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CEO Roundtable / State of Industry

This panel packed with successful CEOs will talk about the latest issues of the day and what it takes to succeed in fast casual.


Kevin Bazner | CEO | A&W Restaurants

Kevin Bazner is a 47-year veteran of the restaurant industry and has been with A&W Restaurants for 24 years. In 1988, Kevin took over the International Division of A&W, based out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2000 he was made President and COO served in this role until 2003 when Yum! Brand’s purchased the brand. Kevin then served as President and COO of Smoothie King Corp. He returned to A&W as President and CEO in October, 2011. Kevin is committed to the long-term development of the iconic 97-year-old chain and continues to head the day-to-day operations and development of A&W’s International business.

Steve DeSutter | CEO | FOCUS Brands

Steve DeSutter is the FOCUS Brands Chief Executive Officer. Joining FOCUS Brands in March of 2014, he has a wide breadth of leadership experience in retail, food service and multi-unit operations as a public company executive. Prior to joining FOCUS Brands, Mr. DeSutter served for six years as President and CEO of Stripes LLC and Executive Vice President of Susser Holdings, the parent company at the time, a Fortune 500 company. He also served as Executive Vice President of Burger King Corp in the capacity of President for Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Matt Friedman | CEO | Wing Zone

Back in 1991, finding Amazing Flavor was not so easy – especially at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL where Matt Friedman and Adam Scott were away at school. Matt and Adam spent many a night in their fraternity house kitchen perfecting the recipes that one day would become Wing Zone’s trademark flavors. Starting with a single storefront, Matt and Adam built the Wing Zone brand, satisfying the cravings of Flavorholics in other towns, states and now, worldwide. Today, Matt and Adam are among the few ever to be inducted in the Buffalo Wing Hall of Flame. Wing Zone now has nearly 100 locations.

Phil Greifeld | President & CEO | Captain D’s

Phil Greifeld, President & CEO of Captain D’s, is a proven industry leader with a highly successful track record of growing sales and profits in fast-paced, multi-unit restaurant chains. Since taking the helm in 2010, Phil has led an exciting brand transformation of Captain D’s. In 2013 the Nashville Post named Phil its CEO of the Year. Prior to Captain D’s, he served as President & CEO of Huddle House, Inc. which evolved into a sophisticated restaurant operating company under Phil’s leadership. Prior to Huddle House, Phil co-founded a retail start-up company based in Stamford, Connecticut.

David McDougall | CEO | Back Yard Burgers

David McDougall is President and Chief Executive Officer of Back Yard Burgers, Inc., a better burger restaurant company based in Nashville, TN. After joining the company in 2013, David has led the successful turnaround of the brand through three years of revenue growth, improved unit-level economics, better franchise relations and a return to Back Yard Burgers’ roots of delivering great tasting food. David’s background includes more than 35 years of food service and franchise experience in both quick and full service, specializing in operations, development and international business. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Certified Franchise Executive designation (CFE).

Tommi Tervanen | CEO | Koti Pizza Group

Tommi Tervanen is the CEO of Kotipizza Group. He is also the chairman of The Finnish Franchising Association. His career started at the leading Finnish retail company Kesko where he worked as product manager. In the early 2000s, he founded the sourcing and logistics operator Helsinki Foodstock which has since grown into an over 50 MEu business. He started as CEO of Kotipizza Group in 2011. The Kotipizza Group consists of Kotipizza, the largest pizza chain in the Northern Europe, Chalupa, a Mexican style fast casual restaurant chain, and Helsinki Foodstock. The Kotipizza chain has significantly revamped its concept in the past few years and changed its marketing strategy completely.


Mike Todd | VP of Sales | Heartland Commerce

Mike has served the Food and Beverage and General Retail Industry for over 30 years, currently serving as VP of Sales for Heartland Commerce’s Enterprise team. Having helped transition multiple technology companies sales teams from traditional perpetual license sales to subscription based Software as a Service, Mike believes that how software is acquired and deployed will be rapidly evolving over the next few years. As the technology evolves, the need for equally disruptive ways to provide solutions to businesses should evolve as well.

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