Kelly Baltes, a former CEO of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and one-time EVP of operations for Red Lobster, has been named president of Maggiano’s Little Italy, Brinker International’s casual Italian concept.
In a 30-year restaurant career, virtually all of it spent in casual dining, Baltes also held high-level operations posts for Olive Garden and Uno Restaurants. Most recently, according to his LinkedIn profile, he headed Good Smoke Restaurant Group, the parent of the Jim 'N Nick’s and Dinosaur barbecue chains.
Baltes spent seven years at Cheddar’s, revamping the concept to focus on its culinary operations. Under his tenure, the concept changed its name to Cheddar’s Scratch Cooking and doubled the size of the chain, rebuilding its management in the process. The concept was sold last year for $780 million to Darden Restaurants, Brinker International’s archrival.
The presidency of Maggiano’s had been vacant since Steve Provost shifted in April 2017 from that post to CMO and head of innovation for Chili’s, Brinker’s core business.
“I have been a longtime admirer and guest of Maggiano's and have a great deal of respect for the culture, hospitality and made-from-scratch Italian-American cuisine," Baltes said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to visiting each restaurant, meeting teammates and working with the leadership teams for continued success of the brand."
Baltes drew attention when he became CEO Of Cheddar’s in 2007 by visiting all of the chain’s restaurants and meeting with every manager within 90 days of his appointment.
Maggiano’s consists of 52 restaurants.