CLOSING GENERAL SESSION / THURSDAY / AUGUST 12, 2021 / 2:00 PM
Franchising Think Tank
This panel, packed with CEOs and franchisors, will talk about the latest issues of the day and what it takes to succeed in franchising.
Kevin Bazner | CEO | A&W Restaurants
Kevin Bazner is a near 50-year veteran of the restaurant industry and has been involved with A&W Restaurants, Inc for over 30 years. After joining the company in 1985, Kevin took over the International Division of A&W in 1988. Kevin was made President and COO of the U.S. business in 2000. Following Yum! Brand’s acquisition, Kevin stayed active in the franchising industry as a consultant & investor. Kevin worked with the current shareholders to acquire A&W Restaurants from Yum! Brands and continued with the newly formed company as President & CEO. Kevin is currently the Chief Executive Officer overseeing accelerated growth of the brand both domestically & internationally.
Joe Guith | President, Restaurant Category | Focus Brands
With more than 20 years of experience in food service, franchising, consumer products and retail, Joe Guith has a passion for growing iconic brands that deliver superior experiences and value to guests. In 2021, he was named Restaurant Category President, Focus Brands, where he oversees McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s. While at Focus Brands, he has served as the President of McAlister’s Deli and President of Cinnabon. Previously, he worked in general management and strategy with The Coca-Cola Company and Yum! Brands. Throughout his career, he has built a reputation for driving significant results through strong performance management, application of process-driven improvements and building collaborative, high performing teams.
Ricky Richardson | CEO | Eggs Up Grill
Ricky Richardson’s background includes his current role as CEO of EUG Holdco, LLC, the parent and franchisor of Eggs Up Grill. Since joining Eggs Up Grill, Ricky has energized the brand, defining it’s DNA, building the leadership team and strengthening franchisee relationships while delivering accelerated growth of new franchisees, new restaurant openings and same store sales. Eggs Up Grill has doubled in size since his arrival, closing out 2020 with 46 restaurants and a record for new restaurant openings. Prior to joining Eggs Up Grill, Ricky served over 20 years with TGI Fridays, holding a range of executive roles, lastly serving as president and chief operating officer of Fridays USA.
Carin Stutz | CEO | Native Foods
Carin Stutz is the CEO and President of Native Foods, the original 100% plant-based fast casual eatery. Prior experience includes the EVP/COO at Red Robin, President of McAlister’s Deli, CEO and President of Cosi, President of Global Business for Brinker, EVP of Operations for Applebee’s and Pacific DVP for Wendy’s International. She is Past Chair of Women’s Foodservice Forum; recognized in Chicago’s 100 Women to Watch; Texas Women Worth Watching; and the distinguished alumni award from WIU. She serves on the board of trustees for Western Illinois University, the Fast-Casual Industry Council, and the board of directors for Checkers and Rally’s restaurants.
Charles Watson | CEO | Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Charles Watson is the CEO at Tropical Smoothie Cafe and focuses on the strategic vision and sustainable growth of the franchise system. Prior to being named CEO in December 2018, Charles served as the Chief Development Officer for Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Under his leadership, the Tropical Smoothie Cafe system grew from 265 units to 725 units. Tropical Smoothie Cafe currently has more than 975 locations nationwide and will open its 1,000th location in 2021. A veteran franchise professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and holds an MBA from The Terry School of Business at The University of Georgia.
Mark Wayne | Chief Revenue Officer | Viking Cloud
Mark Wayne is the Viking Cloud Chief Revenue Officer. He is an active member of the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force and considered a national expert on topics of Digital Technology, Cybercrime, Compliance and Crisis Management. Prior to joining Viking Cloud, Mark spent over 20 years as a technology executive focused on network security. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force where he served as military code breaker for the National Security Agency and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University and an MBA from the University of Detroit.