- Tijuana Flats, a 124-unit Tex-Mex chain, has named Joe Christina as CEO and a member of the board of directors, the company said Monday in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive.
- Christina has nearly 40 years of restaurant experience, most recently serving as CEO, president and board member at Church’s Texas Chicken. He left the chain in August.
- Christina succeeds Brian Wright, who served as CEO of Tijuana Flats for over three years. Wright took a post as CEO of Bar Louie in September.
Christina's extensive restaurant experience, especially in franchising, will come in handy as the company focuses on growing via franchising. Christina has a record of delivering sustained revenue and profit growth, according to the press release.
Tijuana Flats restarted its franchising program in 2020 after a 13-year pause. The chain, which is based mainly in Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, is looking to expand throughout the eastern U.S. and Texas, according to QSR Magazine. In 2021, Tijuana Flats opened its first corporate-owned location since 2018 with a new prototype in Florida, which offers an interior with high ceilings and an easily updated digital menu boards.
Christina worked for 28 years at Burger King, most recently as SVP of franchise operations, managing the North America Western Division, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was responsible for overseeing strategic planning, operations, real estate, training and other tasks for over 2,000 restaurants across 19 states. That division generated $2 billion in sales, according to the press release.
While at Church’s, Christina spent the three years as EVP for U.S. operations, responsible for franchise and company-owned restaurant operations. As CEO of Church’s, he oversaw 1,700 restaurants in 26 countries that generated over $1.2 billion in yearly systemwide sales.