Willy’s Mexicana Grill has hired seasoned restaurant executive Juan C. Garcia as president of the Atlanta-based Fresh-Mex restaurant company. Garcia brings more than 30 years of restaurant industry experience to the position. Founder Willy Bitter will remain as “chairman of the burrito” and CEO of the restaurant company, overseeing future development and long-range planning.
“We’re so excited to expand our management team with ‘JC’ (Juan) Garcia. He’s a proven leader and will be instrumental in helping us identify new areas for development and other opportunities, enhancing our menu and building even greater positive awareness for the Willy’s brand,” Bitter said.
Bitter opened the first Willy’s Mexicana Grill in 1995, when he brought the idea for a new style of Mexican restaurants featuring California-style burritos back to Atlanta after living in San Francisco. The company has grown to 20 restaurants in the metro Atlanta area, as well as one in Athens, Ga., and one in Gainesville, Fla. Willy’s also plans to open restaurants in two additional Atlanta neighborhoods in 2013: Brookhaven and North Druid Hills.
Garcia, who was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, brings to Willy’s a broad range of restaurant experience gained through his extensive history of leading restaurant companies to long-term growth and financial success while rising through the ranks of accounting and management roles. Prior to his most recent position as chief financial officer at Valls Group Inc., a South Florida restaurant company with more than 40 locations, he spent 27 years at Benihana Inc. and served as president and chief operating officer for the publicly traded restaurant company from 2007-2010.
Added Garcia, “I was attracted to Willy’s because of its reputation, successful track record and its high quality standards for preparing the freshest food each day – all in a fun, energetic and friendly atmosphere for guests. It’s an honor to help lead this team and to also begin exploring future growth opportunities for the brand.”
For more information, visit www.willys.com.