Globe Food Equipment Now Part of the Middleby Corporation

The Middleby Corporation announced the acquisition of Globe Food Equipment Company, a leading brand in slicers and mixers for the commercial foodservice industry. Based in Dayton, Ohio, the company has approximately $50 million in annual sales.  “Globe is a trusted leader in food preparation products known for performance, reliability, value, and reducing operator’s costs. The Globe family of products has been recognized as “Best in Class” by foodservice industry equipment dealers and complements the existing Middleby leading commercial foodservice equipment brands,” said Selim A. Bassoul, Chairman and CEO of The Middleby Corporation. “The addition of the Globe product offering enhances Middleby’s position for further expansion into the growing retail market segment. Additionally, through Middleby’s existing customer relationships and international infrastructure we anticipate Globe can realize further growth in new markets.” – Source: The Middleby Corporation.

In Memoriam: Rational AG Founder Siegfried Meister

Siegfried Meister, a pioneer in combi-steamer ovens and founder, majority shareholder, and chairman of Rational AG, died July 28 at the age of 78 after a brief illness. Meister’s guiding company principle was not sales or profit but providing the greatest possible customer benefits. When he started producing convection ovens in Landsberg, Germany, more than 40 years ago, Meister had a goal of facilitating the work of people who prepare hot food in professional kitchens.

Rational’s hallmark product, the combi-steamer, was created in 1976 when he and a small team added steam to the hot, dry air in the oven. It revolutionized commercial kitchens and led to changes in production processes, organization and efficiencies. Since 1998, Meister served as chairman of Rational’s supervisory board; he took the company public in 2000. He continued to advise and assist Rational with his expertise and maintained—all the way up to the very end—a set table in the company restaurant, surrounded by his employees. “The well-being of the ‘entrepreneurs in the company’, as he viewed his employees, was very important to Mr. Meister. This makes us all the more grief-stricken about our great loss, and we are committed to continuing his lifetime’s work in his spirit,” says Dr. Peter Stadelmann, CEO of Rational AG.  – Source: FER.

Top Tech Tips from the Restaurant Innovation Summit

Restaurant operators and technology experts shared their advice for choosing, rolling out and expanding upon tech solutions for foodservice at the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Innovation Summit. Here are some key takeaways from the three-day event held last week in Austin, Texas.

Seek out tech that simplifies, solves problems. Four in five restaurant operators agree that technology can increase sales, according to NRA data, but investing in tech can still be a difficult proposition. One of the factors that may keep restaurants from instituting a tech plan is that they don’t see how tech tools will fit into their existing operation. Instead of focusing on flashy tech innovations that are eye-catching but can be impractical, operators should identify a problem and look for a program, machine or other technology that can provide a solution. During a presentation and panel discussion on Internet of Things technology, tech expert Stacy Higginbotham said restaurants shouldn’t get overwhelmed by “whiz-bang-cool, paying-with-your-face or VR goggles in the kitchen technology,” and should focus instead on, “actual, practical things…The kitchen is like a factory, and you need to start treating it like one.”

Increasing speed and streamlining operations is a top concern for many restaurants, and there are a slew of tech-based programs and tools with that goal in mind. “Line-busting” and speeding up the transaction process was one of the main reasons behind Union Square Hospitality Group switching to a cashless payment system at three of its restaurants, Maureen Cushing, USHG’s Vice President of Technology and Processes, said during a discussion about cashless payments. Front of house tech tools may be a good way to entice tech-savvy diners, but there are plenty of ways to use tech in the kitchen and along the supply chain that improve the experience for both operators and diners. “We’re looking at a lot of the infrastructure that helps us bring data, analyze it, waste less food and solve for out logistic and supply chain problems,” said Brian Frank, founder of venture fund FTW Ventures. Start small, make sure staff is on board. When it comes to rolling out a tech plan, it’s wise to “look at the bigger picture first and then start small,” Susan Ann Carrol-Bosler, director of information services for White Castle, said during the Internet of Things panel discussion.

