SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Henry Dimbleby

Co-Founder | LEON

Henry Dimbleby is co-founder of the award-winning Leon Restaurants. In addition to writing a column for The Guardian and popping up on Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet & BBC 1’s Saturday Kitchen, he is co-founder of the not-for-profit Sustainable Restaurant Association. Henry started his career as a commis chef with Michelin-starred chef, Bruno Loubet, before joining The Daily Telegraph. From there he moved to Bain & Company, a management consultancy firm, where he met John Vincent. They spent a lot of time together on the road, travelling for work, where all they found to eat was delicious but life-destroying fried chicken or cold, neon-lit sandwiches. Infuriated by the difficulty of finding tasty, nutritious food on the run, they resolved to do something about it. And so Leon was born.

PANELISTS & MODERATORS

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.

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.

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.

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!

Steve Felson

VP of Franchise Operations | BurgerFi

Speaker bio coming soon!

Sam Ferreira

President | It’s A Grind & Gloria Jean’s Coffees

Sam Ferreira is the president of Retail Food Group’s U.S. business, which includes Gloria Jean’s Coffees and It’s A Grind Coffee House. Most recently Sam was the Senior Director of Retail Operations/Sales & Service at Oportun, where he was responsible for the rapid expansion of the business. Prior to that, his experience includes overseeing large chains and franchises through senior roles at Peet’s Coffee and Tea, Blockbuster and Subway.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kristi Kingery

SVP of Supply Chain & Quality Assurance | Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Speaker bio coming soon!

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!

Pedro Mora

Founder & CEO | Fajita Pete’s

Speaker bio coming soon!

Jason Morgan

CEO | Original ChopShop and bellagreen

Speaker bio coming soon!

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.

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.

Patrick Renna

Interim CEO | Wahlburgers

Patrick Renna is the Interim CEO 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

VP of Operations | Modern Market

Robin Robison brings more than 16 years of restaurant experience to her role as vice president of operations 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.

Antonio Swad

Founder & CEO | Porch Swing

Speaker bio coming soon!

Jim Vinz

CEO | Mongolian Concepts

Speaker bio coming soon!

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.

2018 SPEAKERS

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