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As new CEO, Taft looks to strengthen Souper Salad, Grandy's

SAN ANTONIO Tim Taft, the new chief executive of Souper Salad Inc., said he has spent the past month and a half inspecting the company’s Souper Salad and Grandy’s chains and getting ideas for improvement.

Souper Salad announced Taft’s appointment today, but he said he has been working in the post since June 30.

Taft most recently was president and chief executive of the 350-unit Pizza Inn Inc. of The Colony, Texas, a position he left in August 2007. “I made good on a promise to my wife to take a year off,” he said. Prior to Pizza Inn, Taft was with Whataburger Restaurants LP of Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Both brands have unbelievable followings,” Taft said. “I think they’ve been marketed ineffectively. ... We’ve got a good number of strong franchisees that produce great numbers in their restaurants. Some of the restaurants have become dated.”

One of Grandy’s units is being remodeled in the Dallas area, and Taft said he expects newer versions to be smaller than existing stores. Going forward, he said Souper Salad would emphasize the “freshness” message of its products prepared in-house.

Taft also said he hoped to strengthen the company's management team.

Souper Salad Inc., an affiliate of the private-equity firm Sun Capital Partners, owns the 151-unit Souper Salads buffet concept and the 80-unit Grandy’s fast-casual, homestyle-food restaurants.

Tom Taylor, chairman of Souper Salad, said: “Tim has an impressive and well-documented track record of success in the restaurant industry, including a unique ability to forge strong relationships with franchisees and grow franchise operations. Both of these skills will be key focus areas for us as we strive to enhance the Grandy’s and Souper Salad concepts.”

Founded in 1978, Souper Salad has locations in 17 states, with 85 company-owned stores and 66 franchised units. Grandy’s has units in eight states, with five company stores and 75 franchised restaurants.

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