Ray Blanchette is a food industry veteran with over 30 years of restaurant experience. He is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of TGI Friday’s (Dallas, TX).
Prior to joining TGI Friday’s, Ray served as the Chief Executive Officer of Ruby Tuesday and previously as Chief Executive Officer of Au Bon Pain. For the prior 8 years, he served as President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Ignite Restaurant Group. During his tenure at Ignite he executed a turnaround of the core Joe’s Crab Shack business expanding average unit volumes from $2.1m-$3.4m while also creating the Brick House Tavern + Tap brand and developing it to approximately $90m in revenue. The performance of the company enabled Ray to take Ignite public in May of 2012.
Prior to Ignite, he served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Pick Up Stix, Inc. During his 18 year tenure at Carlson restaurants (TGI Friday’s) Ray also served as Vice President of USA Franchise Operations, Vice President of Operations for its East Division and Executive Director of its International Division serving Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
He received many awards and recognition, including nominations for the prestigious Carlson Fellows Award in 2003 and 2005, Division of the Year for TGI Friday’s in 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2013, he received the “Golden Chain Award” and was ultimately named “Operator of the Year” by Nation’s Restaurant News.
Ray consistently and passionately gives back to the industry and his community serving as the founding Chair of the “Dine out for No Kid Hungry”, an industry wide initiative focused on ending childhood hunger in America. He also serves as an advisor on the No Kid Hungry executive board. He has raised well over $5 million dollars in his tireless efforts to end childhood hunger in America.
Ray holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University and continues to serve the Cox business school as a member of its executive board.