New Shari’s CEO says brand’s employees are its strength

Samuel Borgese looks to team engagement

Shari’s Management Corp.’s new president and CEO says the Shari’s Café & Pies family-dining chain can capitalize on the brand’s connections to its communities through its employees.

The Beaverton, Ore.-based Shari’s named Samuel Borgese as CEO and president in July, succeeding Bruce MacDiarmid who had served as CEO since 2008. MacDiarmid remains on the company’s board.

Samuel Borgese
Photo: Shari's

Borgese most recently served as CEO and president of LRI Holdings Inc., parent to the Logan's Roadhouse chain. Previously, he served as CEO of Max Brenner International, Charlie Brown's Corp., Carrows Restaurants Inc. and Coco's Bakery Restaurants Inc., respectively. Borgese also serves as on El Pollo Loco Inc.’s board of directors.

Borgese said he has visited about a third of Shari’s 95 restaurants in the past two months and has met more of the brand’s employees at headquarters training meetings.

“I’ve discovered in talking to the employees how they view their customers and how they view Shari’s in their communities,” Borgese said in an interview Thursday. “It’s a lot more than the value of the meal itself, pricing and all the things we in the restaurant industry are fixated on these days.”

Borgese said the biggest challenge for full-service family-dining brands like Shari’s is maintaining a purpose-driven business.

“We’ve become commoditized around price and product,” he said.

Strengths for Shari’s include its pie offerings and the employees. “Our employees know our customers well,” he said. “We need to get back to the back to the basics of great service and great products at a great value. The engagement of that is with our employees.”

“Shari’s is a great business,” Borgese said. “It’s supported by a fantastic ownership team, CapitalSpring, and it’s very aligned with its management team.” The New York-based restaurant-investment firm bought into the brand about a year ago, he said.

A. Keith Wall, Shari’s chief financial officer, said Borgese’s background fits well with Shari’s.

“Sam has demonstrated expertise in brand revitalization and significantly improving financial performance,” Wall said in a statement. “He develops great employee and guest cultures and outstanding operating management teams.”

In Nation’s Restaurant News’ recent Second 100 census, Shari’s booked sales of about $170 million for the fiscal year ended December 2016. The brand ranked No. 193 among chains in U.S. systemwide sales.

Shari’s Cafe & Pies, founded in 1978, has locations in California, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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