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Andy Wiederhorn will transition to an advisory role to FAT Brands starting May 5, with the appointment of his replacement to be announced sometime before then.  

FAT Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn is stepping down

Wiederhorn will be transitioning to an advisory role to the Fazoli’s, Johnny Rocket’s, and Fatburger parent company in May 2023

FAT Brands — parent company to Fatburger, Hurricane Grill & Wings, Johnny Rocket’s, and Fazoli’s, among other brands — announced Monday that founder Andy Wiederhorn will be stepping down from his role as CEO. Wiederhorn — who oversaw 13 brand acquisitions in three years ending with the purchase of Nestle Toll House Café in May 2022 — will transition to an advisory role to the company starting May 5, with the appointment of his replacement to be announced sometime before then.  

After he transitions out of his role as CEO, Wiederhorn will remain on as a board member of FAT Brands and his family company, Fog Cutter Holdings LLC, will continue on as controlling shareholder of the company, according to Monday’s announcement. FAT Brands merged with Fog Cutter Holdings in Dec. 2020 in a move that Wiederhorn said at the time would give the company greater “financial flexibility.” Shortly after the merger was finalized, FAT Brands began its shopping spree throughout 2021, which included the purchase of  Global Franchise Group, Twin PeaksFazoli’s and, Native Grill & Wings.

In Feb. 2022, news broke that Andy Wiederhorn and his family were being investigated by federal authorities on allegations of securities and wire fraud, money laundering and attempted tax evasion, including laundering “millions of dollars” in fraudulent loans from his companies, according to a November affidavit. This was not Wiederhorn’s first brush with the law either: He previously served a 15-month prison sentence from 2005-2006 after pleading guilty to tax fraud, in association with a previous company of his, Wilshire Credit.

In March 2022, Wiederhorn addressed his legal troubles with investors during a quarterly earnings call, confirming that the legal challenges had to do with the 2020 merger of Fog Cutter Capital and FAT Brands. At the time, Wiederhorn attempted to distance FAT Brands from the federal investigation by saying, “Our business is selling burgers, shakes and fries, pizza and meatballs, cookies and ice cream, steaks and chicken wings and 29-degree cold beer to our customers.”

According to today’s announcement, Wiederhorn’s transition to an advisory role is related to the ongoing federal investigation as he “seeks to eliminate the distraction of the previously announced government investigation tied to him and allow senior management to focus on continuing to drive shareholder value.”

“While I will be stepping aside as CEO, I will continue to support the growth and evolution of FAT Brands, including championing our talented executive team, which has over the past five years taken the company from two brands to 17 iconic restaurant brands with over 2,300 units and systemwide sales of $2.2 billion annually,” Wiederhorn said in a statement.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

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