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General Session / Tuesday / October 15, 2024 / 3:45 PM

CEO Roundtable / State of the 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 2025 and beyond.


PANELISTS

Sherif Mityas | CEO | BRIX Holdings
Sherif Mityas serves as Chief Executive Officer of BRIX Holdings and as an Operating Partner for JAMCO Interests LLC. He focuses on supporting the group in the areas of strategic positioning, growth, and M&A, while leading the shared services and brand teams of the current portfolio companies of BRIX Holdings, LLC and Amici Partners Group, LLC. Prior to this role, Mityas has held various executive positions in consulting and the retail-restaurant industry sectors most notably as the chief experience officer for TGI FRIDAYS and as the chief executive officer for Hollywood Video/Movie Gallery. Mityas received a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University, a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Jason Morgan | CEO | Original ChopShop
Jason Morgan throughout his career has built and led successful growth companies across various industries. Currently, as Chief Executive Officer at Original ChopShop, Morgan has increased unit count from three units to 22 units in the past seven years achieving sales and operating results that are leading the fast casual sector. As Chief Financial Officer of Zoës Kitchen from 2008 to 2015, Morgan was instrumental in the growth of the company, increasing store count from 20 to 150 and revenues from $18mm to $223mm. In April 2014, he led Zoës Kitchen IPO –one of the most successful IPOs in the restaurant sector in the past decade. Prior to Zoës Kitchen, he held CFO positions at a private equity-backed start-up and a gaming technology company. He also held executive positions in strategic planning, investor relations, and treasury at Gaylord Entertainment Co. and Harrah’s Entertainment.
Jennifer Schuler | CEO | Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream
Jennifer Schuler is the Chief Executive Officer of Handel's Homemade Ice Cream, a leading franchise serving premium, handcrafted ice cream since 1945. Schuler is a top-performing and results-oriented leader with an extensive career fueling brands to their growth. Schuler previously served as the CEO of Wetzel’s Pretzels, overseeing a 365-unit chain founded and based in Pasadena, CA, with locations spanning across the nation, including Downtown Disney, Universal City Walk, Dodgers Stadium, Crypto.com Arena, and Disneyworld. She joined the company in 2014 as the Chief Marketing Officer, launching her inaugural successful product, Pizza Bitz, which swiftly ascended to become a top 10 product for the company. Transitioning to the role of President in 2018, she assumed responsibility for Marketing, Real Estate, Franchise Sales, and Construction. In January of 2019, Schuler was appointed CEO, becoming only the second CEO in the company’s 28-year history and its first female CEO.
Ryan Weaver | CEO | Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken
MODERATOR

R.J. Hottovy | Head of Analytical Research | Placer.ai
R.J. Hottovy, CFA is Head of Analytical Research for Placer.ai. He has covered the restaurant, retail, and e-commerce sectors for nearly 20 years. He has held several analyst positions in the past, including Global Consumer Equity Strategist at Morningstar and equity analyst roles at William Blair & Co. and Deutsche Bank. Hottovy also brings a wealth of experience with early-stage investments as an investor and member of the investment committee for the IrishAngels Venture Capital group. He has worked with more than 100 early-stage consumer and technology companies, advising on more than $200 million in capital raises and other buy- and sell-side M&A transactions. Hottovy is also a member of the Chicago Seed Co. network, a group of Chicago-area investors focused on early-stage food & beverage companies. Hottovy's efforts have been recognized by several financial and trade publications, including CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Barron's, BusinessWeek, and Forbes.
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