In this New Role, Thompson Oversees Culinary Research and Development, Menu Innovation, and More
Cole Thompson has been named vice president of culinary for WOWorks, the holding company for health-focused restaurant brands including Saladworks, Frutta Bowls, Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, and The Simple Greek. With this newly-created role, Thompson oversees culinary research and development (R&D) and menu innovation for Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, The Simple Greek, and Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina. He will also study and forecast consumer flavor trends and create guiding principles to deliver the best food and drink options for customers. Thompson will report to John Geyerman, the chief brand officer for Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, The Simple Greek, and Barberitos Southwestern Grille and Cantina. Thompson was previously the culinary R&D director at Moe’s Southwest Grill.
“I joined WOWorks because it’s a company made up of some truly amazing people and brands. At WOWorks, I have the opportunity to provide our guests with better-for-you ingredients that are bold, ‘craveable’ and full of flavor,” Thompson said in a statement.
The brands and people attracted Thompson to WOWorks. “I want our guests to be curious and try new foods that they’ve never had before. I have the opportunity to influence the way so many people eat, and I want to do that by helping people realize that better-for-you food can also deliver a lot of flavor,” he said.
Thompson applauds the leadership team’s focus on innovation. “There aren’t many companies that genuinely live out their values but this is one of the few. We have invested a lot of resources and energy into food innovation and staying ahead of flavor trends,” he said.
Thompson adds that WOWorks does its “best to be first to market on new trends that our guests are interested in and also thoroughly vet and test all new menu items and limited time offers to ensure the most successful ones make it to our franchise community.”
WOWorks also created the role of vice president of culinary for Saladworks, Frutta Bowls, and Zoup! Eatery for Katie Cavuto, WOWorks’ executive chef for several brands. In a statement, Kelly Roddy, CEO of WOWorks, said, “We created our new vice president of culinary roles because menu innovation and keeping abreast of the fresh, exciting flavors and ingredients is a crucial part of each of our restaurants at WOWorks.” He adds that the WOWorks team wants their “guests at each of our restaurant brands to enjoy seasonal and fresh menu items that not only provide a healthier meal choice, but also satisfy their desire for tasty offerings.”
Thompson’s Restaurant Experience
Thompson got into franchising when he started working for Moe’s Southwest Grill and Focus Brands in 2015. “My favorite part of the industry is working with franchisees that are passionate about their brand, community and food,” he adds. Two of Thompson’s greatest passions in life are food and people. “Food is integral in bringing people and communities together. No other industry combines the two like the restaurant industry.” For entrepreneurs looking to benefit from the franchise industry, Thompson urges doing “research and thoroughly vetting the franchisor to ensure that your values and culture aligns with theirs.”
Thompson has an associates degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University and a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Auburn University.