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Executive Movements - September 2020

Marco's Pizza Hires 25-Year Brand Marketing Veteran Chris Tussing as Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer

Tussing Helped Spearhead the Strategy Behind Marco's First National Advertising Campaign

Sep 15, 2020, 09:15 ET

TOLEDO, Ohio, Sept. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Marco's Franchising, LLC., one of the nation's fastest-growing pizza brands, appoints Chris Tussing as Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer. He starts Sept. 29.

Tussing joins Marco's from full-service marketing agency MERGE, where he acted as both President of the Chicago office and Chief Marketing Officer of the entire agency network, while serving as a member of the MERGE Executive Committee.

At MERGE, Chris led the strategy behind the Marco's Pizza brand assignment in July 2017. Since that time, he has played a crucial role helping lead the Marco's brand across all integrated communications as it has expanded its national marketing presence.

"I'm honored to join the Marco's Pizza brand with its rich 40-year heritage of delighting people with an outstanding product, commitment to quality and a culture that puts people and communities first," said Tussing. "It's exactly what we need to connect to the hearts and minds of all pizza-loving Americans as we continue to expand our national presence and footprint."

Tussing will be directly responsible for advertising, brand identity, media, customer relationship management (CRM), social media, web/app experience, promotions, multicultural marketing, field/regional marketing, and grand opening marketing.

"Chris's leadership and strategy helped catapult the Marco's brand into the national spotlight. He's been a great advisor to me and the Marco's Executive Team as we evolve, expand and grow as a brand," said CEO Jack Butorac.

Tussing's background includes more than 25 years of experience working with several major Fortune 500 brands, including Northwestern Mutual, Clorox, Wrigley, Mars, Kraft and Anheuser-Busch, as well as mid-sized companies and startups. He is an expert in brand positioning and strategy, having worked at several multi-national agency brands including DDB, BBDO and JWT.

Tussing holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Southern California and is a competitive runner and cyclist.

"Chris is a passionate, agile and insightful brand leader," said Chief Experience Officer Steve Seyferth. "As a key player within the Marco's Marketing Team, Chris has provided vision, courage, and unbridled enthusiasm in helping drive results and new levels of customer engagement and relevancy to our brand."

Opening a new store every three and a half days on average, Marco's Pizza projects to have 1,000 locations open by year-end. For more information on Marco's Pizza franchise opportunities, visit or call 866-731-8209.


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 975 plus stores in over 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, No. 6 in the Largest Pizza Chain category on Restaurant Business' 2020 "Top 500 Chains" ranking, and made QSR's prestigious 2020 "Top 50 Chains" list. 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.

View source version at Marco's Pizza

Erin Levzow Joins Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. as Vice President Marketing Technology

September 15, 2020

Lake Forest, CA  (  Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. (“Del Taco” or the “Company”), (NASDAQ: TACO), the nation’s second largest Mexican quick service restaurant* (MQSR), today announced that Erin Levzow is appointed to the new position of Vice President Marketing Technology. Levzow brings a wide breadth of experience in marketing, marketing technology, mobile apps and ordering technology, as well as building loyalty and rewards programs, across multiple industries.

“As the technology space becomes more critical for customer engagement every year, we continue to plan and execute against building competitive and innovative systems for our brand,” said Tim Hackbardt, Chief Marketing Officer of Del Taco. “We are pleased to welcome Erin to the Del Taco team to carry forward our marketing technology efforts. I know her experience shaping successful digital, martech and ecommerce strategies will make a tremendous impact on the ways we engage with our guests and differentiate our fresh food, value and convenience offerings.”

In her Vice President role at Del Taco, Levzow will lead the marketing technology team by developing strategic, integrated programs to drive consumer loyalty and increase visit frequency. She is responsible for the Del Taco Mobile App, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) approach, third party delivery partnerships, digital ordering, and will help identify and lead other digital initiatives and emerging technology opportunities.

“Throughout my career, I have enjoyed accelerating a brand’s vision through leveraging marketing technology opportunities,” said Levzow regarding her new role as Del Taco’s Vice President Marketing Technology. “I’m thrilled to join the team and apply my expertise with such an iconic and growing brand like Del Taco.”

Recognized with the prestigious Top 25 Women to Watch in Mobile Marketing Award from Mobile Marketer, Levzow’s more than 15 years of marketing experience crosses casino gaming, hotels, hospitality and restaurants. She has held senior and executive leadership positions leading marketing, digital, social media, loyalty and ecommerce strategies. Her previous roles include working for brands such as MGM Resorts International, Palms Casino Resort, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Freebirds World Burrito and Wingstop Restaurants.

About Del Taco Restaurants, Inc.

Del Taco (NASDAQ: TACO) offers a unique variety of both Mexican and American favorites such as burritos and fries, prepared fresh in every restaurant’s working kitchen with the value and convenience of a drive-thru. Del Taco’s menu items taste better because they are made with quality ingredients like fresh grilled chicken and carne asada steak, sliced avocado, freshly grated cheddar cheese, slow-cooked beans made from scratch, and creamy Queso Blanco.

The brand’s campaign further communicates Del Taco’s commitment to providing guests with the best quality and value for their money through cooking, chopping, shredding and grilling menu items from scratch. Founded in 1964, today Del Taco serves more than three million guests each week at its approximately 600 restaurants across 15 states. For more information, visit

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Bojangles Names Monica Sauls as the Company’s First Chief People Officer

Also Becomes First African American to Serve on the Southern Food Chain’s Senior Leadership Team

September 08, 2020 08:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

CHAROTTE, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bojangles, Inc. today announced that leading human resources and change management strategist Monica Sauls will join the company as Chief People Officer, effective Sept. 15. In this newly defined position that goes beyond the traditional human resources role, Sauls will drive the company’s culture, developing current team members and attracting new talent to support the company’s growth.

