Ralph Bower has resigned as CEO of Pei Wei Asian Diner to assume the same post at The Melt, a 17-unit grilled cheese and burger chain.
The change marks the second time in two weeks that a longtime industry veteran has left a high-level post at a large, established restaurant company to assume the leadership of an upstart. Last week, Clarice Turner stepped down as food chief for Starbucks to become CEO of the 28-unit Boudin fast-casual bakery-cafe chain.
Pei Wei is the fast-casual spinoff of P.F. Chang’s, the pan-Asian casual concept. Pei Wei operates more than 200 locations.
The Melt says it uses artisanal cheeses and other ingredients for its fast-casual menu of grilled-cheese sandwiches and burgers.
Bower has more than 25 years of experience in restaurant chains. Before serving as Pei Wei's chief, he served as president of Popeyes' domestic operations. He has also held executive posts at Yum Brands and Domino's.