Largest Craft Brewery Restaurant Operator Names New Vice President of Brewing Operations and Vice President of Real Estate and Development
CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc., the largest craft brewery restaurant operator in the country, announced today it has expanded its leadership team with two industry veterans. Jeff Melnick joins the company as brand leader for Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Aaron Ruben is named vice president of real estate and development for the brand. Additionally, Tom Dargen, who has been with CraftWorks for nearly two decades, was promoted to vice president of brewing operations and is responsible for supervising and overseeing all of the company’s brewing operations for Gordon Biersch, Rock Bottom and CraftWorks Specialty Brand Restaurants & Breweries.
“CraftWorks’ purpose is to craft and serve our people and communities and what better way than to witness Tom Dargen’s career progression from brewer to head brewer to now vice president of brewing operations. I’m equally excited to welcome to the CraftWorks team Jeff Melnick, a proven industry leader, who will serve as brand leader of Gordon Biersch, directing and driving the brand’s future growth,” said Srinivas Kumar, CEO of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries. “And with CraftWorks’ emphasis on the growth of its brands, we’ve made a conscious decision to invest in our real estate/development team and I’m thrilled to have Aaron Ruben lead this effort as our vice president of real estate and development.”
In his new role as brand leader of Gordon Biersch, Jeff Melnick will lead all strategic and tactical matters for the brand, including guest service, food quality control, employee experience, operational soundness, innovation and financial performance. A foodservice industry veteran, Melnick brings more than 25 years’ experience to the company, having previously served as the senior vice president of operations for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and the regional director of operations for Chili’s. He earned a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Phoenix.
“CraftWorks is a portfolio of iconic brands that have pioneered the craft beer movement and had a huge impact on the industry as a whole. I’m thrilled to be joining a company that has continually set itself apart from the rest,” said Melnick. “With its signature beers and phenomenal food, Gordon Biersch is truly a one-of-a-kind concept, and I look forward to accelerating the brand’s momentum and leveraging my experience in the food service industry to help grow its presence nationwide.”
Tom Dargen joined CraftWorks in 2000 brewing in Gordon Biersch locations, then rose through the ranks over the years to serve as the company’s senior director of brewing operations, and was recently promoted to vice president of brewing operations. In his new role, Dargen is responsible for all aspects of brewing for Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom as well as several specialty concepts. He oversees purchasing, production, quality assurance, maintenance, brewery accounting, people development and partners with marketing. He has more than 25 years of experience in the craft beer industry, and previously served as the director of brewing operations for Wynkoop Brewing Company prior to joining CraftWorks. Dargen earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado and currently serves on the Board of the Brewers’ Association and is a judge at the Great American Beer Festival.
Aaron Ruben has joined CraftWorks as vice president of real estate and development, a role in which he will be responsible for overseeing the company’s 140 corporate restaurants and two corporate offices across the country. Additionally, he will help implement and execute the brand’s development plans and assist in driving national growth, as well as provide strategic and tactical leadership for CraftWorks’ real estate initiatives. Ruben has extensive experience in the commercial real estate industry, and has previously led development for several national and regional brands, including Ruby Tuesday, Coast Dental Services and Redstone Investments. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida.
CraftWorks, with nearly 200 company-owned and franchised locations nationwide, operates the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants & Breweries, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and ChopHouse & Brewery, as well as other regional restaurant brands including Big River Grille, Bluewater Grille, A1A Ale Works, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill and Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery. As a portfolio company, each restaurant brand is unique in its culinary approach, as well as in the craft beers that it brews and offers in its restaurants. For more information on CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, visit www.craftworksrestaurants.com.
Gordon Biersch specializes in local brewing and handcrafted, seasonal foods. Over the years, Gordon Biersch has won many medals for our authentic lagers and ales, which are brewed in-house using traditional methods dating back nearly 500 years. Gordon Biersch is located in 18 states across the country and the District of Columbia. For additional details about Gordon Biersch, please visit http://gordonbiersch.com.
CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. is the largest craft brewery restaurant operator in the country with nearly 200 franchised and company-owned restaurants primarily operating under the Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Rock Bottom Restaurants & Breweries brands. As a leader in the casual dining segment, CraftWorks also operates strong regional brands, including ChopHouse and Big River, and employs more than 12,000 people throughout the U.S. All of CraftWorks’ restaurant brands have innovative menus with made-from-scratch food and a vast selection of unique craft beer, as well as unbeatable service and loyalty programs that tout over a half-million active members. Based in Broomfield, Colo., CraftWorks is not only committed to serving its loyal guests, but also the communities in which its restaurants operate. In 2000, the CraftWorks Foundation was formed and has contributed millions of dollars, positively impacting communities throughout the country. For additional information about CraftWorks, the foundation and its craft brewery restaurant brands, please visit www.craftworksrestaurants.com.