Founder & CEO | Freshii
While working in New York City for fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Freshii Founder & CEO Matthew Corrin noted the many fresh food ‘mom and pop’ delis and was determined to successfully brand one. At 23 years old, Matthew set out to add magic to the fresh food business. The idea? To create a restaurant brand that helped people all over the world live healthier and longer lives. The mission was clear: to eliminate the excuse that people don’t eat well because there’s nothing convenient or affordable. In 2005, Matthew opened the first Freshii location in Toronto. Currently, Freshii operates over 300 locations across 85+ cities in 20 countries.
Director of Advertising | KFC U.S.
George Felix is Director of Advertising for KFC U.S. In this role George is responsible for all branded communication including national TV and radio advertising, digital/social advertising, paid media strategy, product packaging, in-restaurant point of purchase merchandising, menuboard design, and employee uniform design. Since taking over brand communications for KFC in May, 2015, the brand has grown behind the advertising campaign marking the return of Colonel Sanders, recording 13 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth. George was named to Advertising Age’s 2016 40 under 40 list identifying the bright young minds who are reinventing and reshaping marketing’s future.
Franchisee | Pizza Inn
Daven Acker has been in the restaurant industry for over 16 years. He now owns four Pizza Inn locations in South Carolina with a fifth set to open this Spring. Starting out in restaurant construction for brands like Long John Silvers, Fatz, Bruster’s Ice cream and Zaxby’s Chicken, Acker developed a passion for the restaurant industry. He was previously a multi-unit operator for Zaxby’s Chicken and now leads a crew of 140 including six team members who have been with Pizza Inn for over 30 years.
Director of Operations Services | Nothing Bundt Cakes
“Making things run like clockwork” is always the goal of Allen Arnn, Director of Operations Services for Nothing Bundt Cakes. Coming from a background in process engineering, he has implemented numerous technical and functional systems and created extensive processes to help propel the company’s growth from 17 bakeries in 2010 to more than 240 bakeries today. Today, Allen’s team heads up internal communications and technology-based services for the Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise community and project management for new brand initiatives.
CEO | Jimboy’s North America
Speaker bio coming soon!
President | Ballard Brands
Formally Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Ballard Brands, Peter joined Ballard Brands full-time in October 2011 serving on their Board of Directors for several years before that time. Boylan adds over 25 years of professional and executive leadership experience to the Ballard Brands team. Prior to joining Ballard Brands, Boylan held senior executive positions in various companies to include the Coca-Cola Company and Honeywell, Inc. He earned an MBA from Wake Forest University’s Babcock Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Founder | Chicken Salad Chick
The Chicken Salad Chick brand was born in August 2007, when Stacy Brown, who had always loved chicken salad, decided to sell the southern favorite to local friends and neighbors. With a basket on her arm and four different chicken salad flavors in hand, Stacy embarked on her door-to-door delivery service. With the help of business expert, fellow founder and her future husband Kevin Brown, they launched their first restaurant in 2008. Within two hours, the restaurant had completely sold out. Chicken Salad Chick has continued to grow and today, the franchise brand has more than 70 locations across the Southeast.
Speaker bio coming soon!
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.
Chris Cheek joined Newk’s Franchise Company in 2014 as the Chief Development Officer. Chris started his franchise career as Vice President of Franchising for Bear Rock Café, where he helped grow the brand from 4 units to over 60 in 4 years. He had similar success at fast casual brands including Bruegger’s Bagels and its parent company brands Timothy’s World Coffee, la Madeleine Country French Café Brioche Doree; Freebirds World Burrito, and Toppers Pizza, Inc., where he was the brand’s first Chief Development Officer. Chris is a graduate of North Carolina State University and currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
For more than 30 years, Joe Christina has dedicated his life’s work to the restaurant industry. “There is no career more exciting, interesting, surprising and especially rewarding than working in the restaurant industry,” says Joe, who has owned his own franchise locations, worked as a corporate team member, as a high-level executive across various restaurant brands, and is now Chief Executive Officer of Church’s Chicken. Joe served as Executive Vice President of U.S. Operations at Church’s Chicken from 2013 until November 2016, when he became Chief Executive Officer of the brand.
