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From emerging concepts to watch like Zoës Kitchen to the largest restaurant company in the world, McDonald's, leadership is always the driving force behind successful brands. Nation's Restaurant News points to 10 restaurant executives to watch in 2013 from brands such as Popeyes, California Pizza Kitchen, Sbarro and more.
CEO, Zoës Kitchen
Often cited as a concept to watch, even by fellow “Exec to Watch” Cheryl Bachelder, Zoës Kitchen tallies 75 restaurants and operates within that sweet spot of fast-casual brands that focus on ethnic-inspired menus.
Founded in 1995 by Zoë Cassimus, a woman of Greek descent who wanted to share her homeland’s cuisine, the chain was purchased in 2007 by Brentwood Associates, a Los Angeles-based private-equity firm. Its current chairman, Greg Dollarhyde, also invested in the concept. Zoës now boasts a full Mediterranean-inspired menu.
Miles joined Zoës in 2009 as executive vice president of operations, was promoted to president and COO in 2011, and then named chief executive last month. He hails from such concepts as La Madeleine French Bakery and Café, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill and Pollo Campero. As chief executive, Miles may be at the helm during Zoës' most formative growth years. The chain is looking at heightened corporate growth efforts and nontraditional growth opportunities — and as 2013 marks the sixth year under private equity ownership, it could also be looking at a deal, whether through a merger or an initial public offering. At last year’s annual ICR Xchange, which is Wall Street’s premier investment conference for the restaurant industry, Zoës management team presented to a packed house.