Ignite Restaurant Group, which has just completed its $55 million acquisition of the casual-dining Romano’s Macaroni Grill concept, named industry veteran David Catalano as president of the new division, the company said Tuesday.
Catalano most recently was chief operating officer for Rave Cinemas and has years of experience in casual dining. His past positions include chief operating officer of 70-unit Applebee’s franchisee Apple Gold, chief operating offer at Hard Rock Café and 15 years with T.G.I. Friday’s, where he was vice president of operations.
“David is a seasoned executive whose track record of operational and strategic leadership will be an asset not only for guiding the Macaroni Grill brand, but to the entire Ignite organization,” said Ray Blanchette, chief executive of Houston-based Ignite, in a statement.
Catalano will oversee the 210-unit Macaroni Grill division, which Ignite acquired from San Francisco-based Golden Gate Capital in $55 million all-cash transaction.
Macaroni Grill has 186 company-owned units and five franchised restaurants in 36 states. The brand also 19 additional franchised units throughout in nine U.S. territories and foreign countries.
“With a similar operating format, Macaroni Grill is an ideal fit with our existing polished casual restaurants,” Blanchette said. “We believe our history of driving operational improvement along with our brand management and real estate portfolio strengths provide the opportunity to drive significant shareholder value over time.”
In addition to Macaroni Grill, Ignite owns and operates 131 Joe's Crab Shacks and 15 Brick House Tavern + Tap units.