CEO of Smashburger resigns after 8 months
The burger chain’s co-founder will assume the role, becoming its fourth leader since 2013.
Michael Nolan is out as Smashburger CEO less than a year after taking over the reins of the fast-casual burger chain.
Nolan, a former Panera Bread Co. and Corner Bakery executive, left the Denver-based company last week, a Smashburger spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday. The company offered no explanation for Nolan’s departure.
Tom Ryan, who co-founded Smashburger in 2007 with Rick Schaden, will move into the CEO role, the fourth person to hold that title since 2013.
“Tom is re-engaging with the company to ensure its continued passion for great food and great guest experience,” Smashburger said in a statement.
A food industry veteran, Ryan had begun to take a more active, day-to-day role at Smashburger. In May, he was named chief brand officer, in charge of “spearheading brand evolution as the company expands its operations and global ambitions,” according to a news release.
“As we set an aggressive growth pace, maintaining the integrity of the Smashburger brand is paramount,” Schaden said in a statement at the time. “There is no better person than Tom to guide the evolution of the Smashburger brand as we enter this next phase of growth at home and abroad. His vision and passion have always been at the heart of Smashburger.”
Ryan, who holds a Ph.D. in flavor and fragrance chemistry from Michigan State University, is also the namesake and co-founder of Tom’s Urban, which
is up to four locations in Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Connecticut. Earlier in his career, he held branding, marketing and product development positions at Procter & Gamble, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Quiznos.
Nolan’s short stint as CEO is the latest in a series of leadership shake-ups at the fastcasual chain, which Forbes magazine listed No. 1 among its top 100 “Most Promising Companies” in 2011.
Nolan took over as CEO in April, having joined Smashburger this year as chief development officer after serving on the board for four years.
He replaced Scott Crane, who resigned as president and CEO the week prior to Nolan’s appointment. A Smashburger veteran, Crane had been the company’s president since 2008, adding CEO to his title in November 2013.
Crane’s predecessor as CEO, David Prokupek, sued the company in 2014, claiming he was owed millions of dollars in stock after being fired in late 2013. The suit, which has since been settled, centered on the company’s value at the time of Prokupek’s departure and how much he was therefore owed in severance.
Since opening its first location in 2007, Smashburger has grown to more than 370 restaurants in 38 states and eight countries. In October 2015, Philippines restaurant company Jollibee Foods Corp. acquired a 40 percent stake in the chain.
Tom Ryan, a co-founder of Smashburger, will become the company’s new CEO. Denver Post file