DALLAS – The board of directors of Fiesta Restaurant Group Inc., parent company of fast-casual restaurant brands Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana, announced the appointment of Danny Meisenheimer as interim CEO and president. Meisenheimer takes the place of retiring president and CEO Tim Taft effective Sept. 30.
Meisenheimer’s history in foodservice includes COO and vice president of Pollo Tropical since 2013, chief brand officer of Pollo Tropical in 2012, COO at Souper Salad, Inc. from 2010 to 2012 and chief brand officer at Souper Salad, Inc. from 2008 to 2010. Before that, Meisenheimer served as vice president, Brand Management at Pizza Inn, Inc. from 2005 to 2008.
Fiesta’s board of directors continues its search for a permanent replacement for Taft. The executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, has been retained and will consider external and internal candidates for the permanent CEO position. The Fiesta committee and Heidrick & Struggles will also search for an experienced executive to serve as a non-executive director to fill Taft’s board seat.
“I am honored to lead Fiesta and intend to work closely with the Board to advance the company’s strategic initiatives,” Meisenheimer said in a statement. “I have the utmost confidence in our management team and its ability to execute on our business plan, including continued Pollo Tropical restaurant development in Florida and Atlanta and continued Taco Cabana restaurant development in Texas. Enhancing operations and generating additional awareness of the Pollo Tropical brand among consumers remain top priorities.”
Additionally, Fiesta has decided to suspend additional development of Pollo Tropical restaurants in Texas and to review the company’s strategy for development in the state while it continues to build brand awareness through several initiatives currently in process. However, Fiesta will continue developing and opening Pollo Tropical restaurants across Florida and in Atlanta, Georgia, and in 2017 expects to open 14-17 new Pollo Tropical restaurants primarily in Florida and 8-10 Taco Cabana restaurants in Texas.
The Fiesta board also decided against separating ownership of Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical and will suspend its search for a Taco Cabana brand CEO.