KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

John Vincent

Co-Founder & CEO | LEON

John Vincent is CEO of LEON, the naturally fast food chain, which he co-founded with Henry Dimbleby in 2004 to make it easier for everyone to eat well. He previously worked as a strategy consultant for Bain & Company, where his business travels made him realise that the only available food on the go was making everyone fall asleep and wake up fat. With the declared aim to create “a McDonalds in heaven”, and working with chef Allegra McEvedy, John and Henry opened the first LEON on Carnaby Street in 2004. Shortly after it was awarded ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. John took over the day to day running of Leon in 2014, leads the menu innovations and has co-authored three of the Leon cook books. LEON now has more than 45 restaurants throughout the UK and one in Amsterdam, and plans to open many more in 2017.

ADDITIONAL PRESENTERS

Natalie Anderson-Liu

VP of Marketing | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes

Natalie Anderson-Liu is Vice President of Brand at MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes. She leads all brand, marketing and communication efforts, including strategic planning, branding, and consumer insights, while supporting franchisees in their local efforts. A proven thought-leader, Natalie is recognized for providing innovative and effective strategies to drive the business forward. She is respected for her collaborative style and ability to bring together diverse perspectives. With a master’s degree in communications from The University of Texas in Austin, Natalie worked for The Richards Group as Brand Planner and then spent five years with TracyLocke as Senior Strategic Planner.

Adam Baird

Executive Chef | The Habit Burger Grill

Speaker bio coming soon!

Cherryh Cansler

Managing Editor | FastCasual.com

Before joining Networld Media Group as Director 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.

Mike Chissler

COO | Holler & Dash

Mike Chissler serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Holler & Dash, leading the development of the fine-casual biscuit house since the opening of the inaugural location in 2016. With an evergreen commitment to excellence, Chissler is a champion of ushering the continued growth and ongoing stabilization of the brand with seven standing locations throughout the southeast. In 2004, Mike Chissler joined Cracker Barrel where he fostered learnings from his unique progression from restaurant management, to Director of Operations and Vice President of Restaurant and Retail Operations Administration and Support before becoming the Chief Operating Officer in June 2015.

Brad Christian

Chief Customer Officer | Market Force

Brad Christian is the Chief Customer Officer at Market Force Information. He is responsible for consulting and customer experience program design for numerous restaurant organizations in North America. With a focus on driving location performance improvement, he provides guidance on customer experience measurement tools and analysis to help client organizations drive increases in guest satisfaction, loyalty and financial performance. Brad is based out of Norcross, Georgia.

Scott Davis

President & CCO | CoreLife Eatery

Scott Davis joined the CoreLife Eatery team in September 2016 to head up menu development and guide strategic brand growth. Scott’s experience during the growth of both Au Bon Pain and Panera Bread make him an invaluable asset to CoreLife Eatery. Scott served as Chief Concept Officer for Panera Bread from the inception of the brand until December 2014, during which time he oversaw menu development, category management, restaurant design, and sustainability efforts. Scott led many key initiatives that drove the long-term success of Panera Bread, as it became a leader in the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry.

Stephen Dutton

Consumer Foodservice Analyst | Euromonitor International

Stephen Dutton is a Consumer Foodservice Analyst at Euromonitor International, analyzing the global foodservice industry. In this role, Stephen provides insight into the consumer trends, key markets, competitive landscape and growth opportunities in the global foodservice space to help companies make informed business decisions. Stephen has a master’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University and has spent years working and traveling abroad.

Ryan Egozi

Director of Operations | SuViche Hospitality Group

Ryan Egozi has been a part of the restaurant industry since his first job as a cook. He earned his first restaurant management position while attending Florida International University and attaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management. Serving in management roles at a variety of restaurants such as Catina Laredo, a Fine Dining Mexican Restaurant; On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, A Fast-Casual Concept; and Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, a Quick-Service Concept. Today, Ryan Egozi serves as the Director of Operations for SuViche Hospitality Group in Miami which owns and operates two concepts: SuViche & Novecento, both with multiple locations in South Florida.

