ATLANTA — Focus Brands, parent company of iconic brands Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli and Schlotzsky’s, has unveiled newly appointed executive brand management and marketing leadership for some of its key brands.
“This year has been about refining our structure and our brands to accelerate performance and prepare us for the future,” said James E. Holthouser, chief executive officer of Focus Brands. “As we end 2020, I know we have the right talent, with the right strategies in place to take our brands and our business to the next level.”
Kendall Ware has joined Carvel and Cinnabon as chief brand officer. In his new role, Mr. Ware will be responsible for all aspects of brand management for the two specialty brands, including franchise and company operations, as well as marketing.
Mr. Ware has more than 15 years of experience growing brands, developing teams and enhancing operations, most recently as president and chief operating officer of Orange Leaf. He also has worked for CiCi’s Pizza, hospitality and retail executive search firm Patrice & Associates and Genghis Grill.
Alisa Gmelich has joined Auntie Anne’s as chief brand officer. In her new role, Ms. Gmelich will be responsible for leading the brand’s operations, marketing and brand management.
Ms. Gmelich has more than 25 years of experience leading marketing and strategic planning to grow brands and drive sales for top restaurant brands, including McDonald’s and Burger King. Most recently, she spent the past eight years as vice president of marketing and strategic planning at IHOP.
Cynthia Liu has joined Auntie Anne’s as vice president of marketing. Prior to Auntie Anne’s, Ms. Liu was director of partnerships and occasion marketing at The Hershey Co. She also has worked for the Kraft Heinz Co., serving in several brand management roles for Jell-O, Grey Poupon and Shake ‘N Bake.
Danielle Porto Parra has joined McAlister’s Deli as vice president of marketing. Ms. Parra has been in the hospitality and retail industry for more than 20 years and most recently worked on building automotive aftermarket brands, including Pep Boys, AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care, Precision Tune Auto Care and Auto Plus, as well as Petco, Build.com and Caesars Entertainment Corporation. She started her career working for Darden Restaurants and Logan’s Roadhouse.
Melissa Smith was named chief people officer of Focus Brands, tasked with leading human capital strategy and employee engagement to bring the company’s workforce together to drive success. Ms. Smith has worked at Focus Brands for nearly nine years and most recently was senior vice president of human resources at the company.