This is the latest installment in a series that highlights major executive changes at top fast casual, QSR and casual dining chains over the past week.
Restaurants brands have been eyeing international markets to continue growing sales now that the U.S. landscape is considered over saturated. While QSRs have been more aggressive in international growth, full-service brands like IHOP, Denny's and Johnny Rockets have also been opening new units abroad. California Pizza Kitchen's newest EVP will help the chain continue is international expansion, which requires additional expertise, such as knowing how to solve supply chain issues, adapt menus when needed and develop local relationships with master franchisees.
Check out the latest updates below:
Wingstop: Christina Clarke has been named as Chief Marketing Officer and Donnie Upshaw as SVP of people, according to a press release. Clarke was previously the interim CMO while Upshaw previously served as VP of human resources. Clarke joined Wingstop in 2018 and spearheaded the company's "Where Flavor Gets Its Wings" campaign in February. Upshaw joined Wingstop in 2018 as well. Clarke's previous experience includes 12 years at PepsiCo while Upshaw has served in various human resources positions at companies like Check Into Cash, Energy Dispatch, RaceTrac Petroleum and Champs Sports, according to LinkedIn profiles.
California Pizza Kitchen: Giorgio Minardi has been hired as EVP of global development and franchise operations, according to a press release. He will lead the development of CPK's international and domestic franchise business, with an immediate focus on growing the brand in new cities and countries around the globe. The full-service pizza chain has plans to add more restaurants in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia and will focus in on the Middle East, Australia and Europe starting next year. Minardi has over 35 years of global restaurant experience and most recently served as international president at Telepizza Group. He has also worked at Dunkin' Brands, Burger King and McDonald’s in various international leadership positions.
Kura Sushi USA: Kim Ellis joins the company as an independent member of the board of directors, effective Dec. 1, according to a press release. She has also been appointed to the Compensation Committee and Audit Committee. She has extensive experience in various retail and restaurant companies including her current role as chief development officer at Buff City Soap and previous positions at iFLY, Piada Italian Street Food, Regis Corp. and Panda Restaurant Group. She also co-founded a commercial retail advisory services company, Artizen Advisors.
Your Pie: Chief Operating Officer Dave McDougall has been promoted to CEO, replacing Bucky Cook, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Cook will stay on in an advisory capacity. McDougall has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry and joined the company in 2018. He previously worked at Back Yard Burgers, Focus Brands,Cinnabon and Denny's.
RAVE Restaurant Group: The company hired Mike Burns as chief operations officer and Douglas Kwong as vice president of marketing, according to a press release. The company's president Bob Bafundo will depart. The company also hired Justin Smith as senior director of operations for Pizza Inn and Aaron Archuleta as director of operations for Pie Five. Burns will oversee operations for Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza and operations services for all brands. He has 10 years of experience within the industry and spent eight years at Bojangles'. Both Burns and Kwong most recently worked at Pei Wei.
Disclosure: Falfurrias, the majority owner of Restaurant Dive's publisher, Industry Dive, was previously invested in Bojangles'. Falfurrias has no influence over Restaurant Dive's coverage.