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Keith Kinsey leaves Noodles & Company to lead Portillo’s

Keith Kinsey leaves Noodles & Company to lead Portillo’s

President, COO of fast-casual operator to replace founder, CEO of hot dog chain

Portillo’s Hot Dogs LLC has named Keith Kinsey, Noodles & Company president and chief operating officer, its next CEO, effective July 1, both companies said Monday.

Kinsey will replace Dick Portillo, who founded the Oak Brook, Ill.-based hot dog chain in 1963. Portillo will continue to be actively involved with the company.

“I’m very pleased that Keith will be the next CEO of Portillo’s,” Portillo said in a statement. “He has the right experience and values to lead the business into the future — building upon 52 years of great food and fast, friendly service.”

Kinsey joined Noodles & Company in 2005 as chief financial officer, and was named COO in 2007. He took on the additional role of president in 2012, just before the 455-unit fast-casual chain went public, in June 2013. Prior to joining Noodles & Company, Kinsey was part of the operations team at Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., where he was responsible for building its West Coast region from three units to 70 units.

With his departure from Broomfield, Colo.-based Noodles & Company, Kinsey will also resign from its board of directors, the company said.

Noodles & Company said his responsibilities will be reallocated among current members of management.

In a statement, Noodles & Company chairman and CEO Kevin Reddy thanked Kinsey for his contributions to the company.

“Since joining Noodles in 2005, Keith’s efforts have positively impacted all facets of our operations, and his presence on our board has supplied additional leadership towards the growth of our company,” Reddy said. “His presence has strengthened our organization for the opportunities we have ahead of us. I have known and worked with Keith much of the past 30 years. I value his friendship, integrity and partnership. My absolute best wishes are for him in this next stage of his journey.”

David Tarantino, an analyst with Baird Equity Research, said in a report Monday that the move appears to be an opportunity for Kinsey to advance his career and return to the Chicago area, where his family is located.

A year ago, Portillo’s, which has 39 locations in four states, received a strategic investment from Boston-based private-equity firm Berkshire Partners.

The deal was reportedly an acquisition for an estimated $1 billion, but company officials would not confirm those reports at the time.

In addition to its namesake hot dog brand, Portillo’s portfolio includes the Barnelli’s restaurants, which serve ribs, pastas, sandwiches, soups and salads.

Portillo’s is scheduled to open restaurants in Homewood, Ill., and Gurnee, Ill., this year, after opening in Rockford, Ill., on June 9, which the company said was its most successful unit opening. In 2016, the company plans to open a restaurant in Tampa, Fla.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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