Salsarita's Acquired By Former Mc Alister's Ceo

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Salsarita's acquired by former McAlister's CEO Former McAlister's Deli president and CEO Phil Friedman has acquired the Salsarita's Fresh Cantina restaurant chain. The chain has 80 stores across 19 states and is now owned by Salsarita's Holdings LLC, a company formed and controlled by Friedman, who serves as CEO. Larry Reinstein will join Salsarita's Holdings as president and chief operating officer. Reinstein was previously the president and CEO of Boston-based Fresh City.

"I am extremely delighted and fortunate that the Salsarita's chain became available. To me, it is the right opportunity at the right time," Friedman said. "Salsarita's is in a great category and all of those elements from McAlister's Deli are here: taste, variety and choice. Those are all strengths and I really like that a lot." When the announcement was made of Salsarita's acquisition, Friedman was visiting the chain's Michigan locations. After his visit to Michigan, Friedman will meet with franchisees in the markets of New York and the Carolinas.

"A big part of my perspective is to meet all the franchisees as soon as possible, to visit all of the restaurants and to really understand the lay of the land and the elements that in place. So many acquisitions fail because the acquirer is quick to change or quick to decide," Friedman said. "I want to work with the team and work with the franchisees to really understand how the chain got here, what its strengths are and how to get to the next level. I would say it's really crafting the growth strategy around the core." Reinstein joined the effort while Friedman was looking into the Salsarita's purchase. The two men have known each other for about eight years, but have never worked for the same brand. Reinstein has been running the day-to-day operations while Friedman has been on the road visiting with franchisees.

In regard to unit growth, Friedman said the initial goal is to focus on the company's current markets. Long-term plans include the development of new menu items and limited-time offers, which will be led by Reinstein.

"Larry loves food and food development," Freidman said. "I think having Larry gives us a new level of skills that we can bring to the table." Friedman will be based out of Charlotte, N.C., and intends to keep the company headquartered there. The company's current corporate team also will stay in place with himself and Reinstein as the only new additions.

Freidman stepped down as McAlister's CEO in September 2010. The concept grew from 27 to 300 restaurants during his tenure. Since his departure, he became vice chairman of BrandStand Marketing Group and a founding member of IL "�Pioppo LLC, importers of organic Italian wines. He also serves on the board of Diversified Restaurant Holdings Inc., a leading franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings and the owner, operator and franchisor of Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern.

Prior to McAlister's, Friedman served as president of Panda Management Company Inc., chief financial officer for Service America Corporation and vice president of restaurant planning for The Marriott Corporation. He serves on the board for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the Mississippi Restaurant Association, and he is a trustee for NRA's Education Foundation. He is a past board member of the International Franchise Association.

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Salsarita's Fresh Cantina
2908 Oak Lake Blvd. Suite 205
Charlotte, NC

Phone: (704)540-9447
Toll Free: 866.61SALSA
Fax: (704)329-1718

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