Katerina Glyptis’ family immigrated from Greece to the U.S. and settled in Cleveland where they established a line of fast-casual Greek American diners. They’d place a young Glyptis in her highchair while her mom rang up customers, immersing her in the vibrant quilt of restaurant culture.

“Restaurants are real, tangible. Food is innate and routine to people’s lives … It’s something memories and communities are built over. Breaking bread with people is so immediately real, and it’s something that really attracted me to this space,” Glyptis shares.

While she felt naturally inclined toward food service, she spent her college years at Harvard studying economics, government, and ethics. She says her main vision was to figure out how to make a difference in communities and get involved in “executing good things to happen for large quantities of people.”

Glyptis recalls strolling down the rows of companies at her college career fair, wondering what type of industry or company she could join post-graduation. Here, she ran into Burger King, where everything seemed to come full circle for her.

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“It was clear to me that of all the different concepts in this consumer-facing space, there was something different about Burger King because it gave young people a world of responsibility and ability to have an impact,” Glyptis says. “It was a way to connect with something I had a strong appreciation for from the way I grew up.”

Soon after, Burger King merged with Tim Hortons in December 2014 under Restaurant Brands International. Glyptis went on to work for Burger King for nine years, holding senior roles in restaurant development, franchise performance, and eventually became vice president of franchise operations for 7,200 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.

Katerina Glyptis

Building strong relationships with franchisees brings Glyptis back to her childhood because it reminds her of her parents. She understands the personal investment required from both ends, and it drives her to continuously improve franchisee relations. That’s been the driver of success at Burger King.

“Franchisees are putting their entire lives into the restaurant. It’s their livelihood, their kids, their college,” Glyptis adds. “There is a lot of responsibility that comes with helping support them to further grow their success, and it all hits close to home for me.”

She quickly became the inner consciousness of the franchise system, positioning herself as the go-to person for discussing operations, marketing, development, finance, and everything in between. She championed franchisee victories as a building block for the success of the brand, and this attitude carried over to her position at Tim Hortons.

In June 2023, the coffee giant announced Glyptis as president of Tim Hortons U.S. to support the brand’s growth and development in the market, which has plenty of whitespace. Tim Hortons finished 2022 with 636 domestic restaurants. By the end of 2023, the brand reached its largest number of U.S. openings in over five years under Glyptis’ wing.

With her natural business acumen and execution-oriented approach, Glyptis was brought on board to oversee and drive expansion into new markets such as Texas, Georgia, Arizona, Tennessee, Missouri, Delaware, and New Jersey.

She was so invested in Burger King that it felt bittersweet to leave it behind, but she also recognized the opportunity Tim Hortons presented not just to her but to U.S. consumers. Glyptis saw this as a chance to delve further into her passion to have a lasting impact on communities.

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“Tim Hortons is an iconic brand and the most densely penetrated restaurant concept in Canada,” Glyptis shares. “I got to appreciate it as a guest while living in that market, and I got to know its heritage and loyal following from guests.”

The beloved Canadian coffee chain entered the U.S. in 1984, establishing itself in markets where Canadians could make cross-border coffee runs. It made steady progress in a few key U.S. markets for 40 years, but Glyptis believes now is the right time to accelerate growth.

“We’ve got the whole country open to us in the fastest-growing restaurant segment, and our early proof points in new markets show us that this growth is very real,” Glyptis says. “The investments from RBI and the excitement from their perspective to further help support a new, solid foundation for Tim Hortons in the U.S.”

So, what’s in this winning game plan? For starters, RBI hired an experienced development team, including Glyptis. Former Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle joined as RBI’s executive chairman in late 2022, and Ryan Ferranti became Tim Hortons’ head of business development and franchising in early 2023.

Through updated store builds, ROI-friendly franchise options, and technology aimed at building customer loyalty and generating visits, Glyptis is nurturing Tim Hortons U.S. and helping solidify its presence in both existing and new markets.

“We have around 650 units, mostly in the Great Lakes region, and we’re working on improving sales, customer count, and profitability of our franchisees,” Glyptis says. “Of course, we’re also focused on streamlining operations as well.”

A year into her role, Glyptis is steadily moving forward with introducing the brand to what she calls “an untapped void of consumers who have relocated” to places outside Tim Hortons’ core markets.

The momentum and progress across the brand’s system push Glyptis to continue creating brand visibility and building a team with the resources necessary to feel empowered and ready to accomplish their professional and personal goals.

“It’s been amazing to see how much I’ve grown and evolved in this role in just 10 months,” Glyptis says. “The creativity and intelligence of Tim Hortons U.S. team has been incredible … When I’m out touring in markets and in restaurants with the franchisees, it feels familiar, and it feels like home.”

Fast Food, Story, Women in Restaurant Leadership, Tim Hortons