2017 Speakers


A&W Restaurants – Paul Martino, COO
Paul has worked in the foodservice industry since he was a teenager and has been with A&W Restaurants, Inc. for more than 20 years. He first joined A&W Restaurants in the early 1990s. He was drawn to the brand’s heritage and at the opportunity to work in a multi-unit environment. He served as VP of operations during the brand’s transition to YUM! from 2002-2004, then spent several years as a consultant before returning to the A&W brand in 2011. Paul became A&W’s COO in October of 2011 during the brand’s acquisition by a partnership of domestic and international A&W franchisees.


American Family Care
Founded by Dr. Bruce Irwin with a single location in 1982, American Family Care has pioneered the concept of non-emergency room urgent care. With its 2013 acquisition of the Doctors Express franchise, AFC has become the nation’s leading provider of urgent care, accessible primary care, and occupational medicine.


Athletic Republic – Charlie Graves, CEO
Charlie Graves is the CEO of Athletic Republic, an emerging leader in sports performance training. As a former competitive athlete, he embraced the opportunity to become majority owner in 2007, as it would combine his passion for both sports and business. Charlie graduated from Iowa State University, where he persevered from a freshman walk-on swimmer to All-American status. With any Olympic dreams ending amid the U.S. Team's boycott of the 1980 Moscow games, Charlie turned his competitive talents towards the business sector while continuing to challenge his athletic skills through endurance sports.  


Auntie Anne’s – Heather Neary, President
Heather was named president of Auntie Anne’s in November 2015. She joined Auntie Anne’s in 2005 and has held various roles in the company in which she was responsible for the oversight of marketing, communications, the franchise business consultant team, research and development, product innovation, and the franchisee leadership team. Most recently, Heather served as vice president, global marketing. Prior to joining Auntie Anne’s, Heather held roles in marketing and as a managing editor for a business magazine.


Batteries Plus – Russ Reynolds, CEO
Russ is responsible for driving the company’s strategic and rapid growth. Under his leadership, Batteries Plus Bulbs has seen system revenue more than double. In 2010 Mr. Reynolds successfully expanded the company’s store offerings to include light bulbs, providing retail customers and businesses with one source for their power needs.


Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – Neil Newcomb, President
Neil partnered with the founders of Brixx Wood Fired Pizza to start Brixx Franchise Systems, LLC, in order to franchise the long established and Carolina favorite casual dining restaurant chain. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza combines high quality Neapolitan style pizzas with salads, sandwiches, pasta, and a bright and fun atmosphere, along with 24 craft brewed beers on tap to create the most exciting restaurant in the country today.  Currently, 22 franchise units are open, 2 are under construction, and an additional 15 are contracted to open.  


Buffalo Wings & Rings – Nader Masadeh, President & CEO
As CEO of Cincinnati-based Buffalo Wings & Rings, Nader strives to spread his passion for providing the best “club level” sports restaurant experience in the industry to all levels of the franchise system’s 70 locations across the globe. Buffalo Wings & Rings has enjoyed incredible success under Nader’s leadership and he has provided the tools for nearly half of single-unit franchisees who have entered the system to expand to multi-unit ownership.


Chicken Salad Chick – Scott Deviney, CEO and President
Scott joined Chicken Salad Chick as CEO and president in May 2015. Prior to his leadership at Chicken Salad Chick, he served as CEO of SDZ, an Atlanta-based, multi-unit Wendy’s franchisee. Scott enjoyed a career in banking preceding his restaurant leadership roles, serving as SVP with SunTrust Bank and VP of Fifth Third Bank as a restaurant industry specialist at each premier financial institution. As CEO of Chicken Salad Chick, Deviney brings extensive leadership and a wealth of restaurant management experience. 


Cinnabon International ­– Joe Guith, President
Joe is the president of Cinnabon®, LLC, the market leader among cinnamon roll bakeries. The company is well-known for fresh, aromatic, oven-hot cinnamon rolls, as well as a variety of other baked goods and specialty beverages. Cinnabon® currently operates over 1,200 franchised locations worldwide. Joe has spent the past 20 years leading many operations within the food service, consumer products, technology and retail arenas.


