Giordano’s, the Chicago-based chain of 43 pizza restaurants, has hired two executives in the run-up to renewed expansion plans following last year’s exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The brand’s new chief executive is Yorgo Koutsogiorgas, a former partner of multiconcept operator Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises and co-founder of the Go Roma fast-casual chain. Brent Johnson is Giordano’s new chief financial officer. Johnson most recently was vice president of financial planning and business analysis for Culligan International and formerly was vice president of planning and strategy for Yum! Restaurants International.
Chicago-based private-equity firm Victory Park Capital led the consortium that bought Giordano’s out of bankruptcy for $61.6 million in November 2011.
“The Giordano’s brand will benefit greatly under this new leadership team,” said Richard Levy, managing partner of Victory Park Capital. “Their proven track records will be invaluable in executing the operational changes and business strategy to reposition Giordano’s for long-term growth, while preserving its unique brand philosophy and superior customer experience.”
The brand, which is famous for its Chicago-style stuffed deep-dish pizza, filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, 2011. At the time of the filing, however, former owner John Apostolou said the business had positive traffic and sales numbers, but a downturn in the real estate market forced Apostolou to declare bankruptcy on all his holdings, which included Giordano’s Enterprises.
According to reports in Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune, Victory Park plans to grow Giordano’s through expansion to Michigan and Wisconsin, with a goal of doubling the system size to 86 locations in three years.
The chain operates 11 company-owned units and franchises another 32 locations.