As first Black CEO of P.F. Changs, Damola Adamolekun puts in work

by Ezekiel J. Walker
As first Black CEO of P.F. Changs, Damola Adamolekun puts in work
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Damola Adamolekun is the CEO of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, a popular Asian casual-dining restaurant chain based in the U.S.

For two years, he’s led the company and shifted the measuring stick of not only Black professionals, but young Black professionals.

According to Black Enterprise, Adamolekun, who is now 33-years old, has been essential in the evolution of P.F. Chang’s, one of the largest and most famous restaurant chains across the globe. Even though the brand is still strong, he believed that it is necessary to embrace change to adapt to the uncertain future.

As P.F. Chang’s CEO, Adamolekun worked on reimagining its dining rooms and revising the menu items. He also initiated the inclusion of delivery and to-go orders, which may seem obvious, but was viewed as unfitting to the brand before. Now the chain operates a number of small, fast-casual-type of locations around the country.

Numbers don’t lie.

Adamolekun led the company to a 31.7% increase in sales in 2021 compared to the year before, according to Top 500 chain data from Restaurant Business sister firm, Technomic.

Moreover, Adamolekun is a partner at Paulson & Co., which became one of the principal owners of P.F. Chang’s which was bought for $700 million in 2019.

Adamolekun delivers Black Excellence to P.F. Changs.

According to Black Enterprise, he was also on the board of directors at the International Tower Hill Mines LLC. Adamolekun earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Brown University and his Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Adamolekun’s vision was lucid from the start and speaking up for changes is what he credits for the restaurant’s success.

“The brand was still as strong as I remembered. The quality of the food was still good. What was missing was the experience around the meal,” he said. “The lighting was too bright. The music was non-existent. The décor? ‘Beige central,’” he explained to Restaurant Business.

It hits different when a CEO even knows the term, Beige central, let alone gets the vibe right when you want to go out for a nice meal. Adamolekun’s early ascension is reminiscent of stories we often hear about in February, but his story reminds us that Black History happens all year long.

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