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March 30 – April 1, 2022 | Nashville — Early Bird pricing ends December 10, 2021. Sign up today!

2022 SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Carl Howard

President & CEO | Fazoli’s

As a talented and seasoned industry executive, Carl Howard has led multiple brands through successful turnarounds – most recently, Fazoli’s. During his 13-year tenure as Chief Executive Officer of America’s largest premium Italian QSR chain, he launched Fazoli’s into the future with the systematic implementation of a full brand revamp. His areas of focus have included culinary innovation, menu re-engineering, brand reimagination and the expansion of off-premise sales through catering programs, third-party delivery, online ordering and innovative technology. Carl also led an aggressive franchise development initiative to grow the brand in expanded and pioneer markets. He invigorated Fazoli’s with game changing solutions that have fundamentally impacted sales and the guest experience.

Andy Wiederhorn

President & CEO | FAT Brands

Andy Wiederhorn is President and Chief Executive Officer of FAT Brands Inc., a global franchising company that acquires, markets, and develops fast casual, quick service, casual dining, and polished casual dining concepts around the world. Andy made his first restaurant acquisition in 2003 with Fatburger when the brand had only 40 corporate and franchise owned stores. As he expanded Fatburger’s global footprint, he acquired Buffalo’s Cafe in 2011 and Ponderosa and Bonanza Steakhouses in 2017 before taking FAT Brands public on the NASDAQ. With the recent pandemic-era acquisitions of Johnny Rockets, Global Franchise Group and Twin Peaks, FAT Brands’ portfolio now features fifteen restaurant concepts with more than 2,100 locations worldwide.

PANELISTS & MODERATORS

Adenah Bayoh

Founder | Cornbread

Adenah Bayoh embodies the American dream. She is now one of the most successful entrepreneurs in NJ. Inspired by her grandmother, she is now the owner of 7 restaurants which include 4 IHOP franchises, Cornbread her 1st independent fast casual, soul food restaurant, co-founded w/ fellow entrepreneur, Zadie B. Smith. She currently has two locations in NJ and one opening soon in NY. Adenah’s mission is bringing high quality food & services to urban communities, in July she launched her latest restaurant concept, Urban Vegan, downtown Newark. Adenah is also a very successful real estate developer with a portfolio of several major residential and mixed-use urban redevelopment projects across northern NJ.

Liz Bazner

Director of Digital | A&W Restaurants

Liz Bazner is a self-proclaimed foodie who currently serves as Director of Digital 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.

Marc Bourne

Director, Background Screening Services | FSSolutions

With over 20 years of experience in the background screening industry, Marc Bourne is considered a subject matter expert in the areas of FCRA Compliance, Background Checks and Employment Screening. He is one of the founding members of the Professional Background Screening Association and is currently FCRA Advanced Certified. Marc is a Board-Certified Cyber Intelligence Professional and a Nationally Recognized Private Investigator licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. He has been featured on a variety of national print, web and television media outlets for his expertise in background screening and investigations.

Jason Breazeale

Director, Architecture & Innovation | Denny’s

Jason Breazeale spent the first 17 years of his career in various technology positions at large food retailers across the eastern US. He provided thought leadership for the early adoptions of virtualization, mobile devices, and enterprise data science. At one large global retailer, he built from the ground up an innovation practice for the incubation of emerging and mobile technologies that changed the way customers shop with augmented reality, mobile applications, and a patented frictionless checkout solution. Since moving to the restaurant and hospitality industry, he is driving an innovation culture with key initiatives towards Cloud based POS, progressive mobile evolution and frictionless curbside, and next generation service platform offerings for Denny’s and its franchisees.

Kristen Briede

VP of International & Global Brands | P.F. Chang’s

Speaker bio coming soon!

Cherryh Cansler

VP 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 company’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.

Rob Carpenter

CEO & Founder | Valyant AI

Rob Carpenter is the CEO and Founder of Valyant AI, the first Artificially Intelligent “Digital Employee” to work directly alongside employees in customer facing roles. Valyant’s AI “Holly” works in quick-serve-restaurants to greet customers at the drive-thru post, answer questions and take food orders. Rob has a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Enterprise Technology Management. He was named one of the top 25 most influential young professionals in Colorado by ColoradoBiz Magazine in 2013 and received the Denver Trailblazer award in 2016. Valyant AI was awarded the Modern Retail Awards’ Best In-Store Tech in 2019 and in 2020 received the ICX Association’s Best Emerging Technology award.

