Black Bear adds another infrastructure plank with CFO hiring

The addition of Steve Sparks, formerly CFO of Village Inn’s parent, narrows Anita Adams’ duties to president.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Black Bear Diner has continued to build its infrastructure by hiring restaurant chain veteran Steve Sparks as CFO.

Sparks assumes the title from Anita Adams, who remains president of the fast-growing family-dining chain.

Sparks moves over from American Blue Ribbon Holdings, the parent company of two family-focused chains, Village Inn and Bakers Square, where he served as CFO. American Blue Ribbon also operates the O’Charley’s and Ninety Nine Restaurants casual-dining brands.

At Black Bear, Sparks will be responsible for accounting, finance, treasury and risk functions. He will also play a role in franchise sales, real estate development and supply chain management, the company said.

He reports to Adams. 

“Drawing from more than two decades of restaurant experience, including franchisor operations, Steve will be a trusted advisor and strategic partner on our executive team, and we look forward to his leadership at Black Bear Diner,” Adams said in a statement.

Steve Sparks CFO

Steve Sparks

His appointment is the latest move by Black Bear to build an infrastructure for supporting the chain’s growth. In August, the regional brand hired Tammy Johns as chief people officer. It promoted Steve Standlea to chief concept officer in April, when it also added the president’s duties to Adams’ responsibilities as CFO.

Black Bear, which features oversized portions at all three mealtimes in a bear-themed setting, added 14 locations in 2018 to finish the year with 120 units, according to Technomic. The brand outdistanced its competitors in family dining with a 15.8% increase in systemwide sales, to $291.6 million, the research says.

The majority of Black Bear’s restaurants are located on the West Coast, with roughly half in California.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Restaurants bring the industry's concerns to Congress

Neary 600 operators made their case to lawmakers as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference.


Podcast transcript: Virtual Dining Brands co-founder Robbie Earl

A Deeper Dive: What is the future of digital-only concepts? Earl discusses their work to ensure quality and why focusing on restaurant delivery works.


In the fast-casual sector, Chipotle laps Panera Bread

The Bottom Line: The two fast-casual restaurant pioneers have diverged over the past five years, as the burrito chain has thrived while Panera hit a wall. Here's why.


More from our partners