile ordering capabilities to further elevate the digital and dine-in cafe experience and emphasize the brand’s focus on convenience. The rapidly growing franchise has received numerous accolades, including rankings in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500, Forbes’ Best Franchises and Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious list, as well as the Franchise Times’ Top 200+ ranking. Notably, the franchise was also recognized on Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers, Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 and Top 10 Fastest-Growing Chains, and Restaurant Business’ America’s Favorite Chains.

Interested franchise candidates should have business experience, along with a minimum net worth of $350,000, which includes $125,000 in liquid assets. Candidates who meet these preliminary qualifications will need to make an initial investment ranging between $257,500 and $560,500. The franchise currently boasts an average unit volume (AUV) of more than $840,000 – the highest in the company’s 24-year-history – with the top 50% reporting an AUV of more than $1M.

View source version at Tropical Smoothie Cafe



FAT Brands Announces Chief Real Estate Officer Hire, Justin Nedelman, To Support Robust Development Pipeline

November 09, 2021 13:10 ET



Former CEO of Eureka Restaurant Group, LLC Brings Deep Real Estate and Development Expertise to FAT Brands

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 09, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. announces the hiring of its first Chief Real Estate Officer, Justin Nedelman. Nedelman brings significant experience from his former role as CEO of Eureka Restaurant Group, LLC (“Eureka!”), where he led the company from its inception in 2009 through rapid growth until his departure in January 2021. Overseeing the real estate of FAT Brands’ growing portfolio of over 2,100 restaurants, Nedelman will help support organic growth with existing franchisees while also spearheading further real estate expansion across the brands’ 15 concepts, identifying best-in-class, high volume locations.

A seasoned C-Suite Executive, Nedelman has an impressive track record in growing brands with a strategic focus on real estate. During his time at Eureka!, he grew the brand to 26 company-owned and operated restaurants in six states including California, Texas, Colorado, Washington, Idaho, and Nevada. Prior to Eureka!, Nedelman was a Partner at Investwest Companies, a boutique commercial real estate and fully integrated investment, development and property management company based in Los Angeles, where he negotiated retail leases and managed debt and equity financing for all developments. Before joining Investwest, Nedelman was a Senior Director at Partners Realty Capital in Newport Beach, CA, where he was a lead advisor to middle market real estate developers in commercial real estate equity and highly structured joint venture debt transactions in all asset classes.

“Justin brings significant real estate finance, leasing, acquisition and development experience to FAT Brands,” said FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn. “We are currently in high-growth mode, so Justin couldn’t have come on-board at a better time. He brings tremendous value to the team as both a retail real estate financier and former operator of a polished casual dining concept, an area we recently expanded into with the acquisition of Twin Peaks.”

“I am excited to jump on this amazing rocket ship led by CEO Andy Wiederhorn and play a role in further accelerating the growth of the brand,” says Nedelman. “FAT Brands continues to make noise in the restaurant space with over $900 million in acquisition deals since September 2020. I knew I had to be a part of this exciting trajectory.”

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

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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 and polished casual dining restaurant concepts around the world. The Company currently owns 15 restaurant brands: Round Table Pizza, Fatburger, Marble Slab Creamery, Johnny Rockets, Twin Peaks, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Buffalo’s Cafe & Express, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Pretzelmaker, Elevation Burger, Yalla Mediterranean and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, and franchises over 2,100 units worldwide. For more information on FAT Brands, please visit www.fatbrands.com.

View source version at FAT Brands


Dave & Buster’s CFO Scott Bowman to Depart Next Month

Bowman said he resigned to accept another opportunity. His announcement comes less than two months after Brian Jenkins, the food-and-games chain’s then-CEO, said he was retiring.

By Heather Lalley on Nov. 09, 2021

Scott Bowman, Dave & Buster’s CFO, is leaving the food-and-games chain effective Dec. 8, according to a federal filing earlier this month.

Bowman, who also serves as a senior vice president with the brand, is resigning to “accept another opportunity out of state that is closer to his family,” according to the filing. Dave & Buster’s said it has begun a search for a new finance chief.

Bowman’s announcement comes less than two months after Dave & Buster’s CEO Brian Jenkins said he intended to retire at the end of September. Jenkins remains an advisor to the chain through the end of this month. Board Chairman Kevin Sheehan was appointed interim CEO.

