Mod Pizza hires Panera vet as first development director

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Diving brief:

  • Mod Pizza has hired Stephen Blum as its first Director of Development and promoted Becky Mulligan to a newly created position of Restaurant Manager, the company said Monday.
  • The company has also hired three additional executives to support franchising, culinary innovation and operations.
  • These leadership appointments will help support the growth of the company, which has reached more than 520 locations this year.

Overview of the dive:

The latest management changes at the fast-casual pizzeria reveal the chain is gearing up for major expansion. While Mod would need to speed up development to achieve 1,000 restaurants by 2024, a goal it set in 2019, it has seen moderate growth despite the pandemic and opened its 500th store in 2021. The business expands into new states, including Oklahoma, with the opening of its first store in that state in April. also mod considered going public last year with a draft confidential registration statement, but it has yet to provide any updates or public documentation to the SEC.

Blum is responsible for guiding this growth. He has over two decades of experience in the restaurant industry, including at Panera Bread, Panda Restaurant Group and Au Bon Pain. He most recently worked at Hertz as SVP of Real Estate and Facilities for six years, according to his LinkedIn profile. In his new role, Blum will lead store development, including real estate, store design, construction, facilities and portfolio management.

Mod’s new hires also show that the company plans to expand and grow its franchise business. In 2020, the company added its 10th franchise partner, DBMC Restaurantsin a deal that would add 30 stores over seven years.

Mulligan has been with Mod for a year, during which time she led the Field Operations and Operations Excellence teams for more than 440 company-owned restaurants. His expanded role will allow him to run all of the company’s stores as well as the brand’s franchise restaurants. Mod also hired Cynthia Richardson as vice president of the franchise, reporting to Mulligan. Richardson, who spent 25 years at 7-Eleven supporting franchisees in 17 countries, will support franchise, non-traditional and international operations.

The company also recruited Ben Coarde, who spent more than 14 years at Starbucks, as regional vice president of operations overseeing the Eastern region. James Holguin, who has been with Mod for seven years, has been promoted to regional vice president of operations, responsible for the Western region. Additionally, Scott Uehlein has joined Mod as Vice President of Culinary Excellence and Innovation, focusing on menu development and innovation.

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