Chains from Domino’s to Starbucks shuffled their CEOs this year, marking a new leadership era at 14 companies. These restaurants are implementing various strategies around growth, technology, franchising and customer engagement. Check out all of the chains that have announced new CEOs so far this year.
CEO: Laxman Narasimhan
Start date: April 1, 2023
Restaurant outsider Laxman Narasimhan joined the coffee company in October, working alongside interim CEO Howard Schultz to prepare for his new role at the chain. Schultz resumed his temporary position following former CEO Kevin Johnson’s retirement in April. Narasimhan previously served as CEO at consumer health company Reckitt Benckiser Group. He will officially take the reins as CEO on April 1.
Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams
CEO: Stacy Peterson
Start date: December
Stacy Peterson, who is joining Jeni’s as CEO in December, previously served as chief revenue officer at Wingstop. In that role, she oversaw the chain’s growth from 550 to 1,900 units. Peterson replaces John Lowe, the outgoing Jeni’s CEO, who remains on the company’s board of directors.
CEO: Sherif Mityas
Start date: Nov. 15
Just a year after Sherif Mityas was named president of Brix Holdings, the parent company of Friendly’s promoted Mityas to CEO. IMityas oversees operations at Friendly’s, Red Mango, Orange Leaf, Smoothie Factory, SouperSalad and Humble Donuts. Prior to Brix, Mityas worked as an operating partner at JAMCO Interests, Brix Holdings’ majority shareholder. He also worked at SJM Hospitality and TGI Fridays.
CEO: Joe Christina
Start date: October
Joe Christina became CEO at the 124-unit Tex Mex chain in October, bringing nearly 40 years of restaurant experience with him. He previously served as CEO, president and board member at Church’s Chicken. Christina succeeded Brian Wright, who left his position as Tijuana Flats CEO after three years. Christina will help oversee growth via franchising and further expansion into the eastern U.S. and Texas. The chain is mainly located in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.
CEO: Brian Wright
Start date: Sept. 7
The 70-unit gastrobar chain brought on Brian Wright as its CEO in September. Wright has been in the hospitality industry for over 30 years, most recently serving as CEO of Tijuana Flats. He succeeded Tom Fricke, who left Bar Louie in June after nearly five years in that position. Wright has also worked at Au Bon Pain, Bertucci’s and Einstein Bros. Bagels. Bar Louie is targeting growth, which will be supported by new operations and technologies.
Union Square Hospitality Group
CEO: Chip Wade
Start date: Sept. 6
Union Square Hospitality Group promoted Chip Wade, president and COO of the company, to CEO in September. He succeeded the company’s founder and CEO Danny Meyer, who remains as the company’s executive chairman. Wade also joined USHG’s board of directors. Wade has three decades of hospitality experience and joined USHG in 2019 to help implement the company’s growth strategy.
CEO: G.J. Hart
Start date: Sept. 6
G.J. Hart joined Red Robin as president and CEO in September. He has served on the company’s board since August 2019 and will continue as a member of the board. He most recently held the role of CEO at Torchy’s Tacos from 2018 to 2021, when he announced he would retire. Hart Succeeds Paul Murphy, who is retiring at the end of the year.
Church’s Texas Chicken, Texas Chicken
CEO: Joe Guith
Start date: Aug. 1
Joe Guith joined the chicken chain in August, succeeding Joe Christina, who became Tijuana Flats’ CEO. Guith previously worked as restaurant category president at Focus Brands, overseeing more than 1,500 restaurants across Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s. Guith has experience growing brands and increasing digital capabilities.
CEO: Kelli Valade
Start date: June 13
After less than a year as Red Lobster’s CEO, Kelli Valade took the reins at Denny’s in June. She succeeded John Miller, who retired in August but retained his position on the board of directors. Valade has 30 years of hospitality industry experience and prior to Red Lobster, she was CEO at Black Box Intelligence and held several roles at Brinker International.
CEO: Kevin Hochman
Start date: June 6
Kevin Hochman, former KFC U.S. president and chief concept officer, was appointed president, CEO and member of Brinker’s board in June following former CEO Wyman Roberts’ retirement . Hochman served as Pizza Hut’s president concurrently with his position at KFC from December 2019 to January 2022. He also served as CMO at KFC U.S for three years.
CEO: Russell Weiner
Start date: May 1
Following Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison’s April retirement, the company promoted COO and president of Domino’s U.S. Russell Weiner to CEO. Weiner first joined the company in 2008 as CMO, and helped expand the company’s market share, grow unit count and increase digital sales.
Salad and Go
CEO: Charlie Morrison
Start date: April
Former Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison was appointed CEO of roughly 60-unit Salad and Go in April, according to Morrison’s LinkedIn profile. Morrison has over 30 years of experience and was on Salad and Go’s board of directors since November 2020. As Salad and Go’s CEO, he will oversee the company’s strategic direction and operations as well as its aggressive expansion across the U.S.
CEO: Michael Skipworth
Start date: March 13
Michael Skipworth was promoted to CEO from president and COO after then-CEO Charlie Morrison resigned from his position to join Salad and Go. Skipworth has been with Wingstop since 2014, and was named CFO in 2017. He was promoted to president and COO in August 2021. He has played a pivotal role in helping the brand scale globally to over 1,700 locations.
CEO: Mike Rypka
Start date: March
Torchy’s Tacos founder Mike Rypka returned as CEO following the departure of G.J. Hart. Rypka, who founded the company in 2006, first led the company as CEO from its founding until 2018. He served as interim CEO after Hart retired in November 2021.