Frank J. Belatti, Managing Partner and Co-founder, Equicorp Partners

SEPTEMBER 25, 2012

Frank J. Belatti
Frank J. Belatti is past chairman of the board of directors of AFC Enterprises (AFCE), the world’s premier franchisor of restaurant brands around the world. He is currently a Managing Partner and co-founder of Equicorp Partners, a new business ventures firm, and he also serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, in the Mendoza College of Business, at the University of Notre Dame.

Belatti’s values, vision and track record in hospitality and restaurant franchising resulted in his founding AFC Enterprises in 1992 and his appointment as chairman and chief executive officer of the newly formed corporation. For 15 years, under Belatti’s leadership, AFC employed an aggressive worldwide expansion strategy, more than doubling system sales and opening restaurants in over 30 countries.

Prior to founding AFC Enterprises, Belatti served as president and chief operating officer of Hospitality Franchise Systems. In his role, Belatti helped transform HFS into the largest hotel franchising company in the world.

Belatti also served as president and chief operating officer of Arby’s, Inc. While at Arby’s, he doubled the size of the chain and set the table for Arby’s to become the world’s largest roast beef sandwich chain.

Winning numerous awards and industry recognition, Belatti has received the restaurant industry’s highest honor, Operator of the Year and the Golden Chain Award. He has also received the Silver Plate for culinary excellence. He received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the International Franchise Association (IFA) and the Trailblazer award from the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF).

He is an honoree of the Community Leadership Award from the Harvard Business School, the Beta Gamma Sigma Medallion for Entrepreneurship and the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty. His concern for social justice has brought recognition from the Urban League, the NAACP, the YWCA and Habitat for Humanity for his work in providing housing for over 2,000 children in communities throughout the world. He is also the recipient of The President’s Award for social reforms.

Belatti is a member of the board of directors of the Radio Shack Corporation, the First Watch Corporation and is a founding member and director for Hank Aaron’s Chasing the Dream Foundation. He is a member of the Business Advisory Council at the University of Notre Dame and is a lifetime member and past chairman of the Carter Center’s Board of Councilors. Frank received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and his MBA from Fordham University.

Michael Belatti is presently serving as a research analyst for Equicorp Partners. In addition to conducting research and due diligence work for the partnership, Michael is completing a service project creating new business models for the developing economies of Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua and South Africa for Greg Van Kirk and CE Solutions. Michael will be creating case studies for use in business classes and authoring a book that will focus on his experiences over two years, prior to attending graduate school and pursuing his MBA. Michael graduated from the University of Notre Dame in May 2011 and trained in restaurant operations under Dick Holbrook, CEO and co-owner of Christopher’s Restaurants, last summer. Equicorp Partners is looking forward to sending Michael to the Culinary Institute in anticipation of having him join them full time in a senior operations role.

Melissa Paulsen leads the Social Entrepreneurship initiatives at the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship in the Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, and serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Center/College. Melissa worked with former Mendoza dean and now President/CEO of Catholic Relief Services, Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, franchising business leader Frank Belatti, and former Gigot Center director, Dr. James H. Davis, to design and implement the Gigot Center’s unique undergraduate offering, the Microventuring Certificate Program. The program incorporates microenterprise development and microfinance theory along with practical skills and tools in a domestic and developing country technical assistance setting.

Melissa has experience in nonprofit strategy, operations and consulting. Prior to returning to academia, Melissa worked in the insurance industry as a disability risk analyst and has previous experience in the accounting and communications industries.

Melissa holds a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Administration from the M
endoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, and a BA in English and philosophy from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.