Little Caesars Enterprises Inc. and Smoothie King Franchises Inc., two privately held eateries with ruling aspirations to their names, unveiled new roles this week for two top in-house lawyers.
Smoothie King, the world’s largest smoothie brand, disclosed April 13 that it hired Joshua Nicosia as chief legal officer in March. Nicosia is a former general counsel and head of franchise development at rival smoothie chain Jamba Juice Co.
Little Caesars Enterprises, the parent company of the Detroit-based pizza chain of the same name, announced April 12 its promotion of general counsel and vice president of business support services Erin Martin to the newly created role of chief of staff. Martin will retain her legal duties, said company spokeswoman Lara Zade.
While the U.S. restaurant industry was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, some national food service operators like Little Caesars and Smoothie King seem to have shrugged off setbacks stemming from Covid-19.
Smoothie King opened a record 263 stores last year, according to trade publication QSR, which in a January report noted that the smoothie lifestyle brand resonated with customers concerned about health and wellness. QSR reported in December that Little Caesars also saw demand for its pizza, chicken wings, and cheesy bread soar in 2020 on the strength of its delivery model.
A Pizza Promotion
Martin, who has worked at Little Caesars for more than 14 years, the last five-and-a-half as general counsel, will now act as a strategic adviser to the company’s leadership team, including president and CEO David Scrivano.
In a statement, Martin said she’s looking forward to supporting Scrivano and helping “guide the strategic direction” of Little Caesars “in areas such as growth, expansion, innovation, and service.”
Bloomberg News reported in 2019 that Little Caesars was looking to open hundreds of new stores overseas and was moving away from the increasingly competitive U.S. pizza market. The company often experiments with new products like pretzel pizza.
Martin didn’t respond to a request for comment. In her previous role, she led legal and business support teams at Little Caesars, such as real estate, construction, and U.S. development, training, and communications, the company said.
Little Caesars has brought on several new lawyers in recent months, including former Honigman partner Elizabeth Jacobs, who joined the company as a data privacy director a year ago.
The company has faced litigation from employees over fingerprint data the company has collected for timekeeping purposes.
In March, the company picked up assistant general counsel Arthur Anastos from Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., where he was a vice president and managing counsel. Anastos, who once served as interim head of the legal department at the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts, didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new role at Little Caesars. Dunkin’ Brands was sold in December to Inspired Brands Inc.
As for Smoothie King, the company has relocated its headquarters to Dallas from Metairie, La., where its name still sponsors the home arena for the National Basketball Association’s New Orleans Pelicans.
Nicosia, Smoothie King’s new top lawyer, was most recently a Dallas-based general counsel for North America at IWG PLC, a British co-working company. In a statement, Nicosia said he was “excited” to return to the restaurant industry and join “the experienced leadership team” at Smoothie King.
“The energy among our team members and franchisees in pursuing Smoothie King’s mission to inspire people to live active and healthy lifestyles will continue to drive our business forward and set us apart as the best-in-class franchisor in our industry,” Nicosia said.
Michael “Misha” Sukenik, a former general counsel at Smoothie King who joined the company in 2018 from Pizza Hut and Taco Bell owner Yum Brands Inc., left the company last year to become global general counsel and corporate secretary for vacuum and floor care product maker Bissell Homecare Inc.
Franchisee documents show that Smoothie King hired Kathryn “Katie” Kotel, a former general counsel at TGI Fridays Inc., last year to succeed Sukenik as general counsel.