(Continued from page 1)
 
Joseph DePinto, president and chief executive, 7-Eleven Inc.

As head of 7-Eleven since 2005, DePinto has fostered global and domestic growth at the convenience-store chain through franchising and strategic acquisitions. Today, 7-Eleven is the leading company in convenience retailing, with 53,000 stores globally, including 10,350 units in North America, with worldwide sales over $84.8 billion. Before being named chief executive of the Dallas-based company, DePinto was president of GameStop Corp., and also held executive positions at PepsiCo and Thornton Oil. In addition, he is chairman of the board at Brinker International Inc. His experience with franchisees and public boards attracted the attention of former Brinker CEO Doug Brooks, who said: “As the leader of a large multi-unit retail company, Joe has already provided a unique perspective and expertise to shaping the trajectory of the Brinker business during his tenure.”

Aylwin Lewis, president and chief executive, Potbelly Corp.

Lewis has led Potbelly, a Chicago-based sandwich chain, since 2008. Today, the company has grown to over 300 units in the U.S. and the Middle East, and Lewis sees good news continuing for this rapidly growing concept, particularly in franchising. “We believe 2014 will be an exciting year for Potbelly. We are expanding our geographical footprint by entering the Denver market and introducing our new Flats sandwich platform,” he said. Business fundamentals remain on track to achieve between 25 percent and 35 percent adjusted net income growth, and between 40 and 48 total new store openings. With more than 29 years of restaurant experience, this Golden Chain winner had previously served as president, chief multi-branding and operating officer for Yum! Brands, and chief operating officer for Pizza Hut. Prior to Potbelly, he served as chief executive and president of Sears Holdings.

W. Kent Taylor, founder and chief executive, Texas Roadhouse Inc.

From an idea born on a bar napkin, Taylor has grown his Louisville, Ky.-based Texas Roadhouse steakhouse concept to more than 420 restaurants in 48 states, and four locations in Dubai and Kuwait. Initially turned down more than 80 times trying to raise money for his idea, Taylor finally launched Texas Roadhouse in 1993 in Clarksville, Ind. Ever an entrepreneur, he also opened three-unit Aspen Creek in 2009. Texas Roadhouse has been a strong player in the casual-dining segment, finishing in the top 10 in systemwide sales, number of U.S. units and sales per unit according to NRN Top 100 research. “As we look ahead,” Taylor said, “we believe we are well-positioned for long-term success.”

First presented at MUFSO in 1977, Golden Chain Award recipients read as a who’s who of restaurant industry leaders. Winners are chosen by the editors of Nation’s Restaurant News, based on company performance, executive leadership and insights from various sources and former winners.

From this year’s lineup, readers of NRN will vote for the coveted Operator of the Year, which will be announced at the Industry Awards Gala. The online voting queue can be accessed here.

The 2014 MUFSO conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion Tower in Dallas. For information about MUFSO and to register, visit mufso.com.