800 Degrees Pizzeria, the LA-based fast-fine dining concept, has assembled an executive team of industry experts that are positioned and ready to shape the next chapter of the brand, leading the concept into the next phase of its growth and success. Key changes began in January 2017, when industry veteran Tommy Lee took the helm as CEO. The team rounded out with the appointment of Thomas Bartsch as CMO in November 2017.
With the new executive team in place, 800 Degrees is now poised to expand operations through area-development agreements, international licensing, and corporate development.
“We have formed an extremely talented and accomplished executive team that are ready to lead the strategic growth and future direction of the brand,” says founder and Chef Anthony Carron. “With the team’s deep industry knowledge and combined track record for success I am confident that they will elevate the brand, keeping all the aspects of 800 Degrees that our loyal customers love, while adding a broader appeal that will attract new guests.”
The changes support the concept’s goal to configure a team of seasoned industry professionals who have their fingers on the pulse of what consumers are looking for today. The executive leadership team includes:
Anthony Carron, Co-Founder and Chef
Anthony Carron is the founder and chef of 800 Degrees Pizzeria. He got his start cooking at a local cafe during his time at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Upon his return to his native St. Louis in 1999, Anthony purchased the 40-year old Olivette Diner. After remodeling and re-inventing the aging diner to much acclaim, Carron sold the restaurant in 2001 to move to California and explore the world of fine dining. A sous chef position at AQUA eventually led to positions of increasing responsibility with the Michael Mina group, culminating in six years as Corporate Executive Chef. During his tenure in that role, Carron developed and opened more than a dozen high-profile and well-received restaurants throughout the country, while managing a portfolio of nearly 20 operating units. In 2010, Carron left Mina Group to found 800° Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, which opened in Los Angeles in January of 2012 to long lines and glowing reviews, and is in rapid-growth mode.
Tommy Lee, Chief Executive Officer
Tommy Lee is a veteran hospitality professional bringing over 25 years of industry experience to his role as chief executive officer of 800 Degrees Pizza. Throughout his career, Tommy has demonstrated a proven track record of driving business success through improved operating efficiency, strong business acumen, and a guest-centric focus at several well-known restaurant groups. As the company’s CEO, Tommy is responsible for overseeing day-to-day management decisions as well as setting and communicating the brand’s strategic direction.
Prior to joining 800 Degrees, he served as CEO of Rockfish Seafood Grill based in Dallas, Texas from 2010 to 2016, where he managed the brand’s 15 locations in Texas and its $24 million worth of revenue. As a result of his leadership and strategic planning, the brand completed a turnaround, a brand re-image and a resumption of unit growth.
From 2004 to 2009, Lee was a Regional Vice President of Operations at Brinker International where he was responsible for the business performance of over 500 Chili’s Grill & Bar restaurants and the On the Border Cafes in the western region. Lee also led Chili’s Operations Services department and was a member of the brand leadership team. He oversaw the opening of over 150 new Chili’s restaurants, adding over $500 million in brand revenue. Previously, Lee held the position of Vice President of Finance for Chili’s Grill & Bar. From 1996 to 2003, he was responsible for the tactical and strategic analysis of financial and business initiatives for the brand.
Thomas Bartsch, Chief Marketing Officer
Thomas Bartsch has joined the 800 Degrees team as Chief Marketing Officer. Bartsch is a global marketing executive that brings over 20 years of marketing experience in the fast mobbing consumer good and the restaurant industry. Over his career, he has worked for companies ranging from start-ups to global brands, including MidiCi, Focus Brands, DineEquity, Dunkin Brands, Burger King Corporation, and Nestle. In each role, Bartsch has demonstrated the ability to develop and implement game-changing initiatives to maximize sales and profit in single and multi-brand companies, both domestically and internationally. His unique blend of business strategy, marketing, and innovation experience is a great addition to the 800 Degrees team.
Scott Berkowitz, Chief Development Officer
Scott Berkowitz joined the 800 Degrees team as its Chief Development Officer in May, 2016. He has an-over 20-year real estate career with much of that time spent managing transactional activity in Resort Residential second home communities as well as the hotel industry where Scott was the managing partner for franchise opportunities with Marriott, Hilton and Starwood Hotels. Scott brings his extensive experience in business development, hospitality and franchising to 800 Degrees as the brand looks to grow aggressively, but selectively, all over the world.
Samara Friedman, Chief People Officer
Samara Friedman recently joined 800 Degrees as Chief People Officer. Friedman is a Southern California native with a degree in Psychology from the University of California in Los Angeles. She has over 15-years of experience in the hospitality industry with a focus in training and development. From mid-2015 to June 2017 she served as the Vice President of Training and Development for Levity Entertainment Group that owns and operates 8 locations of the World Famous Improv Comedy Club. Prior to her time with LEG, Friedman was responsible for training, in addition to new unit openings, for Umami Restaurant Group from 2011 to 2015. During this time, she assisted in opening over 20 locations in five states.
Chris Rich, Vice President of International Franchise
Chris Rich is an over-30-year veteran of global franchise development. He has spearheaded the efforts of more than 10 companies including iconic brands TGI Friday’s, Italianni’s, Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s, The Counter Custom Burgers and Moe’s Southwest Grill in over 50 countries. He brings a deep knowledge of what it takes to successfully launch a brand in international markets and is connected to the industry leaders in key markets worldwide.
800 Degrees Pizza currently operates locations in Los Angeles, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Tokyo, Japan; Dubai, UAE; and Doha, Qatar. In 2018, the brand is poised for further growth, including several new large key markets in the USA, and several key countries internationally. 800 Degrees locations are open seven days a week with many restaurants open until 2 a.m.