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Top chain jobs becoming more perilous?

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Two changes in restaurant brand leadership that came to light in recent days underscore the potential perils of top chain jobs in the current industry climate, as each unseated executive held his respective role for fewer than eight months.

First came the news that Michael Nolan was out as Smashburger’s chief executive. Nolan, who had held the CEO role since April, was replaced by chief brand officer and co-founder Tom Ryan, a move that was reported late last week by news outlet Blue MauMau but garnered relatively little attention.

This is the second CEO shakeup for the chain this year, as Nolan took the helm after the resignation of Scott Crane, who parted ways with Smashburger in favor of other opportunities.

Then, Focus Brands on Tuesday named Paul Macaluso president of its McAlister’s Deli chain, replacing Rick Altizer after fewer than six months in the role.

Macaluso, who most recently served as SVP of marketing strategy for Focus Brands, will be the brand’s third president in 2016, as Carin Stutz preceded Altizer in the job before leaving the chain in May.

These changes come during a challenging period for the restaurant industry, though the fast-casual segment—to which both brands belong—has fared better than others. 

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