Portland, Maine–based fast casual Luke’s Lobster announced that it promoted vice president of operations Virginia Rector to the role of chief operating officer. In this position, Rector will oversee all of Luke’s Lobster’s U.S. lobster shacks.

“We are delighted and proud to make this promotion,” says Luke Holden, founder and CEO of Luke’s Lobster. “Virginia has worked tirelessly and passionately over the past year and showed true leadership throughout what can only be described as an extremely challenging year for our restaurant group.”

Rector’s proactive management of the seemingly daily-evolving COVID regulations in eight different states prioritized teammates’ safety and kept shacks open. She successfully devised and implemented a revised labor model to enhance profitability and retain key teammates within Luke’s shacks. Holden says he believes this new labor model can be executed beyond the effects of the pandemic.

Perhaps most significantly, Rector and her team humanized the furloughing of more than 200 teammates by speaking personally with every single teammate who was furloughed as a result of COVID. She intuitively maintained strong relationships with those teammates, which enabled the company to restart operations and execute flawlessly as sales began to rebound. As a further investment in people, her team innovated the brand’s onboarding process, revised its teammate certification program, and created a review process centered around leadership development—all while the pandemic was happening in the background.

“Virginia’s leadership through COVID was terrific, and we’re excited to see the positive impact she will have as we turn the corner and move towards growth in the industry. I personally found a lot of strength and conviction during tough times from Virginia’s positivity,” Holden says.

Prior to joining Luke’s in 2017, Rector ran operations for Joe’s Crab Shack, TGI Friday’s, BR Guest Hospitality, and The Meatball Shop.

Fast Casual, News, Restaurant Operations, Luke's Lobster