Reporting directly to Bojangles CEO Jose Armario, Sauls will lead talent acquisition, talent development, employee relations, diversity and inclusion and culture stewardship. She is the first African American to serve on Bojangles’ senior leadership team in the company’s 43-year history.

“At Bojangles, our strength is our people, so we’re delighted to have Monica’s experience and expertise on our leadership team to help nurture our most important asset,” said Armario. “This is a critical new role as the Bojangles system looks to hire more than 30,000 new employees due to expected growth and demand over the next 12 months and build on our commitment to diversity and inclusion to create a culture where all employees are respected and valued.”

Sauls brings two decades of experience leading human resources functions and culture transformations within large, complex global organizations. Most recently, she held human resources roles where she led a team of field HR business partners for Duke Energy’s Fossil Hydro and Nuclear divisions. Prior to Duke Energy, Sauls was responsible for senior executive and leadership development strategies at the Boeing Company, where she led best-in-class talent development initiatives from concept to deployment for leaders across the global enterprise.

She also has served in key human resources and talent management leadership roles for Walgreens and Ingersoll Rand.

“I’m excited to join the Bojangles family and look forward to serving as a key strategic partner to Jose and his leadership team,” Sauls said. “As the Chief People Officer, I will focus on building and maintaining a people-centered culture where everyone at Bojangles can do their best work and help the company succeed.”

Sauls holds a master’s degree in human resources and industrial relations from University of Minnesota Twin Cities and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

She joins Bojangles following the retirement of Vickie Smith, Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Smith has been with the company for more than 25 years and will remain with the organization for several months in a consultant role assisting with the transition.

About Bojangles, Inc.

Bojangles, Inc. is a highly differentiated and growing restaurant operator and franchisor dedicated to serving customers high-quality, craveable food made from our Southern recipes, including breakfast served All Day, Every Day. Founded in 1977 in Charlotte, N.C., Bojangles® serves menu items such as made-from-scratch biscuit breakfast sandwiches, delicious hand-breaded bone-in chicken, flavorful fixin’s (sides) and Legendary Iced Tea®. Currently, Bojangles has approximately 750 system-wide restaurants in 11 states. For more information, visit or follow Bojangles on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

View source version at Bojangles

Sami Siddiqui Appointed President of Popeyes Americas

September 8, 2020

Toronto, ON  (  Restaurant Brands International Inc. (“RBI”) (TSX: QSR) (NYSE: QSR) (TSX: QSP) today announced that Sami Siddiqui has been appointed President of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen for the Americas.

Sami has most recently served as President of Asia-Pacific for RBI, leading the growth of Popeyes, Burger King and Tim Hortons throughout the region, including introducing the Popeyes brand in China and the Philippines.

Jose Cil, Chief Executive Officer of RBI commented, “I’m very proud to announce that Sami will be leading Popeyes through our exciting next phase of growth across the Americas.  Popeyes is a brand with a well-known heritage and more recently has demonstrated unprecedented growth through exceptional menu innovation in our iconic Chicken Sandwich.  Sami has an excellent track record working with our franchisees to drive our brand and restaurant expansion.”

Additionally, Mr. Cil announced that Felipe Athayde is leaving RBI to pursue a new role outside of the quick service restaurant industry.  Felipe and Sami will work together to smoothly transition the role throughout September.  “Felipe has all our best wishes for his next endeavor,” said Cil.

About Restaurant Brands International Inc.

Restaurant Brands International Inc. is one of the world’s largest quick service restaurant companies with approximately $32 billion in annual system-wide sales and over 27,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries and U.S. territories. RBI owns three of the world’s most prominent and iconic quick service restaurant brands – TIM HORTONS®, BURGER KING®, and POPEYES®. These independently operated brands have been serving their respective guests, franchisees and communities for over 45 years.

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Industry Veteran Debbie Roberts Joins Panera As Chief Operations Officer

September 8, 2020

St. Louis, MO  (  Today, Panera Bread announces the appointment of Debbie Roberts as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer effective September 8. A well-known restaurant industry leader, Roberts brings nearly 30 years of restaurant experience and will be a collaborative leader for all Panera operations and operations support functions.

“We are thrilled to welcome Debbie to Panera and looking forward to her bringing her strong record of cross-functional partnership, results-driven engagement, and especially, her focus on people as the core of operational excellence,” said Niren Chaudhary, Panera CEO. “As the brand continues to grow and transform, Debbie’s experience will bring fresh perspective and unparalleled industry experience to our executive team.”

Roberts joins the Panera team after three decades at McDonald’s, where she was most recently East Zone President with responsibility for 7,000 restaurants in 11 regions. Roberts’ hire is the latest addition to Panera’s leadership team, which has expanded to bring on industry veterans from world-class companies including Kraft, Yum! Brands, Unilever, Pepsi, CVS, Accenture and Coca-Cola.

“Joining an iconic brand like Panera is incredibly exciting,” Roberts said. “I look forward to building on the team’s accomplishments and helping to simplify and innovate our operations as we navigate this unique time in our industry.”

