After 15 months at its helm, the National Restaurant Association announced that Tom Bené is stepping down as president and chief executive, and as chief executive of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
A 30-year veteran of the food and beverage industry, Bené is returning to the beverage distribution sector. Breakthru Beverage Group, a total beverage alcohol distributor, appointed Bené its new president and chief executive, effective Oct. 4.
NRA chief financial officer Marvin F. Irby will step in as interim chief executive. An NRA taskforce is being formed to oversee the search for a new chief to lead the association.
Bené joined the NRA during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and has worked with restaurant owners, manufacturers and distributors to bolster the industry’s recovery efforts. He came to the restaurant association from food distribution giant Sysco, where he was president and chief executive.
During Bené’s tenure, NRA garnered critical protections and support for America’s restaurants and acquired majority ownership of Winsight Holdings, the leading events, expositions and media provider for the industry.
“We appreciate Tom’s leadership and commitment to the industry during this difficult time,” said Brian Casey, NRA board chair and owner of the Oak Hill Tavern and the Company Picnic. “Tom’s unique industry experience was invaluable in helping the association and foundation navigate a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic.”