Bowman joined the eatertainment brand as CFO in May of 2019. Before that, he spent nearly seven years as chief financial officer of Hibbett Sports. He also held a variety of finance posts with The Home Depot.

Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s, which has more than 140 locations, proclaimed its pandemic rebound in September, reporting record-breaking revenues, EBITDA, margins and cash flow. In recent months, the company has re-worked its menu, rolled out a new marketing strategy and debuted a mobile web-enabled platform to cut labor costs. Dave & Buster’s is also testing a small-footprint store design that is so far generating solid results.

“We’re more profitable than we’ve ever been in our history,” Jenkins told analysts at the time. “We’re just in a really good place right now.”

View source version at Dave & Buster's


Cracker Barrel Names Craig Pommells as CFO

Pommells was formerly CFO of Red Lobster and also spent more than a decade at Darden. He is the permanent replacement for retired CFO Jill Golder.

By Joe Guszkowski on Nov. 08, 2021

Cracker Barrel has named Craig Pommells as chief financial officer, replacing interim CFO Doug Couvillion.

Pommells spent the last seven years at Red Lobster, where he started as an SVP of financial planning and analysis and rose to CFO last October. Before that, he held various financial roles for Darden Restaurants over the course of 10 years.

He is the permanent replacement for Cracker Barrel's Jill Golder, who retired in December after five years at the casual-dining chain.

"We are very excited to have Craig join the Cracker Barrel executive team," said Cracker Barrel CEO Sandra Cochran in a statement. "I am confident that Craig's track record of outstanding financial leadership, extensive industry expertise, and strategic planning talent will make him an outstanding addition to both the team and the Company and help us position Cracker Barrel for continued success."

Pommells is expected to start the new job on Dec. 6.

View source version at Cracker Barrel



Torchy’s Tacos Announces Retirement of CEO GJ Hart


November 05, 2021 11:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time


AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Torchy’s Tacos announced that Chief Executive Officer GJ Hart is retiring, effective November 5th. Torchy’s Founder Mike Rypka has assumed the role of Interim CEO. Mr. Hart will serve as a consultant to the business.

Mike Rypka commented, “GJ has provided tremendous value to Torchy’s during his four years as CEO. He has contributed significantly to the growth and success of the brand, and his leadership has enabled us to attract some of the finest talent in the restaurant industry. We are incredibly proud of the Torchy’s team and excited about the many opportunities ahead of us. We thank GJ for all he has helped us achieve, and we wish him the very best as he embarks on his retirement.”

Under Hart’s leadership, Torchy’s expanded its geographic footprint of 45 restaurants to its current 96 locations in 10 states, including opening 26 locations in 2020 and 2021 during the global pandemic.

GJ Hart commented, “Torchy’s is by far one of the hottest brands in the industry today and I am so proud of the passionate team we have built. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time leading the organization to this point, and I am grateful to our employees and investors for their support and partnership as we have grown the business. I believe that Torchy’s will continue to have incredible success far into the future and I look forward to providing support throughout that journey.”

Hart continued, “I am looking forward to spending more time with my wife, four children and our growing brood of grandchildren. The global pandemic catalyzed a shift in priorities for many of us, and spending time with family now comes first in this next phase of my life and career. I plan to continue contributing to the hospitality industry, to which I’ve dedicated my career, by serving on boards and acting as a resource for leaders and entrepreneurs.”

About Torchy’s Tacos The Torchy’s Tacos story began 15 years ago in Austin, Texas, when a man with a dream bought a food trailer and a vibrant red Vespa. Mike Rypka, founder of Torchy’s Tacos, built a menu out of experimental tacos that were coined by fans as “damn good.” Today, Torchy’s Tacos has 96 locations across Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, North Carolina and Tennessee that are committed to serving only the highest quality ingredients. By living the Damn Good mantra, Torchy’s Tacos is always innovating to deliver the most unique tacos, coveted queso and refreshing margaritas in the taco game, including the Taco of the Month, an untraditional taco offering that keeps taco junkies coming back for more. Visit www.torchystacos.com and follow on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for more information on Torchy’s Tacos.

View source version at Torchy's Tacos


Qdoba Elevates Karin Silk to CMO

Silk had previously been VP of menu and off-premise operations for the 740-unit fast-casual chain.

