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Executive Movements - October 2021










Marco's Pizza® Hires 25-Year Pizza Veteran John King as Senior VP of Operations

Leading Pizza Franchise Adds Seasoned Industry Leader to Executive Team



Oct 13, 2021, 09:08 ET



TOLEDO, Ohio, Oct. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Marco's Pizza, one of the nation's fastest-growing pizza brands, announces the hiring of John King as Senior VP of Operations. Coming from an impressive background in operations, finance, and development, specific to the pizza industry, King looks to utilize his expertise to help streamline Marco's in-store operations and help stores continually deliver a five-star guest experience. He brings more than two decades worth of senior leadership experience with a focus in practical operations, finance and analytics. This combined with his people-first mentality brings immense value to the Marco's executive leadership team.



King spent most of his career at Domino's Pizza, working his way from up from accounting/assistant controller to national Vice President of Franchise Operations throughout his 25-year tenure. During this time, he learned all the vital ins-and-outs of business, from finances to operations, and contributed to the franchise's overall growth. At the time of his departure from Domino's Pizza, he was directing the operations of more than 6,000 stores across the United States before joining Donatos Pizza as Chief Operating Officer. In this role, he managed company-wide operations, business development and innovation practices.


"I am looking forward to applying my operations knowledge and leadership experience in this new role, placing added value on company culture to influence performance," shared King. "Marco's is on track to becoming the fourth largest pizza brand in the country and I am eager to utilize my category experience to accelerate company-wide success in achieving that goal."

King reports to Executive VP and Chief of Operations Tim Brown, a 40-year veteran of the pizza business. King is responsible for franchise operations and development initiatives for non-Area Representative areas and serves as a member of Marco's Executive Team.

"John's resume speaks for itself, and his values align with those of the Marco's brand," said Brown. "I am confident that he is the right person for this role and will be a strong asset in attaining our short and long-term goals as we continue to scale nationwide."

An established brand, Marco's is growing at an explosive rate – on track to expand its 1,000-plus unit footprint in 2021 by more than 10% over the prior year. Marco's is seeing record-breaking sales and continues to innovate and pilot new programs to build off this successful momentum.

Marco's provides a strong operations team and full development support system, including technology and tools to help identify the right territories for expansion plus expertise in financing, real estate, construction management and field operations, to assist franchisees and multi-unit operators. Marco's proven performance coupled with high-tier franchise support has resulted in eager and sophisticated entrepreneurs and multi-unit operators flocking to the franchise opportunity.

Opening a new store every three and a half days on average, the Top 50% of its franchised stores generated $1,059,574 AUV for 2020*. For more information on Marco's Pizza franchise opportunities, visit www.marcosfranchising.com or call 866-731-8209.

ABOUT MARCO'S PIZZA  Marco's Pizza is America's Most Loved and Most Trusted Pizza Brand, according to the 2019 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study. Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Marco's Pizza is one of the fastest-growing pizza companies in the United States. Marco's was founded in 1978 by Italian-born Pasquale ("Pat") Giammarco and thrives by making authentic Italian quality pizza with fresh ingredients. The company has grown from its roots as a beloved Ohio brand to operate over 1,000 stores in 34 states with locations in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Most recently, Marco's Pizza was ranked No. 2 in the Pizza category on Entrepreneur Magazine's 2020 "Franchise 500" ranking, and No. 6 in the Largest Pizza Chain category on Restaurant Business' 2020 "Top 500 Chains" ranking. Other recent accolades include ranking No. 4 in Forbes 2019 "Best Franchises to Buy" Small/Medium Investment and ranking five consecutive years on Nation's Restaurant News' prestigious "Top 200" ranking.

*Based on the Average Unit Volume of the top 50% of our Franchised Stores for fiscal year 2020. Based on fiscal year 2020, 142 of 369 Franchised Stores in the category (38%) met or exceeded this average. This information appears in Item 19 of our 2021 FDD – please refer to our FDD for complete information on financial performance. Results may differ. There is no assurance that any franchisee will perform as well.

View source version at Marco's Pizza



CKE Restaurants Strengthens Operating Structure, Announces Management Promotions


John Dunion, 25-Year Company Veteran, Promoted to Chief Operating Officer

Brian Cassidy Promoted to Senior Vice President – Carl’s Jr. Operations

Todd Huetinck Promoted to Senior Vice President – Supply Chain



October 12, 2021 10:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time


FRANKLIN, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (CKE), owner, operator and franchisor of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, recently announced a new operating structure that combines restaurant operations and supply chain under John Dunion, a 25-year company veteran. The new structure drives focus on brand operations, accountability, ownership and execution across the U.S. business.

“John knows our business inside and out, has an excellent rapport with our franchisees and will continue to elevate operational excellence throughout the CKE system.”

“John is an excellent leader with a penchant for team building and moxie for driving successful business outcomes,” said Chief Executive Officer Ned Lyerly. “John knows our business inside and out, has an excellent rapport with our franchisees and will continue to elevate operational excellence throughout the CKE system.”

Most recently, Dunion served as CKE’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. He joined the company in 1996 as vice president of purchasing and was promoted to senior vice president of purchasing two years later. Dunion has held progressive management roles in the company, including chief administrative officer. Before joining CKE, Dunion held management roles at Unigate Restaurants, Jack in the Box and Taco Bell Corporation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Pennsylvania State University.

“I look forward to maximizing my operational discipline and supply chain expertise to support the company’s future growth,” said Dunion. “We have a talented team across operations and supply chain, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with them as we take the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands to the next level.”

The company announced additional promotions to further round out the new operations structure. Brian Cassidy has been named senior vice president – Carl’s Jr. operations overseeing both company and franchise operations for the Carl’s Jr. brand. Cassidy joined CKE in 2017 as vice president of operations and has since been key to the brand’s success. Prior to joining CKE, Cassidy owned and operated his own restaurant and led operations for some of the top QSR brands. He holds a dual degree in Business and Culinary Arts from the International Culinary Academy.

Todd Huetinck has been named senior vice president of supply chain management with a focus on food and packaging purchasing in addition to oversight of distribution and quality assurance. He has deep experience in sourcing, food safety, supplier quality management and continuous quality improvement. Todd started his career at CKE in 2006 as a senior food technologist and has held progressive management positions in the company. He has an MBA in Supply Chain Management from California State University – San Bernardino.

About CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.

CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. (“CKE”) is a privately held company based in Franklin, Tennessee. CKE, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, owns and operates Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s®, two beloved regional brands, known for one-of-a-kind premium and innovative menu items such as 100 percent Black Angus Thickburgers®, Made from Scratch™ Biscuits and Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders™. With both a US and international footprint, Carl’s Jr. Restaurants LLC and Hardee’s Restaurants LLC have over 3,800 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 43 foreign countries and U.S. territories. For more information about CKE, please visit www.ckr.com or its brand sites at www.carlsjr.com and www.hardees.com.

View source version at CKE


Farmer Boys Appoints New Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer

October 12, 2021


Joe Adney To Continue Advancing Brand Strategy And Marketing Efforts

Riverside, CA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Farmer Boys®, the Southern California-based fast casual restaurant chain known for its award-winning burgers and exceptional service, has appointed restaurant industry veteran Joe Adney to serve as the concept’s new Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

In this role, Adney will lead marketing, menu innovation, advertising, and the brands digital marketing efforts.

