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.
Several major C-suite changes occurred this week, with Bloomin's new leadership among the biggest changes. While Bloomin' is reorganizing its leadership following pressure by an activist investor, changes also appear imminent at TGI Fridays, which is heading toward a public listing following its acquisition by Allegro Merger. Its chief experience officer has left the company. Other concepts grew their C-suites, with Newk's Eatery adding its first chief operations officer.
Check out the top executive news from this week below:
Starbucks: The coffee chain promoted Brady Brewer to chief marketing officer, according to AdWeek. He will replace Matthew Ryan, who will stay on an advisory capacity until November. Ryan has been with the company since 2013. Brewer has been with Starbucks for 18 years and previously led the company's digital customer experience, overseeing product discovery, ordering, payment, pick up and delivery. Brewer's experience also includes a position of COO in Starbucks Japan.
Bloomin' Brands: Elizabeth A. Smith will step down as executive chairman of the board effective March 6, but continue as a director, according to an SEC filing. She has been executive chairman since April 2019, chairman of the board from January 2012 to April 2019, CEO from November 2009 to April 2019 and director since November 2009. James R. Craigie will serve as the chairman of the board beginning on March 6. Additionally, Gregg Scarlett, who served as president of Outback Steakhouse since July 2016, has been promoted to EVP, chief operating officer of casual dining restaurants where he will oversee the company's domestic Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba's Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill concepts. His appointment is part of the company's consolidation of leadership and organizational structure of its casual brands to create better efficiency and leverage scale as the company grows these brands. Jeff Carcara and Michael Kappitt, EVPs of Bonefish Grill and Carrabba's, respectively, left the company on Thursday.
Outback Steakhouse: Brett Patterson has become the president of the casual dining chain following Gregg Scarlett's appointment as EVP and COO of causal dining restaurants for Bloomin' Brands, according to Nation's Restaurant News. He previously served as VP of operations at Outback and will oversee domestic operations and development for 700 units nationwide in his new role. Prior to his tenure at Bloomin', he served as SVP of operations for Olive Garden.
TGI Fridays: Chief experience officer Sherif Mityas is leaving the company, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Since joining the company in 2016, he has been instrumental in pushing forward machine learning and personalization at the casual brand.
Whataburger: Janelle Sykes started her job as chief financial officer and SVP for the burger chain on Monday, according to a company announcement. She has 30 years of experience and most recently served as CFO at C.H. Guenther & Sun. Sylvester J. Johnson was also promoted to VP and chief data and analytics officer after serving as chief accounting officer over the last four years. He will oversee the company’s data analysis and reporting.
Del Taco: The Mexican fast food chain appointed Tim Hackbardt as chief marketing officer, according to a press release. Hackbardt has over 27 years of experience leading or advising various restaurant chains as a marketing executive and brand consultant. These brands include BJ’s Restaurant, Rubio’s, Pieology, Steak 'n Shake, Johnny Rockets and Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que. He also previously led marketing for Del Taco from 1999 to 2003. He also consulted with the chain on different projects from marketing technology to new prototype design during the past five years.
Newk's Eatery: The sandwich chain hired Joe Pate as its first chief operations officer, according to a press release. The position was created to expand the company's operations team as part of its plan for continued growth. At Newk’s, he will oversee company and franchise operations as well as catering and operations services. Among the major initiatives he will lead will be the performance of new restaurants, food and labor improvement, delivery growth and catering and restaurant and menu innovation. Pate has 35 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including more than 20 years at la Madeline, most recently serving as VP of operations.
Taco Bell: Nikki Lawson, formerly managing director of KFC South Pacific, has been named global chief brand officer at Taco Bell, according to a company press release. She will begin her position in April. She spent nearly 20 years at sister company KFC, where she led various marketing leadership roles in various regions throughout the world.