Eric Ersher

Founder & CEO | Zoup!

Eric Ersher is Founder and CEO of Zoup!, a Michigan-based, fast casual soup concept, formed in 1998. Eric is responsible for strategic planning, concept evolution, quality and franchise support. He also leads the company’s staff in building and protecting the Zoup! brand and in shaping the company’s culture. Eric serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Restaurant Association and the advisory board of Forgotten Harvest, a leading food rescue organization. He is also an active member of the Detroit Entrepreneur’s Organization and a business mentor through HFL – Danto. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan School of Business.

Gonca Esendemir

Co-Founder & CMO | Flatbread Grill

Gonca Esendemir is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of the fast casual Mediterranean concept, Flatbread Grill. Flatbread Grill was developed by Gonca and her two sisters in 2007 as a means to support their sick parents. Without any formal marketing training or experience, Gonca helped establish the brand’s identity and social media presence. She also, along with her two sisters, oversaw day to day restaurant operations, developed the menu, and assisted with building out the concept’s brick and mortar stores. She is currently overseeing the franchise development of Flatbread Grill. Gonca is also a published writer and social media influencer.

Tom Ferguson Jr.

CEO | Rise Biscuits Donuts

Tom Ferguson is founder and CEO of Rise Biscuits Donuts, a fast growing franchise known for innovative, chef-inspired twists on favorite breakfast and lunch items, tight operating procedures and a corporate culture that promotes love and respect at all levels. The concept has grown from a single restaurant to 15 Rise locations now open in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Florida with over 100 units in development. Rise was named a 2016 Fast Casual Top 100 Mover & Shaker in 2016. Before starting Rise Biscuits Donuts, Ferguson was a pioneer in the NC Triangle’s food truck scene with Only Burger.

Sam Ferreira

President | Gloria Jean’s Coffees

Speaker bio coming soon!

Drew French

Founder & President | Your Pie

Drew French is the Founder and President of Your Pie. While honeymooning on the Italian island of Ischia, Drew was inspired to bring the authentic, brick-oven taste of Italian pizza to the United States. With a passion for gourmet food and a business degree from the University of Georgia, French opened the first Your Pie location in Athens, Ga., in 2008. The brand has since grown to more than 50 locations across the U.S., and French continues to infuse creativity, inspiration and innovation through his leadership. Drew’s culinary brainchild, the fan-favorite Peach Prosciutto Pie, earned him a lifetime spot on the U.S. Pizza team.

Jeff Fromm

President | FutureCast

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at Forbes.com. Jeff is also a frequent speaker on marketing, consumer trends and brand innovation. Jeff has spent significant time researching the Millennial audience and is the co-author of “Marketing to Millennials” (2013) and “Millennials with Kids” (2015). Jeff has more than 25 years of marketing consulting experience with dozens of brands ranging from Build-a-Bear to Whole Foods Market.

Colleen Glendinning

Director of Social Media & PR | Toppers Pizza

Toppers Pizza Director of Social Media & PR Colleen Glendinning has been actively involved in marketing for the food and restaurant industry for nearly 15 years. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin – Madison School of Business, she has held various marketing roles in the food and restaurant industry including positions at Qdoba Mexican Eats, Noodles & Company and Wixon, a B2B food ingredient company. Colleen has a passion for food and restaurant marketing, and in her current role she has decentralized the company’s approach to social media, focusing the strategy on driving engagement and at the local level.

Akash Kapoor

CEO & Co-Founder | Curry Up Now

Speaker bio coming soon!

Kevin King

Chief Development Officer | Smoothie King

Restaurant industry veteran Kevin King joined Smoothie King as chief development officer in May 2016 to lead all aspects of the company’s record-setting growth. Kevin’s 30-year career has included managing operations and franchise development for pizza giants such as Domino’s, Donato’s Pizza, Project Pie and Papa Murphy’s, where he doubled its number of locations and assisted with the initial private offering in 2014. He has also served as a regional vice president of retail real estate at J.P. Morgan Chase, and has deep expertise in restaurant operations, restaurant layout and site design, commercial real estate and franchising.

