Honorary degree recipient at the 2014 University of New Haven Commencement Ceremony
Doctor of Business Administration
Shelly Frank is a prominent restaurant executive who is best known as the former president, CEO and chairman of the full-service Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi’s. In less than 10 years, he led the restaurant’s growth from a single Minneapolis location into – at the time – the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country.
During that decade, he developed Chi-Chi’s into an industry leader with more than 225 restaurants in 40 states, Canada and Europe that made nearly $700 million in annual revenue. At its peak, it was the 15th largest full-service restaurant chain in the country based on sales per unit.
In 1983, Frank was named the Wall Street Transcript’s Restaurant CEO of the Year. The same year, he won the Gold Chain Award given by Nation’s Restaurant News to recognize bold and innovative restaurant leaders.
He also developed the Chi-Chi’s grocery store consumer brand featuring tortilla chips and salsa. U.S. grocery sales of salsa grew from a virtually non-existent category in 1977 to the leading condiment consumed domestically by the mid-1980s.
Prior to his appointment at Chi-Chi’s, Frank was vice president of real estate and construction at Kentucky Fried Chicken. He also held positions at General Mills, McDonald’s and Burger King, where, as budget director, he created the first-ever cost control system for fast-food restaurants.
Since retiring, he has served as an adviser for Frank Pepe’s Pizza during its expansion in Fairfield, Connecticut. He provided continuing consultation during the growth of Frank Pepe’s from one to seven high-volume restaurants in less than seven years.
Frank received his associate degree in accounting from Norwalk Community College and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of New Haven. He also attended the University of Miami graduate school with a concentration in finance.