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Executive Movements – September 2018

Inspire Brands Names New President of Buffalo Wild Wings September 17, 2018--(Business Wire) Inspire Brands today announced that Lyle Tick has been named President of Buffalo Wild Wings, the largest sports bar restaurant chain in the country. Prior to joining Buffalo Wild Wings, Tick was Managing Director for Walgreens Boots Alliance beauty brands business in the Americas. He also worked for Bacardi, where he served as Senior Global Category Director based in London and Vice President of Marketing for North America based in Miami. Prior to Bacardi, Tick held a variety of positions within marketing and advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, Gotham, McGarryBowen, and DDB. “We are thrilled to welcome Lyle to Buffalo Wild Wings,” said Paul Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Brands. “His deep experience with global retailers and spirit brands makes Lyle the ideal leader to help us re-ignite and grow the Buffalo Wild Wings brand.” Tick will be based at Inspire’s Global Support Center in Atlanta, Georgia. “I’ve been a fan of Buffalo Wild Wings for many years, and this is an exciting time for the brand,” said Tick. “Through the capabilities and resources of the Inspire platform, we’re building a talented team to ensure that Buffalo Wild Wings is well positioned for long-term growth.” John Bowie, who has been serving as interim President of Buffalo Wild Wings since February 2018, will resume his responsibilities as Chief Operating Officer of Buffalo Wild Wings. Recently, Seth Freeman was named Chief Marketing Officer. “John has done a remarkable job leading Buffalo Wild Wings and helping us create a new vision for the brand,” said Brown. “His knowledge of restaurant operations is unmatched, and he is a wonderful asset to the brand’s leadership team.” About Inspire Brands Inspire Brands is a multi-brand restaurant company whose portfolio includes more than 4,700 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Rusty Taco locations worldwide. The company was founded in 2018 and is headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, visit About Buffalo Wild Wings Buffalo Wild Wings, founded in 1982, is the largest sports bar brand in the United States. Globally, Buffalo Wild Wings has more than 1,200 restaurants in 10 countries. For more information, visit Contacts Inspire Brands Matt Baker

Rick Van Warner Named CEO of Tijuana Flats

The appointment comes after more than a decade with the regional fast-casual brand. September 14, 2018--(Restaurant Business Online) Rick Van Warner has been named CEO of Tijuana Flats, the 135-unit fast-casual Mexican chain. Van Warner had been serving as interim CEO since March and has been a director of the regional chain for more than a decade. His involvement with the brand began in 2001, working with the concept’s founders as a consultant. He was also a joint-venture partner in a single store. Before being named interim CEO, Van Warner ran The Parquet Group, a restaurant consulting firm, and Parquet Crisis Management, a crisis management concern. Earlier, he served in a senior management position for Darden Restaurants, the parent of Olive Garden, The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. Van Warner came to that position after serving for a number of years as the editor of Nation’s Restaurant News. Van Warner says his mission as CEO “is pretty simple.” He cites three imperatives:

  1. Getting the obstacles out of the way of providing great service and a great guest experience.”

  2. Getting the right people in the right spots, so we really engage with guests and each other.”

  3. Refreshing the brand to make sure to remind people we’re here and what we’re all about.” Tijuana Flats was started in 1995 by Brian Wheeler. Its restaurants are located in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Mountain Mike’s Pizza Names Jim Metevier President & COOing

Yum Brands Veteran Joins Leadership Team at Growing Family-Friendly Pizza Franchise September 13, 2018--(Restaurant News) Mountain Mike’s Pizza, LLC, a leading family-style pizza chain with more than 200 franchised restaurants in California and the West, and known for serving “Pizza the way it oughta be®”, is proud to announce the appointment of Jim Metevier as President and Chief Operating Officer (COO). With more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Metevier held various positions at YUM Brands including COO of KFC U.S., and most recently served as President of Biscuitville. As President and COO of Mountain Mike’s, Metevier is responsible for driving continued growth in system and franchisee sales and profitability, operational systems and processes, brand marketing and development, restaurant excellence and the overall guest experience. “Not only is Jim extremely passionate about restaurant operations and the potential for the Mountain Mike’s Pizza brand, he has an impressive history of producing remarkable results for world class franchise brands such as KFC,” said Chris Britt and Ed St. Geme, Co-CEOs and principal owners of Mountain Mike’s Pizza, LLC. “Jim is an expert in driving success from the inside out, and we’re confident he will be instrumental in our continued evolution while supporting the growth and success of the Mountain Mike’s system and our dedicated franchisee partners.” In previous roles, Metevier honed his skills as a business leader and gained extensive experience in all aspects of the restaurant business, from R&D and market planning to operations and business development. He has a notable history of setting and achieving aggressive goals, including driving dramatic sales increases and propelling exponential unit growth, accomplishments he credits to his leadership style and passion for unlocking the potential of people through innovative training programs and fostering a “people-first” company culture. “I was immediately impressed by Mountain Mike’s positive sales momentum and significant new unit growth, but what really sold me was the incredible food, dynamic leadership team and dedicated group of franchise partners,” said Metevier. “Between the delicious pizza and foundation that’s been laid in terms of developing a positive company culture, I see huge potential for the Mountain Mike’s brand to continue its forward momentum and I am excited to be on board.” With more than a decade of positive annual system sales growth and franchisee AUVs, and more than 20 new units anticipated to open in 2018, Mountain Mike’s is a brand on the rise. With Metevier on board, the nearly 200-unit brand is primed to continue expansion in existing and untapped markets by extending opportunities to both longtime franchisees and new franchise partners looking to expand their portfolios with a popular family pizza concept. Britt and St. Geme continued, “It’s an exciting time for Mountain Mike’s as we continue to fill out development in California and expand into new territories; and bringing on an industry veteran of Jim’s caliber is an important step in continuing to increase system sales and franchisee profitability as we seek to advance the brand regionally in the western U.S.” About Mountain Mike’s Pizza After opening its inaugural restaurant in Palo Alto, California in 1978, Mountain Mike’s Pizza has become known for its inviting, family-friendly atmosphere and delicious pizza made using simple, fresh and quality ingredients. After four decades, Mountain Mike’s remains steadfast in its commitment to serve and deliver the freshest and tastiest pizzas on the West Coast, and has grown to nearly 200 units in California, Oregon, Nevada and Utah. With a menu of superb pizza, wings, sides and more, as well as a fresh salad bar and selection of wine and beer, Mountain Mike’s offers a comfortable dine-in experience for lunch and dinner in addition to online ordering, takeout and delivery. For more of the latest, visit or check out Mountain Mike’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Media Contact: Samantha Wilson Powerhouse Communications 949-261-2216

Pancheros Mexican Grill Strengthens Leadership Team with New Vice President of Marketing

Fast-casual Mexican Chain Appoints Restaurant Marketing Titan to Executive Roster September 12, 2018--( The fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain announced today that it has appointed experienced restaurant industry marketer Ryan Murrin as vice president of marketing. Murrin brings more than 15 years of marketing and advertising experience to his new role at Pancheros. Prior to joining Pancheros, he served as the head of advertising, and research at another fast-casual Mexican concept, overseeing the brand’s integrated marketing and media strategy as well as consumer insights, sports sponsorships, direct response and lifecycle marketing initiatives for more than 2,400 of the brand’s restaurant locations. “As an Iowa native who discovered Pancheros in college, this is a brand I’ve always been passionate about and had a lot heart for,” said Murrin. “Pancheros has built an amazing brand, and I'm honored to be part of the team. I look forward to building insight and data driven marketing programs as the brand continues to grow nationwide.” Murrin’s addition to the Pancheros team comes at a very exciting time for the brand, as it continues to expand nationwide through its franchising plan to ink multi- and single-unit agreements in several mid-sized markets throughout the Midwest, East Coast, and in areas contiguous to its existing markets. “Ryan has a tremendous amount of marketing and industry experience that will greatly support us and our franchisees in increasing brand awareness and recognition, loyalty and growth,” said Rodney Anderson, CEO and founder of Pancheros. “We’re excited to see the big things that are certain to come with a player as talented and experienced as Ryan on our team.” Pancheros stands apart from other big-name burrito concepts because of its quality ingredients, fast service and burritos better built. However, almost anyone would agree the most distinguishing factors for Pancheros are its innovations - the fresh-pressed tortillas and proprietary ingredient mixing spatula, BOB the Tool. The brand’s pursuit to build the perfect burrito dates back to 1992, when Pancheros founder Rodney Anderson opened the doors to his first restaurant in downtown Iowa City, Iowa. Since then, the brand has grown into 13 states with approximately 70 locations. For information about the company, visit To learn about franchising opportunities with Pancheros, visit About Pancheros The beginning of Pancheros dates back to 1992 when Rodney Anderson opened the brand’s first restaurant in Iowa City, Iowa. Originally modeled after the Chicago taquerias that Anderson had visited often with his friends during his teenage years, the brand’s pursuit of constructing a better built burrito launched Pancheros into an evolution based on simplicity and fresh-pressed tortillas. Since it’s humble beginnings, Pancheros has earned a loyal following for redefining the standards of modern burritos by using fresh-pressed tortillas and perfectly-mixed ingredients with the help of BOB the Tool, a unique plastic spatula used to carefully mix ingredients together to create the perfect taste in every bite. Media Contact: Mackenzie Coopman All Points Public Relations (847) 897-7486

