In a further effort to fan the flames of the grill, Burger King has hired Mike Ellis, former senior vice president of Darden Restaurants, as chief development officer. Ellis, who will report directly to CEO Brad Blum, will begin the new position September 2.

Mr. Ellis has an extensive background in restaurant development at TGI Friday’s, Don Pablo’s and the Darden Restaurant Group, which includes Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Smokey Bones, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52. Ellis was instrumental at turning around the Olive Garden chain.

At a time when the number two fast food chain is struggling to bring customers in and a large block of franchisees have balance sheets that make bankers nervous, Ellis is another Blum addition to turn the King’s fortunes around.

“Mike’s successful turnaround background and skills regarding market analysis, real estate, site selection, construction and design will be invaluable to the Burger King system as we rationalize our business in the short-term and begin to realize the untapped potential of this brand in the long-term,” Blum said. “I know his efforts will contribute to our profitable growth and will give Burger King an even stronger and more consistent brand identity.”

Mr. Ellis holds a degree in political science from Delta College, Saginaw, Michigan. He is married with three children and plans to relocate to Burger King’s home in South Florida.

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