David Deno  

Chain Full Service Category

David Deno was named CEO of Bloomin’ Brands in March 2019 after serving as the company’s Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. As CEO, he executes the company’s long-term objectives, growth strategies, and initiatives for its portfolio of brands, including Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, and Aussie Grill by Outback. 

He joined the company in 2012 from Best Buy, where he served as President of Asia and CFO for Best Buy International. His hospitality industry career has included more than 15 years in senior level operations and financial positions at PepsiCo/YUM Brands and eight years at Burger King. 

David earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Macalester College. 

In His Own Words

How did you get your start in the foodservice industry? 
I started as a financial analyst for The Pillsbury Company, which owned Burger King and Steak and Ale at the time. I was a young MBA graduate from the University of Michigan and the restaurant industry was small but growing quickly, so I knew this was where I wanted to be. I moved to Miami where I joined Burger King less than a year later. 

What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice? 
The opportunity in this industry is incredible and I’ve enjoyed watching people grow at all levels and enjoy successful careers. Leaders have a responsibility to provide growth and opportunity for people and I take that very seriously.  

Tell us about a proud moment you’ve had along the way. 
There are a few. The first two are similar – helping Yum! Brands become a public company as it spun off from PepsiCo and helping take Bloomin’ Brands public and seeing it grow into the company it is today. Another big moment was how we took care of our people during the pandemic. We didn’t lay anyone off and provided relief pay even when our dining rooms were closed and people weren’t working. We’re proud that we stood by our people during such a difficult time.   

How would your team describe you as a leader? 
They would say we have developed a clear strategy and I allow people room to grow by believing in their capabilities as we execute that strategy. I’ve been through a lot in my career and what people may appreciate the most is my positive mindset and the fact that I take bad news very well. I’d also like to acknowledge areas where I too can grow, which includes being more direct as issues and opportunities arise. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry? 
Take advantage of an industry that still has a lot of growth ahead. Know your capabilities and where you can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to take a chance or two along the way.   

What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you? 
This is a tremendous honor and I truly appreciate everyone thinking of me. It’s also a reflection of what our company has accomplished and everyone who has worked so hard in our restaurants and our Restaurant Support Center. I believe this award is a testament of their dedication. 

What is your favorite meal? 
A small filet, medium-rare, with broccoli, and glass of red wine. And for dessert – a slice of key lime pie!