Former Panera Bread and Bloomin’ Brands Inc. executive Michael J. Nolan has been named executive vice president and chief development officer of Corner Bakery Café, the company said Monday.

In addition, Corner Bakery also promoted Blake Bernet to the position of chief legal officer. Bernet served previously as the Dallas-based chain’s senior vice president and general counsel.

Nolan joins Corner Bakery in the newly created position as the chain plans to more than double its footprint in the U.S. over the next three years with both franchise and company unit growth.

He served most recently as senior vice president and chief development officer, worldwide, for Bloomin’ Brands, directing the global restaurant development strategy for that company’s five brands, including Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion.

Before that, Nolan spent more than a decade at Panera Bread Co., where he served most recently as senior vice president, chief development officer and managing director for Canada. During his tenure with Panera, Nolan helped grow the concept from 250 units to more than 1,500.

Earlier in his career, Nolan served as senior vice president for John Harvard’s Brew House, and he also served on the board for American Hospitality Concepts Inc. He was a vice president of real estate and development for Applebee’s franchise group, Apple South Inc., and was vice president of real estate and development for Morrison Restaurants Inc.

“This is a very exciting time for our brand, our franchise partners and our leadership team,” said Mike Hislop, Corner Bakery’s chief executive. “Mike knows the bakery-café segment and the restaurant industry from real-world experience in the U.S. and on the international scene. He will play an integral part in taking our brand to the next level.”

Bernet joined Corner Bakery in 1996 and previously held the position of general counsel and senior vice president of development. He led the evolution of the building prototype and growth of the brand from 50 to 165 units, the company said.

“Blake is also an exceptional leader with great vision, and we’re excited to congratulate him on his promotion,” Hislop added. “His experience and expertise will no doubt help our company as Corner Bakery Café continues our growth trend.”

Operated by CBC Restaurant Corp., the bakery-café chain has 165 locations in 17 states and Washington, D.C. Corner Bakery Café was acquired by Atlanta-based private-equity firm Roark Capital Group in 2011.

Currently, 53 Corner Bakery units are franchised, and the company has commitments for more than 350 additional locations, with plans to move into new markets of Alabama, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
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