Benedict Koenig IV

Founder | Heritage Eats

As Founder of Heritage Eats, Ben Koenig is committed to incorporating global inspirations and philanthropy into all aspects of business. An avid traveler, in 2014 he spent considerable time backpacking through the Middle East and Asia—an experience that helped inspire the Heritage Eats brand. Prior to his travels, Ben worked with hospitality design and concept firm AvroKO, serving as Assistant General Manager at their Napa restaurant, The Thomas, from 2013 – 2014. This was his second foray into the restaurant world: he helped AvroKO open their first restaurant in 2002. Prior to forging a career in hospitality, Koenig worked as a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs.

John Lebel

CEO | Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta

From politics to pizza, John Lebel, has always taken his New York roots very seriously. Lebel started his career in Washington D.C with a passion for community and helping others. He combined that passion with his love of authentic New York style pizza and help found Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta. Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta has amassed a loyal following for its dedication to using the highest quality ingredients, including pure imported oil from Italy and 100 percent whole milk mozzarella cheese. Lebel and his team have expanded Anthony’s from a single downtown Denver storefront to more than 25 restaurants.

Michael Mabry

President & COO | MOOYAH

Michael’s first venture into the restaurant industry was a catering business he developed in 1989. In 1992, he joined Brinker International as Executive Chef for Romano’s Macaroni Grill. There he was instrumental in establishing systems that remain a stable foundation of the business. While at Brinker, Michael advanced to General Manager in 1995 and to Director of Franchise in 1998. He created and implemented the global franchise strategy, process, initiatives and standards for Macaroni Grill. In late 2009 Michael joined forces with Brinker and Tin Star Alum Rich Hicks. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Michael is responsible for MOOYAH’s overall growth and day-to-day business.

Melissa Marquis

VP, Business Development | GFX International

Melissa Marquis is the Vice President of Business Development for GFX International. GFX International is a retail execution company with decades of experience in retail, fast casual, QSR, family dining, hospitality, grocery, etc. Melissa joined GFX in 2013, with the focus and responsibility to provide solutions to retailers and restaurant chains in both décor and POP execution. Her team is focused on reducing costs and timelines for restaurant chains and retailers using technology to drive smart marketing and décor distributions based on store specific profiles. As an executive, Melissa ensures that GFX International continues to invest in technology to streamline processes and exposing additional cost savings for clients.

Peter McLaughlin

Sr. Director, Customer Success | PlayerLync

Specializing in innovative learning technologies that enable teams to learn faster and operate more successfully, Peter McLaughlin has helped lead high-growth business for more than 20 years. At companies such as Symantec and Clearwell, he managed Education Services teams, which delivered training courses for thousands of customers. In his current role as head of Customer Success for PlayerLync, he collaborates with customers such as Chipotle, Jack in the Box, and Blaze Pizza to improve their training and performance. He has an MBA from the University of Denver, and a BA from UCLA.

Otto Othman

CMO & Co-Founder | Pincho Factory

With 13 years of interactive design experience, Otto Othman has led creative teams on award winning campaigns for clients such as FIAT, Coca Cola, Chrysler and Sprint. Otto is the Co-founder of the award winning burgers and kebabs restaurant called Pincho Factory in Miami. Leveraging social media and technology, Pincho Factory has created a very loyal following/cult in Miami. After winning the 2015 Food Network Burger bash, Pincho Factory has grown into 5 locations and has 10 under development with plans to reach 50 locations signed by the end of 2018.

Frank Paci

CEO | Corner Bakery

Speaker bio coming soon!

James Park

CEO | Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh

James Park is CEO of Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, the leader in fast casual authentic Mediterranean cuisine. James is a savvy marketing and operations executive who champions and activates all things brand. He excels at transformational leadership by humanizing the intangibles and developing programs that are purposeful and lasting. For the past 10 years, James has served in executive leadership roles for some of the most well-established and fastest-growing concepts in the fast casual, QSR and retail environments: Which Wich, 7-Eleven and Charley’s. In addition, James’ international experience includes substantive contributions in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Venezuela and Brazil.

