Actively positioning itself for growth and success in a changing restaurant landscape, Luna Grill has named industry veteran Michelle Goncalves as its Culinary Vice President. Coming most recently from Qdoba Mexican Eats where she served the past four years directing product marketing and culinary innovation, Goncalves has held management positions in product development, culinary innovation, restaurant operations and product marketing at some of the world’s best-known brands for more than 20 years.

“The Luna Grill brand is continuing to move forward, staying relevant through menu innovation is required to meet the changing customer landscape,” said Rich Pinnella, chief brand officer at Luna Grill. “Michelle’s incredible breadth of experience in product development, team leadership and multi-location rollouts will play a key role in our future,” he added.

When asked about why the move to Luna Grill, Goncalves commented, “Everyone in our house is already big Luna Grill fans. The company’s passion for fresh, wholesome, high-quality authentic food aligns with my values. Moving forward, I am excited to evolve the menu with new flavors and platforms that further positions the brand as contemporary Mediterranean.”

Prior to her time at Qdoba, Goncalves spent 17 years in various capacities with Taco Bell, a category leader in product innovation. Goncalves’ work is reflected in product innovations like the Crunchwrap Supreme and the Border Bowl line, both generating large global sales layers. She also served as director of growth channels, new product implementation and menu readiness. Her efforts became the framework for customer programs across YUM locations (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC) both domestically and internationally.

Early QSR career work for Goncalves also includes time with Jenny Craig, Carls Jr., and Jack in the Box, all in the product development sphere. She has a bachelors degree in foods and nutrition from California Polytechnic University, is an accredited Pastry Chef, and earned the 2017 Harold Meyberg Award for excellence in the culinary arts.

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