Red Robin Gourmet Burgers on Monday announced a series of key appointments toward the completion of its Executive Leadership Team that will continue to position the company for success and create long-term shareholder value. This includes the appointment of Kevin Mayer to Chief Marketing Officer and Mark Simpson as Interim Chief People Officer beginning May 1. In addition, Jason Rusk has been promoted to Chief Business Development Officer.

“I’m pleased to announce the addition of three talented leaders to Red Robin’s Executive Leadership Team who will provide tremendous expertise to our organization as we continue to execute our strategic North Star growth plan,” says Red Robin president and Chief Executive Officer GJ Hart. “With these crucial leadership positions in place, we are well-positioned to deliver on our goal to establish Red Robin as a most loved restaurant brand in the communities we serve and drive growth and value for our team members, partners and shareholders. As we near completion of our best-in-class leadership team, we congratulate Kevin, Mark and Jason in their new roles and look forward to sharing more regarding our permanent Chief Technology Officer in the near future.”

As CMO of Red Robin, Mayer will be responsible for brand development, marketing, digital, innovation and menu development. He brings a wealth of global marketing, sales and brand building experience and has successfully led iconic public brands during key growth periods such as BJ’s Restaurants, Volkswagen, Subaru and Chevrolet. Most recently, Mayer served as Chief Marketing Officer of Pedego Electric Bikes, where he led sales and digital marketing initiatives for the private equity-backed company. Prior, he served as EVP, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Growth Officer at BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., where he oversaw cross-functional innovation, marketing, product development, off-premise, digital and earned media, and local marketing. Mayer and his team played a crucial role in transforming the BJ’s Restaurants brand, driving it from a regional casual dining player to a nationally recognized lifestyle brand. Their efforts resulted in numerous successful product launches, one of the best retention programs in the industry and record levels of familiarity and brand love contributing to nine straight quarters of same-store traffic growth over the category.

“Kevin is an accomplished marketer and sales builder with proven experience guiding brands in transformation,” Hart continues. “He understands the critical importance of addressing every aspect of the guest experience and engaging current and future Red Robin fans.”

Mark Simpson, a 35-year human resources and hospitality industry veteran, also joins Red Robin May 1 in the role of Interim Chief People Officer, with incumbent Wayne Davis’ recent departure to pursue other personal and career interests. Simpson recently retired from Texas Roadhouse, where he served as Vice President of Legendary People for many years and assisted in guiding the success of the company’s growth and award-winning culture, including administering its Operations-focused market & managing partner program, executive and senior-level staffing, benefits & compensation, field HR and employee relations, HR administration and more. He also has served in senior HR roles with Al Copeland Investments, Tia’s Tex-Mex (Ruby Tuesday Inc.) and Peasant Restaurants (Quantum/Morton’s Restaurant Group) and has served on the boards of the Multicultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Kentucky Restaurant Association. Simpson will provide senior leadership on key People initiatives during this transition and assist in the search for Red Robin’s permanent CPO.

In addition, Jason Rusk has been promoted to Chief Business Development Officer. Most recently serving as SVP of Transformation & Business Development, Rusk has played a leadership role in a number of key initiatives impacting operations, franchise, marketing and branding during his 25 years with Red Robin. In his expanded role, he will continue to spearhead business transformation initiatives including franchise development, culinary upgrades, off-premises channel growth, supply chain, in-restaurant guest experience, real estate and new restaurant growth as well as deepening key brand partnerships with Donatos and others.

Hart adds, “Mark and Jason bring deep experience to their respective areas. Mark played a central role in cultivating Texas Roadhouse’s best-in-class culture and will lead our People Team in facilitating processes and support structures that enable our team members to continue to thrive. Further, Jason’s track-record leading several successful operational, guest experience and sales driving initiatives during his impressive tenure have made him an invaluable member of our team, and we look forward to his continued strategic oversight in his expanded role.”

Casual Dining, Chain Restaurants, Industry News, Labor & Employees, Red Robin