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SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Karen Kelley

SVP, Chief Restaurant Operations Officer | Panera Bread

Karen Kelley joined Panera in December 2018 as Senior Vice President, Chief Restaurant Operations Officer, bringing her experience of building great teams and culture, infrastructure and operating processes to the company. As a proven leader in the restaurant business, Karen believes leadership is an honor and carries with it the responsibility of investing in building exceptional talent and teams to drive successful business and brand growth. Karen comes to Panera with more than 30 years of management and operational experience, having served as President and COO of Tatte Bakery & Café, sweetgreen and Drybar, where she was responsible for driving strategic growth, building the infrastructure and teams, and overseeing key internal leaders.

PANELISTS & MODERATORS

Derin Alemli

Founder & CEO | Square Roots Kitchen

Derin Alemli is the Founder & CEO of Square Roots Kitchen, a technology-enabled fast casual healthy restaurant located at 120 S Halsted in Chicago. SRK automates customer interactions and kitchen operations, and has been revolutionary in creating a humanized approach to automation that makes for happy customers and an efficient operation. SRK is expanding, and developing its tech as a SaaS product for other restaurants. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur Derin worked in hedge fund portfolio management for Grosvenor Capital Management. Derin has an MBA from the University of Chicago in addition to holding the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Geoff Alexander

CEO | Wow Bao

After two decades of working with multiple Lettuce Entertain You concepts, Geoff Alexander took over as President of Wow Bao in 2009. Under Geoff’s leadership, Wow Bao has revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in technology. He implemented mobile & desktop ordering, installed self-ordering kiosks, pioneered a mobile gift card & loyalty program, added bicycle delivery, as well as domestic shipping, launched a food truck, and turned Wow Bao into a well-respected social media influencer. Geoff has overseen Wow Bao’s inclusion into airports, NFL stadiums, MLB ballparks, university campuses, and more than 50 grocers sell Wow Bao’s frozen retail line.

Zaid Ayoub

Founder & CEO | SAJJ Mediterranean

Zaid Ayoub is the founder and CEO of the Bay Area-headquartered fast casual restaurant chain SAJJ Mediterranean. Under Zaid’s strategic leadership, SAJJ Mediterranean has grown from being a single storefront in 2012 to a growing network of nine stores and two food trucks offering catering and event services. The brand has two corporate stores in development in Northern California, and aims to have 15 stores opened or in the works by year’s end.

Dennis Becker

Chairman & CEO | Mobivity

With more than a decade of experience building, financing, and acquiring enterprises redefining the way technology and business interact, Dennis Becker leads Mobivity’s vision of bringing businesses more customers, more often through disruptive technologies. An inventor of several patents, Dennis’ background also includes awards as founder of Frontieric Corporation and CEO of Bexel Technologies. Prior to Mobivity, Dennis studied Computer Science at the University of Oregon and served in the USAF.

Paul Bradley

Head of Product Management | PlayerLync

Paul Bradley heads Product Management and New Product Development for PlayerLync, a leading operational learning and performance support solution for industries with deskless workers. Throughout Paul’s twenty years as a technology innovator, he has led product ideation and development efforts for organizations ranging from early stage to the Fortune 500, including AT&T Wireless, Charter Communications, Visa, Level 3 Communications, and more. His current obsession is leveraging mobile technology to revolutionize modern learning and to break down traditional barriers between learning and operational performance.

Chris Braun

CEO | Juice It Up!

Speaker bio coming soon!

Cherryh Cansler

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.

Tom Carr

VP of Marketing | Chicken Salad Chick

Speaker bio coming soon!

Alonso Castañeda

VP of Brand Development & Strategy | Four Foods Group

Alonso Castañeda’s professional career began as a General Manager for Qdoba Mexica Grill in Colorado and he excelled in the business quickly and passionately. Since then he has worked as a Director of Franchise Operations, Regional Manager, Director of F&B, Director of Sales and Store compliance and currently Vice President of Brand Development and Strategy for the Four Foods Group Brands. He received the RevGen award from Mercato Partners in 2017 for top revenue generator in the FFG Brands. He has worked with great companies such as Qdoba, Paradise Bakery, Panera Bread, Café Rio, Kneaders Bakery & Café, R & R BBQ and Mo’Bettahs Hawaiian Style Food.

Massimo De Marco

Chief Culinary Officer | Kitchen United

Speaker bio coming soon!

