Leadership Changes on the Menu at Mexican Themed Restaurant Chains

Brian Niccol has resigned from his role as Taco Bell CEO effectively immediately. Niccol will become CEO of Chipotle effective March 5, 2018. As a result of Niccol’s departure, Julie Felss Masino, president, Taco Bell North America, and Liz Williams, president, Taco Bell International, will assume leadership of Yum! Brands Taco Bell Division in their current respective roles.

Niccol joined Taco Bell in 2011 and became president of the restaurant chain in 2015. His background also includes various leadership roles with Yum! Brands’ Pizza Hut concept and, prior to that, with consumer goods company Proctor and Gamble. Back in November, Chipotle launched a search to hire a new CEO to succeed company founder Steve Ells, who is expected to become executive chairman of the Denver-based fast-casual restaurant chain.

“[Niccol’s] expertise in digital technologies, restaurant operations and branding make him a perfect fit for Chipotle as we seek to enhance our customer experience, drive sales growth and make our brand more relevant. The board is confident that Brian's passion and skillset ideally position him to make the bold moves needed to improve operations and take the company to the next level, all while remaining true to our purpose and the values that are essential to our customers," Ells said in a statement announcing the hire.

Masino joined Taco Bell in January 2018 and as president is responsible for ensuring the brand continues to deliver same-store sales growth by driving innovation, new store development and a frictionless customer experience through digital and technology initiatives. Masino joined Taco Bell from Mattel and her background includes experience in the restaurant industry including Starbucks and Sprinkles Cupcakes.

As president of Taco Bell International, Liz Williams is responsible for the brand strategy and performance of the quick-service restaurant chain’s international business. Prior to this role, Williams was the Taco Bell CFO. Before joining Taco Bell, Williams spent six years with The Boston Consulting Group and seven years at Dell Computer.