Wienerschnitzel, the world’s largest hot dog franchise, announced J.R. Galardi has been appointed to the role of Chief Executive Officer effective February 1, 2022. The title of CEO has been added to his current position as company president which he has held since 2017. In his expanded role, Galardi will oversee all Galardi Group Inc. concepts including Wienerschnitzel, Tastee Freez and Hamburger Stand.
Having grown up with the brand, Galardi brings two decades of unique insight and experience to his elevated leadership role. His first job was with Wienerschnitzel as a janitor and over the years has touched nearly every facet of the business, from the fry station and drive-thru window to marketing, operations, community relations and business development. Galardi’s multidimensional experience will prove fruitful as he steps into the CEO role and leads the health and future of Galardi Group Inc.’s three growing brands. Former CEO Cindy Galardi Culpepper will maintain her role as Executive Chairman.
“I’m honored to continue my father’s legacy and have the opportunity to build upon the brand he created over 60 years ago in addition to the extended portfolio of concepts he believed in,” sayd Galardi, President & CEO of Galardi Group Inc. “We say this is a family business, but that isn’t defined by name or relation; it’s an unwavering commitment to our extended family of franchise partners in providing them with the tools to thrive while also delivering a consistently enjoyable experience to our loyal guests.”
Under Galardi’s leadership as company president, same-store sales increased 42 percent, digital sales have grown 400 percent and all areas of service improved significantly. With a hunger to expand the brands into untapped territories, new franchise area agreements were signed throughout the South and Northwest, and Galardi spearheaded the creation of Wienerschnitzel’s International Division to expand trademarks outside the United States.
Another hallmark of Galardi’s tenure, Wienerschnitzel successfully lowered the average age of its customer base while maintaining the loyalty of its legacy guests. Through engaging brand partnerships, innovative marketing initiatives and guest-friendly digital upgrades, Galardi turned the more than 60-year-old brand into one with multigenerational appeal. Today, Wienerschnitzel is an iconic restaurant where guests continue to pass down their love of the brand’s legendary hot dogs, chili dogs and corn dogs to their children and children’s children. New memories will be made, and traditions will live on as Wienerschnitzel evolves to meet the changing demand of today’s consumer while staying true to what made the brand a household name more than six decades ago.
“Beyond being extremely dedicated to the success of our franchise partners and longevity of our brands, J.R. is a passionate visionary whose innovative ideas have already proven successful in bringing Galardi Group and our concepts into the future,” says Galardi Culpepper. “He’s extremely forward-thinking when it comes to strategizing for what’s next, but also has the self-assurance and determination to see his ideas through to the end. I have every confidence he will uphold his father’s vision to instill Wienerschnitzel’s place in the heart and minds of generations to come.”
As CEO, Galardi has his sights set on opening Wienerschnitzel locations outside the U.S. before year’s end. He also plans to embrace new industry disrupters like virtual kitchens, product licensing and other nontraditional ways of serving its popular menu creations both domestically and abroad. Along with focusing on the profitability of all brands, Galardi will expand efforts under Wienerschnitzel’s “Serving Food to Serve Others” mission to provide even more resources and financial aid to for-cause organizations primarily benefiting children in need and the homeless.
There are nearly 350 franchised Wienerschnitzel locations in operation throughout 10 states, with more than 50 units in various stages of development across the U.S.