James Walker

Senior Vice President, Restaurants at Nathan's Famous, Inc.


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Mr. James Walker, CFE, is a top restaurant industry expert with a specialty in rebranding and repositioning iconic American comfort food brands. Walker is an industry-leading authority in restaurant trends, including, Delivery and off-premises, Ghost Kitchens, Virtual Brands and leading through macro events like COVID-19. He specializes in mergers & acquisitions, domestic and international development, operations, franchising, and new product development. With more than 30 years of broad based, senior level, management experience in the hospitality and retail industries, Walker has served as President, Chief Development Officer, as well as in Senior Operations and New Product Development positions, for brands such as Baja Fresh®, Cinnabon®, Johnny Rockets® and Subway®. As the North American Vice President for Subway®, Walker oversaw their 28,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada. He has conducted business in more than 70 international markets, including such emerging markets as Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Pakistan and Mongolia. In 2019, Walker was appointed to the Board of Advisors for Ireland’s Rocket Restaurants Group, which includes Eddie Rocket’s chain of American diners and ROCKET’S fast casual restaurants. In 2021 he joined the Board of Advisors for Let Us Nudge, an emergent Restaurant Technology Solution. Mr. Walker holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and has received certificates and diplomas from a number of institutions and colleges, including Yale’s School of Management, and Harvard’s Business School. A life-long learner, Walker recently completed MIT’s “Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy” program. In 2020 and 2017, he was a Reader’s Pick for the Nation’s Restaurant News “Power List” of notable restaurant executives. In 2016, he was awarded the President’s “E” Award by President Obama for Excellence in Furthering American Business Internationally. In 2015, the International Franchise Association (IFA) conferred the designation of Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) to Mr. Walker, and in 2021 Mr. Walker joined Society of Fellows of The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) “Food is the only art form that you experience with all of your senses, and you must experience to live.” – J.W.

Ask me about
Ghost Kitchens
Quick service restaurants
Fast food
Uber Eats
Work experience

Apr 2019 - Present

Nathan's Famous, Inc.

Senior Vice President, Restaurants


Jul 2017 - Jan 2019


Vice President North America


Dec 2013 - Jul 2017

Johnny Rockets

President - Global Operations, Development, & Marketing

President - Global Operations, Development, & Marketing for the iconic global restaurant chain which provides a classic all-American experience, with best in class Hamburgers, Shakes and Hand Breaded Chicken. Johnny Rockets currently has over 390 restaurants in 32 countries. Directly oversee: - Global Operations - Design & Construction - Franchise Sales & Legal - Marketing - Purchasing - IT - Training


Jun 2010 - Dec 2013

Beef 'O' Brady's

Chief Development Officer

Responsible for: Franchise Sales and Development Design and Construction Menu Design and Product Development Purchasing

Jan 2008 - Jun 2010

Chief Development Officer

Oversaw worldwide development and franchising for four franchise concepts, as well as the franchise operations side of the business.


Nov 2006 - Jan 2008

Baja Fresh


Directly oversaw the Baja Fresh Brand, transitioning Baja Fresh from Wendy's to new Ownership group. Including hiring and overseeing new senior management team.

Nov 2004 - Nov 2006

CinnaWorkS (Cinnabon) / Sweet Factory / KaBloom


Held President’s role for company who’s combined operations included being the largest franchisee of Cinnabon with over 165 locations, as well as being the franchisor for Sweet Factory and KaBloom.


Mar 2000 - Nov 2004


National Director Operations

Held multiple roles at Cinnabon (franchisor) including Director of Research & Development, Director of Operation Services and National Director of Operations. In the role of National Director of Operations I oversaw all Corporately owned locations.


2019 - 2019

MIT Sloan School of Management

Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy, Artificial Intelligence

2018 - 2019

Harvard University

Disruptive Strategy

2018 - 2018

Yale School of Management

Leading & Managing Globally Executive Program

2008 - 2010


MBA, Global Business

1996 - 1996

New England Culinary Institute

Culinary Arts

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