About Panera Bread

Thirty years ago, at a time when quick service meant low quality, Panera set out to challenge this expectation. We believed that food that was good and that you could feel good about, served in a warm and welcoming environment by people who cared, could bring out the best in all of us. To us, that is food as it should be and that is why we exist.

So, we began with a simple commitment: to bake bread fresh every day in our bakery-cafes. No shortcuts, just bakers with simple ingredients and hot ovens. Each night, any unsold bread and baked goods were shared with neighbors in need.

These traditions carry on today, as we have continued to find ways to be an ally for wellness to our guests. That means crafting a menu of soups, salads and sandwiches that we are proud to feed our families. Like poultry and pork raised without antibiotics on our salads and sandwiches. A commitment to transparency and options that empower our guests to eat the way they want. Seasonal flavors and whole grains. And a commitment to removing or not using artificial additives (preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, and colors from artificial sources on our No No list) in the food in our bakery-cafes. Why? Because we think that simpler is better and we believe in serving food as it should be. Because when you don’t have to compromise to eat well, all that is left is the joy of eating.

We’re also focused on improving quality and convenience. With investments in technology and operations, we now offer new ways to enjoy your Panera favorites – like mobile ordering and Rapid Pick-Up® for to-go orders and delivery – all designed to make things easier for our guests.

As of June 30, 2020, there were 2,128 bakery-cafes in 48 states and in Ontario, Canada, operating under the Panera Bread® or Saint Louis Bread Co.® names. For more information, visit or find us on Twitter (@panerabread), Facebook ( or Instagram (@panerabread).

View source version at Panera Bread

Zaxby’s Hires Vanessa Fox as First Chief Development Officer

September 8, 2020

Real estate strategy expert brings proven success to leverage expansion

Athens, GA  (  Zaxby’s, the premium fast-casual chicken chain known for its chicken fingers, wings and signature sauces, has hired Vanessa Fox as chief development officer (CDO). Fox was formerly senior vice president, CDO at Jack in the Box. As Zaxby’s first CDO in its 30- year history, Fox will report directly to co-founders Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley.

“Our brand is experiencing its best unit-level performance in many years, and we know Vanessa will build on that,” said McLeroy, Zaxby’s CEO and co-founder. “She has a clear passion for building trust and credibility in the licensee community, which is something that we have always highly valued.”

At Jack in the Box, Fox worked with business stakeholders to build, maintain and execute the company’s real estate strategy. Prior to that, she worked with Jack in the Box and Qdoba on restaurant development including construction, architecture and design as well as facility management.

In her role at Zaxby’s, Fox will manage the Franchise Licensing and Development teams and foster continuity with design and construction. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA in addition to her culinary certificate from the San Diego Culinary Institute.

“I am thrilled to join Zaxby’s and strategically lead its growth plans,” Fox said. “I seek to build highly functioning and diversified teams to tackle projects and can’t wait to get to know Zaxby’s team members and learn about their goals, skills and aspirations.”

With a strong group of “legacy licensees,” multi-unit owners who have been with the brand since its inception, Zaxby’s is positioned for expansion. Zaxby’s leadership believes Fox’s expertise will help the brand continue developing in current markets and position it in new ones.

“Vanessa will be an asset to our team as she capitalizes on market growth opportunities and operational improvements,” said Townley, Zaxby’s chief strategy officer and co-founder. “We look forward to working with her to help manage the complexities of our comprehensive remodel program.”

Zaxby’s recently hired Keith Anderkin as vice president of supply chain and quality assurance and Alan Ludloff as vice president of brand marketing. These new executives will collaborate closely with Fox to position Zaxby’s for unprecedented growth.

About Zaxby’s

Founded by childhood friends Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley in 1990, Zaxby’s is committed to serving delicious chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads in a fun, offbeat atmosphere where customers are considered friends. Zaxby’s has grown to more than 900 locations in 17 states and is headquartered in Athens, Georgia. For more information, visit or

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Industry Veteran Jim Mazany Hired as CEO of SPB Hospitality

September 8, 2020

Former COO of TGI Fridays hired to spearhead growth of leading operator and franchisor of full-service restaurants

Nashville, TN  (  SPB Hospitality – operator and franchisor of innovative concepts, including Logan’s Roadhouse, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery Restaurant, among others – announced the hiring of Jim Mazany as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Mazany brings 25 years of restaurant industry experience to his new role at SPB Hospitality. As a results-driven restaurant executive, Mazany has a well-established track record for developing winning teams, building culture and delivering industry-leading results.

“SPB Hospitality has an expansive portfolio of well-known brands that have huge potential,” Mazany said. “We will build off the strong foundation of these brands and turn them into the industry leaders they deserve to be. I’m honored and thrilled to join the SPB family and I look forward to leading this company into the future.”

Mazany previously served as President and COO of Joe’s Crab Shack, where he led the successful turnaround of the business, including seven consecutive years of same-store sales improvement. In 2015, Mazany launched his consulting firm, Strategic Restaurant Solutions, which helped companies stabilize their financial and operational performance to drive rapid change. He took on the position of CEO of Café Enterprises in 2016, where he restructured, repositioned and maximized enterprise value for the Southeastern restaurant brand. Most recently, Mazany served as COO of TGI Fridays, where he successfully led the purchase and integration of more than 125 franchise restaurants into the company system.

