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How to Build a Solid Virtual Business

Ghost kitchens are one of the industry’s hottest trends, so this session explores how three established brands have incorporated ghost kitchens into their operations models.

They’ll not only talk about why they decided to embrace the trend so early but also reveal the partnerships they’ve made and the technology required to run a successful virtual business.

Lastly, they’ll share their outlook on the future of ghost kitchens and contactless delivery as well as a few other upcoming trends in operations.


Geoff Alexander | CEO | Wow Bao

After two decades of working with multiple Lettuce Entertain You concepts, Geoff Alexander took over as President of Wow Bao in 2009. Under Geoff’s leadership, Wow Bao has revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in technology. He implemented mobile & desktop ordering, installed self-ordering kiosks, pioneered a mobile gift card & loyalty program, added bicycle delivery, as well as domestic shipping, launched a food truck, and turned Wow Bao into a well-respected social media influencer. Geoff has overseen Wow Bao’s inclusion into airports, NFL stadiums, MLB ballparks, university campuses, and more than 50 grocers sell Wow Bao’s frozen retail line.

James O’Reilly | CEO | Smokey Bones

James O’Reilly is the President and CEO of Smokey Bones, a Sun Capital portfolio company. Since joining Smokey Bones, James has built a new executive leadership team and embarked on an aggressive growth plan, investing in people and being named a Great Place to Work, achieving sales and unit growth during the pandemic, transforming Smokey Bones technology infrastructure and gaining ROI in six months, creating two virtual brands – The Wing Experience and Burger Experience, opening two ghost kitchens and creating the restaurant of the future prototype with dedicated Off Premise space. James joined Smokey Bones in May 2019 after four years as the President and CEO of Long John Silver’s.

Jason Valentine | President & COO | Zoup! Eatery

Having worked in the industry for more than 25 years, Jason Valentine has experienced every aspect of what it takes to operate a restaurant franchise. Jason is the President & Chief Operating Officer for Zoup! Eatery, which has restaurants across the U.S. and in Ontario, Canada. Before joining Zoup!, Jason was the Vice President of Operations for Cousins Subs, joining the company’s Leadership Team after operating his family’s multi-unit Cousins Subs franchise. Jason has a deep understanding of the restaurant industry from the perspective of both franchisee and franchisor, and his experiences are of tremendous value to Zoup! as he leads the company’s rebranding transition from Zoup! Fresh Soup Company to Zoup! Eatery.


Jonathan Schroeder | Director of National Accounts | Alto-Shaam

For nearly 10 years, Jonathan Schroeder has developed relationships with many of the foodservice industry’s most well-known brands, providing solutions that address their challenges and add value to their business. Jonathan is currently a Director of National Accounts for Alto-Shaam, Inc. a leading foodservice equipment manufacturer based out of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. In this role, Jonathan is responsible for supporting regional and national chain customers.

session sponsor