Au Bon Pain announces Ray Blanchette as its new CEO

– USA, MA – Au Bon Pain, a recognized leader in the fast-casual restaurant category, announced today that Ray Blanchette has been named President and Chief Executive Officer, effective July 5, 2016. Mr. Blanchette succeeds Susan Morelli, who will become Senior Advisor to the Company.

Mr. Blanchette is a food industry veteran and talented leader with more than 25 years of restaurant operations experience and a proven track record. Most recently, from 2007-2015, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ignite Restaurant Group, Inc., parent of the Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tap & Tavern brands, and as a member of the company’s Board of Directors. During his tenure, Mr. Blanchette led a resurgence of the Joe’s Crab Shack business, developed the Brick House Tap & Tavern concept, oversaw the re-branding of the company from Joe’s Crab Shack to the multi-platform Ignite Restaurant Group, introduced new strategies to substantially increase revenue and productivity and grow the business, and led the company through a successful initial public offering in 2012.

Henry Nasella, a member of Au Bon Pain’s Board of Directors, commented, “We thank Sue for her leadership and accomplishments over the years as Au Bon Pain has become a recognized leader in the fast-casual restaurant category, and we are pleased that she will continue as Senior Advisor to the Company. Au Bon Pain is well-positioned for the future, and we look forward to its continued growth and innovation under Ray’s dynamic leadership. With his background, Ray is ideally suited to build on Au Bon Pain’s popular bakery-café concept and strong foundation of more than 300 locations in the U.S. and internationally. We welcome him to the team.”

Ms. Morelli added, “It has been a privilege to be with Au Bon Pain for the past 28 years and to serve as President and CEO for the last 10. I’m incredibly proud of our team as we have continued to expand and evolve our concept to deliver on our promise of delicious, healthful food and exceed our consumers’ expectations. With Au Bon Pain poised for continued growth, the timing is right for me to pass the baton after nearly three decades with the Company. I look forward to working with Ray, a talented and proven food industry leader, to assure a smooth transition.”

“I am extremely excited about the opportunities at Au Bon Pain and look forward to building on its legacy as a leader and innovator in the fast casual segment,” said Mr. Blanchette. “Sue has built a talented team that continues to find new ways to win in a very dynamic segment. I am confident that we can continue to build upon the Au Bon Pain brand heritage of serving the highest quality food that is both healthful and tastes great, which, in turn, will enhance the value we deliver to our customers, associates, and business partners.”

About Ray Blanchette

Prior to joining Ignite, Mr. Blanchette served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Asian restaurant operator Pick Up Stix, Inc., and he spent 18 years with Carlson Restaurants, parent of TGI Friday’s, where he held various roles including Vice President of USA Franchise Operations, Vice President of Operations for its East Division, and Executive Director of its International Division serving Europe, Africa and the Middle East. During his career, Mr. Blanchette has received many awards, including twice being nominated for the prestigious Carlson Fellows Award and Division of the Year for T.G.I. Friday’s on multiple occasions. At Ignite Restaurant Group, he received the Nation’s Restaurant News’ Golden Chain Award and was named its Operator of the Year in 2013. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

About Au Bon Pain

Founded in 1978, Au Bon Pain (“the place of good bread”) has grown into an internationally recognized leader in the fast-casual restaurant category. The chain’s signature items—sandwiches, breads, pastries, salads, soups and coffee—are served in welcoming café environments emphasizing quick service and hospitality. Au Bon Pain offers consumers a wide array of delicious, nutritional foods that include low-sodium, low-fat, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Calorie counts are clearly posted on menus and full nutritional information is provided in each café which has helped the brand earn Health magazine’s designation as one of America’s Top 5 Healthiest Restaurant Chains over the past three years and one of America’s Healthiest Restaurant Chains by Grellin.

Au Bon Pain operates in six key trade channels including urban office buildings, hospitals, universities, transportation centers, malls and museums. Au Bon Pain currently operates in more than 300 locations in the U.S. and internationally. Au Bon Pain is headquartered in Boston.

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