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Tim Taft new CEO at Pollo Tropical, Taco Cabana

Carrols Restaurant Group Inc. has appointed foodservice vet Tim Taft to the post of chief executive of the Fiesta Restaurant Group, a wholly owned Carrols’ subsidiary that owns and operates the Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical brands.

Taft, whose appointment takes effect Aug. 15, succeeds Alan Vituli, who will remain chief executive and chairman of Carrols and chairman of Fiesta Restaurant Group.

In February, Carrols announced its intention to spin off its 275-unit Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana business as a separate public company by the end of this year.

The Syracuse, N.Y.-based Carrols will continue to operate its 304-unit Burger King franchises following the IPO.

Taft has spent more than 30 years in the restaurant and hospitality industries. Most recently, he served as interim chief executive of Souper Salad Inc. in San Antonio. Prior to that he was president and chief executive of Pizza Inn Inc. in The Colony, Texas.

Before that he was president and chief operating officer at Whataburger Inc. in Corpus Christi, Texas.

“Tim Taft is a proven leader in the restaurant industry and brings a broad range of experience and skills to Fiesta,” Vituli said in a statement.

“Tim’s background as a successful marketer, brand builder and operator in the restaurant industry will provide a great blend of practical knowledge, customer orientation, and team building to our growing Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana restaurant brands,” he said.

For the first quarter ended April 3, Carrols reported a net income of $2.2 million, down 4.3 percent from $2.3 million in the year-ago period. Total revenue for the company rose 1.1 percent to $197.2 million, compared with $195.1 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Sales at Carrols’ 304 Burger King outlets decreased $6 million to $81.6 million in the quarter due to a 5-percent decline in comparable-restaurant sales, the company said.

Sales rose 2.2 percent to $63.3 million at Taco Cabana’s 156 locations based chiefly on a 2-percent rise in the brand’s same-store sales in the quarter.

Pollo Tropical’s sales jumped 15.2 percent to $51.9 million due mainly to a 13.5-percent increase in same-store sales. The company owns and operates 90 Pollo Tropical restaurants and franchises another 29.

Contact Paul Frumkin at [email protected].

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