March 20-22, 2023 | Coral Gables, FL — Early Bird registration ends Dec. 16. Register Now

SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS


Scott Campanella
Chief Operating Officer | Ideation Hospitality
Scott Campanella joined Garces in 2020 as the Chief Operating Officer. Scott brings over 20 years of experience overseeing strategy, operations, retention, acquisition management, and concept development for national brands spanning both coasts. A graduate of Temple University, Scott returned to the Philadelphia area in 2005, where he currently lives with his wife and two children.
Jose Garces
Founder & Chief Culinary Officer | Garces Group
Since opening his first restaurant in 2005, Chef Jose Garces has emerged as one of the nation’s leading chefs and restaurateurs. He is the 2009 winner of the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Mid-Atlantic” award and one of only a few chefs in the country to hold the coveted title of Iron Chef. Chef Garces is the author of The Latin Road Home (Lake Isle Press, October 2012), a culinary and cultural tour of Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, Cuba and Peru, and his debut cookbook, Latin Evolution (Lake Isle Press, Fall 2008).
David Mesa
EVP & Chief Development Officer | Ballard Brands
Mr. David Mesa is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Development officer overseeing the Franchise and Licensing Division for Ballard Brands, LLC. Prior to joining Ballard Brands Mr. Mesa had been with Planet Beach Franchising Corporation since December of 2003 progressively holding more executive roles at the world headquarters than any other executive, most recently serving as their President of Franchise Operations where he was instrumental in their growth from 60 to over 350 locations. Prior to joining Planet Beach, Mr. Mesa served eight years as Director of Business Operations for Allegis Group, the largest privately held staffing company in the United States, Mr. Mesa also served eight years in the United States Marine Corp. as an Air Traffic Controller. In March 2005, he received the designation of Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) by the International Franchising Association for his work and study in the franchise industry and has maintained that designation to date.


PANELISTS & MODERATORS


Ramon Bourgeois
CEO (Acting) & COO | Tony Roma's
Ramon Bourgeois has over 25 years in the restaurant and hospitality industry. He has worked for various restaurant chains as well as airport concessionaires, where he has been responsible of opening restaurants, developing multi-unit operational leaders, training, and domestic/ international business development. During his time in the restaurant industry, he has opened over 100 new restaurants in multiple countries around the world. Starting in 2021, Mr. Bourgeois was named as Chief Executive Officer (Acting) upon completion of the acquisition by Equity Investors of New England, having previously served as the Senior Vice President, Global Franchise of Roma Franchise Corporation, Romacorp, Inc. and Roma Systems, Inc. as of November 2019, and was appointed a Director of Roma Systems, Inc., and Roma Franchise Corporation in January 2020. Previously, Mr. Bourgeois was Vice President, Global Franchise and was the Regional Vice President of Roma Systems, Inc.
Cherryh Cansler
Vice President of Events | Networld Media Group
Before joining Networld Media Group as Vice President of Events, Cherryh Cansler spent several years as VP of Editorial managing the Networld’s nine B2B publications. Throughout her 20-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.
Patrick Conlin
President | Wayback Burgers
Patrick Conlin joined Wayback Burgers in 2017 as a senior vice president and was named president in 2019. Conlin has over 37 years of franchising experience. Since graduating from Rutgers University – Newark in 1985, Conlin has worked as a franchisee, franchise consultant, area developer and franchisor. Conlin believes building a strong relationship with franchisees and providing them with a reliable support system is key to Wayback Burgers’ rapid growth. He relishes any opportunity to work with local franchisees and help them reach their full potential. In his free time, Conlin enjoys spending time with family, friends and watching the New York Giants.
Phil Crawford
Chief Technology Officer | CKE Restaurants
Phil Crawford is the CTO of CKE Restaurants which operates 4,000+ Carl's Jr. and Hardee's QSR restaurants worldwide. Crawford leads CKE’s digital and technology functions and is responsible for building a technology-forward, data-driven company that exceeds consumers' evolving expectations. Crawford has over 20 years of experience in C-Level Technology roles, including Global Chief Technology Officer at Godiva Chocolatier, Chief Information Officer/Head of Technology for Shake Shack, and Yard House Restaurants.
