O'Charley's names new VP of marketing

Former KFC exec comes on board; chain also brings on culinary, training directors

O'Charley's has recruited the former vice president of marketing and brand communications at KFC to fill a spot that has been empty since the chain was acquired by American Blue Ribbon Holdings in mid-2012.

In addition to his time at Louisville-based KFC — where he helped create the "I ate the bones" ad campaign — David Ellis spent six years at Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster. He earned an MBA in marketing from Vanderbilt University after getting an undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia.

Ellis, left, fills the spot held in the first half of 2012 by Rick Trebilcock, who was hired by former CEO David Head shortly before American Blue Ribbon made its move to buy O'Charley's for about $220 million.

Separately, O'Charley's also has hired Bill Powell to be senior director of culinary and Kim Zimmerman Florence to serve as director of learning and development. Powell joins O’Charley’s from Darden Restaurants, where he held a similar role for Longhorn Steakhouse. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. Zimmerman Florence formerly worked in brand culture and training at Indigo Hotels, Longhorn and Ted’s Montana Grill, among others. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.

“We are thrilled to welcome David, Bill, and Kim to the American Blue Ribbon Holdings family during an exciting phase of forward momentum and success for O’Charley’s,” said Hazem Ouf, president and CEO of American Blue Ribbon. “These talented professionals will be integral pieces of O’Charley’s president Mickey Mills’ leadership team and will serve to further our relationship with guests and aid us in continuing to surpass the lofty goals we set for O’Charley’s when we acquired the brand.”

Ouf and his team have been investing heavily in renovating O'Charley's restaurants. The chain now runs 213 restaurants in 17 states. American Blue Ribbon as a whole — which includes Max & Erma's, Village Inn and other concepts — operates or franchises more than 630 locations in 43 states.