FSR: Can you share how your past experiences at Lazy Dog, Disneyland Resort, General Mills, and Nestle will inform your approach as CEO of True Food Kitchen? What learnings are you bringing with you into your new role?
JW: We all bring our unique collection of experiences to each role, and I feel fortunate to have built my career at a number of great companies with leaders that have really invested in my development; something I strive to continue to pay forward. Having a background in hospitality, entertainment, and consumer packaged goods has given me a unique perspective on how to approach the constantly shifting business landscape in order to drive meaningful long term brand acceleration.
General Mills was an incredible space to learn every aspect of a business and which levers to pull to unlock growth. That experience taught me the importance of deeply understanding the role your brand plays in consumers’ lives. At The Walt Disney Company, I learned their world class approach to hospitality firsthand. It really comes down to ensuring the best possible experience for every team member so that they in turn will deliver the genuine, happy and fun moments that guests line up every day for. I plan to bring that same creative, authentic and growth-oriented thinking to support True Food Kitchen in bringing the brand to even more guests across the country.
FSR: What will your key priorities be for True Food Kitchen? What are your goals for the brand?
JW: As CEO, I will prioritize supporting True Food Kitchen’s mission of inspiring more people to eat better, feel better and live better while driving growth and expansion for the business throughout the country. I’m excited to contribute meaningfully to the brand’s evolution, connecting with both our team and the loyal fan base they’ve built. I’m looking forward to finding new ways to bring True Food to as many people in as many ways as possible across the country.
FSR: How will you unlock new, unique ways in which people can experience True Food Kitchen?
JW: Working alongside True Food Kitchen’s talented leadership team and collaborating with teams in our restaurants throughout the country is paramount to identifying key opportunities for growth within the company. I will also spend time with our guests to understand where there is natural opportunity for the brand to show up in more ways in their lives. I’m incredibly optimistic about the future for True Food Kitchen.
FSR: Why is the True Food Kitchen concept and model optimized for growth?
JW: At 43 locations across the country, True Food Kitchen guests have a staggering 87 percent intent-to-return. True Food Kitchen is exceeding goals thanks to excellent execution by our outstanding team members. At a high, internal level, we understand how the business works and each team member plays their role extraordinarily well, ensuring strong results across the board.
FSR: You mentioned several exciting changes are in the hopper for this spring, including elevated updates across the menu, restaurant design and brand identity. Can you give any more details on what to expect?
JW: We’re always working to evolve our brand to meet guests and communities where they are and will have some exciting updates to share in the coming weeks.
FSR: Is there anything else FSR readers should know about you, or what direction True Food Kitchen is heading?
JW: I’m incredibly honored to be part of the True Food Kitchen team and excited to have joined ahead of one of the brand’s biggest seasons of growth.