Bill DiPaola

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.

Sterling Douglass

Co-Founder & CEO | Chowly

Sterling Douglass is the Co-founder and CEO of Chowly, a first-of-its-kind service that helps restaurants integrate orders from Third-party Online Ordering Systems (UberEats, DoorDash, etc.) into their POS system. His work has been focused on building things; Teams, relationships, products, and companies. Winner of the Chicago Innovation Up & Comer award, Chowly has grown due to a fierce focus on lean start-up and an out-of-box thinking leadership team. Sterling also enjoys entrepreneurship, specifically the first stages a company goes through in the early days. For more information on Chowly, visit www.chowlyinc.com

Steve Felson

EVP, Business Operations | BurgerFi

Speaker bio coming soon!

Jeff Fenster

Founder & CEO | Everbowl

Since earning his J.D. from Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Jeff Fenster has proven himself as an entrepreneurial innovator. As a serial entrepreneur, Jeff’s been recognized nationally for his business creations ranging from a Payroll & HR company, Digital Marketing Agency, Construction company among others. In addition, Jeff was named a top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by Empact. Combining his two biggest passions – entrepreneurship and healthy living – Jeff created the foundation everbowl has been built on and his personal philosophy of making friends and having fun have not only translated into a fun, vibrant culture at everbowl but also became the company’s true heartbeat.

Sam Ferreira

President | Gloria Jean’s Gourmet Coffees and It’s A Grind Coffee House

Sam Ferreira is a senior level executive who works with franchise owners to grow their business by focusing on new and existing revenue streams that are on brand, support overall business objectives and deliver memorable guest experiences that encourage and inspire repeat visits. As a proven leader, Sam believes product and service are the two key factors that drive any retail business. Product innovation and world-class service grounded on improving brand vibrancy and profitability are the hallmarks of his approach to business growth. As the President of RFG-USA, Sam has a passion for Process, People and Innovation paired with his 25 years of experience driving results across multiple retail disciplines.

Matt Friedman

Co-Founder & 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.

Chris Fuqua

CEO | B.GOOD

Chris Fuqua is Chief Executive Officer of B.GOOD, a 75-unit, farm-to-table, fast casual restaurant chain that serves all-natural burgers, green and grain bowls, salads, and smoothies. A seasoned industry veteran, Chris brings a strong strategic vision and operational background to the company. He has been on the Board at B.GOOD since 2017 and previously held roles in Marketing, Operations, Finance, Strategy, and Supply Chain as a senior executive at Dunkin’ Brands, a consultant at McKinsey and Company, and an officer in the United States Navy.

Bob Gibson

VP of Sales | Oracle Food and Beverage

Speaker bio coming soon!

Hagop Giragossian

Partner, Culinary & Operations | Dog Haus

As befits the leader of our culinary team, Hagop Hagop Giragossian avidly explores Southern California’s vibrant food scene and cooks up leg3endary meals at home. Hagop’s successful business endeavors include founding Kings Row Gastropub and Neo Meze with Quasim. Additionally, Hagop partners with Quasim and André in Pyramid Powder. Hagop and Quasim are former owners of Boar’s Java, a coffee truck with a loyal following in Los Angeles County. Hagop has a degree in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach. In addition, to his culinary exploits, Hagop is an avid basketball fan who roots for his hometown team, the Lakers.

Josh Goldin

Founder & Managing Partner | Alliance Consumer Growth

Josh Goldin is Founder and Managing Partner of Alliance Consumer Growth, a growth equity fund which provides capital and growth-oriented resources to the most promising emerging consumer product, retail and restaurant brands. In the restaurant sector, ACG has been an early investor in rising-star brands Shake Shack, Tender Greens, PDQ, Snooze AM Eatery and Blaze Pizza. In other consumer categories, ACG’s track record includes early-stage investments in Suja Juice (later acquired by Coca-Cola), barkTHINS and Krave Jerky (both later acquired by Hershey’s), Evol Foods (later acquired by Boulder Brands), Clio Snacks, Tata Harper Skincare, Harry’s Inc., OUAI Haircare, Milk Makeup, Babyganics (later acquired by SC Johnson) and The Honest Kitchen.

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.