Maria Pourteymour

Co-Founder | Luna Grill

Chief Cuisine Officer and Co-Founder of Luna Grill Maria Pourteymour began her culinary journey as a child in the kitchen with her grandmother. She learned that preparing homemade meals was a powerful way to demonstrate love for friends and family. After moving to a new neighborhood in 2004, Maria found herself disheartened by the lack of quick, nutritious options to feed her then four-year-old daughter. It was out of this necessity for wholesome, well-rounded food for her family that Maria decided to co-found Luna Grill. Now, Maria’s easy, healthy recipes transcend her kitchen to the 41 kitchens of Luna Grill.

Sean Pourteymour

Co-Founder & CEO | Luna Grill

CEO Sean Pourteymour co-founded Luna Grill in 2004 with his wife and Luna Grill’s Chief Cuisine Officer, Maria Pourteymour. Prior to Luna Grill, Sean and Maria were in automotive fleet management, which is where Sean honed the two pillars of his business philosophy. First, making employees happy translates to customer happiness. Second, treating customers with honesty and respect keeps them coming back. In 2004, Maria wanted to combine her passion for food with Sean’s background in real estate, so they sold their automotive business and opened the first Luna Grill. Now, Luna Grill has 41 locations offering wholesome Mediterranean cuisine in a contemporary setting.

Paul Rubin

Chief Strategy Officer | PAR

Paul Rubin is Chief Strategy Officer for ParTech, Inc. Paul has more than 23 years of development experience and has dedicated over 18 years within the hospitality POS market. As a software professional, Paul architected and created new solutions for several large retail and food service companies such as Kinko’s, Jenny Craig, Starbucks, and Jack-in-the-Box. He later went on to work as the Director, Software Engineering at Ameranth, Inc., a provider of wireless and internet-based software solutions for hospitality, healthcare, and financial services companies. Paul joined PAR in 2014 with the acquisition of Brink Software.

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.

Reed Slobusky

Owner | SkinnyFATS

Speaker bio coming soon!

Patrick Sugrue

President & CEO | Saladworks

Patrick Sugrue brings more than 20 years of experience in the food industry and extensive executive expertise to his role as President and CEO of Saladworks. Patrick began his career at The Gallo Winery and The Coca Cola Company before working for well-known brands including Honey Baked Ham, Fearman’s Pork, Inc. and Sofina Foods. Since joining Saladworks, Patrick has led the company in a brand positioning study, creating and implementing an innovative strategic plan, and driven the launch of new menu items, a systemwide remodeling project and a technology bundle, all with 2017 comp sales up 8 percent. Patrick is committed to empowering franchisees and driving unit-level profitability.

Charles Watson

Chief Development Officer | Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Charles Watson was named Chief Development Officer of Tropical Smoothie Cafe in 2016 after serving as VP of Franchise Development since 2010. In this role, Charles is responsible for all development of the TSC brand. A veteran hospitality professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc. and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Terry School of Business at The University of Georgia.

Nicole West

Director of Digital Commerce | Chipotle

Speaker bio coming soon!

Kathleen Wood

Founder & CEO | Kathleen Wood Partners | Suzy’s Swirl

Kathleen is the founder of Kathleen Wood Partners, an innovative growth strategy firm, specializing in transforming visions into reality through strategy brand optimization and leadership development. Her firm focuses on small business who want to grow into great businesses. Kathleen is a nationally recognized growth strategist, motivational speaker and author. Her book is The BEST Shift of Your Life – The Restaurant Manager’s Guide for Success Outside the Restaurant. Kathleen is also an owner/operator of her family business Suzy’s Swirl/Frozen Happiness since 2012. She consults, lives and knows all about the small business struggle bus!

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.

2017 SPEAKERS

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