Marugame Udon has named restaurant and franchising executive Gregg Imamoto its CEO of U.S. operations, effective September 13.
Imamoto previously served as CEO of Pieology, where he helped create record financial performance while growing the brand between 2018 and 2021. He has more than 25 years of C-suite experience in the food and beverage, consumer products, healthcare, aerospace and financial services industries with a proven process and track record of improving company performance, developing bench talent, and maximizing stakeholder value.
At Marugame Udon, he’ll be tasked with leading the expansion of the brand’s U.S. presence while developing a franchise business model. The company currently operates restaurants in Hawaii, California and Texas.
Marugame Udon is the flagship concept for publicly traded Toridoll, a restaurant conglomerate with over $1.4 billion in sales across more than 1,000 restaurants worldwide. In partnership with Toridoll, US-based private equity firm Hargett Hunter will continue to lead the growth of this popular fast casual Japanese chain in the United States.
“Our partnership with Hargett Hunter enables Toridoll to share authentic Japanese food and culture in the U.S., which is our most important market for growth,” says Toridoll founder and President Takaya Awata. “We are confident Mr. Imamoto is the right leader at the right time to propel our expansion, and I have high expectations for his success.”
“We searched at length to find the right executive who will refine our mission and sharpen our business model in preparation for growth,” adds Hargett Hunter Managing Partner Jeff Brock. “Gregg has the financial, strategic and operational expertise to help us replicate Marugame’s international success here in the U.S.”
Tokyo-based Marugame Udon, with more than 1,000 locations in 10 countries and regions, specializes in authentic, handmade Japanese Sanuki udon noodles and fresh tempura, all made in an open and engaging kitchen. Marugame Udon first came to the U.S. in Hawaii more than 10 years ago with its flagship store in Waikiki and expanded into California in 2017. It opened its first Texas location in 2020.
“I’ve been a fan of Marugame Udon since the first time I tried it in Waikiki – I ate there every day of every week I was in town when we discovered it – so the offer to lead the company and grow the brand’s U.S. presence was especially attractive because of my personal enjoyment of the brand,” says Imamoto. “I look forward to working with the team in introducing Marugame’s incredible food to more consumers across the country.”