In a move to further “differentiate and perfect the guest experience at Maggiano’s,” Brinker International tapped industry vet Kelly C. Baltes as the next president of the 52-unit Italian chain.
Baltes will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of Maggiano’s restaurants, including strategies and future growth of the brand, the parent company of Chili’s said in a release.
“When you ask a guest about their experience at Maggiano's, they often tell stories of how we made them feel special in the restaurant and go above and beyond to make a celebratory moment even more memorable," Wyman Roberts, chief executive officer and president of Brinker, said in a statement.
Baltes arrives at Brinker with more than 30 years of industry experience. He was the chairman and chief executive officer of Cheddar’s, Inc. The casual chain, now owned by Darden, more than doubled its footprint under Baltes, who was hired to lead the brand in August 2007. There were 63 restaurants at the time. He left in 2014. Ian Baines, previously CEO and president of Darden’s Smokey Bones concept, started at Cheddar’s in fall 2014 and remained with the brand through its transaction last April. However, in July, Baines stepped away from the role at the now 165-unit casual brand, which serves an average of 6,000 guests per week at each restaurant.
Baltes helped lead the brand’s name change to Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen from Cheddar’s Casual Café. Before, he served as executive vice president of operations for Red Lobster, where he led the operational and profitability transformation that lifted Red Lobster to its top performance in almost a decade, Brinker said. Baltes also held leadership roles at Olive Garden.
"It is an honor for me to join the incredible Maggiano's family. I have been a longtime admirer and guest of Maggiano's and have a great deal of respect for the culture, hospitality and made-from-scratch Italian-American cuisine," Baltes said in a statement. "I look forward to visiting each restaurant, meeting Teammates and working with the leadership teams for continued success of the brand."
Maggiano’s reported a 0.5 percent same-store sales lift, year-over-year, in the third quarter that ended March 28. Chili’s comps fell 0.4 percent at company-run stores and 3.2 percent at U.S. franchise units. As a company, Brinker reported net income of $46.9 million, or $1.02 per share, compared with $42.4 million, or 86 cents per share, year-over-year. Revenue was $812.5 million, up from $810.6 million.