Austin-based Detroit pizza brand Via 313 has named Ray Risley — the former president and COO of Front Burner Restaurant Group’s Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar — as the company’s new CEO, primary investor Savory Fund announced Wednesday.
“This brand is special to me, and it needed an exceptional leader to execute the incredible growth we have scheduled for 2023 and beyond,” Andrew K. Smith, cofounder and managing director of Savory Fund said in a statement. “The first time I met Ray, we shared our love for the Via 313 brand, the unmatched quality of the product, and the opportunity it has to redefine the sit-down pizza game.”
Before joining Via 313, Risley, left, worked at Front Burner for two years, where he was responsible for building the company’s executive leadership team and overseeing 12 restaurant locations that generated system-wide annual sales of $85 million. Before that, Risley held various leadership positions at Del Frisco’s, where he worked for more than two decades and oversaw 13 Double Eagle Steakhouse locations with over $176 million in annual revenue. He also owned a sports bar in Texas for five years.
“We made the decision late last year to start the search for our CEO, and while it was an exhaustive process, we were humbled and blown away by the candidates,” brothers Brandon and Zane Hunt, cofounders of Via 313 said in a statement. “Ultimately, Ray was the right person to guide Via 313 into our explosive growth plan. […] Ray's track record of success with building great teams, passion for hospitality, and company culture make him an ideal fit for Via 313.”
As part of the Via 313 team, Risley will be responsible for leading the team’s growth strategy, which plans to grow from 11 locations to 29 over the next two years.
“When I met Shauna and Andrew Smith of Savory, I found it to be such a special organization,” Risley said in a statement. “[…] I was equally impressed by Zane and Brandon Hunt. Their humble nature — while being virtuosos of Detroit-style pizza — is nothing short of incredible. I knew right away this was the perfect spot for me. I appreciate the opportunity to run and grow this impeccable brand, and I look forward to an amazing ride with the Via and Savory teams.”
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