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Executive Ladder


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KeyBanc Capital Markets appointed Alex Jacobs as head of the Food & Beverage Group.

Wienerschnitzel promoted J.R. Galardi, son of the chain’s late founder, to the role of executive vice president.

GPS Hospitality announced the promotion of Vickie Volan as the company’s new vice president of human resources.

Drumm Law has added Brad Shipe to its franchise and trademark practice groups.

Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurants hired Diane Reed as its executive vice president of finance.

Pizza Factory appointed Jim Thornton to chief operating officer.

Denver-based Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh added Patti Rother as its new senior director of franchise development. Ron Cool joined the brand as its new director of company and franchise operations.

Planet Fitness appointed Bill Bode to senior vice president of franchise operations.

Russ Frith, former CEO of Lawn Doctor, will be named to the IFA Hall of Fame.

Suzanne Beall, most recently federal legislative director for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), will join the IFA as assistant vice president of Government Relations & Public Policy.

The Spice & Tea Exchange added current multi-unit franchisee Stefan Pickeral as a corporate chef for the company.

The sports-themed family restaurant Glory Days Grill promoted Gary Cohen to executive vice president.

Rebounderz promoted Tim Murphy to president and CFO. His focus is growing the brand in the U.S. and abroad.

Scott Crane is the new CEO of Rave Restaurant Group. Most recently at Smashburger, he will play a key role in the evolution of the Pie Five brand.


 Mark Wasilefsky

 Mark Wasilefsky

TD banker doesn’t buy restaurant recession hype

With 20 years of commercial and investment banking experience, Mark Wasilefsky has plenty of familiarity with ebbs and flows in the industry. And when it comes to a potential restaurant recession in 2017, he doesn’t buy the hype.

“With any industry there’s cycles, and results shake out,” Wasilefsky said. “I think we’re nearing a peak in the cycle. There’s a decent economic outlook.”

Wasilefsky was recently named as the head of the Restaurant Franchise Financing Group at TD Bank. He joined TD Bank on the commercial lending side in 2010, and has more than 20 years of commercial and investment banking experience.

The restaurant sector, with all the momentum it’s had in recent years, has had to make way for many new entries. During his time at TD Bank, Wasilefsky has seen the challenges this has caused even the most established players in the business, especially in the realms of fast casual. But he says that most restaurants should be fine as long as they are cautious and thoughtful in their growth.

“Those growing for the sake of growth, aggressively monetizing value through debt, might have a little more of a problem if things turn,” Wasilefsky said.

With a new presidential administration settling in, Wasilefsky says it’s too early to tell how it will affect the restaurant space. He did note that healthcare costs, wages, and new overtime rules were tough to work around from the last administration, and cites growth to the Dow and S&P in the last couple months as a potential positive response.

TD Bank services the stretch from Maine to Florida and partners with 18 restaurant concepts throughout their system, including giants like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts. In his new role, Wasilefsky and his team will continue to partner with franchisees, which generally fall into the 5-30 unit range.

Wasilefsky said that TD Bank has a material presence in the market, and finds that the relatively new company has plenty of room to grow in its portfolio. With confidence they have in the restaurant industry, the company does not anticipate a slowdown in lending in the coming years.

“We want to play in this space, and there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity out there,” Wasilefsky said, “on a conventional and even an unconventional basis.”

—Alex Van Abbema

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