Uncle Julio’s names Scott Lawton CEO, RJ Thomas as President/COO
Uncle Julio’s Restaurant Group has named Scott Lawton as CEO and RJ Thomas as president and chief operating officer, the brand said Monday.
The Irving, Texas-based full-service Mexican concept is owned by L Catterton, which also owns Bartaco, a concept for which Lawton will remain CEO.
Lawton co-founded Bartaco, which has 29 locations in 13 states. 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 in 2019.
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,” Lawton said in a statement. “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.”
Thomas most recently served as president and COO of King’s Seafood Co., overseeing the operations for all 24 locations. Thomas implemented several new restaurant concepts, including a new steakhouse restaurant, and reconceptualized the Water Grill brand, which opened six new locations and generated $100 million in revenue.
“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,” Thomas said.
Uncle Julio’s was acquired by Greenwich, Conn.-based L Catterton, a 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.”
Uncle Julio’s, founded in 1986, has locations in 10 states.