Eric Easton
Chief Financial Officer | Ampex Brands
Eric is chief financial officer for Ampex Brands, a Top 20 Franchisee and owner of approximately 400 franchise locations across YUM! Brands, Long John Silvers, and 7-Eleven. Ampex is also the franchisor for Au Bon Pain the Bakery Café. Eric’s responsibilities include Ampex corporate planning and execution, along with overseeing accounting, finance, human resources and supply chain. Eric has been in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years. He has held progressive roles in finance and operations across privately held, private equity backed and public companies. In these roles, Eric was a key driver for several recapitalization and liquidity events and M&A transactions. This includes participating in the public offering of Ignite Restaurant Group in 2012. While his expertise is in finance, Eric prides himself with the ability to leverage his operations experience to bring a unique perspective to the strategic planning and analysis function.
Andrew Glantz
Founder & CEO | GiftAMeal
Andrew Glantz is the Founder & CEO of GiftAMeal, a cause-marketing platform for restaurants that has provided over 1 million meals to those in need through its novel “food for photos” concept. For each photo shared through GiftAMeal, a meal is donated to a local food bank. An outspoken champion of social entrepreneurship, Glantz began his hunger-fighting venture while still a student at Washington University in St. Louis in 2015. Now with hundreds of partner restaurants across QSR, fast-casual, and full service brands, Glantz and his creation, GiftAMeal, have become recognized as major forces for good by hospitality industry and hunger-relief organizations alike, winning 1st Place at the Global Impact Awards. Glantz lives in St. Louis, where he was named to the Business Journal’s “30 under 30" List and regularly lectures at universities. He serves as Chair for Washington University’s entrepreneurship committee and sits on the Arch Grants Leadership Committee.
Beto Guajardo
President | Focus Brands International
Beto Guajardo was named President of Focus Brands International in early 2020. Beto brings extensive global experience in corporate and brand strategy, new business development, mergers and acquisitions and organizational structure. Over the past three decades, his career has spanned a broad spectrum of industries, including management consulting, global retail, automotive, energy, consumer packaged goods, and media and entertainment. Beto joined Focus Brands from Starbucks Coffee, where he served as Senior Vice President, Global Strategy. Beto built the Global Strategy team that was responsible for developing the company’s five-year strategic plan and operated as a coordinating body, creating and implementing strategies to succeed corporate goals. His teams worked extensively on executing Starbucks Delivery, acquiring technology to power Starbucks CRM, and developing new go-to-market processes to streamline store development innovation.
Betsy Hamm
CEO | Duck Donuts
Betsy Hamm, MBA, oversees the overall direction of the organization and leads the development of the company’s long- and short-term goals and strategic initiatives. She is committed to building and protecting the 100+ unit growing franchise brand by generating awareness and driving revenue. She works alongside her team to identify and provide the necessary tools and resources to ensure franchisees achieve ultimate profitability and success. In her previous role as chief operating officer, she oversaw operations, marketing and business development, focusing on product development and daily operations. Prior to being named chief operation officer, she served as the marketing director. Betsy joined Duck Donuts with 15 years’ experience as the marketing director for Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, a world-class entertainment and hospitality company that owns and operates many of the sweet attractions, resorts, and entertainment venues across Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Blaine Hurst
Advisor | Delish Sisters / Blaine Hurst Enterprises, LLC
Blaine Hurst, retired CEO of Panera Bread, member of the Fast Casual Hall of Fame, four-time Fast Casual Mover and Shaker, author of 8 patents, is one of the highest impact restaurant leaders of recent times, leading two of the largest restaurants in the U.S. Blaine and team Panera were responsible for developing Panera 2.0, the hyper-growth of catering, national delivery, and MyPanera, the largest loyalty program in the US. As President of Papa John’s in the 90’s, he oversaw its growth from 450 stores to nearly 3,000, developing the first nationally available online ordering platform in 1998. Today, Blaine's passion is the employment and care for people with intellectual disabilities. He investor/advisor for the Delish Sisters restaurant and Shepherd Hotel in Clemson, SC that has partnered with ClemsonLIFE in the employment of people with special abilities. He is an active Executive Board Member of Hero Bread, an ultra-low net carb bread products company, now an Amazon top-seller.
