Award-winning CEO and senior leadership team are moving our iconic brand forward
The Huddle House franchise leadership team is led by a tight-knit team of highly experienced foodservice veterans.
Michael Abt came to Huddle House as CEO in 2012 with a lot of experience under his belt on both the franchisee and franchisor sides of things, and he has set the tone ever since. His franchisee-first philosophy has made an impression.
“It is such a great company and you have a great office, wonderful people who are actually passionate about what they do every morning,” says Franchise Partner Mike Lokhandwala, who has owned several different food franchises. “Seeing the leadership in action and doing that every single day, that is a huge encouragement for prospective franchisees who are coming in day in and day out.”
Abt, who was named one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ most influential leaders in foodservice in 2016, believes the franchisor-franchisee relationship is key to building and growing a successful company.
“Our success is dependent upon every individual franchise partner, so how we serve them and support them is vital,” Abt says. “You can’t identify your key opportunities as a brand unless you understand what your franchise partners need to succeed.”
Michael Abt, CEO
Abt, an industry veteran with extensive experience in building brands, was a senior vice president with Arby’s before joining Huddle House as CEO in 2012. He has created a team that is focused on executing his vision of providing outstanding franchisee support in order to boost profitability and consistently producing a memorable experience for Huddle House guests. Abt has spearheaded a restaurant redesign that has led to same-store sales increases and renewed interest in the diner franchise brand.
Tom Cossuto, CFO
Cossuto, who joined Huddle House in 2005, oversees all aspects of Finance and Information Technology. He has over 30 years of experience managing Finance and IT in a diverse set of companies, including 15-plus years in the restaurant industry with such brands as Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell. Cossuto and his wife, Maeve, have three children and live in Alpharetta, Georgia.
Ty Counts, COO
Counts is in charge of the direction of operations and oversees training for 400 franchise and company restaurants. He is also responsible for the company’s growth and improving overall sales and responsibility. Counts came to Huddle House in 2013 with more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant business, including his most recent role as Regional Director of Operations for Tim Hortons USA.
Alison Glenn Delaney, Chief Marketing Officer
Delaney has over 30 years of experience in building restaurant brands with companies including T.G.I. Friday’s, Marie Callender’s, Ruby Tuesday and Ponderosa. She is responsible for reinforcing, both through our menu and our messaging, that Huddle House is the hometown diner for people who want to relax and catch up over breakfast, lunch, dinner or later, no matter what the occasion.
Melissa Rothring, Executive Vice President, General Counsel
Rothring joined the Huddle House team in 2013 and serves as General Counsel and Executive Vice President to Huddle House, Inc. She has over 20 years of experience in franchising business analysis and management, focusing on financial and legal management initiatives with a concentration on effective branding and operational strategies. Rothring previously held executive leadership positions for GFG Management LLC, whose holdings include Great American Cookies, Marble Slab Creamery and Maggie Moo’s; and Kahala Corp., whose holdings include Blimpie, Pinkberry and Cold Stone Creamery.
Nathan Ballard, Senior Vice President Distribution Center
Ballard oversees all food, supply and smallware distribution from the HHI Customer Support Center. He is a 20-year veteran of the distribution industry who joined Huddle House in 2004. Previously, Ballard served in Transportation Management roles at industry leaders A&P Supermarkets and GAF Materials Corp.
Christina Chambers, Vice President of Franchise Development
Chambers came on board in 2015 as Vice President of Franchise Development. She began her career in franchise development more than 15 years ago and has played an integral role in growing multiple national food and service brands, including Great Wraps, Quizno’s Subs, and QSR brands of GFG Management LLC. As a franchise partner herself with Great American Cookies, Chambers brings a unique perspective and level of understanding to new and existing franchisees.
Key Development and Operations Leaders
Troy Tracy, Vice President of Operations
Tracy joined Huddle House in 2013 with over 15 years of multi-unit leadership in corporate operations in brands including Captain D’s and Pizza Hut, franchise support and as a franchise partner for both McAlister’s Deli and Arby’s Restaurant Group. Tracy oversees systemwide corporate and franchise field operations. He and his wife, Pamela, have one child and live in Kennesaw Georgia.
Jenn Townsend, Executive Chef and Director of Menu Development
Townsend came to Huddle House in 2015 with a strong foundation working in franchised systems and experience in store-level operations and training. Her wealth of knowledge in and passion for culinary arts help shape her strategic menu development for Huddle House. Townsend has held key positions in Menu Development and Operations Support and Integration with Blimpie, Arby’s and Church’s Chicken.
Brian Kendrick, Director of Development Services
Kendrick, a 25-year industry veteran, has been with Huddle House since 2012, managing the Design and Construction team to oversee new restaurant development, the Evolution remodel program, process improvement, vendor selection, value-engineering and cost reduction. He previously worked in corporate design and construction for Darden Restaurants, McDonald’s, FOCUS Brands Inc. and AFC Enterprises Inc.
Billy Evans, Director of Franchise Development
Evans has been with Huddle House since 2013 as Director of Franchise Development for the Northeastern territory. He has been engaged in franchise sales, sales training and sales development for over 20 years. In addition to holding executive sales positions, Evans has been a partner in several successful business ventures. Most recently, he was active in hospitality franchise sales consulting and franchise sales training.
Jeff Hood, Director of Franchise Development
Before joining Huddle House in 2014, Hood worked with Papa Murphy’s, where he transitioned from Director of Franchise Operations to Director of Franchise Sales. He has consulted with interested candidates to secure many new franchise commitments over the past few years and truly understands what it takes to make an impact on a franchisee’s operations and marketing strategies.
Trevor O’Connor, Director of Real Estate
Trevor O’Connor is a seasoned real estate professional with over 20 years of commercial real estate experience. Over the course of his career, O’Connor has negotiated hundreds of leases and property purchases, representing both landlords and tenants. He comes to Huddle House from Tropical Smoothie Café, where he served as Real Estate Manager supporting franchise owners and larger area developers. As the Director of Real Estate for Huddle House, he helps franchisees find suitable locations that will allow for maximum profitability and brand recognition.
Cassidy Ford, Franchise Development Manager
Ford started her franchising career with How Do You Roll? and single-handedly built the development department after the company’s overnight success on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” When she joined the Huddle House family in January 2015, Ford transitioned from new restaurant development to resale opportunities, where she has found her passion serving our franchise partners as they buy and sell their businesses.
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