Paul Brown

NRN names 2018 Norman Award winner

Inspire Brands CEO Paul Brown to be honored at MUFSO Conference

Paul Brown, CEO of Inspire Brands Inc., has been named the winner of the 2018 Norman Award, presented by Nation’s Restaurant News.

The award honors late restaurant pioneer Norman Brinker, who founded Brinker International Inc., and recognizes an industry executive who consistently mentors and inspires future leaders.

Brown will be honored later this year at the MUFSO Conference Awards Gala, to be held on Tuesday, Oct. 2, in Dallas.

“Paul Brown is known in the restaurant industry for his leadership in measuring employee engagement, his dedication to team mentorship and his commitment to charitable fundraising. The Norman Award committee is pleased to honor him with the 2018 award,” said Jenna Telesca, editor-in-chief of Nation’s Restaurant News.

Brown has served as Arby’s CEO since May 2013 and oversaw the recent $2.9 billion acquisition of Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. To reflect the acquisition, Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. changed its name in February to Inspire Brands Inc.

“I’m very big on the team and, particularly when it comes to my executive team, I want not only just complementary skill sets, but complementary styles and complementary backgrounds,” Brown said in a 2016 interview when he was named an NRN Golden Chain honoree.

Brown has also been named for several consecutive years to NRN’s annual Power List of industry influencers.

Prior to Arby’s, Brown served as president of brands and commercial services at Hilton Worldwide and held leadership positions at Expedia North America and McKinsey & Co.

Atlanta-based Inspire Brands’ portfolio includes more than 4,600 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and R Taco locations worldwide. 

The Norman Award winner is selected by a committee made up of former award honorees and the NRN editorial team.

The 2017 Norman Award honoree was John Miller, president and CEO of Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny’s Corp.

Previous Norman Award winners include: Sally Smith, former president and CEO of Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., in 2016; Cheryl Bachelder, former CEO of Popeyes Lousiana Kitchen Inc., in 2015; J. Patrick Doyle, president and CEO of Domino’s Pizza Inc., in 2014; Jon Luther, former CEO and chairman of Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., in 2013; Rick Federico, CEO and chairman of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc., in 2012; Philip J. Hickey Jr., former chairman of O’Charley’s Inc., in 2011; and Doug Brooks, former president and CEO of Brinker International Inc., in 2010. 

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.