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Native Foods Cafe, a fast casual, plant-based restaurant group, announced the appointment of Craig Grimes as its new CEO. Grimes has more than 25 years of multi-unit experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, and most recently served as corporate vice president of Food and Beverage for Cedar Fair L.P.
Grimes, who has served on the company's Board of Directors since April 2012, will succeed Daniel Dolan and assume responsibilities effective immediately. Dolan will remain chairman and a member of the Board of Directors.
The fresh food concept is making vegan mainstream with diverse and highly accessible recipes. Native Foods doubled in size in 2014 and plans to have 200 stores within four years. "I am honored and thrilled to be chosen by the Board to lead Native Foods into the next exciting chapter," says Craig Grimes. "We remain committed to influencing the way America eats, by attracting consumers who are seeking delicious, chef-crafted foods that are grown responsibly and sustainably. The company is well positioned for national expansion," he says.
Grimes progressed through food and beverage operations as district manager at Lone Star Steakhouse helping grow the chain from 28 to over 200 units and later serving as regional vice president of Levy Restaurants for 14 years.
"We are gratified that Native Foods has attracted a world-class leader to run and scale the concept," says former-CEO Daniel Dolan and vice chairman of the Board, Peter Grubstein, in a joint statement. "Native Foods has an extraordinarily loyal customer base and we're looking forward to Craig utilizing his operational expertise to help us grow more rapidly, and develop a deeper national footprint."
While at Cedar Fair, Grimes managed and partnered with several well-known fast casuals and quick service operations, including Tim Horton's, Subway, Perkins, TGI Friday's, Famous Dave's Dairy Queen, Panda Express, Chick-fil-A, and Auntie Anne's Pretzels, among others. "He has the operational and culinary expertise to help us build Native Foods and take advantage of the trend towards plant-based eating," says Grubstein.
Now in its 21st year as a leading fast casual vegan train, the company, headquartered in Chicago, has locations throughout California, Illinois, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington D.C.