Carl Howard is retiring as CEO of Fazoli’s, a fast-casual Italian restaurant based in Lexington, Ky., after leading the brand for 14 years. He told Nation’s Restaurant News he was “taking time off to focus on my health.”
Doug Bostick is being promoted to president from senior vice president of operations and franchise development and will be the new leader of the chain effective March 18, the company said.
Howard has led the company for the past 14 years, turning it around with menu and operational innovation and shepherding it from its sale by Sun Capital Partners to Sentinel Capital Partners in 2015 to its sale to Fat Brands late last year.
Fazoli’s was founded in 1988 by Jerrico Inc., of Lexington, Ky., and at one point grew to more than 400 locations in the early 2000s before retrenching. There are now around 220 locations, although the chain is poised to regrow, with 100 units set to open in the next few years.
The chain has thrived during the pandemic, with sales in March of 2021 exceeding those of 2019 by more than 34%. That was driven in part by consumer demand for pasta via drive-thru, but also through innovations such as family meals, sped-up cook times for pasta and the creation of virtual brands such as Wingville and Macaroniville, which helped increase sales as well as new menu items, such as chicken wings that became a permanent part of Fazoli’s menu.
“I will forever be grateful for the relationships I have built at Fazoli’s, in particular, with Doug [Bostick],” Howard said in a press release announcing his retirment. “After such a tremendous 2021, it was a challenging decision to step down; however, for personal reasons this is the best decision for my family and the brand. Doug is a strong leader and after 20-plus years in senior positions at the company, I know he lives and breathes the Fazoli’s brand. In fact, I cannot think of a better leader to take our best-in-class restaurant franchise to the next level.”
Bostick, who has been with Fazoli’s for 21 years, said he was looking forward to leading the brand.
“First and foremost, Carl will certainly be missed by the Fazoli’s family,” he said. “Carl came to the brand over a decade ago with ambitious goals, and never once did he lose sight of reaching them. I look forward to carrying the torch from Carl, continuing to bring our premium, Italian dining experience to new areas throughout the world.”
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