Nation’s Restaurant News has selected five top executives from some of the most successful foodservice brands in the world as the 2014 class of Golden Chain Award winners.

The Golden Chain Awards celebrate restaurant executives for outstanding leadership, strong company performance and careers dominated by success. This year’s winners are: Sandra Cochran, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store; Greg Creed, Taco Bell; Joseph DePinto, 7-Eleven; Aylwin Lewis, Potbelly Sandwich Works; and W. Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse.

The winners will be honored during this year’s Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) Conference in Dallas, Oct. 5-7. MUFSO, now in its 55th year, is presented by Penton Restaurant Group, comprised of the Nation’s Restaurant News, Food Management and Restaurant Hospitality brands. The winners will also participate in the popular Winning CEO panel on Oct. 7. SurveyMini by SMG, an international customer experience research firm, sponsors the award celebration and the executive panel at MUFSO.

“We are thrilled to recognize this diverse and very special group of restaurant industry leaders as our Golden Chain winners,” said Sarah Lockyer, NRN editor-in-chief. “These dedicated executives are brand builders who have positioned their operations for growth and leaders who have built successful teams. It will be a privilege to honor, and learn from, these winners at MUFSO.”

Meet the 2014 Golden Chain Award honorees:

Sandra Cochran, president and chief executive, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc.

Cochran joined Lebanon, Tenn.-based Cracker Barrel in 2009 as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and was named president and chief executive in 2011. With 627 locations in 42 states, the family-dining concept reversed negative same-store sales trends in 2013, with estimated sales per unit reaching $3.3 million, well above the segment average, according to NRN Top 100 chain research. Most recently, for the 10th consecutive quarter, the company continues to outperform its peers in the Knapp-Track casual-dining sales index. This Golden Chain Award winner has also played a key role in helping steer Cracker Barrel through choppy investor waters, with numerous rebuffs of activist investor Sardar Biglari and his ongoing call for changes at the company, which the majority of shareholders and top management have declined.

Greg Creed, chief executive, Taco Bell Corp.

From creation of the slogan “Think Outside the Bun” to the recent rollout of products like Doritos Locos Tacos, Creed has piloted the 6,000-unit Taco Bell chain towards a brand renewal. His goal is to double its current systemwide sales to $14 billion by 2022. However, when 2015 rolls around, this Golden Chain Award winner will be wearing another hat, as chief executive of Yum! Brands Inc., replacing current CEO and chairman David Novak, who will become executive chairman of the Louisville, Ky.-based company. Yum also operates or franchises over 40,000 locations of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in more than 125 countries. In announcing Creed to succeed him, Novak said: “He made Taco Bell an industry leader, elevating the brand’s esteem and establishing top-tier customer service levels. He is a breakthrough thinker, creating new dayparts such as Fourth Meal and breakfast.”