Noodles & Co the fast casual restaurant operator is losing a top executive to one of its competitors. The executive is reportedly to run Portillo’s Restaurant Group a seller of hot dogs that is backed by private equity money.
Noodles & Co, which operates more than 450 restaurants that sell noodle- and pasta-based dishes, said its COO and President Keith Kinsey is resigning on July 1.
The company said he would become the CEO of a restaurant company in the casual dining sector, although the name of the restaurant where he was going was never released.
It was announced by an industry analyst that Kinsey would become the CEO at Portillo’s, which would be only the second CEO there since it was founded in 1963 by Dick Portillo.
The company, which sells hot dogs that are Chicago-style, hamburgers as well as sandwiches, was in the headlines in 2014 when Berkshire Partners a private equity firm acquired it.
Portillo’s is much smaller than Noodles as it had only 38 locations when sold during 2014. The exit by Kinsey from Noodles is a notable loss, as he served as its COO for the past 8 years well prior to the company going pubic just two years ago.
He previously worked for PepsiCo, McDonald’s and Chipotle. Noodles did not say who his successor would be, but said his responsibilities would be reallocated amongst current management members.
Although Noodles is one of many fast-casual restaurant operators to go public recently that experienced a strong pop the first day, its shares have slipped since then as a result of sales and analysts have said the businesses’ biggest challenge was lack of brand awareness in its new markets.