Velvet Taco, the trend-setting, premium taco concept created by Dallas-based Front Burner Restaurants, announced that Clay Dover was named to the newly created position of president.
Dover, who most recently served as chief marketing officer for Pei Wei Asian Diner, the fast-casual division of Scottsdale, Arizona-based P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc., has over 25 years of restaurant experience and a track record of growing and enhancing restaurant brands. His previous executive roles include successful stints with Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, where he helped exponentially grow the brand (from 60 to 220 restaurants during his six years) and established the Plano-based Restaurant Support Office, as well as serving as CEO of Metromedia Restaurant Group and Vice President of Marketing at Apex Restaurant Group.
“Clay is one of the most talented individuals in the restaurant industry and we couldn’t be more pleased that he will be leading the Velvet Taco brand as it embarks on a path of significant growth across new and existing markets,” says Front Burner CEO Randy DeWitt. “I’ve known Clay for a long time and his track record of brand development and strategic thinking are exactly what we were looking for when we began the search for new leadership.”
In September 2016, Velvet Taco received a significant growth investment from Greenwich, Connecticut-based private-equity firm L Catterton. The company noted that Velvet Taco’s innovative, food-forward approach to fast-casual dining has positioned the brand for nationwide expansion in the years ahead.
Velvet Taco opened its first restaurant in Dallas in 2011 and later expanded to Chicago, Houston and Fort Worth. Its fifth location is scheduled to open in Austin next month.
“I really had no intention of leaving Pei Wei any time soon, but the opportunity to join Randy and the Velvet Taco team with this extraordinary concept at such an early stage in its development was just too good to pass up,” says Dover. “I’ve been a big fan of Velvet Taco and the unique niche it has carved out in the fast-casual space since its inception. It has tremendous upside and a cult-like following, and I’m honored to be chosen to steer the brand going forward.”
Dover was named Dallas CMO of the Year in 2012 by the American Marketing Association and a Top 100 Chief Marketing Officer in 2016 by Richtopia. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executives Group. He and his wife, Rebecca, and their three children, are currently relocating back to Dallas from the Phoenix area.