After 24 years as president and CEO of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Peter Christie turned over the reins Monday to veteran restaurant executive Bob Luz.

Luz most recently served as chief human resource officer of American Blue Ribbon Holdings, LLC, in Nashville, Tenn.

Christie, who joined the MRA as a member of the board in 1987 and was named CEO and president two years later, said, “I have known Bob Luz for the past 20 years. He is a respected industry leader who is the perfect candidate for this position.”

Luz has logged many years of experience in the foodservice and hospitality industries. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a degree in hospitality management, he went to work for Stouffers, where he took a position in human resources and training.

Later, he went to work for industry veteran Burton “Skip” Sack, an early franchisee of the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar chain. After Sack sold his New England Applebee’s locations back to the company, Luz took a job as vice president of human resources at the casual-dining chain’s headquarters in Kansas City.

Six years later, Luz returned to New England, where he joined the Ninety Nine Restaurants casual-dining chain as executive vice president of human resources and a member of the executive team. When O’Charley’s, Inc., acquired Ninety Nine Restaurants in 2003, Luz was named chief human resources officer for the company’s three concepts — O’Charley’s, Ninety Nine Restaurants and Stoney River Legendary Steaks.

After O’Charley’s, Inc., was purchased by Fidelity National Financial Inc. in 2012, Luz was promoted to chief human resource officer for all of the company’s brands.

Commenting on his new position, Luz said in a statement, “The MRA is well known and respected as one of the preeminent state restaurant associations in the country. I look forward to a seamless transition with Peter and to continue to build upon the services and information that we provide our members.”

In a recent interview with the Boston Globe, Christie discussed how the industry has changed during his long tenure at the MRA.

“The competitive nature of the industry has become much more difficult,” he told the Boston Globe. “Back when I was in the [restaurant] business in the ‘80s, you could do a mediocre job and still make money. That’s not so anymore. I think regardless of what niche you are — fine dining, casual dining, quick casual, quick service — the consumer is far more educated and has a lot more choices. The competitive business is such that [restaurants] just have to do a good job no matter what it is, identify their niche, do an excellent job, and execute, because it’s so competitive.”

Contact Paul Frumkin at paul.frumkin@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @NRNPaul