Taco Bell’s Extreme-Food Mastermind Will Join TGI Fridays Chain

  • Stephanie Perdue to step in as chief marketing officer Feb. 21
  • Fridays also appoints Jerry Comstock president and COO

Stephanie Perdue, the woman responsible for turning Doritos Locos Tacos and other quirky items into hits for Taco Bell, is joining TGI Fridays, a restaurant chain that’s been far less successful in appealing to younger diners.

Perdue, who had been chief marketing officer at Yum! Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell, will take the same role at Fridays starting on Feb. 21. The Dallas area-based company also announced that former franchisee Jerry Comstock has become president and chief operating officer.

Stephanie Perdue

Source: Zeno Group

“They both represent really important and terrific hires,” Fridays Chief Executive Officer John Antioco said in an interview. “In Stephanie, we have somebody who is an innovative marketer.”

While at Taco Bell, Perdue was responsible for the 2012 introduction of Doritos Locos Tacos, a success that morphed into many different flavors and varieties. She also led the chain’s foray into breakfast, which has let it compete more directly with morning favorite McDonald’s Corp.

Fridays, which has more than 900 locations globally, has struggled recently to pull in diners. The restaurant industry has suffered a slowdown, hurt partly by a bout of food deflation that has made eating at home comparatively cheaper. The chain has said it’s focused on digital and to-go orders, along with its bar offerings, which includes $5 appetizers and $3 draft beers.

“The category itself, including Fridays, has of late not had the kind of innovation and breakthrough ideas we’ve been famous for,” Antioco said. “We’d like to rejuvenate those efforts.”

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