Speakers

2017 Speakers​

Scott Kelly

Chris Wallace
Award-Winning Veteran Journalist

As the host of Fox News Sunday, each Sunday,
Chris Wallace interviews the week’s top newsmakers,
from Washington’s power players to world leaders. 
Over his extensive and impressive career, Wallace has
won every major broadcast news award for his reporting,
including three Emmy Awards, the Dupont-Columbia
Silver Baton, the Peabody Award, and the Sol Taishoff Award
for Broadcast Journalism from the National Press Foundation.
Most recently, he won the Paul White Award for lifetime
achievement from the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Bobby Flay
American chef, restarateur, and
reality television personality

He opened his first restaurant, Mesa Grill, in 1991, winning
immediate  acclaim. He made his first appearance on the
Food Network in 1994 and soon became a television fixture.
Flay has hosted several television shows including Bobby
Flay’s Barbecue Addiction, Brunch @ Bobby’s, Food Network
Star, Iron Chef America and Beat Bobby Flay. In 2008, Bobby
founded the  fast casual burger concept called Bobby’s Burger
Palace.

Juan Williams

Guy Adami
Analyst on CNBC's Fast Money and Professional Investor

Guy Adami is a TV personality, author, financial analyst, & a
professional investor. He is one of the original "Fast Money Five" 
on the show Fast Money (CNBC). In 2008 he joined
optionMONSTER with Pete Najarian and Jon Najarian as
the lead analyst for equities research. He also came on
board as managing director at Drakon Capital that same year.
On September 22, 2010, FOX Sports Radio announced a new
Saturday morning show called Stox n Jocks hosted by Adami
and the Najarian brothers. The show debuted on Saturday,
September 25.

Paul Saginaw

Charlie Gasparino
Senior Correspondent, Fox Business News

Charlie Gasparino provides on-air reporting throughout
the business day for the network, covering the latest news
from the financial world. Prior to joining FBN, he was an
on-air editor for CNBC where he was responsible for
breaking some of the biggest stories during the financial
crisis, including the first reports of AIG's government
bailout, details behind the collapse of Lehman Brothers
and the shakeups at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

Liz Williams
Chief Financial Officer, Taco Bell Corp.

Liz Williams is the chief financial officer for Taco Bell Corp,
a subsidiary of YUM! Brands, Inc., (NYSE: YUM). Liz leads
the finance, IT, eCommerce functions and is responsible
for financial planning and analysis, operations finance,
strategy and marketing analysis and franchising. In this
role she has been an instrumental leader in the Taco Bell’s
growth plan of becoming a $15 billion brand by 2022.

Paul Saginaw

Lisa Napoli
Author

In her three decades as a journalist, Lisa Napoli has
worked for 
The New York Times, MSNBC, the public radio
show Marketplace, 
and a variety of other outlets. She’s
covered everything from 
presidential campaigns, to hacker
conventions and a hostage 
standoff, to the dawn of the World
Wide Web. Her first book, 
Radio Shangri-La, is about the
impact of media culture on the 
mysterious Kingdom of Bhutan.
Lisa is also the author of Ray 
& Joan: The Man Who Made
The McDonald’s Fortune and 
The Woman Who Gave It All Away.   

Paul Saginaw

Dana Telsey
CEO and Chief Research Officer of
Telsey Advisory Group (TAG)

TAG’s research team covers U.S. and international companies
across all market caps in the following sectors: advertising,
apparel manufacturers, children’s and teen retailers, consumer
electronics retailers, cosmetics, department stores, discounters, 
footwear, gaming and lodging, home furnishings retailers, home improvement retailers, luxury goods, media, office supply retailers,
off-price retailers, pay TV companies, restaurants, specialty apparel
retailers, sporting goods retailers, and supermarkets. 

Paul Saginaw

Michelle Meyer
Head of US Economics, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Michelle Meyer is a managing director and head of US economics
at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. Based in New York, she
provides timely analysis of economic data and Federal Reserve
policy announcements to the sales force and traders. She is
responsible for providing the firm’s US economic forecasts,
including the outlook for GDP, inflation and Federal Reserve
policy. Meyer’s broad research interest include macroeconomics,
public policy and the housing market. 

