Buffets, Inc. Names Philip Friedman And Warren Ellish To Board Of Directors With Focus On Brand Turnaround

EAGAN, Minn., Dec. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Buffets, Inc. has appointed seasoned restaurant executive Philip Friedman and highly accomplished marketing executive F. Warren Ellish to its Board of Directors, thereby completing the new seven-member board of directors formed after the company emerged from bankruptcy.  Both executives possess over 30 years of restaurant industry experience and each has held leadership positions at growth and turnaround brands in the restaurant and hospitality industries.  The appointments are effective immediately.

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"These are true leaders with proven track records of success," said Rob Webster, Chairman of the Board of Buffets, Inc.  "Both Warren and Phil have the practical knowledge of what it takes to turn around and grow a brand, and they understand the need for strong corporate governance.  We are pleased to add them to our board of directors, and are excited for the future of our organization with their support and expertise."

Philip Friedman
Philip Friedman currently serves as Chairman and CEO of Salsarita's Fresh Cantina, an 85-location casual Mexican restaurant chain he acquired in 2011, and as President of P. Friedman & Associates, Inc., a strategic planning and management consulting company he founded in 1986.  Friedman previously served as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of McAlister's Corporation, a quick casual concept he acquired along with a group of investors in 1999.  During his tenure, McAlister's grew from 27 to 300 restaurants in 22 states. In 2005, Friedman led the successful sale of McAlister's Corporation to Roark Capital Group.   

Friedman was awarded Nation's Restaurant News' 2009 Golden Chain Award honoree for his success with McAlister's and The International Foodservice Manufacturers' Association's Silver Plate award for his enduring and outstanding achievements in the Chain Restaurant Full Service category.  He was also honored by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) as a Cornerstone Humanitarian for leading McAlister's in outstanding community involvement.  He received an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, as well as a MA in Political Science and a BA in History from the University of Connecticut. Friedman serves on the Board of Directors for Diversified Restaurants, Boudin Bakeries & Restaurants and Silver Diner Corporation as well as on the boards of the National and Mississippi Restaurant Associations.

"Phil will help us deliver on our brand vision of offering real food and real choices, while creating real connections with our guests," said Anthony Wedo, Buffets, Inc. Chief Executive Officer.

F. Warren Ellish
F. Warren Ellish is a senior marketing executive with extensive experience in consumer products, restaurants and retailing. Ellish has been responsible for successfully positioning hundreds of well-known brands and has a track record of delivering outsized returns in competitive industries.  In 1995, Ellish founded his own marketing consulting company, Ellish Marketing Group LLC, and for the past 17 years has been advising the senior leadership of numerous leading brands and companies from a strategic marketing perspective.  Prior to forming Ellish Marketing Group, he served as a founding partner and Vice President of Marketing for Boston Chicken, Inc. (Boston Market), where he helped create a new brand in the "home meal replacement" retail category.  Ellish also served as Vice President of Marketing and an executive committee member for Red Lobster Restaurants (Darden), Vice President of Marketing for Luzianne Blue Plate Foods, and other senior marketing positions with Burger King Corporation, Johnson & Johnson and PepsiCo.  Ellish was also named to Advertising Age's "Marketing 100 – The Superstars of US Marketing." 

Ellish received both his BS and MBA from Cornell University, where he currently serves as a member of the marketing faculty at the SC Johnson Graduate School of Management. 

"I have known Warren for 20 years and have seen his track record of repeated successes first hand," Wedo said.  "He has helped launch start ups and driven brand turnarounds.  I know that his breadth of experience will be extremely helpful as we move this brand forward."

Friedman and Ellish will serve alongside current 2012 Buffets, Inc. Board Members: Chairman Rob Webster, CEO Anthony Wedo, David Merritt, Todd Brown and Santino Blumetti.

About Buffets, Inc.
Buffets, Inc., the nation's largest steak-buffet restaurant company, currently operates 347 restaurants in 35 states, comprised of 337 steak-buffet restaurants and 10 Tahoe Joe's Famous Steakhouse restaurants.  The restaurants are principally operated under the Old Country Buffet®, HomeTown® Buffet, Ryan's® and Fire® Mountain brands.  Buffets employs approximately 18,000 team members and serves approximately 100 million customers annually.  For more information about Buffets, Inc., visit online at www.Buffet.com.

SOURCE Buffets, Inc.



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