Rave Restaurant Group gets new COO as president exits

Company taps more Pei Wei executives; Pie Five same-store sales plunge 12.2%

MikeBurnsCoo.jpgThe parent company of Pie Five and Pizza Inn has added more former Pei Wei executives to its leadership team.

Rave Restaurant Group Inc. named Mike Burns as the brand’s new chief operations officer. He comes from fast-casual chain Pei Wei, where he directed operations at more than 80 restaurants.  

Brandon L. Solano, tapped as Rave’s CEO in October, was the former chief marketing and digital officer at Pei Wei. 

Bob Bafundo, who served as interim CEO and president before Solano was hired, has left the company.  Bafundo was promoted to president in September 2018, and was named interim CEO after the departure of Scott Crane. Rave did not provide a reason for Bafundo’s exit. 

Douglas_Kwong_Rave.jpgOn Friday, Rave also named Douglas Kwong as vice president of marketing.  He was most recently director of eCommerce and digital Marketing at Pei Wei. Kwong led a team that increased digital sales from 8% of company revenue to 30%. He previously ran digital marketing for Cici's Pizza.

Burns will lead operations for both Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza, the Colony, Texas-based restaurant group said. Besides Pei Wei, he also worked eight years at Bojangles' Famous Chicken n Biscuits as director of operations support.   

"I'm extremely excited to add such incredible talent to our team," Solano said in a statement.  "Mike is a true operator and understands the importance of driving unit economics and profitable traffic.  He will roll-up his sleeves and partner with our franchisees to improve bottom line results. Douglas is a well-rounded marketer with strong experience in the digital arena.”

Other leadership announcements include the hiring of Justin Smith as senior director of operations for Pizza Inn and Aaron Archuleta as director of operations for Pie Five. The introduction of fresh leadership comes as Rave's fast casual brand Pie Five has struggled. In its latest quarter, Pie Five's same-store sales plunged 12.2%; Pizza Inn's first quarter same-store sales, reported earlier this week, increased 3.1%.

"Our new team brings a fresh perspective and modern approach to leadership at Rave," Solano said in a statement. "I'm looking forward to working with this talented team to transform the business, drive profit and win with consumers."

The company closed its latest quarter with 186 Pizza Inn locations and 56 domestic Pie Five restaurants.

Contact Nancy Luna at nancy.luna@informa.com 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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