Phasing in new technology piece by piece can keep costs manageable and make the transition easier on employees. A good strategy when introducing new technology is to “get buy-in from your employees by showing them how it helps them,” Higginbotham said during the panel. During their discussion of cashless payments, USHG’s Cushing and Michael Hong, chief financial officer of Austin-based eatery Chi’Lantro, talked about explaining the benefits of cashless payment to staff members before the transition began. Knowing that cashless was safer, cleaner and more efficient made for a smoother rollout, they said. Another thing Cushing and Hong agreed on was not to rush when introducing new practices. Hong said the transition to cashless at Chi’Lantro took six months, but in hind sight he wishes the restaurant had gone with a one year timeline. Cushing stressed the importance of a gradual transition, explaining that USHG always pilots new practices at one location before rolling out to other restaurants. Although tech solutions like cashless payment systems offer many benefits, speakers also made it clear that it’s imperative to know the risks of any new system. With cashless payment, it’s important to have a backup plan in case the internet fails or a new customer comes in with only cash, Cushing said. Carrol-Bosler advised operators to have a cybersecurity plan in place before adding new tech. “Internet of Things devices are on the internet, and they need to be protected,” she said. Working with experienced providers that can offer support for the lifetime of a machine or application is key, as is making sure security concerns are part of staff training. “Be aware of your own vulnerabilities with your employees,” Higginbotham said. “If your employees have the password to something, they can share that, and they can be phished. So you need to train the people in your organizations to not give out crucial data.” Consider the big picture and keep an open mind. When adding new tools to complete the ‘big picture’ solution they first envisioned when making their tech plan, it’s important for restaurateurs to keep an eye on what’s new, since the restaurant tech landscape is constantly evolving, speakers said. Rob Seigel, co-founder of HeadsUp Weather, talked about the expanding opportunities for restaurants to use weather analytics to plan shift schedules or marketing campaigns. Sarah Smith, research director forFood Futures Lab, discussed what’s on the horizon for food innovation, including technology that could someday lead to the gamification of the gut biome, with consumers using wearable devices to track how their food choices affect their gut health. Tech companies are taking a cue from restaurants to create the next applications and devices that will solve their biggest problems. Rising labor costs are a major concern for many restaurateurs, according to a recent NRA survey, and using wearable technology to track workers’ efficiency could help identify areas where time is being wasted and employees who may need additional training. During his opening keynote speech, celebrity chef and restaurateur Richard Blais imagined a setup that would offer valuable insights in the quest to increase productivity. “I would love to have stats on my grill cook that are like stats of a baseball player,” he said. – Source: SmartBrief.

Hearthside Foods to Acquire Standard Functional Foods Group

Hearthside Food Solutions announces the signing of a definitive agreement to purchase Standard Functional Foods Group, a unit of privately held Standard Candy Company, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. SFFG is a contract manufacturer of nutritional and functional bars located in Nashville, Tennessee. The planned acquisition of SFFG will further enhance Hearthside’s entry into the functional bar category, enabling the company to meet the growing demand for a widening array of bars in the US. The addition of SFFG will bring the Hearthside network to a total of 24 production facilities. Terms were not disclosed. “In addition to new network capacity, geographic reach and production capabilities, SFFG brings leadership in R&D with their ability to design, formulate and commercialize the increasingly complex nutrition and energy bars customers are demanding,” said Rich Scalise, Hearthside Chairman and CEO. Standard Candy began as a regional confectioner in 1901, and expanded into functional bars in 1999 through SFFG, which currently serves as a contract manufacturer to many of the largest food companies and brands. “SFFG is a high-quality organization with an excellent quality and safety record. This will enable the Nashville operations to seamlessly and swiftly integrate into our world-class culture,” said Dwayne Hughes, Hearthside SVP of Supply Chain. Standard Candy will retain their famous Goo-Goo Clusters, which will continue to be made in Nashville and sold at the Goo-Goo Shop retail store in downtown Nashville. – Source: Hearthside Food Solutions.

Malcolm Burns new Senior Vice President and Managing Director International

Amplify Snack Brands, Inc. a leading marketer and manufacturer of branded better-for-you snack food products announced the promotion of Malcolm Burns to Senior Vice President and Managing Director International, effective October 5, 2017. Mr. Burns joined Amplify at the beginning of 2017 as Head of European Finance and has been leading the International business in the capacity of interim Managing Director since June. “We are very pleased to announce Malcolm’s well deserved promotion,” commented Tom Ennis, Amplify’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have been impressed with the progress Malcolm and the team have made during the last few months to create and begin executing against a performance improvement plan for the International business. His invaluable contributions to the strategic and financial development of our international team coupled with the strength and depth of his leading consumer packaged goods experience truly set him apart as we evaluated both internal and external candidates for this position, and we look forward to his contributions as we build upon our growth potential globally.” Mr. Burns has extensive experience in leading international consumer packaged goods businesses. He previously worked in a variety of senior strategy and finance director roles in the UK, Eastern Europe and Africa for Cadbury, Kraft Foods, Mondelez International and British Sugar. Mr. Burns began his career in accounting and audit roles at Ford Motor Company and Deloitte. – Source: Amplify Snack Brands.