By Heather Lalley on Nov. 04, 2021

Qdoba has promoted Karin Silk to chief marketing officer, the fast casual announced Thursday.

Silk joined the Mexican chain in 2018 as vice president of menu and off-premise operations. During that time, she worked on menu innovation and other initiatives.

In her new role, Silk will oversee Qdoba’s strategic marketing and digital efforts, while also continuing her work on culinary strategy, catering and third-party delivery partnerships, the chain said.

“Without a doubt, the innovative programs Karin spearheaded during her time with Qdoba made this well-deserved promotion an easy decision,” CEO Keith Guibault said in a statement. “We’re pleased to elevate her role on the senior leadership team as we continue to expand the Qdoba brand …”

Before coming to Qdoba, Silk was senior vice president of marketing for Rubio’s Restaurants. She also spent seven years with PepsiCo-Quaker foods.

“Working for and with Qdoba is one of the highlights of my career,” she said in a statement. “I’m excited for this next chapter, including an opportunity to work with an exceptional group of franchisees who live and breath our mission of bringing flavor to hungry people cross the U.S. and Canada.”

Qdoba has more than 740 restaurants across the U.S. and Canada.

View source version at Qdoba



Astrid Isaacs Joins Bloomin’ Brands as Chief Technology Officer


November 03, 2021 12:04 PM Eastern Daylight Time


TAMPA, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. (Nasdaq:BLMN) today announced the appointment of Astrid Isaacs to Chief Technology Officer for Bloomin’ Brands. She will lead the company’s technology strategy and platforms, while overseeing the IT, Digital and Loyalty teams. Isaacs will also join the Executive Leadership Team.

“Astrid’s proven ability to develop and implement technology to enable growth and enhance customer service, while improving productivity, will create a great deal of value for our customers and our company,” said David Deno, Chief Executive Officer of Bloomin' Brands. “Digital connections, whether with our customers, our operators or our restaurant systems, have become a lifeline in our brands and many others. Astrid’s experience with well-known restaurant companies, including our operating environment, brings a familiar yet fresh approach to our team as we continue to meet the needs of our customers wherever and however they wish, in their homes, offices, or in our dining rooms.”

Isaacs, who rejoins Bloomin’ Brands, served in several leadership roles during her five-year tenure with the company, including Vice President of Restaurant Technology. She also served as Vice President of Digital and Consumer Technology at Subway. In addition, she led all technology initiatives for over 30 countries at Papa John’s and held various IT roles at Yum! Restaurants International in the United Kingdom.

Isaacs holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Westminster, UK and a Business and Technology Higher National Diploma in Computer Science from Croydon College, UK. She also serves on the Board of Governors for Restaurant Technology Network and is a member of the Society for Information Management and International Food & Beverage Technology Association.

About Bloomin’ Brands, Inc.

Bloomin' Brands, Inc. is one of the largest casual dining restaurant companies in the world with a portfolio of leading, differentiated restaurant concepts. The Company has four founder-inspired brands: Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. The Company owns and operates more than 1,450 restaurants in 47 states, Guam and 20 countries, some of which are franchise locations. For more information, please visit bloominbrands.com.

View source version at Bloomin' Brands



MOD Pizza Appoints Dayna Eberhardt as Chief People Officer


Human Resource Leader Brings Two Decades of Experience to The People-First Brand


November 03, 2021 02:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time


SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, LLC (“MOD Pizza”, “MOD” or the “Company”), the purpose-led and people-first pioneer of the fast casual pizza category, today announced the appointment of Dayna Eberhardt as Chief People Officer, effective immediately. Eberhardt will lead the MOD People team, focused on supporting the Company’s 8,000+ MOD Squad members across the U.S. She will report to Scott Svenson, MOD co-founder and CEO and be based at the Company Support Center in Bellevue, Washington.

Eberhardt most recently served as Senior Vice President of Global Talent Management for Expedia Group, where she led a large, global team and served more than 20,000 employees. Prior to that, she spent over 13 years with Starbucks in numerous human resource positions, both domestically and internationally, and was most recently Vice President, Human Resources, Siren Retail, Global Coffee & Global Design - encompassing Starbucks Roastery and Reserve stores.

