Pat & Oscar’s shuffles management


SAN DIEGO Three Pat & Oscar’s veterans have been promoted in a restructuring that aims to set the 17-unit fast-casual chain on a growth track.

Chief executive John Wright has added the duties of chairman and relinquished the title of president. George Hunter, previously market partner for San Diego, is now the chain’s chief operating officer. And Brent Dunkin, formerly chief financial officer, has been named executive vice president and CFO.

The management changes “will allow me to step away from day-to-day operations to focus more on our growth,” said Wright. The company is scheduled to open two more Pat and Oscar’s restaurants in southern California before its fiscal year ends in May, with another four to six company-owned units planned for fiscal 2008. Pat and Oscar’s is also planning to start franchising in the next fiscal year, Wright said.

Pat and Oscar’s was acquired by Australia-based private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners in 2005, along with the Sizzler brand and an international KFC franchise operation. The San Diego-based fast-casual chain sold or closed four low-performing units last year.

Now boasting nine quarters of same-store sales increases, the company has also increased margins by 300 basis points, raised customer-satisfaction levels, and introduced a trans-fat-free menu, Wright said. “The time is right to jump into a more active growth plan,” he commented.