Executive Connection – January 2015

Executive Connection: January 2015

Wray Newsletter Masthead
January 2015  Issue 158
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Quick thoughts on ’15

by Bob Gershberg, CEO & Managing Partner,
Wray Executive Search

Bob Gershberg, CEO & Managing Partner Wray Executive Search
Bob Gershberg
  • Easy comps for the early months, as last year’s polar vortex brought weather related sales havoc to the industry during 1st quarter.
  • Favorable commodity costs for the most part.
  • Lower oil prices will help keep food and utility costs well-controlled.
  • Labor costs and healthcare expenses……not so much!
  • M & A as well as IPO activity will continue to be strong in 2015, with sustained interest in growth concepts.
  • Emerging concepts, particularly fast casuals will maintain their glimmer as many established concepts will remain sluggish.
  • The talent pool will continue to tighten in most disciplines. A true candidates’ market is our new reality.
  • Technology will affect every aspect of the dining experience, from reservations to ordering to paying.
  • Brown whiskey, high-end in particular, will push Vodka to the side.
  • Is Pimm’s Cup #1 really coming back?
  • Locavores will remain a dominant influence. Demand for locally sourced products from produce to proteins to beer will endure.
  • The drive for sustainability will be sustained.
  • Less formal will be the trend.
  • Peruvian sandwich shops called sangucherias will be hot.
  • Say it isn’t so….American style tipping is losing the battle. Service charge add-ons may well become the norm.  Full Article » 

Restaurant Operational Opportunities, 2015

by John A. Gordon, principal and founder of Pacific Management Consulting Group

John Gordon

In our business, 2014 was a wild year, and 2015 is already looking to be the same. Some operational themes keep showing up time and time again, and restrict restaurant performance. Here are five recurring issues; every issue could be both a problem and an opportunity at the same time.  Full Article » 

The Big Apple

Restaurant Trends of 2014 – The Good, the Bad, and the Silly

by Joe Radice, Vice President, Wray Executive Search

Joe Radice

The economy finally gained positive momentum in 2014, and while restaurateurs are finding increasing opportunities, they are also experiencing a crowded field of competitors, and therefore, an ever-increasing need to distinguish themselves from the pack. While local sourcing of food, the environmental sustainability movement, and ethnic- inspired menus are initiatives that appear to be having a long term impact on the industry, restaurants also need to work to find new ways to compete in their markets. In some instances, this is simply being accomplished by recycling the standards and presenting them with a new twist. Examples abound from Bon Appitit Magazine’s annual survey.  Full Article » 

Executive Movements
Quiznos Names Doug Pendergast as New President and Chief Executive Officer.

Full Article »

Bruegger’s Bagels has announced the promotion of Paul Carolan to president, relocates HQ to Dallas. Full Article »

The Krystal Company®, famous for its iconic square burgers, announced today the appointment of Omar Janjua as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, effective January 21st.  Full Article »
In a surprising turn, Starbucks said Chief Operating Officer Troy Alstead will take an extended, unpaid leave of absence starting in March. Full Article »
McAlister’s Deli has named Carin Stutz President effective November 17, 2014. Full Article »

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill Appoints Bob Bafundo as President.  Full Article »

Fiesta Restaurant Group®, Inc. Elevates Three Top Execs: Lynn Schweinfurth, Joseph Zirkman and John Todd.  Full Article »

Così, Inc. Announces the appointment of David Lloyd to the Company’s Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2015.  Full Article »

Golden Corral names Lance Trenary new CEO.  Full Article »

More Executive Movements »
Financial Overview


Sonic Achieves Strong First Quarter Same-Store Sales Increase 8.5%. Full Article »



Logan’s Roadhouse, Inc. First Quarter 2015 Net Sales Down 1.2%.   Full Article »



Zoës Kitchen Third Quarter 2014 Total Revenue Increased 49.5%.  Full Article »



Ruby Tuesday Announces Second Quarter Fiscal 2015 Same-Restaurant Sales and Guest Counts.   Full Article »



Good Times Restaurants Inc. announced that its Good Times’ same store sales increased 8% in its first fiscal quarter ending December 31, 2014 over the prior year’s increase of 17.4%.  Full Article »



Jack in the Box Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter FY 2014 Earnings. Full Article »


More Financial News »


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Most spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.

~Stephen Covey
Katy McGee, Assistant Vice President 

We are excited to announce the addition of Katy McGee, PHR, Assistant Vice President to the Wray Executive Search team. Ms. McGee has more than 18 years of success as an innovative Human Resources executive. She has held senior leadership roles for brands such as Pizza Inn Holdings Inc. (Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza Co.), JP Energy Partners, LP, Matrix Telecom, Aramark and Muy!Brands (one of the largest YUM! Brands Franchisor). With a wide breadth of industry experience, she has seen it all and has a deep understanding of what it takes to be successful in many different business scenarios. Katy has served as a trusted advisor and strategic partner to the executive teams in which she has been a part of and has served. She is passionate about executive coaching and has often served in this capacity for C-level executives. Katy resides in Flower Mound, TX with her son Keller. Full Article »

Robyn Watt, industry recruitment leader joins Wray Executive Search 

We are excited to announce the addition of Robyn Watt, Assistant Vice President to the Wray Executive Search team. Mrs. Watt has more than 10 years of success as an innovative Executive Recruitment executive. She has held senior leadership roles for brands such as Arby’s, Aramark, Steak n Shake and Krystal. With her breadth of industry experience, she has successfully been able to improve recruitment and selection processes allowing her additional focus on retention and development from within initiatives’ she knows what it takes to be successful in many different business scenarios. Robyn has been very strategic in her previous positions resulting in laser focused recruitment process improvements. She is passionate about executive recruiting and partnering with her clients to deliver exceptional candidates in record time. Robyn resides in Alpharetta, GA with her children and husband.Full Article »

Executive Chat Featuring Katy McGee, new Assistant Vice President of Wray Executive Search


by Rebecca Patt, Vice President of Development, Wray Executive Search
Rebecca Patt


We are excited to have Katy McGee as a new addition to the recruitment team at Wray Executive Search and as the leader of our new Executive Coaching practice. Based in Dallas, Katy brings a wealth of experience as a top HR executive, leading all facets of HR within companies in diverse industries including restaurant, insurance, telecom and oil and gas.  Full Article »

Financial Edge

Employment trends for 2015

by David Ulrich, EVP Wray Executive Search

David Ulrich

The employment trends going into 2015 are very encouraging for employees, however, there is still one hurdle that will need to be overcome for us to really feel like things are getting better. The on-going discussions by many of the talking heads on the various business shows whether it’s CNBC, Morning Joe, or even CNN is that they all point to the central issue of wage inflation as being the last headwind before the economy can really kick into gear and get above the 3% GDP milestone that propels the economy forward. According to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this past Friday the 9th, the overall unemployment rate was down close to 5.8%, and that mining and professional services had the largest increase of 5.6%. These figures, combined with the substantive drop in oil prices during the past couple of months will certainly keep things going in the right direction.   Full Article » 

Speaking of Assessments

Assessments provide “ABCs” to a restaurant organization

by Tom Rollert, Vice President of Culture Integration, Wray Executive Search

Tom Rollert

Hiring well should not be as complicated as crime scene investigating. So when the ProfileXT® (PXT) and two other Profiles assessments offered by Wray Executive Search helped save a Nebraska hospitality organization $345,000 by allaying management turnover, the executive director of HR was pleased to see an additional benefit-simplicity.  Full Article » 

A few of this month’s opportunities »
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