- Cijoy Olickal became Red Lobster's new CIO Monday, according to a company announcement. The executive replaced Lou Grande, who had been with the company since 2014 and most recently served as SVP of Information Technology, the company said in an email.
- Olickal, a former CIO at restaurant chain Fogo de Chão with over two decades of experience in IT, will report directly to CEO Kelli Valade, according to a spokesperson.
- Though no specific priorities for the new executive were shared, Olickal is joining Red Lobster as the chain is looking at "new and innovative solutions to best serve our guests in the future," Valade said in the announcement.
Similar to other industries, restaurant brands are turning to technology to drive growth and higher profit margins.
Nine in 10 restaurant operators, owners or managers found technology adoption to be critical for overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, a report from Lightspeed found.
Last year, even businesses that had delayed modernization began sharpening their IT strategies. Companies plugged in technology while searching for ways to lower costs, increase exposure and improve customer experience, Restaurant Dive reports.
At Red Lobster, the addition of Olickal to the senior leadership team is part of a broader executive realignment. Valade, a restaurant industry veteran, became CEO at the seafood chain in August 2021 following a stint as president and CEO of restaurant technology firm Black Box Intelligence.
Earlier this month, the company appointed David Schmidt as its new CFO. Schmidt most recently oversaw the finance, analytics and consumer insights teams at Bloomin' Brands' Casual Dining Restaurant Portfolio.
Prior to Olickal's time at Fogo de Chão, Olickal served as managing director at clearAjna, leading technology projects for companies in the retail and hospitality industries.