Buffets Inc., the parent company of many family-style steak buffet restaurants, has named industry veteran Chip Romp to its newly created position of vice president of training and seasoned restaurant development professional Jay Allen to senior vice president of real estate and development. Both are new positions and signal expected growth for Hometown Buffet, Ryan’s, Country Buffet, Old Country Buffet, and Fire Mountain restaurants.
“We are carefully sourcing the best talent in our industry,” says Anthony Wedo, CEO of Buffets Inc. “Our appointments of Chip and Jay help to cement our commitment to elevating our entire enterprise, from our hospitality to our facilities and to becoming a world-class organization.”
Jay Allen is a restaurant development professional with over 25 years in the industry. He recently served as the vice president of restaurant development for focus brands, where he dedicated his efforts on the multi-branding initiatives with Schlotzsky’s, Cinnabon, and Carvel Ice Cream. Throughout his career, he has served as the senior executive of multiple development organizations within the industry, ranging from Marriott Contract Service providers (Sodexo, Marriott, and HMSHost) to O’Charley’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. His experience encompasses the complete development process including real estate, design, construction, FF&E procurement, and project and facilities management. His portfolio represents over $4 billion of completed work in place.
“Jay is a multi-talented executive, who will play an integral role in our organization,” Wedo says. “We are looking forward to utilizing his broad range of expertise to grow and elevate our brands including our current concept re-engineering efforts and beyond.”
As the senior vice president of real estate and development, Allen will oversee the real estate, design, and concept development of current and future concepts. He will also be responsible for the company’s construction strategies and contract management. Allen will be based out of the Greer, South Carolina, corporate office and report directly to CEO Anthony Wedo.
“This is an exciting time for Buffets Inc. and its brands,” Allen says. “So much has been accomplished in such a short time as they re-engineer the brands and position them for future growth. I’m very excited to be part of the team and vision and believe there are even bigger and better achievements to come.”
Allen served in the U.S. Army, 8th Special Forces Group, and graduated from the University Of Tennessee School of Architecture.
Romp most recently served as the vice president of training, development and ops services for Italian fast casual concept Fazoli’s. During his tenure, Romp and his team created training programs that focused on rebranding and menu enhancements by leveraging e-learning implementation and people development tools. He has more than 20 years of senior level multi-unit restaurant operations and training experience with such other brands as Applebee’s International, Damon’s International, and Jillian’s Entertainment.
Romp will also be based out of the company’s restaurant headquarters in Greer, South Carolina. He will be responsible for all front and back-of-house training programs, including onboarding initiatives for new employees and leadership development for all field and corporate employees.
Romp holds a B.A. in Economics from Denison University and is an active member of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Trainers (C.H.A.R.T), where he serves as the scholarship director.
"Memorable hospitality and service along with great consumer value are the cornerstones to our turnaround,” Wedo says. “To ensure we can execute this consistently in every store every day, world class training is the key, and it's my belief Chip will lead the effort to get us there quickly. He brings a strong track record of success revitalizing and reenergizing training teams at exactly the right time. His experience will play a critical role, as we are now aggressively investing in our store base all around the U.S."
Wedo emphasized that the brands’ investment in better training and support of its employees is the foundation of the company’s turnaround efforts. “Our employees are what drive this business. Attracting someone of Chip’s talents speak volumes as to how far we have come in a short time.”
“I am looking forward to working with the Buffets Inc. team as they continue to actively evolve the concept. I’m committed to enhancing, creating, and implementing exciting programs that will focus on team development and serve to dramatically enhance our guests experience,” Romp says.