Acquiring Avendra to Enhance Purchasing Capability and Extend Industry Reach,  Acquiring AmeriPride Services to Expand Scope and Geography of Uniforms Business

Aramark announced that it entered into definitive agreements to acquire two companies that will deliver growth and strengthen the company’s competitive position across its portfolio of Food, Facilities and Uniforms businesses. “Today is an historic day at Aramark as we announce we will join forces with two leading companies that will significantly improve how we service our customers, while expanding our capabilities and scope in critical areas of our business,” said Eric J. Foss, Aramark’s Chairman, President and CEO. “We have been executing successfully against our clear and focused strategy and have substantially elevated our operating performance and financial flexibility. These strategic and financially compelling transactions represent the next step in our commitment to drive sustainable shareholder value.” – Source: Business Wire.

What’s up with Food Safety? Here’s your Helping

More than 100 of the restaurant industry’s food-safety executives came to Washington, D.C. this week for our annual Quality Assurance Executive Study Group meeting. The reason? To share information and best practices that keep their companies, customers and food supply safe. What went down: Speakers, including Beth Johnson, founder and CEO of Food Directions LLC; Food & Drug Administration experts; and Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s director of food safety; talked about the future of food safety and what brands need to know to avoid a food borne illness outbreak. Prediction for the future: Johnson said she expects the food safety landscape to look a lot different over the next few years under the Trump Administration. She also explained how advances in block chain technology and predictive analytics are going to help keep food safer. Keeping your brand and customers healthy: Marsden said Chipotle, which is recovering from the E. coli crisis it experienced in 2015, said the company requires its employees to complete our SerSafe training courses, is committed to stringently following HAAPC rules, enforces strict hand-washing protocols and is fanatical about ensuring its food is safe. It even blanches all produce except lettuce, tomatoes and cilantro, as part of its food prep procedure. Those produce items, he said, are “subject to validated interventions at the supplier level.” – Source: The National Restaurant Association.

Promote your Restaurant’s Dedication to Food Safety

To successfully execute food safety measures and develop a culture of food safety in your restaurant, your entire team must diligently participate. One mistake, such as using a contaminated utensil to handle ready-to-eat food, can lead to foodborne illness and a tarnished business reputation. According to the Center for Disease Control, roughly one in six Americans gets sick from a foodborne illness annually. Just like you promote your latest and greatest menu items to your customers, take time to share how much your restaurant focuses on serving food safely. Here are three tips to help communicate your food safety commitment to customers:

Teach employees the “how” and the “why.” When showing employees how to prepare food, clean and sanitize surfaces, and dispose of any waste, share all the reasons why following through every time is important. And that’s not just the back-of-house staff – it’s top-level management and front-of-house staff, too. Help keep each other accountable and informed, so if a customer or employee has a question, you’ll know how to respond.

Show and tell. Develop a front-of-house cleaning schedule, and stick to it. To help reduce the spread of pathogens on a daily basis, incorporate the cleaning of front-of-house high-touch items, which could include laminated menus, condiment bottles, and salt and pepper shakers, into your cleaning schedule. If a customer asks employees a food safety question in the front-of-house, team members should feel confident in their food safety knowledge. If they do not, the next step is reaching out to a team member who can answer these questions and requesting a training refresher.

Stay polished. If an employee’s clothing gets dirty, it should be replaced with a clean garment. Failing to do so can not only affect customer perception but also lead to cross-contamination. Dress for success! Nonverbal cues matter. When leaving a food prep area, remove aprons and single-use gloves. Food handlers must also keep their fingernails trimmed and hair covered in a hat or hairnet. – Source: The National Restaurant Association.

