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Denny’s names Robert Rodriguez COO

Denny’s Corp. said Thursday it has appointed industry veteran Robert Rodriguez as its new chief operating officer.

Rodriguez will be responsible for the leadership of the Spartanburg, S.C.-based family-dining chain’s operations beginning Sept. 13. The post had been vacant since December, when Janis Emplit resigned.

Before joining Denny’s, Rodriguez served as president and COO of Pick Up Stix, the fast-casual Asian concept owned by Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. Prior to that post, the longtime restaurant executive served as president of Dunkin’ Donuts.

“We are confident the Denny’s team will truly benefit from Robert’s vast industry experience, from both an operations and executive leadership perspective,” said Debra Smithart-Oglesby, Denny’s interim chief executive and board chair. “His expertise in working with franchise concepts complements Denny’s long-term franchise-driven growth strategy. Robert’s operational expertise will also contribute to our effort to enhance the Denny’s experience for all of our guests at our more than 1,500 locations.”

Since the spring, Denny’s has faced shareholder dissent and numerous changes to its executive leadership ranks. Former chief executive Nelson Marchioli resigned in June. A new chief marketing officer, Frances Allen, was named in July.

Contact Elissa Elan at [email protected].

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