Famous Dave’s of America Inc. on Wednesday named Abelardo “Abe” Ruiz the company’s chief operating officer.
Ruiz had been the chief operating officer of Colon Gerena Restaurant Group, a Famous Dave’s franchisee in Puerto Rico and operator of five other franchise restaurant brands there with a total of 106 locations.
“Abe successfully led the development of Famous Dave’s in Puerto Rico, where he opened two of our highest volume franchise restaurants,” Interim CEO Adam Wright said in a statement. “In addition, he brings us a wealth of senior leadership and operating experience from a long and successful career operating and developing restaurants across multiple other concepts. He is extremely passionate about our food, our people and our company.”
Christopher O’Donnell had been Famous Dave’s president and chief operating officer when he was asked to resign in March of 2014 — two weeks after the departure of John Gilbert, who was CEO at the time. The company had not publicly named a chief operating officer since.
Ruiz is the second franchisee executive to take a major role at the 181-unit barbecue chain in recent weeks. Last month, Famous Dave’s named franchisee Anand Gala to the company’s board of directors.
There also continues to be a major upheaval at the Minneapolis-based chain. In June, CEO Ed Rensi resigned and then left the board of directors. The company has several new board members, including Chairman Joseph Jacobs, the co-founder of Wexford Capital, an activist investor that owns 20 percent of Famous Dave’s stock.