COLUMBUS, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)--FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc., the owner of polished upscale casual dining brands BRIO Tuscan Grille and BRAVO Cucina Italiana, today announced the appointment of industry veteran Dave Pickens to the position of President & Chief Operations Officer. Pickens will be responsible for the oversight of all BRIO and BRAVO restaurants to ensure Operations Excellence, Guest Count Growth and Effective Cost Management. In addition, Pickens will focus on improving efficiency and elevating the quality of service for guests in accordance with FoodFirst Global’s mission of providing Good Food for the PlanetTM.
“We began the process of reinvigorating our brands by elevating the food through the assembly of a world-class culinary team. Dave’s appointment represents the next step toward fulfilling our mission,” said Brad Blum, Owner-Partner, Chairman & CEO of FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc. “Providing food that tastes amazing and is also good for you is central to our mission. I am thrilled that Dave is joining our team as he brings a wealth of knowledge, leadership and operations experience. I look forward to his positive contributions as we distinguish BRIO and BRAVO into being excellent businesses and the employer of choice.”
Pickens has a highly successful track record in the casual dining industry. His career began as an hourly employee with Red Lobster and grew through all levels of operations. Pickens served with Blum on the Olive Garden leadership team as Executive Vice President of Operations during the brand’s monumental turnaround. He later served as President to carry the vision forward with consistently strong results. Blum and Pickens created extraordinary shareholder value for Darden as Olive Garden became its most profitable flagship brand, achieving 57 consecutive quarters of same-restaurant sales increases.
“I am eager to partner again with Brad and join the FoodFirst Global Restaurants officer team,” said Pickens. “I believe I can contribute to the company’s exciting vision by further elevating the operations of two brands that already hold enormous potential and positively influence overall performance. By having very high standards, setting restaurant teams up for success and holding people accountable, we will ensure that all facets of the guest experience are exceptional while creating an excellent work environment for our employees. Both of these outcomes are key components to consistently achieving our desired long-term financial goals.”
Pickens will report directly to Blum and serve as a key member of FoodFirst Global Restaurants’ leadership team. He will directly oversee Executive Vice President of Operations for BRIO, Rob Viveros, and Senior Vice President of Operations for BRAVO, Lou Rios, in meeting and exceeding the company’s financial goals. In addition, Pickens, Viveros, Rios and Chief Culinary Officer John Imbriolo will work closely with Senior Vice President of Training and Operations Support for FoodFirst Global, Eric Tucker, on matters related to training and personnel development as the restaurants prepare to introduce significantly improved menus at both BRIO and BRAVO. Rounding out the leadership team are Chief Financial Officer Diane Reed, Chief Marketing & Technology Officer John Wong and Chief Development Officer Mike Ellis.
For more information, please visit us at www.foodfirst.com.
About FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc.
FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc.™ is a collaboration between restaurateur/owner-partner Brad Blum and GP Investments, Ltd. At FoodFirst Global Restaurants, we are building a platform to own a variety of brands and businesses. The mission for each of these brands and businesses is to provide Good Food for the Planet™. We are passionate about good food, know good food, enjoy good food, and are dedicated to always improving upon and consistently providing good food. For more information, visit www.foodfirst.com.