richard snead Carlson Restaurants Worldwide

Veteran restaurant leader Richard Snead dies

Former TGI Fridays CEO remembered for commitment to diversity

Longtime restaurant executive and industry champion Richard Thomas Snead died on Dec. 23, after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 65 years old.

Services for Snead, former president and CEO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, formerly the parent of TGI Fridays, will be held on Thursday at 2 p.m. CST at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas.

“Richard was the consummate global leader,” said Wally Doolin, the founder of analytics firm TDn2K, who hired Snead at Carlson, on Tuesday. “He was the best international executive I know. He loved to work the world with his hospitality, knowledge and respect for diverse cultures.”

Snead was honored in 2004 with the Nation’s Restaurant News Operator of the Year Award for his career achievements.

In a statement after receiving that honor, Snead noted that TGI Fridays, which operated in 54 countries at the time, “values the varied experiences and perspectives of people because we believe they make our company stronger and more successful by bringing new and different thoughts and ideas to us.” 

“Richard was a fearless adventurer in life and business,” Doolin recalled. “He always would take the most difficult challenges on with a spirit of winning that inspired all of us, including his courageous fight with his cancer. He will be missed by all of us that had the opportunity to work, travel and know him."

Snead retired from TGI Fridays and Carlson in 2009, after a cancer diagnosis, but he remained deeply involved in the restaurant industry. He returned in 2012 to lead Austin, Texas-based Gatti’s Pizza

Hattie Hill, president and CEO of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, said Snead was “a committed food-industry executive.”

“We worked very closely together during his days at Fridays/ Carlson,” Hill wrote in an email. “He loved the industry and felt it was a great place to start and end your career.” 

“Through his hard-fought health battles, he cared enough to help me when I had a health challenge,” Hill said. “I am forever grateful for his leadership and wise counsel.”

Hill and Snead served together on the board of the Society Of International Business Fellows, a networking and educational group for which Snead served as chairman.

David M. Love II, a director at the Stanton Chase International executive recruiting firm and past chairman of the SIBF, said Snead was “a champion of diversity.”

“Richard was not only an outstanding leader,” Love said, “he is one of the most accomplished mentors of people I have ever met, and I always considered him a close friend, even more than just being a client.”

Love noted that Snead sponsored a number of current and former industry executives for SIBF, including: Steve King, now president and CEO of Dave and Buster’s Entertainment; Mike Archer who became North American president of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar; Jeff Warne, president of Perkins/Marie Callender’s; and Anne Varano, who served as chief people officer at TGI Fridays.

Before joining TGI Fridays/Carlson in 1997, Snead served as senior vice president of store operations for Casual Corner Group Inc., president of new business development for LensCrafters and had a 15-year career with Burger King Corp., including a term as president of the international division and executive vice president of operations.

In addition to creating diversity groups within his companies, Snead was a founding board member of the MultiCultural Foodservice and

Hospitality Alliance, which promotes the economic benefits of multicultural diversity in the foodservice and hospitality industry.

He also served on the board of the directors for the School of Engineering at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, from which graduated with a Bachelor of Science in engineering.

Additionally, Snead served on the boards of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association and the National Restaurant Association.

“Richard was a giant in our industry who leaves behind a lasting legacy in foodservice and a positive impression on the many people he touched throughout his impressive career,” said Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. 

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Correction: December 31, 2016
This article has been edited to correct the last name of Mike Archer.
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