Focus Brands, parent company of Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s, announced several leadership promotions and hires.

“As we continue to move our company and brands into the future, we must invest in key talent necessary to propel our brands forward and enhance services provided to our guests and franchisees,” says Jim Holthouser, CEO, Focus Brands. “I’m thrilled we have such highly regarded tenured industry executives within our four walls and that we continue to attract exceptional leaders to grow our teams.”

To power enhanced capabilities, Focus Brands organized its brands into categories. In two newly created roles, Kristen Hartman was promoted to president, Specialty Brands (Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, and Jamba), and Erik Hess was promoted to president, Restaurant Brands (McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s).

Hartman, current president of Cinnabon and Carvel, joined Focus in 2012. With more than 20 years in the quick-service restaurant industry, she has held several prominent leadership roles within Focus spanning marketing strategy, innovation, consumer insights, concept development, and licensing for the entire Focus portfolio of brands.

Hess, former president of Moe’s, came to the company in 2019 with more than 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, including key executive roles at McDonald’s globally, domestically, and internationally. Over the course of his career he has led menu management and new product development, strategy and insights, customer experience innovation, and restaurant development.

Beto Guajardo, a former Starbucks executive, was promoted earlier this year from president of Schlotzsky’s to president of the International division.

Kat Cole, COO and president, Focus Brands, continues to oversee both the Restaurant and Specialty categories as well as the International and Licensing divisions.

Anissa Mandell was promoted to SVP, Supply Chain, Focus Brands. Mandell steps into this role after serving as VP of Focus Brands Supply Chain and will oversee the strategic planning framework for Supply Chain, Distribution, Logistics and Quality Assurance functions as well as planning and directing all aspects of policies, objectives, and initiatives for each supply chain function to ensure adaptable and scalable solutions.

Joining Focus Brands in 2011, Mandell was in the supply chain industry for more than 25 years, playing an instrumental role in the initial formation of Focus Supply Chain.

In addition, Focus has welcomed two new executives to drive brand-level growth and innovation.

Alex Williams joined Moe’s Southwest Grill as Chief Brand Officer to lead the Moe’s business. With nearly 30 years of leadership experience in the oil and gas and food and beverage industries, Williams will leverage his franchising and operations leadership skills and experience driving business results across several well-known and innovative brands to continue building Moe’s as a segment leader.

Most recently, while Williams was at Bloomin’ Brands, he ran Outback Steakhouse in the Midwest region and served as Vice President of Operations for Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse nationally. He has also spent time leading franchising, innovation and brand experience at McDonald’s and held roles in operations, supply chain, and distribution for Starbucks Corporation and ExxonMobil.

Seth Freeman joined Schlotzsky’s as Vice President of Marketing. A seasoned marketing executive with experience across the consumer-packaged goods, hospitality and restaurant industries, Freeman will oversee the national consumer marketing strategies and programs that drive brand growth and relevance, inclusive of menu development, promotions, demand generation, and the overall Schlotzsky’s brand experience.

Prior to joining Schlotzsky’s, Freeman was the Chief Marketing Officer for Buffalo Wild Wings where he successfully partnered with franchisees to drive sales and focused on improving the overall guest experience. Freeman has also served in marketing leadership roles at Russell Athletic, The Coca-Cola Company and InterContinental Hotels Group.

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