For more information about SPB Hospitality, visit

About SPB Hospitality

SPB Hospitality is a leading operator and franchisor of full-service dining restaurants, spanning a national footprint of hundreds of restaurants and breweries in 39 states and the District of Columbia. The Company’s diverse portfolio of restaurant brands includes Logan’s Roadhouse, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, and a collection of restaurant-brewery brands, including Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery and Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. SPB Hospitality also operates a collection of specialty restaurant concepts including ChopHouse & Brewery, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, AIA Ale Works Restaurant & Taproom, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery.

View source version at SPB Hospitality

Focus Brands Strengthens Organizational Leadership with Promotions, New Hires

September 2, 2020

Atlanta, GA  (  Focus Brands®, parent company of iconic brands including Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, McAlister’s Deli®, Moe’s Southwest Grill® and Schlotzsky’s®, announced today several leadership promotions and hires as the company and its brands continue to invest in building best-in-class support functions and industry-leading brands.

“As we continue to move our company and brands into the future, we must invest in key talent necessary to propel our brands forward and enhance services provided to our guests and franchisees,” said Jim Holthouser, CEO, Focus Brands. “I’m thrilled we have such highly regarded tenured industry executives within our four walls and that we continue to attract exceptional leaders to grow our teams.”

To power enhanced brand capabilities and outcomes, Focus Brands has organized its brands into categories. In two newly created roles, Kristen Hartman has been promoted to President, Specialty Brands (Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, and Jamba), and Erik Hess has been promoted to President, Restaurant Brands (McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s). Hartman, current president of Cinnabon and Carvel, joined Focus in 2012. With more than 20 years in the quick service restaurant industry, she has held several prominent leadership roles within Focus spanning marketing strategy, innovation, consumer insights, concept development, and licensing for the entire Focus portfolio of brands. Hess, former president of Moe’s, came to the company in 2019 with more than 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, including key executive roles at McDonald’s globally, domestically, and internationally. Over the course of his career he has led menu management and new product development, strategy and insights, customer experience innovation, and restaurant development. Beto Guajardo, former Starbucks executive, was promoted earlier this year from president of Schlotzsky’s to president of the International division. Kat Cole, COO & President, Focus Brands, continues to oversee both the Restaurant and Specialty categories as well as the International and Licensing divisions.

Anissa Mandell has been promoted to SVP, Supply ChainFocus Brands. Mandell steps into this role after serving as Vice President of Focus Brands Supply Chain and will oversee the strategic planning framework for Supply Chain, Distribution, Logistics and Quality Assurance functions as well as planning and directing all aspects of policies, objectives, and initiatives for each supply chain function to ensure adaptable and scalable solutions. Joining Focus Brands in 2011, Mandell has been in the supply chain industry for more than 25 years, playing an instrumental role in the initial formation of Focus Supply Chain.

In addition, Focus has welcomed two new executives to drive brand-level growth and innovation.

Alex Williams has joined Moe’s Southwest Grill as Chief Brand Officer to lead the Moe’s business. With nearly 30 years of leadership experience in the oil & gas and food and beverage industries, Williams will leverage his franchising and operations leadership skills and experience driving business results across several well-known and innovative brands to continue building Moe’s as a segment leader. Most recently, while Williams was at Bloomin’ Brands, he ran Outback Steakhouse in the Midwest region and served as Vice President of Operations for Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse nationally. He has also spent time leading franchising, innovation and brand experience at McDonald’s and held roles in operations, supply chain, and distribution for Starbucks Corporation and ExxonMobil.

Seth Freeman has joined Schlotzsky’s as Vice President of Marketing. A seasoned marketing executive with experience across the consumer-packaged goods, hospitality and restaurant industries, Freeman will oversee the national consumer marketing strategies and programs that drive brand growth and relevance, inclusive of menu development, promotions, demand generation, and the overall Schlotzsky’s brand experience. Prior to joining Schlotzsky’s, Freeman was the Chief Marketing Officer for Buffalo Wild Wings where he successfully partnered with franchisees to drive sales and focused on improving the overall guest experience. Freeman has also served in marketing leadership roles at Russell Athletic, The Coca-Cola Company and InterContinental Hotels Group.

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 Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Jamba®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, and Schlotzsky’s® brand names, as well as Seattle’s Best Coffee® on certain military bases and in certain international markets. Please visit to learn more.

View source version at FOCUS Brands

Potbelly Corporation Appoints Adam Noyes as Chief Operations Officer

Industry veteran brings deep company, franchise operations and supply chain management capabilities to Potbelly

CHICAGO, Sept. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Potbelly Corporation (NASDAQ: PBPB), the iconic neighborhood sandwich shop, today announced the appointment of Adam Noyes as the Company’s Chief Operations Officer (“COO”) effective as of August 28, 2020.  The new COO position will assume the responsibilities of the Company’s prior Chief Restaurant Operations Officer (“CROO”) position, which will be vacated on September 4, 2020. In this leadership position, Mr. Noyes will focus on staffing, training and developing Potbelly’s most important resource – its people.  His emphasis will be delivering overall customer experiences that bring people back again and again. He will concentrate on traffic-driven top-line growth, improved speed and throughput in shop and through digital channels, growing shop margins, and ensuring franchise operations integration.

Bob Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of Potbelly commented, “Adam is a seasoned restaurant operations leader who possesses the combination of unique skills and experience that are a perfect fit for Potbelly at this stage of our turnaround, as well as our next stage of growth.  Adam’s experience in the restaurant space means deep knowledge of the customer experience and team member needs from the bottom up.  He has successfully led company and franchise operations at every level. In addition to his operations leadership depth, Adam brings a breadth of talent in training, operations support, supply chain and technology.  He is a tremendous addition to our team, and we are looking forward to his many contributions as we strengthen this great brand and return it to growth.”