CoreLife Eatery – Scott Davis, CCO & Larry Wilson, CEO
Scott is an executive and innovator in the fast casual restaurant industry. He served at the chief concept officer of Panera Bread from the brands inception until December 2015.  In the CCO role Scott oversaw all food and bakery product development, category and menu management, restaurant design and sustainability. In addition Davis was a member of the executive strategy team for Panera and confidant to CEO, Ron Shaich, for more than twenty years.  


Cowboy Chicken, Sean Kennedy, President & CEO
Sean Kennedy has been instrumental in establishing Cowboy Chicken as the premium fast casual restaurant brand that pioneered wood fired rotisserie chicken. Cowboy Chicken was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1981.


Del Taco – Steve Brake, CFO
Steve is the executive vice president and CFO of Del Taco Restaurants, Inc. and has been with the company since September 2003, previously serving as its vice president, treasurer and controller. At Del Taco Steve has also led various strategic initiatives focused on comparable store sales performance, cost control strategies and building a foundation to drive and support company and franchised restaurant growth in new and existing markets. 


Dunkin’ Brands – Jason Maceda, Vice President of U.S. Finance
Jason is the vice president of US financial planning and field treasury for Dunkin’ Brands.  He oversees all forecasting, budgeting, risk mitigation, and financial management decisions for the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins Brands in the US. His Field Treasury team manages the banking relationships with institutions who provide capital to Dunkin’ Brands’ franchisees. In addition, Jason is responsible for managing Dunkin’ Brands’ real estate portfolio, which consists of approximately 1,000 retail properties.  


Elevated Brands – Glenn Franson, CEO
Glenn is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Elevated Brands, a holding company for values-based brands established in 2016 for Massage Heights, an upscale massage and skin therapy franchise, and The Gents Place, an ultra-premium men’s grooming franchise. In addition to leading the growth of Elevated Brands and acquisition of new companies, Glenn plays a key role in international development for Massage Heights while also leading operations and cost-saving initiatives as president of the brand’s supply chain, Summit Franchise Supply.


FASTSIGNS International – Catherine Monson, CEO and President
Catherine is the CEO and president of FASTSIGNS International, Inc. She joined FASTSIGNS® in 2008 and brings more than 30 years of franchising and management experience including sales and marketing, operations, development, training and advocacy. In 2009, she was the recipient of the International Franchise Association’s prestigious Bonny LeVine Award, given annually to a female franchisor in recognition for contributions to the growth of the franchising industry.


Fazoli’s Restaurants – Carl Howard, President & CEO
Carl is CEO of Fazoli’s, America’s largest fast-casual Italian chain. Over the past few years, Carl has re-engineered Fazoli’s from a QSR concept facing many challenges to a thriving and growing fast casual brand with over 35 locations planned to open in the next two years. Under his leadership, Fazoli’s continues to experience tremendous sales momentum. Franchised restaurants are currently experiencing 3x the sales growth versus the industry and have now posted 15 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth and have seen sales remain positive for 77 of the last 81 months.


Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers – Andrew Thegvall, Senior Vice President Strategic Growth & Chief Legal Officer
Andrew is focused on taking Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, the fast-casual restaurant concept is known for its made to order food including, lean ground beef steakburgers, Vienna Beef hot dogs and shoestring fries, as well as dessert treats into new markets and exploring value added opportunities. Andrew enjoyed a career as a law firm partner prior to venturing into the restaurant sector. 


Fuzzy’s Taco Shop – Mel Knight, President
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, started on Berry Street in Fort Worth, Texas, was bought in 2003 by father and son restaurateurs Alan and Chuck Bush. After revamping the original store and crafting the perfect combination of tacos, drinks and success, they set out to share it with everyone. Fuzzy’s recently sold 70% stake to NRD Capital Management LLC.


Gatti’s Pizza – Michael Poates, President
Michael Poates is an exceptional leader and serves as the president of Gatti’s Pizza and is the vice chairman of Gigi’s Cupcakes, both affiliates of FundCorp, Inc. In those roles, Michael provides leadership and strategic direction and influence to more than 200 locations. Gatti’s Pizza is one of the top 25 pizza franchises in the United States. During the past 48 years, this iconic brand has operated two distinctive platforms: family fast casual restaurants and family entertainment centers. Gatti’s Pizza has recently revitalized their franchising efforts, and is now actively marketing franchises in 14 states.


