Salli Setta is a restaurant industry leader with 30 years of experience creating shareholder value for iconic national casual dining brands, including Red Lobster and Olive Garden. Salli has distinctive experience successfully leading business transformations, developing near and long-term business strategies and driving innovation. Her breadth of expertise includes strategic planning, P&L management, consumer branding, digital marketing, product innovation, operations, human resources administration, corporate social responsibility and restaurant experience design. Her primary focus is on building long-term value through the development and execution of ambitious strategic plans and the creation of high-performance teams to deliver.
Salli played a key leadership role in Red Lobster’s transition from a publicly-traded to private equity owned company. As the President of the world’s largest seafood restaurant chain for nearly seven years, Salli helped lead the company’s sale to Golden Gate Capital for $2.1B. Salli developed and implemented a new business strategy and phased plan that included menu and equipment upgrades, off-premise sales, operations improvements, marketing, digital and social media innovation and experience design that drove double-digit increases in EBITA, same store sales growth, record-level guest satisfaction, and industry-leading restaurant turnover. In March 2018, Salli was named President and Chief Concept Officer, assuming additional responsibility for human resource administration and corporate social responsibility.
Prior to being named President, Salli served as Red Lobster’s Executive Vice President of Marketing. In this role, she drove record-level profits through the introduction of multiple menu innovations and the implementation of a comprehensive restaurant remodel program. Setta led the introduction of the “Sea Food Differently” multi-media ad campaign, growing guest counts by 2.2%.
As Senior Vice President, Culinary and Beverage and Vice President, Brand Marketing for Olive Garden, Setta led the development and implementation of award-winning menu innovations that increased sales and guest counts. She led the international joint venture partnership with the Culinary Institute of Tuscany, the creative evolution of the “Hospitaliano” ad campaign (which received a silver Effie) and the design of the brand’s “RevItalia” remodel.
In 2020 and 2019 Salli was named to Nation’s Restaurant News Top 50 Power List. She is a 2017 inductee to the Rosen College of Hospitality Management’s Hall of Fame and a three-time Menu Masters Award Winner. She was named one of Orlando Business Journal’s 2016 Business Executives of the Year, Restaurant Business’ 2003 Menu Strategist of the Year and one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 50 R&D Culinarians.
Salli is the Immediate Past Chair of the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) and serves on the Governance and Nominating Committee. As Board Chair for 18 months, Salli was accountable for leading a 24-person board, as well as the Executive and Compensation committees. Prior to serving as Chair, she held the positions of Chair-elect and Treasurer and led the Finance and Audit committee. She has served as a WFF board member since 2016. Salli served on the board of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and was a past member of the Restaurant Industry Executive Council. She is a sought-after speaker on leadership development and business acumen.
Salli holds a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Central Florida, an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology and a certificate of completion from the Women’s Senior Leadership Program at the Kellogg School of Management. She lives in Orlando with her husband and has a college-age daughter.