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Bendel to exit Mimi’s for undisclosed new ‘opportunity’

TUSTIN, Calif. Russ Bendel is stepping down as president and chief executive of the Mimi’s Cafe midscale chain at the end of August to pursue another opportunity, which he has declined to disclose until next week.

Daniel Dillon, who has served as chief operating officer of the 116-unit chain since 1996, will step in as interim chief executive, said officials of parent company Bob Evans Farms Inc., based in Columbus, Ohio.

“We thank Russ for his significant contributions to the growth of Mimi’s Cafe over the past six years, and we wish him all the best in the future,” said Steve Davis, Bob Evans’ chairman and chief executive.

Bendel, who was named Nation’s Restaurant News’ Operator of the Year in 2003, helped shepherd the Mimi's Cafe chain through its 2004 acquisition by Bob Evans. The chain was owned previously by SWH Corp., led by concept founder Thomas Simms. Simms and his son Chris have since launched a high-volume casual concept called The Lazy Dog Café.

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