Pilot Flying J Hires New VP of Food Innovation

Former McDonald’s, KFC exec tapped to enhance foodservice program

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The convenience-store industry snagged another restaurant-industry veteran with the hiring of Shannon Johnson as Pilot Flying J’s new vice president of food innovation. Johnson was previously chief food innovation officer for KFC and product innovation director for McDonald’s USA.

Johnson will occupy a senior leadership role, joining a team that is responsible for ongoing innovation of Pilot’s PJ Fresh Marketplace brand, as well as continuous development of new food and beverage programs. The PJ Fresh concept is modeled after a fast-casual positioning, with food options that include freshly made salads, fruit bowls, sandwiches, chicken wings, tacos, meatloaf entrees and roasted chicken dinners.

“As Pilot Flying J embarks on a $485 million five-year modernization and expansion plan, a key component of the strategy includes our food offerings,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “Shannon Johnson brings the experience and expertise needed to continue to enhance our restaurant partnerships as part of our food offerings, as well as our PJ Fresh fast-casual dining. Fresh, quick alternatives and homestyle meals are important to our guests, and we’re committed to continuing to offer the best in quality and convenience.”

Most recently, Johnson served as director of the Michael P. Hennen Hospitality & Culinary Center at Chattanooga State Community College in Tennessee. He also is a certified chef and sommelier.

Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot Flying J is one of the largest operators of travel centers in North America, with more than 750 retail locations nationwide. In addition to its PJ Fresh Marketplace, Pilot’s other on-site foodservice options include Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Cinnabon.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a CSP member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Looking Up: Limited-Time Offers on the Rise

These deals continue to grow in all mealparts, Technomic reports show

Company News

Knowing Growing: QuikTrip Flexes in 2023

C-store chain celebrates 1,000th opening, opens 13th medical clinic, more


Get Creative in Foodservice to Thrive in 2024, Technomic Says

Report: Operators must lean into tech, menu and service innovation, take advantage of existing ingredients and resources


More from our partners