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.
Bojangles hired its first chief people officer this week, a part of a growing trend among restaurant companies as they look to improve diversity and inclusion efforts. Bloomin' Brands created the position of group vice president, diversity and inclusion, promoting Sheilina Henry to this role in August. Papa John's and True Food Kitchen hired their first chief people officers in 2019.
Check out additional leadership changes below:
Popeyes: Restaurant Brands International has appointed Sami Siddiqui to president of Popeyes' Americas division, according to a press release. Siddiqui previously served as president of Asia-Pacific for RBI and brought the Popeyes brand to China and the Philippines. Siddiqui succeeds Felipe Athayde, who is leaving the position to pursue work outside of the QSR space. Athayde will work with Siddiqui to ease his transition into the new role through September.
Bojangles: Bojangles has hired human resources and change management strategist Monica Sauls as chief people officer, a new role for the company, effective Sept. 15, according to a press release. She is the first African American to serve on the company’s senior leadership team in its 43-year history, and has two decades of human resources experience in large, global organizations. Most recently, Sauls worked at Duke Energy's Fossil Hydro and Nuclear divisions, where she oversaw a team of field HR business partners. Sauls will be responsible for talent acquisition, talent development, employee relations, diversity and inclusion and company culture. She will report directly to CEO Jose Armario. Sauls joins the company following the Senior Vice President of Human Resources Vickie Smith’s retirement. Smith worked at Bojangles for more than 25 years and will serve as a consultant for several months during Sauls' transition to her new position.
Panera: The fast casual chain appointed Debbie Roberts as executive vice president and chief operations officer effective Sept. 8, according to a press release. Roberts has about 30 years of restaurant experience and will lead operations and operations support functions. Roberts previously worked at McDonald's for three decades, most recently serving as East Coast president where she was responsible for 7,000 restaurants in 11 regions.
SPB Hospitality: Jim Mazany has become CEO at the operator and franchisor, which has brands like Logan's Roadhouse, Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom and Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery Restaurant, according to a press release sent to Restaurant Dive. Mazany has 25 years of restaurant experience and most recently served as president and chief operating officer at Joe’s Crab Shack. He also launched his consulting firm Strategic Restaurant Solutions in 2015 where he helped companies stabilize their financial and operational performance. His prior positions also include CEO of Café Enterprises and COO of TGI Fridays.
Zaxby's: The fast casual chicken chain hired Vanessa Fox as its first chief development officer, according to a press release. Fox will manage franchise licensing and development teams and foster continuity with design and construction. Prior to Zaxby's, Fox served as senior vice president, chief development officer at Jack in the Box where she worked with business stakeholders to build, maintain and execute the company’s real estate strategy. Before this role, she worked with Jack in the Box and Qdoba on restaurant development such as construction, architecture, design and facility management.
Zaxby's also recently hired Keith Anderkin as vice president of supply chain and Alan Ludloff as vice president of brand marketing. All of these executives will work with Fox to position the chain for additional growth.
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.