Scott Goodrich

COO | Stacked Pickle

As an industry leader, Scott Goodrich’s role as COO of Stacked Pickle comprises driving the business through operations, marketing, purchasing and a passion for people. Scott entered the restaurant industry after developing his leadership skills with United Airlines. Scott was recruited by the Murrell Family, founders of Five Guys Burgers and Fries, in March of 2005. During his career at Five Guys, Scott developed operational and training procedures, and was a key architect behind the massive growth of the Five Guys franchise system. With a calling for brand development, Scott made an impactful contribution in the growth of Uncle Maddio’s Pizza as COO.

Keith Guilbault

CEO | Qdoba

Keith Guilbault was named QDOBA’s Chief Executive Officer in May 2018. He leads the QDOBA Restaurant Corporation and oversees more than 750 restaurants located across the U.S. and in Canada. Previously, Keith was QDOBA’s Brand President and played an instrumental role in guiding the brand through its corporate headquarters’ relocation, along with its sale from its former parent company, Jack in the Box, Inc., to its current owner, Apollo Global Management Group. Keith also spent 12 years with Jack in the Box, Inc., where he held several executive positions. He completed his tenure with the corporation as its Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.

Joe Guith

President | McAlister’s Deli

With over 20 years of experience in food service, consumer products and retail, Joe Guith was promoted to the role of President of McAlister’s Deli in April 2018. Previously, Joe served as Chief Operating Officer and President of Cinnabon, Inc. for four years, driving significant results through strong performance management, application of process-driven improvements and building collaborative, high performing teams. Before joining FOCUS Brands, Joe worked in general management and strategy with Coca-Cola and Yum! Brands in domestic and international markets. This background has fostered a passion for growing iconic brands that deliver superior experiences and value for guests and franchisees.

Will Hanrahan

Digital Brand Manager | Fazoli’s

Will Hanrahan is the Digital Marketing Manager at Fazoli’s. He oversees growth of the Fazoli’s Rewards Program since launching the App in 2017. He leads the digital strategy for America’s largest Italian elevated QSR chain focusing on CRM, social and digital advertising.

Don Hawkins, Jr.

Executive Vice President – Middleby Combi | Middleby Corporation

Don Hawkins is the Executive Vice President – Middleby Combi at Middleby Corporation. His teams interface directly with Emerging and Re-Emerging Foodservice companies to increase product quality, increase operational efficiencies as well as speed of service, and to reduce labor and utility costs via foodservice equipment designed and built around their specific needs. Don has over 30 years in the industry as both an executive in foodservice equipment manufacturing and as a provider of equipment and services to restaurant chains. He’s known for providing new and creative solutions to issues and problems for customers both globally and domestically.

John Hedrick

CEO | Pei Wei

John “J.” Hedrick has served as CEO of Pei Wei Asian Kitchen since January 2017. He brings a strong background in multi-unit hospitality and food service, specializing in retail operations and enhancing the guest experience, to his current leadership role. From Sept. 2015 to Jan. 2017, J. served as chief operating officer of NPC Restaurant Holdings, LLC, and NPC International, Inc., the nation’s seventh-largest restaurant operator with more than 1,300 Pizza Hut and 180 Wendy’s locations and annual revenues exceeding $1.2 billion. At NPC, he accelerated growth and drove strong financial performance while creating a customer-focused, employee-first mindset to drive long-term success.

Scott Heim

Divisional President | Evo, Inc.

Scott Heim is a divisional president with Middleby Corporation. He joined Evo, Inc. in 2012, sparking the product development work in the griddle, plancha and cooktop segments. Evo became one of Oregon’s 100 fastest-growing private companies for three consecutive years. He directed the launch of the EVent® ventless griddle in 2015. This patented innovation became the catalyst that resulted in the Evo & Middleby merger at the end of 2018. Prior to Evo, he was responsible for creating a consumer packaged goods start-up firm, battling against (and outlasting) cleaning brands launched by Clorox, Dial and Procter & Gamble in a competitive retail market.

Keith Hill

Co-Founder | I Love Bacon

Keith Hill’s first job 22 years ago, was in fast casual dining as a teenager. As he came of age, he soon moved into the challenging bar and nightclub business. He cut his teeth there, opening and helping build several very successful companies. I Love Bacon Food Truck burst onto the scene in the 1st quarter of 2014 and immediately gained notoriety with 4 “Best Food Truck In The City” awards from different organizations. ILB is currently moving into the brick & mortar business as well as adding more trucks to the fleet.

