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Why Restaurants Are Ditching the Transaction Mindset To Focus On Customers

Restaurant brands used to win by driving transactions and focusing on output metrics—keeping tabs on cover counts and obsessing over same-store sales. Winning didn’t require knowing who was dining or ordering, why, or how often. Now, leading restaurant brands in every category are personalizing the guest experience, in-restaurant and online, to maximize customer lifetime value—an input metric that can be impacted by the decisions being made across every business unit—from finance and marketing to operations and culinary.

In this session, we’ll explore how it’s been proven that the top 5% of customers drive 27% of sales and why restaurants that know their customers, their preferences, and their lifetime value dominate.


Tom Carr | CMO | Chicken Salad Chick

Tom Carr is the Chief Marketing Officer for Chicken Salad Chick. He has brought to the Chick Family nearly 30 years of experience as a strategic, creative, and innovative marketing executive across a diverse range of industries. This includes entertainment, apparel, restaurants, consumer products, and media. He was twice named “marketer of the year” within the cable television industry. Tom hails from New Orleans, a city whose culture he credits for his unique take on brand storytelling.

Todd Madlener | President & COO | Coolgreens

Todd Madlener is an industry veteran with over 25 years of leadership experience building passionate teams and brand culture that drives quality and growth. At Coolgreens, Todd is leading the brand into its next phase of growth with culture-first programs like “coolstories” and an enhanced training program. He’s also leading key initiatives for the brand including a new prototype, catering program, and updated technologies all aimed at enabling restaurant teams to elevate the guest experience. Todd previously served as Vice President of Operations at MAD Greens and Senior Director of Operations for Red Robin where he spent over 20 years.

Aaron Noveshen | CEO, Starbird / Founder & Chairman, The Culinary Edge

A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Aaron Noveshen is an award-winning chef and restaurant entrepreneur. He is the Founder and President of The Culinary Edge, an innovation agency that provides global companies with strategic food, brand and operations solutions. Aaron is also the Founder and President of Starbird, a modern chicken concept that is revolutionizing food and convenience in the QSR/Fast Casual marketplace. As Co-founder of Pacific Catch Restaurants, Aaron served as president for 10 years and currently serves on the board of directors. Most recently Aaron co-founded The Culinary Edge Ventures with the mission to create, incubate, operate and grow restaurant brands.

Sergio Perez | Sr. Director of Omnichannel | Bojangles

Sergio Perez is the Sr. Director of Omnichannel at Bojangles, where he leads the digital transformation of the beloved Chicken, Biscuits, and Tea brand. He is known as skillful marketer with a unique and deep expertise in digital and eCommerce in the restaurant industry. From creating digital roadmaps to launching best-in-class omnichannel platforms, he is focused transforming the way guests experience, engage, and purchase from restaurant brands, while driving sales, relevance, and engagement. He believes that every touchpoint along a guest’s hunger journey is an opportunity to add value, spark emotion or inspire action. Previously, he has worked with Church’s Chicken, Johnny Rockets, Huddle House, Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, and Garden Fresh Restaurants.

Vince Szwajkowski | CMO | Blaze Pizza

Vince Szwajkowski is the Chief Marketing Officer of Blaze Pizza. A seasoned veteran in marketing and brand development for consumer products, food & beverage, hospitality and lifestyle businesses, Vince has over 13 years of experience in the industry. At Blaze Pizza he oversees the development, planning and execution of all marketing including digital, consumer and brand strategy. During his tenure at Blaze, he has been an integral part of the team – driving growth across all channels and the loyalty program, and managing all aspects of the brand – deepening Blaze’s lifestyle image and positioning it at the forefront of fast casual dining through strategic innovation and partnerships.


Mike Vichich | Co-Founder & CEO | Wisely

Mike Vichich is co-founder and CEO of Wisely (, the leading Customer Intelligence platform for restaurants—empowering brands to say goodbye to transactions and hello to customers. Wisely brings everything you know about each customer to every interaction—from how guests are greeted to how they’re personally invited back across marketing channels. Thousands of innovative restaurants leverage Wisely to improve guest experience, increase Customer Lifetime Value, and use customer data to inform every business decision. Mike has 15 years of experience in digital transformation and quantitative marketing. Under Mike’s leadership, Wisely has tripled in size each year for the last three years.

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