Steve Giordanella, CEO & Chairman of I Heart Mac & Cheese, announced that Angelo Freites has been hired as Vice President of Franchise Operations and that Rafael Romero has been hired as Director of Marketing. Freites has 40 years of experience in the franchise industry, formally a Franchisee of Wendy’s and Checkers, and Romero comes from YUM! International (KFC) and Wendy’s International as brand strategist and marketing director across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Steve Giordanella says, “I am so pleased to have such top industry veterans as Angelo Freites and Rafael Romero join the I Heart team. Their combined experience will lead our aggressively-planned expansion throughout the country.” He adds, “Our growing fast-casual restaurant concept specializes in made-to-order macaroni and cheese bowls, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a large variety of health-conscious options. There are currently 40+ I Heart Mac & Cheese restaurants across the U.S. with dozens more bought and planned to open through 2025 and beyond under the new leadership of Mr. Freites and Mr. Romero.”

Angelo Freites has worked from a dishwasher to becoming CEO of a large quick-service brand. His 40 years of experience in the restaurant and franchise space spans all levels of restaurant site development, management, and operations. He has owned several quick-service restaurants as a multi-unit franchisee including Wendy’s, Checkers, and Popeyes. In recent years, Freites shifted focus to consulting emerging brands from strategic planning to operations. Rafael Romero, who has over two decades of experience, managed KFC brand building in 40 countries, developed marketing calendars, and implemented digital content libraries, driving significant growth. At Wendy’s, he led the creation of the Brand Building Marketing Academy, aligning brand strategies across 18 countries and facilitating successful market entries in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and Ecuador. He also worked in marketing for Burger King and Domino’s Pizza. Romero is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish and French.

At I Heart Mac & Cheese, guests select from numerous proteins, vegetables, and cheeses, including many vegan, gluten-free, and plant-based choices. Dressings and sauce options include Sesame Ginger, Mango Habanero, Signature Cheese Sauce, Marinara, Buffalo, BBQ, Pesto, and Signature Vegan Cheese Sauce. Menu choices include:

  • Lobster & White Truffle Mac & Cheese
  • Buffalo Blue Mac & Cheese
  • Classic Mac & Cheese
  • Chicken Parm Mac & Cheese
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich varieties
  • Vegan Grilled Cheese and Mac & Cheese varieties
  • Gluten-Free varieties
  • Tomato Soup and Tater Tots
  • Signature Mac Bites
Employee Management, Fast Casual, News, I Heart Mac & Cheese