TJF USA LLC, the parent company of Orlando-based Tex-Mex chain Tijuana Flats, on Monday named Larry Ryback the company’s new CEO. Ryback is a 25-year industry veteran, and most recently was the president and chief operating officer at True Food Kitchen. He replaces Brad Kaemmer, who had been CEO since 2013.
“Larry’s industry knowledge, proven leadership and results are the perfect fit to lead Tijuana Flats as the brand continues its path of growth and success,” Steven Flyer, the company’s chairman and a partner with AUA Private Equity Partners, said in a statement.
“He brings with him exceptional operational knowledge, and I am confident that he will continue the culture that sets Tijuana Flats apart from all other brands.” The move comes less than a year after the AUA Private Equity Partners invested in the 120-unit fast-casual chain. The company has locations throughout the Southeast.
AUA is a New York-based middle-market investment firm. At True Food, Ryback oversaw the development of the concept’s unit-level economics as the chain was prepared for aggressive expansion. He had also served as the COO with P.F. Chang’s, where he oversaw 212 restaurants with $950 million in annual revenue.
Earlier in his career he had worked with Kona Grill and Redstone American Grill. Ryback’s appointment was effective Monday.
“I am extremely excited to join such a dynamic and innovative brand with so much growth potential,” Ryback said in a statement. “The unique culture and existing strong leadership of Tijuana Flats provide an excellent foundation for continued future development.”