“We are so excited to have Dayna join us in this vital role. Our people are at the heart of our purpose, and we are always striving to elevate the positive impact we make in their lives. Dayna’s experience leading and developing large teams, combined with her passion for our purpose, is exactly what we need as we continue to grow MOD across the country,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and CEO of MOD. “Dayna and her team will lead our efforts to improve the Squad experience by investing in our learning and talent development capabilities as we continue on our journey of becoming the best place to work in the restaurant industry.”

Added Eberhardt, “It is an exciting and unique opportunity to join MOD, a growing company that is truly committed to putting people first while also making positive impacts in our local communities. I look forward to contributing to the journey ahead and continuing to build upon the purpose-driven roots on which MOD was founded in order to make a difference for those who work here.”

MOD Pizza is the pioneer of fast casual pizza, with over 500 locations system-wide throughout North America and plans for continued store growth. The Company reported 2020 system-wide sales of $461 million – bolstered by a 275% increase in digital revenue over 2019.

ABOUT MOD PIZZA:

MOD Pizza is a purpose-led, people-first brand founded in Seattle in 2008 by serial entrepreneurs Scott and Ally Svenson. MOD serves individual artisan-style pizzas and salads that are made on demand, allowing customers to create their own pizzas and salads with any combination of over 30 toppings, all for one price. With 500+ locations system-wide**, MOD is committed to creating not only a cool place to eat, but an inspired place to work. MOD recently earned a spot on the Fortune 2019 “Change the World” list, for its purpose-led culture and commitment to provide opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment. The Company was also been named America’s fastest growing chain restaurant by Technomic for four years running and named the most loved pizza brand by Foodable Network. MOD has earned a spot on the Inc.5000 list and has been recognized by Fortune as one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Retail,” a “Best Workplace for Women,” a “Best Workplace for Millennials,” and a “Best Workplace for Diversity.” For more information, please visit www.modpizza.com.

View source version at MOD Pizza


Dave’s Hot Chicken Promotes Jim Bitticks to President and Chief Operating Officer

November 2, 2021



Restaurant Industry Veteran Brings 30 Years of Leadership Across Multi-Unit and Rapid-Growth Concepts

Los Angeles, CA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Dave’s Hot Chicken, the scrappy late-night pop-up turned hot chicken sensation, today announced the promotion of Jim Bitticks to President and Chief Operating Officer, effective immediately. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Jim will take the lead role in ensuring the successful growth and expansion of Dave’s Hot Chicken across the country.

“Jim is an incredible leader who has brought on wonderful, best-in-class associates to support our franchisees’ aggressive growth plans,” said Dave’s Hot Chicken’s CEO, Bill Phelps. “After joining the Dave’s Hot Chicken brand as Chief Operations Officer in July of 2020, Jim quickly put together the systems and processes enabling this brand to confidently scale at its rapid pace.”

Jim started in the restaurant industry as a busboy in his teens. He later worked for various QSR chains including CKE Restaurants where he worked his way through the ranks and eventually became a Vice President of Operations overseeing the San Diego market. In 2013, Jim joined Blaze Pizza to lead operations and training when the company had just two locations open. While at Blaze, he was promoted to Chief Restaurant Officer where he oversaw the brand’s operations, training, and construction teams, helping Blaze Pizza grow from two locations to more than 350 restaurants across the country.

“Dave’s Hot Chicken is on its way to becoming one of the iconic restaurant brands,” said Jim Bitticks. “We’re grounded in our promise to offer mind-blowing hot chicken, turn guests into fans, and empower our team members to grow. As we continue to expand, working hand-in-hand with our world-class franchise partners to support their growth and deliver on that promise is our top priority.”

About Dave’s Hot Chicken

In a modern-day American dream story, Arman Oganesyan and best friend Chef Dave Kopushyan, along with brothers Tommy and Gary Rubenyan, launched Dave’s Hot Chicken in a parking lot pop-up in 2017. Dave’s Hot Chicken quickly took off, opening its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in East Hollywood. In 2019, the team struck a deal with Wetzel’s Pretzels co-founder and former CEO, Bill Phelps, and movie producer John Davis to begin franchising the Dave’s Hot Chicken concept throughout the U.S. and beyond.  The company has sold the rights to almost 500 franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada and will open an additional 25 locations this year. Harkening back to an Eater LA blog that helped propel early interest in the brand, the company’s mission is to “blow their minds.” Additional brand investors include Billboard Magazine’s Artist of the Decade, Drake, former California First Lady Maria Shriver, Red Sox owner Tom Werner, actor Samuel L. Jackson, and Good Morning America anchor and retired NFL player Michael Strahan.  For more information, visit www.daveshotchicken.com.