Adney brings 30 years’ experience in leading marketing teams and a proven track record of driving results through data driven innovation, cross-functional collaboration, and developing strategic partnerships. He most recently held the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Black Bear Diner and has led highly successful teams at Shari’s Cafe + Pies, Baskin-Robbins, IHOP Corp., Disney and Bob Evans Restaurants.

“Farmer Boys is known for its exceptional customer service and deep-rooted hospitality,” said Adney. “I am pleased to join a team and brand that values food quality and customer experience so highly.”

“Adney has vast experience working with national and locally-recognized concepts and consulting firms, and we’re very excited for his passion and expertise to enhance the growth of Farmer Boys,” said Dave Wetzel, President and COO of Farmer Boys.

The appointment comes alongside the announcement that Farmer Boys’ current Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Larry Rusinko, has retired after 6 and a half years with the company and nearly 30 years of leading high-performing teams and enabling growth in the restaurant industry.

For 40 years, Farmer Boys has set the standard for serving high quality, farm fresh food in a fast casual setting. The menu consists of award-winning burgers, cooked-to-order breakfast served all day, hand-chopped salads, specialty sandwiches, and more, all prepared with quality ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible. Produce is delivered fresh and whole to each restaurant every morning, meaning it doesn’t sit in a warehouse for weeks and can be enjoyed at its pinnacle of crispness and flavor. By going the extra mile for delicious, flavorful food, Farmer Boys’ guests can count on fresh, cooked-to-order meals every time they visit.

To learn more about Farmer Boys, view their menu of farm fresh fare, or find the restaurant nearest you, visit www.farmerboys.com and follow the brand at @FarmerBoysFood on Instagram and Facebook, and @FarmerBoys on Twitter. Farmer Boys fans are encouraged to download the Very Important Farmer (VIF) app to enjoy personalized offers, birthday treats, early alerts about new menu launches, and information on local events. Farmer Boys’ VIF app is available in the App Store and Google Play.

About Farmer Boys®

Celebrating 40 years of farm fresh, Farmer Boys® is a farm-to-table fast casual restaurant chain serving award-winning burgers and all-day breakfast, stacked sandwiches, hand-chopped salads, and signature hand-breaded zucchini sticks and colossal onion rings™. At Farmer Boys, Farm Food Ain’t Fast Food®. Farmer Boys is annually recognized with ‘Best Of’ food awards, voted by consumers who value generous portions of farm fresh food at a fair price. The burger concept has also been recognized by notable industry publications, including being named one of Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers & Shakers. Farmer Boys currently operates restaurants in California, Nevada, and Arizona. For more information, visit www.farmerboys.com.

View source version at Farmer Boys


Zaxby’s Promotes Keith Anderkin to New Position as Chief Supply Chain Officer

October 12, 2021


Former vice president joins QSR executive leadership team

Athens, GA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Zaxby’s, the premium quick-service restaurant chain known for its chicken fingers, wings, and signature sauces, announces the promotion of Keith Anderkin to the newly created position of chief supply chain officer. Anderkin started at Zaxby’s as vice president of supply chain and quality assurance in June 2020. He is the first chief supply chain officer in Zaxby’s 31-year history.

“My goal is to help lay the foundation for a world-class supply chain that will sustain Zaxby’s mission for years to come to support growth and help establish Zaxby’s as a franchisor of choice,” said Anderkin.

During his tenure at Zaxby’s, Anderkin has developed a team that focuses on executing strategic objectives in both the development of new stores as well as the management of different categories.

Anderkin joined Zaxby’s amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that changed consumer behavior and impacted the way restaurants do business. Not only did Anderkin lead the supply chain team to keep Zaxby’s strong during challenging times, but he also managed to keep sales numbers high when other brands were struggling. With over 25 years of experience, Anderkin has a wealth of industry knowledge that he brings to the table every day for Zaxby’s.

Prior to joining Zaxby’s, Anderkin worked for several successful restaurant brands, including Long John Silver’s, Arby’s, and Fazoli’s. He was instrumental in driving sales growth and creating efficiencies across the supply chain.

“Keith always shows up as a servant leader and is a very positive influence within the organization, constantly striving to develop and mentor his team,” said Zaxby’s Chief Operating Officer David Waters. “His ability to foster relationships with vendors and franchisees is key to maintaining the culture of Zaxby’s brand.”

About Zaxby’s

Founded in 1990, Zaxby’s is still led by founder Zach McLeroy. The brand 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


MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes Announces the Promotion of Natalie Anderson Liu to EVP of Brand

October 11, 2021


Anderson Liu has provided critical ongoing support throughout the pandemic and across eight years serving MOOYAH’s Franchise Owners.

Plano, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes – the nearly 90-unit fast-casual “better burger” franchise concept – has elevated one of the brand’s top executives, Natalie Anderson Liu, to a new role as EVP of Brand.

“Under Natalie’s leadership through the difficulties of 2020 and 2021, she has done an inspiring job leading the MOOYAH system to adjust and support our Franchise Owners’ needs to help them thrive in their local markets,” said MOOYAH CEO Anand Gala. “Natalie will continue to be responsible for all aspects of marketing, supply chain, as well as determining the new channels to continue our growth, and how best to drive these channels. She will also further her involvement in the overall long-term strategy of the business and work closely bringing these plans to life for the benefit of the brand and its Franchise Owners.”

Anderson Liu, who most recently served as MOOYAH’s Vice President of Brand for five years and nearly three years as Director of Marketing before that, will now serve as Executive Vice President of Brand.

“I’m so grateful for the professional growth opportunities I’ve had working alongside our Franchise Owners and the incredible professionals on the MOO Crew Support Center team,” Anderson Liu said. “I appreciate this promotion and recognition from our CEO Anand Gala and the Board and will continue to lead the Marketing and Supply Chain teams to achieve the positive results we’ve committed to our Franchise Owners. MOOYAH has been a home to me for the last eight years, and the momentum we’re experiencing now is tremendous. I’m proud of how far we’ve come and excited for what’s ahead!”

Under Anderson Liu’s leadership, MOOYAH’s sales during the pandemic have improved at a rate of 14% over industry average and 5.5% over the fast-casual segment in 2020, and she has helped grow comparable same-store sales by 32% from 2013 to 2021.

In 2015, when Anderson Liu was Director of Marketing, she led the launch of an app-based loyalty program with Punchh, growing to more than 500,000 members by Q1 2021 and maintaining 14% loyalty transactions across the brand.

In 2019, she spearheaded the development of a new brand prototype with Madrid-based firm, Livit. She has played a pivotal role in planning all new builds and renovations that have occurred over the past eight years.

As the brand enters the final quarter of 2021, MOOYAH is prioritizing new market expansion. In recent years, MOOYAH has been growing rapidly in markets across the country and shows no signs of slowing down. Most recently, the brand opened locations in Upland, CaliforniaBaton Rouge, LouisianaSacramento, California; Winter Park, Florida; and Colleyville and Abilene, Texas. Now, the Plano, Texas-based company is looking for qualified prospects to help keep this momentum going.

