Bennigan’s taps Goronkin as CEO

DALLAS Bennigan’s Franchising Co. has charged David Goronkin, as its new president and chief executive, with revitalizing the casual-dining brand that was liquidated last summer by its former parent company.

Goronkin, 46, replaces interim chief executive Vince Runco. Most recently Goronkin was chief executive and president at Redstone American Grill Inc. in Wayzata, Minn., operator of five upscale casual restaurants. Prior to that role he served as president and chief executive for four years at Minneapolis-based Famous Dave’s of America Inc., the parent to the 170-unit barbecue chain.

“Bennigan’s is a vintage American brand and the upside potential is tremendous,” Goronkin said in a statement. “I’m very excited for the opportunity to work with our franchise partners to enhance Bennigan’s and build a strong future for our business.”

Dallas-based Bennigan’s Franchising, which is backed by a consortium of private-equity investors, oversees more than 100 namesake casual-dining restaurants and has operated the brand since July 2008, when previous owner Metromedia Restaurant Group filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation. It was one of the largest restaurant industry bankruptcies and exemplified the troubles many casual-dining chains have faced as guest traffic slowed and operating costs escalated amid the beginnings of this latest domestic recession.

Runco, an industry consultant with TR Global, will continue working with the company during a transition period.

Goronkin, before joining Famous Dave’s, was chief operating officer at Buffets Inc., operator of the HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet chains. He serves on the board of the National Restaurant Association and its educational foundation. In 2006, he received the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s Silver Plate Award.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] [3].