NEWK'S announces coporate team additions

Long-Term Expansion Strategies Bring New Talent to the Table

June 17, 2010 // Franchising.com // (Jackson, MS) --- With Newk's Express Café aggressively expanding to new territories across the U.S., its corporate team is growing with it. As part of its strategy, Newk's has spent the last 18 months hiring new leadership talent that will help spearhead its growth. Three of its recent key hires include: Vice President of Company Operations Steve Caulk, Director of Training Kathy Harris, and Vice President of Franchise Operation Stephen J. Hinkis.

Focusing on the fast-casual freshness of tossed salads, oven-baked sandwiches, California-style pizzas, made-from-scratch soups and homemade cakes, Newk's Express Café has grown to more than 28 locations in seven primarily southeastern states since opening its first store in Oxford, Miss., in 2004. Created by fast-causal restaurant pioneers McAlister's Deli, more than 20 Newk's are now franchise owned, with six franchised locations opened in 2009 and 10 new restaurants expected to open in 2010. Projections call for 25 restaurants to open in each of the next two years.

To better guide its growth, Newk's has remained strategic in its selection of the right leaders who can best execute the business's vision. The past 18 months have yielded several significant hires, including:

  • Steve Caulk, Vice President of Company Operations: A management veteran for nearly two decades, Caulk joins the Newk's team to work closely with CEO, Founder and President Chris Newcomb to oversee all facets of company operations. Previously, Caulk served as Regional Manager for Avado Brand's Gianni's Little Italy concept in Madison, Ga. as well as Tia's Tex Mex out of Dallas, Texas. He also spent 13 years as Regional Vice-President for First Watch Restaurants in Sarasota, Fl. In his new, he role looks to optimize guest and employee experience—as well as financial results—by focusing on product quality, management, development, staff training and restaurant cleanliness.
  • Kathy Harris, Director of Training: Harris's training leadership experience speaks for itself. Prior to joining the Newk's team, she served as Director of Training for a combined five years at both Flying Star Café in Albuquerque, N.M. and for JHM Hotels in Greenville, South Carolina. She joined the Newk's team to help streamline management processes and increase company efficiency in the face of rapid growth.
  • Stephen J. Hinkis, Vice President of Franchise Operations: Hinkis brings deep management moxie to the table in his new role with Newk's. The corporate offices tapped him based on his success in previous roles as Vice President of ROC Corp., New York, N.Y. and as Regional Vice President of Quizno's Corp. in Denver, Co. He also served as President of Quality Foods of Connecticut in Simsbury, Conn.

Newk's Express Café is currently seeking multi-unit development partners with the financial capability to open a minimum of three restaurants. Markets targeted for future expansion include Houston; Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Okla.; Chicago; Louisville, Ky.; Orlando; Cincinnati and Richmond, Va. The broad scope of growth prompted the Newk's corporate team to be selective and strategic in their hiring processes over the past 18 months.

"The addition of these new hires at the corporate level will optimally position Newk's for franchise expansion in the coming years," says Chris Newcomb, CEO, founder and president of Newk's Franchise Co., LLC. "We are confident that new corporate team members, including Steve Caulk, Kathy Harris and Stephen Hinkis, will guide Newk's into an unprecedented era of expansion in the decade ahead."

Newk's corporate office has already found success with growing the business in the past year-and-a-half. Same-store-sales for Newk's Express Café increased 2.6 percent in 2009. The opening of six Newk's Express Café restaurants in 2009 increased system wide annual sales to more than $43 million, an increase of almost 44 percent from the previous year. Through the first 22 weeks of 2010, same-store-sales were up more than 9 percent over the same time period in 2009.

Targeting new executive and management talent to guide expansion from the top level ensures Newk's will only continue to find success in new markets across the country. "We are confident that these new hires will ensure continued growth of the Newk's brand and concept."

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