 

Anita Adams, CFO, Black Bear Diner–Anita joined Black Bear Diner in March 2017. She has 24 years of experience across private and public companies with broad transaction experience. She most recently was the CFO of American Blue Ribbon Holdings.

 

Blake Bailey, CFO, Zaxby’s Franchising–Blake Bailey is the chief financial officer for Zaxby's Franchising, Inc. (ZFI). He began his career with Zaxby's Franchising, Inc., as corporate controller when the Zaxby's system consisted of 85 restaurants. During the past years with the company, Blake has been instrumental in helping adapt ZFI's financial infrastructure to support a 500-plus restaurant franchise system. Blake works closely with the founders, helping them develop financial strategies for the future. Blake also serves a key role in franchise development working directly with prospective licensees.

 

Gene Baldwin, Partner, CR3 Partners–Gene has more than 38 years of accounting, finance, senior management and advisory experience. He is a proven business leader with a well-established reputation for his ability to assess, develop and implement operational and financial improvement initiatives that enhance enterprise value for stakeholders. He has successfully served as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief operating officer and chief restructuring officer, and acted as an advisor for numerous companies in many industries.

 

Jeb Ball, Managing Director, Brookwood Associates–Jeb  has more than 25 years of experience advising senior management teams, boards of directors and business owners.

 

Kim Bartmann, Owner, Biltwell Restaurants–Kim is a James Beard-nominated restaurateur and owner of eight Minneapolis restaurants, each with its own personality. Her first restaurant, Barbette, which started in 1991 as Café Wyrd, cranks out crowd-pleasing French dishes; Pat’s Tap is a gastropub named after Bartmann’s mom; Red Stag Supperclub was the first LEED-certified restaurant in Minnesota; Tiny Diner has its own permaculture farm.

 

Bob Barton, CFO, Mod Pizza–With a background in accounting, Bob started his career at Deloitte. He currently serves as CFO for MOD Pizza which was named as the nation’s fastest-growing restaurant chain in 2015 by Technomic.

 

Dylan Bolden, Senior Partner & Managing Director, Boston Consulting Group–Dylan is a member of the consumer and marketing, sales and pricing practices at Bsotn Consulting Group. He heads the firm’s Dallas office and also leads the firms’ branding and loyalty topics globally.

 

Kevin Burke, Managing Director, Trinity Capital–Kevin is the founder and managing partner of Trinity Capital and under his leadership this well-respected, flourishing boutique investment banking firm has completed more than $20 billion in mergers and acquisitions, financial restructurings and financing transactions since its inception in 2000.

 

Damon Chandik, Managing Director & Group Head, Piper Jaffray & Co.–Damon is focused on providing investment banking, mergers & acquisitions and debt advisory services to consumer companies including restaurant companies.

 

Andrew Charles, Senior Analyst, Cowen & Co.–Andrew is a research analyst focused on the restaurant sector. Prior to joining Cowen in 2015, he spent six and a half years following restaurants as part of the Institutional Investor All-America ranked research team.

 

Stan Chia, COO, Grubhub–Stan oversees Grubhub’s portfolio of delivery businesses: Restaurants on the Run, DiningIn, Delivered Dish and LAbite. Since joining the company in 2015, he has helped grow Grubhub Delivery from five to nearly 70 markets.

 

Gary Chou, Vice President & Director, Matthews Real Estate Investment Services–Gary stands as the vice president and director of single-tenant net leased business for the Matthews Real Estate Investment Services (Matthews Retail Advisors™). Gary and his team specialize in advisory consulting and the disposition and acquisition of retail and restaurant properties nationwide. In addition to his role as partner and director of STNL at Matthews Real Estate Investment Services, Gary serves as the director of the restaurant practice group.