Friendly’s and Johnny Rockets CEO John Maguire Steps Down

George Michel to be interim CEO at Friendly’s

Mike Nolan Named CEO at Johnny Rockets September 12, 2018--(MassLive) Friendly's CEO John Maguire, a former Panera Bread executive who took the helm at Friendly's just months after the chain emerged from bankruptcy, is leaving after more than six years with the Greater Springfield mainstay. Maguire is leaving to take another job in the restaurant industry, which he said will be announced at a later date. Friendly's said Wednesday that George Michel, who served as CEO of Boston Market Corp. for eight years, will be interim CEO at Friendly's. Michel also was CEO at Timothy's Coffees of the World, Inc., and at A&W Restaurants. Maguire is also leaving his job as CEO of California-based Johnny Rockets Group. Mike Nolan will take over as CEO of Johnny Rockets. Nolan has been serving as the organization's president for more than a year. "I'm leaving things in good hands," Maguire said in an interview Wednesday afternoon. "I couldn't be more proud of the team at Friendly's and at Johnny Rockets and what we've accomplished." The Friendly's restaurants, Johnny Rockets and Boston Market are all owned by Sun Capital Partners, an investment firm so diverse it also owns Ames Drywall Finishing Tools and Services and the British women's clothing chain Bonmarche. Maguire took over Friendly's in April 2012, just four months after the chain emerged from federal bankruptcy protection. That bankruptcy wiped away $297 million in debt and closed more than 100 locations, nine of them in the Springfield area. At the time, Friendly's had 254 restaurants -- 121 company-owned and 133 franchised. Today, it's down to 230 locations evenly split between franchises and company-owned. Friendly's restaurants closed this year in Bourne, Gloucester, Ludlow, South Hadley and Westfield. The company has 7,000 employees. That doesn't count those who manufacture Friendly's Ice Cream. Friendly's sold its retail ice cream and manufacturing business to Dallas, Texas-based Dean Foods Co. in 2016 for $155 million. Dean sells ice cream to supermarkets and Friendly's restaurants. Friendly's has opened new locations, including at the Apex Center in Marlborough and in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Friendly's hopes to add five to 10 stores by 2019. This summer it renovated two Connecticut locations -- Manchester and Windsor Locks -- into a fast casual concept where customers order at the counter and then have their food brought to them. "Those are experiments," Maguire said. "And, what we like to do with experiments is change things and tweak things as we go." Maguire also spearheaded other changes, like the return of drive-thru windows at Friendly's and the Friendlier Prices menu in greater Springfield. Brothers S. Prestley and Curtis Blake founded Friendly -- the apostrophe-s wasn't added until years later -- in 1935 in Springfield and grew the company quickly in the years following World War II. The brothers, both still living past their 100th year, sold to Hershey Foods in 1979. The company changed hands a few times before becoming an independent corporation, and Pres Blake fought a long battle against a previous management regime he felt was destroying the brand and its legacy. It was Pres Blake's activism that resulted in his opponents selling the company in 2007 to Sun Capital for $337.2 million.

Moe’s Southwest Grill® Announces New Leadership for Marketing and Operations September 12, 2018--(Moe’s Southwest Grill) Moe’s Southwest Grill®, a leading fast casual restaurant franchise, announces new leadership for marketing and operations – Verchele Wiggins Roberts has been appointed to Marketing Vice President and Jonathon Gilliam to Operations Vice President. Verchele Wiggins Roberts, Vice President, Marketing Responsible for driving multi-channel global marketing strategy to increase brand relevance and engagement, Verchele is additionally leading culinary innovation to develop new products and build on existing platforms. Most recently, Verchele was the Marketing Vice President at United Services Automobile Association (USAA) where she led national advertising campaigns, content marketing and creative development for all lines of business. Prior to USAA, Verchele spent 14 years at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) where she led global marketing and branding efforts for some of the world’s largest hotel brands including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. Verchele began her brand management and marketing career at Proctor & Gamble (P&G) working on household brands including Vicks, Crest and Scope. “Joining the Moe’s Southwest Grill brand is an exciting opportunity to market a consumer brand with strong brand equity and an existing loyal fan base,” said Verchele Wiggins Roberts.  “I look forward to leading an incredible team to capitalize on our unique positioning in the segment through digital marketing and brand engagement.” Jonathon Gilliam, Vice President, Operations Jonathon Gilliam joins Moe’s as Vice President of Operations to lead company and franchised operations as well as training across the brand’s portfolio. Jonathon will support our franchise system with continuous operations improvements including product quality, consumer experience and best in class training programs. Jonathon previously served as the Operations Vice President at SusieCakes where he led culinary and guest services operations. In addition, during a 10-year career at Jamba Juice, Jonathon held several operations leadership positions where he built international training, operation and marketing functions from the ground up while driving significant brand growth. “It’s an exciting time to be in the fast casual restaurant industry and I’m thrilled to join Moe’s Southwest Grill on this journey,” said Jonathon Gilliam. ”Moe’s has a group of dedicated franchisees and operators that are passionate about the brand and I look forward to working with them as we continue to grow the portfolio in current and new markets.” Moe’s Southwest Grill has been serving craveable southwestern food since 2000. Our fans know us for the unique and fun “Welcome to Moes!” greeting, famous queso and free chips and salsa with every order – just to name a few. To stay connected to all things Moe's, follow the brand on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To find the nearest location to you, visit About Moe’s Southwest Grill® Welcome to Moe's!® Founded in 2000 and based in Atlanta, GA, Moe's Southwest Grill® is a fast-casual restaurant franchise that serves high quality and fresh southwestern food. Moe's has an extensive variety of menu items to please the entire family – from burritos to specialty items like quesadillas, nachos and stacks. Whether you visit one of our 700 franchised locations or have us cater your next event, free chips and salsa come with every order, and each restaurant has a salsa bar and serves our famous queso. Moe's Southwest Grill® has been recognized as the Brand of the Year in the Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant category for two years in a row based on the 2016 and 2017 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Studies. Check us out online at to find a store near you, and then connect with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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Tom’s Urban Appoints Shannon McNiel as President and Chief Operating Officer September 12, 2018--(Business Wire) Tom's Urban, a fast growing eater-tainment concept and modern casual dining restaurant, today announced the appointment of Shannon McNiel as President and Chief Operating Officer. Leveraging over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, McNiel will focus on overseeing, developing, and setting the direction for Tom’s Urban’s operational activities. “Shannon has a tremendous track record of delivering results in this industry and we couldn’t have hired a better person to help drive the anticipated growth of our brand,” says Tom Ryan, Executive Chairman of Tom’s Urban. “He is an accomplished and passionate leader whose expertise will continue to build Tom’s Urban as the premiere eater-tainment destination for guests looking for a dynamic sports, music and entertainment experience, all while enjoying delicious food and great drinks.” McNiel was most recently a Market Partner with Texas Roadhouse. Prior to that, he held an executive leadership role with Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. During his tenure with Darden Restaurants, McNiel held operational roles at Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse where he was the three-time recipient of the Endeavor Award, which is awarded to the #1 Director of Operations. Mr. McNiel studied political science at Howard Payne University and criminal justice at Weatherford College. He is also involved in numerous volunteer endeavors including contributions to the Houston Food Bank and Houston Police Foundation. Tom’s Urban is owned by Black Shamrock Partners, formerly Consumer Concept Group, a Denver-based investment and operating company, focused on launching, operating and investing in Experience Based Lifestyle Economy brands in the consumer, lifestyle and event sectors. Tom’s Urban has locations currently at LA Live in Los Angeles, Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, NYNY Hotel in Las Vegas and Ilani Casino in Portland. About Tom’s Urban Partners Rick Schaden and Tom Ryan founded Tom’s Urban to be a leading eater-tainment destination where guests can enjoy a modern American comfort menu offering of entrées and small plates with a twist in a polished casual restaurant setting. Tom’s Urban offers the best of everything – breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night, epic handcrafted cocktails and cold beer, and good company in a hip, inviting and entertaining atmosphere. For more information, visit About Black Shamrock Partners Black Shamrock Partners, formerly Consumer Concept Group, is an innovative investment and operating company, focused on launching, operating and investing in consumer, franchising and lifestyle brands. They also invest opportunistically in private businesses, real estate and alongside alternative investment managers. Black Shamrock Partners is guided by a relentless focus on investing in tomorrow’s demands and is managed by a group of officers with deep expertise in the restaurant, lifestyle, entertainment and sports industries. Their investment philosophy is rigorously centered on aligning interests and the virtues of patient capital, allowing them to pursue growth plans and make strategic decisions solely in the best interests of the companies in which they invest. Contacts Jim Furrer 646-677-1808