Dave Craig

Vice President, Human Resources | Fazoli’s

Speaker bio coming soon!

Phil Crawford

Chief Technology Officer | CKE Restaurants

Phil Crawford is currently the CTO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s which operates 4000+ 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 rolls. Previous he has served as Global Chief Technology Officer at Godiva Chocolatier, Inc. Prior to that, he served as Chief Information Officer/Head of Technology for Shake Shack, Inc. and Yard House Restaurants, Inc.

Rafik Farouk

Sr. Director of Global Business Development | PF Changs

Rafik Farouk is the senior director of Global Business Development for P.F. Chang’s. In his role with the international Asian culinary brand, he helps guide international growth strategy and oversees expansion of a company that has more than 300 restaurants in 23 countries and U.S. airport locations. Prior to P.F. Chang’s Rafik served as the Senior Director of Development and Operations at Bloomin’ Brands Inc., where he managed the international franchisees’ development and supported of the global operations as part of the Global Development Team. During his tenure with Bloomin’ Brands, he worked to launch the Aussie Grill by Outback, the first fast-casual concept in company history.

Tom Gordon

CEO | Slim Chickens

Providing personal and tailored support for franchisees in a rapidly-growing system, cofounder and Slim Chickens CEO is the driving leader behind the brand’s goal to have a 600 unit footprint in the next ten years, and unlike many brands that release large growth numbers, Tom Gordon is leading the team in a manner that makes this goal more attainable with each passing month. Tom & co-founder Greg Smart concocted the idea for the fast-casual chicken concept in Greg Smart’s garage, focusing not on the cost of the food but the quality. Focusing solely on chicken, Slim Chickens has seen accelerated growth backed by a commitment to serve traditional Southern hospitality within its communities.

Josh Halpern

CEO | Big Chicken

Josh Halpern is the Chief Executive Officer for Big Chicken. Josh is a dynamic, partnership-focused, thought leader with a robust career in streamlining efficiency, driving innovation, building diverse engaged teams, and growing economic results across the CPG, retail, and restaurant verticals. Most recently, Josh served as the Chief Sales Officer for FIFCO USA, the 8th largest US brewing company, where he was responsible for commercial operations and building top and bottom-line results for Off-Premise, On-Premise, and company-owned brewpubs. Prior, Josh led the Anheuser-Busch InBev, On-Premise and Small Format channels in the US, and Shopper Marketing globally.

Blaine Hurst

Retired Vice Chairman & CEO | Panera Bread

Blaine Hurst, retired Vice Chairman and CEO of Panera Bread, four-time Fast Casual Mover and Shaker, is one of highest impact leaders of recent times, leading two of the largest restaurants in the U.S. He led the team Panera 2.0 team, revolutionizing the guest experience, adding delivery before any non-pizza chain, scaling catering to be the largest, building MyPanera, the largest loyalty program in the industry. President of Papa John’s in the 90’s, growing from 450 stores to nearly 3,000 in US and 9 international markets. And in 1998, rolling out the first online ordering system available nationwide.

Claiborne Irby

SVP, Customer Engagement & Strategy | Focus Brands

Claiborne Irby joined Focus Brands in March 2020 and brings 15 years’ experience in the hospitality, retail and financial industries. As SVP of Customer Engagement and Strategy, he leads the company’s Insights and Strategy team to leverage data analytics and guest feedback to generate value and loyalty among customers while improving business performance for franchisees and investors. Claiborne comes to Focus Brands from the Crew Research Group where he worked with both major and independent hotel chains, as well as other hospitality clients to better understand their customers, optimize their competitive positioning and deliver engaging branded experiences. Previously, he spent seven years at Hilton Worldwide leading global brand and portfolio strategy for all 16 brands.

