Jim Creel plans to retire as CEO of Taco John’s at the end of the year, the company said on Tuesday.
Creel will stay with the company through the end of 2023 while Taco John’s searches for his replacement. The company said that the board has been aware of his plan to retire and expects to announce a new leader “in the coming months.”
His departure ends a six-year tenure at the top of the Cheyenne, Wyo.-based chain. The company said that average unit volumes increased 22% under his watch while system sales now total $424 million, up nearly 17% over that period. Creel joined the company in 2000 as director of technology and in 2009 was promoted to CFO. He was named CEO in 2017.
System sales at the chain rose 3.2% last year, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic. The chain operates 367 locations, down 6.4% over the past five years.
Creel leaves as the company is the beneficiary of a marketing stunt by its much larger rival Taco Bell, which has petitioned the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to end Taco John’s ownership of the “Taco Tuesday” trademark. The effort has helped generate attention for Taco John’s.
“We are grateful to Jim and all the work he has done to help Taco John’s become an integral player in the quick-service restaurant industry,” Taco John’s Chairman Gerard Lewis said in a statement.
The company cited its growth during the pandemic. Taco John’s has opened 37 new restaurants since 2020 and also opened a new test kitchen and restaurant support center in Minneapolis.
He said in a statement that this is “the right time to transition and let the next set of eyes provide a vision.”
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