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Ruby Tuesday Hires Jim Hyatt as CEO

Tennessee-based restaurant firm Ruby Tuesday, Inc. (NYSE:RT) announced that effective yesterday James "Jim" F. Hyatt, II will be the firm's new president, chief executive officer and member of its board of directors. Hyatt replaces interim CEO F. Lane Cardwell and will lead Ruby Tuesday as it explores "strategic options', including if there are parties interested in acquiring the publicly-traded firm.

On March 17, the troubled chain announced that it would explore strategic alternatives to lift it out of its sagging financials, including other firms contacting it to buy it out.

As customer visits, same-restaurant sales and net income have declined for Ruby Tuesday restaurants, the company has gone through chief executives. James Buettgen left the CEO position of the chain of 63 franchised and 544 company-owned restaurants in September of last year, replaced by board member F. Lane Cardwell, who served until a permanent CEO could be found.

Now it has a permanent CEO and president, Jim Hyatt.

"I'd like to thank Lane for his dedication and commitment to Ruby Tuesday during his period as interim CEO," said Stephen Sadove, non-executive chairman of Ruby Tuesday, Inc.. "We appreciate his leadership and look forward to his continued role as a member of the board."

Besides Hyatt's various franchisor leadership roles, the incoming CEO has been a multi-unit Burger King franchisee for eleven years. Jim Hyatt most recently served as CEO of Church's Chicken from September 2011 through November 2016 and remains a member of its board of directors. From 2007 to 2011, Hyatt was president and chief executive officer of Cosí.

After 11 years as a Burger King multi-unit franchisees, Jim Hyatt was hired by Burger King to help lead a brand turnaround in 2002 for its new private equity owners as executive vice president and chief global operations officer. Hyatt galvanized franchisees behind the franchisor's goals and visions of the future. Hyatt also served as director of operations for Hardee's Restaurants Inc. from 1986 to 1990.

"As an industry veteran and proven leader, Jim brings to us a wealth of knowledge and experience including significant operating expertise in driving sales and profitability," said Ruby Tuesday's chairman Sadove about new CEO Jim Hyatt. "His skillset will be valuable as we evaluate all strategic options and will not alter that process other than to add Jim's expertise to the board. Should the board elect to remain an independent company following the review, Mr. Hyatt will remain in his role as CEO."

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Don Sniegowski is editor of Blue MauMau, the daily news journal for franchise & small business owners. Call him at +1 (270) 321-1268, tweet @bluemaumau or email don@bluemaumau.org.