Garden Fresh names John W. Haywood CEO

San Diego's Garden Fresh, parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, has tapped longtime restaurant industry leader John W. Haywood to lead the next phase of its growth, according to a company press release.

"John is the perfect guy to take our unique brands to the next level," Gene Baldwin, former interim CEO of Garden Fresh and member of the board of directors, said in the release. "He has a keen understanding of consumer insights, culinary trends and operations management in addition to the financial acumen it takes to succeed in today's challenging environment."

Haywood, 53, is a Washington & Lee University and Culinary Institute of America graduate with more 20 years of senior management experience with several national restaurant companies. Earlier in his career, he served as chief concept officer and CMO for Carrols Corporation's $565 million Hispanic Restaurant Division, where he led brand strategy and growth of the Pollo Tropical and Taco Cabana chains.

Previous assignments also included advising Chef Bobby Flay on the creation and rollout of the Bobby's Burger Palace concept, interim CEO of Don Shula's Steakhouses, VP of food and beverage for the $300 million Black Angus chain and leading research and development for Metromedia Restaurant Group.

"Souplantation is America's first fresh salad and soup specialist and having grown up in California, I've long admired the Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes brands," Haywood said. "Our guests have remained so loyal during challenging times, and we now look forward to exceeding their expectations and earning their loyalty in every way.

"I am especially honored to lead this San Diego-founded and based company and our incredibly passionate, tenured and dedicated team members.”

Topics: Franchising & Growth

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