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.
This week, Pizza Hut U.S., Roti, Denny's and Boston Market all named top C-suite executives. The changes at Pizza Hut and Denny's are part of each company's plans to better position themselves for growth. Pizza Hut is in a difficult position with consistent same-store sales declines and faces up to 500 temporary unit closures as it repositions these sites with more sustainable franchisee partners and remodels that focus on carryout and delivery. New leadership has been effective in other turnarounds, namely Chipotle, which brought on Brian Niccol in early 2018 following its food safety issues and has since reported eight consecutive quarters of comparable sales growth.
Check this week's leadership news below:
Red Robin: The casual restaurant brand expanded its board to 10 members and appointed Allison Page in that position, according to a press release. Page is the co-founder and president of SevenRooms and has served in these roles since 2011. She previously worked as an associate at Hodes Weill & Associates. The company previously announced that Stuart Oren would not stand for re-election at the 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Following his retirement, the board is expected to be reduced to nine members.
Yum Brands: The restaurant company announced Thursday during a company earnings call that KFC U.S. President Kevin Hochman will serve as interim president for Pizza Hut U.S. Hochman will support Pizza Hut's CEO Artie Starrs, who became chief last year and is "devoting more time to his global role." Yum is hoping that Hochman's successful turnaround of KFC and experience in the CPG space after his time with Proctor & Gamble will make him a good fit for Pizza Hut.
Yum has also named David Graves Pizza Hut's chief brand officer and George Felix as the chain's chief marketing officer. Graves will oversee culinary innovation, food safety, quality and brand health. Felix will oversee marketing and public relations.
Fiesta Restaurant Group: The parent company of Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana announced Thursday that Andrew Rechtschaffen has joined the board of directors as an independent director effective later this month. The board will now consist of nine members. Previously, Rechtschaffen founded investment firm AREX Capital Management, was a partner at Greenlight Capital and founder and portfolio manager of Obrem Capital.
Bojangles': The chicken chain tapped chef Marshall Scarborough as the company's new vice president of menu and culinary innovation. In his new role, Scarborough will spearhead modernizing Bojangles' menu. He brings more than 23 years of culinary and research development experience to the company, and most recently worked as Wendy's director of culinary innovation. Scarborough has also worked at Popeyes and Jack in the Box.
Roti: The Mediterranean fast casual has hired Justin Seamonds as CEO. Seamonds previously served as CEO of Snack Street and president of Dean & Deluca, where he led the company to a $140 million buyout following major improvements to the chain. In his new role, Seamonds will focus on long-term growth of Roti's store network, digital offerings, delivery and catering.
JDE Peet's: JAB Investors appointed Denis Hennequin, Stuart MacFarlane, Aileen Richards and Luc Vandevelde as non-executive directors of JDE Peet's, the coffee and tea company created from the Peet's Coffee and Jacob Douwe Egberts merger, according to a press release. JAB also appointed Scott Gray as CFO of JDE Peet's, effective Feb. 24.
Gray has worked in financial roles for more than a decade at AB InBev, most recently serving as VP of global treasury and risk management. During his time with the beer giant, he oversaw capital structure, funding, currency, bank relations, among other responsibilities at the company's global treasury organization.
Hennequin is the founding partner of French Food Capital and a founder of consulting firm The Green Jersey. He started his career at McDonald's in Paris and climbed the corporate ladder until he was named president and managing director of McDonald's France. Between 2014 and 2016, Hennequin was also a partner for Cojean International.
MacFarlane worked at the Whitebread Beer Company in 1992, and began working at a variety of senior roles in finance, marketing and sales at ABInBev when the beer company acquired Whitebread. He was appointed president of ABInBev UK & Ireland in 2008, and most recently served as ABInBev's president of Europe & the Middle East from 2014 to 2019.
Richards worked as a senior global executive with Mars until 2015. As EVP of Mars, Richards led the human resources strategy for the company's 85,000 associates and led Mars Global Services. She has served in various roles at the company for three decades, and has held senior international roles in procurement and manufacturing. She currently serves as an independent non-executive director on the boards of Mars Netherlands, Pret A Manger and Samworth Brothers.
Vandevelde is the founder and chairman of Change Capital Partners, and is also the chairman of Majid Al Futtaim Ventures. He is a former chairman of Marks & Spencer, and began his career at Kraft, where he worked for 24 years in Europe and the U.S. in finance, business development and mergers and acquisitions. He also worked as the CEO of the Kraft Jacobs Suchard French and Italian operations after the company acquired Jacobs Suchard.
Denny's: The diner chain is "realigning its leadership team to position the company for continued growth," the company announced Tuesday.
Mark Wolfinger will succeed current CEO John Miller as president. Miller will remain the company's chief executive officer and will retain his role as a director on the company's board. Wolfinger has served as EVP and chief administrative officer since 2008 and CFO since joining Denny's 15 years ago, and he will also retain his seat on the board.
Robert Verostek will succeed Wolfinger as CFO and SVP. He previously served as SVP of finance since 2016, and served as VP of financial planning and analysis and investor relations beginning in 2012. John Dillon is now Denny's EVP and chief brand officer. He has served as SVP and chief brand officer since 2018. Prior to that, he worked as SVP and chief marketing officer beginning in 2014, and VP of brand and field marketing starting in 2013.
Dunkin' Brands: The parent company of Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins promoted Jill McVicar Nelson to VP of marketing strategy on Tuesday. Nelson will lead a reorganized team responsible for brand marketing and planning and for value and pricing strategies. She will report to CEO Dave Hoffman on an interim basis. Previously, Nelson worked as director of corporate strategy and chief of staff to the CEO.
GPS Hospitality: The franchisee of Burger King, Popeyes and Pizza Hut has promoted Michael Lippert to president, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Lippert previously served as GPS' chief operating officer. He will now lead company development in addition to his responsibilities over restaurant operations, marketing and training. He will still report to GPS founder and CEO Tom Garrett.
Boston Market: The restaurant chain has named Eric Wyatt as CEO amid a new growth phase. Wyatt replaces Frances Allen, who served as Boston Market's CEO since 2018 and is leaving for a new venture. Wyatt previously served as the company's COO, and will now oversee a newly created "Office of the CEO" which includes CFO Caryn Doyle and Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Randy Miller. Before joining Boston Market, Wyatt worked as operations partner/VP of operations for Panera Bread. He also held positions at Bath & Body Works, Starbucks, Taco Bell and Mobil Oil Corporation.
Union Square Hospitality Group: The restaurant company has named Rani Yadav to the newly created position of chief marketing officer and hired Patti Simpson as chief people officer, according to Nation's Restaurant News.
Yadav most recently led marketing for Blue Apron, where she oversaw paid marketing, marketing analytics, public relations, creative agency management and more for almost five years. She is now responsible for growing USHG's brands, creating new concepts and working with the hospitality and tech-related businesses that are under USHG's investment arm, Enlightened Hospitality Investments.
Simpson previously served as chief people officer at Ruby Tuesday for about one year. She also worked in the same position at Au Bon Pain for a year and a half. In her new role, Simpson will oversee all human resources systems and benefits.
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.