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Executive Movements - November 2023













Checkers & Rally's Strengthens Leadership Team With Appointment of New CFO and CMO



16 Nov, 2023, 09:18 ET



Industry Veterans Michael Blair and Scott Johnson join as CFO and CMO respectively, positioning Company for a new chapter of growthTAMPA, Fla., Nov. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Checkers & Rally's, an iconic drive-thru restaurant chain known for flavorful, craveable food at a great value, today announced the appointment of Michael Blair as Chief Financial Officer and Scott Johnson as Chief Marketing Officer. In their respective roles, Blair and Johnson will help fuel growth in the business, focusing on driving profitability, guest engagement and continued expansion of the brand. Mr. Blair and Mr. Johnson will report to Checkers & Rally's President and CEO, Frances Allen. "I am pleased to welcome Michael and Scott to the Checkers & Rally's leadership team and am thrilled to gain their expertise and insight as we embark on an exciting chapter ahead for our brand," said Frances Allen, President and CEO of Checkers & Rally's. "Michael brings deep financial expertise in the restaurant industry, which will be invaluable as we continue to execute our plans for our next phase of growth. Additionally, Scott's proven expertise in the QSR space will be instrumental in taking the brand to the next level - focusing on engagement and innovation to best serve our guests. On behalf of the entire company, we welcome them to the Checkers & Rally's family, and look forward to all we will accomplish together in the months and years ahead." Michael Blair brings significant CFO experience within the restaurant industry both nationally and internationally, with deep cross-functional knowledge leading finance and accounting, payroll, risk management, human resources, legal, and IT departments during his career. Most recently, he served as the Chief Financial & Administrative Officer at Miller's Ale House. Prior to Miller's Ale House, Mr. Blair spent nine years with Bloomin' Brands in a variety of Finance roles including Director of FP&A at Outback Steakhouse before transitioning to Bloomin' Brands International. In his final two years with Bloomin' Brands, Blair served as their International CFO, overseeing both company and franchise financial performance throughout the world, including in the brand's markets in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Brazil. "Checkers & Rally's is an iconic brand with a rich history, and I am proud to be joining the management team," said Mr. Blair. "I look forward to working with our team to continue to grow strategically in new and existing markets as we capitalize on the growth opportunities ahead." Scott Johnson brings a wealth of restaurant industry experience, having led marketing teams for Smashburger, BurgerFi, BRAVO!, Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse, among others. He has a proven track record of delivering significant AUV growth through his innovative work in social media and digital commerce, menu development, consumer engagement and other marketing, advertising and PR initiatives. Most recently, Mr. Johnson served as Vice President, Head of Marketing at Jollibee Group of Companies, where he led marketing for Smashburger and JFC North America. Prior to Jollibee Group, Scott served as Vice President, Head of Global Marketing for BurgerFi International, where he transformed the marketing function and helped the chain grow from 65 to 115 units. Mr. Johnson began his career as a brand manager for Arby's, before eventually becoming Senior Director of Marketing, where he oversaw the national marketing calendar, new product marketing, and brand development for 3,000 locations in 50 states. "It is an honor to join such a well-loved national brand," said Mr. Johnson. "I am looking forward to diving in with the team to further innovate our marketing strategy, while ensuring we stay true to the brand's heritage of craveable food at an exceptional value. We have so much opportunity as a brand, and I am thrilled for all we have in the works and what's to come to drive guest engagement and satisfaction." About Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc. Based in Tampa, Fla., Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, Inc., an iconic and innovative drive-thru restaurant chain known for its bold, craveable food, famous fries, exceptional value, and people-first attitude, operates and franchises both Checkers® and Rally's® restaurants. With 800 restaurants and room to grow, Checkers & Rally's is a proven brand with flexible building formats that is aggressively expanding across the country. Checkers & Rally's is dedicated to being a place where franchisees and employees who work hard can create opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. In recent years, the brand has earned several of the industry's most prestigious awards including: "#1 Most Craveable Fries" by Restaurant Business 2020 and 2018; Best Franchise Deal and "Best Drive-Thru in America" by QSR Magazine; Top Food and Beverage Franchise by Franchise Business Review; the "Hot! Again" award from Nation's Restaurant News and has consistently been ranked on Entrepreneur's Franchise 500.

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Subway® Names Jeff Shepherd as Chief Financial Officer



15 Nov, 2023, 09:00 ET


MIAMI, Nov. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Subway, one of the world's largest restaurant brands, today announced the appointment of Jeff Shepherd as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Shepherd will report directly to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Chidsey and oversee Subway's global finance organization, responsible for managing and optimizing the brand's global financial performance and information security. Shepherd succeeds Ben Wells who will retire at the end of the year after a 46-year career. "Jeff has a well-earned reputation for driving strong financial results for global brands, bringing nearly 30 years of financial and accounting experience to our organization," said Subway CEO John Chidsey. "As we welcome Jeff to Subway, we also thank Ben for his significant contributions. Since joining the company in December 2019, Ben has been a key driver of our brand's global financial stability and strategic growth, contributing to 11 consecutive quarters of positive sales results." Most recently, Shepherd served as Executive Vice President and CFO of Advance Auto Parts where he set financial strategy for the business and led the company's finance functions, including controllership and tax, financial planning and analysis, treasury, internal audit, pricing, and strategy. Prior to Advance, Shepherd served as controller for General Motors Europe and held several senior roles within the organization. He also held a series of leadership roles with Ernst & Young where he developed a process for assisting global clients through bankruptcy and led tax remediation efforts. Shepherd holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Central Michigan University with an emphasis in accounting. Shepherd is based in the company's Shelton, Connecticut, headquarters and will work closely with Wells for the remainder of the year to ensure a seamless transition. About Subway® Restaurants As one of the world's largest quick service restaurant brands, Subway serves freshly made-to-order sandwiches, wraps, salads and bowls to millions of guests, across more than 100 countries in nearly 37,000 restaurants every day. Subway restaurants are owned and operated by Subway franchisees – a network that includes thousands of dedicated entrepreneurs and small business owners – who are committed to delivering the best guest experience possible in their local communities. For more Subway news visit: newsroom.subway.com

