First Watch Hires Former Popeyes Executive as Chief Financial Officer

Industry veteran Mel Hope joins fast-growing daytime-only concept

Mel Hope
Mel Hope

First Watch announced today that Mel Hope has joined its executive team as the company’s new Chief Financial Officer. This week, the leading breakfast, brunch and lunch concept welcomed Hope, who brings decades of experience leading complex public organizations like Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. as well as entrepreneurial start-ups.

Hope will lead the company’s finance department and projects, including long-term strategic financial planning, transactional negotiations, financial reporting, P&L budgeting, and other corporate priorities, as necessary. Hope succeeds Paul Hineman, who worked for the organization for four years.

While serving as Popeyes’ Chief Financial Officer for 10 years, Hope oversaw mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting and technology conversions. He worked alongside the company’s board of directors and senior management, to develop and implement the successful strategic plan that saw the brand’s market cap grow from $315 million to more than $1 billion while achieving five consecutive years of same store sales increases. Hope was most recently a partner in Genesis Real Estate Advisers LLC, serving as the company’s Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer.

“Mel is joining First Watch at a very exciting time. We are fortunate to have someone with his extensive experience and a track record of success leading fast-growing organizations like ours join our team. In addition, as I spent time getting to know Mel I grew confident he will be a fantastic asset to our organization’s operations and most importantly, a great fit within our organizational culture,” said Chris Tomasso, CEO of First Watch. “As First Watch continues to grow, the focus on our people and maintaining our values is our top priority. We’re confident that Mel is an ideal addition to our executive team and I look forward to working alongside him as we maintain our aggressive growth.”

First Watch serves its entire menu seven days a week from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and offers customers complimentary newspapers and free Wi-Fi Internet access.

First Watch Hires Former Popeyes Executive as Chief Financial OfficerFirst Watch specializes in award-winning, made-to-order Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch. A recipient of more than 200 “Best Breakfast” and “Best Brunch” accolades, First Watch offers traditional favorites, such as omelets, pancakes, sandwiches and salads, and unique specialty items like Quinoa Power Bowls, Avocado Toast and the Chickichanga. First Watch was recognized as one of Business Intelligence Group’s Best Places to Work in 2018 and as one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2017 Second 100 restaurant brands. First Watch is the largest and fastest-growing daytime-only restaurant concept in the United States with more than 330 restaurants in 29 states, including more than 260 First Watch restaurants, 70 The Egg & I restaurants and one Bread & Company restaurant in Nashville. For more information, visit