Babalu Tapas & Tacos tapped industry veteran Abe Ruiz in December 2017 as chief operating officer at the Spanish-meets-Southern-style tapas restaurant. In just five months, his restaurant expertise and leadership skills prompted Roswell-based Eat Here Brands to promote Ruiz to CEO of the growing Babalu Tapas & Tacos restaurant concept. His restaurant background includes two years as COO of Famous Dave’s of America, COO of Colon Gerena Restaurant Group and vice president of marketing and operations for Il Mulino NYC, a fine-dining concept that has been rated as the top Italian dining destination in New York City for 27 years. Ruiz takes the reins from company co-founder Bill Latham, who remains on the board with vice president and co-founder Al Roberts and assists with day-to-day operations as needed. As the new CEO for Babalu, Ruiz will put his talents to work driving the restaurant’s growth across the Southeast and Midwest, including three new locations planned for 2018.