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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 2021 and beyond.


Tom Gordon | Co-Founder & CEO | Slim Chickens

Speaker bio coming soon!

G.J. Hart | CEO | Torchy’s Tacos

G.J. Hart is CEO at Torchy’s Tacos, a craft-casual restaurant concept that serves Damn Good Tacos to guests in a fun, unique atmosphere at more than 75 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri and Louisiana. A highly respected industry leader with 36 years of foodservice operations and management experience, G.J. has a proven track record of growing casual and fast-casual dining concepts. Preceding Torchy’s, G.J. served as Executive Chairman and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen. Prior to CPK, he served as President and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, where he expanded the brand to more than 450 restaurants in 49 states and two international markets.

Michael Lastoria | Co-Founder & CEO | &pizza

Michael Lastoria is an American serial entrepreneur and co-founder of &pizza, a creatively led, mission-driven, culture carrying, pizza chain voted one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative companies in 2018 and 2019 for Social Good. Referred to by Bloomberg as “what Jesus might look like if he walked in a Yohji Yamamoto show,” Michael grounds &pizza in a commitment to better flavor, quality ingredients, livable wages, and real actions. He has appeared on Fox Business, CNBC, MSNBC, and Yahoo, and has been featured in Forbes, AdWeek, the New York Times, and Washington Post as a distinguished entrepreneur and thought leader in the industry.

Christine Specht | CEO | Cousins Subs

Christine Specht grew up with Cousins Subs — the sub sandwich chain her dad, Bill Specht, founded with his cousin two years before she was born. Before taking on the role of Cousins’ human resources manager in 2001, Christine worked as a staff member of the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau in Madison, Wisconsin. In 2008, she became the President and Chief Operating Officer of Cousins Subs and in 2015 assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer following her father’s retirement. Christine earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and law studies from Marquette University.


Zach Goldstein | Founder & CEO | Thanx

Zach Goldstein is a die-hard Sacramento Kings fan; it was through many losing seasons where he first learned the value of loyalty. He founded Thanx in 2011 with the goal of helping merchants identify, reward and retain their best customers / die-hard fans. Previously, Zach worked with retail and tech giants at Bain and Company, where he focused on customer satisfaction and retention. He received his MBA from Stanford and shivered his way to a BA at Dartmouth.

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