President and CEO | Fazoli’s
Carl T. Howard was recruited by Sun Capital Partners to be President and CEO of Fazoli’s Restaurants, Inc. in June 2008. Carl has diligently worked to rebrand and revitalize the Fazoli’s “Fast Fresh Italian” concept. After successfully repositioning Fazoli’s, the brand was sold to Sentinel Capital Partners in 2015. Since joining Fazoli’s every sales and EBITDA record has been posted. The franchise system has been same sales positive for 67 of the last 70 months and the brand is once again growing new units. In 2016 Fazoli’s will open 12-15 new units and is expected to sign 10-15 new franchisee development agreements.
Vice President of Development | Coyote Ugly Saloon
Justin Livingston has worked for more than a decade in franchising and has a reputation for expanding brands domestically and preparing and executing brands expansion plans to grow internationally. His experience in franchising has been spent in the food and beverage sector of franchising and specialties include sales process creation and implementation, marketing, lead generation, management, and international franchising. His time has been spent expanding franchise programs in the US as well as Canada, Egypt, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Ireland, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the UK.
Author | The Franchising Handbook and The Startup Coach
Carl Reader has worked with franchisors and franchisees since 2004. He has accumulated an outstanding understanding of how it works and offers inside knowledge of how to succeed within it. Carl is the best-selling author of both The StartUp Coach and The Franchising Handbook (published by Hodder), the resident business advisor at express.co.uk; a regular columnist in both the trade and the national press, and is an accomplished international keynote speaker at both franchising and small business events. He is also a director of d&t Chartered Accountants, the UK’s leading franchise accountancy firm, The Bear Group, Selling a Franchise, and serves as an elected board member of the British Franchise Association.
CEO | Vapiano Franchising Centre
Mario C. Bauer is CEO of Vapiano Franchising International and member of the executive board of Vapiano Holding. He and his team are responsible for almost 200 restaurants in over 30 countries around the globe. Mario is a fresh casual, front cooking Pasta – Pizza – Bar lifestyle concept within a Mediterranean ambience. While growing up in his family’s restaurant business in Vienna, Austria, he developed from a young age an entrepreneurial mindset by founding several start-ups such as Bagel Station (bagel & coffee shop) and Papernomad (sustainable iPad sleeves). His latest adventure is Curtice Brothers, an organic boutique ketchup production in Tuscany.
Chairman | The Franchising Centre
Brian Duckett writes regularly for the UK franchising and business media and has presented at several seminars and workshops, including those arranged for The Institute of Directors, The Confederation of British Industry, The British Franchise Association, The International Franchise Association and British Franchise Exhibitions. Internationally, he writes regular features for franchising magazines in the USA, Europe, Australia and India, and has spoken at several franchise conferences on five continents. His book “How to Turn Your Business Into The Next Global Brand – Creating and Managing a Franchised Network” was published in the autumn of 2007.
Founder & CEO | Zoup!
Eric Ersher is Founder and CEO of Zoup! Fresh Soup Company, a Michigan-based fast-casual soup concept he founded in 1998. As the top executive of this growing franchise organization, Eric has overall responsibility for strategic planning, concept evolution, quality and franchise support. He also leads the company’s staff in building and protecting the Zoup! brand and shaping the company’s culture. Before creating Zoup!, Eric was owner of Michigan Foods, which manufactured and distributed custom spice blends, pre-mixes and prepared soups to chain restaurants. Prior to that, he practiced law in Detroit.
VP, Franchise Development and Operations | Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc.
Rafik Farouk has served as CRO’s Vice President of Franchise Development and Operations since February 2005. He has worked with restaurant brands that include Chili’s Grill & Bar, El Chico, Cantina Laredo, III Forks Prime Steakhouse, Silver Fox Steakhouse, Cool River, Champs Americana, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and Seattle’s Best Coffee, specifically in the Middle East. Rafik specializes in global restaurant operations, sourcing for international and domestic clients, and positioning brands for international and domestic growth. He has successfully leveraged his knowledge of two cultures to unite business leaders to develop and grow a variety of businesses.
CFO and co-founder | Freshii GB
Stuart Fitzgerald is CFO and co-founder of the company that operates the Freshii master franchise in Great Britain. He has worked with a range of franchised concepts in food & beverage and general retail and has intimate knowledge of the elements that are required to build, manage and control a successful supply chain. Freshii GB leverages best in class technology throughout their supply chain process to optimize operational and financial outcomes. Supply chain aside Stuart also specializes in corporate fundraising, financial reporting & control, strategic planning and corporate leadership. He is proud to be part of a team that is helping the citizens of Great Britain to live better by making healthy food convenient & affordable. Eat Energize!!