Mr. Noyes added, "I am thrilled to join the Potbelly family of over 6,000 employees and many franchise owners.  Our continued turnaround will be fueled by achieving and exceeding customer expectations on every visit in our shops. I am eager to support and lead our passionate team in delivering on our Fresh, Fast & Friendly customer promise while positioning Potbelly for an exciting future of growth.”

Executive Profile Adam Noyes has more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He has a long track record of Company and Franchise management and operations, supply chain management, restaurant technology solutions development, quality assurance and guest services. Prior to his most recent position, Mr. Noyes served in a variety of senior leadership roles with Checkers and Rally’s Restaurants where his accomplishments included:

  1. Tripled EBITDA in company owned restaurants from 2010 to 2016.

  2. Led the franchise operations turnaround effort and delivered over 20% average sales growth and six consecutive years of same store sales growth.

  3. Refined back office system activation and improved food cost and labor management with real-time reporting for operators.

  4. Optimized supply chain processes delivering millions in savings.

  5. Created a new prototype restaurant image with reduced investment and operating cost.

  6. Leveraged experience to lead franchise sales, real estate, and construction teams to achieve 45+ openings in 2019.

Mr. Noyes holds a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from the University of Florida and is earning a Masters in Business Administration from the University of South Florida.

About Potbelly Potbelly Corporation is a neighborhood sandwich concept that has been feeding customers’ smiles with warm, toasty sandwiches, signature salads, hand-dipped shakes and other fresh menu items, customized just the way customers want them, for more than 40 years. Potbelly promises Fresh, Fast & Friendly service in an environment that reflects the local neighborhood.  Since opening its first shop in Chicago in 1977, Potbelly has expanded to neighborhoods across the country - with more than 400 company-owned shops in the United States. Additionally, Potbelly franchisees operate over 40 shops in the United States.  For more information, please visit our website at

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CORE Welcomes Sheila Bennett as New Executive Director

August 26, 2020

Franklin, TN  (  Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE)©, the national non-profit organization that supports food and beverage service employees with children, is proud to appoint Sheila Bennett as executive director. With over 30 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Bennett returns to her hometown of Nashville and will lead the organization to further support those in need.

Bennett comes to CORE with a wealth of knowledge and an extensive background working in non-profit capitalization and all areas of the foodservice industry. With her experience in marketing, development, and program management, Bennett is an accomplished business developer, fundraiser, and strategist with a 360° view on the industry.

CORE is in need of an individual who will spearhead the organization to meet the growing demand for its support,” said Colleen Brennan, chairman of the board of directors for CORE. “Bennett is the ideal fit for a challenge such as this.”

Before joining the team at CORE, Bennett served as the vice president of business development and strategic partnerships for Fishbowl Inc.© where she led business development strategies and scored strategic alliances. Her most recent success in the non-profit sector includes the development and growth of the successful Dine Out for No Kid Hungry™. With her passion focused on the restaurant space, Bennett also managed industry relations for the National Restaurant Association© Educational Foundation as senior director.

Bennett’s vision is to engage the entire industry to support CORE and increase visibility to families who have been impacted by a health crisis, injury or natural disaster.

“During my time serving the food and beverage industry, I have met many employees and families with amazing stories of how they have faced adversity,” said Bennett. “Now, I hope for CORE to be the first resource that comes to mind when employees with children are affected by a health crisis or natural disaster and are in need of support, and financial relief.”

The civic-minded executive is also an active member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International© – Atlanta and now the Nashville Chapter and the Women’s Foodservice Forum© and remains incredibly connected to the nation’s industry’s movers and shakers.

About Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE)

CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees, a national 501(c)3 is dedicated to serving food and beverage service employees with children when either the working parent or child is navigating through a medical diagnosis, illness, injury, a death, or impacted by a natural disaster. Founded by food and beverage service industry veterans to help hospitality service employees with children bridge the financial gap when either the parent or child deals with a health crisis or natural disaster. Since 2013, the organization has grown into a nationally recognized non-profit that has helped close to 1,100 families in 49 states. For grand qualification, to apply or to refer a family for grant consideration please visit To support food and beverage employees via a donation please visit

View source version at CORE

sweetgreen Announces Two Appointments to Its Board of Directors

Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama Valerie Jarrett and Starbucks’ Cliff Burrows Are the Newest Executives to Join the Fast-Casual Brand’s Board

August 24, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--sweetgreen, the seasonal restaurant with the mission of connecting people to real food, announced today the appointment of Valerie Jarrett, Businesswoman and Former Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, and Cliff Burrows, Group President of Starbucks’ Siren Retail business, to its board of directors.

“Both Valerie and Cliff have shown that they challenge the status quo, know how to make an impact, and can create solutions where the customer, community and company wins. Their arrival to the board will be instrumental in evolving the way sweetgreen supports the communities we serve, and we couldn’t be happier to have them join us on our mission of connecting people to real food,” said Jonathan Neman, co-founder and CEO of sweetgreen.

Jarrett joins sweetgreen’s board of directors with more than 30 years of experience in a variety of sectors. She is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School, and a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation and Attn. With a background in both private and public sectors, Valerie has served as Chief Executive Officer for a number of companies, in addition to serving as the director of a variety of corporate and not-for-profit-boards. Valerie was the longest serving Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama and oversaw the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and Chaired the White House Council on Women and Girls.

