Chief Restaurant Officer | Chipotle Mexican Grill
Scott Boatwright is the Chief Restaurant Officer at Chipotle, responsible for overseeing operations for 2,600 company-owned restaurants with more than 85,000 employees. Joining the organization in May 2017, Scott drove the integration of new technology into restaurants, yielding impressive results and improvements across throughput and the overall guest experience. Recognized for his industry contributions, Scott was named to Fast Casual’s ‘2020 Top 25 Executive’ list. Prior to Chipotle, he spent 18 years with Arby’s Restaurant Group in various leadership positions. Most recently serving as the Senior Vice President of Operations, where he was responsible for the performance of over 1,700 Arby’s restaurants in numerous states. Scott is a member of the National Restaurant Association’s Fast Casual Industry Council providing insight and expertise to the collaborative forum. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.
PANELISTS & MODERATORS
Stacy Peterson Androes
Chief Technology Officer | Wingstop
Speaker bio coming soon
Managing Director, Strategic Operations Group | CapitalSpring
Jim Balis leads CapitalSpring’s Strategic Operations Group, supporting due diligence, portfolio management and industry knowledge building initiatives. Jim has several decades of management and turnaround experience in the restaurant industry. Prior to joining CapitalSpring, Jim was Founder and President of RMG, a boutique advisory and turnaround firm serving the restaurant sector. Jim has directed numerous turnarounds and has acted as interim CEO or Chief Restructuring Officer for 15 restaurant companies. He began his foodservice career in high school, during which he held multiple management positions for local restaurants in New York. Jim holds a BA from Duke University.
Founder & CEO | Ichor Restaurant Group
Speaker bio coming soon!
VP of Editorial | Networld Media Group
Before joining Networld Media Group as Vice President of Editorial, where she oversees Networld Media Group’s nine B2B publications, Cherryh Cansler served as Content Specialist at Barkley ad agency in Kansas City. Throughout her 17-year career as a journalist, she’s written about a variety of topics, ranging from the restaurant industry and technology to health and fitness news. Her byline has appeared in a plethora of newspapers, magazines and websites, including Forbes, The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine. She also serves as the managing editor for FastCasual.com.
President & COO | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Speaker bio coming soon!
COO | Ballard Brands
With 24 years of restaurant experience and knowledge of executive leadership inside and out, Bill DiPaola is a thought-leader among restaurant and franchise executives. Bill is the current Chief Operating Officer of Ballard Brands, LLC, a company of almost 175 units, both nationally and internationally. Among the many brands that Ballard represents is PJ’s Coffee which just opened it’s 100th location and the restaurant group of Iron Chef Jose Garces. He formerly led the charge as president and COO of Dat Dog Enterprises, overseeing the corporate office, as well as franchise and corporate operations. Under his leadership, Dat Dog was voted #1 Hot Dog Restaurant by USA Today.
Co-Founder & CEO | Clean Juice
Landon Eckles is a well-respected, entrepreneurial-minded business leader who leads by accountability, integrity, and wisdom. At 35, he is a devoted father of five children, a loving husband, and the fearless founder and Chief Executive Officer of Clean Juice, the first and most prolific USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise. Based in Charlotte, NC, Clean Juice has exploded onto the QSR/Fast Casual scene in 2016, growing to more than 100 stores operating in four years of franchising, with fifty-plus more in development, and exceeding more than $35M in system-wide revenues as of 2019. Their mission is as pure as the organic ingredients it serves, offering communities across the nation with a truly healthy and delicious organic product.
Corporate Executive Chef | McAlister’s Deli
William Eudy brings more than 25 years of culinary experience to his current role as Corporate Executive Chef for McAlister’s Deli, where he oversees culinary development for the company’s 460+ restaurants. Since joining McAlister’s in April 2015, Will has been responsible for bringing a wholesome, clean approach to crafting McAlister’s menu items from recipe development and sourcing, to the building of each dish. Along with a focus on handcrafted food and beverage offerings, Chef Will assists purchasing in the selection of quality products and strategic partners, while finding ways to improve current vendor relations and efficiency.
