bannerGrowing a Franchise

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes Welcomes Gary Lisenbee as VP of Development and Operational Services

Lisenbee brings decades of experience to the team and says he is excited to propel MOOYAH’s growth through strong culture and connection.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 5:17PM 06/12/23

MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, the nearly-100-unit fast casual better burger concept, has strengthened its corporate team as it prepares for a year of exceptional franchise growth. The most recent addition, Gary Lisenbee, joined the team as Vice President of Development and Operational Services, a new title on the MOOYAH corporate team.

“I’m really looking forward to streamlining the processes,” Lisenbee said. “With this comes culture. I want to make the in-store Team Members feel connected to the bigger picture. Our Team Members are not just hourly employees. They’re much more than just a person to run the register or flip the burgers. They’re part of a growing Mooyah brand.”

Lisenbee brings over two decades of experience in the franchise space and operations roles, saying that he’s “always been an operator at heart.”

“Gary has a really strong background in restaurant training, operations support and Franchise Owner engagement. Gary is a critical addition to the leadership team,” Doug Willmarth, President of MOOYAH, added. “We’ve been strengthening our executive leadership, specifically in training and operations support to prepare for our accelerated growth.”

Willmarth emphasized that the addition of Lisenbee to the team is a key piece of supporting the growth ahead. For the first time in MOOYAH’s history, there is a corporate leader solely dedicated to operational services and supporting each restaurant through its launch and continued efficient operations.

What Brought Lisenbee to MOOYAH

“When Doug [Willmarth] approached me about this opportunity, I had no desire to leave my previous job,” Lisenbee explained. “It was a hard decision, but I know what type of leader and individual Doug is, and when I met the other members of the leadership team, I was impressed by the genuine passion the team had for the brand and for each other. It was contagious, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Having previously worked with Willmarth, Lisenbee had seen how important culture is to him, and this was a strong motivator to join the MOOYAH team.

“Culture is extremely important to him,” Lisenbee added. “They really care about each other. They know each other, they care about each other’s families… Those are the types of things that not every brand has — big or small. That feeling of family translates to all teams, which goes back to the core of my approach: getting to know my team members that I’ll be working side-by-side with.”

Lisenbee Will Support Franchise Owners Throughout the Entire Process

As Vice President of Development and Operational Services, Lisenbee will be a crucial resource for Franchise Owners throughout their entire partnership with the brand. 

“My primary focuses will be development and Franchise Owner support,” he said. “From the time a new Franchise Owner comes on, our support team and myself will be with them through the LOI, build-out, training and ongoing operations. It’ll be all about, ‘How do I bring this Franchise Owner into the MOO Crew and make them feel like they’re part of a bigger picture?’”

Lisenbee will also evaluate daily operations and roll out new programs to better hone daily operations and make things easier for Franchise Owners.

In addition to his technical knowledge and skills, Lisenbee says relationships will play a crucial role in these processes.

“It’s all about providing those resources while also being seen in the restaurants,” he added. “I’ve already spent a few days in restaurants, working side-by-side with the Team Members. I want to get out there and do all of those things with the Franchise Owners and Team Members so that they know we’re not just ‘the corporate people.’”

Looking forward, Lisenbee says he’s excited to leverage these relationships to continually improve execution and Team Member development through regular training.

“Some of the things that make us really unique in the burger space are the team and what they’re passionate about. I’ve already met some of the Franchise Owners, and they’re very passionate about the brand and the food — about how fresh everything is,” he said. “Our beef is certified Angus. We proof and bake our buns in-house and our fries are cut in-house… We don’t get enough credit for going the extra mile to ensure our guests get the freshest products. The combination of superior food quality and a great culture will make Mooyah an unstoppable force. I'm excited to be on the team!”

The investment to develop a MOOYAH ranges from $477,918 to $989,793. Learn more at