Chili's, Maggiano's parent Brinker makes some executive changes

Executive Summary: Wendy's has a new tech chief and Captain D's makes plans for global expansion with an executive hire.
Chili's parent Brinker is among chains making executive moves this week. | Photo: Shutterstock

Executive Summary

Here are the latest executive moves in the restaurant industry:


Joe Taylor, Brinker International | All photos courtesy of the brands

Joe Taylor will retire as CFO of Brinker International in June after nearly 25 years at the Chili’s and Maggiano’s parent. Taylor joined Brinker in1999 as VP of finance and held various leadership roles in finance, corporate affairs and communications before being promoted to CFO in 2017. He also served as a director of the National Restaurant Association and a trustee of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.


Mika Ware, Brinker International

He’ll be replaced by Mika Ware, who is currently Brinker’s VP of finance, investor relations and development. Ware started at Brinker in 1988 as a Chili’s host and earned her finance degree while working there. She has held various finance and investor relations roles during her tenure.

Brinker_Chris_Caldwell_headshot (1).jpg

Chris Caldwell, Brinker International

Brinker also named Chris Caldwell as its new chief information officer. Caldwell previously spent 27 years in IT at Yum Brands including the past 10 as CTO of KFC. Caldwell replaces former CIO Pankaj Patra, who left in October to become CIO of Denny’s.

Wendy’s has a new head of technology. The fast-food burger chain promoted Matt Spessard to chief information officer. He succeeds Kevin Vasconi, who had been in the role since 2020. Spessard had previously been SVP, global chief technology officer, a position he’s held since August 2022. As CIO, he will assume responsibility for all aspects of technology at Wendy’s.

Captain D's

Hair Parra, Captain D's

Captain D’s is looking to expand globally, naming Hair Parra to the newly created role of SVP of international operations and development. Parra has spent more than 35 years leading international operations and development for brands including Papa Johns, Benihana and Domino’s. Since 2021, he has overseen international development for FAT Brands.

Joe Essa is the new president and chief operating officer of Yardbird. Essa formerly served as president and CEO of Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.

Donatos Pizza Chairwoman Jane Grote Abell has joined the board of directors for Texas Roadhouse. Abell is part of the family that founded the 460-unit Donatos in Columbus, Ohio, in 1963. Texas Roadhouse CEO Jerry Morgan praised her operations experience and people-first leadership style. Abell brings the chain’s board to nine members.

Triple Tap Ventures

Derek Dodd, Triple Tap Ventures

Houston-based multiconcept operator Triple Tap Ventures named Derek Dodd as VP of operations. Dodd brings 15 years of restaurant experience to the role, most recently with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Triple Tap is an operator, owner, developer, licensee and franchisee of brands including The Stand, Alamo Drafthouse and Loop 9 BBQ.

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