Upper Crust Pizzeria Announces West Coast Joint Venture

Upper Crust Pizzeria’s Chief Executive Officer RJ Dourney has announced a strategic joint venture for the fast casual pizzeria located in Beverly Hills, California.

The new joint venture is led by Upper Crust General Manager Mali Yilmaz and former Operations Director Shawn Shenefield, who now own a majority stake in the Beverly Hills pizzeria. They are partnering with the ownership of the Upper Crust chain, Quabbin Capital, on this undertaking. Through this partnership, Shenefield has taken over day-to-day operations of the Beverly Hills location and is working with Upper Crust management and Yilmaz as the company prepares to grow in California.

Dourney, who joined Upper Crust’s leadership team in 2017, has brought more than 25 years of experience in developing restaurant concepts around the globe to the pizza chain.

“Shawn and Mali are outstanding leaders and are truly passionate about the Upper Crust brand,” Dourney said. “I am excited to have them as our partners on the west coast.”

Yilmaz and Shenefield are grateful for the opportunity to continue growing within the company they are so passionate about. “Shawn was my first manager when I started as a delivery driver for Upper Crust almost 10 years ago,” Yilmaz said. “It is really special how we’ve come full circle and are going to expand the Upper Crust family on the west coast.”

“RJ’s experience in business development and strategic planning is second to none,” said Shenefield. “He is a passionate leader who has re-established the Upper Crust brand.”

Dourney previously served as CEO of Cosi, a publicly traded restaurant chain with locations in the U.S., Costa Rica, and Dubai. He has also held a number of other key executive positions, including Chief Operating Officer of Au Bon Pain and Vice President of Franchise Operations and Development for Applebee’s Restaurants, overseeing North America.

A graduate of Villanova University where he studied business and economics, Dourney has also served on a number of for profit and nonprofit Boards of Directors, including Cosi, Boloco, Jeepers, and Upper Crust.

Since 2001, the Upper Crust Pizzeria has been using fresh and flavorful ingredients to serve Boston-based residents something delicious and extraordinary. With seven locations throughout Greater Boston, in addition to locations in Arlington, VA and Beverly Hills, CA, Upper Crust has become well-known for its passion for great food and supporting its local communities. 

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