Looking ahead, the MOOYAH Leadership Team has immediate development plans throughout the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, California and Arizona, but also anticipates growth in other key markets including Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Tampa, Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville, Orlando and Richmond.

For more information on MOOYAH, please visit http://www.MOOYAH.com. Connect with MOOYAH on Facebook.com/MOOYAH, follow MOOYAH on LinkedIn, Twitter @MOOYAHburgers and Instagram @MOOYAHburgers, and TikTok @mooyahburgers.

For franchising opportunities, please visit franchise.mooyah.com.

About MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes is a fast-casual, “better burger” concept offering mouthwatering made-to-order burgers, French fries hand cut from Idaho potatoes, and real ice cream shakes. Founded in 2007, the Plano, Texas-based company serves fresh, 100% Certified Angus Beef® brand burgers, all natural turkey burgers and Dr. Praeger’s black bean vegan burgers. MOOYAH’s non-GMO potato and multigrain buns are baked in-house daily, and Guests can choose from five real cheeses, bacon, avocado and 19 free sauces and toppings made from garden-fresh veggies. MOOYAH Guests can choose from eight flavors of 100% real ice cream shakes, including vanilla, Hershey’s chocolate, Reese’s, Oreo and more. While many Guests dine in-restaurant, MOOYAH also offers online ordering, delivery and carry out for Guests on the go as well as a loyalty app. In 2021, MOOYAH ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list, #41 on Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers, and its Leadership Team was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as 2021’s Most Inspiring Leaders. In 2020, MOOYAH ranked #38 on Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers. In 2018, MOOYAH was ranked among Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 200 Food and Restaurant Franchises of 2018 and landed at #7 in the Top 10 Fast Casual Restaurant Franchises by FranchiseRankings.com. In 2017, MOOYAH was named to Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list, Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious list of the smartest growing franchise brands and was ranked #11 on Fast Casual Magazine’s annual Top 100 Movers & Shakers, a list the brand has been included on every year in the last ten years of rankings. For more information on MOOYAH, its menu or franchising opportunities, please visit www.MOOYAH.com. Connect with MOOYAH on Facebook.com/MOOYAH, follow MOOYAH on LinkedIn, Twitter @MOOYAHburgers and Instagram @MOOYAHburgers, and TikTok @mooyahburgers.

View source version at MOOYAH Burgers


MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes Announces the Promotion of Mike Sebazco to EVP of Operations and Development

October 11, 2021


Sebazco has provided critical ongoing support throughout the pandemic and over four years serving MOOYAH’s Franchise Owners

Plano, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes – the nearly 90-unit fast-casual “better burger” franchise concept – has elevated one of the brand’s top executives, Mike Sebazco, to a new role as EVP of Operations and Development.

“Under Mike’s leadership through the difficulties of 2020 and 2021, I have been impressed with the way he has led MOOYAH to adapt and continue to stay focused on serving our Franchise Owners’ needs to help them grow their businesses by supporting them,” said MOOYAH CEO Anand Gala. “In Mike’s new role, he will be responsible for both franchise and company store operations, development and training. Mike will also further his involvement in the overall long-term strategy of the business and work closely bringing these plans to life for the benefit of the brand and its Franchise Owners.”

Sebazco has been promoted to Executive Vice President of Operations and Development after serving as Vice President of Operations and Development for over four years.

“I am pleased that Anand and the Board have recognized the momentum we have in the brand at this time and am honored to take these next steps with the MOO Crew,” said Sebazco. “I am proud to partner with our Franchise Owners and look forward to all that we will be able to accomplish together in the future.”

Under Sebazco’s direction, MOOYAH was able to re-engineer its offerings to bolster operational efficiencies that reduced ticket times by 35% while picking up more than 1,000 basis points in Prime Costs.

In the past 12 months, with Sebazco leading development, MOOYAH has added nearly 50 restaurants to its development queue, including the three largest territories in company history.

As the brand enters the final quarter of 2021, MOOYAH is prioritizing new market expansion. In recent years, MOOYAH has been growing rapidly in markets across the country and shows no signs of slowing down. Most recently, the brand opened locations in Upland, CaliforniaBaton Rouge, LouisianaSacramento, California; Winter Park, Florida; and Colleyville and Abilene, Texas. Now, the Plano, Texas-based company is looking for qualified prospects to help keep this momentum going.

Looking ahead, the MOOYAH Leadership Team has immediate development plans throughout the states of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, California and Arizona, but also anticipates growth in other key markets including Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Tampa, Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville, Orlando and Richmond.

For more information on MOOYAH, please visit http://www.MOOYAH.com. Connect with MOOYAH on Facebook.com/MOOYAH, follow MOOYAH on LinkedIn, Twitter @MOOYAHburgers and Instagram @MOOYAHburgers, and TikTok @mooyahburgers.

For franchising opportunities, please visit franchise.mooyah.com.

About MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes is a fast-casual, “better burger” concept offering mouthwatering made-to-order burgers, French fries hand cut from Idaho potatoes, and real ice cream shakes. Founded in 2007, the Plano, Texas-based company serves fresh, 100% Certified Angus Beef® brand burgers, all natural turkey burgers and Dr. Praeger’s black bean vegan burgers. MOOYAH’s non-GMO potato and multigrain buns are baked in-house daily, and Guests can choose from five real cheeses, bacon, avocado and 19 free sauces and toppings made from garden-fresh veggies. MOOYAH Guests can choose from eight flavors of 100% real ice cream shakes, including vanilla, Hershey’s chocolate, Reese’s, Oreo and more. While many Guests dine in-restaurant, MOOYAH also offers online ordering, delivery and carry out for Guests on the go as well as a loyalty app. In 2021, MOOYAH ranked on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 list, #41 on Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers, and its Leadership Team was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as 2021’s Most Inspiring Leaders. In 2020, MOOYAH ranked #38 on Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers. In 2018, MOOYAH was ranked among Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 200 Food and Restaurant Franchises of 2018 and landed at #7 in the Top 10 Fast Casual Restaurant Franchises by FranchiseRankings.com. In 2017, MOOYAH was named to Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 list, Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious list of the smartest growing franchise brands and was ranked #11 on Fast Casual Magazine’s annual Top 100 Movers & Shakers, a list the brand has been included on every year in the last ten years of rankings. For more information on MOOYAH, its menu or franchising opportunities, please visit www.MOOYAH.com. Connect with MOOYAH on Facebook.com/MOOYAH, follow MOOYAH on LinkedIn, Twitter @MOOYAHburgers and Instagram @MOOYAHburgers, and TikTok @mooyahburgers.

View source version at MOOYAH Burgers


David Graves Promoted to Pizza Hut U.S. President, Effective January 1, 2022

October 6, 2021


Graves Will Succeed Interim President Kevin Hochman, Who Is Resuming Full-Time Leadership of KFC U.S.

Plano, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  Pizza Hut today announced the promotion of David Graves to President of Pizza Hut U.S., reporting to Pizza Hut Division Chief Executive Officer Aaron Powell, effective January 1, 2022. Graves currently serves as General Manager Pizza Hut U.S. and will succeed Interim President Pizza Hut U.S. Kevin Hochman. In this role, Graves will continue to build on Pizza Hut’s momentum and assume responsibility for driving profitable same-store sales, franchise operations and overall performance for the U.S. business.

