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After ‘priceless’ Subway tenure, exec joins Biggby Coffee


Lisa Oak

Lisa Oak

Lisa Oak started as a lease negotiator at Subway between her second and third year in law school for $6.75 an hour, she recalls. She became a vice president there in 2005, working with Subway co-founder and her mentor, the late Fred DeLuca.

What did she take from that 29-year experience? “Everything. I grew up working side by side with an iconic entrepreneur. I can’t boil that into a sound bite,” she says, but then she tries for one word: “Priceless.”

Now Oak has joined Biggby Coffee as chief development officer, with a goal of opening 50 stores in 2019. She’s “thrilled” about her new colleagues and Biggby’s co-CEOs, Bob Fish and Mike McFall. “I’ve known them for a long time. It’s a new job but it’s not a new relationship,” she says.

Asked how she starts in a large new role, she says, “Have I mentioned that I’m a New Yorker?” meaning she prefers the direct approach but also will honor the brand’s progress already made. “You guys have done great,” she likes to tell her new colleagues. “You’ve gotten to 230 stores without me, so I’ll rock the boat but I can’t capsize it because you’ve built this great brand to this point and I respect that.”

In her first 30 days with Biggby, she launched a referral program to give incentives to employees to attract franchise owners to the company, and lowered the cost for military veterans to purchase a franchise.

“We’ll make measured changes as we go, and I’m sure that will be a constant, as it always was in Subway. We were always a work in progress,” she said.

She always keeps that first job at DeLuca’s Subway in mind. “It was an unbelievable ride. Now I’m hopefully doing his memory and legacy justice and helping this team.”

—Beth Ewen

Executive Ladder

Big Blue Swim School appointed franchise industry veteran Catherine Monson, CEO and president of FastSigns International, to its newly created board of directors.

RockBox Fitness added Jeff Dudan to bolster its franchise development efforts. Dudan was the co-founder and CEO of AdvantaClean.

We Insure Group recruited Shelly Reiten to become director of service operations.

Flynn Restaurant Group promoted Jacqueline Lee to general counsel, where she will oversee legal matters for more than 1,200 franchised restaurants nationwide.

FranConnect named Chris Sotudeh as senior vice president of customer operations.

Salata Salad Kitchen promoted Michelle Bythewood to president. Bythewood was Salata’s chief marketing officer, the company’s first.

Chief Financial Officer Jason Westhoff was promoted to president of Cousins Subs, replacing Christine Specht in that role. Specht remains CEO.

The national law firm Quarles & Brady announced that Robert Smith has joined the firm’s business law group as a partner in its Washington, D.C., office.

The Camp Transformation Center grew its executive team with a new vice president of franchise operations, Catia Morgan.

America’s Swimming Pool Co. promoted Jimmie Meece to senior vice president.

Soccer Shots appointed Ashely Mitchell to VP of marketing and communications.

Send franchise-related promotions and appointments, along with photos, to Beth Ewen, bewen@franchisetimes.com.

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