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Executive Ladder


Jersey Mike’s named Brian O’Hagan vice president of sales.

Nestlé Toll House Café hired Rudy Frederico as vice president of franchise development.

United PF Partners, the largest Planet Fitness franchisee, named Shelli Taylor as chief operating officer and part of the company’s executive leadership team.

ApplePie Capital added Ben Lee, Matthew Sawicki and Lynsay Luchsinger following its acquisition of Funding Solutions.

After serving as CEO at Conair, John Costanza is the new president and CEO of Dessange Group North America.

Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants hired Todd Napier as vice president of marketing.

Formerly COO, Alex Bingham is now CEO of The Little Gym.

Baker McKenzie named Michael Santa Maria, a leading franchise attorney, chair of its North America International Commercial Practice.

Toppers Pizza named Adam Oldenburg to vice president of operations and promoted David Biederman to executive vice president.

Trish Farley was promoted to vice president of finance at GPS Hospitality.

Fazoli’s added Jeff Sturgis as chief development officer, Rodney Lee as chief financial officer and Jodie Conrad as vice president of marketing.

1-800 Water Damage hired Mark Hargett as national accounts manager and Steven Olson as senior national franchise recruiter.

Julie Doyle is the new executive director of human resources at FirstLight Home Care.

Edible Arrangements promoted Kaitlin Reiss to chief marketing officer.

Rennee Benedict is the new vice president of IT at The Goddard School.

J.R. Galardi is now president of Galardi Group, parent of Tastee-Freez, Hamburger Stand and Wienerschnitzel.

Dwyer Franchising hired Adam Kirschman for the new position of vice president of franchise development marketing.

John Geenen was hired as director of development at Bluewater, a franchise marketing firm.

Kevin Carroll

Kevin Carroll

New COO at Applebee’s gets down and dirty

You wouldn’t expect the chief operating officer at Applebee’s—a multi-billion-dollar international restaurant brand—to get behind the line cooking, waiting tables and bartending, but that’s exactly what Kevin Carroll has done in his new role as he seeks to learn from the brand’s entire footprint including servers, managers and franchisees.

“I trained in a restaurant in Maryland for close to six weeks, and then a couple restaurants up in the New Jersey and New York area,” Carroll said about his first weeks on the job, which he officially began in late September. “I grew up in restaurants, and can’t remember the last time a couple weeks have gone by when I hadn’t been inside a restaurant working a shift.”

Carroll said one of the primary challenges he’s working to address is the always-rising list of expectations for servers in his restaurants.

“We’ve made the job of a server more challenging than it needs to be … whether it’s at an Applebee’s or any casual dining restaurant,” he added, ticking off pressure to upsell, longer and more complex menus, guests looking to customize orders and the ever-present concern of allergies.

Compared with other large franchised restaurants, he said part of what makes Applebee’s unique is the brand has only 33 U.S. franchised partners, which makes the company more like a manageable family at the corporate level.

As the brand continues through a turnaround driven by brand President John Cywinski, he feels improving things at the individual table level and promoting consistent guest experiences are the key to making progress throughout the system.

“This is a really exciting time for me in my career and having the opportunity to take on this responsibility, I don’t take it lightly at all,” he said. “The only thing sacred is that the guest returns and on the operations side of the world, that’s our job to make sure when they come in they have a great experience and want to come back.”

—Tom Kaiser

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