“David has a well-deserved reputation for delivering results, repeatedly demonstrating his expertise in identifying solutions to business challenges that not only enhance the experience for customers, but also benefit restaurant economics, and I couldn’t be more pleased by his promotion,” said Powell. “The Pizza Hut U.S. strategy is strong, and the leadership and talent of this team is extraordinary. I’m confident that we’ll continue to see positive growth of this iconic brand in the years ahead,” said Powell.

With Graves’ appointment, Interim President Pizza Hut U.S. Kevin Hochman, who dually serves as President and Chief Concept Officer KFC U.S., will resume full-time leadership of KFC U.S., starting January 1, 2022. Having served in an interim role at Pizza Hut U.S. since late 2019, Hochman was brought on board to help strengthen the Pizza Hut U.S. business and accelerate innovation while continuing to lead a thriving KFC U.S. brand. Under Hochman’s and Graves’ leadership and in partnership with its franchisees, Pizza Hut U.S. has delivered product innovation, sustained sales improvement and continued to invest in its off-premise channel in response to shifting consumer demand.

“Kevin has delivered in a really meaningful and significant way, and I can’t thank him enough for his commitment and collaboration over the last two years leading two of our iconic brands in the U.S.,” said David Gibbs, Yum! Brands CEO. “We’re really pleased with Pizza Hut’s continued brand revitalization and transformation to a modern off-premise business in the U.S. I have all the confidence in David Graves – who has done an amazing job reinvigorating Pizza Hut’s innovation pipeline and bringing the brand forward to consumers in a way that’s really resonating – and believe Pizza Hut has an incredibly bright future.”

Since joining Pizza Hut in early 2020 as Chief Brand Officer, and most recently as General Manager, Graves has played a critical role in the development and continued execution of Pizza Hut’s turnaround strategy in the U.S. Prior to joining Pizza Hut, Graves spent several years at KFC U.S. leading marketing strategy and was responsible for much of the food innovation credited in KFC’s turnaround. Prior to joining Yum! in 2016, Graves spent much of his career at Procter & Gamble, where he led innovation and insights for several large brands in the consumer packaged goods space.

“I’m grateful to have worked alongside Kevin the past two years at Pizza Hut and before that, at KFC, and am honored to step into this role, leading one of America’s iconic brands,” said Graves. “In partnership with our franchisees and the Pizza Hut leadership team, I’m excited to build on our recent momentum and help guide this brand into the future.”

“The opportunity to work on the Pizza Hut brand alongside this team has been an incredible experience. It’s gratifying to see the strategy working that we put in place nearly two years ago, highlighted by an improvement in four-wall economics,” said Hochman. “David is a proven leader and an accomplished brand builder, and I can’t think of a better person to pass the torch to that ensures a seamless transition and continued success for the Pizza Hut U.S. business.”

About Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kan., Pizza Hut operates nearly 18,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries. With easy order options including the Pizza Hut app, mobile site, and Amazon and Google devices, Pizza Hut is committed to providing an easy pizza experience – from order to delivery – and has Hut Rewards, the Pizza Hut loyalty program that offers points for every dollar spent on food any way you order.

Now more than ever, restaurants have an important role in helping to safely feed families. As one of the largest pizza brands in the world by store count, Pizza Hut is committed to doing its part. To help keep team members and customers safe, customers can get their favorite Pizza Hut pizza via three contactless offerings: curbside pickup, delivery, or carryout. After becoming the first national pizza brand to offer Contactless Curbside Pickup, Pizza Hut launched The Hut Lane™, a dedicated digital order pick-up window available at more than 1,500 locations across the country.

Pizza Hut is also the proprietor of The Literacy Project, an initiative designed to enable access, empower teachers and inspire a lifelong love of reading. The program is rooted in the foundation set by the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, which is the longest-running corporate supported literacy program, impacting more than 14 million students each year. Pizza Hut is the Official and Only Pizza Sponsor of the NFL® and NCAA®.

For more information about Pizza Hut, visit www.pizzahut.com or www.pizzahut.com/c/content/sitemap.

View source version at Pizza Hut







CEC Entertainment Appoints Genaro Perez As Vice President Of Marketing For Peter Piper Pizza Brand



Oct 01, 2021, 09:17 ET



IRVING, Oct. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- CEC Entertainment LLC., parent company of Peter Piper Pizza is pleased to announce the appointment of industry veteran, Genaro Perez, as Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for the brand. In this new position, Perez will work alongside senior leadership to further develop Peter Piper Pizza's overall brand presence within the marketplace and support the brand's continued growth and expansion.

Perez is charged with overseeing all marketing strategy, planning and execution of all Peter Piper Pizza marketing campaigns, and content strategies across all channels including offline, digital and social media as well as PR.

"It's an exciting time to be a part of the beloved Peter Piper Pizza brand," said Perez. "The first Peter Piper Pizza opened in 1973 and since then we have grown to more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Mexico, offering made-from-scratch dough and the freshest ingredients in our pizzas, reason why the brand is so entrenched in the hearts of our guests.  I am energized by the wonderful people and teams that have been part of the evolution and growth of this amazing brand," he added.

Prior to joining Peter Piper Pizza and for the past decade, Genaro led the brand marketing, corporate communications, and innovation strategies for P.F. Chang's around the world. Before that, he spent several years with Brinker International where he served in multiple roles leading the Chili's brand efforts for the Latin American, Middle East, Mexico, Asia and South America regions.

Genaro's vast experience spans across the technology, hospitality, retail and non-profit industries. While a busy senior marketing executive, he also serves as a board member for a non-profit charter school in Arizona serving the underprivileged children in central Phoenix where he has been instrumental in setting up the fundraising strategies and pro-bono partnerships for the school.

A native of Mexico City and graduate of SMU's Cox School of Business, Genaro also considers himself a foodie and aims to be a chef at home where he resides with his wife and children.

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 and, delivery only, Pasqually's Pizza & Wings brands. As the place where a million happy birthdays are celebrated every year, Chuck E. Cheese's goal is to create positive, lifelong memories for families through fun, food, and play and is the place Where A Kid Can Be A Kid®. Committed to providing a fun, safe environment, Chuck E. Cheese helps 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 $19 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. With a bold design and contemporary layout, an open kitchen revealing much of their handcrafted food preparation, the latest technology and games, and beer and wine for adults, Peter Piper Pizza restaurants appeal to parents and kids alike. The Company and its franchisees operate a system of 556 Chuck E. Cheese and 114 Peter Piper Pizza venues, with locations in 47 states and 15 foreign countries and territories. For more information, visit chuckecheese.com and peterpiperpizza.com.

