Qu, a cloud-based POS system for limited-service restaurants, has landed an investment from Enlightened Hospitality Investments (EHI), the fund run by Union Square Hospitality Group founder and Chairman Danny Meyer.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. It’s the 22nd investment for EHI, which focuses on restaurants and restaurant tech suppliers.
Qu offers what it calls a “unified commerce platform” that is designed to streamline restaurants’ tech infrastructure, which tends to be a patchwork of apps built atop older POS systems. It captures and relays every order from any channel, from the moment the order is placed until it is served to the guest. It also centralizes menu management, allowing operators to make menu and pricing changes across multiple locations and ordering platforms at once.
The company checked a lot of boxes for EHI, which looks for technology that it believes can enhance hospitality in restaurants rather than take it away.
“What we love about Qu is that it basically centralizes both on-premise and off-premise ordering channels into one platform,” Meyer said in an interview. “We believe [operators] will have the opportunity to spend much more of their time with their staff members and their guests and a lot less time trying to rationalize, say, a pricing change.” Source: Restaurant Business
Joe & the Juice has a new majority owner
Investment firm General Atlantic has agreed to take majority stake of the global coffee, juice and sandwich chain with plans to expand franchising.
Joe & the JuiceFounded in Copenhagen, the chain has about 360 units globally, including 70 in the U.S.
The growing Joe & the Juice chain has a new majority owner.
Investment firm General Atlantic on Monday announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority stake in the juice, coffee and sandwich chain and the previous owner Valedo Partners will fully exit its investment in the company.
Terms were not disclosed but the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter this year.
General Atlantic made an initial investment in Joe & the Juice in 2016, when Joe & the Juice had about 175 units. Since then, the chain has grown to more than 360 units in 18 countries and is boasting “industry-leading store paybacks and profitability,” the announcement said.
The new investment will be used to reduce debt and fund unit growth in key international markets, as well as the U.S., where the chain has about 70 units. Joe & the Juice has about 23 franchised units in the Middle East, and the company plans to expand franchising worldwide.
“As a long-term partner to Joe & the Juice, General Atlantic is proud to become a majority investor in the brand and continue our collaboration with the management team,” said Andrew Crawford, General Atlantic’s managing director and global head of consumer, in a statement. “Joe & the Juice’s business momentum is inflecting, and we are excited to build on the company’s digital traction and accelerate company-owned and franchise unit growth.”
Founded in Copenhagen in 2002, Joe & the Juice offers a menu of healthful juices, shakes, coffees and sandwiches. The company has been investing in growing digital channels, which now account for about 30% of sales.
General Atlantic has a couple of other restaurant investments in its portfolio, including Torchy’s Tacos and the India-based casual-dining chain Absolute Barbecue. Source: Restaurant Business
Why Burger King struggled, according to Patrick Doyle
The executive chairman of the chain’s parent company Restaurant Brands International said operators had too much risk, particularly on the balance sheet.
Many Burger King operators had too much leverage, per Patrick Doyle.
Burger King franchisees operated with too much risk, which when coupled with the “black swan” event in the pandemic proved to be too much to overcome.
That, at least, is according to Patrick Doyle, the chairman of the chain’s parent company Restaurant Brands International, speaking at the Restaurant Finance and Development Conference (RFDC).
The event came days after news was revealed that a third Burger King operator filed for bankruptcy this year, while many others have closed restaurants. “That’s a bad thing,” Doyle said, in an interview with John Hamburger, president of RFDC’s parent company Franchise Times Corp. “For those who lent money to those businesses, I’m sorry. That’s certainly not the outcome that we want.”
Burger King’s problems in the U.S., where the chain operates just less than 7,000 restaurants, helped lead to Doyle’s arrival at RBI. The former CEO of Domino’s was named executive chairman a year ago and invested $30 million of the company’s stock. But he has options worth much more than that if he can get the brand right.
A former banker, Doyle said he learned that “great businesses are built with risk, and if you have zero risks, then you’re not generating great returns, you’re buying bonds or buying treasuries.”
“You need risk,” he said. “That’s how you create value.”