Kelli Valade Leaves Chili’s to Lead TDn2K

Wyman Roberts to step in as president of Chili's, a role he's previously held September 11, 2018--(Brinker International) Today, Chili's® Grill & Bar announced Kelli Valade is leaving her leadership role with the brand. Valade will join TDn2K™, parent company of People Report™, Black Box Intelligence™ and White Box Social Intelligence™, as president and CEO. In the interim, Wyman Roberts will once again step in as president of Chili's. Prior to Valade, Roberts served as president of Chili's for more than seven years. His extensive experience running both the Maggiano's and Chili's brands coupled with the strong leadership team in place at Chili's ensures the brand will continue to deliver notable results. "I'm not sure I can find the words to express how extremely proud I am of Kelli and all that she's accomplished," said Wyman Roberts, president and CEO of Brinker International, Inc. "I've seen firsthand the impact she's made at Brinker and Chili's and now she will help impact the entire industry." In her 22 years with Brinker, Valade's leadership helped shift the culture, initiate the Women Take the Lead program and impact positive results for Chili's. "This was an incredibly tough decision to leave a brand that I absolutely love and taught me the power of making people feel special," said Kelli Valade. "I've been honored to be a part of the amazing momentum the ChiliHeads have created and can't wait to see what's next for the team."

CEC Entertainment, Inc. Appoints Jim Howell as Chief Financial Officer

Howell Joins as Strategic Growth Continues for Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Piper Pizza September 10, 2018--(PR Newswire) CEC Entertainment, Inc., which operates Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants, today announced the appointment of James "Jim" A. Howell as Chief Financial Officer, effective Sept. 17, 2018. Howell will replace Dale Black, who is retiring effective Sept. 21, after many contributions to the company. "On behalf of everyone at CEC, I want to thank Dale for his tireless dedication during his time as CFO," said Tom Leverton, Chief Executive Officer, CEC Entertainment, Inc. "We wish Dale and his family the very best as he moves forward with the next chapter in his life. We look forward to continuing his success with the addition of Jim to our executive team." "I'm grateful for my time at CEC," said Black. "I've really enjoyed working with Tom and the rest of the team over the last three years. I think Jim is joining CEC at a very exciting time for the company.  I wish them much success as I look forward to spending more time with my wife and family." Howell will work closely with Leverton and other senior leaders to lead strategic initiatives across the company as well as manage all financial aspects of the business. "Jim's extensive multi-site and retail consumer experience makes him a fantastic addition to CEC Entertainment's leadership team," said Leverton. "As we continue to enhance guest experience across our brands, he will play a vital role in helping the company build on the sales momentum recently covered in our second quarter earnings." Howell joins CEC with a long-standing and successful career in the retail and financial services industries. Most recently, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Australian retailer Billabong International Limited and prior to that served in senior financial positions at Nordstrom, Inc. and Blockbuster, Inc. He began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers servicing clients in retail and financial services industries. "From recent launch of the first-of-its-kind All You Can Play offering at Chuck E. Cheese's to Peter Piper Pizza's continued expansion in the United States, it's an exciting time to join the CEC Entertainment, Inc. team," said Howell. "I am looking forward to applying my expertise from the retail industry to help both CEC Entertainment and its brands continue to set themselves apart as leaders in family entertainment." About CEC Entertainment, Inc. CEC Entertainment is the nationally recognized leader in family dining and entertainment with both its Chuck E. Cheese's and Peter Piper Pizza restaurants. 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's helps protect families through industry-leading programs such as Kid Check®. As a strong advocate for its local communities, Chuck E. Cheese's has donated more than $16 million to schools through its fundraising programs and supports its new national charity partner, Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The Company and its franchisees operate a system of 607 Chuck E. Cheese's and 147 Peter Piper Pizza stores, with locations in 47 states and 14 foreign countries and territories. For more information, visit Chuck E. Cheese's or connect with us on social media. CONTACT: Sara Spencer 312-935-1227

Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants Announces Appointment of Michael Coyne as Chief Financial Officer

Brings Experience with Restaurant Industry, Large Public Companies September 8, 2018--(PR Web) Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants today announced the appointment of Michael Coyne as Chief Financial Officer, effective October 1. Mr. Coyne brings to Cooper’s Hawk more than 30 years of experience in leadership positions across a variety of top tier companies. “We are excited for Mike to join the Cooper’s Hawk team,” said Cooper’s Hawk Founder & CEO Tim McEnery. “His depth of experience in both large public companies and the restaurant space will contribute greatly to our leadership team as we grow our brand.” Most recently, Coyne served as Chief Financial Officer at Potbelly Corporation, which included a period as interim Chief Executive Officer. Prior to joining Potbelly, he served as Senior Vice President, Small Business at CNA Financial Corporation, and as Chief Financial Officer of CNA’s Property & Casualty Operations business. He also spent seven years at Sears Holdings Corporation, culminating as Vice President and Treasurer. Michael also held various financial roles at Schering-Plough Corporation. Michael, a Certified Public Accountant, began his career with Ernst & Young. “I look forward to joining Tim and the unique culture he has created at Cooper’s Hawk. I’m also looking forward to adding my experience in public company operating and finance roles, investment community relationships, and strategic leadership to the talented Cooper’s Hawk team,” said Mr. Coyne. As CFO, Coyne will report directly to Tim McEnery, and will oversee the company’s finance, accounting, financial planning and analysis, internal audit, tax and treasury areas of the business. Coyne completed his undergraduate work in Accounting at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and received an MBA from the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He and his wife currently reside in Hinsdale, IL with their three children. About Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants Founded in 2005 by CEO Tim McEnery, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is built upon the belief that food and wine hold the power to forge lasting connections. A lifestyle brand focused on creating memorable moments that enrich lives, Cooper’s Hawk is the 34th largest winery in the U.S. and home to over 300,000 Wine Club Members. The concept is a fusion of familiar elements – winery, modern casual restaurant, Napa-style tasting room and artisanal retail market – that has combined to create an entirely new hospitality experience. Cooper’s Hawk has been recognized as one of the five fastest-growing restaurant chains (Nation’s Restaurant News and Kalinowski Equity Research), has won over 500 awards for its wine and has been named the Official Wine of the Screen Actors Guild® Awards through 2020. Cooper’s Hawk wines are sourced, blended, aged, bottled and distributed exclusively through Cooper’s Hawk.

GameWorks, Inc. Under New Ownership; Philip N. Kaplan Named Chairman and Chief Executive Officerg

