Modern Restaurant Concepts Appoints New CEO

by Katie Lee

Los Angeles — Modern Restaurant Concepts (MRC), a leading fast-casual restaurant platform comprising the QDOBA, Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade brands, has hired veteran restaurant executive John Cywinski as its new chief executive officer, effective immediately.

Previously, Cywinski served on leadership teams from Applebee’s, Chili’s, KFC, McDonald’s and Burger King. Most recently, he was president of Applebee’s Grill & Bar for 6 years, where he led a transformation and resurgence of the $4.4 billion business. Before his role at Applebee’s, Cywinski also served as president of KFC where he led the successful turnaround of the $4.5 billion U.S. business from 2010 to 2014 while at Yum! Brands. Prior to joining Yum!, Cywinski spent 4 years as a franchisee, owning and operating a number of successful Dunkin’ Donuts and Sonic restaurants in Chicago.

“The Butterfly team has a compelling and ambitious vision within the restaurant industry that holds great appeal for me,” says Cywinski, CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts. “QDOBA is exceptionally well-positioned, as the Number 2 brand in the Mexican fast-casual category, with positive comp sales for 11 of the past 13 years, very attractive restaurant-level margins, broad consumer appeal, and the capacity to double in size over the next decade.”

Cywinski continues: “Modern Market and Lemonade represent contemporary growth engines uniquely positioned in the made-from-scratch, better-for-you, fast-casual space. They offer truly elite sales volumes and margins, with a remarkably passionate and loyal guest following in their initial geographies of Colorado, Texas, Arizona and California. All three brands provide best-in-class opportunities for distinguished, proven, and culture-driven franchise partners to expand their portfolios.”

Keith Guilbault, prior co-CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts, is departing to pursue other opportunities. “We would like to thank Keith Guilbault for the 7 years he spent at the helm of QDOBA stewarding the company through two transactions as well as the COVID crisis,” says Butterfly Principal Francesco D’Arcangelo. “We believe that the business is well-positioned for success, in large part due to Keith’s leadership. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Rob McColgan, prior co-CEO of MRC, will remain with the company as president of Modern Market and Lemonade.

Modern Restaurant Concepts is one of the largest fast-casual restaurant platforms in North America with nearly 800 units across three brands, QDOBA, Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade. The system operates corporate-owned and franchised units across nearly every U.S. state as well as Canada and Puerto Rico.

Butterfly Equity is a Los Angeles-based private equity firm specializing in the food sector. For more information, visit




SOURCE: Modern Restaurant Concepts / Butterfly


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