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Executive Ladder


The Dwyer Group promotes Mike Bidwell to president and CEO of the franchisor of seven service-based brands, from president and COO. Mary Kennedy Thompson becomes executive vice president and retains her current title, president of Mr. Rooter. Debbie Wright-Hood, chief administrative officer, is also appointed to The Dwyer Group board of directors. All appointments follow the resignation of Dina Dwyer-Owens, a daughter of the late Don Dwyer, founder of The Dwyer Group, as CEO. She becomes executive chairwoman. 

Mary Thompson

Mary Kennedy Thompson

Phil Friedman takes the reins at Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, becoming CEO after acquiring the company in 2011. Friedman, who was behind the planning and execution of growth at McAlister’s Deli and Panda Express, among other national brands, aims to use his decades of experience to help turn Salsarita’s “into a household name,” the company says.

Jeff Goebel joins FirstLight HomeCare as director of business development and team support for franchise owners throughout 14 states. Jeff Bevis, CEO, cited Goebel’s “deep industry knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit.”

A new CFO and executive vice president, Steven Yeffa, joins the team at Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park. He is charged with providing strategic financial management for the company’s global operations, the company says.

Robert Cantrell

Robert Cantrell

Nathan Owens adds the title  of president at The Growth Coach, having recently joined the brand as COO. “Nathan has proven himself to be a visionary, results-oriented and high-energy leader,” says CEO Dan Murphy. Also, Daniel Lemire will expand The Growth Coach into French Canada as the new master franchise owner for Quebec.

Carlson, the global hospitality and travel company, appoints Matt Zaruba as chief information security officer. He will report to Steve Brown, chief information and innovation officer. Zaruba was director, information security and disaster recovery for Jack Henry & Associates, which serves the banking industry.

Two new franchise development directors join Kiddie Academy: Robert Cantrell, formerly of Herff Jones,  and Broc Silberzahn, who served at EZ Shield and Sylvan Learning. “Robert and Broc have the experience and talent to help Kiddie Academy to achieve our goal of having 200 academies by 2018,” says Sue Hilger, VP of franchise development.

Quentin Wilson

Quentin Wilson

Roy Rogers Restaurants names Carrie Isabell as marketing director, and she brings a strong QSR industry background including McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King and Arby’s. She believes there is “tremendous opportunity” for expansion at the brand. Most recently, Isabell was a key player in the rollout of popular McDonal’s co-op initiatives including $1 any sized coffee and baked goods in the New England region.

Capriotti’s names a new director of marketing, Quentin Wilson, who is expected to play a key role in continuing nationwide expansion. Wilson headed new restaurant openings for Raising Cane’s.

Doug Sanderson joins Brixx Wood Fired Pizza as director of training. He was with Texas Steakhouse & Saloon.

Women’s Foodservice Forum, the leadership development organization,  names Deborah Schwartz Griffin as director of business development. She is responsible for business development and sales to generate new strategic relationships and revenue. 

Mark Mears joins the Schlotzsky’s executive team as chief marketing officer. He was president and chief concept officer of Mimi’s Café, where he led brand repositioning efforts.

Real estate finance company Liberty SBF hires Greg Schecher, a veteran commercial real estate pro, to help manage its subsidiary brokerage shop, Liberty Real Estate Capital, from a new office in Boca Raton, Florida.

Mazzio’s new boss takes her place on the line

You won’t find the new president and CEO of Mazzio’s, Sheri Miksa, in the corner office much any time soon. Rather, she’ll be on the line cooking—or at the register or seating guests—at one of the brand’s certified-training restaurants.

That’s because Miksa believes hands-on experience is the only way to learn the “Mazzio’s way,” and she plans to rotate through each training module one day per week in the restaurants themselves until she knows the ropes. 

Sheri Miksa

Sheri Miksa

“I always try to do that,” Miksa says, whenever she joins a new company, “because having that experience myself is just invaluable.” 

Miksa will oversee two very different brands in her new job, based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The first is Mazzio’s Italian Eateries, 140 fast-casual restaurants featuring fresh salad bars, which is more than 50 years old and has been franchising since 1979. 

The second is the young Oliveto Italian Bistro with just three locations, with brick-oven pizzas and entrées and a sit-down restaurant experience. 

It’s her fourth top post in the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant business. ”This is my fourth fast-casual chain, and it’s clearly an experience in food and service that the guest is saying they’re seeking,” Miksa says. 

Miksa most recently headed Boneheads, another young concept at the time owned by Raving Brands, and she worked to get the structure and process in place for expansion through franchising. 

She figures her job at Mazzio’s will present “a mix” of challenges—competing against new contenders in the space with the established Mazzio’s, and structuring a successful franchise program for the fledgling Oliveto.

Staying power is a plus for Mazzio’s, she believes, and she cites franchisees and employees with 10, 20, 30 years in tenure.  “It really does come down to that love of the brand,” Miksa says. “Having that deep history is both a confirmation of the brand’s staying power, but also reinforces our ability to continue to grow and change as people’s tastes change.”

Does she expect people will bring their A games when she’s scheduled to work in their restaurant? “We certainly expect so,” Miksa says with a laugh. “The good news is that most of them I would expect bring their A games every day.”

Beth Ewen

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