Michael D. Pruitt
Michael Pruitt founded in 1999, Avenel Financial Group, a boutique merchant banking firm concentrating on value oriented investments both public and private on behalf of 40 families. Mr. Pruitt formed Chanticleer Holdings, now Amergent Hospitality Group, which commenced operations in June 2005 with him as Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO, roles he continues to serve today. In January 2011, Mr. Pruitt became a director of the board of Hooters of America, LLC and was early investor/board member in Appalachian Mountain Brewery which was sold to Craft Brew Alliance (Nasdaq:BREW) in 2018.Mr. Pruitt received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, where he played on the 1982 and 83 World Series Baseball teams. Today he sits on the Board of Visitors of the E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration, the Coastal Education Foundation Board, and the Athletic Committee of the Board of Trustees.
President & Director
Fred joined Chanticleer Holdings, now Amergent Hospitality Group, in November 2018. He found his passion for hospitality after graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration from Lehigh University in 1986. Fred grew a Hooters Restaurant franchise from one location in Omaha, NE, to $70 million, 25 locations in five states including, California, Oregon, Washington, Iowa and Nebraska. In 2008, Fred facilitated San Diego institution Phil’s BBQ’s growth, adding locations and winning USA Today’s best ballpark food with the Padres at Petco Park and franchising in San Diego Regional Airport. In 2013, Fred joined longtime friends and Karl Strauss co-founders to grow the Karl Strauss Brewing Company brand. In 2016 Karl opened their two largest brewpubs and in 2017 Karl was named again to restaurant business magazine’s Future 50 restaurant brands for the 2nd time in four years. Each year, Fred gladly donates his time, talents and/or treasure to many local service and charitable organizations and serves on the state board of directors of the California Restaurant Association and CRAF (California Restaurant Association Foundation).
Neil G. Kiefer
Neil is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia and received his Law Degree from Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Neil was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1979.
Neil practiced law in St. Petersburg from 1979 to May of 1992: He was asked to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the newly formed Hooters Management Corporation in Clearwater, Florida. Hooters Management Corporation was created to manage, operate and further develop the Hooters restaurant concept which was founded in Clearwater, Florida in 1983.
Since 1992, Neil has continued to serve as Chief Executive Officer of Hooters Management Corporation, Hooters, Inc. and all of its affiliated companies. In 1994 Neil was appointed as a board member of those entities and has continued to serve in the foregoing capacities. He was also Chief Executive Officer of the Hooters Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada from 2006-2012 and was also a holder of a Gaming Operator’s License issued by the Nevada State Gaming Control Board.
Neil has also served the community over his professional career in the Tampa Bay Area. Neil served from 1990-2012 as a voluntary assistant varsity boy’s basketball coach at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Florida. Additionally, Neil has served as a board member for the Pinellas County Urban League, the Pinellas County Police Athletic League, Tampa Bay Sports Commission and the Pinellas County Educational Foundation.
Neil is married to his wife, Selina “CeCe” Kiefer and has (2) adult sons Byron and David and one adult stepson, Tyler and a stepdaughter, Katy (15).
Keith J. Johnson
A highly accomplished senior executive and corporate officer with extensive experience in business and technology management, accounting systems, financial controls, business development and management intelligence. Previously, Mr. Johnson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Telemetry Company in Dallas, Texas (1997-2004). He had previously been at Brinks Home Security from 1986-1992 where he was a member of the start-up team and the original Chief Financial Officer responsible for creating the business model and servicing operations infrastructure. From 1992-1995, Mr. Johnson was the Chief Financial Officer of BAX Global in London, England. BAX was an ex-patriot assignment in which Mr. Johnson was responsible for Europe, Africa and Middle East business development, financial planning and accounting functions with a global staff of 75 professionals.
Mr. Wagoner has served as a Managing Director and Head of the High-Yield & Distressed Securities division of Source Capital Group since 1995. Mr. Wagoner has over 35 years of investment securities experience and has developed specialized expertise in high yield and distressed debt instruments. Over the years, he has served on a variety of creditor committees for high profile commercial bankruptcies. He serves as a member of the board of directors of Argus Research Group, a leading independent equity research firm, and is a member of the Board of Visitors at Wake Forest University.
Mr. Wagoner is a graduate of the University of North Carolina with a BA in psychology and received his MBA from the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University. Mr. Wagoner holds NASD Series 7, 24 and 63 licenses.