Industry veteran joins leading restaurant operator’s executive team to lead nationwide expansion
CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc., the largest craft brewery restaurant operator in the country, announced today Mark Belanger has joined its executive team as vice president of global franchise operations and development. In his new role, Belanger will be responsible for leading the national franchise growth efforts for casual dining leader Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, as well as growing the presence of the company’s other brands – Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurants & Breweries and ChopHouse & Brewery – nationwide. He will also oversee day-to-day franchisee and license development domestically and abroad.
“Following a very successful year, it’s time to aggressively expand our brands’ visibility nationwide, specifically Old Chicago’s growth within the franchise space,” said Srinivas Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries. “With Mark’s vast experience in franchising and ability to cultivate strong, long-lasting partnerships, we are confident that he will carry out our franchise expansion goals for Old Chicago, and growth for our key brands.”
While his efforts will span across CraftWorks’ primary brands, Belanger will be leveraging his expertise to specifically accelerate Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom’s momentum in 2016, following a year of unprecedented growth. He will lead the company’s development strategy, which focuses on catapulting Old Chicago’s presence even further by growing the brand in existing markets and identifying new markets to target for franchise expansion.
An industry veteran with nearly three decades of experience in the franchise, foodservice and retail space, Belanger most recently served as chief executive officer of ProFab Holdings, Inc. and president/managing principal of MAB Consulting Group, where he and his team provided franchisees with effective ways to save time and money when opening new locations. Prior to consulting, Belanger held various positions at several leading brands including vice president of El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc., director of business development for Service Master Brands, Inc. and vice president of Barnes & Noble, Inc.
“The rate at which the CraftWorks brands are expanding is truly impressive, and there’s tremendous opportunity to keep the momentum going,” said Belanger. “With a focus on further developing Old Chicago’s franchise presence in key markets, I look forward to creating partnerships with a new generation of franchisees and fostering the existing relationships in our system.”
Old Chicago experienced record-breaking success in 2015, achieving $254 million in system-wide revenue and 20 consecutive months of positive comp sales, and launching its new restaurant prototype – a 5,000 square feet build with an additional 1,000 – 1,200 square feet of outdoor patio space. To fuel franchise growth, the company is seeking multi-unit operators with business, management and foodservice and/or restaurant experience, and a passion for and commitment to exceptional customer service.
Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom (Old Chicago) is a traditional, casual dining restaurant specializing in Chicago-style pizzas, taproom classics and craft beer. Founded in 1976, Old Chicago operates in 24 states with more than 100 restaurants. With over 30 craft beers on tap, Old Chicago is also the home of the World Beer Tour, which rewards members for enjoying 110 of the best craft beers from across the globe. Visit www.oldchicago.com to learn more and to find the restaurant nearest you. For information about franchise opportunities, visit www.ocfranchising.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 craft beer focused casual dining segment, CraftWorks also operates strong regional brands, 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 with over a 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. The CraftWorks Foundation has contributed millions of dollars, positively impacting communities throughout the country. For additional information about CraftWorks, the Foundation, and its restaurant brands, please visit www.craftworksrestaurants.com.