Debra Koenig was appointed chairman of the board at Quaker Steak & Lube following the company’s annual shareholder meeting April 19. She replaces John Longstreet, who had been serving as interim chairman and will stay on as president and CEO.
Two things a McDonald’s executive brings to a full-service operation are an understanding of supply chain management and of food handling and safety, says Richard Adams. Adams is founding proprietor of Franchise Equity Group, which specializes in franchisee advocacy. He also spent 18 years as a McDonald’s corporate franchise executive.
“If the chain is going to ramp up its franchise program, a McDonald’s person could be valuable,” Adams says.
Accordingly, CEO Longstreet calls Quaker Steak & Lube a “franchise company.” The brand has 48 restaurants, about 80 percent of which are run by franchisees, Longstreet says.
“Certainly, when you look at McDonald’s, one of the greatest restaurant companies of all time and one of the greatest franchising organizations, there’s no question that [Koenig’s] special skill is going to benefit us as we grow as mostly a franchise company,” Longstreet says.
He says Quaker Steak & Lube plans to open three company-owned restaurants this year and 10 franchised locations.
“It’d definitely be the biggest year in the history of the company,” Longstreet says. “It’s one thing to grow, but it’s entirely another to grow well.”
Koenig had a 25-year history with McDonald’s, where she served as president of the chain’s Southeast division. After leaving McDonald’s, she spent four years as CEO of VICORP Restaurants, a privately held, full-service restaurant organization.
Koenig’s former board experience includes VICORP as well as McDonald’s, where she was an advisory board member in 1990 and 2000. She says she was drawn to Quaker Steak & Lube because of its success during the recession.
“To see this organization growing and thriving in a time when restaurants weren’t growing, I see great opportunity for the brand,” she says.
By Sonya Chudgar