Dog Haus announced that food industry veteran and CEO of Kitchen United Michael Montagano has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective September. Montagano joins the award-winning brand after serving on its Board of Directors for the past three years and as a commercial partner since 2018.
The CEO role is new to Dog Haus. The company has been led since its 2010 inception by founding partners and longtime friends Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and André Vener. Montagano will report to the three partners, who will continue in their respective roles.
“We believe Dog Haus is positioned for exponential growth and, as such, we recognize the need to bolster our leadership team with a seasoned executive who can guide this brand, and our franchise partners, into the future – and Michael checks all the boxes,” says Vener. “Michael’s expertise in growing franchises, expanding virtual brands and delivery, and implementing new technologies and marketing strategies is exactly what we need as we capitalize on our momentum in the marketplace.”
Dog Haus’ suite of virtual concepts – known as The Absolute Brands – include the award-winning Bad-Ass Breakfast Burritos and Bad Mutha Clucka, which now drive an incremental 20 percent of system-wide sales for the company. Off-premise sales, which now account for nearly half of company revenues, are another key strategic focus for the brand.
“Over the past several years working with Dog Haus, I’ve seen first-hand impressive store growth, world-class menu innovation and diversification, and soaring off-premise demand,” says Montagano. “This is an exciting time for the brand, and I’m eager to work with the partners to continue the initiatives underway to enhance our technology, expand our brands, and maximize our online and in-store strategy, all in an effort to add meaningful value for our franchisees and guests.”
Throughout his 20-year career in the restaurant industry, Montagano has worked in a variety of strategic commercial contexts with many of America's favorite restaurant brands – from national partners such as Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, WingStop, Cinnabon and Jersey Mike’s to hyper-growth brands like Portillo’s, Dave’s Hot Chicken, Hawaiian Bros and the Halal Guys. He brings with him a proven track record of driving growth, strategic partnerships, cutting-edge technology, institutional investment and operational excellence, along with expertise in online ordering and delivery. He has grown Kitchen United to more than 150 kitchens across the country – powering both major suburban and urban trade areas – while securing key partnerships with, and institutional funding from, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), grocery giant Kroger, Alimentation Couche-Tard (the owner of Circle K convenience stores), Google Ventures, Fidelity Investments, HAVI, RXR, Simon Property Group, DivcoWest and Rich’s Food Products.
“I am incredibly honored to join my close friends at Dog Haus in this new role,” Montagano continues. “My friendship with André began more than five years ago at a school function for our children and has continued to grow ever since. Over time, I developed an equally close and productive business relationship with all three partners. I look forward to supporting André, Hagop, Quasim and the entire Dog Haus team as we build this incredible brand into a haus-hold name.”
Prior to his time leading various food-tech and restaurant companies through growth, financings and acquisitions, Montagano practiced M&A and corporate finance law for one of the country’s largest law firms, working primarily on private equity transactions.
He received his Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law.
Michael grew up in a restaurant family, anchored by an Italian restaurant and a neighborhood grocery store and butchery founded by his grandparents. Michael resides in Pasadena, California, with his wife, Dr. Bethany Montagano, and son, Joey, a proud Polytechnic Panther.