Kat Cole, the former president and COO of Focus Brands, is joining virtual brand company Nextbite as an advisor.
Cole, who became one of the industry's most prominent executives while at Focus, is currently president and COO of direct-to-consumer nutrition company Athletic Greens. She comes to Nextbite as it looks to continue growing, and will lend her expertise in running consumer brands and scaling companies.
Founded in 2017, Denver-based Nextbite develops delivery-only restaurant brands and licenses them to restaurants to sell out of existing kitchens.
Cole's role will include helping the company create healthy and innovative delivery brands, Nextbite said in a press release.
"Technology is reshaping restaurants," Cole said in a statement. "Nextbite and a variety of their brands can help brick and mortar restaurants leverage existing assets, drive financial growth, and reach more customers."
Cole has nearly 30 years of restaurant experience, including lengthy stints at Hooters of America and then Focus, the owner of Jamba, Auntie Anne's and other brands. She joined the company in 2010 as president of Cinnabon and led a turnaround of its franchise business.
"Kat’s career was built in the kitchen and she’s recognized as an industry visionary," Nextbite CEO Alex Canter said in a statement. "She understands what it takes to keep customers coming back and how to build and manage brands that are aligned with restaurant and consumer needs and trends."
Cole is the latest high-profile restaurant leader to join Nextbite. Former Red Robin CEO Denny Post began advising the company last September and in June was named co-president.
The additions come amid some major changes at the company this year, including two rounds of layoffs in response to what Canter called "the changing restaurant market."
The future of delivery-only brands has come into question as people return to restaurants and delivery sales slow. But Nextbite leaders remain enthusiastic about the model.
"A creative and profitable revenue stream for brick-and-mortar restaurants is an eternal need," Post said in a recent interview.
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