Ray A. Blanchette President and Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Blanchette is a respected food industry veteran with more than two decades of restaurant experience. He has served as our Chief Executive Officer since joining Ignite in May 2007 and as our President since April 2015. Prior to Ignite, Mr. Blanchette served as President and Chief Operating Officer for Pick Up Stix, a leader in the quick-casual dining segment. He also held multiple leadership positions with Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. During his 18-year tenure with Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, Mr. Blanchette not only was recognized for his financial and operations accomplishments, but also for his success in developing high-performance teams.
Mr. Blanchette consistently gives back to the restaurant industry through his volunteer support of many organizations that need his leadership and insights. These organizations include board member and previous chairman of Dine Out for No Kid Hungry, member of the CEO Leadership Roundtable where he is focused on solving industry issues, member and recruiter for the NRA's Restaurant Advocacy Fund and also serves on the executive board of the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. Mr. Blanchette earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration from SMU.
Brad Leist Chief Financial Officer
Mr. Leist has served as our Chief Financial Officer since April 2015. He joined Ignite in 2012 and most recently served as Senior Vice President of Accounting and Finance. Prior to joining Ignite, Mr. Leist served in a variety of positions, most recently as Vice President Corporate Controller at Builders FirstSource, Inc. from 2004 to 2012. He also worked for seven years in public accounting for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. Mr. Leist holds a Masters in Accounting and a Bachelors of Business Administration from Texas A&M University.
David Catalano Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Catalano has served as our Chief Operating Officer since April 2015. He joined Ignite in April 2013 to lead the Macaroni Grill brand and became President of Brick House in March 2014. Prior to joining Ignite, Mr. Catalano held senior operating roles at TGI Fridays, Hard Rock Café and Apple Gold (one of the largest Applebee’s franchise groups). In his new role, Mr. Catalano will be responsible for all aspects of operations for Joe’s Crab Shack and Brick House Tavern + Tap.
Robyn Martin General Counsel
Ms. Martin has served as our General Counsel since April 2015. Most recently, she served as Ignite’s Senior Counsel and has been with the Company since August 2012. Ms. Martin was a labor and employment lawyer with Adams and Reese LLP prior to joining Ignite. She earned both her bachelor’s and law degrees from St. Louis University.
Edward J. McGraw Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer
Mr. McGraw has served as our Chief Development Officer since February 2013. He previously served as Senior Vice President of Development since December 2010 and has over 20 years of business experience with a focus on restaurant real estate and legal matters. He has extensive tenant-side retail and restaurant deal making experience throughout the country where he has developed hundreds of restaurant and retail stores. Prior to joining Ignite in 2009, Mr. McGraw held senior level development positions with Carlson Restaurants Worldwide (T.G.I. Friday's, Pick up Stix), Wagamama and David's Bridal. He is also an attorney with civil litigation experience in Philadelphia.
Mr. McGraw received B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from SUNY at Buffalo, and has a J.D. from Widener University School of Law, where he graduated Cum Laude and was a member of Law Review. He lives in Syracuse, NY.
Kevin Cottingim Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer
Mr. Cottingim has served as our Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer since May 2015. He joined Ignite Restaurant Group in 2008 as Chief Administrative Officer. Mr. Cottingim has had a long career in the restaurant industry, holding positions from server, busser, cook, and general manager to executive positions at Darden Restaurants, Carlson Restaurants, Batrus Hollweg International, and Ameristar Casinos. Over the years, he has served on a variety of boards, including the Women’s Foodservice Forum. Kevin holds a Master of Psychology degree from the, University of Southern Mississippi and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. His B.A. is from Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan.