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Former Souplantation exec John Haywood named CEO of Punch Bowl Social

John Haywood, a turnaround specialist, replaces Robert Thompson who resigned last week from the Denver-based ‘eatertainment’ concept.

John Haywood, the former chief executive at Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., has been named the new CEO of Denver-based Punch Bowl Social.

The appointment comes less than a week after Punch Bowl CEO and founder Robert Thompson resigned from the “eatertainment” concept to pursue building new projects.

Alexander Schoenbaum, CrowdOut Capital’s CEO and Punch Bowl Social’s senior lender, said his firm remains committed to the goal of helping the brand stay at the forefront of the eatertainment movement.  During the pandemic, Punch Bowl has had to permanently close four restaurants, leaving the company with 14 locations.

Haywood has more than 35 years of industry experience, including working with brands that need restructuring. He most recently worked at the parent company of buffet brands Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May. Before the coronavirus pandemic fueled collapse of the salad bar chains, Haywood had led a turnaround that included remodeling stores and growing units for the first time in years.  

JohnHaywood-CEO.jpegHaywood, left, said he is confident in the future success of Punch Bowl Social. 

He said he will be “working to navigate the path to protect the business and position the company to more effectively compete in today’s environment.”   

“We are fortunate that our management team, lender, vendors and landlords are all working together to reopen Punch Bowl Social locations and ensure a strong future for our concept," Haywood said in a statement.  “There are both challenges to be solved and significant opportunities to be realized in the next phase of Punch Bowl Social’s journey.”

The company has reopened locations in Denver, Cleveland and Atlanta.

Contact Nancy Luna at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @fastfoodmaven

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