Former CEO of Johnny Rockets and Friendly's is Named MOD Pizza's New COO

The fast casual pizza chain MOD pizza has announced that John Maguire will be joining the brand's executive management team as the Chief Operating Officer (COO.)

The role of COO was held also by MOD’s President Paul Twohig.

But Maguire will now be leading the chain's aggressive expansion efforts. MOD Pizza already has 380+ locations.

“I’m excited to join MOD at such a pivotal time in the company’s history and to be a part of a team that is committed to developing a best-in-class brand by staying true to its purpose-led culture that is truly unique in the fast casual dining industry," said Maguire in a press release. "I couldn’t be more thrilled to work alongside MOD’s talented team to help magnify the company’s purpose and help expand on their incredible success over the past several years.”

Maguire has had a long career in the restaurant industry. His most recent role includes the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FIC Restaurants Inc., which operates Friendly's Restaurants, and in 2016, he was also named the President and CEO of Johnny Rockets Group.

Although Maguire was recently in the casual dining space, he spent 20 years at Panera Bread and was the brand's COO.

“As a leader at Panera during their formative years of growth combined with his experience leading two loved brands, John brings the perfect mix of deep operating expertise combined with experience sustaining the culture required to build an iconic brand,” said Scott Svenson, co-founder and CEO of MOD in a press release. “Most importantly, though, John lives the values and beliefs at the heart of MOD. The thing which most attracted him was our commitment to using our business as a platform to make a positive impact on our people and the communities we serve. We could not be more thrilled to welcome him, and are confident that his track record of leading operations across large, multi-unit brands will allow us to further strengthen the MOD experience.”

MOD, which prides itself on being a "super fast" chain, was started by Svenson, a former Starbuck’s executive in 2008. He saw the potential in the fast casual pizza market early on and since then, the chain has grown rapidly and now has almost 400 locations in the U.S. and UK. 

The Foodable team sat down with MOD’s founders back in 2015 to see how the chain is changing the fast casual game, from its product to its people. Watch the video below.

Maguire isn't the only casual dining executive recently to make a transition to the fast casual space from the casual dining segment. At the end of September, Fuzzy's Taco Shop named David Catalano, a former casual dining executive, its new COO.

Blaze Pizza — Putting a Franchise Spin on Fast-Casual Pizza

In an open, warehouse-inspired space in South Florida, lives fast-casual pizza spot Blaze Pizza. But unlike other fast-casual pizza concepts we have covered on the show thus far, Blaze is franchise-based.

In this episode of “Fast Casual Nation,” we sit down with Adam Cummis, President, Blaze Pizza Franchise for Illinois & South Florida, to talk about the customizable, 40-ingredient-toppings concept and the challenges of a franchise model. How does the Blaze team leverage resources and synergies, like real estate and hiring, between South Florida and Chicago? What does the line experience look like? What are some of the most popular selections? And most importantly, with so many pizza players on the scene — especially in Chicago — what sets Blaze apart from its competition? Watch the full episode to find out all that, and more!

Sneak Peek: A "Fast Fire'd" Look at Blaze Pizza

19. That’s how many new units Blaze Pizza will be rolling out in Q4 2015.
176. That’s how many pizzas Blaze slings out in an hour. 
180 seconds. That’s how Blaze got its “fast fire’d” slogan.

As you can see, the fast growing build-your-own fast-casual pizza joint runs on customization, value, and speed. And at its hourly rate of production, the opportunities for the lunch day part are huge.

Check out our sneak peek of the upcoming “Fast Casual Nation” episode above, and stay tuned for the full episode!

&pizza Serves Up a Fresh Slice of Innovation

Which fast-casual concept will be the next Chipotle? According to some industry insiders, including Foodable’s own Paul Barron, it’s somewhere in the fast-casual pizza category.

In this episode of Fast Casual Nation, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, Barron visits &pizza in Washington, D.C. to get a taste of innovation. “Concepts with simple design and simple foods made in a way that ‘wow’ you are ones that will always prevail,” he says. 

Barron sits with &pizza founder Michael Lastoria, who tells us why he chose the pizza space as his fourth startup business (and first restaurant brand), how his branding background has played a huge part in &pizza, and what the concept is doing that’s completely different than what its competitors are doing. Watch the full episode to learn about Lastoria’s concept, &pizza’s unique beverage offerings, and get a slice of five different pies!