Denny’s Corporation announced the appointment of John Dillon as president of Denny’s Inc. and David Schmidt as president of Keke’s Breakfast Café. Dillon and Schmidt will report to Chief Executive Officer Kelli Valade.

“It was a priority for the Denny’s Corporation Board of Directors and I to identify exceptional leaders to take advantage of the many opportunities in front of us for both Denny’s and Keke’s,” says Valade. “John and David have distinguished track records within the restaurant industry and have demonstrated unwavering commitments to delivering exceptional guest experiences. They also are dedicated to talent development, operational rigor and technological transformation, which is exactly what we need as we enter the next phase of our growth for Denny’s and Keke’s. I look forward to working with John and David to take our portfolio of brands forward.”

Dillon brings over two decades of restaurant expertise to his appointment as president of Denny’s Inc. In his most recent role as Chief Brand Officer of Denny’s, Dillon has helped to deliver greater shareholder value through the amplification of Denny’s America’s Diner brand positioning; fostering a collaborative culture with franchisees; launching Denny’s on Demand, the first delivery platform in family dining; launching two successful virtual brands; creating successful LTO offers and brand partnerships; growing Denny’s purpose-led social responsibility impact; and simplifying the core Denny’s menu with a focus on improved product quality and operational execution.

“It’s a great privilege for me to continue serving Denny’s through such an extraordinary time that I believe will be a period of continued growth and success for our brand, our team and our shareholders,” says Dillon. “Denny’s position as America’s Diner has never been more important and I’m looking forward to partnering with our dedicated franchisees and teams as we enter into the next stage of revitalization for this iconic brand.”

Schmidt is a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry who brings to Keke’s a proven track record of operations, marketing, finance, training and HR leadership. In addition to most recently serving as Chief Financial Officer of Red Lobster and Bloomin’ Brands, his experience includes serving as President of Bonefish Grill, during which he was responsible for developing and implementing the long-term growth strategy of a 200-unit polished casual concept. While leading Bonefish Grill, Schmidt built a talented and diverse leadership team that drove sales and traffic growth through differentiated brand positioning, improved product quality and execution, margin expansion, and increased employee retention.

“I’m excited about the growth opportunities in the quickly evolving AM eatery category and look forward to leveraging my experience alongside the entire Keke’s team to bring our shareholders more value by growing the brand beyond Florida and positioning it as the leading franchised AM eatery in the country.”

Dillon’s appointment as president of Denny’s will be effective on September 1, 2022, and Schmidt’s appointment as president of Keke’s Breakfast Café will be effective on September 12, 2022. Denny’s Inc. will immediately launch an active search for a new Chief Marketing Officer.

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, Denny's