Here are the five top executives honored with a Nation’s Restaurant News’ Golden Chain Award for 2017.
Jack Butorac, CEO, Marco’s Pizza
For more than a decade, Jack Butorac has led Toldeo, Ohio-based Marco’s Pizza to some of the strongest growth in the restaurant industry. The chain has been featured on NRN’s Top 100 growth list in 2017 and 2016. In the Latest Year, the 770-unit chain grew sales by 17.1 percent. Butorac brought franchising rights to the chain in 2004, growing the franchises through the recession by running a loan-guarantee program called Marco’s Assurance.
Randy Garutti, CEO, Shake Shack Inc.
CEO Randy Garutti has led the New York-based chain to substantial growth and a hefty initial-public offering. Shake Shack has built a strong employee culture with wages well over the federal minimum, benefits after 90 days of work, a matching 401(K) program and a road map for promotion.
Lisa Ingram, CEO, White Castle System Inc.
White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram has been ushering the burger chain into the 21st century with innovative programs like publishing health inspection scores online.
After working her way up the ladder at the 100-year old chain over two decades, the great-granddaughter of White Castle founder E.W. “Billy” Ingram took the helm as CEO in 2015. With $564.2 million in domestic system sales, the chain is the 84th largest in the country, according to NRN’s Top 100. Columbus, Ohio-based White Castle also increased share in the burger segment in the Latest Year.
Stephen King, CEO, Dave & Buster’s Entertainment Inc.
By focusing on the customer experience in the 30,000-square-foot Dave & Buster’s adult amusement parks, CEO Stephen King has propelled the chain to the highest estimated sales per unit in NRN’s Top 100 list of chains, with $11.7 million in ESPU. Dallas-based Dave & Buster’s is leading the troubled casual-dining segment with 15.8-percent growth in sales in the Latest Year and 12.5-percent unit growth. The chain has been updating its games and food options, with 35 percent of menu items having been rolled out over the last four years.
David Overton, chairman and CEO, The Cheesecake Factory Inc.
Under David Overton’s guidance, The Cheesecake Factory continues to stay true to its successful flagship brand while developing opportunities for growth in new areas. The company is branching out to the fast-casual segment with a new, to-be-determined concept, and has been making investments in up-and-coming Fox Restaurant Concept chains North Italia and Flower Child. The Cheesecake Factory is one of the best-performing casual-dining brands and the 36th largest chain in the country, with $2.1 billion in sales in the latest year.