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.
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.
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.
Director of Operations | SuViche Hospitality Group
Ryan Egozi’s training with Fast Casual concepts like On the Border, Fine Dining Concepts like Cantina Laredo and Quick Service Concepts like Rubio’s, coupled with a familiarity for individually owned and operated restaurant concepts, built a level of knowledge and understanding for the entire industry. Ryan joined the SuViche Hospitality Group in 2012 as GM. Ryan successfully implemented systems and processes to streamline operations. He was able to build operational processes for production, labor, ordering, inventory, and cost control among many others. In 2013, Ryan was promoted to Director of Operations where he now leads operational aspects for all of SuViche’s locations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
COO | Firenza
Dave Baer started as a driver for Domino’s Pizza while in college 1991. He managed a Domino’s Pizza store in 1994 and was Rookie manager of the year. From 1994-1998, he held positions of Supervisor, Senior Supervisor and Training Director of Corporate operations at Domino’s Pizza in the Northeast. From 1998-2012, he was VP of Operations of a 17 store Franchise. Since 2012, he has been the Director of Operations at the Zinga Franchise group and multi unit franchisee. From 2014 to present, he has been President and COO/ Co Founder of Firenza Pizza. He has since opened locations across the country and has over 100 in development.
President & CEO | A&W Restaurants
Kevin Bazner is a 47-year veteran of the restaurant industry and has been with A&W Restaurants for 24 years. In 1988, Kevin took over the International Division of A&W, based out of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2000 he was made President and COO served in this role until 2003 when Yum! Brand’s purchased the brand. Kevin then served as President and COO of Smoothie King Corp. He returned to A&W as President and CEO in October, 2011. Kevin is committed to the long-term development of the iconic 97-year-old chain and continues to head the day-to-day operations and development of A&W’s International business.
Laura Rea Dickey
Don Hawkins, Jr.
Linda Appel Lipsius
Natalie Anderson Liu
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