Blake Johnson
VP of Marketing | Mongolian Concepts
Blake Johnson returned to Mongolian Concepts in January 2022, where he previously led marketing efforts for the Genghis Grill brand. Johnson has more than 15 years of experience in the industry in both marketing and operations roles, including with Dallas-based chains El Fenix and Snuffer’s, and more recently leading digital marketing at Newk’s Eatery.
Sean Kennedy
President & CEO | Cowboy Chicken
As president and CEO, Sean Kennedy has been instrumental in establishing Cowboy Chicken as the premium fast casual restaurant brand that pioneered wood-fired rotisserie chicken. Sean has worked to refine the menu, build operational systems, grow system-wide sales and strengthen store financial performance. He launched Cowboy Chicken’s franchise program that helped to pave the way for today’s national expansion and has built a strong corporate team to support franchise development, real estate, construction, training, marketing and franchise support efforts. During his leadership, the brand has been included in Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers & Shakers list every year since 2011 and in 2017 won the Emerging Chain of the Year award from Restaurant Business.
Yianni Kosmides
CEO | Apola Greek Grill
Yianni Kosmides is the Founder & CEO at Apola International. 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. It’s best known for serving the ‘Most Authentic Greek Gyro you can get without buying a plane ticket!’ Despite having only two family-owned locations in Irvine and Yorba Linda, Calif., Apóla was ranked No. 5 on Fast Casual’s “Brands to Watch” in 2021. The Kosmides Family has been in the restaurant business since 1977 and has founded nine other restaurant brands.
Brady Lee
Chief Operating Officer | President | United Franchise Group | Graze Craze
Brady Lee, Chief Operating Officer of United Franchise Group™ (UFG) and President of Graze Craze®, has not only grown up in the franchising industry, but has built his career by building brands. Prior to his current position, Brady was President of Accurate Franchising Inc.™ (AFI), Vice President of UFG’s Franchise Development department and Director of Sales for UFG in Australia. In his current dual role, he influences operational integrity for all brands in the UFG affiliated community and advances the sound operational foundation of Graze Craze while leading the popular new franchise through expeditious growth.
Claudia Lezcano
CEO | Fuku
With more than 25 years of marketing experience for major brands, Claudia Lezcano most recently worked at Church’s Texas Chicken where served as Senior Vice President of US Marketing. Before Church’s, Lezcano held top marketing positions at Celebrity Cruises, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, and the MLB’s Miami Marlins. Her extensive QSR and restaurant experience also includes eight years at Burger King Corporation, where she led strategy and marketing communications for the then $3 billion company.
Steve Lieber
VP Franchise Business Development | BurgerFi
Steve Lieber is an expert in designing restaurant concepts, the art of pizza making and is a certified pizzaiolo from Italy. As Vice President of Franchise Development, Steve leads the team who sold over 150 franchises to over 50 franchise groups. His team has sold franchises in 20+ states and international deals in Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our teams built systemwide restaurant sales of $100+ million USD in under 5 years. Steve was on opening restaurant teams for 10+ states in the United States. He taught franchisees recruiting techniques, training and operating systems, professionalism, food ordering and preparation, inventory controls, labor controls, local store marketing to increase sales and profitability of all locations.
Anissa Mandell-Chance
SVP, Supply Chain | Focus Brands
Anissa Mandell-Chance joined Focus Brands in 2011 and brings over 30 years in the hospitality industry and experience across various supply chain and operations roles. As Senior Vice President of Supply Chain for Focus Brands, she is responsible for the strategic planning framework for supply chain, distribution, logistics, and quality assurance functions and oversees planning and directing all aspects of policies, objectives, and initiatives for the supply chain function for the Company's family of brands. During her tenure with Focus, Anissa has successfully navigated the complexity of working with cross-functional brand teams to drive results and ensure adaptable and scalable solutions for all seven brands. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the National Restaurant Association Supply Chain Expert Exchange Board and is an active member of the Women's Foodservice Forum.
