MOOYAH Burgers, Fries, and Shakes announced Wednesday that Bill Spae, former COO and CDO of CiCi's Pizza, is its new president and CEO. Spae takes the lead at MOOYAH on Jan. 7 and will oversee the brand's strategic direction and operations, according to a company press release. Alan Hixon, the chains former president, will continue to serve as an executive at MOOYAH, leading development, real estate, design and construction for all restaurants, as the brand continues to develop and grow across the United States and abroad.
The brand is positioned for continued growth in 2013, after nearly doubling the number of restaurants from 25 to 48 in 2012. Much of this growth stems from franchisees opening their second, third or fourth locations after the success of initial restaurants. The company also garnered national attention, clinching a top spot on last year's FastCasual.com Top 100 Movers and Shakers, and has agreements in place to take the brand to Dubai and Latin America with Canada on the horizon.
"In partnership with (co-founder) Rich Hicks and Alan Hixon, I'll work to continue this drive for aggressive growth and continue to meet, and hopefully exceed, our development goals," Spae said. "We have a current group of successful franchisees and many more joining the MOOYAH team every day to help us do so successfully."
Once he learns more about the franchisees and how they operate, Spae plans to develop a strategic plan to ensure all systems, processes and procedures are running at their most optimal level to continue growth, but also ensure that growth is profitable.
"I'll partner with our franchisees to develop the framework for a three-to-five year plan that details this direction and the path of the brand, allowing the franchisees to grow quickly and profitably," he said.
Spae is a veteran retail and restaurant executive with 40 years of leadership experience. Most recently he served as COO and CDO of CiCi's Pizza, which includes 500 pizza buffet restaurants. Additionally, Spae took over responsibilities for the JMC Distribution Company, a full-service distributor for all CiCi's restaurants. He also served as president and CEO of several other large operating companies, beginning his career with Burger King Corporation. He later joined TGI Fridays, where he took part in the chain's rapid expansion. He became the business' then-youngest vice president and was one of four people to take the company public.
After transitioning to an executive role within a division of Pepsi Cola and later Wendy's Restaurants, Spae joined Hollywood Entertainment, owner of Hollywood Video. There he collaborated with the founder to complete a secondary public offering and grew the small West Coast business to a $1 billion national player in the home entertainment industry.
Metromedia Restaurant Group then recruited Spae to turn around its Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses and Steak and Ale Restaurant brands. Spae's restaurant resume also includes his roles as president of Bennigan's Grill and Tavern and former franchisee of Taco Bueno.
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Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.