Christon exits shells

TAMPA Fla. Leslie Christon has surrendered her duties as president and chief executive officer of Shells Seafood Restaurants Inc. to seek opportunities outside the company, the operator of 23 casual seafood restaurants announced Friday.

Warren Nelson, Shells' executive vice president and chief financial officer, was tapped to serve as president on an interim basis, according the terse statement from the company

Christon joined Shells in July 2003 as president and CEO after a brief detour into the retailing industry as president and chief operating officer of Sutton Place Gourmet Inc., a chain of gourmet food stores with an extensive array of ready-to-eat items. Earlier, she had served as president of On The Border, the casual Tex-Mex chain operated by Chiliƍs parent Brinker International Inc. She has also worked for the Red Lobster and El Chico restaurant chains.

For the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Shells reported a loss of $1 million on a 14.7-percent revenue decline, to $9 million. Same-store sales for the quarter fell 12.1 percent.