Dinners Blending Foodservice Purchases, Home Cooking Gain Traction

In the 1980s and ’90s, when Americans were struggling to get dinner on the table after work and shuttling kids between activities, microwaves, frozen dinners and fast-food restaurants were mainstays. Unlike recent generations, consumers today are shifting toward eating more dinners at home, including those purchased at restaurants, according to The NPD Group’s most recent National Eating Trends Report. “People want to eat at home, [but they] still need convenience. [They’re] not able to prepare scratch meals,” said David Portalatin, NPD’s food consumption industry analyst. As a result, the trend toward incorporating foodservice items from restaurants or retail into a “blended” in-home dinner is on the rise, NPD found. In the year ended in February 2017, 18 percent of in-home meals included at least one ready-to-eat item from foodservice, up from 15.5 percent in 2015. “It’s clearly a generational thing,” said Portalatin, who cited adults under age 40, which includes Millennials and Gen Z, as the primary consumers of the trend. – Source: Restaurant hospitality.

Eatsa Closes all but 2 Locations

The robot takeover of the restaurant industry has been delayed. Eatsa, the automated chain that emerged in 2015 and quickly expanded last year, has closed all but two of its seven locations, both in its home market of San Francisco. The company plans to work more with other chains to help them use its platform. “In our eagerness to get the Eatsa experience in front of as many people as possible, we now realize that we expanded our retail footprint too quickly,” the company wrote in a blog post. “In particular, operating in four different markets has made it difficult to quickly test and iterate our food product — something that is critical in any restaurant business, but is even more important when it comes to introducing a new type of nutritious fare.” Eatsa, which Nation’s Restaurant News named a Breakout Brand last year, opened its first location in San Francisco in 2015, and quickly opened six more in New York, Washington, D.C., and Berkeley, Calif. The five locations outside San Francisco have closed.

“We hope that with fewer locations, we can experiment and innovate faster, and resume our retail expansion in the future,” the company said. Eatsa was a revolutionary concept when it debuted, billing itself as a modern-day automat. Customers order customizable quinoa bowls from kiosks. Back-of-house workers prepare the bowls, and they appear behind glass in a cubbyhole with the customer’s name. The restaurant does not have cashiers. The model can be efficient. The first restaurant averaged 300 to 400 customers an hour during peak times.

Founders Tim Young and Scott Drummond have technology backgrounds and spent 18 months working on software and systems to design the concept. “We did a massive amount of tests on the food and the experience,” Drummond told Nation’s Restaurant News last year. “We built a mock-up store. We tested all of the software. We tested the technology. We had a fully vetted model in place prior to launch.” The model generated enormous interest in an industry facing labor shortages and wage increases, due both to government mandates and competition. Kiosks are rapidly becoming commonplace in many limited-service chains, and other concepts are eager to add them in an effort to keep up.  Eatsa said its launch generated “very strong interest from other restaurants in using our technology to improve their own customer experience and operations.” Now it plans to increase its focus on helping other restaurants use its platform, and said it is “already in discussions with a number of companies to do this.” Working with established brands “will allow us to get the Eatsa experience people love into more restaurants.” If you stop and stare at one long enough, you can probably see a restaurant or foodservice operation evolve before your very eyes . . . .

Transition Game

Communal tables, more televisions, tablet computers everywhere, a disappearing back of the house, growing grab-and-go options and countless other factors represent the hallmarks of today’s changing foodservice landscape. Today’s consumers expect great food, but what keeps them coming back for more is excellence in every aspect of execution. No detail is too small in their minds. In other words, experience matters. Further, thanks to mobile ordering, be it from an app or online or via third-party delivery providers, today’s foodservice operators must accommodate consumers who have very different expectations. Some customers still crave an elevated in-store experience, while others want to grab their food and go. And balancing the unique needs of these two customer sets requires careful thought, consideration and collaboration across all aspects of the foodservice enterprise. These challenges were once the unique domain of commercial restaurants. That’s no longer the case, however, as noncommercial operators now function under these same expectations. Take, for example, Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, N.D. To keep up with the needs and demands of its diverse client base, this burgeoning healthcare system operates three restaurants, a micro-market and a physicians’ lounge all on one campus. As part of its efforts to embrace transparency, customers see the culinary staff prepare their meals at one of the restaurants, as well as the food for those patients ordering via Sanford’s room service platform. Without question, the pace of change continues to move faster than the industry can grow. That’s because consumers’ expectations continue to evolve, and a take-share market means operators’ appetites to appease their customers remain insatiable. As a result, the industry continues to see restaurant designs and prototypes evolve (page 30) and change dramatically. Today’s designs have to balance a variety of factors, such as promoting authenticity, speed of service and more — all the while being as environmentally friendly and hip as possible. These developments continue to unfold during an era of mounting financial pressures for operators from all segments of the foodservice industry. To combat these challenges without compromising foodservice, designers and equipment dealers need to work more closely together than ever before. In doing so they must work collaboratively to manage budgets and accelerated project timelines without compromising design integrity or the overall facility’s ability to deliver on the brand promise. Why all of the change? It’s simple, really. What made an organization successful in the past does not guarantee future prosperity. Members of the foodservice industry earn their relevance one day at a time, one transaction at a time. And how do they do that? By remaining customer-centric in their endeavors and working collaboratively with their supply chain partners. – Source: J. Carbonara/FES.

