Brad Blum (born 1954) was the CEO of Burger King from December 2002 to July 2, 2004. He joined the company from Darden Restaurants where he had headed the Olive Garden unit, but left after only 18 months citing strategic differences with Burger King's board. Blum's successor, Greg Brenneman, was appointed on August 1, 2004. Blum's hometown is Cincinnati, Ohio. His hobby is auto racing. He was the CEO of Romano's Macaroni Grill from Dec 2008 to July 2010.
Blum had graduated from Denison University with a BA in Economics and Urban Studies. Blum continued his formal education by attaining an MBA in marketing and finance from Northwestern's J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
After college, Blum found a home with General Mills as a marketing executive. He worked at General Mills on both a national and international level. Blum helped to lead a start up company called "Cereal Partners Worldwide" (CPW) in Switzerland; they had partnered up with Nestlé for an equal interest in the company, 50/50. Cereal Partners Worldwide is a large international company with sales exceeding $2,500,000 per year. Blum's legacy with General Mills is most noted for three things: one, he is credited for being the person for putting the first female athlete on a Wheaties box (Mary Lou Retton), two, Blum is also regarded to be responsible for putting Walter Payton on a Wheaties box which made Payton the first African American athlete to do so, and lastly, the invention of a new cereal for General Mills; Cinnamon Toast Crunch, General Mills' most profitable brands.
Starting in 1994, Blum left General Mills and joined the Olive Garden team as its new President. For the next eight years he had created and coordinated Olive Garden's growth. Olive Garden had achieved, under Blum's leadership as the chief executive, 57 consecutive quarters of same-restaurant sales increases with continually increasing profits. The company's restaurant branch average had increased by 67 percent during Blum's time there. In 2000, Blum had won the MUFSO (Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators) Operator of the Year, a very high honor within the restaurant industry. In early 2002, Blum had left the Olive Garden.
In March 2002, Blum had moved further up the ladder to Vice Chairman of Darden Restaurants; the owner of the Olive Garden restaurant chain. Because of Blum's leadership, the Olive Garden became Darden Restaurants' most successful, proud and recognizable companies. Some of Blum's responsibilities were to oversee the Olive Garden and Smokey Bones (considered one of Darden's most promising new restaurant companies). Darden was and is considered the largest casual dining restaurant company in the world: and Blum oversaw the quality assurance, purchasing, and distribution for all the brand name restaurants that Darden owned. The purchasing included the very fickle and mercurial business of global fish and seafood supply for the Red Lobster. The last notable responsibility Blum had as the Vice Chairman for Darden Restaurants was the evaluation of up and coming restaurants for newly prospective acquisitions.
Blum was named the new CEO of Burger King Corporation—the fast food restaurants—in late 2002. Blum's mission...to turn around the quickly declining company and bring its bottom line back in the black. Burger King Corporation's change to Blum was made after Diageo sold it to the private equity partners: Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs. During Blum's tenure at Burger King he led the franchise to considerable improvement in its financial performance and the number 2 burger restaurant chain in the world. In Blum's first year at Burger King profits doubled and positive growth was trending; the average restaurant sales trended from negative 7 percent to a dramatic increase at positive 4 percent. This proved advantageous to a very successful IPO for Burger King in 2006.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
In late 2008, Romano’s Macaroni Grill had been suffering declines in sales, profits, and market share of the casual dining industry. They made a move to hire Blum as its CEO. Immediately Blum lead a turnaround in the same-restaurant sales trend from negative 11 percent to a staggering positive 3 percent from the previous year. Essential to the Macaroni Grill's quick uptick in business was Blum's decision to completely revamp the menu with the heralded Mediterranean way of preparing and cooking food. In the first fifteen months that Blum was there, the menu not only improved the quality of meals offered but also he was able to lower the costs that it took to produce that meal in front of the customer for less. On top of these upsides that this new menu promoted, it also reduced the total calorie intake of the menu by 42,000 for a 49 percent decrease from the previous menu; it's also notable that the menu took both a 59 percent reduction in fat and a 46 percent reduction in sodium. Blum titled the menu change as a "Quality up. Costs down" move. As a result of these moves, the customers enjoyed a higher satisfaction rate. In May 2010, Nation's Restaurant News awarded Blum the Menu Master's Innovator of the year in the restaurant industry for his accomplishments at the Macaroni Grill.
- "Burger King Gains Former Darden Restaurants Vice Chairman". Knight Ridder. December 20, 2002. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- "Burger King chief Blum quits post". BBC News Online. July 2, 2004. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- "Blum revs up BK and his Porsches". Orlando Sentinel. June 9, 2004. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
- "Macaroni Grill shakes up leadership". Nation's Restaurant News. July 15, 2010. Retrieved Aug 2, 2010.