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General Session / Tuesday / March 26, 2024 / 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. This session will definitely be worth staying until the end of the Summit.


Sara Carhart | Vice President of Operations | SPIN! Pizza
Sara Carhart is a seasoned professional with an impressive track record spanning over 25 years in the restaurant industry. Before holding the esteemed Vice President of Operations role at SPIN! Pizza, she spent several years opening franchise locations for the company. In her role, Sara Carhart stands as an embodiment of operational excellence with authentic, people-centric leadership. Her leadership revolves around empowerment. Sara’s career is characterized by her dedication to people and resolute commitment to nurturing their growth and achieving success. Her passion for her craft extends well beyond culinary arts and business strategies; it resides in the authentic connections she forges with individuals, both within her organization and beyond its borders. Firmly rooted in her belief that people are the cornerstone of any venture, Sara has dedicated herself to positively impacting the lives she encounters.
Geoff Henry | President of the Americas | Gong cha
Geoff Henry is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of experience leading many of the world’s most recognized consumer brands, including Jamba, Coca-Cola, Dasani, Dunkin’ bottled coffee, and Gold Peak and Honest teas. Geoff joined Gong cha in 2023 as President of the Americas region. Under his leadership, Gong cha grew its U.S. store count by 19% YOY, and was ranked #1 in Tea on Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500® list. Prior to joining Gong cha, Geoff was President of Jamba, and a senior executive with Coca-Cola for twelve years, where he oversaw their portfolio of water, tea, and coffee brands.
Troy Hooper | CEO | Hot Palette Holdings
Troy Hooper joined Pepper Lunch as one of the three global business unit CEO’s for the brand, and oversees Pepper Lunch’s parent company in North America, Hot Palette America. Troy brings 30 years of unparalleled experience in hospitality, operations management and executive leadership to this role, which has fueled Pepper Lunch’s infrastructure development, growth efforts, and brand deliverables, creating a fruitful franchise model for the North American market. Throughout his career, Troy has successfully built new concepts, rebranded existing restaurants, and improved well-established venues for iconic brands. Troy’s decades of experience and business acumen brings a breadth of knowledge to the rapidly growing global brand, Pepper Lunch.
Josh Kern | CEO | SPB Hospitality
Josh Kern is Chief Executive Officer of SPB Hospitality, a leading operator and franchisor of full-service dining restaurants, spanning a national footprint of hundreds of restaurants and breweries in 39 states and the District of Columbia. He is a passionate leader with a track record of creating powerful and high-performing marketing and business teams across a variety of brands and channels. He is a decisive and skilled leader, exceptional innovator, and brand builder. Josh served as the President of Concepts of SPB Hospitality, overseeing marketing, culinary, beverage, supply chain, and information technology. He has previously held leadership positions with several successful restaurant groups including Quiznos, American Blue-Ribbon Holdings, Smashburger, and Cerca Trova Restaurant Concepts.
Rob McColgan | Brand President and Co-Founder | Modern Market Eatery
Rob McColgan is the Brand President of Modern Market Eatery and Co-founder of Modern Restaurant Concepts. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Notre Dame in 2002 with degrees in Finance and Film and then spent six years in New York with Goldman Sachs. Rob left Wall Street in 2008 to co-found Modern Market Eatery, a restaurant company focused on serving healthy fare in a fast casual setting. Since opening its first location in Boulder, Colorado in late 2009, Modern Market Eatery has grown to 30 locations around the country. In early 2019, Modern Market Eatery partnered with Lemonade Restaurant Group to form Modern Restaurant Concepts. In 2022, Qdoba Mexican Eats was added to the MRC portfolio which now encompasses almost 800 restaurants. Rob lives with his wife, son, daughter, and dog Bacon in Englewood, Colorado.

Joleen Hodits | Franchise Restaurant Specialist | Square
With over five years of experience at Square as Franchise Restaurant Specialist and over a decade experience in B2B sales, Joleen Hodits has been privileged to contribute to a mission-driven company that believes in fostering economic accessibility and growth for all. Throughout her tenure at Square, their strategy has remained steadfast, centered around key themes of upmarket expansion, omnichannel integration, global reach, and the integration of automation through AI. During her time at Square, she also pursued entrepreneurship by owning a bar and a food truck. This firsthand experience provided invaluable insights into the challenges faced by small businesses, further fueling her passion for Square's mission. Understanding the needs and realities of entrepreneurs on a personal level has enhanced her ability to contribute effectively to Square's endeavors in empowering businesses worldwide. By focusing on these pillars, Joleen is committed to supporting sellers of all sizes in their journey to success.
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