View source version at CEC Entertainment


Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers Announces New CMO and VP of Brand Marketing Amid Ongoing Success

September 28, 2021


Leading Fast-Casual Concept Welcomes Industry Veterans Laura Rueckel and Erin Walter and Promotes Jill Tinsley to Director of Communications

Wichita, KS  (RestaurantNews.com)  Leading fast-casual restaurant concept Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers announced today that it has named Laura Rueckel as Chief Marketing Officer and Erin Walter as Vice President of Brand Marketing. Bringing decades of marketing and franchise industry experience, these appointments will further fuel Freddy’s accelerated growth strategy as part of the brand’s ongoing efforts to invest in its executive leadership and franchise development teams. Additionally, Freddy’s has also promoted Jill Tinsley, who joined Freddy’s in 2019 as Public Relations Manager, to Director of Communications. Under the leadership of CEO Chris Dull, the brand’s rapidly growing corporate team will continue to focus on accelerating Freddy’s growth across the nation.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Laura and Erin to our fast-growing team at Freddy’s, each of whom brings an unparalleled level of expertise that will elevate the strategic approach behind our marketing efforts. As we celebrate our latest executive appointments, we’re also delighted to recognize the well-deserved promotion of Jill Tinsley, who has been a tremendous asset for the brand over the last several years,” said Chris Dull, CEO of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. “Our franchisees are the foundation of Freddy’s, which is why we’ve continued to prioritize investing in our leadership team and marketing expertise to ensure they have access to best-in-class support.”

Laura Rueckel, a seasoned marketing executive with two decades of experience in brand and franchise marketing, has been named Freddy’s new Chief Marketing Officer. Prior to joining Freddy’s, she held the role of Vice President of Marketing for Edible Brands, where she led marketing for the company’s 1,000 stores across the United States and Canada, specifically overseeing national brand marketing, creative content and media, field marketing, merchandising and public relations. Prior to Edible, Rueckel’s career has been spent in marketing leadership with nationally recognized companies such as The Coca-Cola Company, SUBWAY, Schlotzsky’s and The HoneyBaked Ham Company.

Serving as Freddy’s new Vice President of Brand Marketing, Erin Walter brings more than 15 years of experience in the quick-service restaurant franchising industry. Walter comes from Global Franchise Group, LLC, and most recently held the position of Director of Marketing for Round Table Pizza, where she was responsible for executing engaging, interactive marketing to drive awareness, traffic, and overall profitability for the brand.

Jill Tinsley joined Freddy’s in March 2019 as Public Relations Manager. Before becoming part of the Freddy’s team, she was the Marketing and Communications Director for The Independent School in Wichita and prior to that served as Corporate Communications Manager with Sedgwick County, KS. With nearly two decades of experience in communications and public relations, Tinsley will lead the brand’s public relations and Digital Hospitality team in her new role as Director of Communications.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of Freddy’s, and with these latest additions to our leadership team, we’re positioned to continue accelerating all of the momentum achieved over the past several years and reach new heights,” added Dull.

Freddy’s has experienced a continuous surge in franchise development, opening more than 20 new restaurants in 2021 year-to-date, including its entrance into New Jersey and Wisconsin for the first time. The brand is expected to open about 20 more before the end of 2021, with another robust year planned for 2022. Franchise opportunities remain in areas across the U.S., including the Northeast, Upper Midwest, California, Florida, Oregon, and Washington and large metro areas such as Pittsburgh and many of its surrounding markets.

For more information about development opportunities, contact Mary Coots, Director of Franchise Development, at maryc@freddysusa.com or 316-719-7854, or visit www.freddysfranchising.com.

About Freddy’s

Co-founded in 2002 by Scott Redler and Bill, Randy and Freddy Simon, Freddy’s opened its first location in Wichita, Kansas, offering a unique combination of cooked-to-order Steakburgers seasoned with Freddy’s Famous Steakburger & Fry Seasoning®, Vienna® Beef hot dogs, shoestring fries paired with Freddy’s Famous Fry Sauce® and frozen custard that is freshly churned throughout the day. The brand was acquired by private equity firm Thompson Street Capital Partners in March of 2021. Today, Freddy’s has grown to more than 400 locations that serve 34 states across the nation from California to Pennsylvania, Virginia, down the East Coast states to Florida. Freddy’s has been named No. 1 on Forbes Best Franchises to Buy, The 2021 Restaurant Business 10 Fastest Growing Chains in the U.S. List, Entrepreneur’s 2021 Franchise 500 top 100, Franchise Times magazine’s 2020 Fast & Serious top 40 and many other nationwide and local industry awards. For more on Freddy’s, visit the Newsroom and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest news.

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Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. Announces Retirement of Chairman and CEO by June 30, 2022

Board of Directors Commences Search for a New CEO

September 23, 2021 16:30 ET



SYRACUSE, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. (“Carrols” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: TAST) announced today that Daniel T. Accordino, the Company’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President, will be retiring as CEO and President by June 30, 2022. He will also be stepping down as Chairman and as a member of the Board of Directors at or prior to the effective time of his retirement. The Carrols Board is conducting a comprehensive search to identify a new CEO and is engaging a leading executive search firm to assist in the process.

Mr. Accordino, 71, has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Company since January 1, 2012 and Chairman of the Board since January 1, 2015. An employee of the Company since 1972, Mr. Accordino has served in a variety of senior leadership positions, including as President since February 1993, Chief Operating Officer from February 1993 to December 2011, and Executive Vice President - Operations from December 1986 to February 1993.

“With Carrols well positioned for continued success, I believe now is the right time – both for me and Carrols – to begin a transition to the next generation of leadership,” stated Mr. Accordino. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Board and our dedicated management team over the next nine months to identify an exemplary leader for our business and ensure a successful transition.”

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Dan for his 50 years of dedicated service to Carrols. Dan has been instrumental in helping transform Carrols from a regional quick service restaurant chain to the largest BURGER KING® franchisee in the United States,” said David Harris, a member of the Carrols Board. “The Board is committed to finding a world-class successor for Dan and is grateful to have his continued leadership and guidance throughout the succession planning and transition process.”

About the Company

Carrols is one of the largest restaurant franchisees in North America. It is the largest BURGER KING® franchisee in the United States, currently operating 1,027 BURGER KING® restaurants in 23 states as well as 65 POPEYES® restaurants in seven states. Carrols has operated BURGER KING® restaurants since 1976 and POPEYES® restaurants since 2019. For more information, please visit the Company's website at www.carrols.com.

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Marugame Udon Names CEO of U.S. Operations

September 22, 2021


Gregg Imamoto to fuel U.S. growth for world’s No. 1 udon concept

Dallas, TX  (RestaurantNews.com)  Marugame Udon, the world’s No. 1 udon concept, has named restaurant and franchising executive Gregg Imamoto its CEO of U.S. operations, effective Sept. 13, 2021.

Mr. Imamoto previously served as CEO of Pieology, where he helped create record financial performance while growing the brand between 2018 and 2021. He has more than 25 years of C-suite experience in the food & beverage, consumer products, healthcare, aerospace and financial services industries with a proven process and track record of improving company performance, developing bench talent, and maximizing stakeholder value.

At Marugame Udon, he’ll be tasked with leading the expansion of the brand’s U.S. presence while developing a franchise business model. The company currently operates restaurants in Hawaii, California and Texas.

Marugame Udon is the flagship concept for publicly traded Toridoll, a restaurant conglomerate with over $1.4 billion in sales across more than 1,000 restaurants worldwide. In partnership with Toridoll, US-based private equity firm Hargett Hunter will continue to lead the growth of this popular fast casual Japanese chain in the United States.

