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Fun-and-food chain raids CPK for new CEO

The Main Event fun-and-food chain has hired former California Pizza Kitchen President Chris Morris as CEO, filling the vacancy left in November by the departure of longtime leader Charlie Keegan.

Morris has extensive experience in casual dining and chain concepts with an entertainment bent. Before serving as president of CPK, helping the full-service pizza chain engineer a turnaround, Morris held senior roles at On The Border, a casual Tex-Mex chain, and CEC Entertainment, the parent of Chuck E. Cheese’s and Peter Piper Pizza.

Main Event, a direct competitor of Pinstripes and Lucky Strike, features large entertainment centers where patrons can eat and play bowling-style games. Last year, right before Keegan resigned, Dave & Buster’s acknowledged that it was feeling competition from the 38-unit chain, which had been on a growth tear before the change in leadership.

Thirty-eight Main Events are currently open, with four more under development, according to the company.

Darin Harper has been serving as CEO on an interim basis. When Morris assumes his new post on March 26, Harper’s duties will again be narrowed to CFO.

Morris' departure is the second top-level change at CPK this year. G.J. Hart was succeeded in January as CEO by Jim Hyatt, the former CEO of Ruby Tuesday. Hart subsequently came out of semiretirement to take the CEO's post at Torchy's Tacos.

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