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Hawaiian Bros Appoints Carin Stutz and Carol DiRaimo to its Board of Directors



14 Nov, 2023, 09:45 ET



Rapidly-growing fast-casual brand welcomes renowned industry leaders to its teamKANSAS CITY, Mo., Nov. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Hawaiian Bros Inc. (HBros), the fast-casual pioneer known for its commitment to island-inspired cuisine and the aloha spirit, proudly announces the addition of two transformative figures, Carin Stutz and Carol DiRaimo, to its Board of Directors. Both Stutz and DiRaimo bring a wealth of experience and accomplishments, highlighting HBros' incredible growth and solid positioning in the fast-casual dining sector. Carin Stutz has an impressive track record, with leadership roles at industry giants like Red Robin, Brinker, Wendy's International, and Applebee's International. Stutz brings board experience from Kura Sushi USA and Checkers & Rally's, and held CEO and President roles at McAlister's, Cosi and Native Foods, solidifying her position as a key figure in the sector. Carol DiRaimo's name resonates strongly within finance and capital markets. With an enviable reputation, she's acclaimed as a top expert in restaurant industry investor relations. She has extensive experience, especially in the public markets domain, at Jack in the Box and Applebee's International, and most recently served on the board of Qdoba. Their previous collaboration at Applebee's was noteworthy, and their reassembly at Hawaiian Bros represents more than just a reunion; it signifies a strategic move for the brand, showcasing its growing prominence in the industry. "Having worked alongside some of the best in the industry, I recognize the immense value Carin and Carol bring," said Scott Ford, President and CEO of Hawaiian Bros. "Their combined expertise is a testament to our commitment to excellence, and their decision to join us further positions Hawaiian Bros as a key player in the fast-casual world." "At Hawaiian Bros, there's a distinctive atmosphere that's steeped in authenticity, growth, and innovation," commented Cameron McNie, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board. "Carin and Carol embody this spirit and their addition marks a momentous occasion in our journey." With Stutz and DiRaimo joining the board, Hawaiian Bros underscores its commitment to industry-leading expertise and growth. As the company aims to end the year with nearly 50 island-inspired restaurants, this move signals to stakeholders that Hawaiian Bros is not only expanding rapidly but is doing so with a focus on excellence, anchored by the essence of Aloha. For more information, visit www.hawaiianbros.com. About Hawaiian Bros At Hawaiian Bros, we're inspired every day to spread the Aloha Spirit. To show kindness and respect, and to treat everyone as 'ohana - like family, in everything we do. Founded on the principles of honor, inclusion and gratitude, we respect the dignity and self-worth of every team member and guest. We value our differences and celebrate our common ground. And we say, "thank you" often, emphasizing the positives in our lives every day. Hawaiian Bros owns and operates over 40 restaurants serving the Aloha spirit in eight states across America, and has expanded its franchise opportunities in 2023. Hawaiian Bros has earned a variety of prestigious awards since their opening in 2018 including a number one spot on the Ingram's Corporate Report of the Top 100 fastest growing companies, and the number seven spot on QSR Magazine's 40/40 List of America's Hottest Startup Fast Casuals, plus many more here. For more information, visit www.hawaiianbros.com.

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Uncle Julio's Announces Leadership Appointments



13 Nov, 2023, 09:00 ET



Scott Lawton Appointed CEO; RJ Thomas Appointed President and Chief Operating OfficerIRVING, Texas, Nov. 13, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Uncle Julio's Restaurant Group ("Uncle Julio's") today announced that it has named Scott Lawton as CEO and RJ Thomas as President and Chief Operating Officer, to lead the company and accelerate its growth. Lawton is a seasoned restaurant executive with more than 20 years of leadership and operational experience. In 2011, he co-founded bartaco, a coastally-inspired restaurant serving upscale street food with 29 locations in 13 states, and he subsequently served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Barteca until its sale to Del Frisco's Restaurant Group in 2018. Lawton re-joined bartaco as CEO after the company was acquired by L Catterton, and he will continue in this role in addition to assuming the responsibilities of CEO of Uncle Julio's. Prior to joining Barteca in 2007, Lawton served as the Chief Operating Officer of Big Time Restaurant Group from 2000 to 2006. "Uncle Julio's commitment to authentic, one-of-kind dining experiences has created an incredibly loyal following and I'm honored to assume the role of CEO," said Lawton. "The company's legacy and culture built around attention to detail in every part of the dining experience will continue to serve as the foundation for Uncle Julio's during this next phase of growth. Bringing a deep commitment to brand building and innovation, I'm excited to leverage my experience at bartaco to create a truly memorable experience for every guest who walks into our restaurants. In partnership with RJ and the entire team, I look forward to leading Uncle Julio's in this next chapter." Thomas brings more than 20 years of restaurant industry leadership experience to Uncle Julio's. Most recently, he served as President and COO of King's Seafood Company, overseeing the operations for all 24 locations. In this role, Thomas implemented several new restaurant concepts, including a new steakhouse restaurant, which generated $13 million of sales in its first year, and reconceptualized the "Water Grill" brand, which opened six new locations and generated $100 million in revenue. Thomas said, "I have long admired Uncle Julio's for its unique take on Mexican dining – making authentic recipes from scratch using the freshest ingredients in a welcoming atmosphere. I'm proud to join Scott and the incredibly talented Uncle Julio's team to help guide the company to continued success by combining great food and great service to drive great experiences." Uncle Julio's was acquired by L Catterton, a leading consumer-focused investment firm, in October 2017. "Throughout their careers, Scott and RJ have established themselves as proven leaders with the vision and operational capabilities necessary to develop and run best-in-class restaurants," said Andrew C. Taub, a Managing Partner in L Catterton's Buyout Fund. "I've seen firsthand the success Scott has had at bartaco, where he has elevated the brand, re-imaged the customer experience, and instilled a culture of excellence. Similarly, RJ has a tremendous track record introducing new concepts and innovating restaurant brands to support growth, while holding his team to the highest standards. We are confident that Scott and RJ will create a new and exciting chapter in the Uncle Julio's story." About Uncle Julio's Uncle Julio's serves made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine, using fresh ingredients and authentic recipes to create its signature taste in everything from mesquite-grilled meats to hand-crafted margaritas. Guests find memorable dining experiences through a welcoming atmosphere and interactive menu. Headquartered in the Dallas, Texas area, the first Uncle Julio's opened in 1986 and continues to expand to define the polished casual Mexican industry. To find a location near you or to peruse the mouth-watering menu, visit UncleJulios.com, or connect with Uncle Julio's on Facebook @UncleJulios and Instagram @UncleJuliosMexican.

