Jim Hyatt, who replaces G.J. Hart, also spent 32 years with Burger King.

California Pizza Kitchen named Jim Hyatt its new chief executive officer, effective immediately. Hyatt most recently held the same role at Ruby Tuesday, where he was part of the nearly 600-unit casual dining brand’s transition to a privately held company under NRD Capital. The former CEO of Church’s Chicken and Così Inc. joined Ruby Tuesday in April but was replaced in December once the $146 million deal with NRD was finalized. Hyatt is taking over for G.J. Hart at California Pizza Kitchen, who recently retired.

“This is an incredibly exciting time in CPK’s history,” Hyatt said in a statement. “The brand and team are strong, and the business is poised to achieve growth in its global footprint and in high-potential areas, including its off-premise business. My family and I have been loyal CPK guests for years, and when asked to lead the company in its next chapter of success, I knew it was an opportunity I could not miss. I look forward to working with the leadership team as we continue to deliver the exceptional food and hospitality that are the hallmarks of CPK.”

Hyatt’s 40 years of industry experience includes a 32-year career at Burger King, where he was the global chief operating officer of the fast-food giant and led 13,000 restaurants generating $20 billion of system-wide sales in 65 countries. He was also a multi-unit franchisee for 10 years.

“Jim is a world-class restaurant executive and team leader with a long track record of success in the industry and a passion for operational excellence. G.J. led the revitalization of CPK’s brand and culture, and we are confident that Jim is the ideal person to take the reins as CPK embarks on its next stage of growth,” Josh Olshansky, a managing director at Golden Gate Capital, CPK’s majority shareholder, said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful to G.J. for his leadership and contributions, and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

California Pizza Kitchen, based in Los Angeles, has about 300 units in 13 countries. The company is in the process of introducing its “Next Chapter” featuring reimagined menus, open kitchens, and renovations in all restaurants across the country.

“It has been an amazing journey at CPK over the past six years,” Hart added in a statement. “Together, we have reinvigorated a timeless brand centered on California Creativity, a passion for excellence, and a people-first philosophy. I could not be prouder of all that CPK has accomplished, and I am confident that, in Jim, we have identified a leader with the drive, skills, and track record to build on that legacy, who also aligns with the values that CPK’s brand represents.”

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Feature, Labor & Employees, California Pizza Kitchen