Real Mex Restaurants, the nation’s largest full-service, casual dining Mexican restaurant chain operator, today named veteran restaurant executive Charles E. Robinson as President & CEO. Robinson, who will also serve on the Real Mex board of directors, replaces interim CEO Christopher R. Thomas , who has served in the post since mid-2012 and will remain on the board.
Robinson, 57, is charged with leading the company’s ongoing turnaround. He most recently was working closely with the founder of Warner Hospitality as EVP of Food & Beverage, helping develop, refurbish and rejuvenate restaurants for several high-profile casinos around the U.S., including the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Previously Robinson was President & COO of E-Brands Restaurants based in Orlando, where he oversaw the growth of the multi-concept operator, which owns Timpano Italian Chophouses, Taqueria Canonita, Salsa Taqueria & Tequila Bar among other brands. During his tenure the company doubled its revenues and built an infrastructure for growth.
“Charly’s proven leadership abilities and business acumen are exactly what we need to further boost the performance improvements underway,” said Mark Holdsworth , Chairman of Real Mex and Managing Partner of Tennenbaum Capital Partners, one of the company’s owners. “His decades of experience operating restaurants, including several Mexican brands, will be invaluable as we move forward.”
“We are excited to have Charly, a seasoned executive with more than 35 years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant industries, join the Real Mex team,” said James Zenni , President and CEO of Z Capital Partners, also part of the company’s ownership group. “He has a strong track record of building and significantly improving restaurants, and we are confident that under his guidance Real Mex will continue to execute on its strategic plan while it enhances the experience it provides its customers.”
Before leading E-Brands Restaurants, Robinson served as Senior Vice President of Operations at Planet Hollywood, and prior to that, as Senior Vice President of Operations at Rainforest Cafe. Earlier in his career he helped create the Caliente Grille Tex-Mex concept for Ryan’s Family Steakhouses and served as President of that division.
“This is an exciting challenge and I look forward to helping Real Mex realize its full potential,” Robinson said. “We have the most recognized brands in Mexican full-serve dining and a loyal guest base, which provides a solid platform for future growth.”
A graduate of Purdue University’s Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management School, Robinson began his career in the hotel business.
Headquartered in Cypress, California, Real Mex Restaurants is the largest full-service, casual dining Mexican restaurant chain operator in the United States with 125 company owned and operated restaurants, as well as 15 franchised restaurants. Our brands include El Torito Restaurants, Acapulco Mexican Restaurants, Chevys Fresh Mex Restaurants, El Torito Grill Restaurants, Las Brisas Restaurant in Laguna Beach, Sinigual Restaurant in New York City, Who Song and Larry’s in Vancouver, WA, and El Paso Cantina in Torrance, CA. In addition, our Real Mex Foods division is a custom manufacturer of foodservice and private label products in addition to co-packing for other manufacturers