But Burger King had too much risk, he said. “We had too many risks at one time,” Doyle said.
Doyle said there are three types of risks—fundamental business risks, financial risks and structural or external risks.
Before the pandemic, Doyle said, Burger King was “not operating at the level it needed to be operating at. A lot of people were going after it. There were operators who were doing well. Some were struggling more,” he said.
Many operators also had financial risk. Many franchisees had leverage of five to six times cash flow, Doyle said. “Probably too much,” he said.
The pandemic, then, proved to be a “black swan event” that added one more large structural risk on top of all that.
“We got in trouble,” Doyle said.
Burger King then invested $400 million into the brand, which Doyle said was one of the largest investments a brand made into its system in the industry’s history. The “Reclaim the Flame” program features investments in marketing and remodels.
That, coupled with improvements in operations, have helped lead to improvements in sales and profitability. Executives have indicated that franchisee profitability is up in the double digits this year. Margins at Carrols Restaurant Group, the chain’s largest franchisee, have soared this year, for instance.
“We are very much on the right path,” Doyle said. “What I will tell you as a franchisee, as a potential franchisee, as a lender, as a potential investor, there is not going to be any franchisor that is more focused on your success than we are. It doesn’t mean we’re all going to get it right. But we wake up in the morning and we want our franchisees to be successful.”
Doyle noted one problem the chain doesn’t have is with the food. “Our food quality is really great when we execute it really well,” he said. Source: Restaurant Business
Wonder completes acquisition of Blue Apron for $103M
Customers can now order Blue Apron meal kits in Wonder’s app for pickup and delivery.
Virtual food hall concept Wonder on Monday completed its acquisition of meal kit company Blue Apron for $103 million, or $13 a share.
The deal takes the struggling Blue Apron private and gives Wonder a new revenue channel as it pursues its goal of becoming a “super app for mealtime.”
The announcement included some new details about how Wonder will fold meal kits into its operations. Starting Monday, Blue Apron customers in Wonder’s delivery radius in New York and New Jersey will start getting their boxes delivered by Wonder employees. Customers in the area will also be able to order Blue Apron meal kits and heat-and-eat meals in the Wonder app for delivery and pickup.
The initial menu features Blue Apron favorites including shawarma chicken and couscous bowls, sheet pan pesto salmon and gnocchi mac and cheese. The microwaveable heat-and-eat options include lemon chicken, cheesy Mexican chicken and rice, and cheesy truffle cavatappi. Wonder said it plans to add more recipes in the future.
Service and menu options for Blue Apron customers outside of Wonder’s orbit will continue as normal, the company said.
Wonder is a delivery-focused food hall concept founded by entrepreneur Marc Lore. It has five locations in New York and New Jersey and plans to reach 10 by the end of the year. Each location houses as many as 20 different restaurant concepts, and customers can combine food from all of them in one order. It has raised nearly $1 billion to date, including a recent $100 million infusion from Nestle.
Lore envisions Wonder as more than just a restaurant but an all-around food provider for the masses. His goal is to eventually open as many as 7,000 locations across the U.S.
“Our mission at Wonder is to make great food more accessible, and the integration of Blue Apron onto our Wonder platform provides a major opportunity to double-down on that promise to our customers,” Lore said in a statement.
Blue Apron pioneered meal kit delivery but has struggled since going public in 2017. Its decline has included layoffs and shrinking customer and order counts, and its share price has lost 99% of its IPO value. Source: Restaurant News
Golden Corral takes a step away from the buffet
The new fast-casual Homeward Kitchen concept is finally getting ready to open in December.
Golden Corral is getting ready for its fast-casual debut. But that doesn’t mean it plans to move away from the buffet format.
The company’s first Homeward Kitchen, a fast-casual spinoff that will not be a buffet, is scheduled to open in Southern Pines, N.C., in December.
The long-awaited concept, which is opening in a former Chick-fil-A location, will feature dine in, takeout, delivery and drive-thru options with a menu of “slow cooked, served fast family favorites.” Guests will order at the counter and the roughly 4,000-square-foot unit will seat about 100.
