Ken Pendery will become executive chairman of the board of First Watch Restaurants Inc.
MANATEE — East Manatee County-based breakfast, brunch and lunch chain First Watch Restaurants Inc. announced that current President Chris Tomasso will take on the additional role and title of CEO, succeeding Ken Pendery.
Pendery will become executive chairman of the board, according to a press release. The transition is effective immediately. In his new role, Pendery will work as a liaison between First Watch management, the board of directors and its private equity partner.
In 1984, Pendery helped chain founder John Sullivan open the second restaurant in San Mateo, Calif. He officially joined the First Watch team in 1986.
"During the past 32 years, I have had the tremendous honor to work alongside some incredible people, and I am so proud of the company we have built," says Pendery in a statement. "Chris and I have worked together for more than a decade, and he has played an integral role in the success of First Watch during that time. I am confident that he will approach this new role with the same passion and commitment to our culture that he has demonstrated these past 12 years, and I believe he is the ideal person to maintain our success and culture during this period of accelerated and aggressive growth."
Tomasso joined First Watch in August 2006 as chief marketing officer. In 2015, he was named president and joined the company’s board of directors. Before his time at First Watch, he served as vice president of marketing for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. He also previously served as vice president of worldwide marketing for Hard Rock Café International.
"I look forward to continuing to work with our passionate management team to build upon the solid foundation that Ken so carefully created and to realize the opportunities we have going forward,” says Tomasso in a statement. "I appreciate Ken’s guidance and partnership and will continue to rely upon him for strategic counsel and to provide historical perspective — both of which have high value in our organization."
Advent International made a majority investment in First Watch in late 2017. The chain plans to open 30 more locations in 2018.
First Watch has more than 330 restaurants in 29 states, including more than 250 First Watch restaurants, 75 The Egg & I restaurants and one Bread & Company restaurant in Nashville.