Hennessy Succeeds Russ Bendel Who Is Retiring
Louisville, KY (RestaurantNews.com) Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM) has announced the promotion of Shannon Hennessy to The Habit Burger Grill Division Chief Executive Officer, reporting to Yum! Chief Executive Officer David Gibbs, effective June 6. Hennessy, who currently serves as President of The Habit Burger Grill Division, will succeed Russ Bendel, who has announced his decision to retire at the beginning of June after a successful decades-long career in the restaurant industry. As CEO, Hennessy will continue to build on the brand’s unique strengths and assume responsibility for driving its overall growth strategies and performance.
“Shannon is an exceptional, heart-led leader who was named President of The Habit Burger Grill Division in July 2022 and has since driven meaningful advances for the brand in development, top line initiatives and digital sales growth,” said Gibbs. “With Shannon’s background as KFC Global Division CFO and her nearly 20 years with McKinsey & Company, she has a unique skillset that will be vital as we continue to scale The Habit, offering our franchisees an investment opportunity in an award-winning, fast-casual concept in the better-burger category with a long runway for growth. I’m thrilled Shannon and Russ have worked so closely together to ensure a seamless transition and am confident in the long-term growth of The Habit.”
As President of The Habit Burger Grill, Hennessy has overseen development, franchising, marketing and international expansion. In this role, she has also been responsible for contributing to the brand’s strategy to accelerate growth, nurturing cross-brand collaboration and driving company culture. Hennessy joined Yum! in 2020 as the Chief Financial Officer of KFC Global Division, where she was responsible for leading the global finance function and ensuring continued growth and profitability of the KFC business. She also oversaw the brand’s global financial planning, supply chain management and strategy functions.
“I fell in love with The Habit on my first bite of a Charburger, so it’s the thrill of my career to take the reigns as CEO,” said Hennessy. “I’m grateful to have worked alongside Russ over the past eight months, as he is truly a legend in the restaurant industry. I’m also excited to continue working with our passionate team and franchisees to drive accelerated growth for the brand while offering our customers the delicious, handcrafted quality food, meaningful variety and choice and family hospitality they’ve come to expect from The Habit.”
Russ Bendel joined The Habit in 2008, growing the brand from 16 restaurants to approximately 350 restaurants by the end of 2022. Under Bendel’s leadership and relentless attention to operations, he led a major brand transformation that introduced drive-thrus and digital order channels to meet growing needs for convenience. Over the years, The Habit has received multiple awards, including being recognized as having the Best Tasting Burger in America by Consumer Reports in 2014 and earning the No. 1 spot in the USA TODAY Readers’ Choice list of 10 Best Regional Fast-Food Chains in America in 2019 and 2021. Prior to joining The Habit, Bendel served as President and Chief Operating Officer of The Cheesecake Factory. Bendel’s career also includes tenures as President and Chief Executive of Mimi’s Café, President of Roy’s Restaurants, Franchise Partner of Outback Steakhouse in California and Chief Operating Officer of El Torito Restaurants and Panda Express.
“Russ is one of the best and most accomplished restaurateurs in the industry that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, and his passion for people, operations and restaurant excellence has always shined through,” said Gibbs. “Russ’ commitment and vision have made The Habit Burger Grill a powerful growth brand with delicious food and an extremely bright future, and we’re proud to continue to build on the legacy he is leaving. I want to thank Russ for his decades of leadership in the industry and wish him well as he enjoys this new phase of life with his family.”
Yum! Brands acquired The Habit Burger Grill in March 2020, adding an award-winning brand in the better-burger category with a diverse, California-style menu to its portfolio. In 2022, The Habit grew the franchise base of its approximately 350 restaurants to 18%, up five percentage points from the previous year. In addition, The Habit ended 2022 with a digital mix of 35% and delivered $2 million in average unit volumes.
About The Habit Restaurants, Inc.
Born in Santa Barbara, California, in 1969, The Habit Burger Grill is a burger-centric, fast-casual restaurant concept that specializes in preparing fresh, cooked-to-order chargrilled burgers and handcrafted sandwiches featuring grilled tenderloin steak, grilled chicken and sushi-grade ahi tuna cooked over an open flame. In addition, it features fresh handcrafted salads and an appealing selection of sides and shakes. The Habit Burger Grill was featured in Newsweek’s “America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains 2023;” its Tempura Green Beans were named as the top green bean dish in The Daily Meal’s “Ranking Green Bean Dishes From 11 Chain Restaurants” in 2023; and it was named in Thrillist’s list of “Underrated Burger Chains that Need to be in Every State!” The Habit Burger Grill has grown to nearly 340 restaurants in 14 states throughout Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and Washington as well as 11 international locations. More information is available at www.habitburger.com.
About Yum! Brands
Yum! Brands, Inc., based in Louisville, Kentucky, and its subsidiaries franchise or operate a system of over 55,000 restaurants in more than 155 countries and territories under the company’s concepts – KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and The Habit Burger Grill. The Company’s KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut brands are global leaders of the chicken, Mexican-style food and pizza categories, respectively. The Habit Burger Grill is a fast-casual restaurant concept specializing in made-to-order chargrilled burgers, sandwiches and more. In 2023, Yum! Brands was included on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index and Newsweek’s lists recognizing America’s Most Responsible Companies, America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity and America’s Greatest Workplaces for Women. In 2022, the Company was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America.
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