As the former General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer of publicly traded AFC Enterprises, Inc. and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc., Harold M. “Sonny” Cohen has significant experience leading legal teams and advising clients on corporate, franchising, governance, real estate, and wide range of other legal and business matters. With more than 30 years of experience, his success advising companies and boards can be attributed to a solid understanding of the role of strategy, talent and culture in the success of a business.
Prior to joining AFC Enterprises in 1995, Mr. Cohen acquired organizational understanding and client service principles in private practice as an attorney with an Am Law 50 firm and his own real estate boutique law firm.
After joining the in-house team at AFC Enterprises, Mr. Cohen began a nearly 25-year career highlighted by his contributions to the success of the private-equity owned holding company with global brands such as Popeyes, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Cinnabon, and Church’s Chicken. Throughout his time with the company, he assumed numerous leadership roles in the organization, including serving as Senior Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, until the sale of the company in 2017.
At AFC Enterprises and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Mr. Cohen was responsible for all legal functions, as well as the business units for enterprise risk management, property management, internal audits, equity management, and facility management. Additionally, he played a leading role in the mergers and acquisitions activity of AFC Enterprises, and in 2001, Mr. Cohen was an integral part of AFC Enterprises’ initial public offering.
Mr. Cohen played a vital role in the successful transformation of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, a $3 billion revenue global restaurant chain. Ultimately, he oversaw the company’s $1.8 billion sale to Restaurant Brands International, at a record multiple for a public restaurant company transaction.
Mr. Cohen’s versatility and business acumen provided opportunities to contribute in virtually all facets of the company’s management. During his tenure with the company, he led the company’s team in negotiations with its franchisee associations, strategic beverage marketing agreements, enterprise IT agreements, supply chain initiatives, and crisis management. Additionally, Mr. Cohen served as interim leader of the company’s human resources department and served as Operations Leader for the company’s international restaurants in Canada and Central and South America.
Mr. Cohen has extensive experience working directly with senior executives and boards of directors on high profile, strategic projects and transactions, including franchising activities, M&A activities, divestitures, joint ventures, exclusive supply agreements, legal affairs and corporate support services.
- State Bar of Georgia, Member, Corporate Counsel and Franchise Sections
- The Friends of Bitsy Grant Tennis Center, Board of Directors
- The Lovett School, Board of Trustees
- The Best Lawyers in America®, 2022
- Real Estate
- Georgetown University Law School, JD, with honors, 1988
- Tulane University, BA, with honors in American Studies, 1985