Steve Provost, a longtime Brinker International executive and current president of Maggiano’s Little Italy, is retiring at the end of August.
Provost spent more than 14 years at Brinker, beginning in 2009 as Maggiano’s SVP of marketing. Soon after, he was promoted to brand president and oversaw 21 straight quarters of same-store sales growth. That earned him a promotion to executive vice president and CMO of Maggiano's sister concept, Chili’s, where he notably brought back its famous baby-back ribs jingle. In 2018, he took on the new role of chief concept officer, where he helped develop Brinker’s first virtual brand, It’s Just Wings. Two years later, he returned to Maggiano’s, again as president, and helped guide the brand through the pandemic.
Before that, he was CMO of Quiznos and the Yum-owned Long John Silver’s and A&W brands. He also spent more than a decade in the KFC system.
Though Provost spent much of his career in food, he took some detours into politics, most notably as chief speechwriter for George H.W. Bush in 1992. In the 1980s, he served as director of communications for New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean and was a legislative aide in the U.S. House.
He did not give a reason for retiring. Brinker said it will look outside the company for his replacement.
"My first restaurant job was as a 16-year-old dishwasher in Montpelier, Vt. Decades later, I have been fortunate to end my restaurant career with a company that embodies the Norman Brinker spirit of hospitality and servant leadership," Provost said in a statement. "To travel the country helping bus tables and wash dishes at a restaurant chain as beloved as Maggiano's is an honor for anyone who loves restaurants as much as I do. This journey has been the ultimate privilege."
"Steve is a one-of-a-kind, humble and courageous leader with an incredible presence and knack for storytelling that will be missed," said Brinker CEO Kevin Hochman in a statement. "He is leaving the brand in a stronger position, having continued the legacy of making both Guests and Teammates feel special, and I am grateful for his leadership and the wonderful foundation he and the team built."
The 53-unit Maggiano’s has performed well coming out of the pandemic, in part thanks to a booming takeout business. Systemwide sales rose 26% last year, according to Technomic data.
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