Nelson and Setzer own Blue Ridge Foods, an 18-unit Burger King franchise in east Tennessee. Setzer has been associated with Burger King since 1975. Nelson has 20 years of food industry experience and is the majority owner of 10 T.G.I. Friday's units in North Carolina, South Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.
Todd Smith joins Nelson and Setzer as their operating partner. Smith has managed full-service casual dining restaurants since 1982 and now serves as president of Nelson's T.G.I. Friday's franchise group. Smith is also a member of T.G.I. Friday's Franchise Advisory Council.
Ron Shaich, Panera Bread chairman and chief executive officer said, "The depth of experience that John, Dwaine and Todd bring will be a significant asset to us as we further develop the Atlanta market. We are pleased to partner with such an established and capable team."
"My partners and I believe that American tastes have awakened to 'real food' and especially high quality bread," Nelson said. "The outstanding bread and quality menu items that Panera Bread offers fill a real consumer need. We are proud to join Panera Bread in its efforts to bring great bread to people across the country."
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