Bill Simon, president, CEO and one of four co-founders of Wichita, Kan.-based Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, died Saturday following a battle with cancer. He was 61.
Simon, an accomplished skier and avid golfer, was an accountant who worked for a local Pizza Hut franchisee and then a Rent-A-Center operator. He then helped turn around Center Industries, a Wichita manufacturer and branch of the Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation that provides jobs to people with disabilities.
Bill Simon and Scott Redler had been working together on a full-service chain, Timberline Steakhouse and Grill, in 2002, when they got together with Bill’s brother Randy, a Panera Bread franchisee, and their father Fred, to open Freddy’s.
The foursome opened the first Freddy’s unit in West Wichita, but the concept proved popular, so they opened a second restaurant seven months later.
Simon led Freddy’s over the past 14 years, and helped the chain become one of the fastest-growing concepts in the country, according to the Nation’s Restaurant News Second 100 report.
“Bill’s deep and enduring love of family was expressed in time together at the lake, hunting trips at the family farm, dancing the night away on special occasions and finding connections in everyday moments,” Randy Simon, Freddy’s CFO, said in a statement. “It was important to him that each Freddy’s restaurant provide a space for families to gather during life’s moments both big and small, and where friends connect, all over a meal that fills the stomach and satisfies the soul. The warm and inviting energy of each Freddy’s restaurant will carry Bill’s legacy forward.”
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