“Our partnership with Hargett Hunter enables Toridoll to share authentic Japanese food and culture in the U.S., which is our most important market for growth.” said Toridoll founder and President Takaya Awata.  “We are confident Mr. Imamoto is the right leader at the right time to propel our expansion, and I have high expectations for his success.”

“We searched at length to find the right executive who will refine our mission and sharpen our business model in preparation for growth,” said Hargett Hunter Managing Partner Jeff Brock. “Gregg has the financial, strategic and operational expertise to help us replicate Marugame’s international success here in the U.S.”

Tokyo-based Marugame Udon, with more than 1,000 locations in 10 countries and regions, specializes in authentic, handmade Japanese Sanuki udon noodles and fresh tempura, all made in an open and engaging kitchen. Marugame Udon first came to the U.S. in Hawaii more than 10 years ago with its flagship store in Waikiki and expanded into California in 2017. It opened its first Texas location in 2020.

“I’ve been a fan of Marugame Udon since the first time I tried it in Waikiki – I ate there every day of every week I was in town when we discovered it – so the offer to lead the company and grow the brand’s U.S. presence was especially attractive because of my personal enjoyment of the brand,” said Imamoto. “I look forward to working with the team in introducing Marugame’s incredible food to more consumers across the country.”

About Marugame Udon

Founded in Japan, in 2000, Marugame Udon is the world’s No. 1 udon brand with more than 1,000 locations in 10 countries and regions serving up authentic, handmade-to-order Japanese Sanuki udon noodles and fresh tempura. Under the global leadership of founder and President Takaya Awata, U.S. growth will be led by private equity firm Hargett Hunter. Learn more at www.marugameudon.com and follow the brand on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

About Hargett Hunter

Hargett Hunter is a unique, operationally-focused private equity firm that invests exclusively in emerging and established restaurant chains generating a minimum of $10 million in annual sales. In addition to capital, Hargett Hunter offers industry leading resources in support of the growth plans commonly executed by emerging restaurant brands. Hargett Hunter offers significant hospitality industry expertise and is the preferred partner for investors seeking exposure to the restaurant industry and operators looking for a partner to grow their brands. Hargett Hunter is headquartered in Raleigh, NC. For more information, please visit www.hargetthunter.com.

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Sabir Sami Promoted to KFC Division CEO, Effective January 1, 2022


Sami Will Succeed Tony Lowings Who Is Retiring; Dyke Shipp Promoted to KFC Division President







Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) today announced the promotion of Sabir Sami, 54, to KFC Division Chief Executive Officer, reporting to Yum! Brands Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs, effective January 1, 2022. Sami, who currently serves as KFC Division Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of KFC Asia, will succeed Tony Lowings, who is stepping down as CEO at the end of 2021 in advance of his retirement in early 2022. In addition, Dyke Shipp, 55, who currently serves as KFC Division Chief Development Officer and Chief People Officer, is being promoted to KFC Division President, reporting to Sami, effective January 1, 2022.

September 22, 2021 08:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time


LOUISVILLE, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) today announced the promotion of Sabir Sami, 54, to KFC Division Chief Executive Officer, reporting to Yum! Brands Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs, effective January 1, 2022. Sami, a 12-year veteran of the Company, who currently serves as KFC Division Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of KFC Asia, will succeed Tony Lowings, who is stepping down as CEO at the end of 2021 in advance of his retirement in early 2022. In this role, Sami will assume global responsibility for driving the brand strategy and performance of KFC.

“Sabir is an exceptional leader with deep expertise and knowledge of our business and has a strong, proven track record of growing KFC’s physical and brand presence in markets around the world,” said Gibbs. “As a highly-respected strategic brand builder, operations expert and heart-led leader, Sabir is a natural choice to continue successfully executing KFC’s long-term global growth strategies in close partnership with our franchisees and further elevate KFC as a relevant, easy and distinctive (R.E.D.) brand.”

In addition to overseeing operational strategy for all KFC markets, Sami dually serves as Managing Director of KFC Asia, a high-growth region for the brand representing 17 markets, excluding China, and comprising more than 15 percent of all KFC Division restaurants. Prior to this, Sami was Managing Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey markets, where he was instrumental in growing the business and establishing KFC as one of the region’s most R.E.D. brands. Sami also served as General Manager for the KFC Canada and Turkey businesses. Prior to Yum!, Sami served in various leadership roles at Procter & Gamble, the Coca-Cola Company and Reckitt Benckiser.

“I’m incredibly privileged and excited to continue working with our talented and dedicated KFC leaders and amazing franchise partners around the world to keep strengthening and accelerating the development of our powerful, iconic brand,” said Sami. “KFC is uniquely positioned around the world as a well-loved, well-trusted brand with millions of fans – the future is certainly bright.”

Dyke Shipp, 55, who currently serves as KFC Division Chief Development Officer and Chief People Officer, is being promoted to KFC Division President, reporting to Sami, effective January 1, 2022. Shipp brings over 30 years of experience with the Company and expertise successfully leading KFC’s development and people and culture strategies. In this role, Shipp will partner with Sami on KFC’s global people and growth agenda and support the General Managers of its businesses in the Americas, including Canada, the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Dyke brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and strategic acumen to this role, along with a commitment to nurturing an inclusive, high-performing culture,” said Sami. “Dyke is a seasoned leader with a strong track record of delivering impactful results. I look forward to partnering with Dyke as we work toward the next chapter of growth for KFC.”

Tony Lowings has been with Yum! Brands and KFC for more than 27 years, leading the KFC brand since 2019. Throughout his successful career with the Company, he has held a number of leadership positions including President and Chief Operations Officer of KFC Division, Managing Director of KFC Asia-Pacific and Managing Director of KFC SOPAC (Australia and New Zealand), among others.

“I want to thank Tony, a trusted colleague and dear friend to many, for his decades of service, commitment to excellence and significant contributions to our business,” said Gibbs. “Tony’s unwavering focus on ensuring restaurant excellence, building a R.E.D., Always Original brand and winning on KFC’s delicious taste and quality will leave a long and lasting imprint on our company. While we will miss Tony, we wish him well as he enjoys this new phase of life with his family.”

Lowings remains KFC Division CEO through the end of 2021 to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. He will remain with the Company in another capacity supporting transition needs into the first quarter of 2022.

KFC is the global leader in the chicken category and Yum!’s largest brand with more than 25,000 restaurants in over 145 countries and territories and more than $26 billion in system sales as of year-end 2020. KFC’s unit economics fueled by strong franchise partners leads to, on average, a new KFC restaurant opening every six hours across the world. In addition to new unit development, the KFC Division added nearly $4 billion in system sales from digital channels last year to grow the KFC digital business to about $10 billion in system sales in 2020.

About Yum! Brands

Yum! Brands, Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, has over 51,000 restaurants in more than 150 countries and territories, operating the Company’s brands – KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell – global leaders of the chicken, pizza and Mexican-style food categories. The Company’s family of brands also includes The Habit Burger Grill, a fast-casual restaurant concept specializing in made-to-order chargrilled burgers, sandwiches and more. Yum! Brands was included on the 2021 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index. In 2020, Yum! Brands was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America and was ranked among the top 100 Best Corporate Citizens by 3BL Media.