Jodie Conrad, Vice President of Marketing – formerly serving as Fazoli’s Senior Brand Director, was promoted to her new position as Vice President of Marketing in September 2017. In Jodie’s new role, she will be responsible for all marketing functions and product development for the brand. Prior to joining Fazoli’s, Jodie previously served as Director of Brand Marketing for The Wendy’s Company, Director of New Product Testing for Donatos Pizza and Customer Marketing Manager for The Coca-Cola Company.
Theresa Dold is the VP of Agency Strategy at LevelUp, the leading provider of mobile engagement solutions for the restaurant industry. She is responsible for guiding the development of LevelUp’s Agency solutions and driving adoption of LevelUp’s platform, features, and tools among its restaurant partners. Prior to LevelUp, she was the Director of Product at healthy fast-casual brand sweetgreen, where she was responsible for the launch and evolution of the sweetgreen mobile payments, ordering and rewards app.
Speaker bio coming soon!
Anna Duffy is the Director of Marketing Implementation and Digital Strategy for Taziki’s Mediterranean Café – she has spent her whole career at Taziki’s and has seen it grow from 15 to 82 stores. In her time at Taziki’s, Anna has lead multiple initiatives including: preparing store marketing strategies for new and struggling stores, designing the training structure for field marketers, and the implementation of new marketing technologies. Anna oversees Taziki’s digital presence and consults new franchise partners on marketing best practices. Anna studied Marketing at Samford University where she met her husband. The couple currently resides in Dallas, TX.
Gonca Esendemir is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of the fast casual Mediterranean concept, Flatbread Grill. Flatbread Grill was developed by Gonca and her two sisters in 2007 as a means to support their sick parents. Without any formal marketing training or experience, Gonca helped establish the brand’s identity and social media presence. She also, along with her two sisters, oversaw day to day restaurant operations, developed the menu, and assisted with building out the concept’s brick and mortar stores. She is currently overseeing the franchise development of Flatbread Grill. Gonca is also a published writer and social media influencer.
Scott Ford has more than 30 years experience building and leading top brands in the restaurant industry. As the president of Goodcents Franchise Systems, Ford oversees the strategic vision of the business, including franchise growth and overall customer experience. Ford lead the charge on a successful new digital consumer interaction and ordering strategy for the business, as well as new up-to-the-minute reporting technology for franchisees and e-learning platform for training new employees. Prior to joining Goodcents in 2010, Ford held various leadership positions at Applebee’s and Boston Market.
Back in 1991, finding Amazing Flavor was not so easy – especially at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL where Matt Friedman and Adam Scott were away at school. Matt and Adam spent many a night in their fraternity house kitchen perfecting the recipes that one day would become Wing Zone’s trademark flavors. Starting with a single storefront, Matt and Adam built the Wing Zone brand, satisfying the cravings of Flavorholics in other towns, states and now, worldwide. Today, Matt and Adam are among the few ever to be inducted in the Buffalo Wing Hall of Flame. Wing Zone now has nearly 100 locations.
Patrick Galleher is the Managing Partner for Boxwood Partners; a merchant bank in Richmond, Virginia, where he leads sell-side transactions for Boxwood’s M&A advisory services. He has led several transactions, including the investment in sweetFrog Frozen Yogurt. Prior to joining Boxwood, Patrick was CEO of WILink plc (now known as PrecisionIR), a global financial communications business with operations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Continental Europe, and Sweden. Patrick holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Richmond and a degree from the London Business School. He is a board director for sweetFrog Enterprises.
Chip Hamm concentrates his practice in the areas of real estate and corporate law, including property and business sale and acquisitions, development, start-up ventures, finance, and government relations. He has broad experience in business and real estate as a private practice attorney, in-house counsel, business owner, and equity investor in entrepreneurial ventures. Chip was previously the National Real Estate Manager and Franchise Development Director at Yum! Brands Inc. and started his career as an attorney at the Woodward, Hobson & Fulton law firm. His clients benefit from his significant experience as an entrepreneur and ability to efficiently deliver legal and business advice.
Speaker bio coming soon!
Doug Hogrefe is a partner in 4-Top Hospitality Group that owns and operates 13 restaurants in Mississippi and Tennessee, with three additional properties soon to open. Its concepts include Amerigo, Anjou, Saltine, Sombra, Etch, etc. and Char Steakhouse. Doug is a graduate of Millstaff College and began his hospitality career as a server at Amerigo in Jackson, Mississippi. He advanced to become the restaurant’s general manager and eventually bought the restaurant with partners he had met through the restaurant. Twenty-seven years later, Doug and his partners continue to expand 4-Top’s restaurant footprint. The group has experienced a growth of 300%.