Janene Hoelig

Executive Chef/VP of Operations | Hot Indian Foods

Janene Holig is the founding chef of Hot Indian. What started as a food truck has grown into a popular and expanding fast casual. The menu boasts “Indian food, Simplified” and that is what it delivers. Her knowledge of global cuisine stems from traveling and cooking in restaurants around the world as well as a Bachelor degree in Culinary Management. Her goal is to learn, teach, and inspire Indian cooking. Janene and her dishes have gotten some notoriety including a 2013 Charlie Award for “Best Food Truck”; 2014 “Iron Fork” champion duo; 2015 “Best Food Truck” City Pages; 2015 Top Chef by Foodservice News and 2018 Featured “Chopped” Chef.

Carl Howard

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.

Akash Kapoor

Founder & CEO | Curry Up Now

Curry Up Now founder Akash Kapoor has been a self-employed entrepreneur and businessman since childhood. His first business dates back to grade school movie nights, where he set up a food stand, and has successfully grown a variety of businesses, from credit card marketing to mortgage banking to debt and tax mediation. In 2009, he left the traditional business world to start Curry Up Now with his wife, Rana. Curry Up Now was the first Indian street food truck in the Bay Area, and has since grown to include three food trucks, two craft cocktail bar concepts, and six brick-and-mortar locations, with dozens planned in markets nationwide.

Kristi Kingery

SVP of Supply Chain & Quality Assurance | Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Speaker bio coming soon!

Rachel Layton

VP of Marketing + Growth | Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

Rachel Layton is the Vice President of Marketing + Growth for Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, building sustainable growth strategies that drive sales for the company’s 90+ locations nationwide. Layton oversees the management of the Taziki’s brand, including digital and local store marketing and was a critical force behind the launch of the company’s email marketing program, in addition to their loyalty program, TAZ Rewards. These initiatives drove an 11% increase in system same store sales. Layton built initiatives that increased online ordering by 80% and led a 15% increase in same store catering sales by coaching local markets in growth techniques. Additionally, Layton manages the Taziki’s off-premise dining program which includes catering and delivery.

Janani Lee

Chief Sustainability Officer | Just Salad

Janani Lee is Chief Sustainability Officer at Just Salad, home of the World’s Largest Restaurant Reusable program. A 2013 graduate of New York University’s MA program in Food Studies, Lee has developed an extensive background in food systems, food technology, and sustainable agriculture in the health and wellness space. Since joining the Just Salad team in 2018, Lee has expanded on Just Salad’s existing sustainability efforts and continuously prospects new sustainability opportunities across all aspects of business. Lee lives in Brooklyn and enjoys weekend shopping at the farmers market.

Bryan & Caleb Lewis

Founders | Press Waffle Co.

When Founder & President Bryan Lewis was traveling across Europe with his fiance in the summer of 2013, they encountered the Liege waffle for the first time. Upon returning to Dallas, they could not find them anywhere, so Bryan set out to do it on his own. With no culinary background, he tinkered in the kitchen for over a year before he had perfected the recipe. With a desire to share his waffles with everyone he knew (and more!), Press Waffle Co. was born. When Bryan’s brother, Caleb, moved home from college, they began dreaming and planning their business and after a successful Kickstarter Campaign, finally founded Press Waffle Co. as a food truck in 2016. Press Waffle Co. opened its first permanent storefront in late 2017 and now operates 3 company owned stores, with plans for more this year.

Tad Low

Director of Off Premise Marketing | Moe’s Southwest Grill

Speaker bio coming soon!

Michael Mohammed

CEO | Chronic Tacos

Speaker bio coming soon!

Pedro Mora

Founder & CEO | Fajita Pete’s

Speaker bio coming soon!

Jason Morgan

CEO | Original ChopShop and bellagreen

Speaker bio coming soon!

Josh Morgan

COO | Melt Shop

Josh Morgan discovered a passion for the restaurant industry while working for Hillstone Restaurant Group. In January 2010, Josh opened his own restaurant in NYC called Choptank. In June 2013, Josh joined Aurify Brands as an operating partner of Melt Shop, an American sandwich concept. By 2015, Josh became Operating Partner of Aurify Brands in which he oversaw operations of 35 restaurants across 6 different brands–Five Guys, Melt Shop, The Little Beet, Little Beet Table, Fields Good Chicken & Make Sandwich. Currently Josh is overseeing the licensing and franchising efforts to grow the Melt Shop brand both domestically and internationally.