Company Strengthens Leadership to Execute Entertainment Concept’s Strategic Growth Plans on Heels of New Ownership September 5, 2018--(Business Wire) GameWorks, Inc., a full entertainment and dining experience for families, teens and millennials with seven locations nationwide, announced today that ExWorks Capital has assumed full ownership of the Company and appointed new leadership. ExWorks has been a lender to GameWorks since 2017, and recently restructured its investment, giving it full control of the Company. Concurrent with the change in corporate ownership, Philip N. Kaplan was named chairman and chief executive officer. In this capacity, Kaplan will lead day-to-day business operations and direct the Company’s growth and expansion. Kaplan brings nearly 30 years of diverse business operational experience at both public and private companies to his new leadership role. He has established a proven track record in leading strategic operations and helping companies scale to achieve rapid growth. Over the course of his extensive career, Kaplan held myriad management positions in which he directed efforts surrounding corporate mergers, acquisitions, integrations and reorganizations. Most recently, Kaplan served as managing partner of April Mountain Properties, LLC, a family owned real-estate company that owns and operates residential rental properties. During his five years in this role, he grew the business substantially. Prior, he was chief executive officer and board member at private equity-held dbtech, a leader in healthcare workflow automation solutions. Kaplan also served as chief operating officer and board member of Quality Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:QSII), a healthcare IT company. Earlier, he was chief strategy officer of Internap Network Services Corporation (NASDAQ: INAP), which acquired VitalStream Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: VSTH), a software-as-a-network service that enabled enterprise, entertainment and media clients to deliver video and audio experiences to global online audiences, which Kaplan co-founded. Kaplan was president, chief operating officer and Board member at VitalStream until the February 2007 acquisition. He was then instrumental in the transition and integration of the two entities. Currently, Kaplan is a member of the board of directors of the online action sports company, Kaplan replaces Greg Stevens, who served as GameWorks’ chief executive officer for six years. “GameWorks has built a strong foundation and established a solid reputation in an industry that is continually expanding and poised for considerable growth. With Phil at the helm, we see an enormous opportunity to capitalize on this explosive market acceptance of entertainment concepts by growing the GameWorks brand and footprint. We look forward to the contributions he will make in his new leadership role,” noted Randall Abrahams, ExWorks’ executive chairman. “Joining the GameWorks leadership team allows me to bring a fresh and dynamic new vision to the Company, one that is focused on ensuring our guests have extraordinary, energetic and fun experiences when visiting our locations. To this end, working closely with our new owners, GameWorks will soon be bolstering several aspects of its stimulating offering through key initiatives that will further distinguish the Company within the family entertainment space and position it for continued growth,” Kaplan explained. “Since its founding more than 20 years ago, GameWorks has become recognized as a top destination for fun, food, excitement and a wide variety of games and eSports, where we have become widely recognized for our distinctive eSports Lounges. GameWorks will look to leverage the strength of our management and on-site location teams as well as our industry expertise to drive the future direction of our brand,” Kaplan concluded. About GameWorks, Inc. GameWorks, Inc. offers a full entertainment and dining experience for families, teens and millennials, from seven locations nationwide, including those in Chesapeake, Va., Denver, Las Vegas, Nev., Minneapolis, Newport, Ky., Schaumburg, Ill. and Seattle. Each action-packed location ranges, on average, from between 20-30,000 square feet and features more than 120 of the latest, most popular arcade and video games. Other interactive activities, ranging from laser tag and state-of-the-art bowling alleys to billiards and attractions, are offered at various locations. GameWorks is recognized nationally for its electronic sports gaming, which take place in its eSports Lounges, attracting 80,000+ guests annually who participate in or watch tournaments. GameWorks also operates Table Top Tap House, a top-rated, popular restaurant, sports bar and social game hall serving modern American tavern-style food and drinks in San Francisco. For more information, please visit, or connect with the Company on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Contacts GameWorks, Inc. Susan Turkell, 303-766-4343

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Healthy Dining Announces New Vice President of Technology

Tech expert leads company’s “personalized eating” innovation September 5, 2018--(Restaurant News) California-based Healthy Dining is proud to announce the appointment of Michael Ki as its Vice President of Technology. Michael will be leading the development of Healthy Dining’s digital and mobile technology, which fills market gaps in the consumer eating and restaurant menu management/ordering landscape. He will also be building, leading, and supporting Healthy Dining’s technology team as the company grows its digital footprint to world-class status. “We are thrilled to have Michael join our team at this exciting time as we continue our development of cutting-edge software solutions to both accelerate and power a personalized eating movement,” said Frank Mueller, Chief Innovation Officer of Healthy Dining. “Michael’s expertise and 25+ years of impressive accomplishments will be instrumental to our company’s growth and expansion, ultimately empowering millions of people to eat healthier and live higher quality lives.” Michael worked for nearly 20 years previously as the director of technology for the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), as well as a software and systems engineer with two startups. His expertise spans a wide range of management, technical and consultative services related to application development, acquisition, use, and maintenance of computer and network software and hardware. Embracing the opportunity to join Healthy Dining, Michael explains, “I share in the company’s vision and mission to improve the health of our nation as well as my own.  My wife and I just had our second baby, and I can’t think of a better mission to lead than one that will make the world a healthier place for our future generations. About Healthy Dining Healthy Dining is the most experienced restaurant nutrition services provider in the world, supporting restaurants of all types and sizes. Services include nutrient analysis, allergen and gluten identification, and validation of attributes such as “organic,” “clean,” “vegan,” and other terms.  Healthy Dining has conducted numerous research projects supported by the National Institutes of Health in the area of restaurant nutrition.  The company’s signature site,, is the only search engine of its kind helping Americans easily find better-for-you menu choices at thousands of participating restaurants coast to coast.  Healthy Dining recently launched MyMenu,® a “virtual menu concierge” that gives guests unprecedented personalization functionality to find menu items based on personal health needs and lifestyle preferences. This groundbreaking technology – accessed on the restaurant websites, mobile apps, and/or tablets and kiosks within the restaurant – is poised to revolutionize how guests choose restaurants and find menu items aligned with personal goals and preferences. The MyMenu platform, now launched with more than 1,000 restaurant locations, will soon be available at an enterprise level for universities, health and wellness organizations, weight and diabetes management, wearables and other wellness-focused industries. For more information, please visit, and Contact: Erica Bohm, MS 858-541-2049 x7112

Paris Baguette Appoints John P. Billingsley as Chief Development Officer

Industry Veteran to Lead United States Expansion for Fast-Casual Bakery Franchise September 5, 2018--(Restaurant News) Paris Baguette, the Parisian-inspired fast casual global bakery, announced the appointment of John P. Billingsley as Chief Development Officer. Mr. Billingsley will be responsible for developing and implementing a diverse channel growth strategy, including dedicated concept application, financial modeling and successful domestic deployment. Billingsley brings more than two decades of experience to his role at Paris baguette, having held leadership roles with brands such as Au Pon Bon and Papa Gino’s. Most recently, John served as Chief Development Officer at Le Pain Quotidien USA, where he lead reorganization efforts to ensure a successful domestic expansion, yielding a combined return on investment in excess of 40%. Furthermore, he developed and implemented a real estate growth plan that included a diversified channel and geographic strategy. “I am delighted to join the Paris Baguette team at such an exciting time. I have always been impressed by the brand and its top-quality menu offerings,” said John Billingsley, Chief Development Officer of Paris Baguette. “It is exciting to be part of such an incredible team, and look forward to rapidly expanding the Paris Baguette brand within our current markets as well as new territories across the United States.” “John is a brand builder, with a proven track record of strategically growing and scaling global concepts,” said Jack F. Moran, Chief Operating Officer of Paris Baguette. “We are honored to welcome him to the Paris Baguette family and know his extensive background in franchising and development strategy will be a key driver in our efforts to becoming one of the largest fast-casual bakeries in the country.” For more information regarding Paris Baguette, including store locations, please visit Like Paris Baguette on Facebook at or follow on Instagram at About Paris Baguette Paris Baguette is a global brand that operates more than 70 corporate and franchise locations throughout the U.S., and over 3,000 internationally. The fast-casual French inspired bakery-café was founded in 1988 and bakes delicious fresh bread daily on site. Paris Baguette’s mission is to bring happiness to everyone by adapting to people’s ever-expanding palates with their decadent, unique and sophisticated pastries, breads, and cakes. The growing bakery chain serves a variety of treats ranging from appetizing snacks to stunning and delicious cakes for all occasions, as well as chef-inspired sandwiches and salads. For more information, visit Media Contacts: Shelby Robinson / Gabby Nahle

Golden Corral Exec Named CMO at Captain D's

Leading Fast Casual Seafood Restaurant Welcomes Industry Veteran to Executive Team September 4, 2018--(Restaurant News) Captain D’s, the nation’s leading fast casual seafood restaurant, announced today that Chris Kuehn has joined the company as chief marketing officer. Kuehn brings 30 years of industry experience leading the marketing activities of several national food service brands and specializes in strategic growth plans that drive innovation and increase sales. In his new role, Kuehn will be responsible for developing and implementing Captain D’s marketing strategies to further drive brand awareness and support the company’s ongoing expansion throughout the country. “Throughout his distinguished career, Chris has established a proven track record of success and achieved exceptional growth results for the various restaurant brands he’s worked with,” said Phil Greifeld, chief executive officer and president of Captain D’s. “After many years of compounding success, Captain D’s has emerged as a leader in the fast casual segment, and we know there’s still unlimited potential for the brand’s future. We’re thrilled to welcome Chris to the team at such a pivotal moment in our company history, and have no doubt that his extensive experience will be a tremendous asset as we gear up for our 50th year of business.” Prior to joining Captain D’s, Kuehn served as the chief marketing officer at Golden Corral for 10 years, where he was responsible for conceptualizing and leading the short- and long-term growth strategies for the brand. During his tenure, he developed innovative marketing strategies that resulted in significant brand and volume growth for their system. A food service industry veteran, Kuehn previously held leadership positions in marketing and operations at Arby’s and Pizza Hut. “The driving forces behind the impressive success Captain D’s has achieved over the past several years are its unique and highly differentiated brand position in the marketplace that is supported by an engaged and growing Franchisee base and superb Sr. Leadership team.  I am privileged to be joining the D’s system and look forward to contributing to the accelerated growth of this iconic American brand,” said Kuehn. About Captain D’s Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Captain D’s has more than 530 restaurants in 22 states. Captain D’s is the nation’s leading fast casual seafood restaurant and was named the #1 seafood chain in the QSR 50, ranked by AUV. Founded in 1969, Captain D’s has been offering its customers high-quality seafood at reasonable prices in a welcoming atmosphere for more than 48 years. Captain D’s serves a wide variety of seafood that includes freshly prepared entrees and the company’s signature hand-battered fish, which is cooked to order. The restaurants also offer premium-quality, grilled items such as shrimp, and surf and turf, as well as hushpuppies, desserts and freshly brewed, Southern-style sweet tea, a Captain D’s favorite. For more information, please visit Contact: Nikki Rode Fish Consulting 954-893-9150

