While the economy has caused most in the restaurant industry to hunker down, if not contract, Shakey’s USA, a 56-year old pizza chain, is bucking the trend, creating two new management positions to help navigate the brand’s growth. Joining the Shakey’s team are Jake LaJoie, chief financial officer and Craig Hopkins, senior vice president of corporate and franchise development.

Mr. LaJoie brings to Shakey’s more than a decade of private equity, investment banking, and corporate finance experience. He is responsible for over $200 million in equity investments and $15 billion in M&A and corporate finance transactions over the course of his career.

At Shakey’s, LaJoie’s duties include the management of the annual operating plan, budgeting, development and sales forecasts, and analysis of potential acquisitions. He will also supervise the accounting, payroll, IT, and supply chain management functions.

Prior to joining Shakey’s, LaJoie was a vice president with Argonne Capital Group, a middle market private equity firm based in Atlanta. While at Argonne, LaJoie acquired FMS, Management Systems Inc., the only licensee in the IHOP system operating 145 restaurants in the state of Florida with over $200 million in system-wide sales. He also sourced and led the acquisition of Stevi B’s Pizza, a rapidly growing, 30-unit restaurant concept with over $30 million in system-wide sales.

“I’m absolutely thrilled about the opportunity to help continue the growth of a company with such a rich and storied history,” LaJoie says. “Working alongside a world class management team and board, not to mention a sophisticated investor base, is a CFO’s dream come true.”

Also, a seasoned franchise professional and restaurateur, Craig Hopkins brings to Shakey’s a franchise development and real estate pedigree of international scope, reflecting a who’s who of brands, including Arby’s, Carl’s Jr., Hardees, Popeye’s and Church’s Chicken, Baja Fresh, and La Salsa, to name a few. Over the course of his career, he is credited with the cultivation, growth, and expansion of more than 1,000 retail units.

At Shakey’s, Hopkins will be responsible for franchise administration and sales, as well as supervising the design and construction of new stores. His duties also include overseeing the facilities teams to ensure they achieve corporate objectives of growth and expansion.

“I am very excited to be part of the future at Shakey’s,” Hopkins says. “Our new design model has effectively captured Shakey’s iconic American heritage while delivering a modern, entertainment-oriented experience for everybody to enjoy. The opportunity for growth is unlimited.”

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