Stacey Kane

Restaurant Marketing Consultant

Stacey Kane has more than 25 years of experience working with multi-unit restaurant chains as a Head of Marketing and Marketing Consultant. She has worked with such brands as California Tortilla, Think Food Group, Subway and East Coast Wings. Known for her incredible creativity and obsession with data she was one of the pioneers of using social media in the restaurant space and was named a Top 20 Movers and Shakers by Fast Casual Magazine three times. Currently, Stacey is a fractional CMO for several fast casual brands including and works as a marketing consultant for CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees a non-profit that serves food and beverage employees with children.

Drew Kellogg

CEO | Oath Pizza

Drew Kellogg is the CEO of Oath Pizza. Originally from Seattle, Drew attended the United States Naval Academy and served overseas before earning his MBA from Johns Hopkins University. After working as a financial advisor for various national medical companies, Drew returned to operational leadership at Chipotle Mexican Grill in 2008. Drew served as the Executive Team Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for nearly a decade, leading all operational, financial and team developments for over 300 restaurants and 7,000 employees. Drew joined Oath Pizza in 2018, and brought his years of executive leadership experience to the rapidly evolving company. Drew now drives Oath Pizza’s strategic vision with his purpose-driven and talented team.

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.

Andrew Koumi

Owner | Green Market Cafe

Speaker bio coming soon!

Carrie Martin

VP of Operations Services | Mr Brews Taphouse

As Vice President of Operations Services for Mr Brews Taphouse, Carrie Martin brings over 30 years of restaurant experience to the rapidly growing franchise brand. Prior to joining Mr Brews in 2019, Carrie served as Director of Training for bd’s Mongolian Grill for 15 years accumulating a variety of different responsibilities under her leadership including HR, R&D and operations. Early on in her career, the Michigan State University Hospitality Business School grad also worked for Ruby Tuesdays and a T.G.I Fridays Franchise Group based in Phoenix, AZ. In her current role with Mr Brews, Carrie leads the charge helping develop and oversee training and operations for all 16 Mr Brews Taphouse locations.

Diane Matheson

VP of Marketing | Wings and Rings

Diane Matheson’s experience has taught her the importance of a relevant and differentiated brand. As Vice President of Marketing, Diane leads the brand management and marketing team, brining extensive background in brand, consumer and design strategy. Prior to Wings and Rings, Diane served as Brand Director at LPK, a global brand design agency, where she led the restage of some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Pantene, Oil of Olay and Herbal Essences. Diane holds dual degrees in Marketing and Commercial Arts. She joined Wings and Rings in July of 2014.

Rob McColgan

Co-Founder & CEO | Modern Restaurant Concepts

Rob McColgan is a founder and CEO of Modern Restaurant Concepts, a national, multi-concept restaurant platform with a vision to create a world where high-quality, nourishing food is as convenient as fast food. Rob 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. In 2019, Modern Market merged with Lemonade Restaurant Group to create Modern Restaurant Concepts. Leveraging best-in-class technology, sustainable supply chain and a culinary-first operating model, MRC is curating and scaling the restaurant platform of the future.

Michael Mohammed

CEO | Chronic Tacos

Michael Mohammed is the Chief Executive Officer and President at Chronic Tacos Enterprises Inc. where he oversees the strategic vision of the fast-casual Mexican restaurant brand. Michael is extremely passionate about the Chronic Tacos brand, purpose and commitment to living the #tacolife. Encompassing authentic, 3rd generation recipes and the individuality of each customer, Chronic Tacos has established itself as a bold force in the restaurant industry. Michael has since led the development of Chronic Tacos into over 60 locations across the United States, Canada and Japan. Combining his business experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Michael continues to pilot the brand to success and rapid growth.

Kyle Noonan

Owner & CEO | Free Range Concepts

Kyle Noonan is an American entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, and creative tastemaker. First known as an entrepreneur who grew his hospitality and entertainment company to a $50mm company in five short years and is on pace to eclipse $100mm in revenue by his eighth year. Not only has Kyle quickly emerged as an innovative entrepreneur and respected speaker, but he has been recognized as an engaging media personality appearing in national outlets such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Bravo, ESPN, FoodNetwork, Travel Channel, Food & Wine Magazine, New York Times, WallStreet Journal, and many more. Kyle has been described “as innovative as he is engaging” by the New York Times.