 

Mike Church, Managing Director, Deloitte–With over 23 years of experience in delivering sales, marketing and digital transformation, Mike is a managing director at Deloitte Digital focusing on the travel, hospitality and restaurant industries.

 

Stephen Cohen, Attorney at Law, Stephen Cohen, ESQ–Stephen is a solo practice attorney with a national focus in the restaurant sector. His areas of expertise include leasing, financing, real estate, business formations and workouts.

 

Nick Cole, Executive Vice President, Wells Fargo Restaurant Finance–Nick is group head of Wells Fargo Restaurant Finance. Wells provides capital and other banking services to owners of multi-unit, branded retail businesses in the restaurant and convenience store sectors.

 

Dan Collins, Principal, The Cypress Group–Dan joined The Cypress Group in 2014 following a 35-year career in the restaurant and financial service industries. Prior to joining Cypress, Dan was senior vice president & treasurer of The Wendy’s Company.

 

Lester Cook, Director, KBKG - Lester Cook, CCSP is a 15-year veteran in the tax specialty service industry. He is the leader of KBKG’s Fixed Asset Review Practice. He is a certified member of the American Society of Cost Segregation professionals, a group that he has been a part of since 2008. Throughout his career, Lester has completed cost segregation analyses on thousands of properties ranging from office space leasehold improvements to multi-billion dollar industrial complexes and hotel and resort projects. He has worked with many Fortune 500 companies successfully representing his claims to both IRS and Financial Auditors.

 

Craig Culver, Chairman, Culver’s–Craig co-founded Culver’s in 1987. From one restaurant and a vision to serve guests the best ButterBurgers® and frozen custard in the community, Culver’s has become one of the most successful quick-serve restaurant franchises.

 

Robert Daniel, Managing Director, Regions Bank–Robert is the group head and managing director of the restaurant banking group at Regions Bank.  The group was formed in 2009 and is extremely active in the sector with a national focus on established operating companies, franchisors, and franchisees of top brands in the restaurant industry.  The team includes dedicated industry specialists who average 15 + years of experience in the sector offering deep domain expertise and a specific understanding of the unique needs of the restaurant space.  Regions Bank has a long term commitment to the industry and provides a full menu of banking products and services including capital markets, lending, and treasury management. 

 

Mario Del Pero, Co-Owner, Mendocino Farms–Mario got started in the restaurant business when he was still a student at USC, helping to build Baja Sharkeez into the dominant Beach Lifestyle concept it is today. After Sharkeez, he created Skew’s Teriyaki, one of the first fast casual Asian concepts. Together with his partner and wife Ellen Chen, they grew Skew's to three units in Los Angeles before selling the company in 2001. Determined to lead through empowerment and build a thriving business from just a good idea and a lot of passion, they created Mendocino Farms a fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in gourmet sandwiches.

 

Randy Dewitt, CEO, Front Burner Restaurants–Randy overseeas all developmental aspects of the business which includes more than 80 restaurants Mother Pearl’s, Rockfish, Twin Peaks, The Ranch, Ojos Locos, Whiskey Cake, Velvet Taco and more!

 

Kevin Dunn, President, Dunn Enterprises– Kevin is founder and president of Dunn Enterprises, a high-impact consultancy that coaches and advises CEOs and Boards. As an operating partner and advisory board member with several private equity groups, Kevin is involved with start-ups, acquisitions, and preparing large and small companies for sale. He has particular expertise in hospitality and retail: franchising, market optimization, in-store merchandising, operations simplification, and talent development.

 

Beth Ewen, Editor-in-Chief, Franchise Times–Franchise Times magazine is the news and information source for franchising, which is read by the who’s who of franchising. Beth directs editorial coverage, reports and writes articles on a variety of topics, and creates original projects.

 

David Farkas, Columnist, Restaurant Finance Monitor–David has covered the restaurant industry for nearly 29 years as a reporter and food writer. David is currently a freelance contributor to Restaurant Finance Monitor, covering private equity, and to Franchise Times magazine.