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Noodles & Company Announces CEO Transition


Board Director and Industry Vet Drew Madsen Appointed as Interim CEO; Dave Boennighausen Departs the Company

November 10, 2023 08:00 ET


  1. Drew Madsen is appointed Interim CEO effective immediately; is a Board Director at Noodles, and a seasoned leader with deep experience in the restaurant industry

  2. Board announces search for new permanent CEO

  3. Dave Boennighausen to depart the Company as CEO effective immediately BROOMFIELD, Colo., Nov. 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Noodles & Company (Nasdaq: NDLS), today announced that the Board has appointed Noodles Board member Drew Madsen to serve as interim CEO effective immediately. Concurrently, the Board has initiated a comprehensive search for a new permanent CEO to lead the Company into its next phase of growth. Madsen’s appointment follows the decision by the Board to transition to new leadership, resulting in Dave Boennighausen’s departure as the Company's CEO. Mr. Madsen brings a wealth of experience in the restaurant industry to the role of interim CEO. In his recent operating roles, Mr. Madsen was President and Chief Operating Officer at some of the most successful and well-respected businesses in the restaurant industry. Most recently, Mr. Madsen was President of Panera Bread. During his tenure at Panera, Mr. Madsen led the company to industry leadership in clean food, digital sales, and home delivery, combined with significantly improved operations execution and aggressive cost reduction. Mr. Madsen’s professional experience prior to Panera includes fifteen years at Darden. Mr. Madsen was President & Chief Operating Officer for nearly ten years. During his tenure, he helped establish Darden as a successful multi-brand operator in full service dining. In addition, Darden was the first restaurant company to be recognized by Fortune as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” achieving that distinction for three consecutive years. Mr. Madsen has served on the Noodles board since 2017. For nearly ten years, Mr. Madsen was a board member at Darden Restaurants. He previously served as an independent director on the board of Talbots Inc., the specialty retailer of women’s fashion. Jeff Jones, Noodles & Company Board Chairman, commented on the interim CEO appointment, stating, "We are very excited to have Drew step into the interim CEO role and remain on our Board. He is a seasoned executive with a deep understanding of our Company's operations and strategy, and has a successful track record as a leader in the restaurant industry. We have full confidence in his ability to guide the company effectively during this time as we focus on key strategic initiatives to drive top line growth and bottom line results and significantly enhance stockholder value." Mr. Madsen also expressed his commitment to the company during this interim period, saying, "I am honored to take on this role and work with our dedicated employees, partners, and stakeholders while we search for a permanent leader. As interim CEO, I will focus the Noodles team on delivering exceptional experiences to our customers, and effectively implementing the initiatives that drive business growth." Mr. Jones expressed his gratitude for Mr. Boennighausen's contributions to the Company: "On behalf of the Board, we thank Dave for his leadership and dedication to Noodles. He led the Noodles team and navigated the Company through a period of rapid change and market disruption, including during the pandemic. His passion for the Noodles brand is undeniable, he has our full respect, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors." About Noodles & Company Since 1995, Noodles & Company has been serving guests Uncommon Goodness and noodles your way, with noodles and flavors you know and love as well as new ones you’re about to discover. From indulgent Wisconsin Mac & Cheese to better-for-you Zoodles, Noodles serves a world of flavor in every bowl. Made up of more than 450 restaurants and 8,000 passionate team members, Noodles is dedicated to nourishing and inspiring every guest who walks through the door. To learn more or find the location nearest you, visit www.noodles.com.

