David Goronkin, Northern Arizona ’80
CEO and President of Real Mex Restaurants, Inc.


David Goronkin, Northern Arizona ’80, has been an accomplished and nationally known restaurant industry leader for over 25 yeas. He has led several restaurant organizations through significant change, portfolio rationalization, brand repositioning, realignment of general and administrative expense, and growth. In addition, Goronkin has significant franchise expertise, both on the franchisor as well as franchisee side of the business. His high energy and focused disciplined leadership style gets sustaining results while staying in touch with consumer trends and remaining grounded in the fundamentals of the business.  He brings character, energy, focus, optimism, and fun.  He is frequently called to speak at general industry events, finance conferences, private equity conferences, and leadership development forums.


Since June 2011 he has been Chairman, CEO and President of Real Mex Restaurants, Inc.  As of August 15, 2011, Real Mex operated 177 company owned and operated restaurants and 22 franchised restaurants.  Headquartered in Cypress, California, Real Mex Restaurants, Inc. is a subsidiary of RM Restaurant Holding Corp.  His leadership comes at a time when Real Mex is struggling to reverse the negative impact of the recession.  Real Mex Restaurants, Inc. operates as a casual dining Mexican restaurant company primarily in the U.S.  The company’s primary concepts include El Torito, El Torito Grill, Chevys Fresh Mex, and Acapulco Mexican Restaurant. Its also operates restaurants under the Las Brisas, Casa Gallardo, El Paso Cantina, Who Song & Larry’s, and Sinigual brand names. Through its subsidiary, Real Mex Foods, Inc., procures, develops, manufactures, and distributes Mexican food products to quick service restaurant, casual dining, retail, and foodservice channels; and manufactures, researches, and develops a proprietary line of packaged multi-serve entrees under the Real Mex Foods label for retailers.


From April 2009 to May 2011 he served as President and CEO of Bennigan’s Franchising Company L.P., and was charged with revitalizing the popular concept chain of over 100 locations in the U.S. and 11 other countries. He used consumer research/testing and franchisee input lead to a new positioning.  Strong relationships were forged with franchise owners and while partnering with the franchise advisory board every step of the way.  He raised the bar on operating standards to reposition the concept for a strong future.  


Prior to Bennigan’s, he was elected a Director of Redstone American Grill, Inc. in Feb. 2006 and elected CEO, President and Secretary in Jan. 2008.  The multi-concept Redstone American Grill Inc. owns several up-scale, high-volume, full service restaurants. 


From Aug. 2003 to Dec. 2007, Goronkin served as CEO and President of Famous Dave's of America Inc., a 170-unit, publicly-traded casual barbecue chain which operates in 36 states including 47 company-owned restaurants and 123 franchise-operated restaurants with an annual revenue of $100,000,000-$250,000,000, and between 250 to 500 employees.  He was credited with improving the company's focus and helping it become the nation's top barbecue chain.


At Buffets, Inc. he was COO which included the HomeTown Buffet and Old Country Buffet chains. He was Executive V.P.-Operations of Buffets Holdings Inc., and its subsidiary Buffets Inc., since Sept. 1996; V.P.-Operations from May 1996 to Sept.1996; Director-Operations from Nov.1994-May 1996; COO since Aug. 2000; Director since Oct. 2000; Exec. V.P.-Operations since Oct. 1996.  Prior to 1996 held several operations/franchise related positions at Buffets, Inc. 


From 1984 to 1994, he held a variety of operations and franchise support positions with Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurants.  Prior to Chi-Chi’s he worked for TGI Friday's and Godfather's Pizza.


He serves on the advisory board of ONOSYS, Inc. an online ordering system technology company.



Director of the National Restaurant Association; Board of Trustees of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation



2006 Food-Service Operator of the Year Silver Plate Award in the Chain Full Service Category; 2006 Ally Award from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal; numerous industry honors.