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.
CEO | Jimboy’s North America
Bob Anderson has developed a blueprint for restaurant growth success by combining leadership, team building, and a simple strategy with a focus on execution to create breakthrough results. He has served as CEO of Jimboy’s North America since 2015. His previous experience includes two years as president of MOOYAH Burgers & Fries and four years as managing director of franchise development for Boston Pizza International.
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.
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 & drive measurable traffic to A&W locations across the country, 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.
President | Ballard Brands
Formally Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer for Ballard Brands, Peter Boylan joined Ballard Brands full-time in October 2011 serving on their Board of Directors for several years before that time. Peter adds over 25 years of professional and executive leadership experience to the Ballard Brands team. Prior to joining Ballard Brands, Peter 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.
Chris Caldwell serves as Chief Information Officer, KFC U.S. Chris joined KFC in 2014 and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of information technology, information security, data analytics and digital technology for KFC US. Chris is passionate about partnering with franchisees to implement technology that will improve restaurant operations, drive sales, and make KFC one of the most relevant and distinctive brands in the quick service restaurant industry. Chris has been with the Yum! family since 1996, when he joined KFC as an intern from the University of Louisville Computer Information Systems program. Chris has held multiple IT leadership positions throughout his career at both Yum! and KFC.
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.
Paula Carren has more than 25 years of marketing experience within the restaurant, technology, and luxury-brand industries. She is passionate about leveraging data to precisely understand consumer behavior and drive desired outcomes. As Vice President of Marketing at Gusto POS, she is an advocate of applying the latest POS system technology to connect restaurateurs with the tools they need to compete in today’s technology rich environment. Prior to joining Gusto, Paula served as Vice President of Client Success at Fishbowl, where she partnered with clients to develop compelling marketing strategies to drive growth and guest engagement.
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.
Chief People Officer | Freshii
Ashley Dalziel. Ashley has served as Freshii’s Chief People Officer since February 2016. Prior to joining Freshii, Ashley held a number of positions at Lululemon Athletica Inc. between October 2006 to January 2016, where she most recently served as the Global Manager of Recruiting and Talent. Ashley holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Arts in Counselling from the City University of Seattle.
Michelle Davis has been a sales executive for over 25 years, during this time she has directly managed key retail accounts and now leads f’real’s newest initiative in Food Service: opening new markets. Michelle exceeds aggressive sales goals every year by deploying a simple, yet creative strategy. She lends a keen ear to her clients, then launches innovative products and promotions geared towards benefiting both the client and f’real. As a result, long term relationships with key retail partners have emerged. While fostering these relationships, Michelle’s position as a sales executive has allowed her to help grow business in the USA, Canada and the international marketplace.
Travis Doster is the Senior Director of Public Relations at Texas Roadhouse, where he has been since 2006. Texas Roadhouse is a full-service chain that opened its doors in 1993. Since then, the company has grown to more than 510 locations in 49 states and 17 international locations in seven foreign countries. Texas Roadhouse was named #1 Full-Service Chain in Sales and Satisfaction by Restaurant Business in 2016. Texas Roadhouse is famous for its hand-cut steaks, fall-off-the-bone ribs, made-from-scratch sides, and fresh-baked bread. Previously, Travis was Vice President at FSA Public Relations.
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.
Greg Fischer is in his second term as Louisville’s 50th Mayor. He was named a Public Official of the Year from Governing magazine in 2013. A 2016 Politico survey named him as the most innovative mayor in America. During his tenure, Louisville has added 71,000 jobs and 2,500 new businesses. Eleven billion dollars in capital construction is planned or underway in the city, and between 2014 and 2016, 11,000 Louisvillians worked themselves out of poverty, and another 8,300 families joined the middle class. Greg is a longtime entrepreneur who started several businesses, including SerVend International and Iceberg Ventures, a private investment firm.
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.
Brad Gardone is the Vice President of IT Services for Long John Silver’s. Brad has worked in the QSR industry for 21 years at KFC, YUM, and Long John Silvers. His background is in application development, software quality assurance, and vendor/franchisee relations. In his career Brad has worked a variety of projects including: KFC delivery, integration of pressure fryers and point of sale system, deployment/testing of a global collaboration platform, deployment of a cloud based back of house system, and integration/deployment of digital drive through system.
