- Dine Brands Global, the parent company of Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP, has named Vance Chang CFO, effective June 14.
- Chang will arrive at the publicly traded Glendale, Calif.-based company from his post as CFO of El Segundo, Calif.-based Exer Urgent Care, where he has been for a year and a half. Before that, Chang spent nearly four years as CFO of YogaWorks, which he led through an IPO in 2017.
- Chang replaces Allison Hall, who has been serving as the company's interim CFO since January, when then-CFO Thomas Song resigned to take the CFO role at Aimbridge Hospitality. Hall, who has been vice president and corporate controller since March 2019, will be promoted to chief accounting officer, Dine Brands said Wednesday.
Chang began his career as an auditor at Deloitte and later moved into investment banking at JMP Group. Just prior to YogaWorks, Chang spent three years leading finance at Pressed Juicery.
"[Chang] brings a compelling blend of strategic and collaborative leadership abilities, and will be an asset to our business as we continue on a recovery trajectory and focus on growth across every facet of our business," CEO John Peyton said in a statement.
"With Vance and Allison at the helm of our financial organization, I look forward to our continued success together as we evolve our business and accelerate our momentum in support of our restaurants and franchisees around the globe," he added.
News of Chang's hire came one week after Dine Brands reported a strong first quarter, with 99% of locations open for dine-in and year-over-year sales growth of 237.4% for Applebee's, and 297.4% for IHOP. Applebee's and IHOP saw a 103.3% and 81.2% increase, respectively, in same-store sales for March 2021.
"The renaissance is here," Peyton told investors last week, referring to his fourth quarter earnings call of a "rebirth" of the restaurant industry, according to Nation's Restaurant News. "Americans, now that they are increasingly vaccinated, with capacity restrictions being lifted across the country, with good weather, with a strong economy, people are returning to restaurants."
Consumer savings, dropping rates of unemployment and the continued rollout of federal stimulus checks improved Applebee's and IHOP sales, Peyton told investors, adding that sales might grow even more should a new federal infrastructure bill pass.
"What I love about it is that Applebee's and IHOP are now part of the off-premise consideration set in a way that they weren't before," Peyton said. Applebee's is among the several fast-casual chains to experiment with ghost kitchens in the past year, Restaurant Dive reported, with locations opened in Los Angeles and Philadelphia and a third on the way in Miami.
"We don't have a gigantic footprint, but we have the ability to test and learn," Peyton told Forbes. "[We can] be present in a market in a low-capital way. [Ghost kitchens] fill in gaps where we don't have a brick-and-mortar presence, and allow us to demonstrate to franchisees a great case for potentially building a restaurant."
"We are all in on virtual brands and ghost kitchens as a capital-light way to reach new customers in new markets and expand our brands' footprints," he added.
Bolstered by a successful quarter and profitable ghost kitchens, Peyton said the brand is now looking towards acquisitions.
"There's an opportunity for us to leverage more than one virtual brand, and so we're exploring additional opportunities, but nothing firm to announce right now," Peyton told NRN. "We have no firm deadline for acquiring a brand but it's part of the palette to look at for opportunities for growth," he said.