Meet the Taziki's Leadership Team

 
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Keith Richards

Founder 

Keith and his wife Amy founded Taziki's in 1998. He served as President from May 1998 until December 2012, and then served as the Chief Franchise Officer from June 2012 till 2017. Keith has returned to manage the flagship market in Birmingham, AL, and continues to lead our culinary R+D and the HOPE project, Taziki's signature charity. Before creating Taziki’s, Keith Richards worked under the direction of Frank Stitt at Highlands Bar and Grill- which won the elusive 2018 James Beard Foundation Award for the most outstanding restaurant in America. Today, Keith and Amy and their two sets of twins live in Birmingham, AL, where Keith serves on the Shelby County Chamber Board and advances the cause of employing special needs students in Birmingham and across the country.

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Dan Simpson

Chief Executive Officer

Dan Simpson was named CEO in February 2018 after serving as our Chief Innovation Officer starting in May 2016. Previously, he was a Taziki's franchisee and managing partner at Fresh Hospitality from January 2015 until May 2016. Mr. Simpson was the founder and CEO of ToGo Technologies from May 2012 until January 2015. He was the Chief Development Officer of Dispensary of Hope, Nashville, Tennessee from May 2008 until May 2012. Dan earned his BS in Science from Clearwater Christian College followed by his MBA from West Virginia University. Born in urban Philadelphia and raised in rural Maine, Dan and his wife Kim now live in Nashville, TN, with their 3 kids. Dan serves on the boards of the Shalom Foundation/Moore Pediatric Surgery Center and Dovehouse Ministries and is a member of TedXNashville Society of Fellows. 

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Billy Magruder

Cheif Financial Officer 

Billy Magruder has served as our Chief Financial Officer since December 2012. Previously, Billy was employed by Barber Companies, Inc., in Birmingham, Alabama from September 2001 until July 2012. Billy earned his BS in Accounting from Spring Hill College, followed by his MBA and is a Certified Public Accountant. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Billy and his wife Terri now live in Birmingham with their three children. Billy serves on the board of The Exceptional Foundation and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well as the Alabama Society of CPAs. 

 

John Bakkegard

Chief Development Officer

John Bakkegard has served as our Chief Development Officer since June 2016. He served as Director of Real Estate from October 2015 through May 2016. Before that, he was the Chief Financial Officer of Jim N' Nick's Bar-B-Que Restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama from January 2005 through September 2015. 
John earned his BS in Accounting and Business Finance from Birmingham-Southern College and became a certified public accountant while working at Ernst & Young. Born in Florida and raised in Huntsville, AL, he and his wife reside in Birmingham with their son and two labs. Hobbies include coaching youth soccer and basketball as well as hunting, fishing and trapping.

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Mike Smith

VP Operations

Mike Smith was promoted to VP of Operations in the spring of 2018 after serving as Taziki's Director of Franchise Operations since the Fall of 2016. Previously, Mike was the Vice President of Operations for Hootwinc (DBA Hooters) 2015-2016, Franchise Business Development Manager with Hooters of America 2012-2015 and the Area Director for Hootwinc (DBA Hooters) Southern CA/Washington/Oregon 2008-2012. Mike graduated with a BS in Finance from the University of Missouri. He lives in Nashville and is an avid runner and adventurer. 

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Rachel Layton

VP Marketing & Growth

Rachel Layton joined Taziki’s in 2018 as the VP of Marketing & Growth. Previously, Rachel was the Director of Marketing for A. Marshall Hospitality from 2014-2018. Rachel grew up in the media industry, becoming a professional radio talent at the age of 16, winning a State Championship in news shortly after. Rachel’s broadcasting career led her to Ball State University where she earned her BA, Telecommunications. Shortly after, Rachel earned her MBA from Belmont University. Born in rural Indiana, Rachel now lives in Nashville, TN and considers herself a transplanted local. Rachel is the president of the Belmont University Massey Alumni Board, and serves on the board for Safe Haven Family Shelter. Rachel is an avid sports fan, reader, and loves to travel. 

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