John Hughes is brand ambassador for Jersey Mike’s Subs, the nation’s fastest-growing sandwich chain. He is charged with generating excitement, brand awareness and cultural consistency throughout the company through operational and brand training. Affectionately known as “Coach” Hughes, John formerly served as SVP, director of training, responsible for training franchisees, manager and others joining the Jersey Mike’s team. With more than 30 years of making subs and training franchise owners, managers and team members, John is a leader of putting into practice Jersey Mike’s A Sub Above philosophy.
Scott Iversen has actively been involved with the franchise industry for nearly 20 years. Scott learned how a franchise corporation runs and operates when he first began as a pizza delivery driver in the fall of 1992 at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville. His passion for the pizza industry grew, and not long after, Scott was promoted to General Manager where he began marketing the local franchise within the community, ultimately building brand awareness throughout the area. Prior to joining Toppers Pizza in 2003, Scott also spent time in Chicago as the Director of Marketing for Bravo Restaurants, which included Ed Debevic’s, Gino’s East, and Edwardo’s Natural Pizza.
SVP & CMO | Corner Bakery Cafe
Donna Josephson is the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Corner Bakery Cafe. She has more than 20 years of restaurant marketing experience in developing and implementing innovative brand strategies and marketing programs to drive results. She most recently served as CMO at Fazoli’s where she launched a new restaurant interior design, catering program, online ordering, and the brand’s loyalty app. Prior to Fazoli’s, Donna served as the VP of Marketing for McAlister’s Deli where she led the executive team in redefining the brand positioning. Donna holds both a Bachelor of Science degree and an MBA in Business Management from Ball State University.
Speaker bio coming soon!
VP of Training & People Development | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Dennie Laney is the Vice President of Training and People Development at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes. Dennie is also a John Maxwell certified Coach, Public Speaker, and Leadership Professional. Her passion for customer service, leadership development, personal and professional growth, and active engagement in achieving extraordinary results is what led her to the John Maxwell Team. It is these qualities paired with a rich people culture that drew her to the MOOYAH team. Dennie has spent the past 20 years supporting corporate and operations teams in the training, leadership development, and coaching arenas, speaking to audiences of hundreds of leaders and executives about the value of people.
Joe Macchio has been working in the restaurant industry for 15 years. As Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Dinova, Joe is responsible for cultivating relationships with restaurants, specifically National and Regional brands. Prior to Dinova, Joe founded NY Bagel, a regional Bagel Company based in the Dallas area which he built up and later sold. His acumen as an operator combined with his 8+ years helping restaurants grow their revenues through Dinova’s network allows him to relate personally with restaurant owners, operators, and suppliers.
Speaker bio coming soon!
Chef/Owner | The Boneyard Truck
For Rich Mainzer, a native born San Franciscan, none would have predicted that he would become the pit-master at one of the Bay Area’s busiest and most tasty Barbecues. Rich is the Founder and Chef at The Boneyard, LLC – an up and coming catering and food truck service that has transformed the way local residents experience their BBQ. While he has reinvented himself several times along the way, Rich’s love of good food and people has led him to take his passions to the streets of five bay area counties…and counting. Rich’s big flavors and big personality mix the perfect recipe for his own home run in the world of American BBQ street food services.
Since she started at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in 2011, Michelle Matthews has led the company’s efforts in catering, sales and third-party channels. In her role as Vice President of Direct Sales, Matthews created Dickey’s catering hotline, which fields up to 2,500 calls and 6,000 online leads per month. The catering hotline has been responsible for increasing catering sales system-wide by 25 percent. Currently, her team accounts for up to $1.3 million per month because of the systems Matthews put into place. Most recently, Matthews has introduced a new business segment for Dickey’s through third-party channel services such as Grub Hub & Door Dash.
SVP, Global Sales, Service & Marketing | Taylor
Melissa has worked in the foodservice industry for over 30 years at the Taylor Company. Taylor Company is the manufacturer of frozen dessert, frozen beverage and cooking equipment. Her Taylor experience includes roles with international sales, marketing, and strategic account management of large and medium sized Quick Service Restaurants. As with most people in the foodservice industry, this is her passion. Working with customers who serve ice cream, margaritas & burgers….who wouldn’t be passionate? She has lived in Spain & Ecuador and loves to travel wherever she can. She’s dedicated to mission work, her family, and Taylor.
