Jon L. Luther was named chief executive officer of Dunkin’ Brands in January 2003 and held the additional title of chairman in March 2006. In 2010, he assumed the single role of Executive Chairman; in 2011, non-executive Chairman of the Board. In May of 2013, Jon retired as Chairman of the Board at Dunkin’ Brands.
Upon joining Dunkin’ Brands in 2003, Luther led the transformation, revitalization, and global expansion of the company’s two iconic brands—Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. Early on, he instituted values-based leadership, re-setting the company culture. Under his direction, stores have been completely re-concepted with exciting, contemporary designs that also honor both brands’ beloved heritage. He has rolled out a portfolio of flexible store formats that opened the door to growth in non-traditional locations, such as stadiums, airports, and universities. In 2005, Luther brought in a culinary “dream team” of award-winning chefs to fuel menu innovation and excellence, creating a new category called “quick quality” to change perceptions about what is possible in a quick service meal. He stepped up the company’s research capability with a consumer insights group, and refocused and re-energized the brands’ marketing initiatives, leading to the 2006 launch of Dunkin’ Donuts’ award-winning marketing campaign, “America Runs on Dunkin’.”
Most notably, Luther led the expansion of Dunkin’ Donuts from its core region in the Northeast to key markets across the U.S., and the dramatic growth of both brands’ international business. From 2003 to 2009, system-wide sales increased over 66%, total number of stores nearly 44%, and achieved EBITDA growth of 135%. After a successful CEO leadership transition in 2010, Dunkin’ Brands continued this positive growth and completed a successful public offering in 2011.
During this brand transformation, Luther led the sale of Dunkin’ Brands from its owner, Pernod Ricard, to a consortium consisting of The Carlyle Group, Bain Capital, and THLee…and along with this team…continued its remarkable success through the eventual IPO.
Prior to joining Dunkin’ Brands, Luther was president of Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits, a division of AFC Enterprises. During his six years with Popeyes, the company’s store count grew 67% to 1,672 units, while average annual unit volume grew to over $1 million, the highest in the chicken QSR category. With Luther at the helm, Popeyes won industry awards for menu strategy, store re-design, and customer satisfaction.
Prior to Popeyes, Luther was president of CA One Services, a subsidiary of Delaware North Companies, Inc. He has also held leadership positions in the contract foodservice division of the Marriott Corporation and at ARAMARK in Philadelphia, PA., where he rose from vending sales director to become president of Davre’s, ARAMARK’s luxury restaurant subsidiary. Luther also founded Benchmark Services, Inc., a foodservice management firm specializing in business dining for corporations, growing the business into a strong regional competitor.
In October of 2011, Luther was elected Chairman of the Board for Arby’s Restaurant Group, Inc. Additionally, he serves as Lead Director of the board at Six Flags Theme Parks, as well as, a member of the Board of Directors at Brinker International. Luther also serves as an advisor to Staple Street Capital.
Luther holds a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Paul Smith’s College, and honorary doctorate degrees from Bentley College, Johnson & Wales University, Canisius College, as well as his Alma Mater, Paul Smith’s College. He supports culinary and foodservice programs at a variety of institutions, including serving on the Board of Trustees for the Culinary Institute of America as Chairman. In addition, he is the 2012 Past Chairman for the International Franchise Association.
In 2005, Luther was the recipient of the Nation’s Restaurant News Golden Chain award, and in 2006, he received the Chain Leadership award from Chain Leader magazine. Jon received the prestigious Adirondack Medal in 2007. Luther was awarded the 2007 Gold Plate Award from the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), and the 2008 Mentor of the Year award from the Elliot Leadership Conference. In 2009, Luther received the National Restaurant Association’s College of Diplomates award honoring his lifetime achievement in the restaurant field; and in 2010, Luther was elected into the MenuMasters Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Leadership Roundtable. Jon received the Norman Brinker Award from Nations Restaurant News at the MUFSO Conference in September 2013. Jon is the recipient of the 2015 Penn State University Hospitality Executive of the Year award.