Former Wendy's exec to lead development at Chipotle

Joining the fast-casual Chipotle on June 19, Stephen Piacentini replaces CDO Tabassum Zalotrawala, who moved earlier this year to McDonald's.
Chipotle storefront
Chipotle has sights set on reaching 7,000 units, more than doubling in unit count. /Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chipotle Mexican Grill has brought in a former Wendy’s exec as chief development officer, replacing Tabassum Zalotrawala.

The fast-casual chain on Wednesday announced that Stephen Piacentini was named chief development officer, effective June 19. He will report to Chipotle’s Chief Brand Officer Chris Brandt.

Stephen Piacentini

Stephen Piacentini/Photo courtesy of Chipotle.

Piacentini, who spent the last four years growing the Wendy’s chain as U.S. chief development officer there, replaces Zalotrawala, who left Chipotle in March to move to McDonald’s. Zalotrawala was at Chipotle for more than four years and helped the chain add more than 750 restaurants.

With more than 3,200 units in the U.S., Canada and Europe, Chipotle is pushing to reach 7,000 locations worldwide. The chain is growing with a number of formats, but most of the growth will include drive-thru Chipotlane restaurants, going both into well-populated urban areas and smaller bridge towns, where restaurants have been breaking opening sales records.

At Wendy’s, Piacentini worked with existing franchisees, helped recruit new franchise partners and strategically activated real estate opportunities, the company said. He also launched programs to help franchise operators build their restaurant portfolios and supported global expansion.

“Stephen’s development experience will be instrumental for Chipotle as our organization enters its highest growth period in history,” said Brandt in a statement. “His expertise in domestic and international markets will help us accomplish our goal of increasing access to our real food around the world.”

Before working at Wendy’s, Piacentini was CDO for Jimmy John’s and he spent 13 years with Taco Bell working in finance and development.

“From afar, I’ve always admired Chipotle’s unwavering commitment to its purpose and its employees,” said Piacentini in a statement. “This is a rare opportunity to grow an iconic brand’s footprint in North America and beyond, and I can’t wait to get to work.”

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