Cathy D. Ross and Pedro Enrique Mariani New Directors at Ball Corporation

Ball Corporation’s board of directors has elected Cathy D. Ross, retired executive vice president and chief financial officer from FedEx Express, and Pedro Henrique Mariani, chairman of the board of Banco BBM to serve as directors of the corporation. Ross, 59, worked at FedEx Express, FedEx Corporation’s largest operating unit, in financial roles of increasing responsibility for 30 years. She most recently served as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Prior to her career at FedEx, she worked at Kimberly-Clark Corporation and Procter & Gamble. Ross currently sits on the boards of directors of Avon Products, Inc. and Steelcase, Inc.  Mariani, 64, joined Ball’s board of directors as advisory director in July 2010 and has been chairman of the board, president and CEO for Banco BBM, a leading Brazilian financial institution. Mariani has served at BBM Group for 36 years and was appointed as chief executive officer in 1991. He also sits on the board of directors at FEBRABAN (Brazilian Federation of Banks). “We are pleased to welcome Cathy to our board and to have Pedro move into a new role on Ball’s board of directors,” said John A. Hayes, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Their financial acumen, international consumer products and banking expertise, values and ethics will complement our diverse board of directors as we continue to pursue our Drive for 10 vision.” – Source: Ball Corporation/WorldPressOnLine.

Linpac Teams up with Dunbia to Develop Pack for Award-Winning ‘Quick Roast’

Leading food packaging manufacturer, LINPAC (Klöckner Pentaplast) has collaborated wth meat processor, Dunbia, to introduce a convenient ‘quick roast’ joint pack concept, Prime Cook, to the shelves of major retailer, Co-op. The novel product, which won ‘Best Product New to Market’ at the Supermeat Awards last month (September 2017) has the potential to put the traditional British Sunday roast on tables across the UK as a mid-week dinner option. Dunbia beef and lamb joints are packaged in LINPAC’s innovative Prime Cook vacuum skin pack (VSP) and partially cooked in a hot water bath (sous vide) before being labelled and dispatched to Co-op stores across the UK. This process enables the average homeowner to remove the beef or lamb roasting joint from the packaging and cook it using a conventional oven tray for just 30 or 45 minutes respectively. The ‘quick roast’ joint retains the same desirable flavor and tenderness of a traditional, slow-cooked joint. “Vacuum Skin Packaging was chosen for Prime Cook because it offers extended shelf life, minimizes food wastage and showcases the product to consumers,” explains Helene Roberts, Director of Global Marketing and Innovation at LINPAC (Klöckner Pentaplast). “In addition, the pack includes a unique perforated rPET insert which captures juices released during the manufacturer’s sous vide cooking process and conceals them. These juices can later be used by the consumer to make a flavorsome gravy and enhance the overall finished product. It offers the ultimate in convenience for the consumer who wishes to enjoy a tasty mid-week roast without the usual lengthy preparation and cooking time.”Prime Cook follows a long line of LINPAC (Klöckner Pentaplast) innovations that address growth in the convenience sector for retailers. The forward-thinking pack has been shortlisted in three categories in the UK Packaging Awards 2017: ‘Consumer Convenience’, ‘Rigid Plastic Pack of the Year’ and ‘Innovation of the Year’. Co-op Quick Cook Beef and Lamb Quick Cook Roasts are available in selected Co-op stores across the UK. – Source: Klöckner Pentaplast/WorldPressOnLine.