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.
Stacy Moss
Director of Brand Marketing | Noodles & Company
Rachael Nemeth
CEO & Founder | Opus Training
Rachael Nemeth is the CEO and Co-Founder of Opus, a mobile learning platform that helps employers engage and train their "deskless" workforce. Her background combines decades of experience in the service industry, instructional design, and second language acquisition. Before Opus, she worked for Danny Meyer's, Union Square Hospitality Group, Baked, and Hot Bread Kitchen, an NGO that teaches baking skills to underrepresented women. Her first company, ESL Works, brought industry-relevant English training to New York City kitchens. Rachael is an alum of The New School and is from Kansas City (the Kansas side, if you're wondering).
Bill Phelps
CEO | Dave's Hot Chicken
Bill Phelps got his start as a brand marketer at Nestle in the early nineties. Since then, he’s pulled off a franchising hat trick by being involved with the creation of three great brands: Wetzel’s Pretzels, Blaze Pizza, and now Dave’s Hot Chicken. Bill’s specialty is building and scaling great franchise brands. In 1994, he founded Wetzel’s Pretzel’s with his business partner, Rick Wetzel, and was the CEO of Wetzel’s for 26 years growing it to over 300 locations. Bill is currently the CEO of Dave’s Hot Chicken, which started as a parking lot pop up just five years ago and now has nearly 100 restaurants open, with many more in development. In addition to Wetzel’s and Dave’s, Bill was also one of the founding investors that started Blaze Pizza 10 years ago.
Jason Pierret
Vice President, Business Development | UMI
Jason Pierret has over 20 years’ experience helping multi-location and franchise brands effectively market across all locations. A strategic thinker, Jason has a talent for seeing the big picture and communicating in a way that’s relatable and authentic. He’s currently VP of Business Development for UMI Marketing Solutions, a full-service marketing operations partner for fast growing multi-location brands across QSR, and Fast Casual, as well as many other franchise service and retail verticals. As the head of sales and marketing, he brings UMI’s years of expertise on national rollouts, local store marketing and trade area growth to nationally recognized brands like Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Bagel Brands, and Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. Jason is a husband, and a father to two amazing kids, enjoys time with his family outdoors and is an avid distance runner.
Olga Sagan
Owner | Piroshky Piroshky
Olga Sagan is the sole owner of the nationally renowned Piroshky Piroshky. Founded in Seattle's historic Pike Place Market, Piroshky Piroshky has offered hand-crafted pies to loyal fans since 1992. An immigrant from Russia, Olga arrived in America when she was sixteen. Since then, she has faced challenges overcoming language barriers and learning to navigate what it means to be a woman in a leadership role, which was not encouraged in her home country. In 2006, she became part of Piroshky Piroshky leadership and took complete ownership in 2017. Under Olga's leadership, the bakery has grown to four locations and a food truck, teamed up with iconic Northwest businesses such as Field Roast, Uli's Famous Sausages, Mondo & Sons, and Tillamook Creamery, and introduced a vegan-friendly line of pies as well. Passionate about leadership, Olga received her SHRM certification in 2018 and was picked by Puget Sound Business Journal as a small business hero in 2019.
Desi Saran
Founder & CEO | Sweetberry
Desi Saran is the Founder and CEO of Sweetberry, a National Healthy Fast Casual Chain specializing in Acai Bowls, Poke Bowls, Smoothies, and Wraps. Sweetberry has been recognized by FastCasual.com and Entrepreneur.com as 2020's hottest startup fast casuals, 2019 Franchises of the Future, and 2020 Top 100 Movers & Shakers. Desi has an expertise in restaurant software and technology and has spoken on topics involving ghost kitchens, POS Inttegrations, and third party delivery.
