The Power 20

This year's 20 elite leaders of the restaurant industry

The Power 20

Sami Siddiqui

The restaurant industry’s leadership preferences tend to go in cycles. In a trying economic environment, finance veterans appear to have an inside track to the CEO’s job.

The Power 20

Zip Allen

Zip Allen has spent her career driving results in the digital realm for big brands. While with Pizza Hut, she launched several initiatives to drive customer acquisition via digital experiences, such as digital-only offers, flash sales and the launch of the Hut Rewards loyalty program.

When Lucy Brady was promoted to the role of chief digital customer engagement officer in January, CEO Chris Kempczinski sent a letter across the business that said, “Lucy is an instrumental member of our leadership team with a strong customer orientation and proven expertise delivering complex solutions to drive McDonald’s top- and bottom-line growth.” He added that she and her team have been the driving force behind the fast growth of McDelivery—growing the business from $1 billion to $4 billion in three years—and ran point on the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, a technology that’s already driving check growth with digitized menu boards.

As Sheilina Henry climbs her own career ladder, advancing from an area coach with Pizza Hut to an Outback Steakhouse joint venture partner to a regional vice president with the chain, it becomes all the more important to raise others up along with her, she says.

While Kiran Pinto originally started in the industry with the dream of becoming a chef, she quickly realized her passion and purpose didn’t align. Now, she’s been with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) for 17 years and has established a career that has let her explore different areas within the food industry while also driving growth vehicles for the multiconcept operator.

Christopher Thomas-Moore is a creator. Since joining Domino’s in 2018, he’s driven several tech advancements and campaigns, including the launch of its Points for Pies loyalty program that allows users to scan any pizza for points, using AI-tech embedded in Domino’s app.

When Laura Titas joined Wendy’s in 2018, the burger chain was considered a tortoise in the race for digital sales. But after an investment of $25 million in digital, growth was up 325% year over year in Q3 2019, Titas reported in a presentation at Wendy’s Investor Day last year. 

Danika Brown first joined Auntie Anne’s as an intern, coming on full time after graduating college. “Since that time, she’s been promoted quickly because of her work ethic, her strategic thinking, her respect from her peers and franchisees, and her ability to produce results, over and over again,” says Auntie Anne’s President Heather Neary. Now, says Neary, she’s responsible for the brand’s off-premise initiatives, which Brown has grown six- to ten fold since the program first started in 2017.

The running joke among Jason Valentine’s circle of friends was that he was always 20 going on 40, says Valentine, now the president and COO of Zoup! Eatery. He actually achieved his lofty position at 38, getting hired by Zoup’s CEO and founder Eric Ersher in 2018.

Brian Loescher has spent his career in the restaurant industry, dating back to when he was a team member for Rally’s Hamburgers. Now, he’s focused on franchising.

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