The Massachusetts Restaurant Association (MRA) announces that restaurant veteran Bob Luz has been named as president and CEO. After 24 years, Peter Christie is pleased to hand over the reins to Luz, who most recently held the position of Chief Human Resource Officer of American Blue Ribbon Holdings, LLC, based in Nashville, Tenn.
“I am both humbled and very excited with the opportunity the MRA Board has afforded me,” says Luz on joining the MRA as the new President and CEO. “The MRA is well known and respected as one of the preeminent state restaurant associations in the country. I look forward to a seamless transition with Peter and to continue to build upon the services and information that we provide our members.”
Luz brings many years of experience in the food and beverage industry to the MRA. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Hospitality Management and then moved into restaurant operations with Stouffers before transitioning into Human Resources & Training. In his early career, Luz was an integral part of developing the Applebee’s of New England market where he worked under Burton “Skip” Sack, the second person to own an Applebee’s franchise. When Sack sold his franchises back to corporate, Luz became vice president of Human Resources for Applebee’s and moved to Kansas City where he remained for six years during Applebee’s explosive growth period. Wanting to return to New England, he took his expertise in this industry and joined the then 45-unit Ninety Nine Restaurants as executive vice president of Human Resources and a member of the Executive Team. When publicly traded O’Charley’s Inc. purchased the Ninety Nine Restaurants in 2003, Luz began commuting from Boston to Nashville and was named chief HR officer for the company’s three brands: O’Charley’s, Ninety Nine Restaurants and Stoney River Legendary Steaks, with 22,00 employees in 352 restaurants.
Most recently, in 2012 Fidelity National Financial Inc. completed the purchase of O’Charley’s, Inc. and merged it into their restaurant division, American Blue Ribbon Holdings LLC. Luz was promoted to Chief Human Resource officer of all the aforementioned brands as well as: Bakers Square Restaurant & Bakery, Village Inn, Max and Erma’s, J. Alexander’s, and Legendary Baking, where Luz had responsibility for all HR & Training functions for 36,000 employees in 800 restaurants across the country.
Luz’s experience in restaurant operations, finance, human resources, training, advocacy, and organizational management has prepared him to fill the very large shoes Christie has left behind, and leaves him positioned, along with his talented team, to bring the MRA to new levels.