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First Watch names Chris Tomasso CEO

First Watch names Chris Tomasso CEO

Ken Pendery to serve as executive chairman

First Watch Restaurants Inc. has promoted president Chris Tomasso to the additional role of CEO, succeeding Ken Pendery in the position, the company said Monday.

The Sarasota, Fla.-based company, which owns the breakfast-lunch chains First Watch and Egg & I, said Pendery was named executive chairman. Both moves are effective immediately.

Tomasso joined First Watch as chief marketing officer in August 2006 and was named president in December 2015. Prior to First Watch, he held senior marketing positions at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. and Hard Rock Café International.

Pendery, left, joined First Watch in 1986 after helping founder John Sullivan open the brand’s second restaurant in San Mateo, Calif.

“During the past 32 years, I have had the tremendous honor to work alongside some incredible people, and I am so proud of the company we have built,” Pendery said in a statement. “Chris and I have worked together for more than a decade, and he has played an integral role in the success of First Watch during that time.

“I am confident that he will approach this new role with the same passion and commitment to our culture that he has demonstrated these past 12 years,” Pendery said.

Tomasso said he was “focused on continuing our legacy of building significant customer relationships while accelerating the innovation and execution that our customers now expect from First Watch.”

The company said that as executive chairman, Pendery will work as a liaison between First Watch’s management, board and private-equity partner.

Last year, private-equity firm Advent International made a majority investment in First Watch, which plans to open 30 locations this year through both company and franchise expansion. Advent also has invested in The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

First Watch has more than 330 restaurants in 29 states, including about 250 First Watch units and 75 Egg & I locations. The company acquired Egg & I in May 2015. The company also has one Bread & Company restaurant in Nashville, Tenn.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected] 

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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