The target audience will be busy families and guests on the go, the company said. Prices will start around $5.99 for lunch/dinner and there are a full line of entrees expected to be under $14. The menu will also offer options for feeding large groups and take-home feasts.
“We see an opportunity to provide wholesome, craveable food for families on the go,” said Golden Corral Corp. President and CEO Lance Trenary, in a statement. “Homeward Kitchen is the perfect way to enjoy a delicious, satisfying meal that fits in with the busy pace of everyday life.”
Southern Pines will be the first location for the brand, but the company is already thinking about expansion.
“We’ve put together an outstanding team to lead the opening of the first Homeward Kitchen, and once we have successfully launched in Southern Pines, we will quickly pursue growth opportunities nationwide,” Trenary said.
On the menu will be traditional homestyle classics, like slow-cooked pot roast with vegetables, fried chicken, a meatloaf sandwich, Nashville and Hot Honey Dipped chicken sandwiches, and Cajun Mac & Cheese Balls. For dessert: banana pudding.
Homeward Kitchen will also serve the morning daypart with breakfast sandwiches and bowls, as well as overnight oats and Breakfast Bakes, along with Costa Coffee.
Founded in 1973 in Fayetteville, N.C., Golden Corral is known for its abundant buffets. Buffet concepts were hit particularly hard during the pandemic and many predicted their demise, but Golden Corral defied the trends.
In fiscal 2022, Golden Corral saw systemwide sales of about $1.4 billion, up more than 21% over the prior year, with about 362 units, almost all franchised, according to sister brand Technomic.
The company launched Homeward Kitchen to give franchisees another smaller-footprint option for growth. Future units will be franchised and will target locations between 3,000- and 3,500-square feet.
The company also opened another new full-service spinoff concept called GC Grill House in Lake Placid, Fla. Company officials said they are pleased with results from that family-friendly steakhouse, but there no immediate plans for expansion. Source: Restaurant Business
Alto-Shaam held a groundbreaking ceremony to kick-start expansion of its U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility.
The manufacturer will add a state-of-the-art Innovation Center to its global headquarters and manufacturing facility. The 100,000-square-foot facility will include an R&D lab, alongside engineering, product management, shipping, and finished goods spaces. The center will connect to the existing building with the introduction of several bright, open entranceways. Alto-Shaam aims to complete the project in 2025.
The new facility will expand Alto-Shaam’s manufacturing capacity. The company will further invest in its digital systems and processes to further enhance its manufacturing capabilities, according to the release.
Additionally, the front facade of the headquarters also will see a refresh, with the outside walls being painted and refinished, alongside a series of renovations to the interior facilities, aimed at improving the overall workplace ergonomics, helping to infuse a sense of Alto-Shaam’s purpose, mission and values in the new space. Source: FER
Atosa Announces Appointment of Chief Revenue Officer, More
Two new hires and two additional promotions also were announced by the California-based manufacturer.
Foodservice equipment manufacturer Atosa USA will have several leadership changes kick in Jan. 1, 2024.
The newly announced appointments are as follows:
Jennifer Ward (pictured above) will take a new role as chief revenue officer. Ward, who has been with the manufacturer since 2018, currently serves as Atosa’s VP of sales. In her new position, Ward will oversee sales, marketing, and research and development eﬀorts—working to drive innovation and growth—plus add strength to the executive management team. She will remain readily accessible for all partner and client communications, says Atosa.
Richard Gorowitz and Tom Angstadt, both former regional sales managers, will assume elevated roles as directors of sales—Angstadt in the northern U.S. and Gorowitz in the southern U.S. They will collaborate closely with Ward.
Dani Lewis and Eric Kinnell are coming aboard as regional sales managers. Lewis will cover the Georgia territory that includes Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, while Kinnell will cover the New Jersey territory that includes Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.
Atosa, which has a presence in 11 distribution centers across the U.S., says these developments are part of its ongoing commitment to growth and service excellence. “We cherish our incredible team and look forward to further growth alongside our brick-and-mortar dealer partners in the upcoming year,” says a press release. Source: Atosa
Todd Griffith Joins RPI Industries As Sales VP
Most recently with Marra Forni, Griffith brings more than 30 years of experience to the role.
