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Leadership

Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard retires from the fast-casual Italian chain

Howard, who has held the post for 14 years, will be succeeded by Doug Bostick, who has been with Fazoli’s for more than two decades.
Fazoli's
Photograph: Shutterstock

Fazoli’s CEO Carl Howard is retiring from the fast-casual Italian chain he has led since 2008, the company announced Thursday.

Doug Bostick, currently SVP of operations and franchise development, who has been with Fazoli’s for 21 years, becomes CEO, effective Friday, the Lexington, Ky.-based brand said.

Howard, in a statement, said he is departing because of “personal reasons.”

“I will forever be grateful for the relationships I have built at Fazoli’s, in particular, with Doug,” Howard said. “After such a tremendous 2021, it was a challenging decision to step down, however, for personal reasons, this is the best decision for my family and the brand. Doug is a strong leader and after 20-plus years in senior positions at the company, I know he lives and breathes the Fazoli’s brand.”

In December, multi-concept operator Fat Brands completed its $130 million acquisition of the roughly 220-unit fast casual. Fat Brands also owns Fat Burger, Johnny Rockets, Twin Peaks and Round Table Pizza parent Global Franchise Group, for a total of about 2,300 franchised and corporate restaurants around the world.

Fazoli’s had previously been owned by private-equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners.

Howard’s retirement is the culmination of “several months” of succession planning, the chain said.

During his tenure with Fazoli’s, Bostick has gradually assumed responsibilities that include company and franchise operations, construction, development and training.

At the start of the pandemic, Bostick helped the brand act quickly to capitalize on its off-premise business.

Last year, the chain added a virtual chicken wing brand at all of its company-owned and franchised locations. At the time, Fazoli’s said wing sales were giving its restaurants an 11% sales boost.

With its drive-thrus and low price points, Fazoli’s perfomed well during the pandemic, generating same-store sales growth of 20% or more early last year, Howard previously told Restaurant Business. The solid performance led the chain to a renewed focus on new unit growth.

“Carl will certainly be missed by the Fazoli’s family,” Bostick said. “Carl came to the brand over a decade ago with ambitions goals, and never once did he lose sight of reaching them.”

With his retirement from Fazoli’s, Howard adds his name to a growing list of high-profile restaurant CEOs who have announced departures in recent days. On Wednesday, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson announced he would leave the coffee giant, to be succeeded (at least on an interim basis by former CEO Howard Schultz). On Monday, Wingstop CEO Charlie Morrison submitted his resignation. And Domino’s Pizza CEO Ritch Allison said earlier this month that he was stepping down.

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