BurgerFi Appoints Former Burger King, Panera Bread, Papa Gino’s Executive to lead company’s operations
BurgerFi International Inc. (Nasdaq: BFI, BFIIW), one of the nation’s fastest-growing premium fast-casual concepts and QSR’s 2020 Breakout Brand of the Year known for its better burgers, has hired QSR-industry veteran Jim Esposito to be Chief Operating Officer. Esposito is recognized as an influential leader in the restaurant industry with over 20 years of experience and a successful track record of delivering best-in-class results for public and private growth companies. He is an exceptional operational executive that has led teams of over 7,500 employees with a business-centric and strategic vision. Esposito’s QSR experience includes positions at Burger King Corporation, a Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE: QSR) subsidiary, Panera Bread Company and Papa Gino’s Inc.
“Jim Esposito built his career around successfully managing people and processes for high-quality organizations in very competitive and fast-paced environments, and has achieved tremendous success,” said Ophir Sternberg, Executive Chairman of BurgerFi. “Esposito’s industry experience and positive track record with food-centric and publicly traded companies made him an exceptional candidate as COO.”
Most recently as Senior Vice President of Operations for Planet Fitness (NYSE: PLNT) Esposito grew market share and revenue streams by ensuring the effective management of 105 company-owned locations globally. He drove revenue up by 15.2% to $159.7 million and EBITDA up by 15.7% to $65.6 million in 2019. In his role he coached, trained, and mentored a team of 1,400 employees through leading and influencing, improving employee satisfaction, and dramatically reducing turnover. He spearheaded leadership of global operations; transformed $60 million dollars in annual real estate development, optimized $150 million dollars in revenue and ignited $80 million dollars in bottom-line profits.
“Jim Esposito has a strong record of delivering rapid business results while positioning franchised and corporate-owned businesses to greater levels of profitability and operational efficiencies,” said Julio Ramirez, CEO of BurgerFi. “He is a dynamic change agent able to lead and manage change using innovative, out-of-the-box approaches and I am honored to have him as part of the BurgerFi family.”
Prior to joining Planet Fitness, Esposito worked for Panera Bread, where he collaborated with a cross-functional team to drive business results, improve drive-thru process efficiencies and introduce Panera 2.0, an integrated experience that meets the differentiated needs of to-go, dine-in, and large order delivery customers through new mechanisms for ordering, payment processing, and consumer consumption.
“BurgerFi is leading the way in the ‘better burger’ segment. I am committed to building upon BurgerFi’s dedicated employee base, great operations, and superior products to consistently deliver the best burger and overall exceptional guest experience at every franchise and company-owned restaurant, which will further fuel the 30% projected growth for 2021,” said Jim Esposito, newly appointed COO of BurgerFi. “This is a brand that is built on quality at every touch point – the people, the food, the restaurants, and the best-in-class omnichannel technology platforms. I am looking forward to working with the leadership team to continue BurgerFi’s acceleration as a public company.”
Previously, Esposito held the position of Chief Operating Officer at Papa Gino’s which included two brands, Papa Gino’s Pizzeria and D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches, where he was directly responsible for creating an environment that delivered exceptional operations, sales growth, and increased profitability for 336 restaurants and over 25 licensees which resulted in annual sales of $250 million.
Esposito spent over a decade at Burger King Corporation, where he held a number of key operations positions such as running the Atlanta and Boston company markets and directing strategic and tactical leadership for field operations. In his last role as Senior Director of Global Restaurant Systems and Development, he provided restaurant technology support to over 1,400 restaurants in 10 countries around the world.