PE-backed Real Mex promotes Gueli to COO

Real Mex, a portfolio company of both Z Capital Partners and Tennenbaum Capital Partners, has promoted Rio Gueli to chief operating officer. Recently, Gueli served as the firm’s executive vice president of operations. Headquartered in Cypress, California, Real Mex Restaurants is a Mexican restaurant chain.


CYPRESS, Calif., May 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Real Mex Restaurants (“Real Mex” or the “Company”), the largest full service, casual dining Mexican restaurant chain in the United States, today announced the promotion of Rio Gueli, current EVP of Operations, to Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Gueli’s new responsibilities include the oversight of all operations for Real Mex restaurants.
“Rio is a proven operational veteran with unmatched expertise and experience,” said Charly Robinson, President and CEO of Real Mex. “Over the past 15 months, Rio’s leadership has been instrumental in the execution of Real Mex’s transformational strategy in all aspects of the company’s operations. Rio has played an integral part in the introduction of the new Who Song & Larry’s concept, which recently celebrated its first restaurant opening in Orange County, CA, and his focus on operational excellence, strong entrepreneurial mentality and commitment to delivering a high-quality guest experience will be invaluable as he steps into this new role. Rio’s promotion represents a successful example of the company’s long-term talent-development plan and we look forward to his contributions as COO.”
“I am excited to take on this new role,” said Mr. Gueli. “Real Mex is well-positioned for growth and I am enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead. I look forward to playing an expanded role in our transformational strategy and working closely with the rest of the executive management team to fulfill the potential of our iconic brands and continue to introduce exciting new concepts.”
Real Mex is a portfolio company of Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. and Tennenbaum Capital Partners.
Rio Gueli
Rio most recently served as EVP of Operations at Real Mex, where he oversaw operations for the El Torito, Las Brisas and Who Song & Larry’s restaurants brands. Rio also oversaw the Manager in Training program as well as non-exempt team member training programs.
Rio Gueli came to Real Mex Restaurants with over 20 years’ experience in the area of restaurant operations and development. Rio most recently served as Director of Food and Beverage at Bass Pro Group. Prior to that he was Director of Operations at Houston based Landry’s Restaurants, focusing on West Coast Operations for the Joe’s Crab Shack Chain.
Rio earned his Bachelor of Science Degree Political Science from Illinois State University and obtained his MBA with an emphasis in accounting from Roosevelt University.
About Real Mex
Headquartered in Cypress, California, Real Mex Restaurants is the largest full-service, casual dining Mexican restaurant chain operator in the United States with 125 company owned and operated restaurants, as well as 15 franchised restaurants. Our brands include El Torito Restaurants, Acapulco Mexican Restaurants, Chevys Fresh Mex® Restaurants, El Torito Grill Restaurants, Las Brisas Restaurant in Laguna Beach, Sinigual Restaurant in New York City, Who Song and Larry’s in Vancouver, WA, and El Paso Cantina in Torrance, CA. In addition, our Real Mex Foods division is a custom manufacturer of foodservice and private label products in addition to co-packing for other manufacturers.
About Z Capital Partners
Z Capital Partners, L.L.C. (“Z Capital”) is a leading private equity firm with approximately $1.7 billion of regulatory assets and committed capital under management and with offices in Lake Forest, IL and New York, NY. Z Capital pursues an opportunistic, value-oriented approach in private equity that includes making control investments in middle-market companies that may require growth capital, turnaround, restructuring or other special situations.
Z Capital portfolio companies currently have aggregate worldwide annual revenues of approximately $3 billion, sell products in 98 countries, and employs in excess of 200,000 associates directly and through joint ventures.
Z Capital’s investors include prominent global sovereign wealth funds, endowments, pension funds, insurance companies, foundations, family offices, wealth management firms and other financial institutions in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. For more information, please visit
About Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC
Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC (“TCP”) is a Los Angeles-based alternative investment management firm focused on performing credit and special situations for middle-market companies. TCP manages a publicly-traded business development company, TCP Capital Corp. (NASDAQ: TCPC), as well as other funds and accounts. Since its founding, TCP has invested more than $12 billion in over 300 companies. For more information, please visit: and