The chief operating officer of the growing Babalu Tapas & Tacos full-service concept has been promoted to CEO.
Abe Ruiz, formerly the chief operating officer of Famous Dave’s, takes over the top post from Babalu co-founder Bill Latham. Latham will remain on the board and will assist with day-to-day operations as needed, the company said in a statement. Ruiz became COO at the end of last year.
“Abe likes to kid about his mediocrity on the golf course, but it’s impossible to imagine him and mediocrity belonging in a sentence together,” Latham said. “From the moment Abe took on the role as COO, he began demonstrating his deep understanding of every aspect of the business. His passion is contagious.”
Ruiz also served as chief operating officer of Colon Gerena Restaurant Group—the parent franchisee for numerous brands, including Famous Dave’s, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Sizzler and LongHorn Steakhouse, as well as Wendy’s units in Puerto Rico.
Parent company Eat Here Brands oversees Babalu Tapas & Tacos, a shared-plates concept that currently has nine units and is expanding in the Southeastern U.S.