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CEO Roundtable / State of Industry

This panel packed with fast casual CEOs will talk about important issues restaurant operators face today and what it will take to succeed in 2020 and beyond.


Michelle Bythewood | President | Salata

As the first president of Salata, Michelle Bythewood is responsible for management of operations and logistics, creating, communicating and implementing the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction, and working with Salata’s franchise sales team to determine opportunities for expansion into new and existing markets. Michelle previously served as Salata’s CMO from August 2017 to January 2019, when she led brand management and strategy, national and field marketing, media, digital strategy, marketing technology and product innovation. Among other achievements, Michelle led an extensive restaurant redesign process and has been spearheading Salata’s rebranding efforts. Before serving as CMO, Michelle was a consultant for Salata in 2016 and 2017.

Sam Ferreira | President | Gloria Jean’s Gourmet Coffees and It’s A Grind Coffee House

Sam Ferreira is a senior level executive who works with franchise owners to grow their business by focusing on new and existing revenue streams that are on brand, support overall business objectives and deliver memorable guest experiences that encourage and inspire repeat visits. As a proven leader, Sam believes product and service are the two key factors that drive any retail business. Product innovation and world-class service grounded on improving brand vibrancy and profitability are the hallmarks of his approach to business growth. As the President of RFG-USA, Sam has a passion for Process, People and Innovation paired with his 25 years of experience driving results across multiple retail disciplines.

Chris Fuqua | CEO | B.GOOD

Chris Fuqua is Chief Executive Officer of B.GOOD, a 75-unit, farm-to-table, fast casual restaurant chain that serves all-natural burgers, green and grain bowls, salads, and smoothies. A seasoned industry veteran, Chris brings a strong strategic vision and operational background to the company. He has been on the Board at B.GOOD since 2017 and previously held roles in Marketing, Operations, Finance, Strategy, and Supply Chain as a senior executive at Dunkin’ Brands, a consultant at McKinsey and Company, and an officer in the United States Navy.

Keith Guilbault | CEO | Qdoba

Keith Guilbault was named QDOBA’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2018. He leads the QDOBA Restaurant Corporation and oversees more than 750 restaurants located across the U.S. and in Canada. Previously, Keith was QDOBA’s Brand President and played an instrumental role in guiding the brand through its corporate headquarters’ relocation, along with its sale from its former parent company, Jack in the Box, Inc., to its current owner, Apollo Global Management Group. Keith also spent 12 years with Jack in the Box, Inc., where he held several executive positions. He completed his tenure with the corporation as its Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

John Hedrick | CEO | Pei Wei

John “J.” Hedrick has served as CEO of Pei Wei Asian Kitchen since January 2017. He brings a strong background in multi-unit hospitality and food service, specializing in retail operations and enhancing the guest experience, to his current leadership role. From Sept. 2015 to Jan. 2017, J. served as chief operating officer of NPC Restaurant Holdings, LLC, and NPC International, Inc., the nation’s seventh-largest restaurant operator with more than 1,300 Pizza Hut and 180 Wendy’s locations and annual revenues exceeding $1.2 billion. At NPC, he accelerated growth and drove strong financial performance while creating a customer-focused, employee-first mindset to drive long-term success.

Patrick Renna | President | Wahlburgers

Patrick Renna is the President of Wahlburgers, a Boston based burger restaurant founded by Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg, and celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Walhberg. Patrick was previously CEO at Boloco, a fast casual globally inspired burrito chain, where he also served as CFO for four years. Prior to that Patrick was CFO at Sebastian’s Café and Catering, where he spent four years overseeing all financial and administrative policies and procedures for the company; this included leadership during the company’s most profitable growth period. Previously, he held CFO positions at Fresh Concepts, which operates fast casual restaurants under the name Fresh City and Souper Salad.


Dennis Becker | Chairman & CEO | Mobivity

With more than a decade of experience building, financing, and acquiring enterprises redefining the way technology and business interact, Dennis Becker leads Mobivity’s vision of bringing businesses more customers, more often through disruptive technologies. An inventor of several patents, Dennis’ background also includes awards as founder of Frontieric Corporation and CEO of Bexel Technologies. Prior to Mobivity, Dennis studied Computer Science at the University of Oregon and served in the USAF.

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