The Board of Directors of Melville, N.Y.-based Sbarro Inc. has announced that James Greco, 54, has been named president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.
Greco joins Sbarro from Bruegger's Enterprises, where he also served as CEO and led the bagel-bakery chain through strong performances and growth. Nicky McGrane, who has been serving as Sbarro's interim president and CEO, will be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.
"We're extremely pleased to have attracted a top-tier talent like Jim to Sbarro," Karam said on behalf of the board. "Jim has outstanding credentials and will provide strong leadership as the company continues to grow. At the same time, we want to recognize the contributions that Nicky made as interim CEO. His stewardship during a difficult time for Sbarro was immensely valuable."
In addition, J. David Karam, 53, formerly president of Wendy's International, has agreed to serve as Sbarro's new chairman, and the company has appointed two additional directors to its board, Desmond Hague, CEO of Centerplate, and David Wiggins, a turnaround expert.
Karam takes over as chairman from Michael Feder, a managing director at consulting firm Alix Partners, who has served as Sbarro's interim chairman since November 2011. Feder will continue as an advisor to the company.
McGrane led Sbarro through a successful Chapter 11 reorganization last year, with Sbarro emerging with significantly less debt and substantial liquidity to invest in future growth.
Greco, who partnered with Sun Capital to acquire Bruegger's in 2003, served as CEO until the company was acquired by Groupe Le Duff SA, a French operator of bakery-cafes, in 2011. Sun Capital earned a return of 36 percent per year on its investment in Bruegger's.
While CEO, Greco successfully turned around the business, produced more than 20 consecutive quarters of positive same store sales and total sales growth, and completed numerous smaller acquisitions including the successful acquisition of Timothy's World Coffee's retail brands.
Prior to Bruegger's Bagels, Greco was CEO of Fieldbrook Foods Corporation for seven years, and he also served as chief operating officer of Natural Country Farms for five years. Greco has a degree in Economics from Georgetown University and a law degree from the University of Miami.
"I am looking forward to the opportunity to lead and grow Sbarro," Greco said. "As the company's recent performance demonstrates, this is an iconic brand with a strong foundation upon which we can build."
New support team
Karam was most recently the president of Wendy's International. During his tenure, he led a successful turnaround of the brand, which included improvements in product quality, operational execution and profitability. Under his leadership, Wendy's rose to become the second largest QSR Hamburger chain in the U.S., surpassing Burger King for the first time in Wendy's 42-year history.
Prior to joining Wendy's in 2008, Karam was president of Cedar Enterprises, a Wendy's franchisee, operating 150 Wendy's restaurants in Indianapolis, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Hartford, Conn., and Seattle.
While a franchise owner, Karam was recognized with the R. David Thomas Founders Award and the Diamond Award National Marketer of the Year. He also was recently inducted into Wendy's Hall of Fame. Karam has a degree in accounting from The Ohio State University and is a graduate of the Owner President Management program at Harvard Business School.
Hague is president and CEO of Centerplate, North America's largest hospitality business, which operates in more than 40 states within convention centers, and the sports and entertainment industries. Prior to Centerplate, Hague was president of IHOP and a member of Dine Equity.
Wiggins has extensive turnaround management expertise, having worked as an operating advisor for a number of portfolio companies acquired by Pegasus Capital Advisors L.P. since 1998. In this capacity, Wiggins served as chairman and CEO of Hain Pure Protein Corporation, president and CEO of Halo Purely for Pets, and chairman and CEO of Salerno Plastics Corporation.
Sbarro has more than 1,000 restaurants in more than 40 countries.
Read more about operations management.