 

Ira Fils, CFO, Habit Burger Grill–Ira was appointed CFO and secretary of The Habit Restaurants, LLC in August 2008 and was appointed CFO and secretary of The Habit Restaurants, Inc. in August 2014. Previously, Ira served as CFO of Mimi’s Café and has served in various financial capacities with increasing responsibility which led to him becoming CFO at Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc.

 

Rick Gibson, Shareholder, Monroe Moxness Berg–A shareholder at Monroe Moxness Berg, Rick represents and advises businesses, business owners and financial institutions. In addition to acting as general corporate counsel, Rick regularly assists clients in the negotiation and completion of business transactions.

 

Scott Gittrich, President/CEO, Toppers Pizza–Scott delved into the restaurant industry at age 15. He quickly advanced through the ranks at Dominos. In 1991, Scott realized that he was ready for the next chapter in his life and developed his own unique pizza concept. Toppers Pizza is an eclectic pizza delivery franchise brand.

 

Nicolas Glorieux, Partner, CPA, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause–Nicolas is a partner in our Pittsburgh office with a specialization in our commercial and manufacturing – distribution practices, including specific experience serving middle market private and public clients. With more than 20 years of public accounting experience, he leads the firm’s Pittsburgh assurance practice.

 

Adam Goldberg, CEO, Fresh Brothers–Since the launch of the first Fresh Brothers in Manhattan Beach, CA in 2008, Founder & CEO Adam Goldberg and his brother, Scott Goldberg,  have opened 19  premium family-style pizzerias.

 

John Gordon, Principal, Pacific Management Consulting Group–Pacific Management Consulting Group provides niche analysis, research and advisory services relative to restaurants. John has more than thirty years of experience in chain restaurant operations.

 

Michael Gottlieb, Assurance Partner – Global Leader Restaurant Services, Ernst & Young–Michael, an Ernst & Young veteran manages services, including assurance, advisory, real estate, transactional, human resources, and operational services, to several restaurant clients ranging from quick-service restaurants to full-service dinner houses. 

 

Brad Grow, Principal, QSP Capital

 

Spencer Hart, Senior Managing Director, Guggenheim Securities–Spencer joined Guggenheim Securities in 2013 to help build out the firm’s investment banking platform. Since then, they have completed over 30 M&A transactions and over 40 financing transactions in the restaurant and retail sectors.

 

Jim Haslem, CEO, CS Advisors–Jim and his consulting firm help clients to achieve the best deal terms possible on their lease and debt obligations. Often this means restructuring leases for multi-unit restaurants and retailers. Jim draws upon over 30 years of experience in negotiating transactions. 

 

Allan Hickok, Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group–Allan is an experienced Wall Street professional with more than 27 years of capital markets experience as a consumer focused investment banker, equity research analyst specializing in the restaurant and specialty retail food industry segments, senior advisor to a global management consulting firm and chain restaurant CEO.

 

Luke Holden, CEO & Co-Founder, Luke’s Lobster–Luke was born and raised in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He left home to study finance and management, but remained a Mainer at heart. After three years in finance in New York, he decided it was about time to bring a taste of Maine to Manhattan. He teamed up with his father – Jeff, a seafood processor -- to open Luke’s Lobster.

 

Michael Ingram, Vice President, National Franchise Sales–During his tenure at NFS, Michael has advised thousands of buyers and sellers on the resale of franchised businesses while gaining respect from franchisors, lenders, accountants, CPAs and attorneys.

 

Tom Kaiser, Associate Editor, Franchise Times–Tom is associate editor of Franchise Times. Franchise Times magazine is the news and information source for franchising. Tom is also the deputy editor of Food On Demand, a new media project for restaurateurs, foodservice professionals, delivery providers and suppliers profiting at the intersection of food, mobility and technology.

 

Matthew Kelly, Managing Director, North Point Advisors–Matt is a partner and managing director, having been with North Point Advisors since shortly after its founding in 2004. He is focused on the consumer sector, including restaurants, retail and consumer products and services.

