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Lion's Choice

The new Lion's Choice restaurant in Ellisville.

Lion’s Choice, the Town and Country-based roast beef restaurant chain, has named Mike Kupstas the company’s new chief executive officer, effective immediately. Kupstas is a 35-year veteran of the restaurant industry. Prior to joining Lion’s Choice, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, he held senior executive and marketing positions at Panera Bread, Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster.

Kupstas will be responsible for the daily management of the company and future expansion of the 25-unit restaurant chain. He reports to Bob Millstone, chairman of the board of Lion’s Choice.

“He knows how to build a brand with a soul and recognizes the importance our loyal co-workers play while putting the customer first in all that we do,” said Becky Fine, Lion’s Choice COO.

In 1996, Kupstas joined Panera Bread as vice president of operations and later became senior vice president, chief franchise officer. During his time with the company, the brand grew from 52 to 1,600 bakery-cafes across the United States. Under his leadership, Kupstas was responsible for franchise membership, administration and operations as well as a variety of marketing and brand communications.

Kupstas left Panera in 2012 to become the founder of Forks in the Air, a farm-to-table restaurant in Rangeley, Maine, and a partner with Katie and Ted Collier in Katie’s Pizza and Pasta Osteria, an artisan Italian restaurant in Rock Hill. Kupstas serves as the chairman of Operation Food Search, a St. Louis-based nonprofit food bank and nutrition education organization.

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