View source version at Dave's Hot Chicken



Nick Chavez Named Chief Marketing Officer for KFC

November, 1 2021


KFC Corporation announced it has named Nick Chavez Chief Marketing Officer of KFC U.S., effective November 29, 2021. Chavez will lead marketing, advertising, public relations, media, and consumer insights, as well as the brand's digital initiatives. He will be responsible for developing and executing innovative marketing strategies to achieve the next chapter of growth for KFC U.S.

Chavez has spent more than 11 years with Nintendo of America (NOA), where he most recently served as Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Communications, and held responsibility for retail and direct sales, marketing, advertising and communications in the U.S. and Canada.

During his time at Nintendo of America, he led sales and marketing for Nintendo's popular Nintendo Switch gaming system, evolved the iconic gaming brand's product launch processes and led marketing for over two hundred new game titles, while helping to drive Nintendo's digital marketing and ecommerce capabilities.

Before joining NOA, Chavez spent over nine years at Yahoo! Inc., holding various marketing leadership roles, including Vice President of Brand Marketing.

"Nick is a proven leader who has a track record of demonstrating the smart, heart and courage leadership needed at Yum! & KFC," said Kevin Hochman, President of KFC U.S. "He has launched blockbuster new products at an iconic brand, and he's an expert in migrating retail brick-and-mortar business into e-commerce. His experience will help us to deliver KFC's next chapter of growth."

"It is an incredible honor to join the KFC family and contribute to its iconic and enduring legacy of great people serving great fried chicken at great value to everyone," said Chavez. "The opportunity to help chart the future of the KFC brand, and how it delights and satisfies the millions of people it serves every day, is a dream for me. I look forward to working with the team at KFC and partnering with its remarkable franchisees to drive brand and business growth going forward."

View source version at KFC


Zaxby’s CEO and Co-founder Zach McLeroy to Transition to Chairman; Bernard Acoca Appointed as New Chief Executive Officer

October 26, 2021



Acoca joins as the first external CEO in the company’s history, succeeding CEO and founder Zach McLeroy, who led the company since its inception in 1990

Athens, GA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Zaxby’s, the premium chicken QSR founded in Athens, Ga., announced today that CEO and Co-Founder Zach McLeroy will transition to chairman of the company effective January 2022, after more than 30 years leading the brand. Bernard Acoca has been appointed as the company’s new chief executive officer. Acoca’s experience leading some of the nation’s top restaurant concepts will be instrumental in driving the company’s growth, while McLeroy’s continued involvement will ensure the culture and founder-led history of Zaxby’s continue as a guiding principle.

“I am humbled by the success Zaxby’s has experienced since my co-founder and I launched the company three decades ago,” said Zach McLeroy, CEO and co-founder of Zaxby’s. “Earlier this year, I decided that the best way to capitalize on the enormous opportunities available to Zaxby’s was to bring in the brand’s first external chief executive officer. We have been engaged in a CEO search to find someone with the strategic, operational, and marketing expertise to accelerate Zaxby’s growth and lead our national expansion. We’re thrilled to have identified Bernard Acoca, a respected industry leader, to guide our future success. I wholeheartedly believe Bernard is committed to growing our business while preserving the best of our heritage and culture.”

Founded by childhood friends Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley in 1990, Zaxby’s serves delicious chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads in a fun, offbeat atmosphere where customers are considered friends. Supported by a passionate, engaged franchisee community, the brand has grown to more than 900 locations across 17 states. “Leading Zaxby’s has been an incredible, life-changing journey,” McLeroy commented. “I am truly fortunate to have worked alongside a unique group of talented team members and brand partners who all share the same dedication to our mission––consistently creating encore experiences that enrich lives, one person at a time.”

With more than 20 years of experience as a marketer and executive within the restaurant industry, Acoca is a proven leader. He has served as CEO and president of El Pollo Loco, since March 2018. Over the last three and half years, Acoca led the brand through a transformation in which digital e-commerce rapidly accelerated, drive-thru and back of the house were streamlined, and the chain doubled-down on its L.A.-Mex brand positioning with a new contemporary restaurant design in preparation for aggressive franchise expansion domestically. Previously, Acoca spent seven years at Starbucks as a member of Leadership Team including as senior vice president, Marketing & Category for the Americas, where he was responsible for managing categories totaling $9B in sales, and as president of Teavana. Prior to that, Acoca served as chief marketing officer for the Americas for L’Oréal and spent 10 years at Yum! Brands.