IP Combines Packaging Business with Graphic Packaging Holding

International Paper Co. has agreed to combine its North America consumer packaging business with Graphic Packaging Holding Co. in a deal that values the International Paper division at $1.8 billion, the companies said. Graphic Packaging will own 79.5 percent of the partnership and will be sole operator, and International Paper will own the remainder. The partnership is valued at $6 billion and will assume $660 million of International Paper debt, the companies said. International Paper’s North America consumer packaging business produces solid bleached sulfate paperboard and paper-based foodservice products. It is projected to generate adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $210 million in 2017. The deal is projected to be accretive to earnings in its first year and generate $75 million in synergies by the end of its third year, the companies said. Graphic Packaging said it will not change its board of directors as a result of the partnership. – Source: Reuters/FPI.

Hostess Brands CEO to Step Down

William D. Toler, president and chief executive officer of Hostess Brands, Inc., has informed the company of his intent to retire, effective March 1, 2018, or sooner if a replacement is named. He will remain on the company’s board of directors.

Mr. Toler took the helm of Hostess Brands in April 2014, nine months after the company resumed operations following bankruptcy in November 2012. Under his leadership, the company’s sales and profitability grew steadily, recovering from the eight-month period after bankruptcy when Hostess cakes were off the market completely. Soon after he took charge, the company consolidated its production footprint to three plants from four and aggressively stepped up product innovation. While mostly focused on the company’s leading snack cake brands, new product introductions included extended-shelf-life bread targeted toward convenience stores and an expansion into the in-store bakery segment helped by the company’s June 2016 acquisition of Superior Cake Products, based in Southbridge, Mass. Less than two years after he was named president, a stake of the business was sold to Gores Group Holdings, a private equity firm. The transaction, which transitioned Hostess to a publicly traded company, was completed based on an enterprise valuation of $2.3 billion. The company had been acquired out of bankruptcy by private equity groups in early 2013 for $410 million. “On behalf of the board and management team I would like to thank Bill for his significant contributions to Hostess,” said C. Dean Metropoulos, executive chairman. “Under Bill’s leadership, the company successfully re-established the iconic Hostess brand as a leader within the sweet baked goods category and transitioned from a private to public company. Bill has led Hostess through a considerable growth phase and has generated significant stockholder value. It has been a pleasure working with him to establish a strong culture as a foundation for future success.”

In the recent quarter, Hostess market share hit a new peak amid softness in the sweet goods category, but the company’s stock price has languished between $13 and $14 per share, well beneath the 52-week high of $17.18. The company’s shares were first listed on Nasdaq in November 2016, trading at about $12 per share in the first days after the listing. Hostess’ board of directors has established a subcommittee to identify and evaluate internal and external candidates for Mr. Toler’s successor with the help of an executive search firm. Mr. Metropoulos said he will expand his responsibilities as executive chairman as necessary to ensure a seamless transition. “The board will now focus on identifying the right candidate to lead Hostess into its next phases of growth,” he said. Prior to joining Hostess, Mr. Toler held numerous leadership roles in the consumer packaged goods industry, having served as c.e.o. of AdvancePierre Foods and president of Pinnacle Foods and Aurora Foods. He also held executive roles at Campbell Soup Co., Nabisco and Proctor & Gamble, where he began his career in 1981.  “I am very proud of our accomplishments,” Mr. Toler said. “Hostess has built a tremendous team, and it has been a privilege and honor to work with them. They have contributed so significantly to our success and transformation. I will leave with great confidence in their abilities and the company’s continued success.” – Source: Food Business News.

Charles “Chuck” Locke and Danny Meisenheimer to Assume New Exec Roles

Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. parent company of the Pollo Tropical® and Taco Cabana® fast casual restaurant brands, announced today that Charles “Chuck” Locke has joined the Company as Taco Cabana President. Fiesta Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Danny Meisenheimer will also assume the additional role of Pollo Tropical President. These appointments are effective as of October 16, 2017. Messrs. Locke and Meisenheimer will report to Fiesta President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Stockinger. Fiesta President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Stockinger said, “We are delighted to welcome Chuck to Fiesta and to his new role as President of Taco Cabana. Chuck has built an exceptional track record of improving performance and driving growth throughout his career and has a real passion for delivering an exceptional guest experience. He is a great cultural fit for our company and for the Taco Cabana brand. We would also like to congratulate Danny on his appointment as President of Pollo Tropical. Together, these appointments will strengthen the implementation of our strategic renewal plan which is focused on revitalizing restaurant performance in core markets, managing capital and financial discipline, and establishing platforms for long term growth.”

