Here are six restaurant chains with new leaders

Restaurant managers are the latest wave of workers to join the big resignation.

In the last six months, six top executives of listed restaurant companies have announced plans to resign, either to retire or to move on to a new corporate challenge. Their announcements came after two tumultuous years for the restaurant industry, which struggled for its survival through pandemic shutdowns, labor shortages, supply chain snarls and soaring food costs.

Private restaurant companies have experienced a similar emigration. Chick-fil-A, Torchy’s Tacos and Red Lobster have all announced CEO changes in recent months.

“Many people when the pandemic hit had to spend more time at home with their families. My feeling is for many CEOs, it was the opposite,” said Timothy Hubbard, assistant management professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. “They could have been at home, but their workload just went through the roof.”

While many companies have used company insiders to take over, others are on the hunt for their next CEO, even when their current one leaves.

“My general feeling is, just from the pandemic, that succession plans have been torn down,” Hubbard said. “This is across all industries: succession planning throughout the pandemic was not a priority, and the plans that were in place did not appear to be particularly effective at all.”

In some cases, the outgoing CEO may have begun to consider resigning before or during the pandemic. For example, former Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in his announcement of retirement that he signaled to the company’s board about a year earlier that he was looking to leave.

Of course, not all top executives who retire are retired. For example, Johnson’s interim successor – and predecessor – Howard Schultz returned earlier this month to head Starbucks as interim CEO. After some rest and relaxation, some of these business leaders were able to return to the game.

Here are the restaurant companies that will see CEO transitions this year:

Darden restaurants

Darden Restaurants outgoing CEO Gene Lee

Source: Darden Restaurants

Darden Restaurants CEO Gene Lee announced in December that he would retire on May 29th. The Board of Directors elected Rick Cardenas, its Chief Operating Officer, as its successor. Cardenas also previously served as Darden’s CFO.

“This is the right time for this transition and I look forward to continuing to serve as Darden’s Chairman of the Board,” Lee said in the company’s earnings call in December. “Our company is in a clear position of strength, and this is also the right time for me and my family.”

Lee, 60, had headed Olive Gardens’ parent company since February 2015.

Domino’s Pizza

Richard Allison, CEO of Domino’s Pizza, speaks at CNBC’s Evolve conference in Chicago on September 24, 2019.

Jeff Schear | CNBC

Domino’s Pizza said in early March that CEO Ritch Allison will step down with effect from May 1st. Allison, 55, will serve as a counselor until her official retirement in July.

“I’m at the point in my life now that my wife and I are ready to go home to North Carolina … and I want to tell you that I’m really happy to do it because the business is a great one. place right exactly. now, “said the Charlotte native in an interview on CNBC’s” Mad Money. “

Russell Weiner, the company’s CEO, will succeed Allison.


John Miller, President and CEO of Denny’s Corp.

Peter Foley | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Denny’s CEO, John Miller, is retiring later this year after more than a decade of running the restaurant business. The casual dining sector was particularly hard hit by the pandemic as diners were slow to return to restaurants.

Denny’s is currently looking for Miller’s replacement.


Charles Morrison, CEO, Wingstop

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

After 10 years in the top job, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison resigned in March. But he has no plans to leave the restaurant business. He is now CEO of Salad and Go, a much smaller drive-thru salad chain based in Phoenix.

Wingstop chose COO Michael Skipworth as Morrison’s successor. Skipworth has been with the restaurant chain since 2014, before its first public offering the following year.

Crazy chicken

Former El Pollo CEO and current Zaxby CEO Bernard Acoca

Source: Zaxby’s

El Pollo Loco CEO Bernard Acoca resigned in October to pursue other options. Two weeks later, the fried chicken chain Zaxby’s announced that Acoca would succeed the company’s founder as CEO. Zaxby’s is privately owned, but has almost double the footprint of El Pollo Loco.

El Pollo Loco CFO Larry Roberts was elected interim CEO, and the board removed “temporarily” from his title in March.


Kevin Johnson, CEO, Starbucks

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

In March, Starbucks announced ahead of its annual shareholders’ meeting that Kevin Johnson, 61, would retire in early April. His retirement came when Starbucks faced a union push from its baristas, on top of the rest of the challenges facing the broader industry.

Former CEO Howard Schultz has returned as interim chief, while the board is looking for a long-term candidate, though Wall Street is divided over whether Schultz will stay on for more than six months.

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