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Tender Greens’ new CEO plans to double store locations using a Steve Jobs mindset


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Photo: Liz Clayman

Denyelle Bruno was one of seven people tasked with launching Apple’s retail business, so she’s learned a thing or two about fast expansion. And since the fast casual healthy restaurant craze continues to grow, it makes perfect sense that the Genius Bar guru would recognize a good thing and apply her Silicon Valley chops as the new CEO of Tender Greens, a farm-to-table fast casual restaurant that’s a cult fave on the West Coast—and quickly expanding.

Action item number one for the new chief executive: hiring inquisitive employees who aren’t afraid to push back. “I expect them to challenge me,” Bruno tells Fast Company. After all, it’s going to take more than just her vision to expand the chain from 28 locations to 56 in two years, which is currently the company’s goal. As it stands, the eatery is tracking to bring in $100 million this year, so to say the stakes are high would be an understatement.

Still, the first-time CEO seems ready. And it’s not her first stint in the food world; previously she was the senior director of operations at Peet’s, another chain that’s quickly expanding, both in locations and offerings. The fast casual tide is certainly rising in her favor, too. Now more than ever, people seemed primed to spend $12 on an organic, ethically sourced salad or bowl.

Besides, she’s excited for her step up in the retail world. “Turns out I was good at retail,” Bruno says, of her Apple store says. “For me [it’s] almost like a game.” And from the sound of it, it’s a game she’s set on winning.

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