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Chipotle Names Ilene Eskenazi Chief Human Resources Officer 08 Nov, 2023, 08:13 ET




  1. Company appoints new executives to support its rapid growth and 110,000+ workforce


  1. Lois Alexis-Collins, reporting to Eskenazi, to serve as Chief People Officer, Field OperationsNEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Nov. 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) today announced that it has hired Ilene Eskenazi as its Chief Human Resources Officer. Serving on the Executive Leadership Team, Eskenazi will begin on November 27, and report to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian Niccol. Eskenazi comes to Chipotle from Petco Health and Wellness Company, where she served as Chief Legal and Human Resources Officer, overseeing compensation and benefits, human resources operations, talent management, as well as all legal matters. Prior to that, Eskenazi was the Global General Counsel and Chief Human Resources Officer at Boardriders, Inc. (previously Quiksilver, Inc.). Before that, Eskenazi held the post of Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President of Talent Operations and Performance at True Religion Apparel, Inc. She held senior leadership positions at Red Bull North America, Inc. and The Wonderful Company. "Ilene's vast human resources experience and legal expertise will be instrumental in growing Chipotle's culture of people development and strengthening the organization as a best-in-class employer. This is critical in Chipotle delivering our mission of Cultivating a Better World and growing to 7,000 restaurants," said Niccol. Eskenazi added: "It is an honor to join an industry-leading organization that invests heavily in its purpose-driven workforce. I am eager to deliver on Chipotle's strategic priorities and look forward to positioning the company for even greater success." Lois Alexis-Collins has also joined the Company and will serve as Chief People Officer, Field Operations, reporting to Eskenazi. Collins will play a critical role in supporting Chipotle's 110,000+ restaurant employees. Collins previously served as Vice President of Human Resources at ABM, a facility solutions provider. Before that, Collins held the Vice President of Human Resources title at both Steak and Shake Inc. as well as Ruby Tuesday Inc. Additionally, Collins served in senior talent and people roles with Darden Restaurants and Waffle House Inc. "I am grateful to have the opportunity to join this remarkable company where I can apply my passion for engaging and retaining talent to help build future restaurant leaders," said Alexis-Collins. About Chipotle Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG) is cultivating a better world by serving responsibly sourced, classically-cooked, real food with wholesome ingredients without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Chipotle had over 3,300 restaurants as of September 30, 2023, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany and is the only restaurant company of its size that owns and operates all its restaurants in North America and Europe. Chipotle is ranked on the Fortune 500 and is recognized on the 2023 list for Fortune's Most Admired Companies and Time Magazine's Most Influential Companies. With over 110,000 employees passionate about providing a great guest experience, Chipotle is a longtime leader and innovator in the food industry. Chipotle is committed to making its food more accessible to everyone while continuing to be a brand with a demonstrated purpose as it leads the way in digital, technology and sustainable business practices. For more information or to place an order online, visit WWW.CHIPOTLE.COM.

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Shipley Do-Nuts Appoints Brad Reynolds as CFO



07 Nov, 2023, 13:34 ET

The brand continues growth momentum in Q3 with launch of marketing co-op, new loyalty program, store openings and franchisee signings


HOUSTON, Nov. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Shipley Do-Nuts, one of the nation's oldest and largest do-nut brands, has appointed Brad Reynolds, a seasoned multi-unit restaurant executive who previously served as the CFO at Blaze Pizza and Smashburger, as its new chief financial officer. At Shipley, Reynolds will work with the executive team to help further grow the brand as Shipley experiences record sales and new unit growth. New VP of Operations Chris Smith is also joining the leadership team to support Shipley's growth. Smith has held leadership roles at multiple franchise restaurant brands, including Eskimo Hut, Rave Restaurant Group and Smashburger. He will focus on ensuring franchisees have the necessary tools and support to be highly successful. "We have big goals for Shipley, and Brad's and Chris' experiences with successful franchise systems will be a strategic advantage for us as we focus on building even more new units, increasing shop sales and developing best-in-class operational systems for our franchisees," said Shipley CEO Flynn Dekker. "This is a pivotal time in Shipley's 87-year history as we continue to modernize the brand and expand our footprint across the U.S." In Q3 2023, Shipley launched its first-ever marketing co-op, allowing the brand to market its nearly 350 shops with a unified brand voice to drive sales and awareness as the company grows. The company's other key initiatives in Q3 included the launch of its new loyalty program, Do-Happy Rewards, which has already garnered more than 60,000 members. The brand also grew its online ordering and delivery sales systemwide to record levels, helping Shipley achieve the highest year-to-date annual sales in the company's history. Shipley continues to expand its reach into new markets. The company recently announced a new multiunit development deal in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has opened locations in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Giddings, Texas, in just the last three weeks. By the end of 2023, the brand will have opened over 20 new shops for the year, growing its footprint into 12 total states and leading to another record year of new shop openings. For the first time in company history, Shipley opened territories for development in the Midwest, including Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Ohio, and is actively recruiting franchisees in the Midwest and throughout the Southeast. For more information, visit ownashipleydonuts.com. ABOUT SHIPLEY DO-NUTS Founded in 1936, Houston-based Shipley Do-Nuts is one of the nation's largest do-nut brands with nearly 350 company-owned and franchised restaurants across 12 states, serving up its famous do-nuts, coffee and kolaches to generations of guests. Shipley is ranked No. 131 on Entrepreneur magazine's Franchise 500® 2023 list and No. 1 in its category, and it debuted at No. 209 on the 2023 Franchise Times Top 400. For franchising information, visit ownashipleydonuts.com. Follow Shipley on Instagram and Facebook @ShipleyDonuts.