Zack Oates

Founder & CEO | Ovation

Zack Oates is an author, husband, father, entrepreneur, and hot tub aficionado (but not in that order, necessarily). He grew up in restaurants before getting into startups. He was voted Top 100 Entrepreneurs, rang the NASDAQ bell, won the world’s biggest business competition, been to 50 countries, and started 3 companies. He went on over 1,000 dates before he got married and wrote a book, Dating Never Works…Until it Does. He currently is Founder and CEO of Ovation, the #1 restaurant feedback platform in America.

Amy Ohde

Executive Director, Launch Support | Chick-fil-A

Amy Ohde is the Executive Director of Launch Support at Chick-fil-A. In this role, she sets the overall strategy to ensure the successful launch of high-performing leaders and thriving business opportunities at Chick-fil-A. She and her team are responsible for leading Company Operated Restaurants, domestic & international openings of Chick-fil-A Restaurants, Chick-fil-A’s Leadership Development Program as well as Chick-fil-A’s Field Talent (3-4,000 trainers across the country). Prior to this role, Amy led the reorganization of Chick-fil-A’s consulting model, which is the vehicle in which Operators receive direct support from the corporate staff.

CJ Ramirez

EVP & Marketing Director | Dog Haus

As EVP of Marketing at Dog Haus, C.J. Ramirez plays a vital role in driving brand innovation and marketing strategy. Since joining the team in 2013, he implemented marketing and branding campaigns that have directly impacted Dog Haus becoming one of the hottest emerging brands in the restaurant industry. Since opening, the brand now boasts more than 50 locations across the country. As an industry veteran, C.J. brings extensive experience in designing branding strategies that build strong corporate identities. Before joining the Dog Haus family, he led teams for prominent brands such as The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, The Walt Disney Company, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson Company, and Mattel.

Tony Reaman

CFO | Luna Grill

Speaker bio coming soon!

Clifton Rutledge

CEO | Shipley Do-Nuts

Clifton Rutledge is a proven industry leader and executive with over 35 years of experience in numerous restaurant companies throughout the U.S. Clifton is a visionary leader with extensive experience in communications, product development, strategic oversight and planning, financial analysis, contract negotiations, franchising, key partnership development, operations management, mergers and acquisitions, and human resources. Prior to joining Shipley, he was COO at Jack’s Restaurants, president and CEO at Bojangles’s Chicken and Biscuits and COO and senior vice president at Whataburger Restaurants LLC. Previously he operated in several positions at KFC.

Lily Saer

Marketing Manager | The Saxton Group

Speaker bio coming soon!

Desi Saran

Founder & CEO | Sweetberry Bowls

Sweetberry Bowls was founded in 2017 by restaurant veteran, Desi Saran. He is a serial entrepreneur with an MBA in Finance & BA in Economics from Rutgers University. Desi has extensive experience in developing fast-casual chains and tech start-ups. He created Sweetberry Bowls to provide quality and affordable healthy food options to consumers. The healthy, fast-casual concept specializes in Acai bowls, Poke Bowls, Smoothies, Wraps, & Salads with a focus on product, atmosphere and extraordinary customer service. Under Desi’s leadership, the company opened 20 units across 7 states in 2 years.

Chris Sasser

VP of Finance & Analytics | Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Speaker bio coming soon!

Mandy Shaw

CEO | Blaze Pizza

Mandy Shaw joined Blaze Pizza in January 2018 as the CFO and was named interim CEO in August 2019 and then President and CEO in November 2019. Mandy previously served nearly 13 years in various roles at Bloomin’ Brands, Inc. including as Chief Financial Officer for the international division, Chief Information Officer, and as Chief Accounting Officer during Bloomin’s transition to a private company and through its subsequent IPO. In March 2020, she was named one of the 50 most influential women in foodservice by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Craig Sherwood

Vice President, U.S. Development | Little Caesars

Craig Sherwood is vice president of U.S. Development at Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc., the world’s third largest pizza chain. With oversight for all aspects of Little Caesars domestic franchise development, real estate and construction, Craig leads a team devoted to the growth of one of the most iconic brands in the world. Uniquely qualified as an attorney, business professional and former United States Army officer, Craig has more than 20 years of franchise development experience across a variety of industries. Prior to joining Little Caesars, he served as chief development officer at Gold’s Gym, where he managed the brand’s franchising community and licensing programs while leading the charge to expand internationally.