Medford, N.J.-based RPI Industries has appointed Todd Griffith its vice president of sales.
Griffith has a robust background in commercial culinary operations, specifically in healthcare, contract and corporate dining. “What sets him apart is his background in every facet of the foodservice industry and 30+ years of experience,” RPI states in the release. “As we continue to grow RPI’s brand and diversify our offerings, Todd’s knowledge and direction will be invaluable.”
Griffith joins RPI from Marra Forni, where he served as vice president of sales and marketing for three years, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he served as vice president at Singer Equipment Co. and before that, vice president of sales at Alto-Shaam. Source: RPI
Yum Brands—parent to KFC, Taco Bell, The Habit Burger Grill and Pizza Hut—had a few positives to share during its Q3 earnings call with investors, held Wednesday, Nov. 1.
For one, the company set a record on unit development, having opened 1,130 gross new units in its latest quarter, which ended Sept. 30. KFC led the way in unit growth, opening 664 new restaurants across 57 countries in the quarter.
Further, the brand saw new highs for its digital sales, which were up more than 20% year-over-year at more than $7 billion, and marked its fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit system sales growth globally.
A few more points of discussion were as follows:
• Kiosks. Currently, Yum Brands says it has kiosks in nearly 40% of KFC stores outside of China, all Taco Bell locations in the U.S. (except for licensed stores) and almost 70% of its Habit Burger Grill locations. By 2026, the company says it expects kiosks in the vast majority of its KFC stores outside of China. “Kiosks not only drive a higher check compared to our traditional front counter, but also drive higher margins through operational efficiencies and generate new opportunities to leverage customer data and create personalized ordering experiences,” Chris Turner, chief financial officer, told analysts. “… We’re on track to have our recommended ordering technology, which we’re calling AIM (or automated inventory management) rolled out across our KFC U.S. system by year-end.”
“Kiosks not only drive a higher check compared to our traditional front counter, but also drive higher margins through operational efficiencies and generate new opportunities to leverage customer data and create personalized ordering experiences.”—Chris Turner, CFO
• Tech advancements. Technologies being piloted at this time include a voice-enabled AI drive-thru platform which generates automated upsell recommendations as well as increases speed, productivity and efficiencies, says Yum Brands. The platform is currently being tested at a couple restaurants in California. Further, Yum Brands says it has developed a proprietary automated drinks fulfillment system that frees up team members’ time, plus increases drive-thru speed and accuracy.
• A changing pizza category. A few weeks before reporting earnings, Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut announced that thousands of its locations would stay open until midnight or later, with some staying open as late as 2 a.m. Delivery and carryout will be offered during those late-night hours, and a release notes the change is in response to an “undeniable trend toward late-night dining among the younger generation.” CEO David Gibbs noted on the call that Pizza Hut benefits from having the ability to outsource deliveries. “When it may have been a little bit harder for us to staff with drivers, being able to hand off those deliveries to our aggregator partners allowed us to extend our hours,” he explained. Gibbs also says he thinks lower price points will play a bigger role in the pizza category going forward. To that end, he says melts—a folded, two-piece pizza-like item—are likely to be a big part of Pizza Hut’s growth. Source: FER
Taco Bell launches a subscription program for its Nacho Fries
Taco Bell has had success with its Taco Lover’s Pass, first introduced in 2022, and is now trying to replicate that success with a similar program for its popular Nacho Fries.
Alicia Kelso | Nov 14, 2023
Taco Bell’s Taco Lover’s Pass, first introduced in early 2022, has been such a success for the brand, it is now introducing a similar program for its Nacho Fries. The new Nacho Fries Lover’s Pass is available beginning today for $10 for Rewards members. With the subscription program, members have access to a regular Nacho Fries order every day for 30 consecutive days, or through Dec. 4.