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CEC ENTERTAINMENT APPOINTS MARK KUPFERMAN AS NEW CHIEF INSIGHTS & MARKETING OFFICER FOR CHUCK E. CHEESE BRAND



06 Nov, 2023, 09:03 ET



Kupferman brings more than three decades of transformative brand & data-driven marketing expertise in family entertainment and restaurants to the Company.IRVING, Texas, Nov. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- CEC Entertainment, LLC., announced today the appointment of marketing veteran Mark Kupferman to the position of Chief Insights and Marketing Officer for the Company's flagship brand, Chuck E. Cheese, and its virtual kitchen brands, including Pasqually's Pizza & Wings along with overall enterprise responsibility for all insights and research. Kupferman is a marketing leader with expertise in brand development, digital media, menu innovation, and in leading high-performing teams to deliver transformational growth throughout his career. "I am thrilled to have Mark join CEC Entertainment to lead the marketing strategy for the world's largest family entertainment center brand, Chuck E Cheese." said David McKillips, President and CEO of CEC Entertainment. "His proven expertise and success across the restaurant and family entertainment business is a perfect complement with the most aggressive brand transformation in the Company's history." Kupferman will lead all marketing functions, menu innovation, communications, as well as the brand's digital marketing and consumer journey initiatives. He will be responsible for developing and executing strategies that position Chuck E. Cheese for long-term growth, both domestically and internationally.  Additionally, he will oversee the entire Company's insights and research responsibilities. "Chuck E. Cheese is an iconic brand and I am truly honored for the opportunity to join the amazing team and lead the brand for the next generation of fans," said Mark Kupferman. "The Chuck E. Cheese brand potential is unlimited. I look forward to working with the entire CEC Entertainment Team and franchise community to build and accelerate the brand's momentum in the years to come." Kupferman comes to Chuck E. Cheese with more than 25 years of marketing strategy, media, advertising, and brand experience. Most recently, he was Chief Commercial Officer at Ruth's Chris Steak House and worked prior as the Senior Vice President of Consumer & Guest Experience at Six Flags Entertainment, where he built the industry's most successful membership program.  Prior to Six Flags, Mark led the research and insights Teams at Universal Orlando and Paramount Parks. Kupferman will be based at the CEC Entertainment corporate support center in Irving, Texas. He has advanced degrees from Yale University and Wake Forest University; and received his bachelor's degree from Northeastern University. He and his wife Elizabeth currently reside in Grapevine, TX. About CEC Entertainment, LLC. CEC Entertainment, LLC. is the nationally recognized leader in family entertainment and dining with its Chuck E. Cheese, Peter Piper Pizza brands and virtual kitchen concept, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings. Chuck E. Cheese is the place where half a million happy birthdays are celebrated every year, and where positive, lifelong memories for families are made through fun, food, and play. It's the place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid® with a commitment to providing a fun, safe environment, and helping to protect families through industry-leading programs such as Kid Check®. As a strong advocate for its local communities, Chuck E. Cheese has donated more than $20 million to schools through its fundraising programs. Peter Piper Pizza features dining, entertainment and carryout with a neighborhood pizzeria feel and "pizza made fresh, families made happy" culture. Peter Piper Pizza takes pride in delivering quality food and fun that reconnects family and friends. Created in 2020, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings offers a distinct, customized eating experience outside of a restaurant environment that amplifies classic pizza and wings and operates out of 400 ghost locations nationwide. The Company and its franchisees operate a system of nearly 600 Chuck E. Cheese fun centers and more than 120 Peter Piper Pizza venues, with locations in 47 states and 19 foreign countries and territories. For more information, visit chuckecheese.com, pasquallyspizza.com, and peterpiperpizza.com.

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Eggs Up Grill Appoints Stsiapanau Vice President of Operations

November 3, 2023


Spartanburg, SC  (RestaurantNews.com)  Eggs Up Grill, a rapidly expanding breakfast, brunch and lunch concept, has named Mira Stsiapanau vice president of operations and training. In her role, Mira will lead Eggs Up Grill’s field support team, the Brand’s training function and its flagship restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C. The new appointment comes as Eggs Up Grill continues to build out its best-in-class franchise support capabilities during a record-breaking year for the business. Eggs Up Grill is on track to open more than 30 new locations through year-end 2024 and has a development pipeline of 150 additional restaurants committed to open. “The strength of our Brand is built through the magnetic attraction each restaurant generates with team members and guests in every neighborhood we call home,” said Ricky Richardson, CEO of Eggs Up Grill.  “From our great-tasting food and drinks, our compelling everyday value and our ‘eggstraordinarily’ friendly service, we obsess around ensuring every restaurant upholds Eggs Up Grill’s well-earned, one-of-a-kind reputation. “To deliver these experiences throughout our growing system, we’re passionate about providing every franchise owner with the training, support systems and resources needed to help enable their continued success. With Mira’s extensive experience in operations and training, she will be a key leader in enabling our ongoing growth,” he added. Stsiapanau joins Eggs Up Grill from Denny’s where she spent six years as a senior district manager successfully leading a network of company-operated locations. She began her restaurant career as a regional training manager in the Popeyes system, and over her years in the industry has established a compelling track record of accomplishments in developing teams, a leadership pipeline and propelling business results. “I’m very excited to join this established and rapidly expanding brand, continuing the ongoing improvements to its top notch-operations and training programs. It’s energizing to have a front-row seat to the big growth opportunities that are ahead,” said Stsiapanau. With restaurants across the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and soon entering Texas, Mississippi and Ohio, Eggs Up Grill offers a unique experience for guests and franchise partners alike. Its great-tasting food and drinks, uniquely friendly service and everyday affordability make Eggs Up Grill a number-one choice for guests. About Eggs Up Grill Eggs Up Grill is home to the whole neighborhood and has been serving smiles for more than 25 years. The aromas of freshly brewed coffee, savory bacon and hand-cracked, farm-fresh eggs and juicy burgers on the griddle, and warm, attentive team members will make you feel right at home. We are “neighbors serving neighbors” daily from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ranked as the No. 1 breakfast franchise by Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500® three years in a row, Eggs Up Grill is experiencing record growth. Founded in Pawleys Island, S.C., Eggs Up Grill now has 68 locations open, with a region-wide presence approaching 200 Eggs Up Grills open, under development or committed to open by local franchise partners. For more information, visit eggsupgrillfranchise.com.

