Jeff Carcara has left Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group to join Bloomin’ Brands as president of its Bonefish Grill chain.
He succeeds Dave Schmidt, who has shifted to CFO of Bonefish's big sister brand, Outback Steakhouse.
Carcara brings to the post 26 years of industry experience, much of it spent at the high end of casual dining. Most recently he was CEO of Del Frisco’s Emerging Brands group, a job that grew out of his leadership of Barteca Restaurant Group, where he was also CEO. Del Frisco’s acquired Barteca, the operator of the Barcelona and Bartaco casual chains, last summer for $325 million.
The acquisition has stoked investors’ dismay with Del Frisco’s, an operator of 73 upscale casual restaurants that is currently considering a sale or other ways of returning more value to shareholders. One stakeholder, Engaged Capital, has blasted Del Frisco’s for “strategic missteps,” which is believed to be a reference to the Barteca deal.
At Bonefish, Carcara will assume day-to-day responsibility for a 200-unit chain that is in the midst of a turnaround. The effort pivots on menu simplification, more control of the menu and marketing by unit management, an emphasis on service and a stronger spotlight on the bar.
Carcara had also worked for Del Frisco’s before his time at Barteca. Earlier, he held a series of senior positions with Seasons 52, a polished-casual concept run by Darden Restaurants.
“The depth of his experience, coupled with his proven success in the polished-casual dining segment, will help ensure that Bonefish Grill remains the destination for customers seeking fresh fish and a big city bar in their neighborhood,” Bloomin’ CEO Liz Smith said in a statement.
In addition to Bonefish and Outback, Bloomin' is the parent company of Carrabba's Italian Grill and Fleming's Prime Steak & Wine Bar.