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Jon Luther, Sid Feltenstein to aid Arby's turnaround

Brand rejuvenators Jon Luther and Sid Feltenstein have been recruited by the new owner of Arby’s to provide their counsel during the chain’s revitalization efforts.

Luther is serving as chairman of the Arby’s Restaurant Group’s board of directors, with Feltenstein acting as the other outside director.

Rounding out the board are three officials of Roark Capital, the private-equity firm that bought 82 percent of Arby’s for $430 million in cash and debt: chairman Neal Aronson, managing director Steve Romaniello, and managing director Erik Morris.

The new board was formally introduced to Arby’s franchisees at their annual conference in Atlanta, where Roark is based.

Luther and Feltenstein both have deep experience in revitalizing franchised quick-service brands.

Luther’s most recent beneficiary was Dunkin’ Brands, the parent of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins. Under his tutelage, the two venerable brands were modernized to broaden their appeal beyond donuts and hard-packed ice cream, respectively, putting them in position for an initial stock offering last summer.

He’s also no stranger to dealing with private-equity firms. Until the IPO, Dunkin’ was owned by the private-equity triumvirate of Bain Capital, The Carlyle Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

Earlier, Luther had plotted a rejuvenation plan for the Popeyes fried-chicken chain.

He continues to serve as non-executive chairman of Dunkin’, a role that’s viewed as more consultative than directional on a day-to-day basis.

Feltenstein is also an alumnus of Dunkin’ Donuts, where as marketing chief he was credited with developing the chain’s still-remembered “Time to make the donuts” ad campaign.

He also headed marketing operations for Burger King, back when Grand Metropolitan owned the brand.

More recently, he led an investment firm that bought Del Taco and Captain D’s.

But he is perhaps best remembered as the leader of the team that acquired A&W Restaurants and Long John Silver’s, two concepts that were largely given up for dead at the time. Feltenstein revived the two and ended up selling them to Yum! Brands, which wanted to add a burger chain to its holdings of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut. Long John Silver’s, which specializes in fish, was viewed as a potentially strong international expansion vehicles.

Feltenstein has served as a director for restaurant companies ranging from Mrs. Fields to Buca di Beppo.

He serves as an operating partner of the investment firm Sentinel Capital, which has stakes in Buffet Inc., Tony Roma’s and several of Yum’s franchisees.  

Roark’s other holdings include Il Fornaio, Corner Bakery, McAlister’s Deli and Wing Stop. Its Focus Brands operating company is the franchisor of Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s, Cinnabon and Carvel. 

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