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El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. Announces Leadership Transition Plan

November 02, 2023 16:05 ET



Laurance Roberts to Leave El Pollo Loco After 10 Years of Service as CEO and CFO

Chief Operating Officer Maria Hollandsworth Named Interim President and CEO

Company Has Initiated a Search for a New CEO COSTA MESA, Calif., Nov. 02, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (“El Pollo Loco” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: LOCO), the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain, today announced that Laurance Roberts is leaving his position as President, CEO and Director after more than 10 years at the Company. To ensure a smooth transition, Mr. Roberts will continue to provide consulting services to the Company through December 28, 2023. The Board has engaged a nationally recognized executive search firm to identify a new Chief Executive Officer. While this process continues, Maria Hollandsworth, El Pollo Loco’s Chief Operating Officer, will assume the role of Interim President and CEO. Her appointment will help facilitate a seamless leadership transition until a new CEO is appointed. “Larry has been an instrumental part of El Pollo Loco’s history as a public company, from serving as our CFO during our initial public offering in 2014 to leading the Company as our CEO for the past two years”, said William Floyd, Chairman of the El Pollo Loco Board. “On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Larry for his leadership and valuable contributions to El Pollo Loco over the past 10 years. It has been a privilege to work with Larry and we wish him the best.” Mr. Roberts stated, “Being part of El Pollo Loco has been the highlight of my career, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together during my time with the Company. I look forward to working with Maria, the rest of the management team and the Board of Directors through the end of the year to ensure the Company is well-positioned for the future.” Ms. Hollandsworth commented, “I am pleased to be named Interim President and CEO of El Pollo Loco and look forward to working closely with the Board and our senior leadership team to continue to drive our strong brand forward.” Mr. Floyd continued, “Maria is a seasoned veteran with over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry. With extensive operational experience across multiple franchised, quick-service brands, we believe Maria is well suited to step into the role of Interim President and CEO. During her tenure at the Company, Maria has put the customer at the forefront of everything we do while driving significant operational improvements. She has been vital in creating our strategic vision and we are excited for her to lead this brand forward. The Board and management team are committed to ensuring a smooth transition, and I look forward to working closely with Maria throughout this process.” About Maria Hollandsworth Before joining El Pollo Loco in November 2022, Ms. Hollandsworth was the Regional Vice President of Operations for Dunkin’, a division of multi-brand restaurant company Inspire Brands, Inc. During her tenure, she worked closely with Dunkin’ franchisees to establish and execute a strategic market plan. She also led the leadership team in building strong relationships with franchisee leaders and increasing profitability through a culture of trust, respect, and improved guest satisfaction. Prior to Inspire, Ms. Hollandsworth worked for over 20 years at Jack in the Box, most recently serving as the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Operations Services from 2013 to 2018, where she successfully executed the creation and implementation of enterprise-wide strategic initiatives across over 2,000 restaurants. Prior to this role, Ms. Hollandsworth held leadership roles in both company and franchise operations at Jack in the Box. About El Pollo Loco El Pollo Loco (Nasdaq:LOCO) is the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant with a mission to bring people together around food, family, and culture in the communities it serves. El Pollo Loco is renowned for its handcrafted food, an innovative blend of traditional Mexican cuisine and better-for-you eating, that Los Angeles is known for. Since 1980, El Pollo Loco has successfully opened and maintained over 490 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana while remaining true to its Mexican-American heritage. El Pollo Loco continues to grow and evolve, nourishing connections to tradition, culture, and one another through fire-grilled goodness that makes us feel like familia. For more information, visit us at ElPolloLoco.com.

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Scooter’s Coffee Names Joe Thornton as Next CEO

