Dave PaceJamba Inc. named Carrabba’s Italian Grill president David Pace the company’s new CEO on Friday, while former P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. CEO Richard Federico was named chairman.

Both replace James White, who announced his retirement from Emeryville, Calif.-based Jamba in October. Pace will start with the company on March 14. Federico will assume the role of chairman immediately.

“After a comprehensive executive search conducted by the board and aided by The Elliot Group, Dave emerged from a deep pool of highly skilled candidates as the clear choice to sere as Jamba’s next CEO,” Andrew Heyer, lead independent director of Jamba’s board, said in a statement. “Dave brings a tremendous amount of experience gained from his time at some of the industry’s top consumer and franchise brands.”

The 56-year-old Pace has been executive vice president and president of the Italian chain Carrabba’s since 2014. Before that, he was Bloomin’ Brands’ chief resources officer and was responsible for Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion and oversaw real estate and human resources functions. He had previously held positions with Starbucks Corp., Pepsico and Yum! Brands Inc.

Pace takes over a chain that has shifted into a franchise model. The 884-unit smoothie chain has sold many of its company-owned locations to franchisees in recent years and now is about 90 percent franchisee-owned. The company last year appointed two independent directors to its board, as an activist investor had sought control of the company. The activists pushed for cost-cutting measures.

But it also comes as the chain’s sales improve. Same-store sales in the company’s fiscal third quarter, which ended Sept. 29, increased 5.6 percent systemwide.

Pace had been a director of the company for the past three years along with Federico, who had been a member of the board since 2006.

“Jamba is uniquely positioned as the leading health and wellness brand in the restaurant industry, and I am honored to be given an opportunity to lead the company’s operations and continued growth,” Pace said in a statement. “We have a phenomenal brand, engaged franchisees and a talented team, all of which are key ingredients that will allow Jamba to reach its full potential for customers, employees and shareholders.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at jonathan.maze@penton.com
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