Salata announced the promotion of former vice president of operations, Michele Maerz, to president. Maerz joined the growing salad brand in 2021 and steps into her new role as Salata is poised for growth.
The role was previously occupied by Michelle Bythewood from 2019-2023; Bythewood was an integral part of selecting Maerz to step into the role after achieving what she came into the role to accomplish.
On moving on from Salata, Bythewood says, “While it is a very hard decision to leave Salata, I am confident that Michele, with her operational background, will continue to grow the brand in the right direction. My passion is rebranding companies and putting systems and processes in place for growth and franchisee expansion. When presented the opportunity to do just that with another brand out of California, I decided the time was right to make a move.”
Bythewood adds, “Michele and I have had a great tandem working relationship since she joined the team and I feel confident that moving forward Salata is in the hands of someone who truly cares about the brand and can take it to the next level as they continue to grow.”
Michele Maerz brings over 30 years of restaurant industry experience to her role as president of Salata. During her time as vice president of operations of Salata, Michele and her team improved operational procedures; solidified a partnership that opens new revenue streams on major corporate campuses and facilities in Houston and Dallas; rolled out several new menu items including a Certified Angus Beef® steak protein to the salad menu; and launched the Salata Mobile Kitchen to assist operations during restaurant remodels and create an opportunity for greater community involvement.
Prior to joining Salata, Michele served as regional vice president of On The Border Grill & Cantina where she was responsible for leading operations of 39 casual dining restaurants operating in Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Prior to On The Border, Maerz spent 4 years at Lazy Dog Restaurants as regional director of the Texas and North California markets. Michele also served as area vice president with BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. opening 23 new restaurants across the country and overseeing operations of up to 45 restaurants from California to Florida. She broke into the industry serving 15 years at Brinker International, Inc. and credits executives at both BJ’s and Brinker for giving her a firm foundation on which to drive operational excellence and brand growth.
In her role as president, Michele will be responsible for the overall strategic vision and leadership of the Salata brand and ensuring operational excellence across Salata’s more than 90 corporate and franchised restaurants along with franchise expansion across the country.
“I’m excited to step into this new role and take over where Michelle left off. I can’t express my thanks enough to Michelle for her confidence, leadership, mentorship, and friendship built during our time together,” says Maerz. “My focus as president will be to carry the brand forward with quality as our compass, build upon operational efficiencies, and double our restaurant count over the next 5 years.”
Maerz adds, “I am passionate about Salata’s mission to make healthy, fresh, and customizable meal options more accessible to communities around the country and look forward to leading the charge as president.”