Tom Bené has resigned as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association and as CEO of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to become president and CEO of Breakthru Beverage Group, a North American alcoholic beverage distributor. The appointment will be effective Oct. 4.
The change comes 15 months after Bené was picked to lead the National Restaurant Association during the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We appreciate Tom’s leadership and commitment to the industry during this difficult time,” said Brian Casey, National Restaurant Association Board Chair and owner of the Oak Hill Tavern and the Company Picnic Company. “Tom’s unique industry experience was invaluable in helping the association and foundation navigate a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”
During Bené’s tenure, the association successfully garnered critical protections and support for America’s restaurants and acquired majority ownership of Winsight Holdings, the leading events, expositions, and media provider for the industry.
“I am incredibly proud of the work this team has done and all that we have accomplished together during this incredible time,” Bené said. “Whether it's the significant impact we've made to support the industry through our advocacy efforts; the new governance model that we put in place to drive deeper engagement and more effectiveness; or the restructuring of the organization to meet the changing needs of the industry, our state associations, and our members, it has been a truly collaborative effort. I know the association and foundation – and these teams – are well-positioned for continued success.”
Marvin Irby, CFO and chief people officer, will serve as interim CEO. Irby has more than 30 years of leadership experience, including executive positions at Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Disney. Irby joined the organization in 2010 and has played an integral role in advancing the strategic plans for both the association and foundation.
A task force is being formed to oversee the search for a new president and CEO.
Before the National Restaurant Association, Bené served as chairman and CEO of Sysco. In his new role, he will advance the next phase of Breakthru Beverage Group’s evolution by focusing on growth and expansion, accelerating technology and innovation and executing with excellence for supplier and customer partners.
"We are thrilled to welcome Tom to Breakthru Beverage as our next president and CEO,” said Charles Merinoff, co-chairman of the board of managers. “Tom has a demonstrated history of leading organizations through periods of exceptional growth and innovation. His transparent, compassionate and inspirational leadership style struck us immediately, and we're excited for him to continue building Breakthru's culture of excellence and inclusivity."