Nick Sarillo is Founder and CEO of Nick’s Pizza & Pub and Nick’s University and author of the book, A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business. Nick’s Pizza & Pub is one of the top ten busiest independent pizza companies in per-store sales in the United States. He credits his company’s success to his purpose-driven culture, which is the focus of his book. Nick’s profile and insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Inc Magazine, Fast Company, Newsweek, Investor’s Business Daily, American Express Open Forum and more. He also appeared on NBC Nightly News when they featured Nick’s very own “It’s a Wonderful Life” story. Nick’s restaurants have won the National Restaurant Association/American Express “Good Neighbor Award” four times and have been featured in Chicago Best as “Great Pizza and Company.”
Jeff Sinelli grew up in Detroit, and after achieving a BA at a Michigan State and an MBA from City University, Sinelli headed west to exercise his entrepreneurial spirit in Dallas. In the mid ‘90s he developed several independent restaurants and nightclubs before focusing on building multiunit concepts. In 1998, Sinelli created Genghis Grill, a Mongolian Barbecue restaurant, which he grew to 11 units in five states. It was awarded the prestigious Hot Concept! Award by Nations Restaurant News in 2002. Sinelli sold the concept in 2003, and set to work on filling what he felt was a void in the sandwich arena. Sinelli created Which Wich in 2003, prompting QSR Magazine to refer to him as a “branding phenom” upon its launch. By 2013, Which Wich has expanded throughout the United States, and has opened locations in Mexico, Panama, Qatar, and Dubai, with over 100 more locations in development. In October 2013, Which Wich launched Project PB&J, a charitable endeavor that donates PB&J sandwiches to people in need. The goal of the project is to “spread the love,” one PB&J at a time. Projectpbj.com
Vice President | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Natalie Anderson Liu is Vice President of Marketing at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes. She leads all marketing and communication efforts for the MOOYAH brand, including strategic planning, branding and consumer insights, while supporting franchisees in their local efforts. A proven thought-leader, Natalie is recognized for providing innovative and effective strategies to drive the business forward. Prior to MOOYAH, Natalie worked for The Richards Group as Brand Planner and then spent five years with TracyLocke as Senior Strategic Planner where she worked with such brands as Pizza Hut, Nokia, Zales and Fruit of the Loom.
Digital Manager | A&W Restaurants, Inc.
Liz Bazner is a self-proclaimed foodie who currently serves as Digital Manager for A&W Restaurants, the nation’s oldest franchised restaurant chain. Liz leads the development of digital & social campaigns to increase brand awareness & positive online sentiment, as well as overseeing the consumer-facing website & email marketing program. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in political science & public policy, Liz worked for a variety of public officials doing PR & campaign management work before joining the A&W team.
COO | Crest Foods, Inc. (Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip)
Shawnon Bellah is Chief Operating Officer of Crest Foods Inc., franchisor of Nestlé® Toll House® Café by Chip®. Bellah began her career in the hospitality industry with Razzoo’s Cajun Café before moving to Metromedia Restaurant Group in 2001. She worked in Bennigan’s franchise operations until 2008, when she was hired as Director of Training and Menu Development for NTHC. Bellah was promoted to VP, Operations in January 2009, to SVP of Global Operations in 2010, and to her current position in 2015. Under her direction, AUV has continued positive sales growth and café counts have continuously grown.
Founding Partner | Elevation Burger and Pupatella
Michael Berger is a Founding Partner and VP of Supply Chain with Elevation Franchise Ventures, franchisor of Elevation Burger. As one of the founding partners of the Elevation Burger franchise company, Michael has lead the company’s growth from a single restaurant to a chain of over 60 restaurants in seven countries. Under Michael’s supply chain leadership, Elevation Burger’s purchases of certified organic, grass-fed beef have grown into one of the largest certified organic beef purchasing programs in the United States and the largest such program of any restaurant group in the US.
Director, Global Curriculum/Training | Dairy Queen
Kimberly Brastad, Director of Global Curriculum/Training at American Dairy Queen, has over 20 years’ experience in training and education. She has developed learning strategies, training programs, professional service offerings, and a wide range of curricula based on identified learners’ needs within their respective roles and organizations. At Dairy Queen’s Global Franchisee Support Center in Minnesota, Kimberly leads a team responsible for the design, development, and delivery of curricula for the DQ Franchise System. Having recently implemented a new learning management system, she is currently working on long-term, integrated strategies to improve employee satisfaction and success through sustained engagement with training.
Director of Editorial | Networld Media Group
Before joining Networld Media Group as Director of Editorial, where she oversees NetWorld Media Group’s nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she’s written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness news. Her byline has appeared in a plethora of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for FastCasual.com.
COO | US Beef (Arby’s)
CEO | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants
CMO | Pei Wei
VP, Franchise Development and Operations | Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc.
CEO & Founder | Slim Chickens
President & CEO | Hartman Public Relations
Owner | Aioli Gourmet Burgers & Catering
Director of Media & Retail | Coyote Ugly Saloon
Founder | Chi’Lantro
Chief Development Officer | Smoothie King
Digital Marketing Manager | Pei Wei
President | McAlister’s Deli
Chairman & CEO | Bennigan’s
President & CEO | Mazzio’s
Manager of Guest Services | Firehouse Subs
EVP of Business Development | The Froots, Gyroville, Tikiz Shaved Ice & Ice Cream and Miami Grill
CEO | Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh
VP of Marketing | VERTS Mediterranean Grill
President | Moe’s Southwest Grill
CEO | Salad and Go
Head of Strategy | Waterfall
President/Partner | Zoup!
President, U.S. Brand Standards | Steritech
General Counsel and VP of Global Franchise DevOps | Ruby Tuesday
CMO | Taco John’s