Emerging brand True Food Kitchen picked its first chief marketing officer Monday as it gears up for six new openings in 2019. The company, which received an investment from Oprah Winfrey last year, named Shannon Keller to the post. Keller most recently served as VP of marketing and has been with True Food Kitchen since 2015. She helped launch the company’s branded-online ordering experience. Keller previously worked as managing director of The Artigue Agency in Phoenix and has held executive positions at PMK BNC and Weber Shandwick, two of the country’s more prominent marketing and communications firms. She managed and developed campaigns for top companies, including Samsung, American Express, and Bacardi USA.
“Shannon’s wealth of experience in building great brands will be an asset to True Food as we continue to expand our footprint nationally,” said CEO Christine Barone in a statement. “She is exactly the right leader to help us illustrate and advance our mission to bring people together to eat better, feel better and celebrate a passion for better living.”
The hire continues True Food Kitchen’s efforts to bolster leadership in anticipation of expansion. At the end of 2016, the company hired Barone, a former Starbucks executive, as well as CFO Allison Schulder from P.F. Chang’s, and chief operating officer James Liakakos, the VP of operations at Jean-Georges Management. In 2018, the brand also tapped Robert McCormick, former Daniel Boulud corporate chef, as True Food Kitchen’s brand chef.
“True Food is a purpose-led company with the mission and values needed to become a truly meaningful, iconic brand,” Keller said in a statement. “We’re inspiring people everywhere to become part of a world where great-tasting food and thoughtfully-crafted beverages can be the foundation for a life well lived—and I’m excited about all of the great possibilities to come.”
Centerbridge Partners, the company that recently dealt P.F. Chang’s, remains the controlling shareholder of True Food Kitchen.
True Food Kitchen was founded by restaurateur Sam Fox and holistic wellness doctor Andrew Weil in 2008. A figurehead in whole food movement, Weil developed the anti-inflammatory pyramid, which has been a guiding principle for True Food Kitchen. The restaurant puts vegetables, fruits, and whole grains center stage with minimal animal proteins. There are 26 locations in 11 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia with restaurants slated to open later this year in Louisiana, Missouri, and Nevada.
True Food Kitchen has more than doubled its footprint in the last couple of years, going from 12 in 2016 to the 26 it has now.