Sr. Director, Customer Success | PlayerLync
Speaker bio coming soon!
President & CEO | Muscle Maker Grill
Robert E. Morgan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Muscle Maker Grill. A 40-year veteran of the restaurant industry, he is responsible for all facets of Muscle Maker Grill’s rapidly-growing fast casual brand – including its aggressive expansion strategy in new and existing markets, operations, real estate, strategic marketing and much more. A founding member of the company, Bob joined Muscle Maker Grill as its Chief Operating Officer in 2007 – its inception as a franchised brand. His extensive experience in the franchise and restaurant industries combined with his strong leadership have been a major contributor to the overall success of the company.
Speaker bio coming soon!
Speaker bio coming soon!
James O’Reilly joined Long John Silver’s in March 2015 after three years at Sonic Drive-In as SVP / Chief Brand Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. James brings to the role more than 20 years of food service executive leadership, including a variety of domestic and international leadership positions for many prominent brands including Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Yum! Brands, and Procter and Gamble Inc. James earned an MBA from York University and B.S. in Biochemistry from McMaster University. James is married to Marie and they have two sons attending college full time.
Speaker bio coming soon!
CEO | Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh
James Park is CEO of Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, the leader in fast casual authentic Mediterranean cuisine. James is a savvy marketing and operations executive who champions and activates all things brand. He excels at transformational leadership by humanizing the intangibles and developing programs that are purposeful and lasting. For the past 10 years, James has served in executive leadership roles for some of the most well-established and fastest-growing concepts in the fast casual, QSR and retail environments: Which Wich, 7-Eleven and Charley’s. In addition, James’ international experience includes substantive contributions in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Venezuela and Brazil.
Senior Director of Franchising | Dippin’ Dots
A franchising veteran of 25 years, Steve is the Senior Director of Franchising for Dippin’ Dots and Doc Popcorn. With a proven track record in franchise operations, sales, and development as well as having been a franchisee in his own rite Steve has a unique insight into the relationship between franchisor and franchisee. In his time with Yum Brands, Cold Stone Creamery, and others Steve has become a specialist in franchise relationships and building the bonds of trust and transparency between the franchisor and its franchise system with the ultimate goal of profitable and sustainable growth for everyone involved.
Founder | Melt Shop
As the Founder of Melt Shop and head of its brand development and daily operations, Spencer calls himself “a lifer” in the restaurant business, and can hardly remember a time when he wasn’t all in. By age six, he was cooking the basics in the family kitchen. Before he was ten, he knew this was his calling, fascinated by the idea of creating a business where people could eat delicious food every single day. Equally passionate and talented, Spencer graduated from The Hotel School at Cornell University. With Aurify Brands, Spencer launched the first Melt Shop in New York City. The brand has grown throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota.
Now with more than 100 locations, another 150 in development and $100 million in systemwide sales, Steve Schulze, as CEO, has grown Nékter Juice Bar into the clear leader and pioneer of the $2 billion juice bar industry. Founded in 2010 upon a promise to reinvent a restaurant category that had lost its way, Nékter Juice Bar has been a catalyst for change, vowing ingredient integrity and authenticity across its menu of 100% freshly made and entirely clean juices, smoothies, bowls and other healthy snacks. Nékter plans to grow to 425 restaurants by 2020 and is well on its way as it prepares to open 75 restaurants in 2018.
President/Partner | Zoup!
Richard Simtob was educated at the University of Western Ontario in economics and enterprise and has taken his knowledge into the field and played a winning game. Richard has taken on the challenges of myriad roles in the business world including but not limited to: Founder of Talking Book World Corporation, COO/Owner of Wireless Toyz, co-founder of FranchisesforSale.com, President/Partner of Zoup! Fresh Soup Company, and a commercial real estate investor. He has been an active member of Jewish Entrepreneurs Network and the Entrepreneurs Network of Michigan, is Past-President of Yad Ezra, a non-profit food bank, and his companies have been recognized annually in Entrepreneur’s list of top 500 franchises.
President of Foodservice Practice | The NPD Group, Inc.