“It is an honor to step into the shoes of Zach McLeroy as the first external CEO,” said Bernard Acoca, incoming chief executive officer of Zaxby’s. “Zach has built the Zaxby’s brand into more than just a quick-service chicken chain. He has found the secret to success is serving our communities quality food, providing team members with opportunity, creating a definable culture of service, and collaborating with strategic partners to grow the brand to new heights. I am thrilled to be joining Zaxby’s at this exciting milestone, and I look forward to working with the talented people in the Zaxby’s family to build upon the brand’s success.”

Nicole Agnew, partner in the Private Equity business at Goldman Sachs and member of the Zaxby’s Board of Directors, added, “Bernard is a seasoned executive with a proven track record of driving sales and profits. I am confident he has the experience and humility to lead Zaxby’s, its franchisees, and its employees to achieve new levels of success in the future. I am also deeply thankful that we will continue to have Zach’s stewardship of the brand as chairman and know that we will continue to be guided by his vision for Zaxby’s in the future.”

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 zaxbys.com or zaxbysfranchising.com.

View source version at Zaxby's



FAT Brands Continues To Expand Board with Addition of Kenneth J. Anderson

October 25, 2021 15:41 ET



Anderson Brings 35+ Years of Financial Expertise to FAT Brands

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. announces the addition of its newest board member, Kenneth J. Anderson. Anderson has more than 35 years of experience in advising families, corporate executives and business owners, providing financial strategies related to taxes, estate planning, investments, insurance and philanthropy.

Serving as the CEO of the recently launched investment firm, Cedar Tree Capital, Anderson provides strategic planning to his high-net-worth family groups with a focus on public equities and alternative investments. Prior to Cedar Tree Capital, Anderson served as a Director at leading independent wealth management firm, Aspiriant, where he also was a member of the Board of Directors. Anderson was one of the co-founders of Quintile Wealth Management and myCFO, an integrated wealth management firm established in 2002 in Los Angeles, which merged with Kochis Fitz in 2008 to become Aspirant. Prior to Quintile, Ken was a Tax Partner at Arthur Andersen LLP for 20 years. In addition to his decades of professional experience, Anderson is a certified public accountant and an attorney.

“I am thrilled to have him join our board with the unique financial expertise that he brings,” said FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn. “He has a great understanding of the financial aspect of public companies and as we continue to grow FAT Brands, he will be a key part of our board.”

“Andy is a tremendous, growth-oriented leader who continues to shake up the restaurant space, especially over the last year with the flurry of acquisitions that FAT Brands has made,” said Ken Anderson. “I have served on various private, public and charitable boards; however, having known Andy for some time and witnessing him build the company to 15 restaurant brands, I am particularly excited to join the talented FAT Brands team.”

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

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About FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands

FAT Brands (NASDAQ: FAT) is a leading global franchising company that strategically acquires, markets and develops fast casual, casual and polished casual dining restaurant concepts around the world. The Company currently owns 15 restaurant brands: Round Table Pizza, Fatburger, Marble Slab Creamery, Johnny Rockets, Twin Peaks, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Buffalo’s Cafe & Express, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Pretzelmaker, Elevation Burger, Yalla Mediterranean and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, and franchises over 2,100 units worldwide. For more information on FAT Brands, please visit www.fatbrands.com.

View source version at FAT Brands


FAT Brands Welcomes New Board Member, Amy V. Forrestal

October 20, 2021 09:00 ET

Forrestal Brings 30+ Years of Restaurant and Retail Advisory Experience to FAT Brands



LOS ANGELES, Oct. 20, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. announces the addition of its newest board member, Amy V. Forrestal. Forrestal is a seasoned executive and investment banker with a demonstrated history of successful merger and acquisition advisory and private capital raising for companies in the restaurant and franchise industries. FAT Brands is the first public board position for Forrestal, who for the last 30 years, has worked with franchisors and franchisees on numerous transactions.

