ORLANDO, Fla. (November 30, 2015) – Tijuana Flats Restaurants, LLC is pleased to announce the appointment of John Caron as a member of the company’s board of directors. Mr. Caron previously served as the President of Olive Garden at Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) from May 30, 2011 to January 2013 and also served as the Chief Marketing Officer from March 2010 to May 30, 2011. As a member of Darden’s Operating Team, Mr. Caron led brand growth strategy across the entire enterprise to help ensure each Darden brand was appropriately positioned and had clearly identified plans in place to drive sustainable growth.
“I admire the Tijuana Flats brand and look forward to contributing to the continued success and growth”, commented Mr. Caron. “I am excited to work with John and the rest of the board for continued success in 2016,” said Brad Kaemmer, CEO for Tijuana Flats. “John brings with him vast experience, knowledge and marketing insight that we are confident will be a benefit to the long term growth of the Tijuana Flats brand,” commented Steven Flyer, Partner at AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC.
Caron has 25 years of marketing experience in the consumer packaged goods and restaurant industries. He joined Olive Garden as Executive Vice President of Marketing in April 2003. During his tenure leading brand management for the $3 billion brand, he oversaw the successful launch of a national Hispanic advertising campaign, the first for a casual dining brand. He also provided strategic leadership around the development of a digital media strategy and delivered relevant new promotions and new advertising campaigns, all leading to results that far outpaced the casual dining industry.
Prior to joining Olive Garden, Mr. Caron served as Vice President and General Manager of Lipton Beverages for Unilever Bestfoods North America. His 17-year tenure with Unilever also included leadership roles for a variety of food businesses including the +$600 million sauce portfolio (Ragu and Five Brothers) and international assignments in Canada and Germany leading the company’s portfolio of margarine brands.
About Tijuana Flats
Established in 1995 in Winter Park, Florida, Tijuana Flats is a unique, fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience featuring superior guest service and fresh, made-to-order food. Tijuana Flats has 114 locations in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. The brand has been named to Fast Casual Magazine’s 2015 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list.
About AUA Equity
AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC is a New York-based, operationally-focused, lower middle-market private equity firm providing strategic capital to companies in the consumer, media, and business services sectors, with a particular focus on family-owned businesses and companies benefiting from the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population in the United States. AUA Equity makes equity investments of $10 to $50 million in companies that generate in excess of $3 million in EBITDA. For more information on AUA Equity, visit www.auaequity.com.