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Lion's Choice will be headed up by incoming CEO Fred Burmer

Lion’s Choice names Fred Burmer CEO

The Yum Brands veteran to replace Michael Kupstas


Lion’s Choice, a 30-unit quick-service chain based in St. Louis specializing in roast beef sandwiches, has named Fred Burmer its CEO, starting on April 3, when current CEO Michael “Kup” Kupstas, who led the brand since May of 2017, plans to retire.

Burmer started working in quick-service restaurants as a part time worker at Pizza Hut restaurants while attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando and ultimately grew that franchise company from six to more than 50 locations.

He went on to buy, with two partners, 93 underperforming Pizza Hut locations in the upper Midwest, turned them around and went on to be operating partner of Emerald City Pizza, a 102-unit Pizza Hut franchise based in Seattle.

Since 2019 he had been chief operating officer of a Yum Brands franchisee based in the Mid-Atlantic, operating Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Long John Silver’s restaurants.

In a press release announcing his appointment to CEO of Lion’s Choice, he said he was looking forward to leading the company.

“I have immense respect for the legacy of this brand and for the team members who have made it all possible for the last 55 years,” Burmer said. “I look forward to honoring the legacy of this iconic brand while bringing my own experience to take Lion’s Choice to 56 years and beyond.” 

Kupstas will remain an investor in Lion’s Choice and a strategic advisor to Burmer and the board of directors.

Bob Millstone, the chair of the board of directors and managing partner of parent company Millstone Capital Advisors, said he felt Burmer was “the best candidate” to replace Kupstas.

“Fred’s ability to grow brands in diverse settings, high integrity, and leadership uniquely position him as a natural fit for leading Lion’s Choice in its next stage of development,” Millstone said in the release. “Fred is relocating with his wife, Diane from Atlanta to St. Louis, and he is excited to be a part of an iconic brand that has such enthusiastic and loyal customers.”


Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 



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