QSR: 6 Questions with Craveworthy's SVP of Strategic Growth Kim DeCarolis

Craveworthy Brands, QSR Magazine, Kim DeCarolis, SVP of Strategic Growth, Entrepreneurship, Restaurants, Leadership

Craveworthy Brand's SVP of Strategic Growth Kim DeCarolis was featured on QSR. DeCarolis had the opportunity to share her journey in the whirlwind world of hospitality, her favorite leadership advice for other executives in the space and her vision for the future of the industry as a whole: 

I’m drawn to companies with an admirable mission and leadership who can effectively execute on that task at hand. The leadership team at Craveworthy Brands not only strives to be a collective of craveworthy food and exceptional guest experiences, but also to help team members reach their full potential within the organization, as well as in their personal lives. These factors drew me to join Craveworthy Brands in 2023, where I proudly serve as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Growth. 

In my journey over the previous six years, I’ve taken on executive sales roles within the restaurant and franchise sectors. What sets my approach apart is not just meeting growth goals, but consistently surpassing them through the development of innovative sales strategies. It’s been a ride marked by a continued commitment to excellence, expanding brands into new markets and pushing the boundaries of success.

As a woman navigating executive sales, I’ve broken barriers and redefined leadership in the quick-service landscape. Grounded in authenticity, my leadership style focuses on creating pathways for success rather than adhering to traditional norms. Currently, as the driving force behind Craveworthy Brands’ franchise sales strategy, we work to identify what will resonates with franchisees to expedite the pulse of growth.

A part of breaking these barriers is empowering and strengthening female leadership in the restaurant space, which is reflected throughout our organization. Our culture is rooted in inclusivity, providing opportunities for growth and evolution to every team member, as our team emphasizes a “we, not me” mentality. We stay committed to the success and development of each individual within the Craveworthy team.

Outside of Craveworthy, I serve on the advisory board for Women in Restaurant Leadership, a group formed to provide a platform for women from around the industry to connect, foster mentorship opportunities, and gather career advice and tips. I am also a member of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, providing insight and leadership, role modeling, and strategic networking to help cultivate the next generation of female leaders. 

As we continue to expand, I am eager to propel new brands to the forefront of the industry and empower small businesses to become the next big thing. 

What was your first job?

My first job was at National Coney Island in Detroit at 14. I was a hostess, in charge of carryout and the cash drawer. I couldn’t wait to get to work. Graduating from Central Michigan University, I had intentions of becoming a financial planner and majored in Marketing and Finance; landing my first professional career was in personal banking at Chase. 

What’s your favorite menu item at a Craveworthy restaurant?

My favorite menu item from one of our brands would have to come from Genghis Grill. I usually switch between the General Tao Chicken and the create-your-own stir fry. Spicier the better.

What’s your favorite cuisine aside from those seen at Craveworthy?

My favorite cuisine has to be Italian, specifically Ciao e Pepe. I studied abroad in Italy, so Italian dishes always bring fond memories and a happy belly. 

Who inspires you as a leader?

A few people inspire me as a leader. My first boss and mentor, Mark Wayne, pushed me out of my comfort zone while helping nurture and empower me to be a successful female leader in the industry. Jeremy Theisen continues this empowerment, which led to the support of others like Greg Creed, Gregg Majewski, and James Fripp. They encourage to support me by building my confidence and comfortability daily in my role. These people have cultivated my love for coaching others, inspiring me to continue to invest lessons I have learned to share with others in the space. 

What’s the best piece of advice that other restaurant executives should hear? 

The best piece of advice I have for other restaurant executives actually came from a fortune cookie that I still carry around with me every day. “We judge others by actions and ourselves by intent.” Just a reminder to give yourself and those around you grace; and working intentionally to make everything just 1 percent better than you left. It’s also OK to remind people who you may have networked with of a conversation you had—if you don’t ask the answer is the same as it was when nothing happened.  

What are some of your interests outside of work? 

Outside of work, I love to travel and experience new cultures and cuisines. My family is my lifeline, and I love to spend time with them and my chosen family. I’m also a huge Detroit Lions fan.

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