Lion’s Choice, the St. Louis-based family of restaurants known for its famous roast beef sandwiches, crave-worthy fries and frozen custard, today announces the appointment of Fred Burmer as Lion’s Choice’s new CEO beginning in April. Burmer is an industry veteran bringing 40 years of quick-service restaurant experience to his position at Lion’s Choice with executive leadership at brands such as PepsiCo and YUM! Brands, including Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC and Long John Silver’s.

Lion’s Choice Welcomes Fred Burmer as New CEO

Current Lion’s Choice CEO Michael “Kup” Kupstas retires at the end of March. Kupstas’ decision to retire brings to close a 50-year career of service in the restaurant industry and six years at Lion’s Choice.


“Kup will remain an important part of the Lion’s Choice team as an investor in the business and as a strategic advisor to Fred and the Board of Directors. While he will be missed, we are confident that we have found the best candidate to lead Lion’s Choice. Fred’s ability to grow brands in diverse settings, high integrity and leadership uniquely position him as a natural fit for leading Lion’s Choice in its next stage of development. Fred is relocating with his wife, Diane from Atlanta to St. Louis, and he is excited to be a part of an iconic brand that has such enthusiastic and loyal customers.” says Bob Millstone of Millstone Capital Advisors and Board Chair of Lion’s Choice.


Burmer started as a part time team member at a franchise of six Pizza Hut restaurants while attending the University of Central Florida in Orlando. This ultimately turned into a career, leading the company to over 50 restaurants and one of the most successful markets in the country where he was instrumental in the transition of Pizza Hut from a Dine In to a Delivery concept. In 2001, Burmer along with two partners in Minneapolis purchased 93 underperforming Pizza Hut restaurants in the upper Midwest and his leadership helped to turn those restaurants into the top operating market in the country. In 2014, he was recruited as the Operating Partner of Emerald City Pizza, LLC in Seattle WA, a privately held franchisee with 102 YUM! Brand Pizza Hut restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. Fred served on The Board of Directors of the Franchise Holders Association representing and promoting the best interests of almost 500 franchise organizations within YUM! Brands. Since 2019, Burmer has served as Chief Operating Officer of a YUM! Brand Franchisee based in the Mid-Atlantic which includes all brands of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC and Long John Silver’s restaurants. He has expanded market footprint and corporate value and looks forward to bringing his expert leadership to Lion’s Choice in the CEO capacity.

“I have immense respect for the legacy of this brand and for the team members who have made it all possible for the last 55 years,” says Fred Burmer. “I look forward to honoring the legacy of this iconic brand while bringing my own experience to take Lion’s Choice to 56 years and beyond.”

Retiring CEO Michael Kupstas joined Lion’s Choice in May of 2017 when the brand appointed him to serve as the company’s CEO. In his tenure, Kupstas led Lion’s Choice through some of the most significant changes in the company’s history, such as rebranding and expansion, infrastructure and technology enhancements, community partnerships and collaborations, as well as menu item expansions. He led the team of nearly 550 employees both professionally and personally through the Covid-19 pandemic and helped to reinvent how the company operated.

“Lion’s Choice is a truly special brand, and it has been an honor to serve as CEO. I offer my sincere thanks to our team whose hard work and dedication have allowed us to achieve so much in the last six years. I also want to thank our customers, communities, and everyone at Millstone Capital Advisors for their ongoing support. While it is time for me to enjoy time with my wife, Kate, children and grandchildren, I look forward to watching this company thrive under Fred’s leadership. His enthusiasm for Lion’s Choice is outwardly apparent and his leadership style is optimistic, we believe in this future,” says Michael Kupstas.


Fred Burmer joins Lion’s Choice as CEO on Monday, April 3.

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About Lion’s Choice: Founded in 1967, Lion’s Choice has become an iconic St. Louis restaurant brand. With 30 locations, Lion’s Choice is known for their famous roast beef sandwiches, crave-worthy fries, and frozen custard. The real beef is slow-roasted fresh every day for over three hours, made to order, and sliced thin with a dash of seasoning on a buttered and toasted bun. The signature sandwich is made with 100% lean beef – high quality, top round of beef. Lion’s Choice is dedicated to the highest-quality ingredients, an elevated quick-serve experience, and honest-to-goodness awesome food. The over 50-year legacy continues today due to the care of the LC team. Guests have a unique ability to customize their order at Lion’s Choice from the rareness of the beef to the bun. Lion’s Choice has locations throughout Missouri as well as Western Illinois and Kansas City areas. For the most up-to-date information, visit or share your Lion’s Choice roar on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @lionschoice.

About Millstone Capital Advisors

Millstone Capital Advisors is a private equity management company dedicated to helping small to mid-sized companies grow through direct investments and strategic assistance. The company has extensive experience working with companies in a broad range of industries, including consumer products and services, information technology, health care, financial services, marketing, manufacturing, energy and insurance.  Based in St. Louis, the founder and principals of Millstone Capital Advisors have a long history in philanthropy and volunteer support in the region. Their collective mission includes enhancing quality of life and economic development for the people in the companies in which they invest as well as in the communities they serve. Visit for more information.