Dawn Nielsen

COO | Kolache Factory

Speaker bio coming soon!

Kyle Noonan

Owner & Founder | Mutts Canine Cantina

Kyle Noonan is an American entrepreneur, speaker, television personality, sommelier, and creative tastemaker. Pioneering fresh ideas in the restaurant industry like Bowl & Barrel, Mutts Canine Cantina, The Rustic and The General Public, Kyle and his company, FreeRange Concepts, continue to awe fans both old and young by providing restaurant experiences that up the ante on the traditional. Kyle has been recognized as an engaging media personality appearing in national outlets such as Bravo, ESPN, Food Network, Travel Channel, Food & Wine Magazine, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many more. In addition, Kyle has been recognized as a 40 Under 40 entrepreneurs and National Restaurant News Restaurateur of the Year.

Aaron Noveshen

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.

Frank Paci

CEO | Corner Bakery

Frank Paci is an accomplished executive with over 25 years of experience leading retail and foodservice brands. He most recently served as President and CEO at Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Inc. He previously was President and CEO of McAlister’s Deli, a 300-plus unit fast casual brand, and was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at the Pantry, a publicly traded convenience store chain with over 1,500 locations. Prior to that, he held senior leadership finance and franchise development positions at Blockbuster, Pizza Hut and Burger King.

Sue Petersen

VP of Human Resources | Noodles & Company

Sue Petersen started with Noodles in February of 2015 as Director of Talent, was promoted to Vice President of HR Talent in January 2016 and assumed responsibility as Vice President of Human Resources in January 2018. Sue’s passion is around creating a great experience for all team members through a caring and inclusive environment where the team can grow and develop and be their best. Prior to joining Noodles, Sue was Regional Field HR Director at Walgreens where she supported the Western region including 2500 stores and over 50,000 team members. Sue has spent her career working in various Operations, Training and HR leadership roles at companies including Chipotle, Rock Bottom, and Quiznos.

Angela Petro

CEO | Sweet Carrot & Two Caterers

Angela Petro is CEO and founder of Together & Company, Columbus, Ohio’s most creative and service-focused hospitality business, and Sweet Carrot, a fast-casual restaurant that inventively serves flavorful made-from-scratch comfort foods in three Columbus neighborhoods. Together & Company, in addition to catering over 3,000 events yearly, has recently added an additional venue in partnership with White Castle’s new $65 million headquarters project, while Sweet Carrot was recently featured in an episode of the popular Food Network Guy Fieri show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Angela is passionate about giving back to the community, especially in the areas of food access and gender-equity.

Patrick Renna

President | Wahlburgers

Patrick Renna is the President of Wahlburgers, a Boston based burger restaurant founded by Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg, and celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Walhberg. Patrick was previously CEO at Boloco, a fast casual globally inspired burrito chain, where he also served as CFO for four years. Prior to that Patrick was CFO at Sebastian’s Café and Catering, where he spent four years overseeing all financial and administrative policies and procedures for the company; this included leadership during the company’s most profitable growth period. Previously, he held CFO positions at Fresh Concepts, which operates fast casual restaurants under the name Fresh City and Souper Salad.

Robin Robison

COO | Modern Market

Robin Robison brings more than 16 years of restaurant experience to her role as chief operations officer at Modern Market Eatery based in Denver, Colo. With past leadership roles at Red Robin, Bob Evans and Chili’s, Robin’s extensive experience has uniquely prepared her for creating and executing winning operations strategies across Modern Market Eatery’s 30+ units. During her time with Brinker, Robin served as the project leader for the Leadership Principles for Women Task Force, which she formed to help create “best in class” women’s leadership and mentorship programs. This collaborative effort earned Robin the Women’s Foodservice Forum Leadership Award, which is given each year to a woman executive in the foodservice industry.

Kelly Roddy

President | Schlotzsky’s

Kelly Roddy was named President of Schlotzsky’s in December 2007, and since then he has built a strong management team, introduced new programs and launched a systemwide rebranding effort, all of which have helped to accomplish over a decade of consecutive sales growth. He joined the company from H-E-B®, a century old retailer with more than 315 locations throughout Texas and Mexico. While at H-E-B, Kelly served as Director of Sales and Marketing and later became Director of Retail Operations. Before his tenure at H-E-B, he was Vice President and Executive Director of New Business Development for Scholastic Corporation, the renowned national book publisher, distributor and retailer.

