Turnaround Leader John Haywood Becomes CEO of Garden Fresh Restaurants

Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurant chains, announced this afternoon the appointment of its newest chief executive officer, industry veteran John W. Hayward.

San Diego-based Garden Fresh emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January of this year after entering into insolvency proceedings in October of last year. Haywood has been charged with leading Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes to growth.

"John is the perfect guy to take our unique brands to the next level," said Gene Baldwin, former interim CEO of Garden Fresh and member of the board of directors. ”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," added Baldwin.

Perpetual Capital Partners and CR3 Capital acquired Garden Fresh Restaurants a month ago.

Garden Fresh, which has 97 company-owned restaurants in 9 states for both chains, down from over 120 restaurants in 2011, said that Haywood has been a hospitality industry turnaround specialist in various private equity advisory and restaurant interim CMO and CEO positions. He has served as chief concept officer and chief marketing officer 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 include advisor to Chef Bobby Flay on the creation and rollout of the Bobby's Burger Palace concept, interim CEO of Don Shula's steak houses, vice president of food & beverage for the $300 million Black Angus chain, and research and development leader for Metromedia Restaurant Group, which was liquidated in 2008. He has served on the board of directors of Black Angus Steakhouses and Lessing's Hospitality, a New York-based portfolio hospitality company.

The new CEO said he was honored to lead these two brands that he has long admired. “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," he said.

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