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Corner Bakery Cafe announced the appointment of franchise and restaurant veteran Michael J. Nolan as executive vice president and chief development officer to oversee the company’s rapidly-growing franchise development program and target market strategy, effective immediately.
In addition, brand veteran Blake Bernet has been promoted from senior vice president and general counsel to chief legal officer.
Nolan brings more than 25 years of leadership experience to his new post, including executive management positions with Panera Bread Company and Bloomin’ Brands Inc., among other leading restaurant chains.
Most recently, Nolan served as senior vice president and chief development officer for Worldwide at Bloomin’ Brands, directing the global restaurant development strategy of the company’s five brands: Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion. The five brands include more than 1,500 casual dining restaurants operating in 26 different countries.
Prior to moving to Bloomin’ Brands, Nolan spent more than a decade at Panera Bread Company where he held several executive positions. During his tenure at Panera, Nolan was part of the team that grew the concept from 250 units to more than 1,500 locations.
Nolan, who also serves on the board of advisors for Smashburger LLC, joins Corner Bakery Cafe as the fast-casual brand is on target to more than double its footprint in the U.S. in the next three years through a combination of franchised and company-owned cafes.
"I am incredibly excited to join the Corner Bakery Cafe team,” he says. “I believe that Corner Bakery is exceptionally well positioned to further establish itself as one of the dominant brands in the fast casual segment, and I see tremendous growth opportunity for both company and franchise locations. I’m looking forward to joining this very seasoned team and leading the development process to even greater success.”
Nolan comes on board after a record-breaking year for Corner Bakery Cafe that included 12 new area development agreements, adding commitments for more than 120 new cafes.
“Mike is a dynamic restaurant and franchise executive with more than 25 years of leadership that will be invaluable as we move forward with our aggressive expansion plans” says Gary Price, Corner Bakery Cafe president. “Blake has been a tremendous asset to the brand over his many years and will play an even larger role as we continue with our record setting pace of growth.”
Bernet joined Corner Bakery Cafe in 1996 and previously held the position of senior vice president and general counsel where, in addition to his legal responsibilities, he led the evolution of the building prototype and growth of the brand from 50 to 165 units.
“This is a very exciting time for our brand, our franchise partners and our leadership team,” says CEO Mike Hislop. “Mike knows the bakery-cafe segment and the restaurant industry from real-world experience in the U.S. and on the international scene. He will play an integral part in taking our brand to the next level. Blake is also an exceptional leader with great vision, and we’re excited to congratulate him on his promotion. His experience and expertise will no doubt help our company as Corner Bakery Cafe continues our growth trend.”