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Shula’s names Bill Freeman CEO

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Casual and fine-dining veteran Bill Freeman has been hired as CEO of the Shula’s Restaurants group in what the company describes as a deepening of management in anticipation of an expansion drive.

The personnel changes include the appointment of Shardul Kiri as chief brand and marketing officer for the 29-restaurant operation. Kiri was previously VP of marketing, sales and brand development for Mina Group, Michael Mina’s fine-dining operation in San Francisco. Freeman was CEO of Mina’s collection before assuming the post at Shula’s.

Now overseeing menu development for Shula’s is new Corporate Culinary Director Demetrio Zavala, a New York City chef and associate of marquee names such as Gordon Ramsay, Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Charlie Palmer. He has also participated in several televised culinary competitions on the hit program “Chopped.”

In addition, Gordon Gilbert, a former manager of several branches of the Nobu high-end Asian concept, has been named Shula’s director of operations.

Shula’s said the appointments will rejuvenate the 30-year-old company and ease it into an expansion mode. The operator’s best-known brand is the 30-year-old Shula’s Steak House concept, founded by legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.

Freeman succeeds Shula’s wife, Mary Anne Shula, as CEO. She remains chairman.

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