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Announces Change in Operations Leadership

Chief Financial Officer Guy Constant Transitioning to Chief Operating Officer Role September 4, 2018--(Business Wire) Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB), a full-service restaurant chain serving an innovative selection of high-quality gourmet burgers in a family-friendly atmosphere, today announced a change in the Company’s restaurant operations leadership. Guy Constant, who currently serves as the Company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, will move to the role of executive vice president and chief operating officer for Red Robin upon the hiring of a new chief financial officer and transfer of duties, anticipated in early 2019. The Company has begun an executive search for a new chief financial officer as part of Mr. Constant’s transition to Operations leadership for Red Robin. Mr. Constant will be replacing Carin Stutz, who served as Red Robin’s executive vice president and chief operating officer since April 2016, and is leaving that role effective immediately. Denny Marie Post, Red Robin’s president and chief executive officer, will serve as interim COO through the remainder of 2018, as Mr. Constant transitions to his new role and while the search for a new CFO is underway. “As we look ahead to what Red Robin needs in Operations leadership for the next stage of our business, we look forward to leveraging the considerable skills and experience of Guy Constant. He is the perfect person to lead our Operations team forward and to partner with me as we pivot to a new future. He is highly strategic and clearly understands the challenges we face, as well as how to capitalize on our considerable opportunities. Guy’s experience includes serving as international division president for a major casual dining brand, overseeing both franchised and company-owned locations, and he is looking forward to filling the Operations leadership role here at Red Robin,” said Denny Marie Post, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. chief executive officer. “In addition to Company and franchise operations, Guy will continue to lead supply chain, facilities and development after the first of the year.” “Red Robin is committed to recapturing our momentum and to regaining our operational edge in this increasingly complex and competitive environment,” said Ms. Post. “Fortifying our leadership team will help us address current and future challenges, which is key to a financially sustainable future. We are grateful for the many contributions Carin Stutz made to rebuilding our fundamentals during the past two years and wish her the very best.” About Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (NASDAQ: RRGB) Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc. (, a casual dining restaurant chain founded in 1969 that operates through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Red Robin International, Inc., and under the trade name Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, is the Gourmet Burger Authority™, famous for serving more than two dozen craveable, high-quality burgers with Bottomless Steak Fries® in a fun environment welcoming to guests of all ages. Whether a family dining with kids, adults grabbing a drink at the bar, or teens enjoying a meal, Red Robin offers an unparalleled experience for its guests. In addition to its many burger offerings, Red Robin serves a wide variety of salads, soups, appetizers, entrees, desserts, and signature beverages. Red Robin offers a variety of options behind the bar, including its extensive selection of local and regional beers, and innovative adult beer shakes and cocktails, earning the restaurant a VIBE Vista Award for Best Beer Program in a Multi-Unit Chain Restaurant. There are more than 570 Red Robin restaurants across the United States and Canada, including locations operating under franchise agreements. Red Robin… YUMMM®! Connect with Red Robin on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Contacts For media relations questions contact: Coyne PR Brian Farley, 973-588-2000 or For investor relations questions contact: Red Robin Investor Relations PJ Adler, 303-846-5040

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Home Run Inn Promotes Dan Costello to CEO of Family-Owned Chicago Pizza Empire

Promotion follows the death of his uncle, former CEO Joe Perrino August 29, 2018--(Chicago Tribune) Home Run Inn, the family-owned pizza empire that grew from a single Chicago tavern, has elevated Dan Costello from president to CEO, succeeding Joe Perrino, who died last month. Costello, 46, who runs Home Run Inn’s nine Chicago-area restaurants, will take the helm from his late uncle, overseeing a business that generates more than $80 million in annual revenue, including a frozen pizza brand that now reaches 35 states. “I’m coming into a real stable situation with a company that’s growing and doing well,” Costello said Wednesday. “I will be working with our executive team and my family to keep the strategic direction and the vision Joe had set.” Costello has had his hands in the family dough for 33 years, starting as a busboy at age 13, and moving on to sausage grinder as he worked his way up the corporate ladder. He joined the family business full time in 1994 after graduating from the University of Notre Dame. Founded by Costello’s great-grandparents, Mary and Vincent Grittani, Home Run Inn began serving pizza at its Little Village tavern on the South Side in 1947. Now based in suburban Woodridge, Home Run Inn has expanded to nine restaurants in Chicago and the suburbs, with a 10th location set to open in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood next year, Costello said. Costello will continue to directly oversee the restaurant chain, which accounts for about 30 percent of Home Run Inn’s annual revenue. The frozen pizza division, which will continue to be headed by Mark Carlson, generates the majority of the company’s revenue, and it will be business as usual going forward, Costello said. “It’s slow and steady growth,” he said. “We’re trying to build market share in all the markets we’re in. The best way we know to do that is make a really good product and get it out on the shelves.” Joe Perrino, whose father, Nick Perrino, and grandmother, Mary Grittani, created the original tavern pizza, started running the family business in 1990, guiding its dual growth as a local Chicago restaurant chain and regional frozen pizza brand. He died last month at the age of 64 after suffering a heart attack in Florida, the family said Wednesday. For Costello, ascending to CEO in the wake of his uncle’s death is bittersweet. Part of Perrino’s legacy, he said, was mentoring him over the years, while preparing the family business for just such a succession. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, but I still miss my uncle,” Costello said. “I wish he was here, but I know he’s looking down on us and he’s prepared us for this and he’s expecting us to carry forward, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

El Pollo Loco Announces Hiring of Jennifer Jaffe as Company’s First-Ever Chief People Officer

The Creation of the Role Signals Continued Progress in El Pollo Loco’s Commitment to Developing a People-First Culture August 27, 2018--(Restaurant News) El Pollo Loco, Inc. (“El Pollo Loco” or “Company”) (Nasdaq: LOCO), the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken chain, today announced the appointment of Jennifer Jaffe as Senior Vice President and the company’s first-ever Chief People Officer. Ms. Jaffe brings years of proven leadership and experience leading HR and talent management functions to this newly created role. Ms. Jaffe comes to El Pollo Loco from Estée Lauder, where she led the human resources function for Too Faced Cosmetics and oversaw the company’s acquisition by Estée Lauder in 2016. Prior to Estée Lauder, Ms. Jaffe was Vice President of Human Resources at AT&T, where she served on an HR leadership team to support more than 13,000 employees. Before that, she was the Vice President of Talent Development at DIRECTV prior to its merger with AT&T, where she led the end-to-end talent management strategy for the entire corporation, including the creation and execution of the talent review process for more than 3,000 leaders and oversaw the company’s leadership development and learning programs. “We could not be more thrilled to have Jennifer join the El Pollo Loco team to spearhead this important leadership role within the company,” said Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “Our people, from the restaurants to the Support Center to the franchisees, are our greatest asset. Jennifer brings the visionary and authentic leadership needed to help us create a truly amazing culture for our people, who in turn will continue to give our customers the best food and the best experience possible.” In her role as Chief People Officer, Jaffe will be responsible for overseeing all of the company’s HR functions and working with management to transform and accelerate the company’s focus on developing a people-first culture for El Pollo Loco’s Support Center and more than 480 company-owned and franchised restaurants. “I’m excited to join El Pollo Loco at a time when the company is so clearly focused on renewing its commitment to creating an authentic, transparent and people-first culture,” said Ms. Jaffe. “El Pollo Loco’s mission is centered on the idea of putting its people’s needs and considerations first in everything the company does, and I look forward to playing a role in fostering that very important mission.” El Pollo Loco’s commitment to a people-first culture includes the recent launch of an extensive training program called Heart-Centered Leadership based on inspiring its workforce to lead with authenticity, humility and transparency. The company has also invested in Workplace by Facebook in all company-owned restaurants, a social media platform designed to help eliminate communications barriers between the support center and restaurant employees, enabling robust operational dialog in real time, while also further building a sense of community. Ms. Jaffe earned a Bachelor of Arts in both International Studies and Sociology from University of California of Irvine and a Master of Science in Human Resources from Chapman University. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Girls, Inc. of Orange County, a non-profit organization that provides mentoring and research-based programming to equip girls to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers. About El Pollo Loco El Pollo Loco (Nasdaq:LOCO) is the nation’s leading fire-grilled chicken restaurant chain renowned for its masterfully citrus-marinated, fire-grilled chicken and handcrafted entrees using fresh ingredients inspired by Mexican recipes. With more than 480 company-owned and franchised restaurants in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Louisiana, El Pollo Loco is expanding its presence in key markets through a combination of company and existing and new franchisee development. Visit us on our website at Like: Follow on Twitter: @ElPolloLoco Follow on Instagram: @ElPolloLoco Subscribe: Join Loco Rewards: Join our team: Media Contact: Quinn Kelsey/Mitch Polikoff ICR 646-677-1810