Vice President of Operations | Bonchon
Steve Felson is a C-level servant leader with proven success in growth and profitability in the restaurant hospitality industry. Steve spent a significant portion of his career with Denny’s where he raised to Director of Field Training and Operations Support during an 11 year span with the company, holding various roles such as Franchise Business Leader and Director of NRO. He then went on to join Huddle House as a Franchise Area Director before joining BurgerFi where he was promoted from VP of Franchise Operations to Executive Vice President. During his EVP tenure he led the Franchise Operations, Company Operations, Marketing, Food Safety and Learning and Development departments.
Founder & CEO | Everbowl
Since earning his J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Jeff has proven himself as an entrepreneurial innovator. As a serial entrepreneur, Jeff’s been recognized nationally for his business creations ranging from a quick-serve restaurant chain, payroll & HR company, digital marketing agency, and construction company, among others. In addition, Jeff is a Forbes Professor at their school of Business and Technology, named a top 100 Entrepreneur in America under the age of 35 in 2013 by Empact, named a Top 40 Executive under 40 by the Business Journal in 2019, and was recently a finalist for CEO of the year.
Senior Vice President, Digital | Wingstop
As Senior Vice President, Digital for Wingstop, Kevin Fish is responsible for the strategy, design, development and operation of guest-facing digital and award-winning ecommerce solutions including Wingstop.com and the mobile ordering apps. Kevin joined Wingstop in 2014 and has served in Sr. Director and Vice President roles, overseeing Wingstop’s digital business as well as restaurant point of sale systems, back office and network infrastructure. Prior to Wingstop, he served as Sr. Manager of Ecommerce for Pizza Hut from 2009 to 2014. Prior to that, he served as Sr. Manager of Retail Systems for FedEx Office.
Director Of Operations | Four Foods Group
Speaker bio coming soon!
CEO | Firehouse Subs
Don Fox is Chief Executive Officer of Firehouse of America, LLC, in which he leads the strategic growth of Firehouse Subs, one of America’s leading fast casual restaurant brands. Under his leadership, the brand has grown to more than 1,180 restaurants in 46 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and non-traditional locations. Don sits on various boards of influence in the business and non-profit communities, and is a respected speaker, commentator and published author. He was recognized by Nation’s Restaurant News as 2011’s Operator of the Year. In 2013, he received the prestigious Silver Plate Award from the International Food Manufacturers Association (IFMA).
National Account Manager | Essity North America
Tracey Fullington is National Account Manager for Essity North America. She is an accomplished sales management professional with over 20 years of experience, who is dedicated to serving restaurants in a sustainable way. Tracey promotes Tork, an Essity brand products and hygiene solutions to national account foodservice concepts with corporate headquarters based in the Northeastern United States. Since 2007 she has been responsible for maintaining and growing a portfolio of high profile national foodservice concepts with locations that cross regional boundaries.
Founder & CEO | Thanx
Zach Goldstein is Founder and CEO of Thanx, a leading CRM, loyalty, and digital customer engagement solution for restaurants and retailers. Zach was recently honored on NRN’s 2020 Power List, hosts the popular Food Fighters podcast, and is frequently asked to speak on restaurant thought-leadership topics including off-premise and digital sales, customer lifetime value, and customer retention. He previously worked as a Consultant at Bain & Company where he partnered with national restaurant/retail chains and leading technology companies. Zach received a BA from Dartmouth and an MBA from Stanford.
Co-Founder & CEO | Slim Chickens
Speaker bio coming soon!
President | BurgerFi
Charlie Guzzetta is part of the strategic leadership of BurgerFi, a fast growing international better burger concept headquartered in North Palm Beach, FL. Over the past 7 years, Charlie has been instrumental in growing the company from a 20-restaurant regional chain to a 125-restaurant international brand in roles spanning from marketing, operations, sales, and now as the company’s Chief Brand Development Officer. In this role, Charlie brings his innate talents of building partnerships and bridges, with small business owners and major corporations alike, to advance the company’s purpose of redefining the way the world eats burgers.
