ADDISON, Texas (May 13, 2011) – Front Burner Restaurants has secured John B. Gessner as Vice President and General Counsel of the creative restaurant concept development company.
Gessner will be responsible for all internal and external legal matters for Front Burner, which counts Twin Peaks, Ojos Locos Sports Cantina, Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar, the Ranch at Las Colinas, and Red Dog Right among its restaurants, with more to come. Gessner becomes Front Burner’s first VP and joins an executive team that includes Twin Peaks’ co-founders, CEO Randy DeWitt and CFO Scott Gordon, and President Jack Gibbons.
“I’m very excited to be joining the brain trust behind one of the fastest-growing restaurant concepts in the United States,” Gessner said. “I am impressed by the level of professionalism I’ve seen since I arrived here, and the amount of business savvy and restaurant knowledge that’s here.”
Gessner brings nearly 30 years of experience in hospitality representation to Front Burner, particularly regarding restaurant-specific issues relating to construction, employment, and real estate. He will also represent Front Burner through his positions on both the Board of Directors and Executive Committees of the Texas Restaurant Association and the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association.
“We’re tremendously excited to have John join the Front Burner team,” DeWitt said. “As rapidly as our concepts are growing, we really needed someone with a deep understanding of the legal needs of a restaurant company like Front Burner. John’s professional history speaks for itself. He’s perfect for the job, and we’re fortunate to have him on board.”
Until recently, Gessner served an eight-year stint as General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer for Texas Wings, Inc., the largest franchisee of Hooters of America. While there, he handled matters ranging from contracts and litigation to human resources training, permitting, and licensing. Previous to that, he was President of his own small commercial law firm in Dallas, Gessner & Flores, and acted as Texas Counsel for Hooters and several other large national chains.
Gessner said his primary challenge will be coordinating the legal work of Twin Peaks, which is Front Burner’s fastest growing concept. The lodge-themed sports restaurant and bar currently has 15 locations in five states, and the company plans on doubling the number of locations by the end of 2012.
“I’ll be very involved in the franchising process, from the actual vetting of franchise candidates to the negotiation of franchise agreements,” Gessner said. “It’s a major difference from my work with Hooters, and I look forward to the challenge.”
Before co-founding Gessner & Flores in 1998, he specialized in commercial law and litigation for four Dallas firms after he earned his law degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, La., in 1984.