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Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee announces structural shakeup

Diversified Restaurant Holdings CEO, CFO resign; founder assumes interim role

Two top executives of Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc. have resigned in an restructuring shakeup, the company said.

David Burke has stepped down as president and CEO, and Phyllis Knight resigned as chief financial officer, according to the 64-unit Southfield, Mich.-based company.

Michael Ansley, founder of Diversified Restaurant Holdings and executive chairman of the board, will serve as interim CEO, and Toni Werner, the company’s controller, will take on the role as interim CFO, the company said.

The management shakeup at Diversified, which is one of Buffalo Wild Wings’ largest franchisees, is designed to reduce annual costs by about $1.5 million, and the company expects to incur $2 million in restructuring costs through the second quarter of 2019.

“These changes and the dedication of the DRH team are a true testament to our belief in the opportunities for our business as we support Inspire Brands’ efforts to reignite Buffalo Wild Wings,” Ansely said in a statement.

In June, Buffalo Wild Wings’ parent company, Atlanta-based Inspire Brands, promoted Don Crocker, formerly senior vice president of real estate, to chief development officer at Inspire, where he now serves as leader of franchise restaurant development.

“We are excited about the changes and investments being made by Inspire Brands,” Ansley said. “We have a strong franchise and are comprised of a great group of employees providing exceptional service throughout the five states in which we operate our 64 restaurants. In addition to this administrative adjustment, our priorities continue to be the restructuring of our debt, growing sales and leveraging our infrastructure.”

Diversified Restaurant Holdings reported revenue declines in 2018. Total revenue for fiscal 2018 was $153.1 million, a decrease of 7.4% from $165.5 million in 2017. Same-store sales declined 4.6% for fiscal year 2018, but they increased 4.2% in the first quarter ended March 31.

"We look forward to working with the leadership team at DRH as we continue to drive sales and the fan experience at Buffalo Wild Wings," Lyle Tick, president of Buffalo Wild Wings, told Nation's Restaurant News.

Diversified Restaurant Holdings has restaurants in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Missouri.

Buffalo Wild Wings has about 1,250 locations nationwide. The brand was acquired by Atlanta-based Inspire Brands Inc. in February 2018.

Update: This story has been updated with comment from Inspire Brands.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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