Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Smashburger® Appoints Denise Nelsen As Chief Executive Officer


COLORADO, USA. – Smashburger®, one of the leading fast-casual better burger brands, has recently announced the appointment of Denise Nelsen as its new Chief Executive Officer.  Nelsen brings with her more than 30 years of food and beverage industry experience, 25 of which were at Starbucks. This primes Smashburger to further drive culinary innovation, enhance the guest experience, while expanding its industry footprint. 

 "We are thrilled to welcome Denise Nelsen as Smashburger's CEO. With her extensive experience and proven leadership in the food and beverage industry, she is set to propel the Smashburger brand into a new era of growth. Her appointment signifies the Jollibee Group’s commitment to excellence and diversity, and with all her capabilities and energy, we are confident that she will drive success for Smashburger, thereby contributing to the growth of the Jollibee Group as a whole," said Jollibee Group President & CEO Ernesto Tanmantiong. 

Smashburger is one of Jollibee Group’s four global brands in its portfolio, serving as the Company’s flagship brand for the better burger category. With her appointment, Nelsen becomes the first female CEO of the brand, which embodies the Jollibee Group’s strong belief in women as excellent leaders, with 52% of the Company’s key roles being held by women. This conviction is further exemplified by the Company being cited in the World's Top Female-Friendly Companies by Forbes.

As of end 2023, Smashburger has presence in eight countries with a store network of 236 locations, 210 of which are in the U.S. The brand will continue expanding in new locations as part of its strategic growth plans.

Proven Track Record

Nelsen joined the Company as CEO in January 2024. Prior to joining Smashburger, Nelsen served as the Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations at Starbucks, most recently leading the brand’s U.S. business for nearly five years, and before that holding various operations and support roles within the company for over two decades. 

Her tenure in these previous roles has set Nelsen up with a solid foundation as she steps into the role of CEO. Within Smashburger, she will cultivate and lead teams, integrate streamlined business processes, and aim to deliver an impactful influence on all Smashburger’s employees, locations, and the communities they serve.

Strategic Growth Plans 

“I’m excited and energized to officially step into the position of Chief Executive Officer at Smashburger. With an unmatched dedication to guest satisfaction, Smashburger has consistently set the standard across the fast-casual industry and I’m looking forward to working with the executive team to continue the brand’s legacy,” said Denise Nelsen, Chief Executive Officer of Smashburger. “As we embark on various new brand ventures in 2024, I’m eager to support our continuous efforts to stay at the forefront of taste innovation in the industry, while collaborating with our international expansion teams to bring the joys of Smashburger to more guests worldwide.”

For more information about Smashburger please visit You can also visit to learn more about the Jollibee Group.

Smashburger uses 100% Certified Angus Beef Burgers that are smashed to the grill, searing in the juice. 

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