David Goronkin has stepped down as chief executive of Real Mex Restaurants Inc., parent to the El Torito, Chevys Fresh Mex and Acapulco brands.
The move comes just three months after the Cypress, Calif.-based company was acquired out of bankruptcy by a group of noteholders that included Tennenbaum Capital Partners, Z Capital Partners and J.P. Morgan Investment Management.
Company officials confirmed Monday that Goronkin, who joined the company in June 2011, resigned last week. Goronkin was not available for comment.
Chris Thomas, chairman of Real Mex’s board of directors, will serve as interim CEO while the company searches for a replacement, a spokesman for Real Mex said. Thomas is a former executive of Sizzler USA and the Oregano’s Pizza Bistro chain.
Industry sources say Goronkin, who served previously as president and chief executive of Bennigan’s Franchising Co., left for another position that would likely be revealed in a few weeks.
In March, Real Mex officially exited from bankruptcy after five months and launched a turnaround effort that included menu upgrades and brand redesigns that are still in test.
Real Mex operates 132 restaurants, including 59 El Torito restaurants, 44 Chevys locations and 18 Acapulco units. The Chevys chain also includes 18 franchise units.
Real Mex also owns the single-unit restaurants Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, Calif.; Who Song & Larry’s; Singual and El Paso Cantina, as well as six locations of El Torito Grill. The company also operates Real Mex Foods, a manufacturing division.