Serving as the Managing Director of Brookwood Associates, Forrestal established the company’s Restaurant and Hospitality Group and has spearheaded noteworthy deals for brands such as Beef O’ Brady’s, Fuddruckers, Rita’s Italian Ice, Quiznos, Zoes Kitchen and The Habit Burger Grill. Prior to joining Brookwood, Forrestal was a Managing Director in Banc of America Securities’ Mergers and Acquisitions group. Over her 15 years spent at Banc of America Securities and predecessor organizations including NationsBanc Montgomery Securities, Forrestal advised senior management teams, boards of directors and business owners in a variety of strategic and financial transactions including acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, exclusive sales, divestitures, ESOPs, public equity and debt offerings and private equity and debt placements.

“Amy has a very impressive track record and we’re eager for her to join the team as we continue our rapid acquisition strategy,” said FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn. “She has a unique vision for how FAT Brands can further strengthen its portfolio and strike new deals. She will undoubtedly be a valuable asset to the board.”

“When I met Andy several years ago, I was fascinated by FAT Brands’ strong, dynamic growth. Working with franchisors over the years, I could see that FAT Brands’ diverse portfolio was set up for success,” said Amy Forrestal. “I look forward to bringing a new perspective to the board and joining FAT Brands on this growth journey.”

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

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About FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands

FAT Brands (NASDAQ: FAT) is a leading global franchising company that strategically acquires, markets and develops fast casual, casual and polished casual dining restaurant concepts around the world. The Company currently owns 15 restaurant brands: Round Table Pizza, Fatburger, Marble Slab Creamery, Johnny Rockets, Twin Peaks, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Buffalo’s Cafe & Express, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Pretzelmaker, Elevation Burger, Yalla Mediterranean and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, and franchises over 2,100 units worldwide. For more information on FAT Brands, please visit www.fatbrands.com.

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25-year Franchise Veteran Joins Fransmart Leadership Team

October 19, 2021


Former McDonald’s and Yum! Brands Corporate and Franchise Operations Development Star to Coach Portfolio Brands and their Franchisees

Alexandria, VA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Fransmart, the global franchise development company behind the explosive growth of brands like Five Guys Burgers and Fries, QDOBA Mexican Grill and The Halal Guys, is expanding its leadership team with the appointment of seasoned food industry executive Don Baruch as Vice President of Franchise Support Operations. Baruch brings more than 25 years of franchise development and operations experience to support operations activities for Fransmart’s extensive portfolio of franchise brands. Most recently, Baruch was Vice President of Development for BurgerBusters, a more than 150-unit franchisee of Yum! Brands with Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants, as well as several other national brands.

“An experienced franchisee, franchisor and franchise owner, Don brings a unique level of expertise and knowledge to fuel the success of our franchisees,” said Dan Rowe, Fransmart founder and CEO. “He has worked with some of the largest franchise brands in the nation with a proven track record for getting results. Our brands want 150+ unit franchisees so we decided to bring a key operations pro from a target franchisee onboard to coach our brands and their franchisees. Don is a dynamic addition to our talented Fransmart team; his strategic contributions will help drive our brands’ franchise development and expansion plans.”

After completing his MBA from Emory University, Baruch held senior operations roles with Yum! Brands and McDonald’s Corporation. As a successful multi-unit franchise owner for several national brands, Baruch’s extensive experience includes leading one of Taco Bell’s largest franchises to double in size over six years.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in the franchising industry, and I look forward to helping Fransmart’s impressive portfolio of brands reach their full potential as leading global franchises,” said Baruch.

Fransmart has sold more than 5,000 franchises worldwide and launched franchising for Five Guys, QDOBA, The Halal Guys, Vapiano and many more, as well as invested in brands including Sweetgreen, Cava and by Chloe. Fransmart’s formula for success is finding the right emerging franchise opportunities at the right time and helping franchisors identify and develop successful, multi-unit franchisees around the globe.

About Fransmart

Fransmart is the global leader in franchise development, selling over 5,000 franchises worldwide and turning emerging restaurant concepts into national and global brands for 20 years. Company Founder Dan Rowe identified and grew brands like Five Guys Burgers & Fries, QDOBA Mexican Grill, and The Halal Guys from 1-5 unit businesses to the powerhouse chains they are today. Fransmart’s current and past franchise development portfolio brands have opened thousands of restaurants globally. Fransmart and their partner brands are committed to franchise development growth. Follow Fransmart on FacebookLinkedInInstagramTwitter and YouTube. For more information, visit www.fransmart.com.