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.
VP of Operations | sweetgreen
Amy Hom leads and supports sweetgreen operations. Amy has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and has served in operations leadership roles for major casual dining and fine dining brands. Before joining sweetgreen Amy served as Vice President of Red Robin leading over 250 locations in the US and Canada, Senior Operations Director of Wolfgang Puck Catering and multiple leadership roles for California Pizza Kitchen. Amy serves on the California Restaurant Association Board and is a volunteer for Calicinto Ranch. She helps lead the board for the Women’s Excellence committee in her current role. She is currently creating a program for upcoming individuals in the industry called LEAD.
President & CEO | Fazoli’s
Carl T. Howard was recruited by Sun Capital Partners to be President and CEO of Fazoli’s Restaurants, Inc. in June 2008. Carl has diligently worked to rebrand and revitalize the Fazoli’s “Fast Fresh Italian” concept. After successfully repositioning Fazoli’s, the brand was sold to Sentinel Capital Partners in 2015. Since joining Fazoli’s every sales and EBITDA record has been posted. The franchise system has been same sales positive for 67 of the last 70 months and the brand is once again growing new units. In 2016 Fazoli’s will open 12-15 new units and is expected to sign 10-15 new franchisee development agreements.
Senior Vice President & General Manager | NCR Hospitality
Dirk Izzo serves as Senior Vice President and General Manager of NCR Hospitality. He is a seasoned leader with experience in building and marketing innovative cloud-based solutions to help clients optimize their business performance. In his current role, Dirk is responsible for developing simple and innovative solutions that run the restaurant from end to end. NCR is the technology provider of choice for restaurants around the world and Dirk is focused on delivering the next-generation software, hardware and services that delivers on what customers want, when they want it. Prior to joining NCR, Dirk spent 19 years with Nielsen in a number of global assignments.
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.
John Le Bel
President & CEO | Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta
Speaker bio coming soon!
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.
CEO | Chronic Tacos
Michael Mohammed is the Chief Executive Officer and President at Chronic Tacos Enterprises Inc. where he oversees the strategic vision of the fast-casual Mexican restaurant brand. Michael is extremely passionate about the Chronic Tacos brand, purpose and commitment to living the #tacolife. Encompassing authentic, 3rd generation recipes and the individuality of each customer, Chronic Tacos has established itself as a bold force in the restaurant industry. Michael has since led the development of Chronic Tacos into over 60 locations across the United States, Canada and Japan. Combining his business experience and entrepreneurial spirit, Michael continues to pilot the brand to success and rapid growth.
Director of Marketing | Henny Penny
Jason Moles serves as Director of Marketing for Henny Penny, a manufacturer of premium foodservice equipment. He is a 22-year veteran of the foodservice industry and is responsible for managing and growing the Henny Penny brand globally. Over the last 60 years, Henny Penny has partnered with the world’s largest and emerging restaurant chains to provide pressure frying, open frying, holding and combi oven solutions known for ease of use and low operating costs. Henny Penny delivers proven technology saving restaurants in QSR, Fast Casual and Casual Dining thousands of dollars each year in frying oil, labor and energy costs.
Owner & CEO | Free Range Concepts
Kyle Noonan is an American entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, and creative tastemaker. First known as an entrepreneur who grew his hospitality and entertainment company to a $50mm company in five short years and is on pace to eclipse $100mm in revenue by his eighth year. Not only has Kyle quickly emerged as an innovative entrepreneur and respected speaker, but he has been recognized as an engaging media personality appearing in national outlets such as CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Bravo, ESPN, FoodNetwork, Travel Channel, Food & Wine Magazine, New York Times, WallStreet Journal, and many more. Kyle has been described “as innovative as he is engaging” by the New York Times.
