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Individuals influencing the direction of the restaurant industry


Red Robin fills out C-suite with marketing, development chiefs

New CMO Kevin Mayer comes from BJ’s, while Chief Business Development Officer Jason Rusk has spent 25 years at Red Robin. The chain also hired an interim chief people officer.


Red Robin Chief People Officer Wayne Davis is leaving the company

Davis’ departure is the latest change to the chain’s C-suite under new CEO G.J. Hart.

The long-serving family dining chain leader has kept her head down and her sights forward, despite the distractions of a 10-year takeover attempt and setbacks in the search for a fresh growth opportunity.

The Dallas-based wings chain has a target of reaching 7,000 units globally, including 3,000 international locations.

Valentina Ellison is charged with putting Earl brands in airports, sports centers and shopping malls.

A panel of executives shared advice on hiring, loyalty, robots and more during a crowdsourced session at the Restaurant Leadership Conference. And they weren’t afraid to challenge popular opinion.

The former Coca-Cola executive will oversee financial strategies for the chicken chain’s domestic market.

The Mexican fast-food chain was doing pretty well when King took over as CEO in 2019, even though he had no experience in restaurants or franchising. Then, the 2023 Restaurant Business Restaurant Leader of the Year pushed the company to do even better.

The Mexican fast-food chain thrived under his leadership in 2022, thanks to some big marketing wins and the concept of “restless creativity.”

He has served as interim CEO since December 2022 and was previously chief financial officer for the Dallas-based company.

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