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.
Don Hawkins is the Group VP for Emerging Chains, Government and Retail at Middleby Corporation. His teams interface directly with Emerging and Re-Emerging Foodservice companies to increase product quality, increase operational efficiencies as well as speed of service, and to reduce labor and utility costs via foodservice equipment designed and built around their specific needs. Don has over 30 years in the industry as both an executive in foodservice equipment manufacturing and as a provider of equipment and services to restaurant chains. He’s known for providing new and creative solutions to issues and problems for customers both globally and domestically.
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 Millsaps 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%.
Collin Holmes, Founder and CEO, started Chatmeter in August 2009. Prior to Chatmeter, Mr. Holmes was VP of Product Management and Marketing at V-Enable (now xAD). His extensive experience in the local search industry, both online and mobile, provides a solid foundation for the direction of the company. He has worked in leadership roles at several other startup companies and held other notable positions in product and marketing roles at Akamai Technologies and AT&T Wireless. He earned his MBA from San Diego State University and a BA from UC Riverside.
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.
John Inwright led the launch of QSCC in January 2010. He works closely with QSCC’s Board of Directors and Wendy’s senior leadership to ensure his team exceeds Member and Brand expectations. John’s range of executive experience – including supply, distribution, procurement, and operations – gives him powerful insight into every link of the supply chain and a keen understanding of how they interact. Prior to joining QSCC, John served in the supplier and manufacturing community as EVP for the Commercial Division of Nice-Pak/PDII. John also served as Chief Procurement Officer of U.S. Foodservice as well as SVP of Purchasing, Distribution, and Logistics for Unified Foodservice Purchasing Co-op.
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.
Ed Keller has extensive experience in the restaurant industry and specializes in off premise sales. He has not only led the catering and off premise functions for Which Wich and Boston Market, but he has also led the training, learning and development, ops services departments, and he is well versed in negotiating 3rd party agreements. A lifelong restaurant operator, Keller has created management and employee training programs; a monthly QSC inspection program; as well as developed and implemented a food truck program. His Off-Premise experiences includes heading up an established program at Boston Market, which catapulted him into leading a brand-new program at Which Wich.
Sean Kennedy is President of Cowboy Chicken, a system named by Forbes as one of 5 Little Restaurant Chains to buy Into in 2012. Sean and his team take their customers’ trust and security very seriously and have come up with some ways to attack the problem of identity theft and credit card security head on. They are also breaking just about every norm when it comes to serving southern chicken.
Allyson Klineman is Director of Agency Services for LevelUp, a leading mobile engagement platform. LevelUp is the growth engine for restaurants, capturing and engaging new and existing customers with industry-leading digital ordering, payment, and loyalty experiences. Allyson has been with LevelUp for four years and previously ran Account Management. Today, she focuses on helping LevelUp’s existing clients evolve their engagement programs by leveraging new features, tools, and unique partnerships.
Bert Lane became a franchisee with Hot N Now Burgers in 1991 for several years and then sold his business off before starting his career with Arby’s in 1995. Over the past 20 plus years in the brand he has led teams as a Director, Sr Director and Vice President of Operations. His talents have been in turning under-performing markets around in sales & profits. In 2007 he started utilizing these talents on the franchise side at Arby’s. Working with franchisees on building sales and profits through strong operations. In 2016 Bert joined the development team at Arbys as Senior Director of Franchise Development.
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.
Jonathan Luther is the creator and co-founder of a successful fast casual restaurant brand called JJ’s Red Hots in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jonathan has over 30 years of experience in building restaurant brands and creating multi-media in-store customer experiences for Fortune 500 retail brands. Prior to JJ’s, Jonathan led the Media Architecture group for Mood Media (formerly Muzak), the world’s leading provider of in-store media where he worked with a wide range of retail and restaurant brands in creating compelling in-store sensory experiences. Prior to working at Mood, Jonathan designed, built and managed other start up restaurant concepts, including Cool Peppers and Mike’s Warehouse Grill.
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.
