Rich Pinnella has been named President of Luna Grill, a fast-casual Mediterranean market leader with 50 locations throughout Southern California and the Dallas, Texas metro area.
A former Taco Bell executive, Pinnella came to Luna Grill in the summer of 2019 as Chief Brand Officer and has been instrumental in the implementation of processes and operational planning as the company continues forward on a strategic growth trajectory. Pinnella, along with other recent executive additions, have rounded out the C-suite team, giving the company extensive depth in multi-unit operations.
Company CEO and co-founder Sean Pourteymour has handed day to day operations over to Pinnella and will focus on long-term expansion moving forward. "Back in 2018 we assessed the company, examining the infrastructure, talent and brand positioning and began searching for the right people to enhance the executive team. We knew we had to prepare for the next phase of strategic growth and began talent acquisition to guide that growth. Rich, along with our new CFO Bob Bartlett, were two of those first key hires and we always had the long-term goal of Rich eventually moving into a key leadership role," said Pourteymour.
Luna Grill has also recently added a new Culinary Vice President and first-ever Digital Catering Director, focusing exclusively on online/mobile and take out order execution. "We know our food travels well and like to tell our customers to let us 'replace your kitchen' with fresh, delicious meals prepared with quality ingredients," says Pinnella. "Recent dramatic changes to the dining landscape has given us the opportunity to push off-premise even further, through the COVID pandemic we have grown our delivery business over 150 percent, which was already a significant layer pre-COVID. Moving forward, Pinnella says he plans to continue the company's focus on strategic growth, menu innovation and ongoing commitment to the highest quality ingredients and scratch preparation.
Pourteymour has incredible confidence in Pinnella's leadership: "We knew it was time to start looking for someone to take over, but we also knew it had to be someone with the right approach, leadership style and match with the Luna Grill brand and culture. Rich has been nothing but impressive from the first day, and recent volatilities and the need to innovate have further showcased his leadership ability across our entire organization," Pourteymour adds.
Pinnella will continue to direct the overall Luna Grill brand position and marketing efforts working with the team already in place, with modifications to team member roles and possible new additions coming in the future. "Sean and I both believe the best way to build a successful company is to develop and bring brilliant people on board, then step aside and let them do what they do best," said Pinnella
Before making the move to Luna Grill in 2019, Pinnella was an executive with Taco Bell for 20 years, serving the last seven as a Vice President and General Manager. During that tenure, he directed U.S. based and International functional heads to deliver results across marketing, beverage, culinary, operations, and supply chain, through an aggressive international expansion to over 500 restaurants.
Luna Grill is a pioneer in the fast-casual segment, providing fresh Mediterranean food such as signature kabob plates, gourmet salads, bowls, appetizers including hummus and falafel, wraps, desserts, craft beer and wine in a contemporary setting. The concept has now grown to 50 locations in Southern California and the Dallas Fort Worth area.