Buffalo Wild Wings Welcomes New Chief Marketing Officer August 27, 2018--(Inspire Brands) Inspire Brands today announced that Seth Freeman has been named Chief Marketing Officer of Buffalo Wild Wings. As CMO, Seth will lead all brand experience, culinary, advertising and digital efforts for Buffalo Wild Wings. Prior to joining Buffalo Wild Wings, Seth was with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), where he worked across several brands within the mainstream portfolio, leading high-profile guest experience and design initiatives, partnering with franchisees across over 2,000 locations to drive growth, and overseeing award-winning marketing campaigns for Holiday Inn Express. Most recently, he was the Head of Global Brand & Commercial Performance for Holiday Inn. Prior to IHG, Seth was a Senior Brand Manager at The Coca-Cola Company, where he led end-to-end brand stewardship for Gold Peak Tea and sponsorship integrations with NASCAR and FIFA World Cup for the Coke brand.

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. Announces Appointment of Marie L. Perry to the Company’s Board of Directors August 24, 2018--(Business Wire) Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. (“RHGI” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:RUTH) announced today that Marie L. Perry has been appointed to serve as an independent member of the Board of Directors effective immediately. With her appointment, the Board will be comprised of eight members, six of whom are independent. Ms. Perry will stand for election by vote of the shareholders at the Company’s next annual meeting. Ms. Perry is Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Jamba, Inc. (“Jamba Juice”), an operator of healthful living company and franchise-owned stores offering freshly blended whole fruit and vegetable smoothies, bowls, juices, cold-pressed shots, boosts, snacks, and meal replacements. She has served in this role since August 2016 and served as Jamba Juice’s Executive Vice President, Finance, from May 2016 to August 2016. From 2003 to 2016, Ms. Perry held roles leading all aspects of the finance team at Brinker International, Inc. including having served as interim CFO during a 12-month period, and most recently, serving as Senior Vice President, Controller and Treasurer. Ms. Perry also held senior finance and accounting roles at American Airlines and KPMG. She is a certified public accountant. “Marie’s experience as a public company chief financial officer and the diversity of her skills will make her a valuable member of our Board. We are confident she will make great contributions to the Company and we welcome her to our Board” said Michael O’Donnell, Executive Chairman of RHGI. About Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. Ruth's Chris Steak House was founded by Ruth Fertel 50 years ago in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ruth had a recipe for everything – from how to prepare her signature sizzling steaks to how to treat her guests. This timeless formula is a testament to how one neighborhood eatery has become the largest collection of upscale steak houses in the world, with over 150 restaurant locations around the globe. Ruth's Chris remains true to its heritage, helping guests make their best memories on 500-degree sizzling plates. This is how it's done. For information about our restaurants, to make reservations, or to purchase gift cards, please visit For more information about Ruth's Hospitality Group, Inc. please visit Contacts For Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. Fitzhugh Taylor, 203-682-8261

Shari’s Management Corporation Taps Joan Hansen as Director of Marketing August 24, 2018--(Restaurant News) Shari’s Restaurants is pleased to announce the hiring of Joan Hansen as our corporate Director of Marketing. Hansen will oversee the promotional and marketing efforts for not only Shari’s, but also our Coco’s Restaurants and Bakeries, and Carrows Restaurants as well. Shari’s, the Beaverton, Oregon-based family-dining chain brought Hansen aboard in early August to lead the marketing department for all three brands. Hansen is a restaurant professional with more than 25 years of progressive operations and marketing experience. Her restaurant background includes long-term stints at Mimi’s Café, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and, most recently, Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery. She is known for taking on large-scale initiatives including curbside take-out, online menu versioning, national sponsorships, comprehensive local restaurant marketing programs, and check-boosting menu redesign projects from concept to launch. Hansen has won awards at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, including Team Member of the Year, and the Innovation Award at Dale Carnegie. Joan holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton, and has completed seminars in internet marketing at University of California, Irvine, and menu development at the Culinary Institute of America. “I am thrilled to be part of the ongoing rebrand initiative of these legacy brands,” Hansen said. “The love and passion our guests feel for each is exciting.” Shari’s CEO, Sam Borgese, stated that “Joan’s wealth of knowledge about the restaurant industry is a tremendous asset to Shari’s, Coco’s, and Carrows. Her hospitality marketing expertise will surely provide a positive experience for all of our guests in addition to guiding our brands toward the success we’ve begun in 2018 and are looking forward to continuing into the near and distant future.” About Shari’s Restaurants Shari’s began in Hermiston, Oregon in 1978 with Ron and Sharon Bergquist as proprietors. By 1999, Shari’s Restaurants had grown to be the ninth largest family restaurant chain in the United States in total sales and sixth in growth. Since that time, Shari’s has continued its growth under the recent reins of CapitalSpring which acquired the enterprise in 2016. Currently, Shari’s continues to enjoy a fine reputation in family dining in 93 locations throughout the Northwest U.S. Shari’s welcomes guests of all ages to enjoy locally-sourced ingredients served in deliciously-prepared meals specially created for those who crave comfort food and scrumptious pies. Visit Shari’s at to order online or to find a Shari’s location near you. For more information about Shari’s, please visit: About CapitalSpring, Majority Owner of Shari’s Restaurants Founded in 2005, CapitalSpring is a private investment firm focused exclusively on the restaurant industry. The Firm currently manages assets of approximately $1.3 billion and has completed investments in over 50 different restaurant brands and more than 4,000 restaurant locations. CapitalSpring focuses on supporting proven restaurant operators with a range of structured credit and private equity solutions and has offices in Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and New York. For more information about CapitalSpring, please visit Media Contact: Bridgette Hanning Brandtailers 714-442-0500

Former Krispy Kreme Exec Joins Biscuitville as Chief Development Officer August 24, 2018--(Food Business News) Anne Goldman, former senior director of global real estate and development at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corp., has joined Biscuitville Fresh Southern as chief development officer. She succeeds Tim Hegarty, who has retired from the company. Prior to joining Biscuitville, Ms. Goldman was with Krispy Kreme for five years. Earlier, she was development manager at Dunkin’ Brands and also worked at Sonic Drive-In, Dollar General and McDonald’s Corp. “I am delighted to join the Biscuitville team and help the organization achieve its goals, particularly around growth and new development ventures,” Ms. Goldman said. “Biscuitville is a beloved North Carolina brand and is well-positioned for its next chapter because of the strong brand culture, a focus on quality and people excellence. It is a privilege to be part of this company.” Kathie Niven, who took over as president of Biscuitville earlier this year, described Ms. Goldman as “a seasoned development executive and retail market growth strategist.” “She is a high-energy and results-oriented leader that demonstrates an entrepreneurial approach to her work,” Ms. Niven said. “She will take the lead on the continued evolution of Biscuitville’s restaurants, inclusive of accelerating our market development plans, continuing to oversee the build-out of our remodel strategy and working with our leadership team on entry into new markets.” Ms. Goldman received a bachelor’s degree in science from Meredith College and a post-graduate certificate in corporate law from Meredith College’s Paralegal Program. Biscuitville is a family-owned and privately-held chain of quick-service restaurants that specializes in Southern breakfast and lunch foods. Biscuitville has locations in North Carolina and Virginia.

