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Papa Johns CEO departs for Shake Shack; interim CEO named

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Shake Shack
Rob Lynch will take over as CEO of Shake Shack in May.

The search for Shake Shack's next CEO has ended with the appointment of the first outsider to lead the company in its 20-year history.

Papa Johns International CEO Rob Lynch has departed the pizza giant to become CEO of Shake Shack, effective May 20. He will succeed CEO Randy Garutti, who will be retiring and transitioning to an advisor role through the end of this year. Shake Shack launched its CEO search late last year.

In related news, Ravi Thanawala, currently CFO of Papa Johns, was named interim chief executive. Prior to joining Papa Johns in 2023, Thanawala served as CFO of Nike North America.

Lynch joined Papa Johns nearly five years ago after spending more than six years at Arby’s Restaurant Group in the roles of brand president and chief marketing officer and president. His past experience also includes time at Taco Bell, The Kraft Heinz Company and Procter and Gamble.

“Rob’s appointment as CEO marks the beginning of our next chapter of growth as we seek to further elevate Shake Shack as a leading global brand,” said Danny Meyer, Shake Shack’s founder and chairman. “Rob’s deep leadership experience with several well-established global brands will serve us well in executing on our long-term strategic priorities as we enter the next phase of our company’s growth. Rob’s leadership style is also a wonderful fit to advance Shake Shack’s culture of ‘Enlightened Hospitality,’ and we are thrilled to welcome him to the team.”

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Ravi Thanawala
Ravi Thanawala joined Papa Johns last year.

Papa John's board said it’s a conducting a “comprehensive search process” to identify Lynch’s successor.

“I’m honored to step in as Interim CEO during this transition period and thank the Papa Johns Board of Directors for its confidence in me,” said Thanawala. “We have a talented executive leadership team, a strong group of franchisees and dedicated team members behind this iconic brand who will continue to deliver on our ‘Back to Better 2.0’ strategy and international transformation initiatives, creating long-term value for all of our stakeholders.”

Co-headquartered in Atlanta and Louisville, Ky., Papa Johns is the world’s third-largest pizza delivery company with more than 5,900 restaurants in 50 countries and territories. 

Headquartered in New York City, Shake Shack operates over 520 locations system-wide, including over 335 in 33 states and the District of Columbia, and 185 international locations.

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