Restaurant People Report 3/09/15



Restaurant People Report 3/09/15East Coast Wings & Grill recently named Stacey Kane as Vice President of Marketing. With more than 20 years of experience working with and building multi-unit restaurant chains, some of Kane’s previous positions in the industry include Global Director of Buzz at AmRest Restaurants and Vice President of Marketing at California Tortilla.  Kane was named as one of the Top 20 Movers and Shakers within the Fast Casual Restaurant Industry by Fast Casual Magazine.

Noodles & Company announced that Gretchen Paules has joined its team as Vice President, Field Marketing, where she will oversee all field marketing support, including franchise marketing.  Most recently Ms. Paules was principal in her own consulting group, Elevation Branding & Communications, where she developed media strategies, business and marketing plans for brands including Abuelos, The Walking Connection and Quaker Steak & Lube.

Gene Lee was recently appointed as Chief Executive Officer and director for Darden Restaurants.  Lee brings more than 30 years of restaurant operating experience to the role, which ranges from early stage high-growth concepts to large high volume chains. Prior to his appointment as Interim CEO, Mr. Lee served as President and Chief Operating Officer of the Company for one year, and prior to that as President of the Company’s Specialty Restaurant Group (SRG) for six years.

Golden Corral recently announced the appointment of Lance Trenary as President and Chief Executive Officer.  Trenary, who started in his family’s restaurant business at an early age washing dishes, moved up the ranks at Golden Corral the last 29 years, serving most recently as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Trenary took over for CEO Ted Fowler, who has held the top position with the company since 1989.

Long John Silver’s has named James O’Reilly as chief executive officer. O’Reilly brings to the role more than 20 years of food service leadership, including, most recently, chief brand officer for Sonic Drive-In.  Additionally, O’Reilly has served in a variety of domestic and international leadership positions for many prominent brands including Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Yum! Brands, and Procter and Gamble.

Phil Keiser, president and chief operating officer of Culver Franchising System, will become chief executive officer and president, effective June 15, 2015. Under Keiser’s leadership since 2003, the 535-restaurant chain has surpassed the $1 billion mark in system-wide sales and opened more than 330 restaurants across 22 states.  Craig Culver, co-founder of the restaurant chain, will continue to inspire the brand and team as board chairman and spokesperson.

Real Mex Restaurants announced that Bryan Lockwood has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately.  Lockwood is a proven executive with extensive operational expertise in the restaurant industry. Prior to joining Real Mex, he served for a decade in the roles of Chief Executive Officer and President of Tavistock Restaurants, a company he co-founded in 2003.

Capital Restaurants Concepts has appointed Tom Gregg as CEO. Gregg comes to CRC after founding and spearheading the largest American smart card software company in the 1990’s 3-G International. He has also served as president of the publicly traded international sous vide food manufacturing company Cuisine Solutions, and was also the chairman of the famous chef brand sous vide products company, Fiveleaf. Most recently, Gregg has been recognized for his work as co-founder of the Washington, DC-based Medium Rare restaurants.

Joe Guith, Chief Operating Officer for Cinnabon, was recently promoted to President of Cinnabon. Joe will continue to build on the strong momentum created by his popular predecessor, Kat Cole.  Cole has been promoted to taking on a larger, global role with the parent company as Group President, FOCUS Brands. She will oversee the business and growth of all brands at FOCUS in consumer packaged goods, foodservice licensing, global licensed platforms and E-commerce channels.

Pizza Patrón has promoted Andrew Gamm to executive vice president. Gamm will continue to build on the strong momentum created following the brand’s strongest year ever in 2014.  Gamm is now responsible for overseeing all Pizza Patrón operations nationwide. Additionally, he is accountable for the development and execution of all brand and expansion strategies. He initially joined Pizza Patrón in 2002 as brand director.

Pizza Patrón also promoted Victor Vazquez to vice president of business development. Vazquez will be focused on both domestic growth strategies and international expansion.  Vazquez joined Pizza Patrón in 2010 and has served in multiple leadership and project management positions within the company.

Johnny Rockets has promoted James Walker to President of Operations and Development.  Formerly Johnny Rockets’ Chief Development Officer, Walker was recently promoted because of his role in orchestrating the franchise’s record growth and development since coming onboard a little more than a year ago.  Walker joined Johnny Rockets in December of 2013, and as the newly-appointed President of Operations and Development, will oversee the brand’s development strategy, including construction, design and real estate, as well as domestic and international operations.

The Ruby Restaurant Group, operator of the iconic 1940s-themed family restaurants and 1960s-themed dinettes, recently announced the appointment of franchising specialist Larry Sidoti to oversee a big push this year to grow Ruby’s.  As Ruby’s new vice president of franchise development, Sidoti, who has more than 20 years of experience developing such marquee franchise powerhouses as Yogurtland, Juice it Up and Mrs. Fields Cookies, will oversee this new phase in Ruby’s growth strategy.

Wienerschnitzel recently named Doug Koegeboehn as Chief Marketing Officer; joining the Irvine-based company with more than 20 years of marketing experience in the quick service restaurant industry. Koegeboehn will lead brand, marketing, digital, menu, and overall communications strategy efforts. He will also oversee the newly-formed Visionary Department, a forward-thinking marketing division dedicated to building brand loyalty among younger generations.