Lion's Choice names Fred Burmer CEO

The roast beef sandwich chain said that the former Yum Brands executive would take over the top spot in April.
Lion's Choice CEO
Lion's Choice named Fred Burmer CEO. / Photos courtesy of Lion's Choice

Lion’s Choice, the 30-unit St. Louis roast beef chain, on Tuesday named Fred Burmer its new CEO.

Burmer has more than 40 years of experience in the fast-food industry, most of it with Yum Brands including Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC and Long John Silver’s. He will take over the top job in April from Michael Kupstas, who is retiring after a 50-year career at the end of March. He’s been CEO of Lion’s Choice for six years.

Kupstas, also known as Kup, will remain with Lion’s Choice as a strategic advisor and an investor in the business.

Lion’s Choice cited Burmer’s “ability to grow brands in diverse settings” in naming him CEO and said his “high integrity and leadership uniquely position him as a natural fit” for the brand’s “next stage of development.”

Fred Burmer

Fred Burmer

Burmer worked his way up from a team member at Pizza Hut while a college student. He either owned or work with several large-scale Pizza Hut franchisees. Most recently, he’s been a chief operating officer with a multi-concept Yum Brands franchisee in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Lion’s Choice was founded in 1967. It operates 30 locations, down from the 34 it operated at the end of 2021, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. It finished 2021 with $22.3 million in system sales.

Kupstas joined the chain in 2017. He led the company through numerous changes, including rebranding and technology improvements. He said in a statement that it was “time for me to enjoy time with my wife, Kate, children and grandchildren.”

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