Barry McGowan, the president of Dallas-based churrascaria chain Fogo de Chão, will take on the added role of CEO at the end of the year, when Larry Johnson retires from that position after holding it for 11 years, the company said Tuesday.
Johnson, who led the chain’s 2015 initial public offering and also took it private again earlier this year with its sale to funds affiliated with Rhône Capital, will be chairman of the board of directors for the 51-unit chain, effective Dec. 31, 2018, the company said.
“Larry Johnson is an exceptional leader who has guided Fogo through extraordinary growth from a local Brazilian steakhouse to a world-renowned restaurant brand,” Rhône Capital managing director and chief investment officer Eytan Tigay, said in a statement. “In that time, he also developed the foundation for long-term success, building an enduring brand and an outstanding leadership team that is poised to continue delivering superior performance. On behalf of the board of directors and everyone at Fogo, we want to thank Larry for his leadership and look forward to his continued contributions as chairman.”
Johnson praised McGowan for his experience and knowledge of Fogo de Chão.
“The time is right to pass the reins to Barry to continue to execute our shared strategic vision for this tremendous brand,” Johnson said in a statement. “Barry’s vast operating experience and deep understanding of Fogo and its people make him the ideal choice to lead Fogo into its next phase of growth.”
McGowan said in a statement that he was “pleased and honored” to take on the role of CEO.
“It has been my distinct pleasure these past five years to work alongside a high-performing team of people who care about delivering an authentic, Brazilian churrasco experience that makes Fogo what it is,” he said. “I thank Larry for his leadership and our collaboration, and I am confident that we are going to build upon our existing accomplishments to further elevate this iconic brand.”
Fogo de Chão specializes in all-you-can-eat churrasco-style dining derived from the customs of southern Brazil, where cowboys, known as gauchos, traditionally share their choicest cuts with other camps. In recent years the chain has introduced alternative dining options, including Bar Fogo, rolled out in 2017, that allowed visitors to the chain’s bars to have lighter, less expensive meals.
Earlier this year, the chain introduced premium items, including a dry-aged rib eye and a seafood tower, that can be added to the churrasco meal for an additional fee.
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