Fred Thimm named president of Stoney River

O’Charley’s Inc. has named Alfred “Fred” L. Thimm Jr. president of its 10-unit Stoney River Legendary Steaks division.

Thimm most recently was president and chief executive of the restaurant division of Metairie, La.-based Al Copeland Investments Inc. and also is a former president and chief operating officer of The Palm restaurants. He succeeds Anthony Halligan III, who left “to pursue other interests,” the company said Friday.

“Fred brings extensive experience to our leadership team and we believe that our Stoney River concept will benefit greatly from his expertise,” said David W. Head, president and chief executive of O’Charley’s, which also owns the O’Charley’s and Ninety Nine Restaurants casual-dining brands.

The hiring of Thimm is the latest management change at O’Charley’s, which named Head president and CEO in August, replacing Jeffrey Warne. The company’s chief financial officer, Lawrence E. Hyatt, stepped down at the end of 2010 to become CFO at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. O’Charley’s chief accounting officer R. Jeffrey Williams is serving as interim CFO.

O'Charley's names David Head president, CEO [3]
O'Charley's CFO leaves for Cracker Barrel [4]

Thimm’s appointment came as O’Charley's reported a wider net loss for the fourth quarter on a decline in revenue and charges related to the closure of 19 underperforming restaurants in the quarter.

For the Dec. 26-ended quarter, O’Charley’s net loss totaled $20.6 million, or 97 cents per share, compared with a loss of $15.2 million, or 72 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue slipped 1 percent, to $183.5 million from $186 million.

O’Charley’s loss from continuing operations was $16.4 million, or 77 cents per share, compared with a loss of $11.8 million, or 56 cents per share, a year ago. The company recorded $9.2 million in asset impairment and other charges during the most recent quarter, compared with $6.3 million in charges a year ago. The company closed 19 restaurants, mostly among its Ninety Nine Restaurant concept.

Same-store sales at O’Charley’s corporate restaurants declined 1.4 percent in the quarter, as a 0.8-percent increase in average check was offset by a 2.1-percent decline in guest counts. Same-store sales at the company’s Ninety Nine Restaurants climbed 1.3 percent in the quarter, credited to higher average checks. Same-store sales at Stoney River Legendary Steaks locations rose 3.7 percent in the quarter on increased traffic, the company said.

“Clearly, the results in the fourth quarter and in fiscal 2010 were disappointing to all,” Head said in a statement. “During the quarter, we closed a number of underperforming restaurants and also made reductions in our overhead costs.”

For the full fiscal 2010, O'Charley's lost $34.9 million, or $1.65 per share, compared with a net loss of $7.3 million, or 35 cents per share, in 2009. Annual revenue dropped 4 percent to $830.1 million from $866.3 million.

The company ended the quarter with 346 restaurants, including 230 O’Charley’s locations, 106 Ninety Nine units and the 10 Stoney River restaurants.

Contac Ron Ruggless at [email protected]