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Subway’s New Lawyer-CEO Hires a Top Legal Lieutenant

Jan. 10, 2020, 6:29 PM

Subway Restaurants, the privately held sandwich franchiser, has hired a new top lawyer.

Greenberg Traurig real estate partner Ilene Kobert in Miami confirmed to Bloomberg Law that she will relocate to Milford, Conn., in February to lead Subway’s in-house legal operations. News of Kobert’s hire by Subway was first reported Thursday by the trade publication Restaurant Business.

The new job will be a reunion for Kobert, who served as a director and senior attorney at Burger King Holdings Inc. from 2002 to 2004 before returning to the same role at the hamburger-focused fast food chain from 2009 to 2011.

Kobert left Burger King after its $3.3 billion sale to Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital Inc. and joined Greenberg Traurig’s Miami headquarters, where she made partner in 2014.

In November, Subway hired former Burger King CEO John Chidsey to help revitalize a casual dining chain that has struggled in recent years amid disputes with franchisees, a diminished appetite among customers for cold-cuts, and the arrest of former spokesman Jared Fogle, who is serving a federal prison term after pleading guilty to possessing child pornography in 2015.

Until hiring Chidsey, Subway had been without a CEO since May 2018. Chidsey, who did not respond to a request for comment, earned a law degree from Emory University before starting a career that took him into executive roles at former hospitality giant Cendant Corp. and PepsiCo Inc.

Two months into his new job at Subway, Chidsey recruited Kobert to serve as Subway’s general counsel. She replaces Subway’s current in-house legal chief, Bethany Appleby, at Franchise World Headquarters LLC, the corporate entity that sells Subway franchises. (Subway IP LLC is the entity that owns the restaurant chain’s intellectual property.)

Appleby, a litigator, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about her post-Subway plans. She joined Subway in early 2017 after nearly 19 years at Wiggin and Dana, a Connecticut-based law firm where Appleby spent the past decade as a partner and co-chair of its franchise and distribution practice.

Wiggin and Dana has long represented Subway in litigation with franchisees, some of which have recently criticized Chidsey for proposed price cuts on sandwiches and other items.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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