CEO Jim Greco leaves Sbarro after 14 months
After 14 months at the helm of Melville-based Sbarro LLC, Jim Greco has resigned as chief executive.
The company's chairman, J. David Karam, succeeded him.
Greco "was brought in to help lead Sbarro for a limited time as the company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy," a spokesman for the Italian fast-casual restaurant chain said Friday.
In a statement Thursday, Sbarro said Greco resigned "to pursue other business interests." Sbarro didn't say what those interests were, and Greco didn't return requests for comment.
"We are very appreciative of the contributions that Jim made during his tenure with the company," Karam said, "and we wish him the absolute best in his new pursuits."
Greco, who has a reputation for turning around distressed restaurant companies, joined Sbarro in late January 2012, after the company's emergence from bankruptcy in November 2011. Last year Greco launched a revamp of its pizza recipe and experimented with made-to-order pasta dishes at several test locations. At the time, he said his goal was to rebrand the quick-service chain as a "fast casual" restaurant company. Competitors in this sector, such as Chipotle and Panera, typically have higher prices than the average quick-service eatery but also claim to have higher-quality ingredients.
In previous interviews, Greco said Sbarro's turnaround process would be a "multiyear project." He had spent eight years at Breugger's Enterprises, Inc., a fast-casual bagel and sandwich chain based in Burlington, Vt. A French restaurant company bought Breugger's in 2011, and private investors reaped a reported 13-fold gain.
His relatively short tenure at Sbarro puzzled some in the industry. "He has a long track record of success," said Howard Cannon, a consultant and chief executive of Restaurant Expert Witness, in Chelsea, Ala.
Karam, who served as president of Wendy's from 2008 to 2011, has made a "substantial personal investment in the company," the spokesman said.
"The company's balance sheet is the strongest it's been in years," the spokesman said, "and the ownership is eager to accelerate growth." Sbarro, which was founded as a family-owned Italian deli in Brooklyn in 1956, is privately owned.