The growing Babalu Tapas & Tacos chain has promoted industry veteran Abe Ruiz to the role of CEO, the company said Tuesday.
Ruiz joined Atlanta-based Babalu in late 2017 as chief operating officer. With the move to the CEO seat, he replaces co-founder Bill Latham, who remains on the board and who will continue to be involved in day-to-day operations, the company said.
“Abe [left] likes to kid about his mediocrity on the golf course, but it’s impossible to imagine him and mediocrity belonging in a sentence together,” said Latham in a statement. “From the moment Abe took on the role as COO, he began demonstrating his deep understanding of every aspect of the business. His passion is contagious.”
Before joining Babalu — a Spanish-meets-Southern-style tapas concept with nine locations — Ruiz served as COO of Famous Dave’s of America. He also served previously as COO of Colon Gerena Restaurant Group, a franchisee of Famous Dave’s, Applebee’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Sizzler and Wendy’s in Puerto Rico.
Founded in 2010 in Jackson, Miss., Babalu is operated by casual-dining group Eat Here Brands, which also operates the Table 100 Restaurant & Bar concept.
The company plans to add three more Babalu locations in 2018.
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