Sam Stanovich

SVP of Development & Alliances | Big Chicken

Samuel Stanovich is part of the leadership team of Big Chicken. Prior to joining Big Chicken, Samuel worked with Firehouse Subs brand as an Area Representative and Franchisee. Samuel’s past experiences include: Director Partner Product Development & Industry Relations, National Restaurant Association, President & CEO of the Heritage Corridor Convention and Visitors Bureau, in addition, he is a 12-year veteran of Marriott International. In 2020 Samuel co-authored the top catering book “Catering Domination” and is co-host of the Takeout, Delivery and Catering podcast. Samuel is an alum Johnson and Wales University and adjunct faculty at the College of DuPage.

Jeff Sturgis

Chief Development Officer | Another Broken Egg Cafe

Jeff Sturgis is Chief Development Officer for Another Broken Egg Cafe, leading all restaurant franchise and development functions for both company and franchise units. Jeff is an accomplished, experienced and strategic senior franchising executive. His deep experience, knowledge and understanding of all development functions gives him the ability to align development strategy with unit level operational dynamics and with overall organizational goals and strategy. His experience includes leading cross-functional teams in single and multi-brand environments with the goal of driving intelligent and sustainable unit growth. Jeff has held several senior leadership positions in the franchise industry including Chief Development Officer for Fazoli’s Restaurants and Chief Development Officer for McAlister’s Deli.

Jim Sullivan

Chief Development Officer | Qdoba

Speaker bio coming soon!

Susan Taylor

President & CEO | Juice It Up!

Susan Taylor is the President and CEO of Juice It Up! and possesses nearly 30 years of restaurant industry leadership experience. Propelled by her extraordinary vision, guidance and commitment to helping franchise owners succeed, Juice It Up! is experiencing record sales as the brand continues to take more ownership of the ever-popular smoothie, bowl, and raw juice segment. A dynamic, people-oriented brand builder, Susan has made huge contributions in furthering the evolution of the brand and taking Juice It Up! to new heights. Leading her team through the many challenges of the past few years to emerge stronger than ever, Susan is instrumental to Juice It Up!’s success.

Nick Vojnovic

President & Majority Partner | Little Greek

Nick Vojnovic currently is the President and majority partner of Little Greek Franchise Development, LLC, since April of 2011. In 2015, Vojnovic, became the owner the USF/Fowler Avenue location in Tampa and rebranded the company to Little Greek Fresh Grill. When Nick first became President, there were 4 locations. Today, there are 46 locations. Prior to, Little Greek, he had a 12-year stint as President of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Family Sports Pubs from 1998 until 2010, also based in Tampa. His strong work ethic was instrumental in helping Beef ‘O’ Brady’s grow from 30 units, mostly in the Tampa area, to a chain of more than 260 units located in 23 states.

Zach Vouga

President, COO & Co-Founder | Plant Power Restaurant Group

Zach Vouga is a multi-concept entrepreneur who currently serves as President and Chief Operations Officer for the Plant Power Restaurant Group. He has had a strong interest in the plant-based segment since becoming a vegetarian in 2004 and vegan in 2009. In 2015, he co-founded the Plant Power Restaurant Group, opening the first Plant Power Fast Food location in Ocean Beach. Since Plant Power’s inception, Zach has been responsible for the design and implementation of the operational structure of the brand. Through the years, he has established himself as an extraordinary leader who has led the development of Plant Power’s management structure.

GROUP DISCOUNTS

Take Your Team to the Summit!

Restaurant/Foodservice Operators who register two attendees may add a third attendee at no additional cost.

Group discount does not apply to Franchise Brokers/Consultants or Vendors.

HOTEL RESERVATIONS

Grand Hyatt Nashville

Rate: $289/night* | Deadline: 3/7/22
* Subject to availability at time of booking.

Click below to book online or call 1-615-622-1234 and mention Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit.

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