No matter how long you have called Tucson home, chances are you’ve made it to one of the many eegee’s restaurants in the community. As the Old Pueblo’s native fast-food chain, the restaurant, best known for its bacon ranch fries and grinders served on freshly baked bread, has remained predominantly in the city of its birth. While eegee’s has begun its push into metro Phoenix over the last year, in terms of fast-food chains, the expansion of eegee’s has proven slow at best.
All of that looks as though it will be changing. According to a public press release put out on Tuesday, June 7, current CEO Ron Petty will be stepping down (a position he has held since 2019), and Jason Vaughn will take his place.
Vaughn comes into the fold with ample experience in not only the fast-food industry, but helping brands grow and expand. In his previous stops, he worked as Senior Vice President of Operations for Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC, among others), Chief Operating Officer of Lenny’s Subs, and division Vice President of Wendy’s. During each of his stops, Jason Vaughn helped spearhead growth for the specific brands. As the press release indicates, he has been selected to help, “propel eegee’s rapid growth while building on the beloved brand’s 50-year history.”
The restaurant chain first started in Tucson back in 1971, when founders served frozen lemon beverages outside of local sporting events. Dubbed an “eegee,” additional flavors were added, and eventually, the first brick and mortar location opened. Now, there are 31 locations spread mostly around Tucson, although there are a handful in Casa Grande and around Phoenix. When Ron Petty took over as CEO, there were 22 locations, all of which were located in Tucson. Ron Petty helped expand the brand outward, but now, with his retirement, Jason Vaughn will look to rapidly push the brand outward.
Jason Vaughn will set up shop in Phoenix as the brand continues to expand in the Valley. The push into metro Phoenix has been ongoing, but with the new CEO, expect to see additional eegee’s popping up for the first time outside of the state. Nearby states such as Colorado, New Mexico, and potentially California and Texas will likely prove to be the first expansion targets, although, with the number of snowbirds that have become familiar with the brand during their winter visits to Tucson, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see expansion in Northeastern and Midwestern cities as well.