Interim CEO Rick Van Warner is taking over the official position at fast-casual chain Tijuana Flats. Van Warner is a longtime board member who has held the interim tag since March, when he succeeded Larry Ryback as CEO of the Altamonte Springs, Florida-based brand. Ryback departed in February to become CEO of casual-dining concept Cotton Patch Café Inc.
Van Warner previously held roles at consulting firm Parquet Group and crisis management concern Parquet Crisis Management, and was a communications expert with Darden Restaurants Inc.
Tijuana Flats, which has grown to 135 units across six states (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana), has 18 franchised locations. It was founded in 1995 by Brian Wheeler and owned by AUA Private Equity Partners LLC since 2015.
Van Warner started working with Tijuana Flats in 2001 as a consultant, as well as a joint-venture partner at a single location.