With nearly 20 years of experience at Starbucks, Burrows was most recently responsible for elevating the signature customer and employee experience for which the brand is known. Prior to this role, Burrows served as Group President of Starbucks’ Siren Retail business. Under his leadership, the coffee chain set records across almost every measure of sales and customer experience.

About sweetgreen:

Founded in 2007, sweetgreen passionately believes that real food should be convenient and accessible to everyone. Every day, across its 100+ restaurants, their team creates food from scratch, using fresh ingredients and produce delivered that morning. sweetgreen’s strong food ethos and investment in local communities have enabled them to grow into a national brand with a mission to build healthier communities by connecting people to real food.

View source version at sweetgreen

Pieology Names Adrienne Berkes New Chief Marketing Officer

August 21, 2020

Tustin, CA  (  Pizza innovator Pieology has announced the appointment of Adrienne Berkes as the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer. She will oversee expansion of the brand overseas as well as throughout the U.S.

“Adrienne is an accomplished marketing strategist with strong QSR retail experience and a passion to build brands,” said Gregg Imamoto, Pieology’s Chief Executive Officer.

Berkes has extensive experience leading teams in forming brand strategy and positioning, as well as insight into developing new products, identifying sales drivers and managing promotions.  Moreover, she’s had success in building digital strategies and leading digital-first business models like off-premise and third-party delivery.

She comes to Pieology after more than 17 years at Yum Brands, where she experienced numerous promotions with progressively elevated responsibilities, says Imamoto. “It goes without saying that Adrienne will bring deep domain expertise to our team.”

Adrienne got her start with Taco Bell, where as Director of Brand Marketing, she oversaw the development and launch of Taco Bell’s Breakfast initiative.

From Taco Bell, she became Chief Marketing Officer for Pizza Hut in the UK and Ireland, where she was responsible for growing the brand, and subsequently assumed responsibility for Pizza Hut’s European markets as the Chief Sales and Brand Officer. After almost 3 years of spreading the joy of pizza in Europe, Adrienne returned to the states and Taco Bell in a critical role as the point person driving the development and launch of Taco Bell’s delivery program.

$100 million of success later, she was tasked with Restaurant Experience Strategy and Innovation, where she oversaw the company’s drive thru digital transformation strategy and opened their first “ghost kitchen.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled and look forward to be joining the team and look forward to working with the RSC team, our franchisees and team members on this incredible brand,” says Adrienne, who loves to travel, both domestically and internationally, and exploring new foods.

“My priorities will be driving innovation, our consumer’s love of Pieology and opening new markets for Pieology as we move forward.”

View source version at Pieology

Eric Williams Named Vice President of Franchise & License Operations for QDOBA Mexican Eats

August, 19 2020

QDOBA announced the promotion of Eric Williams to vice president of franchise & license operations. In this role, Williams will directly support QDOBA franchisees in running their business and ensuring each location's overall success.

"I am proud to have Eric on my staff and look forward to many years of prosperity and growth for the QDOBA franchise and licensed businesses under his leadership," said Keith Guilbault, CEO of QDOBA. "He brings a wealth of industry experience that will prove valuable in helping both our new and existing franchise owners succeed, especially in the current business climate."

Williams joined QDOBA in October 2019 as director of operations with over 30 years of experience in the food service industry, including restaurant, franchise and corporate operations, as well as multi-unit franchise ownership. Prior to QDOBA, he served as the chief operating officer for CKE Restaurant Holdings, Inc. (CKE), parent company to Carl's Jr. and Hardee's. He started his career with CKE as a franchise business consultant before taking on multiple corporate and field leadership roles, eventually becoming a Hardee's franchise owner in the Indianapolis area, where his family still operates seven locations.

"It's a privilege to work with an exceptional group of franchisees who believe in QDOBA's mission of bringing flavor to people's lives," said Williams. "There is tremendous growth potential for QDOBA within the franchise space and I am excited for this next chapter."

View source version at QDOBA

Punch Bowl Taps Former Souplantation CEO to Lead Company



Just a week after Punch Bowl Social founder and CEO Robert Thompson announced his departure, the eatertainment brand said former Garden Fresh Restaurants CEO John Haywood has become its new leader.

Haywood made the move three months after his previous company, the parent of buffet-style concepts Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May. The COVID pandemic forced the chain to permanently close all 97 units and surrender its assets.

He served as CEO of Garden Fresh for nearly three years. Prior to that, he worked as an independent restaurant industry acquisition and restructuring specialist for 12 years.

“We are fortunate that our management team, lender, vendors, and landlords are all working together to reopen Punch Bowl Social locations and ensure a strong future for our concept," Haywood said in a statement. “There are both challenges to be solved and significant opportunities to be realized in the next phase of Punch Bowl Social’s journey.”

Haywood will be expected to revitalize Punch Bowl, which closed its 20 locations and laid off most of its staff at the beginning of the pandemic. Launched in 2012, the eatertainment chain blends activities, including shuffleboard, ping-pong, bowling, pinball, and Skee-Ball with food specialties like pan-fried pork chops and chicken and waffles.

In July 2019, Cracker Barrel purchased a majority interest in Punch Bowl Social. However, in March, Cracker Barrel decided to take a $133 million hit and cut ties with the chain. The company explained that it wanted to concentrate on its core business and cited uncertainty around Punch Bowl’s viability after the COVID-19 pandemic. Several weeks later, Sardar Biglari, who owns 2.1 million shares, or 8.6 percent of Cracker Barrel, criticized the move and called for an investigation in a letter addressed to Cracker Barrel CEO Sandy Cochran.