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Stoner's Pizza Joint Adds William "Judd" Carlisi as Vice President

- Company scheduled to open 3 locations in October growing unit count to 24



Sep 22, 2021, 08:38 ET



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Sept. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Stoner's Pizza Joint, a quick-service pizza franchise, announced today the addition of William "Judd" Carlisi as Vice President of Purchasing & Franchise Sales as the pizza chain approaches the opening of its 24th store.

Mr. Carlisi will ramp up the company's focus on product procurement and distribution to continue the brands rapid growth. His focus will center around vendor partnerships, franchisee support, and sales.

"I'm excited to be part of the Stoner's team and continue to grow the Stoner's brand!  I see this as a great opportunity to help our franchisees realize their full potential.  There is amazing growth opportunity by adding new Stoner's and maximizing sales in existing locations.  I look forward to growing our relationships with current vendors and exploring options that are beneficial to all parties," said Judd Carlisi.

"We are thrilled to add Judd Carlisi to our growing team at Stoner's. We are confident he will be a driving force behind the continued success and growth of Stoner's Pizza Joint. Judd has a deep understanding of the industry and the Stoner's brand which will help accelerate our expansion into new markets," said John Stetson, Chief Executive Officer.

Prior to joining Stoner's Pizza Joint, Mr. Carlisi served as District Sales Manager at Performance Foodservice Florence where he had various roles since 2014. Before Performance Foodservice, Carlisi had several roles at Sysco Foods for 17 years. Carlisi is a veteran of the US Navy where he served from 1987-1991.

Stoner's Pizza Joint is a delivery and takeout focused concept featuring fresh, high-quality food prepared in-house daily with minimal production time, including proprietary recipes for the pizza dough, sauce, and cheese blend. Menu items include a variety of specialty pizzas, calzones, strombolis, sandwiches, hickory-smoked chicken wings made daily in-house, freshly prepared salads, and freshly baked desserts.

About Stoner's Pizza Joint Founded in 2013, Stoner's Pizza Joint launched its franchising program in late 2018 along with fresh new branding and a business model that has proven resilient to massive changes sweeping the food industry. For more information, visit https://www.stonerspizzajoint.com.

Stoner's Pizza Joint is currently seeking qualified franchisees to help the brand grow nationwide in college town markets, with a focus on the Southeast region. Prospective franchisees should have a minimum net worth of $250,000. The ideal candidate is a proven, multi-unit operator in the restaurant industry and has a strong knowledge of their market. Stoner's Pizza Joint's Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) reveals an estimated initial investment range of $90,000 to $206,000 for the first location, including a franchise fee of $25,000.

To learn more about ownership opportunities with Stoner's Pizza Joint, contact the Stoner's Pizza Joint Franchise Development team, at 319452@email4pr.com.

View source version at Stoner's Pizza Joint



Dave & Buster's Announces CEO Transition

September 21, 2021 16:15 ET



DALLAS, Sept. 21, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc., (NASDAQ:PLAY), ("Dave & Buster's" or "the Company"), an owner and operator of entertainment and dining venues, today announced that, following its recently announced record quarterly revenue and profit performance, Brian A. Jenkins will be retiring from his service as Chief Executive Officer of the Company and a member of its Board of Directors. By mutual agreement with the Company’s Board, Mr. Jenkins will continue to serve as CEO and a Board director through September 30, 2021. To ensure a seamless transition of responsibilities, he will become a Senior Advisor to the CEO until November 30, 2021. Concurrent with this announcement, effective October 1, 2021, the Board has appointed Kevin M. Sheehan, Chair of Dave & Buster’s Board, as interim CEO until a permanent successor is named.

Mr. Jenkins said, “It has been my honor and privilege to be a part of this industry-leading brand for the past fifteen years and I am proud of what our extraordinary team has accomplished together. I am excited to watch D&B’s continued success in the future, and I’m also looking forward to spending time with my wife and family who have supported me throughout my career.”

“Brian has been a driving presence for Dave & Buster’s, playing an integral role in the impressive growth that led to our IPO and that which followed,” said Mr. Sheehan. “His leadership has been instrumental to our company’s success, and he has created a strong foundation for us to build upon. Brian successfully led the Company through the pandemic, and back to record-setting financial performance, while concurrently re-establishing a strong balance sheet. With those objectives achieved, Brian and the Board felt this was a good time to initiate this transition. The Board has engaged Heidrick & Struggles to conduct a search process to identify Brian’s permanent successor. We thank Brian for his many contributions, appreciate his willingness to serve as an advisor through this transitional period and wish him well in his retirement.”

Mr. Sheehan continued, “Dave & Buster's is beginning a new phase of innovation, growth and value creation. Our focus remains on realizing the Company’s significant upside potential, as consumers’ demand for immersive entertainment recovers and expands beyond pre-pandemic levels. As announced in September, under Brian’s leadership, recent performance has been outstanding, and the team continues to build on the strong positive momentum. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our team members, the Company is well positioned for continued success as it enters this next chapter.”

About Kevin M. Sheehan Kevin M. Sheehan has served as Chair of the Dave & Buster’s Board since April 2021 and as a Director since October 2011. He previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Scientific Games Corporation from August 2016 until June 2018. Mr. Sheehan served as Chief Executive Officer of NCL Corporation Ltd., a leading global cruise line operator (“Norwegian”), from November 2008 through January 2015, and added the role of President from August 2010 through January 2015. Before joining Norwegian, Mr. Sheehan was a consultant to private equity firms including Cerberus Capital Management LP and Clayton Dubilier & Rice. Prior to that, Mr. Sheehan spent nine years at Cendant Corporation, most recently serving as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of its Vehicle Services Division (which included global responsibility for the Avis and Budget Rental Car brands, as well as PHH Corporation, a leading fleet management solutions provider and Wright Express, the leading fuel card solutions company). Mr. Sheehan serves on the Board of Directors, as Lead Director, Chairman of the Audit Committee, and as a member of the Compensation Committee of Gannett Co., Inc., a subscription-led and digitally focused media and marketing solutions company. In addition, Mr. Sheehan served on the board of directors of Hertz Corporation through its emergence from Chapter 11 in July of 2021, Navistar International Corporation through its sale to Volkswagen in July of 2021, and Bob Evans Farms through the sale of its restaurant and food businesses respectively. Mr. Sheehan is a graduate of Hunter College and New York University Graduate School of Business and is a Certified Public Accountant.

About Dave & Buster’s Entertainment, Inc. Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Dave & Buster's Entertainment, Inc., is the owner and operator of 143 venues in North America that combine entertainment and dining and offer customers the opportunity to "Eat Drink Play and Watch," all in one location. Dave & Buster's offers a full menu of entrées and appetizers, a complete selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and an extensive assortment of entertainment attractions centered around playing games and watching live sports and other televised events. Dave & Buster's currently has stores in 40 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

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BBQ Holdings Hires Manny Packing as New Vice President

The franchise industry veteran, who has held leadership roles with legacy franchisors like Inspire Brands, Buffalo Wild Wings and YUM!, will help BBQ Holdings continue to expand its footprint.



