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Black Rifle Coffee Taps Former Wendy's CEO To Serve Up National Expansion

A Black Rifle Coffee store in Clarksville, Tennessee

Salt Lake City-based Black Rifle Coffee has appointed former Wendy's and Office Depot CEO Roland Smith as executive chair.

Smith, a Black Rifle Coffee board member, intends to help the company open more brick-and-mortar locations and boost sales. Black Rifle was founded in 2014 as a Starbucks alternative for a more politically conservative audience, and sells coffee and apparel themed around firearms.

Smith was CEO at Office Depot after its OfficeMax merger, from 2013 to 2017, and was Wendy's CEO in 2011. He is also currently chairman of the board at Jack's Family Restaurants and director at Caliber Collision, a car repair company.

Black Rifle went public, valued at $1.7B, earlier this year through special-purpose acquisition company SilverBox Engaged Merger Co.

Though the company currently has a heavy focus on selling coffee online and through retail partners like Bass Pro Shops and Walmart, it has expanded heavily into brick-and-mortar coffee shops in past months, and intends to have 80 company-owned coffee shops by the end of 2023, including stores in Texas, Utah, Arizona, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Virginia, according to CultureMap San Antonio.

Smith takes the chairmanship position formerly held by founder and current CEO Evan Hafer, who will remain CEO, according to CNBC.

“Black Rifle Coffee Company is built on a mission to serve premium coffee and culture to people who love America,” Hafer said in a release for the opening of several Texas stores near the Fort Hood military base. “We continue to deliver on that commitment as we serve and honor the members of the Killeen and Fort Hood communities, who protect, defend, and support our country.”

Black Rifle Coffee, which is veteran-owned and donates to veterans, military members and first responders, has received pushback for its political messaging. That includes criticism against its partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, which was announced the day after seven people died in a mass shooting at a July Fourth parade in Highland Park, Illinois, outside of Chicago, according to CBS.