Ignite Restaurant Group Inc.’s longtime chief marketing officer, Robin Ahearn, will step down on April 1, and the company said it will not replace the position.

Ahearn is leaving to create a new company, Norton Creative, and the Houston-based parent to the casual-dining Joe's Crab Shack, Romano's Macaroni Grill and Brick House Tavern + Tap will outsource its print and digital design work to that agency, the company said.

The April change “follows a systemwide reorganization designed to streamline operations in each of the three brands,” Ignite said in a statement, adding that the marketing teams of each brand will report to the respective brand presidents.


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“This new scenario allows us to continue utilizing Robin and her team’s talents while keeping our internal focus on operations and guest service,” Ray Blanchette, Ignite’s chief executive, said.

Members of the Ignite design team will join Ahearn at the new company.

Ahearn, who joined Ignite in 2007, said: “Working as outside consultants will allow this highly creative and experienced team to bring new ideas and passion to Ignite's three brands and our other new partners."

Ignite said McCann Erickson New York remains its advertising agency of record. Norton Creative will focus on print and digital design for in-restaurant and digital marketing materials for the three brands, the company said.

Ignite owns and operates about 350 restaurants in the United States and franchises Macaroni Grill internationally.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless