Native Foods announced the appointment of Carin Stutz as the new chief executive officer for the plant-based restaurant group. Stutz is a leader with an accomplished career that includes executive level roles at several national fast-casual concepts. She will focus on supporting sustainable growth for Native Food’s 13 restaurant locations in California, Oregon, Colorado and Chicago.

Stutz studied food and nutrition in college, with a concentration on utilizing soy-based foods as protein substitutes. “It was a forward-thinking notion at the time. Now, plant-based dishes are not only popular, they are a part of the everyday eating habits of diners,” Stutz says.

Now at Native Foods, she is looking forward to applying her leadership skills and passion for plant-based dining in her role as CEO. “I look forward to helping the Native Foods team grow. This unique brand is one of the true innovators in the area of creating plant-based food choices with delicious and flavor options. It’s a wonderful opportunity to build on the culture that has been established over the last 25 years. As my own dietary choices have become more plant-based, I find Native Foods to be a great resource, beyond the ever-popular plant-based burgers. The menu’s variety and creativity result in simply delicious offerings that are loved by all.”

Robert Millstone, managing partner of Millstone Capital Advisors, the manager for the parent company for Native Foods is thrilled to have Stutz join the brand. “Carin has demonstrated the ability to build teams that embrace continuous improvement, operational excellence and an exceptional guest experience. We are confident these and her many other abilities will position Native Foods to serve more people with new stores in existing and future markets.”

Most recently, Stutz served as executive vice president and chief operating officer for Red Robin where she oversaw 560 restaurants across the United States and Canada. She also served as president for McAlister’s Deli with FOCUS Brands; chief executive officer and president of Cosi; and president of Global Business Development for Brinker International, leading all operations and franchise development for 240 Chili’s and Maggiano’s restaurants around the globe. Prior to her work at Brinker, she was executive vice president of operations for Applebee’s International, Inc., and she also worked as vice president for the Central Division and later Pacific Division for Wendy’s International, Inc.

In addition, she has served as the past chair of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, a leading organization in the food service industry, dedicated to developing gender-diverse leadership talent. She has been recognized in Chicago’s Top 100 Women to Watch and Women Making a Difference; Texas Women Worth Watching award; received the distinguished alumni award from WIU; and is a national judge for ProStart, NRA Education Foundation. In her free time, she enjoys music, theatre, golf, and travel with her husband Rodger as well as spending time with her two sons and their families, including four grandsons.

Stutz will be leading the Native Foods team from the brand’s headquarters in Chicago.

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