 

Michael Kelly, CEO, Kelly Capital–The first of the Kelly Companies were founded nearly two decades ago. At its inception, Michael focused on the acquisition of whole loans and whole loan portfolios secured by commercial real estate. Since then, he has expanded his focus to include operating companies and has taken two public companies private.

 

Malcolm Knapp, President, Malcolm M. Knapp–Through the New York-based consulting firm he started in 1972, Malcolm provides counsel to CEOs, strategic planning, quantification of industry trends, forecasting, and marketing research/analysis to clients in the foodservice industry. He is the creator of KNAPP-TRACKTM, a monthly sales and guest count tracking report and KNAPPTRACK FLASHTM, a weekly report conducted for the Unites States, California and 20 television markets.

 

Srini Kumar, CEO, CraftWorks–Srini is the CEO of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, the largest craft brewery casual dining restaurant operator in the country. They have franchised and company-owned restaurants primarily operating under the Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants and Rock Bottom Breweries & Restaurants brands.

 

Tony Laday, CFO, Fogo de Chaos–Tony, has been the chief financial officer at Fogo de Chao, Inc. since April 2014. Tony served as vice president of finance and investor relations and treasurer of Brinker International from 2010 to 2013, where he served as senior director of financial planning and analysis from 2007 to 2010. 

 

Brandon Landry, CEO/Owner, Walk-On’s–Brandon has grown Walk-On’s from a single location that no bank wanted to finance into one of the hottest casual dining concepts around. As CEO, he provides leadership for all of their restaurants.

 

Kevin Lane, Principal, Deloitte–Kevin has served in a variety of leadership and technical roles over the course of his career.  He now serves a variety of onsumer and industrial products (C&IP) clients throughout the U.S. in meeting their risk and compliance objectives. His areas of focus include compliance, third-party risk, and operations. In addition to leading advisory teams for select C&IP accounts, Kevin serves as Deloitte Advisory’s leader for its franchisor advisory practice.

 

Fred LeFranc, Chaos Strategist & CEO, Results thru Strategy–Fred is the founder/CEO of Results thru Strategy, Inc., a consultancy that focuses on helping companies, private equity, owners and C-level executives identify and implement strategies that deliver long term sustainable success for their companies. As a change agent, Fred aids executives in modifying their behavior to hone in on their natural strengths.

 

Gary Levy, Partner, Hospitality Industry Practice Director, CohnReznick–Gary, CPA, is a partner with CohnReznick and is the firm’s hospitality industry practice leader. He specializes in providing innovative management advice to the hospitality industry, advising over 500 operators throughout the country, including many premier restaurateurs and celebrity chefs in the United States.

 

Roger Lipton, President, Lipton Financial Services–Roger has followed the restaurant industry for four decades as an analyst, investment banker, investor and advisor, He manages an investment partnership, with a particular emphasis on restaurants and retailing.

 

Bill Long, CFO, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery–Bill serves as the CFO of Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, a rapidly growing breakfast and brunch concept. Bill has 12 years of experience leading accounting and finance functions within the restaurant industry.

 

Cindy McLoughlin, Partner, CohnReznick–Cindy is a partner with CohnReznick and leader of the firm’s Hospitality Industry Practice. With more than 20 years of experience, she has developed extensive expertise in providing audit services to mid through large-sized companies. She works with clients in the hospitality and retail and consumer products industries and specializes in the capital markets arena in private equity and SEC audit requirements for public companies.

 

Jocelyn Mangan, COO, Snagajob–Jocelyn serves as Snagajob’s COO, where she is responsible for the creation and management of products. She has almost two decades of experience building iconic global mobile apps and market-leading software products.

 

John Mitchell, Partner, Akerman–With a practice devoted to all facets of commercial restructuring and reorganization, John has significant experience with complex bankruptcies, out-of-court workouts and sales, voluntary liquidations, asset sales, and general insolvency related litigation. He represents lenders, creditors, debtors, trustees, and committees across the United States in receiverships, assignments for the benefit of creditors, and asset sales. 