Rotolo’s Welcomes Ryan Brach as Chief Operating Officer

Visionary brand champion to elevate restaurant operations initiatives August 22, 2018--(Restaurant News) Mitch Rotolo, CEO of Rotolo’s – the Baton Rouge-based pizzeria – today announced that industry leader Ryan Brach will join the team as Chief Operating Officer. Brach is a quality-committed restaurant professional that brings over 10 years of experience with all aspects of market development to his new role at Rotolo’s. As COO, Brach will update the training program and oversee Rotolo’s training team, new restaurant opening team and operations. He will create operations strategies and policies and effectively communicate these to Rotolo’s employees. Additionally, Brach will oversee franchisee support systemwide and foster employee alignment with corporate goals. Prior to joining Rotolo’s, Brach held multiple positions at the Planet Beach Franchising Corporation where he grew from a franchise business consultant to a GIS research analyst in just two years. Then, he became the co-owner and COO of Beach Pizza Management, LLC. In this position, Brach opened six Rotolo’s restaurants in 44 months, managed over 150 employees and became Rotolo’s largest franchisee by unit count and volume. “Ryan is a motivated leader with proven success in training, managing, and developing personnel and he’s excellent at creating policies, procedures, manuals, and more,” Rotolo said. “He is passionate about Louisiana and the Rotolo’s brand. He even created the Garlic Parmesan Bites, Rotolo’s best-selling appetizer! Ryan will be an invaluable asset as we continue to expand our new prototype – Craft & Crust – and enhance operations excellence system-wide. We couldn’t be more excited to have him join our team.” Rotolo’s is all about unwinding after a long day, hanging with friends and family and forgetting the rat race. Rotolo’s talented chefs make dough from scratch, fresh daily at each location. They also take the time to craft their own sauces and hand cut fresh veggies. That’s why every pizza, pasta, salad, sandwich, soup and calzone served is bursting with authentic flavor. Rotolo’s food is so good, that they took home gold at the World Pizza Games in 2016 and 2018. In 1996, Mitch Rotolo opened the first Rotolo’s Pizzeria in Baton Rouge, La., just a pizza throw away from LSU. Over 20 years later, the casual Italian restaurant now has over 30 franchises throughout Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Florida, with many more in the works. For more information, visit and connect with Rotolo’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For franchising information, call 225.367.6400 or visit Contact: Brooke Johnston Champion Management 972-930-9933

Paris Baguette Appoints Jack F. Moran As New Chief Operating Officer

Moran Brings 30+ Years of International Savoir-Faire to the Company August 20, 2018--(Restaurant News) Paris Baguette, announces the hiring of Jack F. Moran as the brand’s Chief Operating Officer. As the newest addition to the Paris Baguette executive team, Jack will further expand the concept’s footprint in the United States, with plans to reach 1,000 domestic restaurants by 2030. In addition, he will streamline the brand’s menu offerings, curating the best sellers and fan-favorites to elevate the overall customer experience. Moran brings over 20 years of experience to the restaurant management space, both domestically and internationally. Prior to joining Paris Baguette, Moran served as Chief Executive Officer at Le Pain Quotidien USA, where he oversaw the brand’s fiscal, strategic and operational imperatives necessary to grow the 100-unit business. Furthermore, he added more than 35 new locations in a two-year time frame and launched a successful delivery service nationwide, driving incremental sales. Under his leadership, the brand saw aggressive growth in 2017, reversing a negative comp trend. “I am thrilled to be joining such a unique concept and look forward to building efficiencies across the organization through process innovation” Jack F. Moran, Chief Operating Officer of Paris Baguette. “I am eager to expand Paris Baguette’s reach in the United States, while maintaining the Korean heritage and values that has made the brand a household name overseas.” “Paris Baguette‘s top priority is providing high-quality products and a positive customer experience. Jack is a world-class executive who brings a wealth of experience to Paris Baguette, and is the ideal leader to help us achieve our aggressive growth plans in the United States” said Hur Young-in, Chief Executive Officer of Paris Baguette Korea. “We look forward to a promising and prosperous future under Jack’s leadership.” For more information regarding Paris Baguette, including store locations, please visit Like Paris Baguette on Facebook at follow on Instagram at About Paris Baguette Paris Baguette is a global brand that operates more than 70 corporate and franchise locations throughout the U.S., and over 3,000 internationally. The fast-casual French inspired bakery-café was founded in 1988 and bakes delicious fresh bread daily on site. Paris Baguette’s mission is to bring happiness to everyone by adapting to people’s ever-expanding palates with their decadent, unique and sophisticated pastries, breads, and cakes. The growing bakery chain serves a variety of treats ranging from appetizing snacks to stunning and delicious cakes for all occasions, as well as chef-inspired sandwiches and salads. For more information, visit Contact: Gabby Nahle Konnect Agency

FAT Brands Welcomes Rebecca D. Hershinger as Chief Financial Officer

Experienced Senior Finance Executive Joins Rapidly Growing West Coast-Based Franchisor August 16, 2018--(Business Wire) FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: FAT) (“FAT Brands” or the “Company”) announces the hiring of Rebecca D. Hershinger as Chief Financial Officer of FAT Brands. As the newest addition to the executive team, Hershinger will work alongside longstanding President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Wiederhorn to support financial and strategic goals for the Company. Ron Roe will continue as Senior Vice President of Finance for the Company, focusing on the integration of FAT Brands’ recent and future acquisitions. Hershinger brings over 20 years of experience and expertise in finance, accounting, strategic planning, and public reporting to FAT Brands, most recently serving as Chief Financial Officer for Genius Brands International, Inc., a publicly-traded children's animation studio that creates and licenses multimedia content for toddlers to tweens. In her previous role, Hershinger oversaw all corporate finance and accounting activities, acted as primary liaison with external auditors for quarterly reviews and annual audits, and developed and enhanced internal controls. Hershinger is adept in reporting for public companies, championing corporate development activities, directing regulatory compliance, and risk management. She has cultivated these skills over the course of her career in the finance field through roles at JP Morgan Chase & Co., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc., SpectrumDNA, Inc., and Genius Brands as well as CFO Advisory Services, Inc., an accounting and business advisory consultancy she founded. “I can't imagine a more exciting time to join FAT Brands,” said Rebecca D. Hershinger, Chief Financial Officer of FAT Brands. “The vivid history and rich culture of brands, such as Fatburger, paired with the international reach of the Company's six fast casual and casual dining restaurants, brings great opportunity where I can utilize my financial background to continue to advance our existing portfolio, while looking forward to future acquisitions and expansion.” “Rebecca brings incredible skills to our finance team from her previous experience scaling high-growth companies, where she provided unmatched finance vision, leadership and strategy to help these organizations reach the next level,” said Andy Wiederhorn, President and CEO of FAT Brands. “Rebecca is a tremendous asset to the FAT Brands team, and she will play an instrumental role as we continue our rapid growth.” For more information, please visit Fresh. Authentic. Tasty. Brands FAT Brands (NASDAQ: FAT) is a leading global franchising company that strategically acquires, markets and develops fast casual and casual dining restaurant concepts around the world. The Company currently owns six restaurant brands, Fatburger, Buffalo’s Cafe, Buffalo’s Express, Hurricane Grill & Wings, and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses, that have over 360 locations open and more than 300 under development in 32 countries Contacts Media Relations: Konnect Agency Shelby Robinson/Rebecca Campbell 213-988-8344 or Investor Relations: ICR Alexis Tessier 203-682-8286

La Brea Dining Group Names Clay Sanger COO August 15, 2018--(Food News Feed) La Brea Dining Group, known for the JINYA Ramen Bar brand and Robata JINYA, recently appointed Clay Sanger as COO. Sanger brings over 30 years of experience to the Los Angeles-based restaurant group. Prior to joining the Japanese-focused brand, Sanger most recently held the position of COO for Pieology, which operates 130 pizzerias, with 70 more units expected to open. At Pieology he oversaw both company and franchise operations including development, real estate, training, operations support, and restaurant design and constructions. Additional experience includes 11 years as Senior VP of Operations for Panera Bakery, Senior VP of Operations of SusieCakes Bakeries, and his initial restaurant role as Regional Training Manager of La Madeleine Country French Café in Arizona. With the JINYA Ramen Bar brand continuing to expand, currently 29 locations with 6 slated to open before 2019, Sanger brings a wealth of knowledge to the organizations. Realizing the need for authentic ramen in the United States, successful Tokyo restaurateur Tomonori Takahashi opened JINYA Ramen Bar’s first U.S. location in Studio City, Calif. in 2010. When selecting the name of his establishments, Takahashi gravitated to JINYA as it refers to the historical estate of the samurai and community meeting point. JINYA embodies the ideals of all of Tomonori’s restaurants, intended to be a cozy, neighborhood spot for lively, social gatherings. The brand has since expanded to 25 stores throughout the United States and Canada. Despite its fast growth, JINYA is known for its slow-cooked approach to ramen, made from broths simmered for 10 hours in-house and noodles meticulously aged for three days. The ramen-focused menu features 13 signature bowls with more than 20 toppings, allowing for countless combinations. From its customizable menu to sleek interiors, JINYA provides a modern, approachable take on authentic Japanese dining.

