These Biscuits Mean Gravy
New CEO has plans to make restaurant chain popular nationwide
Ask Randy Kibler what his favorite item is on the Bojangles' menu, and he just smiles. It seems that Kibler is a man who never met a Bojangles' biscuit he didn't like, which is a good thing considering the thirty-seven-year veteran of the quick-service restaurant industry was named CEO of Bojangles' Restaurant Inc. in September. The appointment came after Falfurrias Capital Partners, helmed by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, acquired controlling interest in the chicken-and-biscuit company.
A Columbia, South Carolina native and longtime Richardson associate, Kibler landed his first job at Hardee's when he was fifteen years old. "I did it all, cashier, clean-up at night," he says. "If something was to be done, I had the opportunity to do it." It was the beginning of a twenty-six-year relationship, in which he would rise to president of the 600-restaurant Hardee's division.
"What most people miss in the restaurant world is that you've got to know what's important and who is important," says Kibler, fifty-three.
"I know the people working in the restaurant right now—making biscuits, cooking the chicken, working the cash register and the drive-through window—those are the real heroes. What happens here [at headquarters] isn't what makes us any money, it's what happens right there—when they hand you the biscuit, when they smile at you, get your drink."
Kibler has a two-pronged game plan for the future of Bojangles', which was recently named one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. magazine. The first, he says, is to grow sales in existing businesses with increased same-store sales. And the second is to open stores in new markets.
"Our job is to pick the right locations, and focus that expansion so people can learn who we are. Unfortunately, in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and northern Florida, they don't know a lot about Bojangles'. We just have to build enough stores so people get to know us, and we will be accepted very well because people love our product."