Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has named John Dawson chief executive, replacing Mel Elias, who served in the role for five years.

Dawson, an eight-year veteran of Dunkin’ Brands, most recently served as worldwide restaurant development officer at Dunkin’ Donuts. He was vice president of global development at McDonald’s Corp. before joining Dunkin’.

“My primary focus will be on increasing our existing sales and store base, supporting our franchisees, delivering outstanding product quality and providing excellent customer experiences,” Dawson said in a statement.

The change, effective Jan. 1, will see Elias, who has been chief executive since 2008, join the privately held L.A. coffee company’s board.

“In my new position on the board, I look forward to assisting in the continuing success of the company over the coming years,” he said in a statement.

Elias, who joined the company in 1996, was serving as chief operations officer when the CEO’s position came open in 2008.

“I put a business plan together, I presented to the board and I made my case for a five-year plan to head the company,” he said in an interview with the Business Journal earlier this year.

Elias managed the company through the 2008 recession and cut costs to keep the business running.

“We had to close stores. We had to sort of cut the fat and keep the muscle in every business, and those are difficult decisions,” he said in the interview, noting 2012 was one of the company’s best years.

The addition of Dawson comes on the heels of the September acquisition of a “significant” stake in the company by a consortium of private equity investors. Boston’s Advent International; CDIB Capital International Corp. of Hong Kong; and Mirae Asset Private Equity in Seoul, South Korea, acquired the stake for an undisclosed amount.

The Sassoon family, including Executive Chairman Sunny Sassoon and his brother Victor, chief executive of Coffee Bean Asia Pacific, had been the largest shareholder in the company. It retained a “significant” but unspecified stake after the September transaction.

A Coffee Bean spokeswoman said the company would offer no comment on the leadership change until Dawson officially takes over next year. Representatives of Advent International declined to comment.

The company has more than 900 company-owned and franchised stores across 30 countries.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.