John Merkin is a partner and Chief Operating Officer of Tujo Restaurant Group, a 22-unit IHOP Restaurant franchisee group in the Atlanta, GA area as well as an investor in various hotel and restaurant projects. He is a member of the IHOP Franchise Leadership Council representing fellow franchisees in the Southeast U.S. and engages with the senior leadership team of the IHOP brand. He’s also consults on brand management, franchising, and operations to clients in growth, repositioning, or legal situations.
Previously John served as Chief Operating Officer at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, where he was responsible for business development, restaurant services support and both company and franchise operations for 2,000 domestic restaurants and 355 franchisees. Popeyes was acquired by 3G Capital’s Restaurant Brands Int’l group in March of 2017 for a record premium for a restaurant brand. John departed with the rest of the leadership team when the deal closed.
Prior to joining Popeyes, John worked at DineEquity, Inc./IHOP Restaurants as Senior Vice President, Operations and previously as VP Franchise Development and International Operations. During his tenure at IHOP, John was responsible for over 1,600 IHOP restaurants in the United States and international markets with over 350 franchisees.
Prior to IHOP, John held various positions with Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) over his 25+ year career, where he primarily supported the Holiday Inn brand in marketing, operations, and franchise relations roles. He held the position of Senior Vice President, Brand Management for the Holiday Inn brands, in which he was responsible for brand marketing and the brand re-launch for North and South America, which covered over 2,500 hotels. John previously held the role of Vice President, Franchise Operations for IHG during which he led business-to-business relationships with over 2,000 franchisees across seven brands in licensing, quality, standards, and franchise food and beverage matters. He also served as the company 30 (b)(6) witness in many depositions. He also held leadership roles in Franchise Services and in Company Hotel Operations.
John grew up working in family-owned restaurants and in franchisee operated hotels. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Management Strategy from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.