Shake Shack names Papa John's CEO as its new leader in CEO shakeup

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FILE - Papa John's President & CEO Rob Lynch is photographed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Shake Shack named Lynch the new CEO on Thursday, March 21, 2024, the first outsider to lead the company in its 20-year history. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Shake Shack named a new CEO on Thursday, the first outsider to lead the company in its 20-year history.

Rob Lynch, the current president and CEO of the Papa John’s pizza chain, will join Shake Shack’s board and become its CEO on May 20.

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Lynch succeeds Randy Garutti, who started what would become Shake Shack from a hot dog cart in New York’s Madison Square Park in 2001. At the time, Garutti was the director of operations for restauranteur Danny Meyer, the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group and the chairman and founder of Shake Shack.

Shake Shack was founded in 2004 and held an IPO in 2015. Garutti will remain with the company through the end of this year to ensure a smooth transition.

Meyer said Thursday that Lynch is an ideal candidate to lead Shake Shack as it embarks on a period of global growth. Shake Shack ended last year with 518 stores worldwide, including 184 outside the U.S. The company has said it plans to open 80 more stores this year. Papa John’s has 5,900 stores worldwide, including 2,473 outside the U.S.

Lynch became president and CEO of Papa John’s in 2019. Previously, he was president of Arby’s, where he also served as chief marketing officer. He has also held senior roles at Taco Bell, Heinz Co. and Procter & Gamble.

Shake Shack shares fell 2% in morning trading. Papa John's shares were down 6%.

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