The industry mourns the passing of Abe J. Gustin Jr., co-founder of Applebee’s International, who died last week at age 75 after a brief illness. Gustin and partner John Hamra acquired 54 Applebee’s locations in 1986 and by 1988 he co-founded Applebee’s International, building it to 1,160 restaurants during his time with the concept. He retired from his post as chief executive and chairman in 2000.
Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, Inc. promoted Vonna Taylor to Director of Brand Marketing — a new division at the firm. She had been Assistant Director of Casual Dining. Taylor will work with the company’s beverage partners, assist with new product launches and coordinate special brand-related events.
In other Patrick Henry Creative Promotions news, the company was named one of the best companies to work for in Texas for a sixth consecutive year by Texas Monthly magazine, the Texas Association of Business and the Texas State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management and Best Companies Group.
Marty Crane was named Senior Vice President, Spirits Sales at Pernod Ricard USA. Crane previously served as General Manager – East Division, and replaces Jim Evans, who is leaving Pernod Ricard USA to pursue another venture. Crane began his career with Seagram, and moved to Pernod Ricard USA with its acquisition of Seagram, serving first as Divisional Vice President, National Accounts, and then as Division Vice President, East Sales Region.
Nation’s Restaurants News awarded Doug Brooks, CEO and president of Brinker International, as its first-ever recipient of “The Norman” at the 51st Multi-unit Foodservice Operators Conference. Named for Norman Brinker, the award is given to the restaurant executive who shows extraordinary leadership skills.
Wilson Daniels Ltd. announced Mark Merrion as the new Senior Vice President of National Sales. Previously, Merrion was Vice President of Sales, West Region for Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines since 2002.
Parasole Restaurant Holdings named Jodi Schoenauer the new Director of Marketing. Shoenauer previously worked as Manager at Calhoun Beach Club. Parasole operates 11 restaurants in Minneapolis under a number of concepts, including Chino Latino, Pittsburgh Blue Steakhouse, the Good Earth restaurants, Burger Jones and more.