Maria Rivera


Smalls Sliders

Maria is a grassroots executive with more than 25 years of experience leading multi- unit and omnichannel retail and food service companies. Maria simplifies issues and builds organizations to hold a stronger position. She is known and recognized for her transformational work in some of the most relevant brands in the Retail & Restaurant space (Krispy Kreme, Darden Restaurants, TGI Friday’s, The Walt Disney Company). Given today’s massive disruption in consumer behavior, she brings a unique perspective, at a time where reimagining brands faster than the rate that consumers are reimagining themselves truly matters. With a strong ability to connect brands to purpose and differentiation, Maria is known to put people at the core of what matters most and unlocking capability to drive performance.

In late 2022, Maria was named Chief Executive Officer for Smalls Holding, LLC, the parent company of Smalls Sliders. Owned by Pro-Football Hall-of- Famer Drew Brees, Brandon Landry, of Walk On’s Sports Bistreaux, and 10 Point Capital, the brand has garnered a fanatical guest following since its inception and has explosive growth plans in its development pipeline.

Most recently, Maria served as Krispy Kreme’s US President, where under her tenure revenues grew from $300M to ~$1B and delivered increased EBITDA growth YOY. As part of her progressive growth vision, Maria and her team expanded Krispy Kreme’s omnichannel strategy, adding innovative layers across e commerce, and points of access expansion. Before Krispy Kreme, Maria served in a variety of executive roles for Logan’s Roadhouse, TGI Friday’s, Darden Restaurants, Caesar’s, Hilton, and The Walt Disney Company, where she led critical implementation strategies in M&A, operations, supply chain, technology, development, and business intelligence.

Maria was at the forefront of navigating the global pandemic creating an enterprise response team while driving innovation which surpassed shareholder expectations and earning “best in category” industry- leading food safety recognition.

Maria is passionate about championing DE&I initiatives and has advocated
for minority Employee Resource Groups and increased female representation
in the industry. A visionary leader who sees this new era of disruption filled
with possibilities to reimagine companies, brands, and leadership models, Maria’s superpower is strengthening the cultural fabric that unlocks agility and that drives speed to market.