Chief Sustainability Officer | Just Salad
Sandra Noonan is the Chief Sustainability Officer at Just Salad, the fast-casual concept serving healthy food at an affordable price and home of the World’s Largest Restaurant Reusable program. Sandra founded ZeroWasteNYC and is a strong advocate for zero-waste living. Since joining the Just Salad team in 2019, she has expanded Just Salad’s award-winning sustainability efforts and continuously prospects new sustainability opportunities across all aspects of business. Her professional experience spans marketing and communications, technology and corporate sustainability. She holds a Masters degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a Bachelor’s degree from Duke University.
Founder & President | Starbird & Culinary Edge Ventures
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.
Vice President, IT | Fazoli’s Restaurant Group
Speaker bio coming soon!
COO | Tarka Indian Kitchen
Speaker bio coming soon!
COO & Co-Founder | Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers
Growing up in St. Louis, Scott Redler got his start in the restaurant business at age 15 catering events for groups of two to 6,000. Paying his way through college by managing a steakhouse, he attended the University of Missouri and earned a degree in restaurant and hotel management. Scott has managed and overseen everything from 5-star restaurants to corporate cafeterias in Wichita, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. In 2002, Scott partnered with Bill Simon and his brother Randy to launch Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers. After franchising in 2004, Freddy’s has grown to more than 350 domestic locations that serve 32 states across the country.
Founder, CEO & COO | CRAVE Franchising
Samantha Rincione is currently the Co-founder, CEO and Chief Operations Officer of Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ. Samantha was also co-founder of Emerging Franchises, a franchise development firm, which developed, improved and built franchise companies from the ground up. Emerging Franchises was responsible for creating franchise operations systems and growing brands from one and in some cases hundreds of units. Samantha was also Multi-Unit Franchisee with Red Mango, Smoothie Factory and Café, owning and operating 10 stores on Long Island NY. Samantha has also served as Vice President for UFood Grill, a healthy fast casual concept.
CEO | Saladworks
Kelly Roddy took his position as the CEO of Saladworks in August of 2019 with more than 30 years of industry experience. With a strong brand foundation and management team, Kelly is focused on rapid growth and franchisee profitability. Kelly most recently served as President of Schlotzsky’s where he repositioned the brand from a sandwich deli chain to a high quality eatery with more than twice the average unit volumes in sales. Prior to Schlotzsky’s, Kelly was Director of Retail Operations and Director of Sales and Marketing at HEB. He was also the Executive Director at Scholastic and worked for over 10 years in various positions at Walmart.
Founder & President | Eternal Optimist Hospitality
R. Ryan Rogers is a 2015 Eater Young Gun, the Founder of Eternal Optimist Hospitality, a chef, restaurateur, Southern nomad, and Americana enthusiast. In 2012, at the age of 26, he opened Feast BBQ, a barbecue restaurant framed within the scope of his childhood memories of Southern barbecue. In 2014, Ryan opened a second Feast BBQ location in downtown Louisville’s walkable NuLu neighborhood, and quickly followed that restaurant with his third restaurant, Royals Hot Chicken, his ode to Nashville Hot Chicken featuring scratch made sides. 2017 brought Ryan and executive chef and partner Andrew McCabe together to open bar Vetti, a neighborhood Italian spot featuring fresh housemade pasta, brick oven pizza, and shared plates.
Founder & CEO | Fruitive
Speaker bio coming soon!
Chief Corporate Affairs & Food Safety Officer | Chipotle Mexican Grill
Laurie Schalow is a 20+ year Public Affairs veteran, starting her career with Yum! Brands in 1994 when she joined Taco Bell and served as the national spokesperson. In 2005, Laurie joined KFC, where she created publicity plans, managed community relations initiatives, all internal and external communications and crisis management. In 2011, Laurie became Vice President of Public Affairs for Yum! Brands overseeing Global Corporate Social Responsibility, PR and Crisis Management. In 2017, Laurie joined Chipotle Mexican Grill as the first Chief Communications Officer. Currently, Laurie is the Chief Corporate Affairs and Food Safety Officer and oversees all internal and external communications, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, customer service, social listening, food safety and quality assurance.