“We’re committed to pushing the boundaries of convenience and innovation for our biggest fans, our loyalty members. The Nacho Fries Lover’s Pass is just one example of how we’re leveraging digital technology to enhance their experience,” Dane Mathews, Taco Bell’s chief digital officer, said in a statement. “Our dedication to our fans and an innovative customer experience continues to be a driving force behind our efforts to leverage digital innovation in transformational ways.”
Related: Taco Bell is adding vegan sauce to its Nacho Fries
Taco Bell introduced its Taco Lover’s Pass program nationally after a test in Arizona found it yielded new loyalty members. During the ensuing earnings call, David Gibbs, CEO of parent company Yum Brands, said, “At Taco Bell U.S., we continue to experiment with new and innovative ways to engage with our consumers through LTO programs such as the Taco Lover’s Pass which helped fuel growth in loyalty memberships during the quarter and which drove customer frequency.”
Additionally, Taco Bell is introducing Grilled Cheese Nacho Fries on Nov. 16 for a limited time while supplies last. The new iteration is available for $4.99 and features fried potatoes topped with a grilled blend of mozzarella, Monterey pepper jack and cheddar cheeses garnished with marinated grilled steak, Taco Bell’s signature nacho cheese and chipotle sauces. Customers can also order a spicy version of the fries with added jalapeños.
Nacho Fries quickly became Taco Bell’s most successful product launch ever when they were first introduced in 2018. The company has since rolled out various iterations of the product, from Loaded Truff Nacho Fries to Rattlesnake Fries and Reaper Ranch Fries. In September, the company teased at more variations in the future, stating, “Be on the lookout for more exciting Nacho Fries news and tantalizing options, sure to keep fans coming back for more.”
Contact Alicia Kelso at Alicia.Kelso@informa.com Nation’s Restaurant News
Voodoo Doughnut unveils grand opening date for first store in Dallas
Nov 13, 2023
Voodoo Doughnut, pioneers of the gourmet doughnut category, is thrilled to announce the official grand opening date for their eagerly awaited 21st store in Dallas, TX, set to take place on Monday, November 20, 2023.
After months of meticulous planning, doors will open to the public at 8AM on Monday, November 20th where fans will experience a doughnut lover’s dream with sparkling chandeliers, spinning jewel-like cases featuring all the sweet options, funky wallpaper, a black velvet painting with a nod to a Dallas native and so much more everyone has come to expect from the iconic brand.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Chris Schultz. “We’re very excited to finally bring some of that Voodoo Magic to the city of Dallas,” Schultz continued.
To stay up to date on all things Voodoo, fans are encouraged to follow the brand on their social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, X, TikTok, and LinkedIn.
About Voodoo Doughnut:
In 2003, Voodoo Doughnut was established in Portland, Oregon, and quickly became the pioneer of the gourmet doughnut category. Their unique flavors such as the Bacon Maple Bar, Memphis Mafia, and The Cannolo gained widespread recognition. With over 50 flavor options, including 25 vegan alternatives, Voodoo Doughnut emphasizes the guest experience, employee incentives, and community engagement through charitable initiatives. The brand recently announced a new store opening in Chicago, Illinois, as part of its ongoing expansion across different neighborhoods in the United States. Voodoo Doughnut currently operates in Oregon, Colorado, Texas, California, Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, and Florida. For a comprehensive list of Voodoo locations and more information, visit their website at www.voodoodoughnut.com. Source: Nation’s Restaurant News
Smucker’s Closes Hostess Acquisition, Announces Leadership, Structural Changes
The J.M. Smucker Co. announces a shuffling of business units and leadership changes to incorporate the new Hostess businesses and brands.
Following the closing of the acquisition of Hostess Brands, The J.M. Smucker Co. has created a new business unit called “Sweet Baked Snacks” and named Dan O’Leary senior vice president and general manager of Sweet Baked Snacks and Pet, effective immediately.
O’Leary comes over with Hostess, having served as its chief growth officer, overseeing the full family of brands. He brings more than two decades of marketing, brand-building, innovation, M&A and growth strategy experience; he joined Hostess Brands in 2021, and had spent time previously leading Tyson Foods’ retail prepared foods group and also in leadership positions at Kraft Foods and Mizkan America.