 

Dennis Monroe, Chairman, Monroe Moxness Berg–Co-Founder and chairman of Monroe Moxness Berg, Dennis is a pioneer in the corporate financing with a broad network of finance contacts and clients. He assist businesses, from emerging companies to multi-national firms, by providing creative ideas, identifying unique financing sources, and developing the financial tools necessary for their growth and development.

 

Paul Motenko, Co-CEO, Stacked Restaurants–Paul is Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of Stacked Restaurants, a concept that features burgers, pizza, salads, and mac ‘n’ cheese in a create-your-own menu format. Paul was previously CEO of BJ’s Restaurants.

 

Navin Nagrani, Executive Vice President, Principal, Hilco Global
Navin serves as a central dealmaker in many of Hilco’s largest principal and advisory-related transactions. His primary responsibilities include leading several key strategic initiatives for the firm.

 

John Nicolopoulos, Partner, Assurance Services, RSM US–John is the US leader of RSM’s retail and restaurant practice working across the firm’s assurance, tax and consulting practices. Drawing from his 35 year plus career both in retail store operations and public accounting, John develops strategies to better understand the industry and bring these insights to the firm’s clients and the broader retail community.

 

Cristin O’Hara, Managing Director & Market Executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch–Cristin is a managing director and group head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Restaurant Group. Clients include large corporate restaurant brands, smaller franchisors, multi-unit franchisees of national or regional scale, and many private equity firms.

 

Armando Pedroza, Managing Director/Group Head, Citizens Bank–Armando is a restaurant finance leader with talent for growing relationships and business. He has been in the restaurant lending industry for more than 20 years and oversees franchisee and chain restaurant lending.

 

Michael Phalen, Managing Director, Wells Fargo Securities–Mike has been the managing director of investment banking division at Wells Fargo Advisors (Wachovia Securities LLC) and managing director of Wachovia Corporation since July 2008. He has broad experience in finance, accounting and administration and has more than 15 years of experience, including over a decade of restaurant industry experience.

 

Randy Pianin, CFO, JAE Restaurant Group–Randy has more than 30 years of progressive finance, accounting and operations experience in public, private and private equity owned restaurant, global retail, transportation, e-commerce and consumer products and services companies. He has significant Big 4 public accounting experience serving SEC and privately held companies. Randy is the CFO of JAE Restaurant Group, a multi-unit Wendy’s franchisee with restaurants in Florida, New Mexico and Texas.

 

Stephen Polanski, Senior Vice President, Buxton–Stephen leads Buxton’s retail and healthcare consulting teams. He has worked to build relationships with retail and restaurant clients to help them get the maximum benefit from customer analytics.

 

Larry Reinstein, President, LJR Hospitality Ventures–Larry is an industry veteran with a proven track record in growing successful brands. As president of LJR Hospitality Ventures, he now offers strategic counsel to his clients utilizing more than 30 years of experience as a restaurant company owner, professional manager and industry consultant.

 

Glenn Richards, Partner, Crowe Horwath–Glenn has more then 10 years of accounting and assurance service including work with companies reporting under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the manufacturing, construction and contracting, distribution, and service industries, ranging in size between $20 million and $1 billion in annual sales.

 

Jonathan Rollo, Commander-in-Leaf, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop–Jonathan has always had an appetite for fresh ingredients and living a healthy life. With the eighth and ninth Greenleaf restaurants recently opened, the farm-to-face culinary concept embodies his wellness philosophy.

 

Paul Saginaw, Co-Founder, Zingerman’s–Paul is co-founder along with Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s Delicatessen and Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. It includes more than 10 businesses, 750 employees and 23 partners.

 

Brett Schulman, CEO, Cava Grill–Brett is the chief executive of Cava Group, Inc., a leading Mediterranean culinary brand focusing on fresh, healthful cuisine. Cava brings modern, authentic, and vibrant Mediterranean food to a national audience in both restaurant and grocery channels through a unique, culinary-driven experience. Prior to Cave, Brett spent over a decade in the investment-banking world.

