New CEO believes now is Greene Turtle’s ‘time to shine’
Geo Concepcion, the newly named president and CEO of Greene Turtle, had strong bragging rights from his tenure as COO at Famous Dave’s. “I helped them with three new prototypes, two full-service and one fast-casual, and then I led the third-party delivery” effort at the barbecue brand.
“That was a huge driver for us, and we were able to put together seven quarters of comp sales, which hadn’t been done for the decade prior,” for company-owned stores, he said.
Asked if the progress took heavy lifting, “That is putting it lightly,” he said. “A lot of that, though, is what primed me for the position I have now, which is managing to put together initiatives and specifically growth initiatives in the face of casual dining challenges.”
Concepcion’s first task is “threading the needle” between maintaining a “legacy brand with a lot of brand affinity” yet also one that “needs to evolve.”
Interviewed three weeks into his new job, in late May, Concepcion said Greene Turtle has 44 units open, flat for years, but before getting growth going he wants to “make sure that every touchpoint” is right at the 40-plus-year-old brand, and he plans to test every idea thoroughly before rolling it out to the system.
Asked why he took on the challenge of a legacy brand in casual dining, he calls it contrarian thinking. “It goes back to, what do people care about most these days? And even in the millennial cohort, experiences trump possessions,” he said. “So when we talk about things that manage to stand the test of time, like any great vintage item, when you cultivate it right, its time to shine comes again.”
I ask his age, and he responds: 33. So it’s a millennial taking an old brand by storm? “I think that’s the board’s idea,” he replies.
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