The company has also announced other leadership changes in conjunction with the Hostess closing.
The Coffee business unit will house the Folgers, Dunkin’ and Café Bustelo brands and be managed by Rob Ferguson, senior vice president and general manager, Coffee and Procurement.
The former Consumer Foods unit will be renamed Frozen Handheld and Spreads and will include Uncrustables, Jif and Smucker’s brands. It will continue to be run by Rebecca Scheidler, senior vice president and general manager, Frozen Handheld and Spreads.
The Away From Home and International units will house the company’s Canadian business and still be managed by Tim Wayne, senior vice president, Away From Home and International.
The Pet division comprises the dog snacks and cat food businesses, including Milk-Bone and Meow Mix. Sweet Baked Snacks will be composed of the Hostess and Voortman brands. As mentioned above, O’Leary will lead those business units.
Smucker has also decided to align its Strategy, Finance, Transformation and Information Services under the leadership of Tucker Marshall, chief financial officer to better connect its margin-management objectives and multiple planning processes with short- and long-term horizons.
As a result of these changes, several executives will be departing the company, including chief transformation officer Amy Held; Joe Stanziano, senior vice president and general manager, Coffee; and Gagnesh Gupta, senior vice president, Procurement and Commodities, effective February 2, 2024; December 1, 2023; and December 29, 2023, respectively. More information is expected from the company on its structure and leadership changes when it reports its second quarter fiscal 2024 results on December 5, 2023. Source: Food Processing News
B&G Foods Sells Green Giant Canned Vegetables Line to Seneca Foods
B&G will retain the brand trademarks, the Green Giant frozen and Canadian businesses, and the Le Sueur product line.
B&G Foods Inc. has sold the Green Giant shelf-stable vegetable product line to Seneca Foods Corp., according to a company release. The transaction does not include Green Giant frozen, Green Giant Canada or Le Sueur products, and B&G will retain ownership of the Green Giant trademarks, licensing the Green Giant brand name to Seneca.
Casey Keller, president and CEO of B&G, said the shelf-stable product line was sold in alignment with the company’s strategy to divest product lines that are not in the core of B&G’s long-term strategy, as well as its desire to reduce long-term debt. Seneca is the longtime primary co-manufacturer for the line, and thus the “right owner” for it, he added.
Seneca Foods president and CEO Paul Palmby shared similar sentiments in his company’s statement on the deal, saying: “Having co-manufactured much of this product for B&G Foods for many years, we have long admired the strength of the brand in the market and look forward to its continued success.”
Divestiture of the shelf-stable product line will allow B&G to focus on the frozen, Canadian and Le Sueur brands, without losing any of the benefits of retaining the “power of the iconic Green Giant brand,” Keller said.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the announcement stated that B&G intends to use the net proceeds from the sale to repay long-term debt. Source: Food Processing News
South Korean Robotics Company Takes Root in North America
Aniai, a robotics company operating in the commercial kitchen space, has established a North American headquarters in New York City. The South Korean company also hired Eric Hansen to serve as its director of sales.
Hansen’s background includes working with such restaurant industry-related tech companies as Groupon and Uber Eats.
Aniai’s flagship product Alpha Grill uses artificial intelligence and robotics to automate the hamburger patty cooking process. Aniai is conducting pilot tests in collaboration with several North American chains, the company reports and expects its products to be implemented and active within multiple locations over the next six to twelve months.
Alpha Grill earned a 2023 Kitchen Innovations Award from the organizers of the National Restaurant Association Show. Source: FES Magazine
Neal Asbury Elected Chairman of the Board International Housewares Association
ROSEMONT, ILL. (Sept. 14, 2023)—William C. McHenry, president and CEO of Widgeteer, Inc., has been
elected to the board of directors of the International Housewares Association (IHA), the full-service trade
association for the housewares industry. His three-year term begins Oct. 1, 2023 and ends Sept. 30, 2026.
