- Restaurant Industry Veteran Joins Multi-Concept Organization to Lead Growth Efforts; Steve Romaniello Named Chairman of FOCUS Brands and Joins Roark Capital Group as Managing Director –
ATLANTA, Ga. (November 10, 2008) –.FOCUS Brands Inc., the franchisor and operator of over 2,200 ice cream stores, bakeries, restaurants and cafes under the brand names Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Moe’s Southwest Grill® and Seattle’s Best Coffee®, announced today that Russ Umphenour has been named President and CEO. Former Chief Executive Steve Romaniello has been named Chairman of the Board, and joins Roark Capital Group as Managing Director and a member of the private equity firm’s Investment Committee.
Based in Atlanta with $1.5 billion of equity capital under management, Roark Capital has purchased 14 franchise brands with over 13,500 points of distribution in 50 states and 33 countries. Affiliates of Roark Capital own a majority interest in FOCUS Brands.
“Steve and I have been friends and partners for over 12 years,” said Neal Aronson, Roark founder and managing partner. “Steve will meaningfully enhance our ability to partner with and build outstanding franchise companies, and his leadership at Roark would not have been a possibility unless we found the perfect person to take FOCUS Brands into the future. Russ’ experience, energy and enthusiasm, coupled with the utmost integrity, make this a win-win for all.”
“We were looking for a leader with a proven track record of success who could intimately relate to all FOCUS Brands constituents,” added Steve Romaniello. “Franchisees will benefit from Russ’ experience as an entrepreneur and franchisee; our owners will benefit from his expertise in strategically and profitably growing an organization; and our associates will benefit from Russ’ strong culture advocacy and his unwavering commitment to developing people.”
With over 40 years in the restaurant business, Russ began his career as a part-time counter person at an Arby’s restaurant in 1967, and became the founder and CEO of Atlanta-based RTM (Results Through Motivation) Restaurant Group in 1973. Growing his company from 11 Arby’s restaurants into one of the largest restaurant companies in the country with 870 locations in 22 states across several different concepts, RTM was sold in July 2005 to Triarc Companies, Inc. (Arby’s Restaurant Group). At the time of the sale, RTM was Arby’s largest franchisee with 775 restaurants and 25,000 employees generating revenues of more than $900 million. Known as an innovator in the Arby’s system, RTM was synonymous with top-notch talent, high standards, and results, and Russ’ lifelong study of motivation and productivity to better learn how to provide the best opportunities for people to succeed is well known throughout the industry.
“FOCUS Brands has an impeccable reputation in the restaurant industry, and I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this terrific organization,” commented Umphenour. “The company was founded with a distinct culture that recognizes the importance of making its constituents happy, and I believe my philosophy of creating a clear business vision while focusing on setting goals and leading by values will provide an ‘anything is possible’ attitude as we move into this new era.”