TGI Fridays Appoints New U.S. President & COO and President of Int’l Markets & CFO

Both execs will report to CEO Weldon Spangler as the company continues to implement a growth plan to revitalize the iconic brand globally. The moves come about a month after the casual dining chain appointed Spangler, a longtime board member and seasoned restaurant executive, as its new CEO.

Dallas-based restaurant company TGI Fridays announced it has hired Ray Risley as U.S president and chief operating officer and Nik Rupp as president of International Markets and chief financial officer.

Both will report to CEO Weldon Spangler as the company said it continues to implement a growth plan to revitalize the brand globally.

“We have a significant opportunity to lead this much-loved, heritage brand through a revitalized new chapter, and by bringing on Ray and Nik to our leadership team, we are confident in what we can accomplish in the coming year,” Spangler said in a statement. “Not only do Ray and Nik have tremendous experience in the restaurant industry that will drive growth for our brand and our franchisees, but their enthusiasm and passion for TGI Fridays will also be a cornerstone to our vision for the company.”

Operations and performance standards

Risley will be responsible for the supervision and management of the operational facets and performance standards of all TGI Fridays establishments within the United States, encompassing both company-owned and franchised entities, the company said.

He comes to TGI Fridays after serving as CEO of Via 313 Pizzeria, where he doubled the brand’s number of units and successfully positioned the award-winning independent pizza chain for significant future expansion, TGI Fridays said.

Before that, Risley was president and COO of Front Burner Society, where he was integral to the growth of the Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar concept. Risley spent nearly 20 years in a variety of leadership roles at Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group Inc., including most recently as president of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse.

Overseeing financial strategy

In his new role, Rupp will oversee the financial strategy of TGI Fridays with an emphasis in accounting, finance, and capital structure, as well as focus on growth and managing relationships with international franchisees, the company said. Most recently, Rupp was COO at Papa Murphy’s International, subsequent to serving as the company’s CFO.

During his time at Papa Murphy’s, Rupp played an instrumental role in driving a clear vision, strategy, and growth for the international pizza company, TGI Fridays said.

Previously, Rupp held leadership positions at global consumer brands including Specialized, Nike, and Converse.

TGI Fridays said the appointments come as it continues the revitalization of its brand, including reinvigorating many of its legacy menu offerings.

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