John Miller, who was chief financial officer of Chipotle Mexican Restaurant during that chain’s infancy, has joined 15-unit vegan fast-casual chain Native Foods Café as its CFO.

Miller looked after Chipotle’s finances from 1998 to 2001 as the chain grew from 12 units to 200 units. After that he owned an Italian concept in Denver and then became chief financial officer of a Carl’s Jr. franchisee named By the Rockies, LLC, which has since changed its name. He recently moved to Chicago to take up his new role at Native Foods Café.

Miller said in a press release that he sees a growth opportunity for the chain. “Tasty and healthy, fast-casual, plant-based cuisine is a niche that hasn’t yet been capitalized on and one that has national legs,” he said. “I expect that Native Foods Café will become as ubiquitous as my former brand, Chipotle.”

The vegan chain plans to more than double its number of units in 2014 by adding between 18 and 24 restaurants over the course of the year, according to the press release.

Native Foods Café was founded in Palm Springs, Calif., and currently has locations in southern California, Colorado, Chicago and Portland, Ore. The brand espouses similar commitments to social responsibility as Chipotle’s “food with integrity” approach, expressing dedication to keeping “both its prices and environmental footprint minimal,” and charging no more than $10 per menu item.

“John is a perfect fit for Native Foods Café, with the know-how, commitment and care to take us to the next level while practicing our shared values,” co-owner Andrea McGinty said. “With our nationwide expansion, we hope 2014 will be a renaissance for healthy, delicious food and that we will surprise even more eaters across the nation.”

Contact Bret Thorn: bret.thorn@penton.com
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