Management Moves: Levitas, Hoffman, Okeson, Allan, Harris

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Claudia Levitas, Hooters of America

Hooters of America, LLC has announced that Claudia Levitas has joined the company as chief legal officer and general counsel, to oversee all legal matters for the company including litigation management and franchise law compliance. The Hooters system is comprised of 430 corporate and franchised units, which operate in 44 states in the United States and in 27 foreign countries.

Before joining Hooters, Levitas spent 16 years with Huddle House, an Atlanta-based diner concept with over 400 locations where she held the titles of both general counsel and chief administrative officer. Prior to specializing in the restaurant industry, Levitas worked for five years in a private-practice law firm in Washington, D.C. after graduating with a law degree from George Washington University.

"We are thrilled to have Claudia as part of our team and feel her extensive expertise in the restaurant industry, particularly in the areas of employment and franchise law, will be beneficial as we continue to grow the Hooters brand," states Terry Marks, CEO Hooters of America, LLC.

Michael Hoffman, International Hotel, Motel+Restaurant Show

Michael Hoffman, president of Albany, New York-based Turf Hotels, has been appointed chairman of the board of directors for the 2012 International Hotel, Motel+Restaurant Show (IHMRS).

More than 30 years of industry experience will assist Hoffman in leading efforts for the 97th annual IHMRS, taking place November 10-13, 2012, at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

“We welcome Michael’s vast industry experience to IHMRS 2012,” says Lynn White, show manager. “As an owner and operator of hotels, he understands what industry professionals are looking for from the show. We look forward to shaping the 2012 show under his leadership.”

As president of hotel management company Turf Hotels, Hoffman oversees four award-winning upstate New York properties—The Holiday Inn Resort/Lake George, the Holiday Inn Express/Western Avenue, the Homewood Suites Hotel/Wolf Road, and the Hampton Inn & Suites Hotel/Saratoga Springs.

He has served on the IHMRS board of directors for the past two years. Outside the office, Hoffman volunteers his time to several industry organizations, serving as past chairman of the board of the New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association, as well as the IHG Owner’s Association.

Also serving on the 2012 IHMRS board of directors are Joseph Spinnato, president, Hotel Association of New York City; Jan Chesterton, president, New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association; Joe McInerney, president and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association; Vijay Dandapani, president, Apple Core Hotels; John Fitzpatrick, CEO North America, Fitzpatrick Hotel Group; Pedro Mandoki, president, Mandoki Hospitality Group; Tony Mangano, vice president, Syramada Hotel Corporation; and John Russell, CEO, Advaya Hospitality.

Nils Okeson, Arby's Restaurant Group

Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc. announced today that Nils Okeson has rejoined Arby's as general counsel and chief development officer. Okeson will also serve as a member of the brand's leadership team.  

"We are thrilled that Nils has returned to the Arby's brand," says Hala Moddelmog, president of Arby's. "His ability to provide leadership through transformative corporate transactions combined with his experience at the operating company level with Arby's dating back to 2005 makes him a great addition to our team as we chart a course for growth."

"There are many exciting things going on at Arby's right now under Roark Capital Group's ownership,” says Okeson. “Hala has put together a terrific new management team and I am honored to become part of it. The system is gaining traction with new initiatives, and we are poised for sustainable growth in sales and profits for the benefit of our franchisees and our new owners. Of course, it all starts with a laser focus on the customer experience at Arby's restaurants."

Okeson originally joined Arby's in 2005 as general counsel, and in 2007 was also given the general counsel role at Arby's parent corporation, Triarc Companies.

In these roles, he helped to lead the company through a number of significant M&A and financing transactions as Triarc evolved into a pure play restaurant company with Arby's and then combined with Wendy's International, Inc. to form Wendy's/Arby's Group in 2008.

At Wendy's/Arby's Group, Okeson assumed additional responsibilities as general counsel of Wendy's. Wendy's and Arby's separated in 2011 when Roark Capital Group acquired Arby's.

Okeson now returns to Arby's with broader industry experience and added responsibilities, including business development.

Before joining Arby's in 2005, Okeson was a partner at Alston & Bird LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, where he specialized in corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions and securities law. While at Alston & Bird, Okeson was listed in Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America, and Georgia Super Lawyers. He also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.

Okeson joined Alston & Bird in 1990 after graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law. He also holds a bachelor of arts degree, from the University of Virginia.

Kaylann Allan, Twin Peaks Restaurants

To support its goal of opening 12 to 15 new locations this year, Twin Peaks Restaurants has named Kaylann Allan as its senior real estate manager.

“Kaylann is a great asset to our company and the best person to source out locations for successful conversion sites,” said CEO Randy DeWitt, who co-founded the concept in 2005 with Scott Gordon.

“Eighty-five percent of our best performing locations were converted from failed concepts into Twin Peaks, and those are the types of locations we are targeting in 2012.”

In the newly created role, Allan is responsible for managing the real estate and development process, which includes supporting franchisees in their real estate efforts, and coordinating legal, construction and operations for new store openings.

Prior to joining Twin Peaks, Allan was as an agent for Falcon Realty Advisors and most recently spent four years as the real estate manager for Cottonwood Financial. She is also a licensed broker with the Texas Real Estate Commission.

 Allan has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from The University of Texas at Arlington

William Harris, Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group

Mirabel Hotel & Restaurant Group announces the hiring of William Harris as director of food and beverage.

Harris, who brings more than three decades of experience to the Mirabel Group, will oversee Mirabel's numerous award-wining properties including L'Auberge Carmel/Relais & Chateaux, Aubergine, Cantinetta Luca, Salumeria Luca, all in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Hotel Les Mars/Relais & Chateaux located in Healdsburg, California.

Having worked as food and beverage director, wine director, and sommelier for some of the most prestigious resort and restaurant properties in the world, Harris is a natural fit for Mirabel Group, and the unparalleled service and signatures of its luxury brand. In addition, Harris holds a certificate from the Court of Master Sommeliers, and an advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust of London.

While with the AAA Five-Diamond/Mobil Five-Star Ritz-Carlton Naples, Harris managed a 40 million dollar budget, overseeing such significant industry events as the Naples Winter Wine Festival.

He directed the daily operations at the Greystone Restaurant at The Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, and was restaurant and wine director at Heritage House in Mendocino. Harris has been in management with such internationally notable properties as the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, the AAA Five-Diamond Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and Bacara Resort & Spa in Santa Barbara.

Mirabel CEO David Fink says, "We are thrilled to have Bill on our team. His experience and passion will help Mirabel grow and develop new concepts and refine our existing operations to be even better."


News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.

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