Scott Harris, New CEO Talk Francesca’s Future

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Scott Harris, staring you down.
Scott Harris, staring you down. Photo: courtesy The Purple Pig

Can Francesca’s make the jump from Scott Harris’ baby to smoothly-run corporation? Are the straight-arrow CEO and the impulsively innovative founder destined to clash? These are the questions that underly a Crain’s piece about the new CEO of Francesca Restaurant Group, Trenton Brown, which is really about whether Mr. Harris can relinquish enough control to make Francesca a business without relinquishing so much that the company’s creativity is stifled. Brown is a startup and turnaround guy with no restaurant experience, while Harris makes decisions by his gut and, so far, has had a pretty golden touch, not only growing the Francesca chain into a 22-unit success but managing the tougher feat of earning critical respect for his ventures including The Purple Pig and Davanti Enoteca. But that brings in another complication: while Francesca’s seems primed to conquer suburban malls all over America, raising the bar from Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill, his other restaurants are much more one-offs developed with fellow hands-on restaurateurs like Jimmy Bannos, who flat out say they don’t want to relinquish control to a corporate overseer. Can Brown make it work, or will he go the way of predecessor CEO Wallace Hite, who lasted only a few months? Stay tuned.

Scott Harris, New CEO Talk Francesca’s Future