Steve Provost has been appointed president of Maggiano’s Little Italy, succeeding Kelly Baltes, according to a securities filing by parent company Brinker International.
No reason was given for Baltes’ departure, though Brinker described the change in Provost’s responsibilities as “a change in management structure.” Baltes joined Brinker as head of Maggiano’s in July 2018 after spending most of his 30-year career in casual dining, including seven years at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.
Provost was previously chief concept officer and EVP of Chili’s, Brinker’s main brand. A marketer and communications specialist, Provost had served as president of Maggiano’s for an eight-plus-year stretch beginning in 2009. He left that post to become CMO and head of innovation for Chili’s as that brand was striving to win back core customers who’d been put off by tweaks in the brand’s market position.
Earlier, he spent 14 years at KFC, Yum Brand’s fried-chicken chain.
Provost briefly left the restaurant industry to serve as a speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush.
As of the week ended April 22, Chili’s restaurants had pushed their average sales back up to 57% of the pre-COVID level. Per-unit sales for Maggiano’s, in contrast, were still running 73.7% below the year-ago levels, according to a business update released by Brinker at the end of April. It has not released an update since that time.
At 53 domestic restaurants, Maggiano’s is much smaller than its 1,238-unit sister. All but one of its branches is company-operated.