Smashburger Appoints New Chief Executive Officer

by Katie Lee

Denver — Smashburger®, a leading fast-casual better burger brand, has appointed Denise Nelsen as its new chief executive officer, the company’s first female CEO. She joins the company from Starbucks. Under this new leadership, Smashburger is primed to further drive culinary innovation to enhance the guest experience, while expanding its industry footprint.

“We are thrilled to welcome Denise Nelsen as Smashburger’s newest CEO. With her extensive experience and proven leadership in the food and beverage industry, she is set to propel the brand into a new era of growth,” says Ernesto Tanmantiong, president and CEO of Smashburger’s parent company, Jollibee Group. “Her appointment signifies the Jollibee Group’s commitment to excellence and diversity. With all her capabilities and energy, we are confident that she can drive success for Smashburger, thereby contributing to the growth of the Jollibee Group as a whole.”

Nelsen joined the company as incoming CEO in January 2024, bringing more than 30 years of QSR industry expertise to the role. Prior to joining the fast-casual brand, Nelsen served as the senior vice president of U.S. operations at Starbucks, most recently leading the brand’s U.S. business for nearly 5 years, prior to holding various operations and support roles within the company for over two decades.

Founded in 2007 in Denver, Smashburger has 235 corporate and franchise restaurants operating in 34 states and seven countries. For more information, visit

SOURCE: Smashburger

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