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Modern Restaurant Concepts names former Applebee’s president John Cywinski as CEO

The announcement comes a week after Applebee’s announced that Cywinski had left the company

Modern Restaurant Concepts — parent company of Qdoba, Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade brands — announced Thursday the appointment of John Cywinski as the restaurant group’s newest CEO, effective immediately. Cywinski was most recently at Applebee’s, where he served as president for six years until the casual-dining chain announced his departure a week ago.   

“The Butterfly team has a compelling and ambitious vision within the restaurant industry that holds great appeal for me,” Cywinski said in a statement.  “Qdoba is exceptionally well-positioned, as the number two brand in the Mexican fast casual category, with positive comp sales for 11 of the past 13 years, very attractive restaurant-level margins, broad consumer appeal, and the capacity to double in size over the next decade.”

During his time at Applebee’s, Cywinski led his team in a “dramatic transformation” of the brand. Before that, he served as president of KFC for four years where he led a turnaround of the business under Yum Brands. Prior to Yum Brands, Cywinski was a successful franchisee of Dunkin’ Donuts and Sonic restaurants in Chicago (now sold), and also has experience in the entertainment industry.

 “John is an exceptional operator and executive with a track record of success in the restaurant space,” Adam Waglay, cofounder and co-CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts majority owner, Butterfly, said in a statement. “His expertise and leadership will be invaluable as we accelerate the company's growth, and we’re incredibly honored to have someone of his caliber join the team.”

Keith Guilbault, prior Co-CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts for seven years, is leaving the company for other unspecified opportunities. The company’s other former co-CEO, Rob McColgan, will remain on as the new president of Modern Market and Lemonade.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

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