Steve Easterbrook, the head of McDonald's Europe, is leaving the fast-food giant to run Pizza Express.
Mr Easterbrook will become chief executive at the upmarket pizzeria, replacing Mark Angela, who left at the start of July.
Pizza Express, which was first floated on the London Stock Exchange by Luke Johnson, David Page and Hugh Osmond in the early 1990s, was bought by the private equity company Cinven for £900m in 2007. It is part of Cinven's Gondola restaurant business, which includes the ASK, Zizzi and Byron chains.
Mr Easterbrook will leave at the end of September, McDonald's last night said. He will be succeeded by the hamburger chain's veteran Doug Goare, who will relocate to Geneva.