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.
Major leadership changes have occurred this week at national and regional chains, with KFC U.S. hiring a new COO and Focus Brands adding its first global chief marketing officer. These changes could have far-reaching implications on respective company strategies for the rest of the year.
Check out the latest updates below:
National Restaurant Association and National Restaurant Association Education Foundation: President and CEO Dawn Sweeney will be stepping down from her role at the organization at the end of the year after 12 years leading the association, according to a press release. Prior to her retirement, she will remain with the association, gain board approval for the 2020-2024 plan and help the board look for a new CEO. Since joining the organization in 2007, membership has grown 50%, revenues have doubled and food safety training and certification via ServSafe has nearly tripled. In 2018, she led the largest transaction in the organization's history with the creation of an equity partnership with Winsight Media and the operational sale of the National Restaurant Association Show. She also refocused the Educational Foundation to better attract and empower the future workforce in the industry. She also built a unified partnership agreement with state restaurant associations to better align the work of the national and state organizations.
Wahlburgers: Patrick Renna has been named president of the fast-casual burger brand established by executive chef Paul Wahlburg and his brothers Mark Wahlberg and Donnie Wahlburg, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Renna was previously the company's interim CEO when Rick Vanzura stepped down in June. He also served as the company's CFO and also served as financial chief at Paul Wahlberg's fine dining restaurant, Alma Nove, and has also worked as CFO and CEO at Boloco restaurants.
Nathan's Famous: James Walker, formerly Subway's vice president, North America, has been named senior vice president, restaurants at Nathan's Famous, according to QSR Magazine. He has over 30 years of experience and has also worked in various executive positions at Baja Fresh, Cinnabon and Johnny Rockets.
National Restaurant Association: Sean Kennedy has been named executive vice president of public affairs where he will lead advocacy initiatives, federal and grassroots lobbying efforts and policy economic analysis, according to a press release. He also will lead the organization’s litigation strategy at the Restaurant Law Center. He will join this role in mid-June. He previously served as the senior vice president, global government affairs for Airlines of America.
Focus Brands: Dan Gertsacov has joined the company in the newly created position of global chief marketing officer, according to a press release. He will work with each of the company’s brand leadership to maintain and grow market leadership and loyalty using disruptive marketing strategies, menu innovation and digital investment. Gertsacov previously worked at Arcos Dorados, the largest independent McDonald's franchisee, where he was chief marketing and digital officer.
KFC U.S.: Monica Rothgery has been promoted to chief operating officer, effective immediately, according to a press release. In her new role, she will oversee operational strategy and execution to simplify operations, improve processes, new labor models and technology integration. She will also be responsible for leading franchise and equity field operations for the chain's over 4,100 U.S. restaurants. She joined KFC U.S. in August as chief restaurant productivity officer and has worked at Yum Brands for nearly 30 years, originally joining in 1992 as a general manager at Taco Bell.