James Walker

Senior Operating Partner

Mr. James Walker, recognized as one of the restaurant industry’s most accomplished and sought-after executives, features deep expertise across QSR, Fast Casual and Casual theme segments. Walker is an authority in restaurant technology and delivery channels, with a focus on building a best-in-class customer experience, domestic and international development, operations, new product innovation, menu evolution, and brand (re)positioning. Currently Mr. Walker holds the position of CEO for Cincinnati-based Frisch’s® Restaurants, a 75-year-old American Comfort Food, Casual Theme Restaurant brand, famous for its “Big Boy®” burgers. Prior to Frisch’s, Mr. Walker held the CEO position for ultrafast grocery startup, BUYK, located in New York City.

Walker has more than 30 years of broad-based, senior level, management experience in the hospitality and retail industries for brands such as Nathan’s Famous®, Baja Fresh®, Cinnabon®, and Subway®. As the North American Vice President for Subway®, Walker oversaw their 28,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada and was instrumental in starting Subway’s delivery program, menu transformation, and remodel program. While at Nathan’s Famous®, Walker repositioned the brand as “The Flavor of NY,” and he successfully developed the sandwich menu offerings to drive both check average and frequency. He has conducted business in more than 70 international markets, including such emerging markets as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Pakistan and Mongolia, as well as virtually all major trade areas within the United States. In January 2022, Walker was elected to the NYC Hospitality Alliance’s Board of Directors. In 2023, Walker, oversaw the creation and launch of two innovative new brands, The Original Hot Chicken, and Inked Tacos.

Walker holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and has received certificates and diplomas from a number of institutions and colleges, including Yale’s School of Management, and Harvard’s Business School. Walker has also completed both MIT’s “Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy” program as well as the Sloan School of Management’s “Social Media Strategy” program. In 2020 and 2017, he was a Reader’s Pick for the Nation’s Restaurant News “Power List” of notable restaurant executives. In 2016, he was awarded the President’s “E” Award by President Obama for Excellence in Furthering American Business Internationally. In 2015, the International Franchise Association (IFA) conferred the designation of Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) to Walker, and in 2021 he joined the Society of Fellows of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). In November of 2022, Walker received his certification in Wine at WSET Level 2.

“Food is the only art form that you experience with all your senses, and you must experience to live.” – J.W.