Sep 21, 2021, 09:00 ET



MINNETONKA, Minn., Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- BBQ Holdings, Inc.,the multi-brand restaurant company behind fan-favorite restaurant concepts such as Famous Dave's and Granite City Food and Brewery, and the newly acquired Village Inn and Bakers Square, has announced the hiring of Manny Packing as the brand's new vice president of franchise sales and real estate.

"I'm very excited to join the BBQ Holdings team, and appreciate the trust of the company's leadership," said Packing. "The restaurant space is constantly evolving, especially today, and with over two decades of experience in the industry, I look forward to leveraging my expertise to help expand Famous Dave's footprint across the United States and the globe."

Most recently, Packing was the Director of International Real Estate and Construction for Inspire Brands, the owner and franchisor of several legacy franchise brands, including Arby's, Sonic Drive-In, Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins. Here, Packing was responsible for onboarded new franchisees and led efforts to market, plan and develop new territories and build new restaurants across the company's network of over 32,000 locations.

Packing has also held franchise sales, operations and other development roles with Buffalo Wild Wings, Pinkberry and Yum! Brands, the parent company of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and more. Packing holds a BA from UCLA and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University.

"We couldn't be more thrilled to welcome Manny to our BBQ Holdings's family and we are confident that he will be the perfect addition to our leadership team," said BBQ Holdings's CEO Jeff Crivello. "The BBQ Holdings portfolio is expanding rapidly and we are proud to have an experienced industry veteran like Manny to guide our growth. Manny will help us partner with the right candidates as we expand our footprint across the country and take our brand to the next level."

About BBQ Holdings BBQ Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: BBQ) is a national restaurant company engaged in the ownership and operation of casual and fast dining restaurants. As of September 20, 2021, BBQ Holdings had six brands with 296 locations in three countries including 84 Company owned locations and 213 franchised locations. In addition to these locations, the Company opened 8 Company-owned Famous Dave's ghost kitchens operating within its Granite City locations, and 19 Famous Dave's franchisee ghost kitchens operating out of the kitchen of another restaurant location or a shared kitchen space. While BBQ Holdings continues to diversify its ownership in the restaurant community, it was founded with the principle of combining the "art and science" of barbecue to serve up the very best of the best to barbecue lovers everywhere. BBQ Holdings, through partnerships, has extended Travis Clark's award-winning line of barbecue sauces, rubs and seasonings into the retail market. Along with a wide variety of BBQ favorites served at their BBQ restaurants, BBQ Holdings newest addition, Granite City Food and Brewery, offers award winning craft beer and a made-from-scratch, chef driven menu featuring contemporary American cuisine. Village Inn and Bakers Square are the most recent additions to the company and add a legendary Family Dining element to BBQ Holdings.

View source version at BBQ Holdings







Focus Brands Bolsters Bench Strength in Brand and Category Leadership

Internal Promotions Keep Top Talent in House



Sep 21, 2021, 11:44 ET



ATLANTA, Sept. 21, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Focus Brands®, parent company of iconic brands Auntie Anne's®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe's Southwest Grill®, McAlister's Deli® and Schlotzsky's®, today announced the promotions of top executives for its Restaurant and Specialty brands.

Effective immediately, the company has made the following appointments:



  1. Mike Freeman, chief brand officer, McAlister's Deli

  2. Danielle Porto Parra, senior vice president of marketing, Restaurant Category

  3. Nicolle DuBose, vice president of marketing, Schlotzsky's

  4. Karyn Sarago, senior vice president of marketing, Specialty Category

"As a leading QSR company, we are focused on the growth and career development of our associates," said Jim Holthouser, CEO of Focus Brands. "We are fortunate to have tremendous talent driving brand relevance and best-in-class brand management, and we are always thrilled to see these strong and influential leaders continue to grow and lead our brands and categories with creative marketing strategies and unmatched brand management and culinary innovation."

Mike Freeman has been named chief brand officer of McAlister's Deli. He has been working with the brand for 13 years and most recently served as vice president of operations. Mike started as an assistant general manager at the McAlister's Deli in Bossier City, La. He has worked in various operations and training leadership roles. Mike has 25 years of experience in the food service industry ensuring dynamic brand development and consistent growth. He is known for advancing his team members and leveraging company restaurants to create strong community relationships. He has also held leadership positions in casual and fine dining concepts. Mike studied at Penn State University and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

The company also made two significant moves to bolster strategic marketing at both the restaurant and specialty categories. Karyn Sarago has been promoted to senior vice president of marketing for the Specialty Category and Danielle Porto Parra will be her counterpart as senior vice president of marketing for the Restaurant Category. For more than three years, Karyn served as vice president of marketing for Cinnabon and has more than 18 years of experience in the food and hotel space. Danielle recently served as vice president of marketing for McAlister's Deli and brings 20 years of experience as a chief marketing and digital officer in the retail and hospitality industries. Together, Karyn and Danielle will work with key leaders within the organization to enhance digital engagement, strategic initiatives, creative development and services across the Focus Brands categories and portfolio of brands.

Nicolle DuBose has been appointed to vice president of marketing for Schlotzsky's. She has built her career at Focus Brands for the past 12 years starting with Moe's Southwest Grill followed by the International Division predominantly supporting Cinnabon International. Most recently, she was the vice president of marketing for Carvel. She brings strong business acumen of the company's iconic brands and global business while also creating breakthrough marketing strategies and brand relevancy.

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

View source version at FOCUS Brands


Tropical Smoothie Cafe Names Richard Key Chief Operations Officer

September 15, 2021


Promotion comes as brand crosses the 1,000-location milestone amid rapid growth

Atlanta, GA  (RestaurantNews.com)  Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a leading national fast-casual cafe franchise known for its better-for-you smoothies and food with a tropical twist, has promoted former Senior Vice President of Operations Richard Key to chief operations officer, effective immediately.

Key has served on the brand’s senior leadership team since joining the company in 2018. In his new role, he will help grow and evolve field support teams and lead internal initiatives that prioritize the Tropical Smoothie Cafe guest experience and franchise profitability.

“Over the past three years, Richard and his team have provided outstanding support and training for our growing franchisee community during one of the most dynamic times in Tropical Smoothie Cafe history,” said Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café LLC. “His experience and leadership have been foundational in our franchisees’ success. This well-deserved promotion will benefit our entire system.”

Key has 20 years of franchise operations experience with brands such as TCBY, Carvel, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Papa Murphy’s International, where he was a division vice president responsible for field operations and marketing for 800 locations. During his tenure at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the brand has grown to 1,000 restaurants and is on track to reach 1,500 by the end of 2024.

“Our top focus at Tropical Smoothie Cafe is to make sure that we not only provide a best-in-class guest experience, but also equip our franchisees to be the most successful in the industry,” said Key. “Three years ago, I began developing great relationships with our franchise community while implementing systems to support our record-breaking growth. I look forward to expanding my role with key projects and initiatives in the future and as we continue to grow.”

For more information about Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise opportunities, go to www.tropicalsmoothiefranchise.com.

About Tropical Smoothie Cafe®

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a national fast-casual cafe concept inspiring a healthier lifestyle with 1,000 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 FRANdata’s 2021 TopScore FUND Award, plus rankings in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500, Forbes’ Best Franchises, Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious list and the Franchise Times’ Top 200. 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.

View source version at Tropical Smoothie Cafe

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