Alamo Drafthouse Hires Former Starbucks Executive Shelli Taylor as CEO

Dave McNary

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has hired former Starbucks executive Shelli Taylor as chief executive officer, effective Friday.

Taylor spent nearly two decades at the coffee chain and most recently served as president of United Planet Fitness Partners, overseeing over 169 facilities across the country.

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Founder Tim League will assume a new role as executive chairman, leading the board of directors, and continuing to guide and develop initiatives for Alamo Drafthouse, sister company Mondo and genre festival Fantastic Fest. League will also continue to lead the booking and programming strategy for Drafthouse.

“Six months ago I began searching for a CEO who could work as a partner and collaborator, with a strong voice and battle-tested leadership skills. Shelli Taylor brings that and more,” League said. “As executive chairman I’ll continue to lead the brand, digging hard into developing new creative and marketing initiatives at Alamo Drafthouse, Mondo and Fantastic Fest.”

“Alamo Drafthouse is the only leadership role I’ve ever known,” he added. “I am in awe of the depth and breadth of Shelli’s leadership and brand growth experience. I am excited to partner with her to rise from the current challenges that our industry faces and continue to drive towards our company vision, to be the best damn cinema that has ever or will ever exist.”

The chain is currently shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is holding off reopening its 21 Texas locations, despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to reopen movie theaters this weekend.

Austin-based Alamo closed down its 41 locations in mid-March because of global health crisis. The chain, which was founded in Austin in 1997, opened its first Los Angeles location last year. Alamo specializes in unique programming, combining independent and blockbuster films, as well as classics and “hard-to-find” cult favorites.

“I am incredibly honored and excited to assume the role of CEO at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Tim League and his talented team have built an unequaled cinema brand that is built on passion, innovation and a local community mindset encompassing everything from food and drink to fantastic programming,” Taylor said. “I am committed to Alamo Drafthouse’s vision of sharing the films we love with the widest possible audience while offering the best moviegoing experience in the industry.”

Taylor was a key executive during Starbucks’ expansion in China. Those efforts resulted in the expansion of 500 stores per year, totaling 3,000 locations in China by the time of her departure.

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