Mike Sebazco
President | Famous Toastery
Chris Smith
Owner | Zunzi’s and Zunzibar
Chris Smith, owner of Zunzi’s and Zunzibar, has never been one to put off until tomorrow what can be done today. It’s that drive that led him to become a Five Guys franchisee while still in college, going on to open seven locations within eight years. And it’s that same spirit that, upon his first visit to the Savannah sandwich shop Zunzi’s in 2008, drove him to declare that he would one day own the restaurant—a goal he eventually realized in 2014. Smith quickly refined the Zunzi’s concept, narrowing its wide-reaching menu to home in on its South African influences. And as he set about planning an Atlanta location to showcase a new focus on fast casual dining in a fun and energetic atmosphere, he also set his sights on what he sees as a key part of Zunzi’s future success—a company culture founded on the principles of positivity, inspiration and community outreach. In 2021, Zunzi’s relocated its original Savannah location and added Zunzibar, its sister beach-bar concept, creating a model for where Smith aims to take the company next.
Laura Sporrer
Senior Marketing Manager | Teriyaki Madness
Laura Sporrer paved her intern-to-innovator career path in the industry starting 15 years ago. Currently Sr. Marketing Manager at Teriyaki Madness, Laura has driven success with brands like Quizno’s and HuHot Mongolian Grill, managing franchise marketing, campus, airport and other non-trad development, FDD management, market development and planning, public relations, and local shop marketing strategy and management. Always bringing a keen, creative eye, Laura’s current ambitions include employing nimble strategies that adapt to the current climate for Teriyaki Madness, recently named the nation’s fastest-growing restaurant chain by Restaurant Business.
Thomas Stager
President | Krystal
Thomas Stager is President for Krystal Restaurants, LLC, the original quick service restaurant chain in the South. An accomplished expert in operational turnaround, expansion and rejuvenating brands, Stager joined Krystal in 2020 to help lead the brand into its future under new ownership. The company has aggressive expansion plans in place and with his hands-on, results-oriented leadership style, Stager is developing the performance teams necessary to accomplish these goals, while building a solid corporate culture that is supported by Krystal’s U.N.I.T.E.D. philosophy. Stager is also Chief Executive Officer at GC Pizza Hut and Partner of Golden Child Holdings. In 2019 under his leadership, GC Pizza Hut experienced a historic turnaround. Throughout his 35+ year career, Thomas Stager has served in C-suite and executive level roles, including Stager LLC - Next Level Training and Jakked Dragon - CrossFit.
Matt Stanton
Partner & Chief Growth Officer | Mici Italian
Matt Stanton has been Partner and Chief Growth Officer at Mici Italian since 2021. He leads the company’s corporate and franchise growth throughout the U.S., focusing on long-term success by selecting exceptional and motivated franchisees, while securing optimized real estate. Prior to Mici, Matt led the growth efforts for WellBiz Brands, Inc. and their 800+ unit portfolio of brands which include: Drybar, Elements Massage, Amazing Lash, Radiant Waxing, and Fitness Together. Matt also led the growth efforts for Smashburger, where he played a vital role in building the chain from <100 units in 2011 to over 350 units by 2016 in 36 states and eight countries. Prior to these roles, he was a Consultant with Bain & Company focused on growth strategy across a variety of industries. Matt earned his B.A. in Chemistry from Bowdoin College, his M.A. in Analytical Chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin, and his MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
Andrew Sternburg
Chief Development Officer, Americas | Gong cha
Andrew Sternburg earned an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston while working full-time for Dunkin’ Brands. At Dunkin’, where Andrew spent more than 25 years of his career, he demonstrated tremendous versatility by holding nine different positions across a variety of disciplines including finance, business development, real estate, and franchise sales. In 2017, the company acknowledged his outstanding performance with a Franchising and Development Strategy Award of Excellence and the prestigious Standing Ovation award, given only to “the most exemplary employees.” Of his time there, he is most proud of the relationships he developed, not only with fellow employees but also Dunkin’ franchisees, whose success was his number one priority. Andrew is thrilled to be a part of the Gong cha team, where, as Chief Development Officer, he is responsible for the recruitment and development of master franchisees for the U.S. Beyond that, he works closely with the CEO and rest of the executive team on all aspects of the business.
