Uncle Julio’s Restaurant Group today announced that it has named Scott Lawton as CEO and RJ Thomas as President and Chief Operating Officer, to lead the company and accelerate its growth.
Lawton is a seasoned restaurant executive with more than 20 years of leadership and operational experience. In 2011, he co-founded bartaco, a coastally-inspired restaurant serving upscale street food with 29 locations in 13 states, and he subsequently served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Barteca until its sale to Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group in 2018. Lawton re-joined bartaco as CEO after the company was acquired by L Catterton, and he will continue in this role in addition to assuming the responsibilities of CEO of Uncle Julio’s. Prior to joining Barteca in 2007, Lawton served as the Chief Operating Officer of Big Time Restaurant Group from 2000 to 2006.
“Uncle Julio’s commitment to authentic, one-of-kind dining experiences has created an incredibly loyal following and I’m honored to assume the role of CEO,” said Lawton. “The company’s legacy and culture built around attention to detail in every part of the dining experience will continue to serve as the foundation for Uncle Julio’s during this next phase of growth. Bringing a deep commitment to brand building and innovation, I’m excited to leverage my experience at bartaco to create a truly memorable experience for every guest who walks into our restaurants. In partnership with RJ and the entire team, I look forward to leading Uncle Julio’s in this next chapter.”
Thomas brings more than 20 years of restaurant industry leadership experience to Uncle Julio’s. Most recently, he served as President and COO of King’s Seafood Company, overseeing the operations for all 24 locations. In this role, Thomas implemented several new restaurant concepts, including a new steakhouse restaurant, which generated $13 million of sales in its first year, and reconceptualized the “Water Grill” brand, which opened six new locations and generated $100 million in revenue.
Thomas said, “I have long admired Uncle Julio’s for its unique take on Mexican dining – making authentic recipes from scratch using the freshest ingredients in a welcoming atmosphere. I’m proud to join Scott and the incredibly talented Uncle Julio’s team to help guide the company to continued success by combining great food and great service to drive great experiences.”
Uncle Julio’s was acquired by L Catterton, a leading consumer-focused investment firm, in October 2017.
“Throughout their careers, Scott and RJ have established themselves as proven leaders with the vision and operational capabilities necessary to develop and run best-in-class restaurants,” said Andrew C. Taub, a Managing Partner in L Catterton’s Buyout Fund. “I’ve seen firsthand the success Scott has had at bartaco, where he has elevated the brand, re-imaged the customer experience, and instilled a culture of excellence. Similarly, RJ has a tremendous track record introducing new concepts and innovating restaurant brands to support growth, while holding his team to the highest standards. We are confident that Scott and RJ will create a new and exciting chapter in the Uncle Julio’s story.”
About Uncle Julio’s
Uncle Julio’s serves made-from-scratch Mexican cuisine, using fresh ingredients and authentic recipes to create its signature taste in everything from mesquite-grilled meats to hand-crafted margaritas. Guests find memorable dining experiences through a welcoming atmosphere and interactive menu. Headquartered in the Dallas, Texas area, the first Uncle Julio’s opened in 1986 and continues to expand to define the polished casual Mexican industry. To find a location near you or to peruse the mouth-watering menu, visit UncleJulios.com, or connect with Uncle Julio’s on Facebook @UncleJulios and Instagram @UncleJuliosMexican.