Focus Brands Vet Joe Guith Hired as CEO of Church's Texas Chicken

    The industry veteran is taking over a chain that grew its U.S. systemwide sales by $36 million in 2021. 

    Church's Chicken

    Joe Guith previously served as Focus Brands' restaurant category president.

    Church's Texas Chicken (formerly known as Church's Chicken), announced Tuesday that former Focus Brands executive Joe Guith has become its new CEO. 

    The change was effective August 1. Guith succeeded Joe Christina, who served as chief executive for six years. 

    “I’m impressed with this brand’s resiliency and its ability to navigate a challenging environment over the past few years. With a strong base of domestic and international franchisees and a number of strategic growth initiatives on the horizon, this is an exciting and defining time in this great brand’s history,” Guith said in a statement. “I look forward to expanding the brand’s footprint so that Church’s Texas Chicken continues to thrive and reach new customers across the globe, particularly in new major markets abroad.”

    The move comes a year after private equity firm High Bluff Capital Partners agreed to acquire Church's from FFL Partners. High Bluff is also the parent company of Quiznos and Taco Del Mar. The chicken chain earned $776 in U.S. systemwide sales in 2021, up from $740 million in 2020, according to the QSR 50. Church's has more than 1,500 units in 26 countries, including close to 900 domestically. 

    Since the start of 2022, Church's has revealed a series of leadership changes, including promoting Claudia Lezcano to senior vice president of U.S. marketing, hiring Bill Mitchell as vice president of company restaurant operations, adding Frank Costello as vice president of U.S. franchise development, and bringing on Ignacio Barbadillo as director of international new business development. 

    Guith previously served as Focus' restaurant category president, overseeing more than 1,500 restaurants across fast casuals McAlister's, Moe's, and Schlotzsky's. Prior to that appointment, he worked as brand president of Cinnabon, and took the same role at McAlister's. Before Focus, the industry veteran was general manager of KFC's South Territory, which covered more than 1,500 units, 200-plus franchisees, and $1.5 billion in revenue. He also worked in a variety of roles for Coca-Cola.

    “As a strategic leader with extensive category expertise, Joe’s proven track record supports our efforts to build upon the brand’s strong foundation to drive future success,” Anand Gowda, founder of High Bluff Capital Partners, said in a statement. “His expertise in operating restaurants, combined with his passion for growing brands, accelerating digital capabilities and developing high-performing teams, will be incredibly valuable to the Church’s Texas Chicken system.”

    Church's, and its international counterpart, Texas Chicken, said in February that they planned to open 100 stores this year across Americas, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Texas Chicken is also looking to expand into Egypt in 2023.