Also elected were new board officers:
➢ Chairman – Neal Asbury, president & CEO, The Legacy Companies
➢ Vice Chairman/Chairman Elect – Paul Cosaro, CEO, Picnic Time Family of Brands
➢ Treasurer – Michael Otterman, president & CEO, Lodge Cast Iron
All officers serve one-year terms from Oct. 1, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2024.
Retiring from the board is Thomas Nichols, president, Pretika Corporation. Re-appointed for a second
three-year term were: Kim Cole, CEO, Gleener, Inc.; Tom McMahon, president, JURA Inc.; Robert Michelson,
president & CCO, Bradshaw Home; Keith Mirchandani, founder & CEO, Trend Makers, LLC; Michael Otterman;
Luke Peters, president & CEO, NewAir LLC;.and Dan Siegel, president, Lifetime Brands.
McHenry founded Widgeteer in 2007. Widgeteer is a family owned, Chicago-area based manufacturer
and importer of kitchen and home products with an emphasis on stylish and cutting-edge design. Prior to starting
Widgeteer, McHenry worked for 20 years in sales, marketing and business development with Nestle, 3M and
Philips, holding many senior level sales and marketing positions.
Asbury is president & CEO of The Legacy Companies, founded in 1999. The company manufactures and
markets a portfolio of iconic brands that have morphed over time to strengthen their energy and
relevance. Products range from kitchen appliances and cold refrigeration to wine essentials, kitchen tools and
utensils. Housewares brands include Avanti, Brama, Chef’sChoice, Excalibur, MaxxIce, Omega, Sapphire,
VinoTemp, Vinturi, West Bend, Yonanas and Zeroll. Asbury is a strong advocate of entrepreneurship and free
enterprise, having written over 400 articles on global trade issues. In 2008, he received the coveted United States
National Champion Exporter of the Year Award. He is the host of the Radio America talk show “Neal Asbury’s
Made in America,” which is nationally syndicated and broadcast by more than 300 affiliates from coast to coast.
His latest book, “Mapping America,” recently released was reviewed and recognized by The New York Times as
one of the best visual books of 2021. His upcoming book “Mapping the Holy Land” will be published early 2024.
Cosaro joined Picnic Time in 2011. As CEO/Captain Picnic, Cosaro says his number one responsibility is
to “relentlessly strive to achieve our mission of giving people the opportunity to make lasting memories by
spending time with loved ones.” The company, which started in 1982 offering European-styled picnic baskets, has
evolved to design and develop an array of picnic, outdoor leisure, indoor entertaining and barware concepts under
the brands ONIVA, LEGACY, TOSCANA and PICNIC TIME. Prior to joining Picnic Time, Cosaro worked at
Lionsgate Entertainment where he managed partnerships with retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and
Target, and at Capgemini Consulting, where he was a strategic and transformation consultant for major media and
Otterman joined Lodge Cast Iron, the 128-year-old U.S.-based manufacturer of cast iron
cookware and cooking accessories, in 2016 as SVP, sales & marketing. He was named as the first nonfamily
CEO in January 2019. Having more than 25 years of experience in the housewares industry,
Otterman has worked for several supplier companies beginning with Applica Consumer Products’ Black
& Decker Corporation from 1997-2004. Before joining Lodge, he served as vice president, global
marketing & merchandising, for The Coleman Co., a division of Jarden Corp., from 2014-2016; vice
president, product development, for Dick’s Sporting Goods from 2011-2013; and president of Focus
Products Group from 2008-2011.
Also serving on the IHA Board are Glenn DeStefano, president, StoreBound; Scott Felsenthal, CEO,
Whitmor, Inc.; Sal Gabbay, CEO, Gibson Homewares; Steve Greenspon, CEO, Honey-Can-Do International LLC
and immediate past IHA chairman; Michael Hayes, chief customer officer, Newell Brands; Lisa Knierim, chief
development officer, Creative Tops Inc.; Yvette Laugier, IHA chairman emeritus; and Jacob Maurer, CEO,
Americas, The Cookware Company.
Serving on the executive committee of the board are Neal Asbury, Paul Cosaro, Scott Felsenthal, Steve
Greenspon, Yvette Laugier, Tom McMahon and Mike Otterman.