January 16, 2009
Birmingham Restauranteur to Mentor Business Students
John Cassimus, founder and former CEO of Zoës Kitchen, has been named entrepreneur-in-residence for 2009 at Samford University’s Brock School of Business. The newly established entrepreneur-in-residence program is intended to engage successful entrepreneurs with business students who are considering launching new ventures. Cassimus, who is the first named entrepreneur-in-residence, will serve students and faculty by providing advice on students’ business ideas, critiquing business plans, introducing students to key contacts in the local business community and imparting valuable real-world experience in the classroom. Such mentors will play an integral role in helping students launch new ventures.
"John Cassimus is known as one of the most innovative and exciting entrepreneurs in the Southeast," said Dr. Beck A. Taylor, dean of the Brock School of Business. "I appreciate John’s willingness to work with students and faculty as the Brock School establishes its reputation in entrepreneurship."
Cassimus is best known for launching Zoës Kitchen, a fast-casual dining restaurant that has become a strong national brand with 21 stores in eight states. In November 2007, a California private equity group bought a controlling interest in the restaurant chain, retaining Cassimus as CEO.
Cassimus recently stepped down as CEO of Zoës to concentrate on two new restaurant ventures: Jinsei, a fine dining Japanese restaurant, and Maki Fresh, a fast-casual Japanese restaurant. Cassimus is also the founder of The Cassimus Family Foundation that helps needy individuals overcome illness or those who need help because they find themselves in circumstances beyond their control.
"In my work over the years, I have learned what it takes to run a successful business," said Cassimus. "Using my experience, I believe I have something to contribute to the community. My contribution is to teach students at the Brock School of Business how to succeed as future entrepreneurs."
In related news, the Brock School of Business will host its first Executives-in-Residence Week April 6-10 featuring dozens of executives and entrepreneurs as classroom teachers each day of that week. Special panels and executive presentations will also take place that week.