Sonic Drive-In brand president Claudia San Pedro is stepping down and temporarily exiting the workforce to focus on family medical matters, parent company Inspire Brands said Wednesday, and that has resulted in shuffles of the executive suite at that restaurant as well as at sister chain Arby’s. Another Inspire Brands concept, Buffalo Wild Wings, also named a new president.
Arby’s brand president Jim Taylor is moving over to Sonic in the same role, and Arby’s chief marketing officer Rita Patel has been promoted to brand president. Replacing Patel as CMO is Ellen Rose, who has been promoted from vice president of strategic growth initiatives.
At casual-dining chain Buffalo Wild Wings, John Bowie has been promoted from chief operating officer to brand president, and he will continue to oversee franchise operations for that chain as well as fast casual concept BWW Go.
Before joining Buffalo Wild Wings, Bowie was Arby’s chief operating officer.
Inspire CEO Paul Brown said the promotions illustrated the group’s robust stable of capable leaders.
"As Inspire has grown, we have placed a high priority on cultivating talent and developing a strong bench of leaders,” he said in a release announcing the executive changes. “This allows us to maintain consistency in talent and culture while bringing a fresh perspective to new teams and roles. I look forward to the continued success these leaders and their teams will achieve together.”
Brown also praised San Pedro for her contributions to Sonic Drive-In.
"Claudia has been an exceptional leader at Sonic since joining the brand in 2006,” he said. “In her more than 16 years with the brand, Claudia led finance initiatives and operations, eventually rising to the role of brand president in 2018. Her unmatched leadership ability has helped guide the brand through several challenging economic and operating environments. Claudia has been an instrumental part of our success at Inspire, and I hope to have the opportunity to welcome her back to the Inspire family in the future."
Inspire said Sonic’s average unit volumes grew by more than 30% under San Pedro’s leadership.
Taylor, Sonic’s new president, had been with Arby’s for nearly nine years, starting as head of product development and moving on to be CMO and then president.
Patel, Arby’s new president, joined Inspire in 2020 as CMO of Buffalo Wild Wings, during which time she oversaw the launch of several successful menu items including a pizza topped with boneless wings and chicken-tender sandwiches called Bird Dawgs.
Prior to joining Inspire she was vice president of brand management for retailer Target.
Inspire Brands is also parent of Dunkin’, Baskin-Robbins, and Jimmy John’s. All told, the Atlanta-based company, founded in 2018 with the merger of Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, operates and franchises more than 32,000 locations.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]