Dick R. Holbrook, a 40-year veteran of the restaurant industry, began his career with 15 years of experience in franchise and company-owned operations and has spent the last 25 years in executive management positions in the industry to include the ownership of his own restaurant company.
Holbrook was most recently the Majority Owner and Chief Executive Officer of J. Christopher’s Restaurants, LLC, a collection of casual dining restaurants serving breakfast and lunch based in Atlanta, GA. The concept operated 23 company-owned and franchised restaurants throughout the Southeastern United States. The company-owned restaurants were sold to First Watch, Inc. and the intellectual property for J. Christopher’s was sold back to the founders in the Fall of 2012.
He is the former President and Chief Operating Officer of AFC Enterprises® (AFC®), which was one of the world’s premier restaurant and specialty foods companies. AFC Enterprises was the parent company of Church's Chicken™, Popeyes® Chicken & Biscuits, Cinnabon® and Seattle Coffee Company during his tenure. Holbrook was a founding partner of AFC in 1992 where he initially served as its executive vice president and chief operating officer and was then promoted to president and chief operating officer in August 1995. He led AFC and its operating companies, both domestically and internationally, to new levels of success and oversaw the expansion of the AFC Enterprises portfolio to include the purchase of Cinnabon and Seattle Coffee Company, with its Seattle’s Best Coffee® and Torrefazione Italia® brands in 1999. AFC’s overall solid performance led to an equity investment by Freeman Spogli & Co. in 1995 and then an initial public offering of the company in March 2001.
Prior to joining AFC, Holbrook was executive vice president of operations for Hospitality Franchise Systems, Inc., franchisor for Ramada, Howard Johnson and Days Inn hotels. Holbrook also held various management positions with Arby’s, Inc. from 1971 to 1991, starting as a management trainee and eventually holding the position of senior vice president of franchise operations. Arby’s, the world’s largest roast beef sandwich chain, operated 2,500 restaurants at the time in the United States, Canada, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East at that time.
Holbrook was previously a member of the Rare Hospitality International, Inc. Board of Directors for 5 years prior to its purchase by Darden Restaurants. Rare was a publicly owned restaurant company whose concepts included Longhorn Steakhouse, Bugaboo Creek Steak House and The Capital Grille. Prior to the Darden transaction, Rare completed the sale of the Bugaboo Creek Steak House concept to Charlie Brown’s.
Holbrook was the recipient of the Elliot Associates 2001 Elliot Mentor Award, which was developed to recognize individuals who have given "a lifetime of timeless contribution, leadership, and inspiration to the hospitality, foodservice and manufacturing industries." He also serves on the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation Board of Trustees.