ORLANDO, FLA. — Kelli Valade has been named chief executive officer at Red Lobster Seafood Co. She succeeds Kim Lopdrup, who is retiring after leading the casual dining company for 14 years.
Valade joins the seafood chain from Black Box Intelligence, a restaurant analytics and data company, where she was president and CEO. Prior to joining Black Box in 2019 she spent more than two decades at Brinker International, where she was brand president for Chili's Grill & Bar. She also held leadership positions, including chief operating officer and senior vice president of human resources at Brinker.
She currently serves on the boards of the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation and Seasoned and is a member of the Women's Foodservice Forum executive committee. She was a recipient of The Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo’s Beacon Award in 2016 and has been recognized as a distinguished alumni from Binghamton University for her impact in the restaurant industry.
“When I announced my plan to retire, I promised our people we would recruit an outstanding new CEO to lead Red Lobster to even greater success over the next generation, and I absolutely believe Kelli is that person,” Lopdrup said. “Her experience and deep industry insights coupled with her integrity and commitment to fostering a purpose-driven culture are the perfect fit as we begin this new chapter.”
Lopdrup was president of Red Lobster from 2004-2011 when it was owned by Darden Restaurants and returned as CEO in 2014 when it became an independent company. After his retirement, he will remain on the boards of Wawa, Bob Evans Restaurants and Kalera, a hydroponic vertical farming company.