Co-Founder & CEO | Nékter Juice Bar
Now with more than 140 locations across 15 U.S. states, another 175 in development and more than $100 million in systemwide sales, Steve Schulze, as co-founder and CEO, has grown Nékter Juice Bar into the clear leader and pioneering champion of the elevated juice bar experience in the $2 billion juice bar industry. Founded in 2010 upon a promise to reinvent a restaurant category that had lost its way, Nékter Juice Bar has been a catalyst for change, vowing ingredient integrity, menu transparency and authenticity across its menu of freshly made, clean and nutritious juices, Superfood smoothies, acai bowls and other healthy snacks.
Founder | Ike’s Love & Sandwiches
Ike Shehadeh, biased philosopher, pop culture icon and sandwich wizard has been transcending the sandwich genre since 2007. As founder of Ike’s Love & Sandwiches, Ike has grown a massive cult following with over 60 stores across 5 different states and counting. Celebrity fans, unique sandwiches found nowhere else and Ike’s infamous “dirty sauce” fuel this audacious brand – with sales increasing by 50% year-over-year. With over 500 creations, sandwich lovers will find an awesome sandwich for meat lovers, gluten-free diets, vegans, vegetarians and beyond. This sandwich guru is committed to inspiring the world. One sandwich at a time.
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.
CEO | Native Foods
Carin Stutz is the CEO and President of Native Foods, the original 100% plant-based fast casual eatery. Prior experience includes the EVP/COO at Red Robin, President of McAlister’s Deli, CEO and President of Cosi, President of Global Business for Brinker, EVP of Operations for Applebee’s and Pacific DVP for Wendy’s International. She is Past Chair of Women’s Foodservice Forum; recognized in Chicago’s 100 Women to Watch; Texas Women Worth Watching; and the distinguished alumni award from WIU. She serves on the board of trustees for Western Illinois University, the Fast-Casual Industry Council, and the board of directors for Checkers and Rally’s restaurants.
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer | HMSHost
Joe Thornton is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of HMSHost, a global restaurateur and leader in travel dining in airports and motorways. In this role, he oversees HMSHost operations of more than 1,700 food and beverage locations in North America, as well as Culinary, Supply Chain, and Marketing & Communications. Joe is an experienced operations leader who brings a demonstrated record of achieving results. Most recently, Joe was Chief Operating Officer at Jamba Juice where he led all field and headquarter functions related to operations, operations services, and training, as well as supporting franchise owners across the country.
President | Little Greek Franchise Development
Nick Vojnovic started working at age 12 as a dishwasher in his neighborhood’s Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has devoted his whole career to the restaurant industry including giving back to the community and various charities as much as possible. Nick currently is the President and majority partner of Little Greek Franchise Development, LLC, since April of 2011. In 2015, he became the owner the USF/Fowler Avenue location in Tampa and rebranded the company to Little Greek Fresh Grill. When Nick first became President, there were 4 locations. Today, there are 43 locations. Prior to Little Greek, he had a 12-year stint as President of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Family Sports Pubs.
VP, Restaurants | Appetize
Speaker bio coming soon!
Co-Founder & CEO | junzi
Yong Zhao was born and raised in Liaoning, northeast of China. He attended the Yuanpei School at Peking University and earned his MESc at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In 2014, Yong co-founded junzi and has been leading the team as CEO ever since. Being the mastermind and visionary of junzi, Yong Zhao is harnessing the tide of quick-service Chinese food with his quickly expanding restaurant concept and leading the omnichannel shift in eating with innovative solutions such as ghost kitchen. With locations in New Haven and Manhattan, the team most recently opened their fourth store near Bryant Park, New York, and the first delivery-only location at SoHo.
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