Best known for taking a single restaurant, Zoë’s Kitchen, started by his mother Zoë and father Marcus and founding the current company that operates over 260 fast casual restaurants in the United States and was listed on the NYSE until a recent sale of the company. John was born in Birmingham, Alabama where he grew up and attended Mountain Brook High School. He was a two time All-State and Adidas honorable mention All American football player. He attended the University of Alabama on a football scholarship and was a 3 year letterman. His senior year his team won the SEC Championship. John graduated with a degree in Finance in 1990.
After several entrepreneurial endeavors including starting his own clothing line as well as a music label. John took his mother and fathers small restaurant that had been operating for 3 years and decided to go out on his own and build the Zoë’s brand. Over the next 8 years John built Zoë’s into a regional brand with 19 units in 5 different states. In 2007, he partnered with Brentwood Associates, a private equity firm based in Los Angeles. He would remain CEO of Zoë’s for another year before retiring so he could assist in the growth of his other two brands, Maki Fresh and Jinsei Sushi. Maki Fresh is a fast casual restaurant that operates units in Birmingham and Huntsville, Alabama and Jinsei is a fine dining sushi brand located in Birmingham, Alabama and Oxford, Mississippi. Jinsei has appeared on the pages of Food and Wine magazine and is considered one of the top sushi restaurants in the Southeast. In 2018, John exited the food industry and founded a liquidation company, Last Word Liquidators that operates a discount retail store called Mike’s Merchandise located in Pelham, Alabama. In the spring of 2019, John launched another liquidation business called Crazy Cazboy’s. This discount retail concept located in Birmingham, Alabama sells products with a descending pricing model.
John donates his time and energy having served on the advisory board of the University of Mississippi business school and as an advisor on Entrepreneurship studies to the University of Alabama business school. He also served as Entrepreneur in residence at Samford University for many years. John gives motivational speeches about entrepreneurship, strategy, the Zoë’s Kitchen story to business schools and hospitality schools across the United States as well as other civic organizations such as the Rotary Club and Executive Women International. He also founded the Cassimus Family Foundation a non profit whose purpose is to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. In 2007 John founded Sawtooth Plantation a full service hunting lodge and deer breeding facility in Southeast Alabama. Sawtooth is considered one of Alabama’s most prestigious hunting lodge.
John has become a well known bow hunter and is a member of the Hoyt Archery Pro Staff as well as Easton Archery, Badlands Backpacks, HHA Sports and QAD. In 2019, John will be launching his Youtube channel that will be a combination of hunting videos and motivational talks.
John is a Pilot, bow hunter, cyclist, kiteboarder, snowboarder, writer, photographer and chef. He has one daughter, Michael-Anne and two sisters. His mother and father, Marcus and Zoë, are retired and reside in Birmingham, Al.