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Blaze Pizza hires a CMO and chief restaurant officer

Vince Szwajkowski, formerly of ArcLight Cinemas, and Rick Gestring, a Dunkin’ Brands vet, will join other recent additions to the fast casual’s C-suite.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Blaze Pizza continues to shake up its C-suite, announcing the hiring of a CMO and chief restaurant officer Thursday.

Vince Szwajkowski, a former executive with ArcLight Cinemas and Hilton, becomes chief marketing officer. Rick Gestring, previously with Dunkin’ Brands, was hired as chief restaurant officer at Blaze.

Vince Szwajowski and Rick Gestring

Earlier this year, Blaze added Marie Zhang as chief supply chain officer and Ed Yancey as vice president of franchise development.

As CMO, Szwajkowski will oversee development, planning and execution of all digital, marketing and brand strategy. He will also work to “deepen Blaze Pizza’s lifestyle brand image,” the fast-casual chain said in a statement.

Gestring will oversee restaurant operations and innovation.

“Culture is so important to me, and at Blaze, culture and purpose is at the core of everything we do,” Gestring said. “I’m inspired by the people behind the pizza, and the journey we are embarking on together with our guests and franchisees.”

Pasadena, Calif.-based Blaze had 313 units in 2019 and saw year-over-year sales growth of 5.7%, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.

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