SAN ANTONIO – Local Latin-inspired pizza chain Pizza Patrón has brought on a restaurant industry veteran as its first chief operating officer to oversee the company’s expansion push. Hopping over from Mediterranean fast casual chain Cava last month, Guy Carney is tasked with streamlining employee training and operations at the restaurant level.
It’s been six years since business partners Charles Loflin and Chris Partyka acquired Pizza Patrón and moved its headquarters to San Antonio. With 82 stores in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley and Arizona, the company is hoping to strengthen its foothold in those markets with 160 new locations over the next five years.
Working as director of restaurant openings at Cava, he led its expansion of more than 200 locations. Carney, who’s about a month into his new role, told the Business Journal one of his biggest priorities is modernizing the employee training process to retain and grow talent as it opens more restaurants.
“You have to have something that you can replicate and it has to be easily digestible,” he said. “The team members have to understand it and you have to approach all of the different learning styles that people have.”
Carney said that to grow as fast as Pizza Patrón wants, the company will have to implement faster ways to develop talent from within. That means that not only do new employees have to be trained better, but managers have to improve their training skills as well.
“To grow quickly, we have to have better systems to grow our team members fast and to get them into those leadership roles,” he said.
In the coming months, Carney plans to visit each Pizza Patrón to see what works and what needs work. He’ll visit the 47 corporate-owned locations first before making it out to the 35 franchise locations.
“For me personally, I have to get into every single restaurant, kick the tires, meet everybody, learn what all of their strengths are and then getting those right people into the right spots,” he said. “Because I’m sure we’ve got some diamonds in the rough out there within our organization that can help Pizza Patrón just launch.
Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.