November 2, 2023


Continued rapid growth remains at the forefront as company transitions to new leadership Omaha, NE  (RestaurantNews.com)  Scooter’s Coffee, recognized as one of the fastest-growing franchise systems in the U.S., and best known for its amazingly fast drive-thru and specialty coffee, announced that Joe Thornton will be appointed Chief Executive Officer of Scooter’s Coffee, effective January 1, 2024. Thornton currently serves as the company’s President and will succeed Todd Graeve, who will retire after serving as CEO since 2016 and after nearly two decades in the Scooter’s coffee business. “Joe has been a blessing for our business since joining as President. He’s an exceptionally experienced leader in the restaurant, franchise and retail industry, and I know Joe is the right leader for us in our next acceleration of growth,” said Don Eckles, Co-Founder and Chairman of Scooter’s Coffee, LLC. The remainder of 2023 will serve as a transitional period for Thornton and Graeve. “I am honored to continue the leadership legacy and lead Scooter’s Coffee into the future in support of our franchisees and employees. The family roots, core values and stability of this company are unmatched,” said Thornton. “I knew this company was special from the moment that I arrived, and I have a deep commitment to ensure that we continue to build an enduring brand.” Thornton has 40 years of leadership experience in large-scale operations, strategy and human resources at some of the most prominent industry-leading companies, including most recently as Chief Operating Officer at HMSHost and, prior to that, Chief Operating Officer at Jamba Juice. Thornton also spent 25 years combined at Starbucks and Blockbuster in executive leadership roles earlier in his career. As the company looks ahead to a strong future with Thornton leading the growth and changes on the horizon, the co-founders also recognize and are appreciative of the path built over the last 25 years. “During this exciting time and planned transition, I also must acknowledge the incredible impact Todd had on the company. We wouldn’t be where we are today without him,” said Eckles. “He always walked with integrity and was vigilant about protecting the company’s core values as we grew. Every brand says they will maintain their core values as they grow but often lose their way somehow.” Graeve joined Scooter’s Coffee in 2005 as a franchisee and developer in Kansas City, alongside his business partners. In 2008, he joined the leadership team at the company as Chief Financial Officer of Scooter’s Coffee. He served as CFO for eight years, before transitioning to CEO in April 2016. “Almost 20 years ago, I started on this journey at Scooter’s Coffee as a franchisee, and I’m so excited to circle back to my beginnings and help my family with their Scooter’s Coffee franchise journey,” said Graeve. “I will always treasure my time as CFO, CEO and a franchisee, and I will be rooting loudly from the sidelines as this company continues to build on its greatness.” “We have really built something special here,” said Eckles. “We have done things that no one thought we would and have surpassed everything we ever imagined with Todd at the helm. Now, with Joe leading the way next, I’m very excited for the future. And, extremely grateful for the past.” About Scooter’s Coffee Founded in 1998 by Don and Linda Eckles in Bellevue, Nebraska, Scooter’s Coffee uses only the finest coffee beans in the world, which are roasted by its affiliated company, Harvest Roasting, in Omaha, Nebraska. In over 25 years of business, the key to Scooter’s Coffee’s success is simple: stay committed to the original business principles and company’s four core values, which are Integrity, Love, Humility and Courage. The Scooter’s Coffee Brand Promise, often recited to franchisees, customers and employees, is: “Amazing People, Amazing Drinks… Amazingly Fast!®” It represents the company’s business origins and reflects a steady commitment to providing an unforgettable experience to loyal and new customers. Scooter’s Coffee, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2023, is at the dawn of a strategic growth phase nationwide. Its network is approaching 750 stores in 30 states, and the company plans to have more than 1,000 stores open by the end of 2024. Scooter’s Coffee ranked #13 on Yelp’s 2023 list of 50 Most Loved Brands in the U.S. and ranked #3 on Franchise Times Fast & Serious 40 Smartest-Growing Franchises in 2023. Scooter’s Coffee is striving to become the #1 drive-thru specialty coffee franchise system in the nation. For more information, visit visit scooterscoffee.com or call 877-494-7004. To connect with Scooter’s Coffee, visit Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or X (formerly Twitter) and share your favorite moments by tagging @scooterscoffee using the hashtag #ScootOnAround.

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TGI Fridays Names Weldon Spangler as Chief Executive Officer

October 31, 2023


Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  Weldon Spangler, a longtime TGI Fridays board member and highly experienced restaurant executive, has been appointed CEO of TGI Fridays, effective immediately. He succeeds Brandon Coleman, who has resigned for personal reasons. Mr. Spangler will lead implementation of the growth plan to revitalize the iconic brand on a global scale. There are currently 700 TGI Fridays restaurants in 51 countries offering high quality American food and drinks. Mr. Spangler brings extensive background in the restaurant industry and his impressive career spans over 30 years of experience, during which he has built a reputation for his unwavering focus on customer experience, store operations, and marketing with successful tenures at Subway, Papa Murphy’s, Dunkin’ Brands, and Starbucks. This change in leadership marks a pivotal moment in TGI Fridays’ history. With Mr. Spangler at the helm, TGI Fridays is poised to put in place its new strategic plan for growth, innovation, and excellence. Rohit Manocha, Co-Founder of TriArtisan Capital, a New York-based private equity firm and the controlling shareholder of TGI Fridays with extensive experience in the restaurant sector, will continue to collaborate closely with Mr. Spangler and the dedicated team at TGI Fridays in his role as the active Chairman of the company. Mr. Spangler commented about his appointment, “I thank Rohit and the board for their trust in me and look forward to working closely with the board on executing on our new growth-oriented business plan focused on revitalizing TGI Fridays. We are a well-loved brand around the world, which is a strong foundation on which to build our business and brand.” About TGI Fridays As the world’s first casual bar and grill, TGI Fridays® is the birthplace of fun, freedom, and celebration, bringing people together to socialize and experience “That Fridays Feeling™” – a sense of celebrating the fun in everyday moments, big and small. For over 50 years, Fridays® has been lifting spirits around the world with nearly 700 restaurants in 51 countries, serving high-quality, classic American food and iconic drinks backed by authentic and genuine service. Visit www.Fridays.com for more information and join Fridays Rewards®. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. About TriArtisan Capital Advisors TriArtisan Capital Advisors is an established, New York-based private equity investing firm. TriArtisan’s flexible institutional capital allows it to invest in companies requiring a broad range of investment needs. In each of its investments, TriArtisan partners with high quality management teams and founders to support them in achieving returns for its institutional and management partners. For more information, please visit the firm’s website at www.triartisan.com.