Mr. Locke is a highly respected restaurant executive with more than 20 years of operations, development, marketing, and finance experience. Before joining Fiesta, he served as Chief Operating Officer of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a polished casual-dining concept based in South Florida. During his nine years at Anthony’s, Mr. Locke successfully developed and implemented a multi-state strategic growth plan and grew the brand’s footprint from 10 locations to 64 restaurants in seven states. Prior to that, he served as an area developer for Family Sports Concepts and grew its Beef O’Brady’s sports-themed concept through franchisees. Mr. Locke started his career at S&A Restaurant Group serving various leadership roles for Bennigan’s, most recently as Area Director responsible for 15 restaurants in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina. – Source: Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc.

Gordon Ramsay Taps Chopped Champion for Head Chef

Chopped champion Georgeann Leaming will serve as head chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino has named Chef Georgeann Leaming as head chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. The British pub is modeled after the famous concept at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and one of Atlantic City’s top dining destinations. The Season 19 champion of The Food Network’s Chopped series brings a diverse culinary background to Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, spanning from popular Philadelphia eateries to upscale Italian cuisine. Leaming gained kitchen and management experience at a variety of establishments throughout Atlantic City, including Harrah’s Resort and Showboat Casino.

During her tenure along the Jersey shore, Leaming mastered the art of front and back house work, room service, banquets, and more. She went on to serve as opening executive chef at Latz’s By The Bay in Somers Point, New Jersey. “We are thrilled to welcome Georgeann to our culinary family here at Caesars Atlantic City,” says Joe Guinta, regional vice president of food and beverage for Caesars Entertainment, overseeing culinary operations for Bally’s, Caesars, and Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. “Caesars strives to offer our customers world-class dining experiences, crafted by our region’s top chefs, and when we first met Georgeann, we felt she was the perfect fit to head the team at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. As both a highly-recognized and notable chef in our area from her experience as a Chopped champion, we are excited for her to bring a fresh approach to dining at Caesars.” Leaming describes her cooking style as “clean and simple recipes that highlight the main components of the dish.” Rather than pigeonhole her specialties to one particular technique or ethnicity, Chef Leaming prefers to work various cultures and flavors into her menu. “At the end of the day, I want a beautiful dish that tastes great and makes the person eating it happy,” she says. The menu will feature time-honored favorites, such as Ramsay Prime Burger with Truffle Cheese and Truffle Aioli; Chicken Pot Pie; Ramsay’s famous Beef Wellington, and Red Wine Braised Short Rib with Aligot Potato Puree. Chef Leaming’s additions include Grilled Kurobata Pork Chop with Mission Figs, Golden Raisins and Bourbon Whole Grain Mustard Sauce; and Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Red Lentil Mash. Vegetarian and gluten-free menus are also available, as well as 18 beers on tap and 38 bottled options from both worldwide and local breweries, along with a unique menu of crafted cocktails. Source: CAESARS ENTERTAINMENT CORP.

Jamba Juice Names Claudia Schaefer CMO

Most recently the CMO at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, and before that holding leadership positions at Brinker International and TGI Fridays, Schaefer will report to president and CEO Dave Pace and will be responsible for global marketing, consumer insights, public relations, product innovation and research & development, according to a release announcing Schaefer’s appointment. Schaefer is replacing Rachel Phillips-Luther, who Jamba said had left to pursue other interests. Prior to entering foodservice, Schaefer spent nine years at advertising agencies including Leo Burnett, Tracy-Locke and Moroch and associates. “I am delighted to have Claudia join the Jamba team and want to thank Rachel for her contributions during her time with Jamba,” Pace said in a statement. “Claudia brings deep restaurant experience and a strategic analytical approach leveraging data and consumer insights to build and reinvigorate high profile brands. Her track record of success with multiple concepts, including her most recent work at Cheddar’s, makes her a clear choice to lead our marketing efforts.” In the release, Jamba credited Schaefer with helping turn around Cheddar’s, which was then sold to Darden Restaurants Inc. earlier this year. Frisco, Texas-based Jamba, Inc., through its wholly-owned subsidiary Jamba Juice Co., has more than 800 locations worldwide, including 69 company-owned and 770-franchise locations in the U.S. as of the end of 2016. – Source: NRM.

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