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    Former Zoes Kitchen CEO Joins Mendocino Farms

  • Kevin Miles has 25 years of industry experience.

    Mendocino Farms
    Mendocino Farms just opened its first location outside of California.

    Former Zoes Kitchen chief executive Kevin Miles was named to the same post by fast casual Mendocino Farms, the company announced July 30.

    When Miles joined the 268-unit chain in 2009, it had 21 stores in seven states with about $24 million in annual revenue. It generated roughly $340 million before being dealt to Cava for $12.75 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at roughly $300 million. The move, which closed November 2018, returned Zoes to the private market following a four-year run as a publicly traded brand. It also signaled the end of Miles’ nine-year run with the company.

    He joins 28-unit Mendocino Farms with 25 years of industry experience, and during a time of rapid growth. The fast casual recently opened in Houston—its first store outside California. It plans to expand further in Texas.

    Mario Del Pero, the chain’s co-founders, said in a statement, “We are thrilled that Kevin has joined the Mendocino Farms family. He is an exceptional leader with incredible experience growing promising regional brands into beloved national concepts while protecting and building upon their unique cultures.”

    Added co-founder Ellen Chen: “Kevin shares the values that have brought us this far, including an unwavering commitment to our community, our team and our vendor partners. His creativity, vision and alignment with our culture will be crucial as we bring the ‘Mendo’ experience to more communities.”

    Miles steps in for Harald Herrmann, the former president of Darden’s $1.5 billion Specialty Restaurant Group, who left in February for nonprofit Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. He led Mendocino Farms since 2017, when he took over as CEO following TPG Growth’s investment in the brand. There were 16 locations at the time.

    Herrmann was also the co-founder of Darden concept The Yard House, and helped expand the 68-unit brand across the country. He was named its president and CEO in 2007.

    TPG Growth acquired its stake from L Catterton. The firm invested in Philz Coffee in September 2016 and has invested in consumer brands Airbnb, Spotify, Beautycounter, Gelson’s Markets, and e.l.f. Cosmentics.

    Amazon, on the heels of a 2015 investment from Whole Foods Market, is also an investor in Mendocino Farms.

    “Mendocino Farms has earned its outstanding reputation and strong brand affinity by building authentic relationships with its local communities and investing in an innovative chef-driven menu, an elevated and engaging dining experience, and best-in-class hospitality driven by a robust training program,” Miles said in a statement.

    Mendocino Farms, a member of QSR’s 40/40 List, is a concept that breaks the traditional fast casual mold. It’s a sandwich brand that generates 40 percent of its business during the dinner daypart and seeks 3,000-square-foot spaces to fill. It also posts average unit volumes north of $3 million. The concept hires different designers for each new location and styles them to the neighborhood.