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Joe Dominiak to Lead Operations, Purchasing, Training and New Store Openings for Growing Elevated Sports Restaurant Brand August 14, 2018--(Restaurant News) Cincinnati-based elevated sports restaurant franchise Buffalo Wings & Rings has hired industry veteran Joe Dominiak as the brand’s new Chief Operations Officer. A U.S. Air Force veteran and most recently Executive Vice President and Managing Partner at Skyline Chili, Dominiak brings a proven track record and expertise for growing the national footprints of restaurant companies to the role as Buffalo Wings & Rings continues its mission to strategically expand across the country. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, Dominiak’s love for chicken wings started at a young age when he experienced the famed original buffalo wings from Anchor Bar. When the popularity of buffalo wings skyrocketed and spread, he was skeptical that anyone would be able to replicate the same bold flavor as the originator. It wasn’t until a friend ordered him a batch of buffalo wings from Buffalo Wings & Rings that his mindset shifted and he was instantly hooked. “I stumbled across Buffalo Wings & Rings in Cincinnati. I’ve always refused to buy traditional buffalo wings anywhere I went because nothing compares to the wings at Anchor Bar. The folks who took me out to lunch ordered the original and I tried one and thought they were as good or better than the ones at the Anchor Bar,” said Dominiak. Dominiak’s love of all things Buffalo stretches beyond just wings. The seasoned executive has a vast collection of Buffalo Bills memorabilia and a stuffed Buffalo head in his home. Fittingly, he now joins the Buffalo Wings & Rings brand with extensive franchise know-how and experience leading restaurant brands to new heights. His experience in the industry spans several decades, beginning his career as a market manager for Taco Bell where he ran operations throughout California before moving into roles as the National Director of Training and CHAMPS Brand Leader, ultimately working for Taco Bell for a decade. Next, he served as the Vice President of Operations for Miracle Restaurant Group, a franchisee group with a portfolio including Arby’s and Dunkin Donuts, where he gained valuable experience in applying processes and systems from a larger brand like Taco Bell to a franchisee operation. Dominiak’s career then led to Camp Bow Wow where he assisted in growing a family-run organization to a larger professional franchise system before joining Cincinnati-based Skyline Chili in 2011 where he led franchise and company operations, franchise development and the brand evolution process. After several years with the brand, Dominiak was introduced to Nader Masadeh, the CEO of Buffalo Wings & Rings who was looking for leadership to help the restaurant chain grow beyond its current footprint. After just one meeting, Dominiak felt an instant connection to Masadeh and his mission. “It was a perfect match, from my love of buffalo wings and the chef-inspired menu to the fact that they were on the verge of rapid growth. I knew my unique experience with other concepts could help Buffalo Wings & Rings build wealth for others through their unique franchise offering,” Dominiak said. Dominiak will now use his expertise in operations, customer satisfaction and employee retention to grow repeat business for Buffalo Wings & Rings. His focus includes continuing to create an environment at Buffalo Wings & Rings where franchisees are treated the way the corporate team expects them to treat guests, and supporting those franchisees in developing their teams to deliver on the VIP guest experience. “Joe’s franchisee-first approach matches the culture that we have created at Buffalo Wings & Rings and continue to cultivate,” said Masadeh. “He brings an impressive background in helping to grow restaurant brands and adding him to our leadership team helps in our quest to bring our elevated sports restaurant experience to more markets across the country while improving on that experience for our valued guests.” Buffalo Wings & Wings is targeting growth in several U.S cities including Cincinnati, Dayton, Indianapolis, Lexington and Louisville and recently introduced a “One Franchise Fee for Life” franchise development incentive where franchisees will pay a one-time $40,000 fee, allowing them to open as many approved locations as they please within a development schedule and within current strategic growth areas. This development incentive will end by December 31, 2018. Those interested in the Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise opportunity should have liquid capital of $300,000 or higher and a net worth of at least $1-million. Investment to open a Buffalo Wings & Rings franchise ranges between $1.2-million and $3-million. More information on the franchise opportunity can be found by visiting About Buffalo Wings & Rings Established in 1984 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Buffalo Wings & Rings is the ultimate sports restaurant franchise providing a club-level experience with better food, VIP views and our Buffalove ® Service Promise. The franchise is taking game-time to the next level with bright, inviting dining rooms, elevated fan experiences and a chef-inspired menu featuring a rotation of seasonal and diverse limited-time offerings, fresh salads, homemade Bleu Cheese, innovative sandwich options, hand-pressed burgers and fresh, never frozen wings to satisfy every sports fan. With more than 80 units across the globe, Buffalo Wings & Rings is changing the sports restaurant category, bringing elevated food and experiences that are accessible and affordable to all. For more information, visit Contact: Brian Jaeger No Limit Agency 312-526-3996

Kona Grill Announces Strategic Leadership Appointments

Jim Kuhn promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer

Berke Bakay appointed as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors

James Jundt retires from the Board of Directors August 9, 2018--(Globe Newswire) Kona Grill, Inc. (NASDAQ: KONA), an American grill and sushi bar, today announced that its Board of Directors appointed Jim Kuhn to succeed Berke Bakay as President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Bakay was appointed as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors and will remain with the Company in a strategic role. “Leading Kona Grill over the past six years has been a tremendous honor. We’ve doubled the number of restaurants, started franchising internationally and domestically and have positioned ourselves as a truly unique brand serving global cuisine in a contemporary ambiance,” said Bakay. “Jim has done a remarkable job during his tenure with us at improving the profitability of our restaurants and I’m confident that Kona will thrive under his leadership. The executive chairman role will allow me to focus on strategic relationships with our franchise partners, landlords, investors and lenders while Jim will continue to focus on operations and lead the Company towards future success,” he concluded. “I would like to thank James Jundt for his eight years of service as Chairman of the Board of Directors. James has served as a valuable mentor and friend, over the years and we wish him well in his retirement,” said Bakay. About Kona Grill Kona Grill features a global menu of contemporary American favorites, award-winning sushi, and specialty cocktails in an upscale casual atmosphere. Kona Grill owns and operates 45 restaurants, guided by a passion for quality food and exceptional service. Restaurants are located in 22 states and Puerto Rico. Additionally, Kona Grill has two restaurants that operate under a franchise agreement in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Vaughan, Canada. For more information, visit Kona Grill Investor Relations Contact: Kona Grill, Inc. Christi Hing, Chief Financial Officer (480) 922-8100

Bolsters Executive Team with Hiring of Pat Hiller as Vice President of Franchise Development August 9, 2018 Rachel’s Kitchen – a fresh casual restaurant concept that offers a carefully crafted menu, from the healthy to the indulgent – has announced the hiring of franchise veteran Pat Hiller as Vice President of Franchise Development. “Pat has extensive experience in franchising and his knowledge will be instrumental to the growth of Rachel’s Kitchen as we gear up to expand beyond our Las Vegas hub,” said Debbie Roxarzade, founder and CEO of Rachel’s Kitchen. “We are thrilled to welcome Pat to the team, and we are excited to see his future success with our brand.” Hiller comes to Rachel’s Kitchen with experience as an officer and director within Fortune 1000, worldwide, regional, and multi-branded companies, encompassing franchise sales, administration, operations, real estate and construction. Prior to joining on with Rachel’s Kitchen, Hiller worked with notable brands including Starbucks, Dunkin Brands, Wendy’s, Drug Emporium, and Donatos Pizza, among others. “Franchising is my passion and through my past roles I have learned a great deal in how to grow brands strategically to effectively reach their goals,” said Hiller. “I’m honored to join the Rachel’s Kitchen team and apply my experience to its growing brand” Rachel’s Kitchen may be Nevada-based now, but the concept’s roots stretch all the way to the lap of luxury and taste of Beverly Hills. It’s here Roxarzade first made a name for herself, creating a number of celebrated restaurant concepts including Debbie’s Bistro, once recognized as one of Los Angeles’ “Big 10 Best New Restaurants.” After the great success and notoriety of what were ultimately seven restaurants in Los Angeles, Roxarzade decided to relocate to Las Vegas and launch her newest venture – Rachel’s Kitchen. Named after her daughter, the first Rachel’s Kitchen was opened in 2006 – a quaint café featuring delicious and reasonably priced bistro fare. Today, the brand has eight locations across Las Vegas, including a covet spot at the McCarran International Airport. According to Hiller, the brand expects to open five locations within the next 24 months and plans to enter additional regional markets, specifically targeting Reno, Phoenix and Salt Lake City. About Rachel’s Kitchen Launched in 2006 and franchising since 2008, Rachel’s Kitchen fulfills a niche segment in the restaurant space, transforming “fast casual” into fresh casual by focusing on wholesome food, with fresh ingredients, often locally sourced. With menu items ranging from healthy to indulgent, Rachel’s Kitchen is for everyone. Today there are eight restaurants open and operating in the Las Vegas Valley. For more information, visit Contact: Cami Fannin, Franchise Elevator PR (847) 239.8171

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