Consumer Foodservice Strategy Analyst | Euromonitor
Elizabeth Friend is the Consumer Foodservice Strategy Analyst at Euromonitor International. She helps restaurant operators and suppliers better understand the global dining-out landscape, publishing strategy briefings, reports, and other ad-hoc analysis. She also helps to manage the production of Euromonitor’s annual restaurants data, working with analysts on the ground in fifty-four countries to conduct research on industry market sizes, growth forecasts, competitive intelligence, and consumer trends.
Founder & CEO | Slapfish
Andrew Gruel, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, is currently the CEO and Founder of Slapfish Restaurant Group, the award-winning food truck turned international brick and mortar, based out of Huntington Beach, CA and Co-Owner of Butterleaf Restaurant and Two Birds Chicken. Andrew has appeared on multiple television series including his most recent role as a judge on Food Network’s Chopped Junior. He was recently the Host of FYI Series “Say It To My Face” as well as a judge on Food Network’s “Food Truck Face Off.” He has made appearances on the TODAY show, PBS, Cooking Channel, and has been featured in numerous publications.
Chief Marketing Officer | East Coast Wings
Stacey Kane has more than 20 years of experience working with multi-unit restaurant chains. She joined East Coast Wings & Grill, a 35 unit brand in early 2015 as the VP of marketing. In 2007, Stacey started at California Tortilla, where she was known for her incredible creativity as the VP of marketing. Stacey also spent 11 years as a top-level media buyer for Subway® restaurants, and has served on several boards, including the National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executives Group Board. In 2012 and 2013, Stacey was named a Top 20 Movers and Shakers by Fast Casual Magazine.
Chairman & CEO | Bennigan’s
Since taking the helm at Bennigan’s in 2011, Paul Mangiamele has championed several game-changing initiatives aimed at revolutionizing the casual dining category and bringing the iconic brand back to its Legendary status. In February 2015, Paul turned his passion into ownership when he and his wife, Gwen, purchased the company. Prior to Bennigan’s, Paul’s background includes operations, marketing, franchise development and broker and distributor networks, as well as building and leading teams in start-up, growth and Fortune 500 environments. His experience on the franchisee side includes building multiple units of Uno Chicago Grills in the Midwest. He is a frequent guest on local and national television programs, and is in high demand as a business speaker and turnaround expert.
Director of Franchise Development | HuHot Mongolian Grill
Laura Sporrer is Director of Franchise Development at HuHot Mongolian Grill. Laura’s career in franchise development started 10 years ago at Quiznos corporate, where she paved the path for their first ever online disclosure of the FDD. Her work includes franchise marketing, campus and airport development, FDD management, as well as market development and planning. In her current role she is responsible for all aspects of franchise recruitment (with a limited budget). Her efforts resulted in HuHot’s largest number of leads in 2015 and several new signings.
CEO | Koti Pizza Group
Tommi Tervanen is the CEO of Kotipizza Group. He is also the chairman of The Finnish Franchising Association. His career started at the leading Finnish retail company Kesko where he worked as product manager. In the early 2000s, he founded the sourcing and logistics operator Helsinki Foodstock which has since grown into an over 50 MEu business. He started as CEO of Kotipizza Group in 2011. The Kotipizza Group consists of Kotipizza, the largest pizza chain in the Northern Europe, Chalupa, a Mexican style fast casual restaurant chain, and Helsinki Foodstock. The Kotipizza chain has significantly revamped its concept in the past few years and changed its marketing strategy completely. In 2015 the Kotipizza Group became the first Finnish franchising company to be listed on the Nasdaq OMX Helsinki stock exchange.
President of Operations & Development | Johnny Rockets
James Walker is President of Operations & Development for Aliso Viejo, CA based Johnny Rockets. He has over 25 years of senior level and management experience in the hospitality and retail industry, and has conducted business in a wide range of global markets, including Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Pakistan and Mongolia. Comfortable from the dish room to the board room, James’ specific skill sets include mergers and acquisitions, development, operations, licensing and R&D. Major positions have included the roles of president and chief development officer, as well as senior operations and R&D positions. He has spent time with such brands as Baja Fresh, Cinnabon and Sweet Factory.