Lauren Smith Madden is an associate at Frost Brown Todd LLC focusing her practice in the area franchising and distribution. Lauren has substantial experience in the development and registration of franchise documents and the navigation of state franchise relationship laws. Her experience includes helping start-up franchisors develop new systems by drafting franchise agreements and preparing franchise disclosure documents, multi-unit franchise relationship agreements and development agreements. Lauren also works with clients in the refranchise, divestiture and acquisition of franchise outets.
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 McCormick 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
Specializing in innovative learning technologies that enable teams to learn faster and operate more successfully, Peter McLaughlin has helped lead high-growth business for more than 20 years. At companies such as Symantec and Clearwell, he managed Education Services teams, which delivered training courses for thousands of customers. In his current role as head of Customer Success for PlayerLync, he collaborates with customers such as Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and Blaze Pizza to improve their training and performance. He has an MBA from the University of Denver, and a BA from UCLA.
Justin Mink is Senior Vice President of Sales at Scorpion, where he focuses on expanding the company’s national business across various industries. Before coming to Scorpion he served in founder and executive roles for a variety of technology and marketing companies. Justin was the Chief Marketing Officer at New Frontier Data, a provider of real-time data and analytics for legal cannabis operators and investors. He also served as co-founder and VP of Strategy at Music Audience Exchange, National Director at ReachLocal, and Brand Marketing Lead at Gannett. Justin has a B.A. in political science from the University of Mary Washington.
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.
Franchisee | Sub Station II
Mike Monson entered into the restaurant industry over twenty years ago fueled by his love of food and people. After working in and later managing a Sub Station II for 10 years, he decided it was time to for him to branch out on his own. In 2005, he purchased an existing Sub Station II in Northern Kentucky. After successfully increasing revenue and improving operations in the first store, he decided to expand further and recently opened a second location with plans for even more. Mike currently represents fellow franchisees of the brand on an advisory board to help direct, grow, and communicate between the corporate office and franchisees.
Kevin Murray is the Head of Professional Services at MomentFeed, a SaaS digital marketing platform that helps multi-location brands increase revenue by influencing consumer decisions on mobile. Kevin has a passion for client success and has worked closely with clients like Smoothie King and Togo’s, to help optimize their local SEO and social media strategy. He currently oversees MomentFeed’s implementation team to ensure a strong consultative experience for new clients around configuring their digital identity to achieve the highest brand visibility.
Mike Nettles has spent almost 30 years of his professional career becoming a self-ascribed “gearhead foodie.” His background includes work for several multi-concept global restaurant hospitality brands. He has delivered technology and business solutions for some of the biggest and most respected names in the industry. Mike’s technical expertise extends to encompass the entire technology solution set enabling the business, from the design and implementation of store level order management and fulfillment solutions to the accounting and home office ERP solutions. Furthermore, Mike has taken the entire customer experience journey outside of the confines of traditional technology to bring about world-class consumer facing solutions.
Mary Newell is Director of Marketing & Brand Loyalty for Texas Roadhouse, leading brand and digital marketing strategy, creative, content and loyalty for Texas Roadhouse and the company’s newest concept, Bubba’s 33. Prior to moving to Texas Roadhouse, Mary spent 11 years at Yum! Brands as creative director and began her career in advertising agencies, as a copywriter and eventually, creative director supporting clients in QSR, consumer packaged goods, the arts and healthcare.
Jacqueline has a contagious passion to grow the la Madeleine brand. Her passion carries through to her team and marketing partners through teamwork and creativity. Prior to joining la Madeleine, she ran account teams at TracyLocke for Pizza Hut, Hewlett-Packard and Sonic Drive-In. Her love for the intense restaurant business formed during years on Pizza Hut where her team owned below the line brand, calendar, promotion and test work. In her free time, you can find Jacqueline creating memories with her fun-loving husband, 5 and 2-year old daughters. Ask Jacqueline how Texas Longhorns + Wienermobiles + Croissants fit together.
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.
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.
Chris Patheiger is an entrepreneur and host of Bell Fibe TV1’s ‘Hogtown BBQ’ food show in Canada. He and his partners founded Uncle Smoke Cookhouse in 2015. Built on the premise of “dining room extension” which uses a combination of traditional catering, events and take-out models in conjunction with third-party technology platforms and sales partnerships. Uncle Smoke’s first Toronto storefront has only nine seats but produces more than a ton of their signature smoked meats every month. Prior to turning his attention to food, Chris was a founding partner of the digital advertising firm Redux Media which was acquired by TC Transcontinental in 2012.
