MOOYAH Burgers, Fries, and Shakes announced Bill Spae, formerly chief operating officer and chief development officer of Cici’s Pizza, will take the position of president and CEO.

Spae will begin the new role at MOOYAH on January 7, responsible for the brand’s strategic direction and operations.

“Within the restaurant industry, the better-burger segment is one of the most exciting places to be,” Spae says. “MOOYAH’s position is ideal and highly competitive because we serve more than burgers, fries, and shakes. We serve an experience. It’s the reason why guests keep asking for MOOYAH to open in towns and cities throughout the country.”

The brand’s leadership transitions just as MOOYAH positions for continued growth in 2013, after nearly doubling the number of restaurants from 25 to 48 in 2012.

Much of this growth stems from franchisees opening their second, third, or fourth locations after the success of initial restaurants, which in turn attracted new franchisees to the brand.  

“We’re fortunate to have a strong leadership team coupled with an enthusiastic and successful franchisee base. With our current momentum and goals for 2013, we believe Bill’s experience with strong, growing brands like ours and his respected leadership in the restaurant industry will set the stage for the MOOYAH brand in 2013 and beyond,” says Rich Hicks, cofounder.

Spae is a veteran retail and restaurant executive with 40 years of leadership experience. Most recently he served as COO and chief development officer of Cici’s Pizza, which includes 500 pizza buffet restaurants.

Additionally, Spae took over responsibilities for the JMC Distribution Company, a full-service distributor for all Cici’s restaurants.

A seasoned leader, Spae is a former president and CEO of several other large operating companies. He began his career with Burger King Corporation and soon after joined TGI Fridays where he took part in the chain’s rapid expansion. He became the business’s then-youngest vice president and was one of four people to take the company public.

After transitioning to an executive role within a division of Pepsi Cola and later Wendy’s Restaurants, Spae joined Hollywood Entertainment, owner of Hollywood Video. There, he collaborated with the founder to complete a secondary public offering and grew the small West Coast business to a $1 billion national player in the home-entertainment industry.

Metromedia Restaurant Group then recruited Spae to turn around its Ponderosa/Bonanza Steakhouses and Steak and Ale Restaurant brands. Spae’s restaurant resume also includes his roles as president of Bennigan’s Grill and Tavern and former franchisee of Taco Bueno.

“We are committed to continuing to build our infrastructure with the most qualified people that we can find,” Hicks adds. “We will continue to work to better serve the entire MOOYAH system today and prepare for the journey ahead.”

Spae is a Jacksonville University graduate, member of the Texas Restaurant Association, former board member of several nonprofit and for-profit organizations, and a cofounder of STAR, a nonprofit organization that specializes in work with high-risk students.

He is also an active participant in several charitable groups and a former member of the executive board of the Corsicana/Navarro County Chamber of Commerce.

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