Naf Naf Grill CEO, Paul Damico's Biggest Advice: Get to Know Your Leadership Team Personally

“I was bit by the entrepreneurial bug and decided to start a restaurant company in Southern California...grew that through about 100 restaurants,” says CEO of Naf Naf Grill, Paul Damico.

Damico started his career in the restaurant industry working in his dad’s catering business for four years. He then attended Johnson & Wales University where he earned degrees in Culinary Arts and Hotel Restaurant Management.

Over the past 13 years, Damico has had an extensive background in leadership positions for companies such as Host Marriott Corporation, SSP America, Moe’s Southwest Grill and six FOCUS Brands, including Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream and Cinnabon World Famous Cinnamon Rolls.

His biggest advice for someone leading a company is to foster relationships with the leadership team, which he says is something that is often missed and difficult to do when you have a large team.

“You really have to get to know your leadership team that you are responsible for at a very granular level," says Damico. "You’ve gotta get to know them and their families personally, so you can help them and help guide them through their career.”

Damico speaks passionately on this topic. When he was President of Moe’s, Damico was featured on an episode of the CBS TV series, “Undercover Boss” where he went undercover to work in the restaurants and helped changed the lives of five Moe’s employees. 

Sign up for Foodable+ to watch this video and get more exclusive content!

Rick Altizer Joins Executive Management Team of McAlister’s Deli as President

Rick Altizer Joins Executive Management Team of McAlister’s Deli as President

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

FOCUS Brands, the group behind Carvel, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky's, Moe's Southwest Grill, Auntie Anne's and McAlister's Deli has named Rick Altizer as the new president of their sandwich fast casual chain, McAlister’s Deli.

The former president of McAlister’s Deli, Carin Stutz recently moved to Red Robin, leaving the fast casual brand on the look-out for a worthy replacement. And it’s safe to say that she left Altizer some big shoes to fill. 

Background on the Industry Leader

Altizer joins the fast casual brand’s executive team from Rightwell Growth, a consultant group that helps early-stage companies achieve growth. But, he started his career in foodservice in 1989 with McDonald’s Corporation, where he worked his way up in different positions including roles in accounting, operations and store management. He rounded out his tenure at the fast food company as the VP and General Manager of 500 store locations across Missouri and Kansas. 

He eventually moved to Midas International as the VP of Operations and then to be the President of Jiffy Lube International. Later as the Fuel Marketing VP with Shell Oil in Houston, TX, where he led a team to create and market a loyalty program for over 14,000 Shell gas stations and convenience stores. 

He returned to the restaurant industry when he became the CEO at Elevation Burger, the largest and first grass-fed organic hamburger business, where he grew the restaurant’s franchise program and achieve double-digit growth in the burger chain’s total sales.

Read More

Paul Damico of Focus Brands — Predicting the Future of Fast Casual

In this episode of Fast Casual Trends TV, brought to you by the Foodable Network, Host Paul Barron sits down with Paul Damico, EVP & Group President at Focus Brand Restaurants. Damico explains why Fresh Mex — and ethnic, in general — has mass appeal when it comes to the fast-casual format, what effects the rise of QSR+ may have on this segment, and what upcoming trends we should expect to see in the space.