Heidi Stirkkinen
CEO | Kotipizza Group Oy
Heidi Stirkkinen joined Kotipizza – with more than 300 restaurants, the largest pizza chain in the Nordic countries – in 2017 as COO and was appointed CEO in October 2021. Having previously served in C-level positions in leading Finnish consumer goods companies, she has put her expertise in marketing and strategic leadership into good use, guiding the chain through a period of rapid growth and helping it thrive even during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under Heidi’s leadership, Kotipizza has continued its award-winning work in sustainability and building a strong customer experience, while also introducing a new emphasis in online services and delivery. Most recently, Kotipizza has garnered international attention with its groundbreaking dynamic pricing model which has boosted deliveries and franchisees’ profits. In addition to her position at Kotipizza, Heidi has also chaired the Finnish Franchising Association since January 2022.
Neil Thompson
VP, Digital | HMS Host
Neil Thompson is Vice President, Digital for HMSHost, a global restaurateur and world leader in delivering innovative dining solutions in travel venues. HMSHost operates locations all over North America, and is part of Autogrill Group, the world’s leading provider of food & beverage services for people on the move. Neil joined HMSHost in 2012 as Vice President, Canada. In this position, he was responsible for the company’s operations in Canadian airports and motorways. In 2020, Neil was appointed Vice President, Digital and is responsible for overseeing the company’s digital strategy and vision. Prior to joining HMSHost, Neil worked as an executive for some of Canada’s most recognizable restaurant brands including Tim Hortons. Neil holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto, and his passion for food led him to attain a Culinary Arts Certificate from George Brown College. He also completed the Hospitality Managers’ Development Course at University of Guelph.
Ray Titus
CEO | United Franchise Group
Twice, Ray Titus has received the prestigious “E” Award, the U.S. President’s highest recognition for significant contributions in expanding U.S. exports. That export was the enterprise of franchising. In 1986 Ray founded Signarama®, growing it into the leading sign franchise in the world, laying the foundation for what has become United Franchise Group (UFG). Today UFG is affiliated with many of the most recognized brands within multiple industries, from promotional products to coworking. Ray’s commitment to franchising led to the establishment of the Titus Center for Franchising, at Palm Beach Atlantic University, the first university center of its kind. His philosophies on growth, positive attitude, and family, influence the core values that have driven success within the brands he has developed from conception to international expansion.
Jason Valentine
Chief Strategy Officer | Botrista Technology
Having worked in the industry for more than 25 years, Jason Valentine has experienced every aspect of the restaurant industry. In the summer of 2022, Jason joined Botrista Technology as Chief Strategy Officer. Most recently, he was the President of Zoup! Eatery and exited after completing a successful acquisition plan. Jason has a deep understanding of the restaurant industry from the perspective of both franchisee and franchisor, and his experiences are now being applied to help brands implement DrinkBots, which enables brands to add craft beverages to their menu without operational complexities. Botrista DrinkBots automate the portioning, dispensing and mixing process using algorithmic dispensing to deliver a fresh and consistently blended drink in under 20 seconds.
Charles Watson
CEO | Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Charles Watson was named CEO in December 2018. In this role, he is responsible for the brand’s strategic vision and overall franchise performance. He was previously Tropical Smoothie Cafe's Chief Development Officer since 2016 after serving as VP of Franchise Development since 2010. In these roles, Charles was responsible for all development of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand. A veteran hospitality professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc. and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia.
Samir Wattar
COO | Layne’s Chicken Fingers
Samir Wattar is a veteran of the restaurant industry with 30+ years experience in restaurant operations and management with established high growth and start up companies. Samir is progressive, decisive, innovative and is highly valued for expertise in interpreting corporate vision and strategy, translating objectives into actionable plans, and providing leadership to multi-functional, cross cultural teams. His past roles include Senior Director of Operations at Pollo Campero, Vice President of Franchise Development & Supply Chain at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes, Vice President of Supply Chain at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and currently the Chief Operating Officer at Layne’s Chicken Fingers.


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