Shannon Hennessy promoted to CEO of The Habit Burger Grill

After serving as brand president for nearly a year, Hennessy on June 6 will replace Russ Bendel, who announced plans to retire as CEO last year.
The Habit Burger Grill is the fast-casual sister brand to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut./Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Habit Burger’s brand president Shannon Hennessy has been promoted to CEO of the fast-casual chain, parent company Yum Brands Inc. announced on Tuesday.

The move has been signaled for some time. Hennessy, who steps into the role officially on June 6, will replace Russ Bendel, who announced plans to retire last year.

A longtime veteran of the industry, Bendel joined Habit Burger as CEO in 2008 and led the better-burger brand’s transformation as it grew from about 16 units to more than 300 before being acquired by Yum in 2020 for $375 million.

Hennessy, who will report to Yum CEO David Gibbs, will continue to grow the brand, which ended 2022 with 348 locations and boasted average unit volumes of $2 million.

Named president in July 2022 after three years as Global CFO of sister brand KFC, Hennessy has been leading Habit Burger’s development, franchising, marketing and international expansion. She has also been contributing to the brand’s strategy for accelerating growth, nurturing cross-brand collaboration and driving culture, the company said, and her work with Bendel over the past eight months will ensure a seamless transition.

Shannon Hennessy

Shannon Hennessy/Photo courtesy of Yum Brands Inc.

“Shannon is an exceptional, heart-led leader who was named president of The Habit Burger Grill division in July 2022 and has since driven meaningful advances for the brand in development, top-line initiatives and digital sales growth,” said Gibbs, in a statement. “With Shannon’s background as KFC Global Division CFO and her nearly 20 years with McKinsey & Company, she has a unique skillset that will be vital as we continue to scale The Habit, offering our franchisees an investment opportunity in an award-winning, fast-casual concept in the better-burger category with a long runway for growth.”

Gibbs also thanked Bendel for his decades of leadership in the industry, saying he is “one of the best and most accomplished restaurateurs in the industry.”

Before joining Habit Burger, Bendel was president and COO of The Cheesecake Factory, and he also served as president and CEO of Mimi’s Café, president of Roy’s Restaurants and was a franchisee of Outback Steakhouse.

Added Gibbs: “Russ’s commitment and vision have made The Habit Burger Grill a powerful growth brand with delicious food and an extremely bright future, and we’re proud to continue to build on the legacy he is leaving. I want to thank Russ for his decades of leadership in the industry and wish him well as he enjoys this new phase of life with his family.”


Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Restaurants bring the industry's concerns to Congress

Neary 600 operators made their case to lawmakers as part of the National Restaurant Association’s Public Affairs Conference.


Podcast transcript: Virtual Dining Brands co-founder Robbie Earl

A Deeper Dive: What is the future of digital-only concepts? Earl discusses their work to ensure quality and why focusing on restaurant delivery works.


In the fast-casual sector, Chipotle laps Panera Bread

The Bottom Line: The two fast-casual restaurant pioneers have diverged over the past five years, as the burrito chain has thrived while Panera hit a wall. Here's why.


More from our partners