Senior Leadership Team
Charles Bruce – President and Chief Executive Officer
Charles Bruce brings to Johnny Rockets more than 35 years of experience in marketing and leadership positions. Most recently, Charles Bruce was President and Chief Executive Officer of Peter Piper Pizza, a regional pizza chain where he was hired in 2009 as Chief Marketing Officer to develop and implement the strategy to turn the brand around. Following the successful turnaround, Bruce was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer. Charles has a proven track record developing integrated brand strategies that achieved substantial sales growth for a variety of brands and establishing productive relationships with franchise partners. Earlier in his career, Bruce held marketing and brand strategy positions with the International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association as Vice President of Marketing and at Wendy’s as Vice President of International Marketing. Bruce also held positions at Damon’s Grill, Captain D’s Seafood and Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina.
Susanne Stover - Chief Financial Officer
Susanne Stover comes to Johnny Rockets with more than 22 years of finance experience. With 10 years of CFO experience, Stover will lead and implement effective strategies to drive growth and a financial infrastructure for the brand. Prior to joining Johnny Rockets, Susanne was the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at the New York Racing Association where she was responsible for developing and implementing financial infrastructure and driving strategic growth. In addition, she identified, analyzed, and implemented cost-cutting and revenue generating programs for the racing company that has three thoroughbred racetracks and 1,500 employees. Susanne has held leadership positions as the Chief Financial Officer for Rosa Mexicano restaurant chain and Controller at the casual dining restaurant chain, California Pizza Kitchen. Earlier in her career, she held positions at The Walt Disney Company, KPMG Peat Marwick and Ernst & Young. Susanne graduated cum laude from Boston College with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting.
Joel Bulger - Chief Marketing Officer
With more than 25 years of restaurant industry experience, Bulger brings extensive marketing and brand development expertise to Johnny Rockets. He leads our Field Marketing and Corporate Communications teams as well as driving the overall strategic plan through brand marketing, LSM, public relations, guest services, agency management, new menu item launches and social media, both domestically and internationally. Bulger comes to Johnny Rockets with a rich history in the restaurant industry. Prior to joining Johnny Rockets, he held the position of SVP of Brand Marketing and Digital Strategy for Church’s Chicken where he was responsible for national advertising, Social/Digital Strategy, menu/product development and creative strategy for the 1,250-unit brand. As Vice President of Brand Marketing for Moe’s Southwest Grill in Atlanta, he led marketing and creative for the 420-unit restaurant chain. During his tenure at Darden Restaurants, Bulger worked on both the Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse brands, holding roles as Senior Director of Brand Marketing, Brand Director of New Business Development and Director of Field Marketing. Bulger also worked with Wendy’s International, Inc. as the Director of Marketing in the Southeast Region, responsible for over 2,500 restaurants. Prior to this, Bulger worked for Coca-Cola USA where he held the position of National Promotions Manager (Coke classic brand) and developed and executed multi-million dollar promotions for the beverage company. Bulger began his marketing career with Fricks/Firestone Advertising in Atlanta, where he worked with national clients including United Healthcare, Royal Oak Charcoal and AFC Enterprises. He graduated from University of Georgia with a B.A. in Advertising before acquiring his M.B.A. in International Business from Mercer University in Atlanta.
James Walker - President, Operations and Development
James Walker comes to Johnny Rockets with over 25 years of broad based, senior management experience in the hospitality and retail industry, and has conducted business in over 60 international markets, including such emerging markets as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Pakistan and Mongolia. He oversees Global Operations, Development and Support functions for over 350 restaurants in 28 counties. Walker’s specific skill sets include Mergers & Acquisitions, Development (Domestic & International), Operations, Licensing, and Research & Development. Prior to joining Johnny Rockets, Walker held the CDO position at Beef 'O' Brady’s and The Brass Tap. Prior to that, Walker was the Chief Development Officer of Fresh Brands, where he oversaw Franchise Operations as well as Development for a number of brands including Baja Fresh, La Salsa, and Canyons Burger Company. Walker has also held the President’s position with Baja Fresh, where he was instrumental in the acquisition of the brand from Wendy’s. Walker was also the President of CinnaWorkS / Sweet Factory based in Anaheim CA. The role encompassed CinnaWorkS, the largest Franchisee of Cinnabon, as well as the Franchisor of Sweet Factory®, the Nation’s largest bulk candy retailer. Walker holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and has attended and received certificates and diplomas from a number of Culinary Institutions. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Estetique, and acts as an advisor to Chowtabs.
Jim Hicks - Senior Vice President of Domestic Operations
Jim Hicks joined the Johnny Rockets executive team in January 2015 as Senior Vice President of Domestic Operations. A 30-year restaurant and franchise industry veteran, he has proven success in franchise and corporate operations and training. His role at Johnny Rockets focuses on improving the quality, consistency and profitability of the brand’s franchise and corporate restaurants in the U.S. Hicks previously served as Vice President of Operations Services at Yoshinoya America, Inc., where he led operations services, training, purchasing and facilities management. Prior to that, Hicks held the position of Senior Director of Operations Services, Training and Development for Fresh Enterprises, Inc., the owner of Baja Fresh and La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grills and Canyons Burgers Restaurants. While there, he achieved record sales in company-owned locations. Hicks has worked with a variety of restaurants in the fast-casual and full-service space including El Pollo Loco, Inc., Prandium, Inc. and Koo Koo Roo, Inc.
Gene Savage - Director of Franchise Sales & Real Estate
With more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant and retail industries, Gene Savage joined Johnny Rockets as Director of Franchise Sales and Real Estate in January 2015. As part of his role, Savage is responsible for franchise sales and development and real estate. Prior to joining Johnny Rockets, he held the position of Director of Franchise Sales and Real Estate for FSC Franchise Co. LLC., the franchisor of The Brass Tap, a craft beer and wine bar, and Beef O’Brady’s Family Sports Bar. As an expert in franchise sales and development, Savage’s extensive domestic experience spans a number of high-profile brands including Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill, Marble Slab Creamery and MaggieMoo’s, Hot Stuff Pizza, Dunkin’ Brands, Baskin-Robin’s, Togo’s Eateries, Inc., Winchell’s Donuts, Jiffy Lube and Mobil Oil.
Naresh Worlikar - Vice President, International
Naresh joined Johnny Rockets in September of 2015 where he oversees International. He brings more than thirty years of experience in the industry of which sixteen years are in the International Markets. His strengths include training and operations; strategic brand, supply chain and country development, speaking multiple languages and understanding cultural diversities with interpersonal skill to foster business relationship. Naresh’s experience includes thriving in domestic and international divisions for Domino’s Pizza Inc., Little Caesars LLC., American Pizzeria Inc., Subway and Sbarro LLC.