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Executive Ladder


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Massage Envy Spa beefs up its executive team with a new chief operating officer, Joe Luongo, and a new general counsel, Melanie Hansen. Luongo has 22 years of experience in the franchise industry, including Pizza Hut, and most recently Peter Piper Pizza. Hansen was general counsel for Cold Stone Creamery before joining Target Corp. Just before joining Massage Envy Spa, she was COO and general counsel for Esio Franchise Co.

Nathan Owens

Nathan Owens

The new CEO of BookKeeping Express is Keith Mueller, a 27-year managing partner of Accenture who also served on the board of the franchise company since 2010. Mueller is credited with helping to build the BookKeeping Express Team Center, which gives clients access to a team of professionals to support their business, as a board member. One objective as CEO is to bring “cutting-edge modernization to business bookkeeping,” the company said. Greg Jones, who was CEO, will continue on as chairman of the board.

Nathan Owens is the new COO at The Growth Coach Franchise, cited for initiating “sweeping improvements” to position the business and sales coaching brand for the future. Fluent in a number of languages, Owens has more than 15 years of franchise expertise with PepsiCo and RARE International. Founder and CEO Dan Murphy said now is “the perfect time to bring in fresh eyes, blood, ideas, and energy to reinvigorate and reinvent our system.” The Growth Coach recently marked its 10th anniversary.

Tim Courtney

Tim Courtney

Hooters of America appoints Jim Parrish as chief operations officer and Mark Whittle as vice president of North American franchise development. Both executives are helping to lead the company’s remodeling and expansion initiatives, with more than 150 new locations planned within the next five years. Parrish was COO at Friendly’s Ice Cream and before that Church’s Chicken. Whittle was chief development officer at Huddle House.

Joyce Mazero joins the Dallas office of Perkins Coie as a partner in the firm’s franchising and distribution practice, among others. She was a partner with Haynes and Boone. “Joyce is an internationally recognized attorney and well-respected in the foodservice, restaurant and retail industries,” said Steve Smith, office managing partner. She serves on the board of trustees for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation, and the College of Merchandising, Hospitality & Tourism at the University of North Texas.

Rick Davidson, CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, is elected as chairman of the Easter Seals International board of directors. The Century 21 relationship with Easter Seals began in 1979, and since then its franchise brokers and their agents have raised more than $106 million to provide services and support to children and adults with disabilities through Easter Seals, the organization said. Easter Seals’ CEO James Williams Jr. called Davidson “truly an Easter Seals champion.”

Brian Farris

Brian Farris

Freebirds World Burrito, the fast-casual burrito concept owned by Tavistock Restaurants, adds Bobby Shaw as senior vice president of operations. Shaw spent the last decade with Chipotle Mexican Grill during a time of explosive growth. Shaw will oversee more than 90 Freebirds locations across seven states and support the growth of the brand, the company said.

CruiseOne promotes Tim Courtney to vice president of network development, where he will continue to oversee recruitment efforts of the franchise development team. He has been with the company for 15 years.

Industry veteran Brian Farris is the new vice president of catering and off-premise sales for Schlotzsky’s. He has 25 years of financial and operational experience in the restaurant industry, working with brands such as Quiznos and Boston Market. Farris heads a new department the company hopes will “fuel sales growth for corporate and franchise locations,” the company said.

CiCi’s Pizza names Richard Hoying as its senior manager of real estate. He is charged with supporting CiCi’s growth strategy through real estate development in domestic and international markets, as well as in non-traditional venues.

Charter Fitness names Michael Vogel as senior vice president of franchise development. He was a vice president at Del Taco.


New Meat House veep brings right brain, left brain to work

Idyllic stints cooking alongside Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy—giants of Mexican cuisine—confirmed for Martha Leahy she was right to drop her plan to go to law school years ago and instead build a career in food.

Martha Leahy

Martha Leahy

“Diana Kennedy, she’s like the Julia Child of Mexican cooking,” Leahy recalls about one of those experiences, in 2011, when she was working as executive chef for another restaurant chain that sent her to Mexico for master classes. “She’s in her 80s and she’s still jumping in the truck and foraging mushrooms. I had the pleasure of spending three or four days in her home kitchen, cooking.”

Leahy is the new vice president of research and development for The Meat House, based in Hampton, New Hampshire, where she is “charged with evolving and infusing the prepared foods program with energy and profitability,” as she puts it. The Meat House is a franchise that aims to be the modern revival of the neighborhood butcher and specialty grocer.

For the new job, Leahy will draw upon another part of her background, too—she worked for Fidelity and Putnam investment houses right after college, before going to culinary school, and finds plenty of ways to apply financial analysis skills.

“The business aspects allow me to take that creativity, the left brain, and then apply it in a way that we can execute it and replicate it in our units,” she says. “It’s combining those two skill sets, both left brain and right brain, that allows us to drive and be progressive, and at the same time be practical and profitable.”

Right now the practical part is getting a workout, as she builds a foundation for the prepared-foods program. “It’s not sexy,” she allows, but crucial to make sure the model is ready to roll out systemwide.

She’s keeping her eye on a number of trends, especially providing smaller cuts and smaller packages to appeal to the growing number of adults eating alone, or a family eating together but wanting different things.

Heritage and traceability in food is paramount, especially at the meat counter, so Leahy is sourcing local produce and meats. Also, she’s looking to incorporate the popularity of Korean and Greek food, for example, into Meat House products by adding ethnic ingredients to the menu.

“I bring a special touch to that because of my exposure to ethnic cuisine. For example, we have a tunafish sandwich that has sriracha in it, and it’s really yummy,” she says, referring to the hot sauce.

Leahy doesn’t regret that decision to veer away from law school. “I stepped back and thought, ‘What is going to make me happy and where does my passion lie?’ And I found it in food,” she says. “If you work in a career that you love, everything else follows.”

—Beth Ewen

 

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