Austin, Texas-based Gatti's Pizza has named Richard Snead as its new president and chief executive officer.

Gatti's is owned by private equity firm Blue Sage Capital. Co-founding partner Jim McBride said the hire comes at a time when Gatti's is at a crossroads of reinvention.

"It's a tough, but exciting category that faces several challenges but has significant opportunities. We are extremely fortunate to find a leader of Richard's caliber. We are confident that Richard's experience, skill set and personality are the perfect fit to grow the Gatti's brand and navigate the complexities of this business," he said.

Snead has more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Most recently, he worked for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., where he led TGI Friday's to category leading success.

As president and CEO for Carlson Restaurants, Snead led global teams for more than 800 T.G.I. Friday's and 100 Pick Up Stix restaurants. Under his direction, combined system sales grew to approximately $3B in 47 states and 60 countries.

Previously, Snead worked for the Burger King Corporation where he held positions of SVP Development, EVP Operations, and president of International. He has received industry recognition including a Golden Chain Award, Restaurant Industry Operator of the Year Award, and Carlson was named as a Great Place to Work in Texas for 3 years in a row.

He is a graduate from the University of Tennessee in engineering and has served for nine years on the National Restaurant Association board of directors. He and his wife Marilyn have two sons, Adam and Eric.

Gatti's Pizza has franchises in 13 states located throughout the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest. The first Gatti's location opened in 1969 in Austin.

"Returning to this great industry and joining Gatti's Pizza was a very personal decision. The pizza category is being 're-born' much like hamburgers have been," Snead said. "Flavor, Fresh and Fast are sweet spots. Gatti's Pizza heritage is uniquely suited in this opportunity. We intend to be players."

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