RAVE Restaurant Group Announces Leadership Moves

The reshaping represents a significant upgrade to its leadership team, the company said, signaling investors and franchisees alike that RAVE is focused on the continued expansion and development of its Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza brands.

Dallas-based RAVE Restaurant Group has undertaken what it called a strategic reshaping and significant upgrade of its executive team, signaling investors and franchisees alike that RAVE is focused on the continued expansion and development of its Pizza Inn and Pie Five Pizza brands.

“These new members of our team are all highly skilled and experienced pros who will be essential to building a strong future,” Brandon Solano, CEO of RAVE Restaurant Group, said in a statement. “We’re focused on doing everything we can to honor our company’s long history while satisfying our customers, franchisees, and investors for years to come.”

According to the company, the new executives include:

  • Jay Rooney, chief financial officer
  • Zack Viljoen, vice president of operations for RAVE and general manager of Pie Five
  • Denise Wilson, associate vice president of supply chain
  • Carlos Cojulun, marketing director of Pizza Inn
  • Roger Mangum, director of operations and training
  • Liam Finn, director of franchise development

Financial strategies and growth

“The collective expertise and vision of these executives promise to usher in a new era of prosperity and innovation for RAVE, reinforcing its position as a market leader and paving the way for sustained success,” Solano said. “These team members were each handpicked to play pivotal roles in shaping the trajectory of our company. I believe we are poised like never before to drive improved financial performance, scale reimagining efforts, and propel store count expansion – setting the stage for unprecedented growth.”

Rooney has a proven track record of steering organizations toward financial excellence and brings invaluable expertise to RAVE, elevating its financial strategies and governance to new levels. He joins the company from Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, where he’s been CFO since 2018. Before that, he held financial leadership positions at Brinker International for nearly 20 years.

“I’m truly honored and excited to take on this new role with such an established company,” Rooney said in a statement. “Along with my new colleagues, I’m looking forward to helping create further growth and expansion for years to come.”

RAVE said the appointments come at a time when it is experiencing strong growth. At the start of the year, the company recorded its 15th consecutive quarter of profitability, with same-store sales growth at both Pizza Inn and Pie Five. In 2023, the calendar year results outshone competitors, including Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Chipotle. Additionally, after 24 years of decline, Pizza Inn has had consecutive years of net buffet unit growth.

Marketing, supply chain, operations, and development

Viljoen takes on full responsibility for marketing and operations, training operations and compliance, as well as driving scale reimagining for Pizza Inn buffets. Previously, Viljoen was senior director of marketing and strategy, overseeing all growth initiatives and leading strategy developments.

Wilson joined RAVE in January and is an accomplished strategic supply chain and distribution leader with a diverse skill set—sharpened over her career with restaurant brands and organizations including Wingstop Restaurants Inc., Nothing Bundt Cakes, and LSG Sky Chefs. According to RAVE, her appointment marks a significant full-circle moment, as Wilson served as senior director of supply chain and customer relations for RAVE from 2002-2013, acting as a key contributor to the development of the Pie Five concept.

Cojulun serves as Pizza Inn’s marketing director, overseeing national and regional in-store, digital, social, and out-of-home brand marketing and promotions for “America’s Hometown Pizza Buffet.” He is known for pioneering innovative strategies and has more than thirty years of leadership experience at Fortune 500 companies, including Procter & Gamble, Del Monte Foods, and Amgen.

Additionally, Mangum joins as director of operations and training with lead responsibility for operations in Texas and Oklahoma. The company said Mangum will likewise oversee training across both Pie Five and Pizza Inn.

Finn recently joined RAVE as director of franchise development, bringing a wealth of experience in franchise development and investment banking to the team. As a franchise development manager at Driven Brands over the last three years, he spearheaded strategic initiatives to drive franchise growth and expansion across North America. Prior to this role, Finn served as an investment banking analyst at Tobin & Co., providing expert financial analysis and advisory services to his clients.

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