Pei Wei’s former top executive Ralph Bower has been named CEO of The Melt, the company announced Friday.
Bower, who served as CEO at Pei Wei for two years, replaces The Melt’s founder Jonathan Kaplan in the CEO role. Kaplan will remain as chairman of the board.
“We are thrilled that Ralph Bower has joined our team,” said Kaplan in a statement. “Ralph has the experience, vision, leadership and knowledge of the industry to build on the successful foundation we created, including year-over-year double digit growth, a new cheeseburger-and-grilled-cheese-centric menu, and the national expansion of our restaurants.”
Bower comes to the position with 25 years of senior-level experience in the restaurant industry. Before joining Pei Wei, he was president of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc.’s U.S. division. His experience also includes work at Yum! Brands Inc., KFC and Domino’s Pizza.
By the end of 2016, The Melt will have completed a remodel plan with a new store design that provides more comfortable and flexible seating and a quieter dining environment, with kiosk ordering and new kitchen technology, the company said.
The 17-unit chain is opening for the first time in Houston this year, with three more scheduled in that market before the end of 2017.
Founded in 2011, the San Francisco-based fast-casual chain was an early adopter of guest-facing technology, offering mobile and touch-screen tablet ordering from the beginning.
Kaplan, an entrepreneur who also founded Flip Video, debuted The Melt as a grilled cheese concept, but the menu has evolved to include burgers, chicken, fries and soft-serve ice cream.
Correction: Sep. 2, 2016 An earlier version of this story had the incorrect unit count for The Melt. There are 17 units.