Warren Solochek has worked in the food industry for over 35 years, both in retail as well as foodservice. Warren joined NPD’s Foodservice group in 2003. His responsibilities include overseeing relationships with all existing Foodservice clients, both operators and manufacturers, as well as helping to secure new users of NPD’s Foodservice products and services. His role at NPD gives him a great deal of insight into today’s Foodservice industry issues and trends, and helps him anticipate the issues the industry will face in the future. He is a frequent speaker at key industry events, including GCIA, MUFSO, FED, IFMA, NRA and the VIBE Beverage Conferences.
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.
EVP & COO | Red Robin
Carin Stutz is responsible for leading regional restaurant management teams overseeing the operational performance of more than 500 Red Robin restaurants across the United States and Canada, including Burger Works and franchise locations. Carin has more than three decades of experience in the restaurant industry and has served in operations leadership roles for major casual dining and fast casual brands. Before joining Red Robin, Carin served as president of McAlister’s Deli. She has also served in operations leadership roles for some of the nation’s leading brands including Chili’s, Applebee’s, Cosi and Wendy’s. She’s a past board chair and member of the board of directors for the Woman’s Foodservice Forum.
President | Walk-Ons
Scott has served as our Chief Operating Officer since our formation on July 23, 2014. Scott has served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Walk-On’s Enterprises Operations, LLC since December 2010, Walk-On’s Enterprises Holdings, LLC since its formation in January 2014, Walk-On’s Enterprises IP, LLC since its formation in January 2014, and Walk-On’s Enterprises Marketing, LLC since its formation in April 2015. During his tenure, Scott has led the organization in systemization of all brands, successful partner buyout and the investment and buy in of Drew Brees in May 2015.
President | Rosati’s Pizza
Marla Topliff has been President of Rosati’s Pizza since 1999. As corporate spokesperson, she manages vendor and store relationships and HR. She’s Chairman of the NRA’s Pizzeria Council and an IFA member. Marla has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Suit Magazine, and Chain Pulse Magazine and digital publications. In 2012, she was a keynote speaker at the Pizza Expo. She’s led Rosati’s Pizza to be in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500, Top 100 Pizza Companies by Pizza Today and Franchise Times’ Top 300. Marla was featured in Franchise Update Magazine’s Q1 2014 as one of the 24 Leading Women in Franchising.
CEO | Cerca Trova Restaurant Concepts
Steve Weigel joined the Cerca Trova Restaurant Concepts team as Chief Executive Officer in April 2016 to lead strategic vision and execute growth strategy. He has over 25 years of casual dining industry experience, which includes previous roles as COO of Friendly’s Ice Cream, COO of Tom’s Urban 24 and SVP of both Smashburger and Darden Restaurants / Red Lobster. Steve is responsible for orchestrating the turnaround of Friendly’s Ice Cream through recruitment of executive team and development and execution of strategic initiatives. He has managed P&L and operations of 345 restaurants generating more than a half a billion in revenue at Friendly’s and 320 restaurants generating more than $1 billion in revenue while at Red Lobster.
Business Development Manager, S4 MRC | Suttle-Straus
Karen M. Wenning has 24 years of marketing and communications experience. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin she spent 12 years at an advertising agency crafting prose for luxury brands. There, she developed a passion for working with graphic designers and marketing professionals, creating brand-right marketing across their networks. After being an agency client of Suttle-Straus, Karen joined the team in 2008 serving in both marketing and business development roles. She currently helps companies improve efficiency in their marketing supply chain by adopting technology solutions like the S4 Marketing Resource Center.
Attorney | Frost Brown Todd
Speaker bio coming soon!
Ken Willis is Vice President at MicroSale Point of Sale Systems. In this role, he has overall General Manager responsibilities for installations and support, as well as direction of Sales and Marketing efforts. Additionally, Mr. Willis held positions in regional and account management with Sharp Electronics and Squirrel Point of Sale Systems. As co-owner of Touch Tech Caribe, a Squirrel Systems dealership based in Puerto Rico, managed the business development throughout the Caribbean. Mr. Willis held food and beverage management roles with Hilton International Hotels, Hilton Hotels and Doubletree hotels
With a passion for helping clients find innovative ways to distinguish themselves from the competition, Kathi has spent the last 25+ years in the marketing communications industry with a primary focus on marketing supply chain management, advertising production services, integrated and cross-channel marketing program development and learning technologies. Kathi is fascinated with the convergence of the ever-expanding mediums and passionate about ways to utilize them to improve targeted marketing efforts which deliver results. Her wide network of customers has led to key partnerships with Fortune 1000 Manufacturers, Retailers and Corporate Advertisers.