 

Neal Sherman, President, TAGeX/RestaurantEquipment.bid–Neal is the president of TAGeX Brands, a company that for more than 30 years has handled facility transitions and equipment liquidation in the restaurant industry.

 

Chad Spaulding, Managing Director - Origination, CapitalSpring–Chad is a managing director at CapitalSpring, a billion dollar private investment firm dedicated exclusively to the restaurant industry. He has spent nearly 20 years in the M&A and corporate financial markets, including the past 14 years focused on transactions in the restaurant industry.  Previously, Chad was a managing director at Trinity Capital and an investment banker in the corporate finance and M&A groups at Goldman, Sachs & Co.

 

David Swinghamer, Operating Partner, Stripes Group–David focuses on Stripes Group consumer opportunities, with particular interest in growing select restaurant, food and beverage, and retail businesses. David recently served as CEO of Shake Shack.

 

Matt Talcoff, Partner and Consumer Products Industry Tax Leader, RSM US–Matt specializes in tax – private clients and consumer products industry with a retail and restaurant focus.

 

Rick Thompson, Managing Director, BMO Harris Bank–Since 1987 Rick has held progressive leadership roles, particularly in the restaurant lending niche. He has helped to build franchise finance platforms from the ground up into success stories.

 

Jonathan Tibus, Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal–Jonathan specializes in developing, evaluating, and implementing restructuring and performance improvement plans for under performing companies, largely in the restaurant, retail, and hospitality sectors. He has more than 19 years experience in interim management and financial advisory roles and has managed numerous in-court and out-of-court restructuring efforts.

 

Christina Tosi, Chef, Founder, Milk Bar–Christina, a two-time James Beard Award winner, is the founder and owner of Milk Bar, called one of the most exciting bakeries in the country by bon appétit magazine.

 

Matt Tucker, COO, Olo–Olo is the leading digital ordering engine for the restaurant industry. Since 2005, Olo has been the interface to the on-demand world for leading restaurant brands such as Applebee's, Chili's, Chipotle, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Jamba Juice, Noodles & Company, Shake Shack, and Wingstop. At Olo, Matt is focused on helping operators maximize revenue per square foot and drive value through ecommerce.

 

Nick Upton, Business Reporter, Franchise Times–Nick is a business reporter for Franchise Times, a national publisher of business trade journals in franchising and finance. The company publishes Franchise Times Magazine, a national franchise industry trade journal and the Restaurant Finance Monitor, a monthly financial newsletter which covers the capital markets in the restaurant industry.

 

Lisa van Kesteren, CEO, SeeLevel HX–SeeLevel HX is an industry thought leader on capturing, managing, and improving the human experience (HX) component of CX management. Lisa has more than 25 years of experience in the customer experience and data collection industry. Under Lisa’s leadership, SeeLevel HX grew from a niche player in the mystery shopping space to a business intelligence industry leader that puts business leaders in control of their brand’s customer experience delivery.

 

Michael Viola, President & Founder, PURE Restaurant Solutions–Michael is a “Big-4” CPA/MBA with more than 15 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industries. In addition, he has worked directly for several restaurant concepts as an auditor, analyst, controller and CFO. In 2013, he formed PURE Restaurant Solutions to handle a restaurant’s back office accounting, payroll, payables, reporting and other duties.

 

Tim Watt, Partner, Bennett Thrasher–Tim is a partner in the tax department and is a member of the real estate practice. He has more than 13 years of experience and works primarily in the US real estate industry focusing on complex tax consulting and compliance engagements for domestic international investors, developers, contractors, managers and other closely-held real estate concerns. 

 

Dana Zukofsky, Director, BDO USA–Dana has more than 10 years of experience in public accounting and four years of experience as the director of finance for a well-known restaurant company. Prior to joining BDO, she served as an associate director at a large regional accounting firm where she specialized in providing tax, assurance and financial consulting services to clients in the restaurant industry.

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