Pokeworks beefs up leadership team as Michael Walters becomes permanent COO

Steve Heeley, Larry Sidoti also join fast-casual chain’s executive team

Pokeworks is beefing up its C-suite with promotions and new hires, starting with the promotion of Michael Walters to the permanent role of chief operating officer. The fast-casual chain also named Steve Heeley chief marketing officer and Larry Sidoti chief development officer.

Last September, Walters became the interim chief operating officer. Charged with delivering an exceptional guest experience and hiring exceptional staff, he met the mark on all counts. Walters brought a cohesiveness to corporate-franchisee relations with enhanced communication. With a position focused on revenue strategy, he will oversee brand and digital strategy, product development and customer relationship management.


In this previous role, Heeley held the role of chief executive at Veggie Grill. There, he successfully helped with the fast casual’s rebranding, new menu development and digital transformation initiatives. Heeley’s stints include past leadership roles at Earl of Sandwich, Au Bon Pain, The Coffee Bean Tea Leaf, and Baja Fresh.

In this new role as Pokeworks chief marketing officer, he will oversee the marketing group while spearheading efforts surrounding revenue strategy, including brand and digital strategy, product development and customer relationship management.

As Pokeworks’ chief development officer, Sidoti will oversee the development team, leading the brand’s real estate and site selection strategy, construction management and franchise recruitment, noted Pokeworks in an announcement. Most recently, he served as chief development officer for Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh. Sidoti also worked at Paris Baguette, Ruby’s Diner, Yogurtland, Ms. Fields, and Juice it Up.


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