Native Foods hires new CEO to ramp up growth

Native Foods Café, a fast-casual chain that presents vegan foods in such mainstream forms as meatball subs and Reuben sandwiches, has named industry veteran Craig Grimes as its new CEO.

The 26-unit operation said Grimes was hired in part to accelerate expansion. Native Foods currently operates in five markets.

Grimes assumes the CEO title from Daniel Dolan, who remains chairman and a director. Dolan and wife Andrea McGinty bought a controlling stake in Native Foods in 2009 from the concept’s founder, chef Tanya Petrovna.

"Native Foods has an extraordinarily loyal customer base and we're looking forward to Craig utilizing his operational expertise to help us grow more rapidly, and develop a deeper national footprint," the chain said in a prepared statement, attributing the comment jointly to Dolan and Vice Chairman Peter Grubstein.

Much of Grimes’ 25 years in the business has been spent in overseeing menus and operations, most recently as corporate vice president of food and beverage for Cedar Fair, an operator of amusement parks. In that role, he worked with such chains as Chick-fil-A, TGI Friday’s and Panda Express.

Earlier, he served as a regional vice president of Levy Restaurants, a multiconcept operator, for 14 years, and worked in the food and beverage operations of Lone Star Steakhouse as it grew from 28 to 200 branches. Grimes has served on Native Foods’ board since 2012.

The change in authority is immediate, Native Foods said.

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