Reflecting a divisiveness among board members and Isaac Tigrett’s operation of the House of Blues, the founder of the nightspot has been removed as CEO.
Tigrett was replaced by Greg Trojan, former CEO of California Pizza Kitchen, who joined the House of Blues last year as chief operating officer.
Trojan was being groomed to succeed Tigrett as Tigrett became less involved in the day-to-day operation of the business and focused on long-term goals, club execs said.
But Tigrett, who founded the chain in 1992, and the board members frequently clashed over the financial status of the West Hollywood-based chain and its rapid growth. Tigrett was voted out as CEO during a contentious Sept. 25 board meeting. He will remain a board member.
Board members denied rumors of pressure from the Walt Disney Co. — which invested $25 million in the chain last year for a 12% stake — to improve the financial performance at the clubs and to remove Tigrett.
The $15 million loss associated with establishing a temporary House of Blues in Atlanta during the Olympics also was not a factor in Tigrett’s ouster, sources said.
“Isaac occasionally runs into a conflict where he thinks he has a desire to express himself through the company,” board member Andrew Filipowski said. “And there have been numerous occasions where there have been disagreements, maybe more often than there might be in a typical company.”
Tigrett also orchestrated the lavish House of Blues halftime show at this year’s Super Bowl, an expensive move that miffed some board members.
Will be expanding
The chain, which lost $14 million on $60 million in sales and has had plans to go public on the drawing board for around a year, will be expanding from its seven domestic clubs to sites in Las Vegas, Paris and London.
“Isaac is still very much involved,” said Victor Pisano, who with his wife, Judy Belushi, was an original investor in the company. “But if Judy and I were on the board we would not have voted for Isaac,” Pisano said. “We never wanted to build 100 clubs like the Hard Rock or Planet Hollywood. We wanted a few, select places like Chicago and New Orleans.”
Tigrett and publicists at the House of Blues declined to comment.