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Playa Bowls Amplifies Leadership Team With Appointment of Nicolle Dubose as New Chief Marketing Officer



23 Oct, 2023, 12:08 ET <,div class="row">


Nation's Leading Superfruit Bowl Shop Hires Industry Veteran to Continue Positive Momentum and Expand Market ReachBELMAR, N.J., Oct. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Playa Bowls, the nation's leading superfruit bowl shop specializing in bowls such as acai, pitaya, mango, green and coconut bowls, smoothies, juices, cold brew and more, announced today the strategic appointment of Nicolle DuBose as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). As CMO, DuBose will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Playa Bowls' marketing efforts, including brand strategy, digital marketing, social media, and customer engagement initiatives. "DuBose has an impressive record in marketing in the franchise and restaurant industry and is a critical addition to our executive leadership team as we look to drive the brand to new heights," said Dan Harmon, CEO of Playa Bowls. "Throughout her career, DuBose has proven to be an innovative thinker and we know she will be instrumental in elevating Playa Bowls' presence as we look to connect with even more guests who are looking for nutritious food options. We're delighted to add her to the Playa Bowls team." With more than 20 years of marketing experience in the food and beverage industry, DuBose's strategic thinking, creativity, and results-driven approach has made her a respected figure in the field. She is well-known for her ability to develop and execute marketing strategies that resonate with consumers and drive business growth. Most recently, DuBose was the Vice President and Head of Marketing for Schlotzsky's at Focus Brands. Prior to that role, DuBose led marketing efforts for additional brands under the Focus umbrella including Carvel, Cinnabon, and Moe's Southwest Grill. DuBose succeeds Playa Bowls' Co-Founder Abby Taylor, who will remain engaged in the business as Chief Branding Officer and continue to play a critical role in Playa Bowls' marketing efforts. "I am honored to join Playa Bowls as Chief Marketing Officer," said Nicolle DuBose. "I have long admired the brand's commitment to promoting healthy and active lifestyles while delivering flavorful superfruit bowls, smoothies and more. I look forward to working with the talented team at Playa Bowls to further strengthen the brand's position in the market and create memorable experiences for our customers." Since its inception in 2014, Playa Bowls has emerged as a leader in the national superfruit bowl shop segment. Today, the brand has over 200 shops systemwide, operating in 22 states. To learn more about Playa Bowls, visit PlayaBowls.com and follow the superfruit bowl shop on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok. For more information on franchising, please visit playabowls.com/franchise. Nicolle DuBose's headshot and Playa Bowls' images can be found here. About Playa Bowls Known as New Jersey's original acai bowl shop, Playa Bowls is the nation's leading superfruit bowl shop serving up an extensive and unique menu of over 40 items including the bright flavors of acai, pitaya, mango, green and coconut bowls alongside oatmeal bowls, juices, smoothies, and cold brew made with the freshest, high-quality ingredients. What began as a pair of blenders, a patio table, and a fridge in 2014 has flourished into more than 200 shops nationwide that operate in 22 states, thousands of employees, and a mission to lead communities in healthy, sustainable living. The rapidly growing franchise has received numerous accolades including Forbes 30 Under 30, Fast Casual's Top 100 Movers & Shakers, QSR Young Leaders to Watch, and finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Visit playabowls.com for additional information and stay connected on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok.

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Angry Chickz Taps Mike LaRue to Begin Franchising

October 23, 2023


Popular SoCal chicken brand welcomes VP of Franchise Development to spearhead expansion Los Angeles, CA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Angry Chickz opened its doors five years ago in a 900-square-foot storefront in Hollywood. After rapidly growing to 24 units, the popular brand is now ready to spread its wings and begin franchising operations with its new Vice President of Franchise Development, Mike LaRue. An acclaimed industry veteran, LaRue has successfully launched franchise systems for multiple brands throughout his 20-year career.  After seeing the infinite potential and passion behind Angry Chickz, LaRue chose to partner with the brand and take its expansion efforts to the next level. “What makes Angry Chickz  stand out is there’s an amazing backstory and the goal is to provide an experience that people can feel,” said LaRue. “With my next partnership, I wanted to be a part of creating something that franchisees can believe in, something bigger than just offering a great product with strong unit economics.  The brand already has delicious food to appeal to consumers nationwide, and launching a franchise model that feels different is going to be special. I’m grateful to be a part of an exciting new era.” With the addition of LaRue and the launch of its franchising model, Angry Chickz is poised to share its mouth-watering Nashville Hot Chicken with entrepreneurs and investors passionate about making an impact in the communities they serve. The brand’s initial growth has been rapid, and the partnership with LaRue is expected to accelerate its presence nationwide. “We’re thrilled to welcome Mike to our team and begin our next phase of expansion,” said Founder and CEO David Mkhitaryan. “Mike’s extensive experience and commitment to driving growth align perfectly with our vision for Angry Chickz. Together, we’re excited to bring the life changing hot chicken to new communities and offer a taste of our unique flavors and unmatched customer service.” As the franchise development process begins, Angry Chickz is actively seeking multi-unit operators interested in developing markets across the United States. With a proven track record of growth and a cult following, Angry Chickz offers a compelling vehicle for potential franchisees looking to be a part of something fun, profitable and different, where the incredible business model is the result of putting people and culture first. To learn more about Angry Chickz, visit angrychickz.com. About Angry Chickz Angry Chickz is a renowned Nashville hot chicken brand that has taken California by storm. Founded by David Mkhitaryan in 2018, Angry Chickz has become a go-to destination for food enthusiasts seeking bold, flavorful, spicy fried chicken. With its roots in a 900-square-foot storefront in LA’s East Hollywood Neighborhood, Angry Chickz quickly gained a devoted following by serving the best hot chicken with unmatched customer service. Driven by a passion for spice and a commitment to great culinary experiences, Founder David Mkhitaryan meticulously crafted the perfect recipe for its signature spicy chicken tenders. This dedication led to the opening of the first Angry Chickz location, capturing the hearts and taste buds of chicken lovers across California. For more information, visit angrychickz.com.

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