Four units have permanently closed amid the crisis due to disagreements with landlords. Three stores in Atlanta, Cleveland, and Denver have reopened and the 13 remaining stores are on track to reopen by the end of September. The Denver Business Journal reported that after six months, Haywood will work on growth options and finding investors because CrowdOut, a non-bank lender for middle-market companies, doesn’t plan to maintain ownership forever. However, the lender is committed to putting more funds into the chain and helping stabilize the business.

View source version at Punch Bowl Social

Just Salad Shakes up its C-suite

The fast casual added a CMO and COO

Aug. 17, 2020

Just Salad has added a CMO and a chief operating officer, the health-focused fast casual announced Monday.

Andy Rooks becomes Just Salad’s first chief marketing officer. Apolinar Chavez becomes COO.

“As we continue to launch new, diversified offerings and strengthen our brand’s competitive edge, I am confident the expertise Andy and Apolinar bring will be incredibly valuable in driving sustained success for the business today and in the long-term,” founder and CEO Nick Kenner said in a statement.

Rooks comes to Just Salad after serving as CEO at consulting firm Theory Marketing Partners.

“I have the utmost respect for the brand and its mission to serve healthy food at an affordable price with a sustainable ethos, and I look forward to implementing ways to further amplify that message,” Rooks said.

Chavez, who started his restaurant career as a cashier at Panda Express, will lead Just Salad’s coronavirus safety team as well as overseeing overall operational functions. Chavez started with Just Salad as a district manager in 2017 and was vice president of operations until his appointment, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“While the restaurant industry is facing extraordinary challenges right now, Just Salad as a brand and business continue to significantly outperform,” Chavez said in a statement.

New York City-based Just Salad, founded in 2006, now has nearly 50 locations in the U.S. and Dubai.

View source version at Just Salad

Huddle House Announces New Director of Franchise Development to Drive Expansion Strategy

August 13, 2020

Seasoned Franchising Executive to Direct Brand’s Franchise Development Efforts

Atlanta, GA  (  Huddle House, the nation’s iconic neighborhood restaurant and gathering place, announced today the addition of Scott McIntosh as Director of Franchise Development.

“Scott brings an extensive background in franchise development and is an excellent fit for Huddle House’s franchise sales team during this significant time in the history of our brand,” said Tim Linderman, Chief Development Officer of Huddle House. “He joins us with an expansive amount of experience in the franchise industry, which includes franchise lead recruitment and sales from inception to closing. He will be instrumental in helping drive our franchisee development efforts in current COVID-19 conditions and as we look ahead to the rest of the year and beyond.”

As Huddle House’s new Director of Franchise Development, McIntosh is responsible for supporting the franchise development growth goals of the brand throughout the country.

Prior to joining Huddle House, McIntosh worked as Senior Director of Franchise Development and Real Estate for Sinelli Concepts, focused on supporting Which Wich and Paciugo. He drove Sinelli’s U.S. franchise development strategy. His proven track record of growing beloved brands through franchising will be key in his new role supporting Huddle House’s expansion in key markets throughout the country.

The addition of McIntosh to Huddle House underscores the brand’s commitment to continued growth and evolution in 2020 and beyond.

For more on Huddle House, visit

For more information on the Huddle House franchise opportunity, visit or call 800-640-7125.

About Huddle House

Committed to serving “Any Meal, Any Time,” Huddle House restaurants have become icons in the communities they serve throughout the country by “Bringing Friends and Family Together, Over Delicious Food, Served from the Heart”. The core values on which the brand was founded – serving freshly prepared, quality home-style food in a warm, friendly environment that brings the community together – are as true today as they were when it was founded 54 years ago. Today, the brand has more than 400 locations open or in development. Named one of the Top 200+ Franchises by Franchise Times and ranked among Thrillist’s list of “Regional Breakfast Chains that Should Be Everywhere,” Huddle House continues to be adored in each of the markets it serves.

To learn more about Huddle House franchise opportunities, visit and for more information about the brand, visit the company website at

View source version at Huddle House

Whiskey Cake Hires Ray Risley as President and Chief Operating Officer

August 11, 2020

Popular farm-to-fork kitchen and bar brings on industry veteran known for developing leaders and cultivating culture

Dallas, TX  (  Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar announced today the hiring of Ray Risley as its new President and Chief Operating Officer.

Risley, a seasoned hospitality executive, brings a long track record of attracting and developing high-level talent to Whiskey Cake. With an impressive history of progressing leaders in the industry, Risley creates a culture amongst employees that promotes the continued ability to adapt, evolve and thrive.

“Ray’s strength in growing brands through investment in team is unique and we are excited to have his exceptional leadership at the helm as we grow Whiskey Cake into a nationally recognized brand,” said  Front Burner Restaurants CEO Jack Gibbons. “In any great organization, the ability to adjust and grow is only as strong as the leadership teams you build. Ray is laser-focused on developing leaders and amplifying brands. His expertise will impact our rate of growth and ability to translate the brand to guests in new markets.”

When Risley isn’t working side-by-side with his team, he’s putting his sharpened carpentry skills and appreciation for home-grown vegetables to use. With a handcrafted large box garden that grows tomatoes, herbs and peppers in his backyard, Risley’s personal interests align perfectly with Whiskey Cake’s farm-fresh menu.

