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Denny's names John Dillon as president of its diner division and David Schmidt as president of the newly acquired Keke's Breakfast Cafe.

Denny’s names John Dillon and David Schmidt to head divisions

Company appoints Dillon to head diner brand and Schmidt to lead newly acquired Keke’s

Denny’s Corp. has named John Dillon as president of its Denny’s diner business and David Schmidt as president of newly acquired Keke’s Breakfast Café, the company announced Wednesday.

The Spartanburg, S.C.-based company said Dillon most recently served as Denny’s chief brand officer and Schmidt most recently served as chief financial officer of Orlando, Fla.-based Red Lobster. Dillon's appointment will be effective on Sept. 1, and Schmidt's appointment as president of Keke's will be effective on Sept. 12.

"John and David have distinguished track records within the restaurant industry and have demonstrated unwavering commitments to delivering exceptional guest experiences,” said Kelli Valade, Denny’s CEO and president, in a statement.

“They also are dedicated to talent development, operational rigor and technological transformation, which is exactly what we need as we enter the next phase of our growth for Denny's and Keke's,” said Valade, who succeeded John Miller in the CEO role earlier this month.

Denny-s-President-John-Dillon.jpgDillon has worked with Denny’s for more than 15 years, including as chief marketing officer before his current role. Denny's said it will immediately launch a search for a chief marketing officer.

"It's a great privilege for me to continue serving Denny's through such an extraordinary time that I believe will be a period of continued growth and success for our brand, our team and our shareholders," Dillon said. "Denny's position as America's Diner has never been more important, and I'm looking forward to partnering with our dedicated franchisees and teams as we enter into the next stage of revitalization for this iconic brand."

Prior to Red Lobster, Schmidt served as chief financial officer for Tampa, Fla.-based Bloomin’ Brands Inc., parent to Outback Steakhouse. He also served as president of Bloomin’s Bonefish Grill concept.

Denny-s-David-Schmidt-Keke's-President.jpg"I'm excited about the growth opportunities in the quickly evolving a.m. eatery category,” Schmidt said, “and look forward to leveraging my experience alongside the entire Keke's team to bring our shareholders more value by growing the brand beyond Florida and positioning it as the leading franchised AM eatery in the country."

Denny’s completed its $82.5 million acquisition of the 52-unit Keke’s in July.

As of June 29, Denny's had 1,631 franchised, licensed and company restaurants around the world.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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