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Breakout Session / Tuesday / March 21, 2023 / 9:30 AM

Design Disruption: Streamlining Your FoH and BoH to Cut Costs

As restaurants battle labor and supply shortages, they are leaning on technology to increase efficiency and cut costs, which often leads to remodeling plans. Speakers in this session talk about their recent redesigns.


Alonso Castañeda | VP of Brand Development & Strategy | Savory Restaurant Fund
Alonso Castañeda is VP of Brand Development & Strategy at Savory Restaurant Fund, an arm of Mercato Partners that focuses on delivering outsized returns through strategic growth and replication strategies. He leads the strategic oversight of brand initiatives, brand campaigns, and implementation of customer-facing systems that enhance the experience for their fast-growing consumer-facing brands. During his career, he has specialized in taking fast casual and polished casual food and beverage concepts and scaling them into 50-unit+ powerhouse brands.
Yianni Kosmides | CEO | Apola Greek Grill
Yianni Kosmides is the Co-Founder & CEO at Apóla Greek Grill. Founded by brothers Yianni and Stefano Kosmides in Irvine, California, the fast-casual brand has gained a loyal following throughout SoCal for its fresh ingredients and familiar vibe. The two come from a Greek family that has been in the restaurant business since 1977. The Kosmides Family has founded nine other restaurant brands totaling well over 30 locations over the years. The first Apóla Greek Grill opened in Irvine, California in 2017. Two years later the family opened their second location in Yorba Linda, California. In 2020, the brand not only survived the Covid-19 pandemic but came back stronger than before with increased sales and growth in revenue. Buoyed by its post-pandemic success, Apóla soon announced that franchising opportunities were available. Apóla Greek Grill was also ranked 5th in Fast Casual’s “Best Brands to Watch” in 2021. In 2022, Apóla opened its first franchise location in Riverside, California.
Mark Mele | Chief Development Officer | Paris Baguette America
Mark Mele has over 30 years of leadership experience building and guiding franchise brands. Mele has achieved the Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) designation from the Institute of Certified Franchise Executives (ICFE) through the International Franchise Association. As an accomplished corporate franchise sales and development strategist, Mele’s vision and expertise in business performance has driven notable franchise brands such as Century 21 Real Estate Corporation, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, Retro Fitness, Kumon North America and Huntington Learning Centers. Mele has achieved exciting company turnarounds and is recognized for his success in growing franchise brands. His strategic approach to expanding a franchise brand is reflected in his work as Vice President of Franchise Development of Kumon North America, Inc., where his leadership resulted in the opening of over 500 new franchised Kumon Math and Reading centers in 4 years.
Johnny Tellez | VP of Operations & Training | Focus Brands International
Johnny Tellez, Vice President of Operations & Training for Focus Brands International, is responsible for advancing the level of operational management, guidance and support provided to franchisees across the globe. The Customer Experience Center of Excellence (CECE) is a centralized coaching center based in Costa Rica where extensively trained brand coaches conduct operational reviews across all time zones and languages. Johnny can share how the CECE offers exceptional support for franchisees and store operators in an increasingly virtual world.

Robert Taylor | EVP & Managing Director | QikServe
Robert Taylor is the Executive Vice President and Managing Director of QikServe. QikServe powers digital ordering and payment solutions for over 5,000 restaurant operations in 30 countries around the world. QikServe has a broad customer portfolio that includes restaurants, theatres, hotels, education, and athletic stadiums. Rob has over 15 years experience in restaurant digital ordering and 30 years of executive leadership experience in both startup and large-scale enterprise businesses. Rob served as Founder and CEO of Splick-it, of which he and his team grew the company from inception to an industry leader that processed more than $1billion of off-premises restaurant sales. In 2016, under Rob’s leadership, Splick-it acquired its competitor, Onosys, to further strengthen the company’s market position and expand its product offering. Rob served as CEO of the combined company. Prior to Splick-it, Rob also served in a variety of executive leadership roles in the financial services business with such notable companies as Smith Barney, Paine Webber, and EF Hutton.
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