FriendShip Food Stores Brings on New Foodservice Leader

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FriendShip Food Stores Brings on New Foodservice Leader

Kirk Matthews (l.) and Ed Burcher
Kirk Matthews (l.) and Ed Burcher

FREMONT, Ohio — Kirk Matthews will oversee FriendShip Food Stores' foodservice operations as vice president of foodservice and marketing upon his predecessor Ed Burcher's retirement from full-time work.

Matthews is an award-winning marketer and brings extensive experience in foodservice, marketing and operations to the role, according to the company.

Prior to joining FriendShip, Matthews served in a variety of leadership roles at TravelCenters of America since joining the company in 1997. His most recent position was director of store retail marketing, foodservice and category management. He held the role for nine years.

"We are excited to have Kirk join our company as we continue with the development and expansion of FriendShip Kitchen," said Brian Beck, co-owner and senior vice president of FriendShip. "We are preparing to open our first store in the Columbus, Ohio, market next month and Kirk will play a key role in its success along with all of our FriendShip Stores. We are excited for the passion and wisdom that he adds to one of the most talented and experienced store and corporate management teams in the industry."

Burcher, who began his convenience store industry career with Wawa Inc. in 1979, led FriendShip's foodservice division through the launch of the retailer's FriendShip Kitchen concept. The first upgraded location opened in Elyria, Ohio, in 2018. Burcher also served as a member of the Convenience Store News Foodservice Advisory Council.

"FriendShip Kitchen would not be the quick success it has been without the addition of Ed Burcher, vice president of foodservice, to our team in the summer of 2017. In the past three years Ed has helped us translate the FriendShip Kitchen concept into nine brick and mortar locations, while rolling back key concept elements across all 27 stores," said Greg Ehrlich, company president. "Ed's wisdom and skills, which he honed over a storied career starting at Wawa, have changed the way we view our business and go-to-market. We will be forever grateful to Ed and wish him all the best as he continues to share his wisdom and expertise with his clients at Burcher Consulting, while enjoying the powdery slopes of Colorado."

FriendShip launched an extensive search process for Burcher's replacement in September 2019 upon learning he planned to retire. The company selected Matthews for his broad based experience, enthusiasm and fit with company culture.

"Filling Ed's shoes was a challenge as has been transitioning Kirk into our company during the COVID-19 crisis," said Gregg Edwards, vice president of operations. "We are a 70-year-old, family-owned and -operated company with a culture-first mindset. Kirk's personal values and style align perfectly with the Beck family values and was a deciding factor in his selection. While we will certainly miss Ed, we are very excited for what lies ahead for FriendShip Kitchen under the leadership of Kirk Matthews."

FriendShip Food Stores is the retail division of Fremont, Ohio-based Beck Suppliers Inc., a family-owned and -operated retail and wholesale petroleum marketer. Today, the division operates a total of 27 FriendShip and FriendShip Kitchen stores.

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