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Jack in the Box Adds Doug Cook as Chief Technology Officer


Seasoned foodservice veteran brings 20+ years of industry experience to Jack’s growing executive team


October 15, 2021 03:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time


SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jack in the Box, Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) has named Doug Cook as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. Cook brings more than 20 years of industry experience leading guest and employee-facing platforms to Jack in the Box and will leverage his foodservice expertise to develop and execute strategic initiatives to support the brand’s needs.

Cook most recently served as interim CTO of Jack in the Box, effectively leading the technology team and strategy during his interim period. Prior to joining Jack in the Box, Cook served as Chief Information Officer at Pizza Hut. During his time with Pizza Hut, Cook oversaw the brand’s IT organization and was responsible for the deployment of restaurant and data products, as well as other innovative technologies and programs to create a competitive advantage for the company. Before Pizza Hut, Cook spent two decades with Sonic applying leading-edge technologies and analytics to grow the company’s innovation and market position.

“Doug understands the evolving technology expectations of our guests and will help Jack in the Box grow in that department, while ensuring we never lose sight of the importance of optimizing operations and maintaining product quality,” said Jack in the Box CEO Darin Harris. “We’re excited to welcome Doug to Jack in the Box and he will serve an integral role as we continue to strengthen our leadership team.”

In addition to his employment responsibilities, Cook has been an active leader in various trade, technology and retail organizations. Cook has also given his expertise at MURTEC (Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference) and participated in Hospitality Technology’s “Top Tech Opportunities & Challenges for Restaurants” study.

About Jack in the Box Inc.

Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK), based in San Diego, is a restaurant company that operates and franchises Jack in the Box® restaurants, one of the nation’s largest hamburger chains, with more than 2,200 restaurants in 21 states and Guam. For more information on franchising opportunities with Jack in the Box, visit https://www.jackintheboxfranchising.com/.

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Papa John’s Promotes Max Wetzel to Expanded Role as EVP, Chief Commercial Officer


New leadership position integrates marketing, menu innovation, customer experience, North America restaurant operations, technology and insights teams to drive long-term growth and innovation


October 15, 2021 08:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time


ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) today announced the promotion of Max Wetzel to EVP, Chief Commercial Officer. Mr. Wetzel joined Papa John’s in November 2019 as its Chief Commercial and Marketing Officer, overseeing marketing, menu innovation, customer experience and a transformation office. In his new, expanded role, he will add North America restaurant operations, technology and insights to his responsibilities.

“Over the past two years, Papa John’s has fully transformed itself from a turnaround story to an innovation-driven growth business with enormous development whitespace,” said Papa John’s President and CEO Rob Lynch. “Over the same period, the pandemic also accelerated changes in consumer behavior and expectations that were taking hold prior to 2020 – online ordering, adoption of delivery aggregators, robust loyalty programs and one-to-one marketing – which have contributed to Papa John’s consistent outperformance, thanks to the efforts of Max and his team.

“More tightly integrating our commercial and marketing functions with our technology team as well as our restaurant operations, who play the critical role of delivering for our customers every day, allows us to better realize our long-term growth opportunity. In addition, we’ll be better positioned to take on bold, transformative projects that are enabled by our technology, growing first-party data capabilities and a company-wide innovation culture.”

Since joining Papa John’s almost two years ago, Mr. Wetzel has led Papa John’s successful efforts to strengthen perception of its premium, differentiated brand position in the pizza category, including launching successful menu innovations like Epic Stuffed Crust and Papadias, creating impactful marketing campaigns like Shaq-a-roni and growing the popular Papa Rewards loyalty program to more than 20 million members. Most importantly, he has helped bring a data-driven approach to everything the company does, leading to smarter business decisions that have delivered positive results for the entire Papa John’s system.

About Papa John’s

Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) opened its doors in 1984 with one goal in mind: BETTER INGREDIENTS. BETTER PIZZA.® Papa John’s 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 John’s 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 John’s is headquartered in Louisville, Ky. and is the world’s third largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,500 restaurants in 49 countries and territories as of June 28, 2021. For more information about the Company or to order pizza online, visit www.PapaJohns.com or download the Papa John’s mobile app for iOS or Android.

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