Checkers & Rally’s announced Thursday that CEO Frances Allen is resigning to focus more on board work.

She serves on the boards of Chili’s parent Brinker International and No Kid Hungry, according to her LinkedIn profile. The executive will remain with the company through September as it searches for a new leader.

“It has been my honor to lead this organization these past four years, and I’m extremely proud of what we have accomplished,” Allen said in a statement. “While I’m looking forward to the future, I’m grateful for my time at such an iconic brand, and for the opportunity to work with such an exceptional organization and Franchisees. Together, we have successfully launched our Restaurant of the Future store remodel, which is driving incredible market growth for our restaurants, artificial intelligence at the drive-thru, menu innovation, and more. I leave knowing the company is well positioned to execute on its next chapter of growth and look forward to all that’s to come for the organization.”

Allen will still be a shareholder of Checkers and an active participant in the hiring process.

She joined the burger chain in February 2020, only weeks before COVID arrived. Despite the uncertain times, Allen strategically planned her onboarding process, engaging with employees, franchise advisory committees, and visiting restaurants before chaos ensued. The company quickly formed a crisis committee, implementing 15 new operational procedures to ensure the safety of employees and customers when offices closed due to the pandemic.

One major adjustment was dedicating one drive-thru lane to mobile order pickup, a move accelerated by the pandemic but originally considered by the brand. Checkers leveraged its drive-thru expertise to implement this change swiftly, capitalizing on its dual lanes and contactless exchanges. Another significant development was the introduction of AI voice ordering, aimed at relieving stress on employees and improving accuracy and efficiency. Checkers became the first quick-service chain to scale this technology across its company-operated footprint. There were challenges in installation and capacity, but the AI system has proven highly reliable, contributing to faster service and improved customer satisfaction.

Amid these changes, Checkers underwent a shift in ownership. Majority ownership moved from private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners to senior lenders Arbour Lane Capital Management, Garnett Station Partners, and Guggenheim Investments. As part of the deal, Checkers reduced its long-term debt from $300 million to $75 million and was also given $25 million for store remodeling and growth initiatives. 

“Since Frances joined our team in 2020, she has played an instrumental role in helping us to execute on a number of key initiatives that have helped to build a solid foundation for the business and a clear path forward for the company’s next phase of growth,” independent board member David Barr said in a statement. “We are thankful for her many contributions and leadership and look forward to her continued support during this transition period.” 

Checkers & Rally’s have roughly 800 restaurants systemwide. The current strategy is to target select in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Las Vegas, Arizona, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

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