Desi Saran

Founder & CEO | Sweetberry Bowls

Sweetberry Bowls was founded in 2017 by restaurant veteran, Desi Saran. He is a serial entrepreneur with an MBA in Finance & BA in Economics from Rutgers University. Saran has extensive experience in developing fast-casual chains and tech start-ups. Saran created Sweetberry Bowls to provide quality and affordable food options to consumers. The healthy, fast-casual concept specializes in Acai bowls, shakes and other snacks, with a focus on product, atmosphere and extraordinary customer service. Under Saran’s leadership, the company opened 12 corporate stores during its first year, with multiple locations in development across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, North and South Carolina in 2019.

Steve Schulze

Co-Founder & CEO | Nékter Juice Bar

Now with more than 100 locations, another 150 in development and $100 million in systemwide sales, Steve Schulze, as CEO, has grown Nékter Juice Bar into the clear leader and pioneer of 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 and authenticity across its menu of 100% freshly made and entirely clean juices, smoothies, bowls and other healthy snacks. Nékter plans to grow to 425 restaurants by 2020 and is well on its way as it prepares to open 75 restaurants in 2018.

Ike Shehadeh

Founder | Ike’s Love & Sandwiches

Speaker bio coming soon!

Doug Sutton

President | Steritech

As president of Steritech, Doug Sutton uses his unique combination of skills, experience and insight to help industry partners rethink delivering a strong and consistent customer experience. Ever the marketer at heart, Doug also brings broad experience in sales, operations and general management. Since joining Steritech in 2014, Doug has championed shifting the status quo of the industry’s expectations on the audit experience through a consultative and programmatic philosophy. His ardent belief in the importance of a stellar customer experience continually drives his approach with industry partners.

Antonio Swad

Founder & CEO | Porch Swing

Speaker bio coming soon!

Liz Vanzura

CMO | Rangoon Ruby

Liz Vanzura is an award-winning leader in hospitality and lifestyle marketing. Currently Liz is helping develop a Burmese restaurant chain and catering operation to grow its presence within and beyond the California Bay area. Her specialties include advertising, content marketing, public relations & new product development. From Super Bowl spots to social media, Liz has worked on iconic brands including Wahlburgers, Truly Spiked & Sparkling, KEEL Vodka, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, among others. As the former CMO at VW, HUMMER & Cadillac, Liz earned a Cannes Grand Prix, Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year and was inducted into the AAF’s Hall of Achievement.

Jim Vinz

CEO | Mongolian Concepts

Jim Vinz is CEO of Mongolian Concepts, the nation’s largest ‘Create Your Own’ Stir Fry company, where he is leading re-invigoration, reimaging and growth of the Genghis Grill, bd’s Mongolian Grill and Flat Top Grill brands. Jim was an early pioneer in the Fast Casual segment in leading the growth of Corner Bakery Café for over 16 years from small bakery in downtown Chicago to a nationwide brand in over 25 states. During his leadership, Corner Bakery developed and grew its industry leading catering program, evolved the service model and launched their franchise program. Jim has also led other fast casual brands, including la Madeleine Country French Café, Brioche Doree and Bruegger’s Bagels.

Kathi Woolsey

Director of Business Development | Visualogistix

With a passion for helping clients find innovative ways to distinguish themselves from the competition, Kathi has spent the last 25+ years in the marketing communications industry with a primary focus on marketing supply chain management, advertising production services, integrated and cross-channel marketing program development and learning technologies. Kathi is fascinated with the convergence of the ever-expanding mediums and passionate about ways to utilize them to improve targeted marketing efforts which deliver results. Her wide network of customers has led to key partnerships with Fortune 1000 Manufacturers, Retailers and Corporate Advertisers.

Lee Zucker

Head of Industry, Food Service | Yext

Lee Zucker joined Yext as Head of Industry for Food Service with deep knowledge, passion and years of experience in the food service technology space. In his role, Lee leads global Food Service strategy, product and partnership development. Before Yext, Lee was Vice President of Sales & Restaurant Partnerships at the venture backed startup Slice–the premier digital ordering and marketing platform for independent pizzerias that focuses on bringing mobile commerce to the $45 billion U.S. pizza market. While at Slice, he grew the restaurant network to over 6,500 independent restaurants in more than 2,000 cities and towns nationwide.

2018 SPEAKERS

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