Lynn Schweinfurth, the chief financial officer of Fiesta Restaurant Group, is leaving her post to join Red Robin, the companies announced in separate statements Wednesday afternoon. Schweinfurth, who was also SVP and treasurer, is set to depart Fiesta, the parent company of Taco Cabana and Pollo Tropical, January 25.
Schweinfurth will hold the EVP and CFO position at the full-service burger chain, and be responsible for leading all financial disciplines at 574-unit Red Robin, including accounting, strategic and financial planning, operations analysis, treasury, and investor relations. She will oversee Red Robin’s supply chain function as well.
“Lynn’s extensive strategic, finance and capital markets experience with recognized restaurant brands rounds out Red Robin’s leadership ranks as we continue to build a best-in-class organization to drive growth in a rapidly evolving business. We are excited to have Lynn on the Red Robin team and look forward to her contributions in achieving our long-term vision,” said Denny Marie Post, Red Robin chief executive officer, in a release. “We are also pleased that Lynn’s arrival will allow us to complete the transition of Guy Constant from CFO to COO. Guy’s focused leadership and clear operational vision will help ensure we serve the needs of Red Robin guests and build our traffic momentum.”
Red Robin previously announced that Constant would shift roles to lead company and franchise operations, development and facilities as EVP and COO. Red Robin said in September that it was replacing then-COO Carin Stutz with Constant. Red Robin noted at the time that Constant would remain in his previous CFO post until it found a successor—a move Red Robin expected to take place by early 2019. That turned out to be just the case.
Stutz, who previously served as president of McAlister’s Deli and led Cosi as CEO before that, held the EVP and COO job at Red Robin since April 2016.
Schweinfurth joined Fiesta in 2012. Previously, she held various senior finance leadership positions at global restaurant companies, including Brinker International, YUM! Brands, and PepsiCo.
Red Robin’s same-store sales declined 3.4 percent in the third quarter. Total company revenues decreased 3.5 percent to $294.9 million, which was down $10.8 million from this time last year. A 1.5 percent decline in average guest check and a 1.9 percent decline in guest traffic contributed to the sales drop.
Cheri Kinder, current corporate controller and chief accounting officer, will step in as interim CFO of Fiesta. The company is conducting a formal search for a new permanent CFO, it said.
"On behalf of the entire company, I would like to thank Lynn for her many contributions to Fiesta and wish her much success in her new position. As interim CFO, I am confident Cheri’s leadership will effectively guide us during the search process,” president and chief executive officer Richard Stockinger said in a statement.
Added Schweinfurth: "My experience at Fiesta has been tremendous and I have had the opportunity to work with such a passionate group of people at these iconic restaurant brands. I will miss the Fiesta team and I look forward to seeing the execution of the long-term strategy upon the recent implementation of the renewal plan.”
In late December, Fiesta announced the completion of its “strategic renewal plan,” launched in early fiscal 2017. In doing so, it said it would close14 Pollo Tropical restaurants in Florida and Georgia, include all nine Pollo Tropicals in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. The company is also shuttering nine Taco Cabana units in Texas. As of September, there were 150 company-run Pollo Tropical units, 171 corporate Taco Cabanas, 30 franchised Pollo Tropicals in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Guyana and Panama, and eight franchised Taco Cabana restaurants stateside.
Fiesta has reported stellar top-line results in recent quarters. This past quarter—Q3 of 2018—Taco Cabana’s comps were up 12.2 percent, year-over-year, marking two consecutive quarters and six consecutive months of gains, and Pollo Tropical’s lifted 6.5 percent, good for three consecutive quarters and 10 straight months of improvement.