Jerry Preyss has been the Chief Executive Officer at Scoppechio, Inc. since 2014. Jerry served as Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Office at Interbrand Corporation from 2013 to 2014. Jerry served as Senior Vice President of Global Branding & Innovation for Hertz Global Holdings. During his tenure there, he led the redesign of Hertz’s corporate, mobile and tablet websites. Before he worked at Hertz, he served as President of G2 Philadelphia. He has also worked in entrepreneurial, leadership and creative positions at other branding companies, including Doner Advertising and Philips Lighting.
Shemar Pucel is the Director of Franchise Development for sweetFrog Premium Frozen Yogurt, the US’s tastiest and “hoppiest” sefl-serve frozen yogurt franchise. Shemar is responsible for the growth strategy and development for traditional, nontraditional, mobile and conversion franchise opportunities. Prior to her current role, Shemar spent 6 years working in a variety of development roles with another Richmond based franchise firm. There Shemar handled all of the marketing and lead generation tactics for the further development of the firm’s five home based franchise concepts. With sweetFrog, Shemar is responsible for recruiting and awarding territories to individual operators and sophisticated multi-unit, multi-brand franchisees.
President & CEO | Pita Pit
Peter J. Riggs has more than a decade of experience in the franchising business, both as a franchisee and a franchisor. While attending the University of Idaho for his undergraduate degree, he became familiar with Pita Pit when the second U.S. location opened in July 1999. Mr. Riggs then became a Pita Pit franchisee in 2003, was part of the team that took the reins of Pita Pit USA in the spring of 2005, and has since earned his MBA from the University of Idaho. He is active with the International Franchise Association through their Legislative Action Group and Franchise Action Network. Peter also participates locally on the Board of Directors for the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce and the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association.
Senior Director of Franchising | Dippin’ Dots
A franchising veteran of 25 years, Steve Rothenstein 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 Rubin 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.
Nicole Shepard is an Associate Marketing Manager for Dunkin’ Donuts, focusing on beverage innovation. In this role, Nicole is responsible for identifying new opportunities and trends in the beverage landscape, and bringing them to life under Dunkin’s approachable, on-the-go brand strategy. Nicole also manages the marketing elements for the brand’s innovation to market process, spanning across multiple beverage categories like coffee, espresso, tea, frozen beverages and more. Prior to her role in marketing, Nicole spent six years in the Social Media and Public Relations industry, working with a number of national food, nutrition and fashion clients.
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.
Director, Enterprise Solutions | Hughes Network Systems
With a background in both engineering and human/organizational studies, Tim Tang has degrees on both sides of his brain. With over 20 years of professional experience in developing enterprise solutions, Tang is keenly interested in the intersection of technology and humanity. As a director at Hughes, Tang studies various enterprise markets (e.g. Restaurant, Retail, and Banking/Finance) to anticipate trends which will enable enterprise customers to fully unlock the business value of technology.
President | Walk-Ons
Scott Taylor 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.
Brian Unger joined Long John Silver’s in April, 2015 with more than 30 years of experience in the food service industry. His restaurant operations experience began as a Manager Trainee at McDonald’s where he rose to Senior Vice President. He gained extensive leadership experience in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Canada, having led and opened several new countries and markets. After more than 25 years with McDonald’s, he joined the Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. in March 2011 serving as COO, where he worked alongside James O’Reilly. Brian is a former Captain of the United States Marine Corps.
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
Jason Williams is a member at Frost Brown Todd LLC concentrating his practice in corporate law with an emphasis in franchise law. Jason serves as the leader of Frost Brown Todd’s Franchise and Distribution service team. He has substantial experience in the refranchise, divestiture and acquisition of franchise outlets. Jason often works with clients in the development and registration of franchise documents and the navigation of state franchise relationship laws. In addition, Jason has represented franchisee associations in connection with general formation and operational matters. He also has substantial experience in the organization and representation of purchasing cooperatives for national restaurant chains.
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 Woolsey 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.