Paulo Pena, CEO of Carrols Restaurant Group, passed away unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve. 

The executive had served as president and chief executive since April. He was 50 years old.

Prior to his time at Carrols, Pena served as a vice president at McDonald’s, where he led the chain’s U.S. corporate store footprint. That includes a special project to redevelop New York City stores, such as a new Times Square flagship location. He also spent time at Coca-Cola, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, and hospitality platform Selina. 

“We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of our friend and colleague Paulo Pena,” David Harris, chairman of Carrols’ board, said in a statement. “While his time at Carrols was relatively short, his impact on the Company and its business was undeniable. Paulo was a visionary leader who created a culture of operational excellence and put the customer at the forefront of everything we do. While Paulo’s drive, energy and strategic insights will be greatly missed, I am confident that Carrols will continue to build upon the progress we have made under his leadership as we seek to capture the immense opportunities ahead of us. On behalf of the entire Carrols organization, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to Paulo’s wife and family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them, as well as all whose lives he touched.”

In accordance with Carrols’ succession plan, CFO Anthony Hull is serving as interim CEO until a replacement is hired. He joined the company in January 2020 after the passing of previous CFO Paul Flanders. 

Additionally, the company hired Joseph Hoffman to work as chief restaurant officer, a newly created position. Before being promoted to this role, he was senior vice president of operations from May to December, division vice president of operations from June 2017 to April 2022, and vice president, regional director from June 1997 to May 2017. He’s worked at Carrols since 1993, back when he joined as a district manager.

Carrols is the largest Burger King franchisee in the U.S., with a little over 1,000 restaurants in 23 states. It also oversees 65 Popeyes units in seven states. 

Fast Food, Story, Burger King