“I am thrilled to join the Whiskey Cake team and take on this new role,” Risley said. “I believe a strong cultural and operational foundation will enhance the potential of this innovative restaurant brand. I am also incredibly excited to lead a brand that nurtures relationships with local artisans to deliver farm-to-fork dishes. This is a perfect marriage of my personal and professional passions.”

Whiskey Cake reimagined the neighborhood restaurant almost ten years ago by serving up farm-to-fork dishes and garden-to-glass cocktails out of its scratch kitchen and bar; in other words, familiar American food that has been revved up a notch. Microwave? Never heard of it. Whiskey Cake uses slow-cooking methods on a live wood grill, smoker and spit because everything tastes better that way. In addition to offering delicious dishes, Whiskey Cake’s energetic bartenders hand-make whiskey cocktails and bold elixirs from premium liquors and fresh ingredients picked straight from their on-site garden. Whiskey Cake also offers a wide selection of micro-brewed beers, whiskey flights and curated wines. For more information, including hours, directions and the full menu, visit

View source version at Whiskey Cake

Chicken Salad Chick Promotes Five Company Veterans Amid Ongoing Growth

August, 11 2020

Chicken Salad Chick announced yesterday the promotions of five existing brand leaders amid the company's ongoing growth and success. The brand has promoted three executives to its C-suite, including Jim Thompson as Chief Operating Officer, Terry McKee as Chief Development Officer, and Tom Carr as Chief Marketing Officer, as well as appointed Mary Lou Atkins as Vice President of Human Resources and Carrie Evans as Vice President of Franchise Development. The promotions recognize the numerous contributions the longstanding leaders have made throughout their tenures and reflect the high caliber individuals taking Chicken Salad Chick to the next level.

Chicken Salad Chick has grown exponentially in recent years, more than quadrupling in size since 2016. At the beginning of the year, the brand recorded 2019 as the most successful year in its company history, opening 40 new restaurants, achieving 16 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth and seeing a 40.1% and 38.5% increase in systemwide sales and unit count, respectively. This impressive growth and year-over-year results attracted prominent private equity firm Brentwood Associates, which acquired Chicken Salad Chick from Eagle Merchant Partners in November 2019. Despite numerous challenges and obstacles the restaurant industry is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicken Salad Chick has opened 19 new restaurants this year, and is projected to open 15 more, bringing its systemwide total to 178 restaurants by the end of the year.

These ongoing efforts, coupled with a concentric circle growth strategy, are part of Chicken Salad Chick's greater development goal of having 500 locations open and operating by the end of 2025. To help support this goal, Chicken Salad Chick is leveraging the seasoned principals of Brentwood Associates and elevating the talented and accomplished leaders that have been integral to the brand's achievements thus far.

"Chicken Salad Chick could not be the brand it is today without the tireless work and dedication of the talented people that drive it to its fullest potential," said Scott Deviney, CEO of Chicken Salad Chick. "Despite all that we've faced over the past several months, these individuals championed our brand and continued to propel it forward, so it was important for me to recognize all their contributions and provide them with the opportunity to continue to grow within our organization. We've come out of this challenging period stronger than we were before, and are excited for all that we can accomplish in the future with this strong team in place."

Chicken Salad Chick's recently promoted C-level executives and vice presidents include:

  1. Jim Thompson, Chief Operating Officer (COO): Thompson was hired by Chicken Salad Chick's founder and co-founder, Stacy and Kevin Brown in 2013 when there were only six restaurants open. Over the past seven years, he has built Chicken Salad Chick's operations and training programs, and overseen the development of management and purchasing systems that have been instrumental to the brand's expansion from just six restaurants to more than 160 in 17 states. He is a Certified Franchise Executive and, for more than 25 years, has focused on improving organization performance with a solution-driven leadership style.

  2. Terry McKee, Chief Development Officer (CDO): McKee has led Chicken Salad Chick's growth throughout the Southeast, Midwest and Texas as VP of Real Estate and Store Development since 2015. He is a seasoned corporate real estate executive with extensive experience in national and regional real estate strategies, site selection, acquisition, contract and lease negotiations, and new store development. In his new role as CDO, McKee will continue to be responsible for the site selection and construction of Chicken Salad Chick's franchised and company-owned locations.

  3. Tom Carr, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO): Carr joined Chicken Salad Chick as head of its marketing team in 2016, bringing with him nearly 30 years of experience across a diverse range of industries. He has played an integral role in building awareness, trial and sales as Chicken Salad Chick enters new markets, and in helping the brand achieve 16 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales, a 31.8% increase in average unit volume and 140% increase in unit growth throughout his tenure. As CMO, Carr will continue to fuel Chicken Salad Chick's growth through impactful marketing strategies.

  4. Carrie Evans, Vice President of Franchise Development: Joining Chicken Salad Chick in May of 2016 as Director of Franchise Development, Evans has spearheaded the brand's tremendous franchise growth over the past four years. Recognized as one of the fastest-growing restaurant chains in the U.S., in 2019 alone, Chicken Salad Chick signed 26 new franchise agreements to develop 60 new restaurants over the next several years. Prior to Chicken Salad Chick, Evans was the director of development for Nothing Bundt Cakes, senior manager of franchise development for MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, as was with Cicis Pizza for 10 years.

  5. Mary Lou Atkins, Vice President of Human Resources: Atkins is a seasoned and strategic HR executive with 40+ years of experience in the restaurant industry. She is skilled in talent and performance management, as well as employee relations. Atkins joined Chicken Salad Chick in 2019 as Human Resource Director, previously holding various positions with Popeyes over the course of 35 years.

View full version at Chicken Salad Chick

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