Personnel Updates

• Bloomin Brands’ (145) named Jeff Carcara (Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group) as the new President of Bonefish Grill.

• Bojangles (33) named Jose Armario as CEO and Brian Unger as COO. The company also named Kenneth Koziol Chief Restaurant Support Officer.

• Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop (25) named Brent Erwin SVP of Finance.

• Chipotle (51) hired Kerry Bridges as VP of Food Safety to replace the retiring James Marsden. Bridges comes to Chipotle from Walmart.

• Church’s (65) promoted Andra Terrell to VP and Deputy General Counsel.

• Fazoli’s (32) brought in Kathy Davidson as Senior Director of Franchise Sales.

• Jamba Juice (19) named Geoff Henry as the brand’s President and Shivram Vaideeswaran as Chief Marketing Officer while promoting Jaime Denney to VP of Operations.

• On the Border (22) appointed Amy Smith VP of Culinary.

• Papa John’s (37) brought in Marvin Boakye as the company’s first Chief People Officer.

• Primanti Bros. (20) named its first Chief Marketing Officer, Adam Golomb.

• Punch Bowl Social (23) reorganized its executive ranks. It brought in Peter Gaudreau as the new COO, replacing Rob LeBoeuf who becomes President of Organization Development and Strategic Projects.  Former Controller at Smashburger, Stacy Galligan, joined the company as its new CFO, replacing Robert Cornog, who remains a partner.  Linda Sim came onboard to fill the newly created position of VP of Sales and Events.

• Restaurant Brands International (61) (parent to Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes) CEO Daniel Schwartz has moved on to an Executive Chairman role to be replaced by new CEO Jose Cil. Also moving into the leadership structure is new COO Josh Kobza.

• Salata (6) promoted CMO Michelle Bythewood to President.

• Shake Shack (80) appointed Jay Livingston to the newly created position of Chief Marketing Officer.

• Shari’s Management Corp (15) has brought in Stan Frankenthaler to serve as Executive Chef and SVP Supply Chain.

• Shula’s Restaurant Group (10) named Bill Freeman as its new CEO, Shardul Kiri as Chief Brand Officer, Demetrio Zavala as Corporate Culinary Director, and Gordon Gilbert as Director of Operations.

• Stacked (3) named Yard House veteran as its first COO.

• Tim Hortons (45) co-Founder Ron Joyce passed away.

• Tropical Smoothie Café (29) promoted Charles Watson to CEO.

• Wetzel’s Pretzels (16) promoted Jennifer Schuler to CEO.

• YUM! Brands (98) promoted David Gibbs the company’s President and COO. He’ll directly lead operations for KFC global, and leaders of all three brands KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell will report to him.


Financial Focus

• Chipotle digital sales grew to nearly $500 million in 2018.

• FAT Brands received a $20M investment/load from the CEO of Biglari Holdings (Steak ’n Shake).

• Restaurant Brands International grew sales by 7.4% in 2018, primarily driven by restaurant openings.

• SSCP Management acquired 13 Applebee’s in Northern California from two other franchisees.


Industry Insight

• Blaze Pizza is testing a larger, 14-inch pizza, to target carryout and delivery customers and compete against traditional pizza chains.

• Chipotle opened its 2,500th restaurant.

• Coolgreens opened its first franchised restaurant and in doing so expanded to Texas.

• Denny’s looks to refranchise 125 restaurants in 2019.

• Fuzzy’s Taco Shop opened its 150th store.

• Golden Chick will open 25 new restaurants this year.

• Gold Star Chili is rebranding, to the tune of $25 million, and shifting its focus to burgers and fries. As part of the effort, the company has developed a redesigned 2,600-sq.ft. store prototype.

• Jimmy John’s has stated that it won’t partner with 3rd-party delivery services and instead will keep all efforts in house.

• Krystal will redesign 75-100 restaurants over the next five years, representing approximately 40 percent of the company’s corporate portfolio.

• Papa John’s is offering to cover 100 percent of the tuition for corporate team members along with a significant discount for franchisee team members in cooperation with Purdue University Global online program. Employees can work toward undergrad or graduate degrees and only have to have worked for the company for 90 days and average 20 hours a week.

• Papa John’s received a $200 million investment from Starboard Value LP while Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith was named Papa’s John’s new Chairman.

• Pie Five is down to 65 locations from a peak of nearly 100 a couple of years ago.

• PJ’s Coffee opened its 100th location and plans to open 30 more by the end of the year.

• Taco Bell partnered with GrubHub for nationwide delivery. Dunkin’ Brands is testing with the company.

• Walk-On’s projects it will open 17 franchise locations by year-end, doubling its footprint.

• Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill is opening a smaller footprint concept WR Kitchen & Bar. The company plans to open a location in Laguna Niguel, CA in the coming weeks and another this fall in Carlsbad.


Real Estate

• Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh will open approximately 5 locations in 2019 according to CSG projections. New stores are on the way in February on the campus of Notre Dame and Creve Coeur, MO. The company also signed a number of development agreements to expand to the Boston market.

• Padrino’s added another Florida location in Dania Beach.

• SaladWorks is expanding its partnership with ShopRite by opening two additional locations within its supermarkets in Philadelphia after a successful trial.

• Salata will expand to Louisiana this year.



• Domino’s new rewards programs rewards customers for purchasing any pizza through its app that leverages AI technology to identify a pizza as a pizza.


Just because we don’t mention it here doesn’t mean it didn’t happen – or we didn’t capture it. In the past four weeks, we’ve updated more than 500 companies in the Restaurant Franchisee Premier Database, with many of those companies’ records updated at multiple points.