Great Harvest Franchising – Eric Keshin, President
Eric is a principal owner and president/CMO of Great Harvest Bread Franchise Inc. He is responsible for implementing all branding and sales growth strategies for the franchise with over 200 stores across the US. Great Harvest is the only Bakery Cafe making freshly baked whole grain bread, made on site daily at all 200 local bakeries, as well as fresh made sandwiches and other fresh baked products. 


Growler USA – America’s Brew Pub – Dan White, CEO
Dan has had several entrepreneurial ventures throughout his lifetime and has significant experience in the franchise space. Prior to Growler USA, Dan founded the Rapid Refill Ink franchise, where he served as the company’s CEO and Chairman of the Board. Prior to that, he served as CEO of Cyber Shamrock Enterprises, LLC, for nearly 10 years.


Home Franchise Concepts – Shirin Behzadi, CEO
Shirin joined Budget Blinds as chief financial officer in 1999, providing fiscal, strategic and operational guidance for Budget Blinds and the continually growing family of brands, including Tailored Living, Home Franchise Concepts, BB Commercial Solutions, Inspired Drapes, Concrete Craft and MADE Blinds. Today, as CEO of Home Franchise Concepts, Shirin leads the executive team to direct all aspects of the company’s operations to expand our family of brands to become the largest retailers in the home improvement space. 


Huey Magoo’s Restaurants – Andy Howard, CEO
Andy is the chief executive officer of Huey Magoo’s Restaurants, LLC, a position he has held since May of 2016. During 2014 and continuing until May of this year, he served as a consultant in connection with their formation and startup. During 2013, he was the chief operating officer for The Cheese Course in Miami, Florida, and from 2003 until 2012, he was the executive vice-president and chief marketing officer for Wingstop Restaurants, Inc. in Dallas, Texas.


la Madeleine French Bakery & Café – John Cahill, CEO
John Cahill is the restaurant operator’s operator with senior level leadership experience of more than thirty years for legendary multi-unit brands such as Spaghetti Warehouse, Applebee’s under Apple Gold – one of the largest Applebee’s franchisees in America, and Le Duff America, the second largest café bakery operator in the world. John currently serves as president for Le Duff America’s Dallas based la Madeleine French Bakery & Café brand.


Long John Silver’s – James O’Reilly, CEO
James has been the chief executive officer of Long John Silver's, LLC since March 2, 2015. He has more than 20 years of senior level leadership in consumer driven marketing, brand management and product development, including extensive experience within the quick service restaurant segment including Sonic Corp., Einstein Noah Restaurant Group and YUM! Brands.


Marco’s Pizza – Buddy Solomon, CFO
Buddy joined Marco’s Pizza as chief financial officer in March 2016. Buddy is a senior level financial executive with more than 30 years of experience including controllership and CFO roles in the franchise restaurant, publishing, distribution and internet advertising industries. He comes to Marco’s from Arby’s, where he was a vice president. As CFO, Buddy will oversee the Accounting, Financial Planning & Analysis, IT, Treasury, and Benefits departments.


McAlister’s Deli – Paul Macaluso, President
Paul, a restaurant industry veteran, currently serves as president of McAlister’s Deli, an award-winning fast-casual restaurant chain with more than 375 locations in 25 states known for its Big & Bold Sandwiches, Famous Sweet Tea and world class hospitality. Paul’s background includes more than 20 years of operations, franchising and marketing experience with some of the most prominent brands in the foodservice industry.


Moe’s Southwest Grill – Bruce Schroeder, President
Bruce is the president of Moe’s Southwestern Grill; a leading fast casual chain with nearly 650 restaurants in 40 states. Moe’s is part of Focus Brands a leading franchisor & licensor of restaurants (McAllister’s & Schlotsky’s) and snack brands, (Auntie Anne’s, Carvel & Cinnabon). 


MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes ­– Michael Morales, CFO
Michael is the chief financial officer of MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes where he has been instrumental in refining and improving operations while enhancing the communication between the corporate team and franchisees in the more than 100 unit system. Mike has served in the role since February 2014 and prior to working at MOOYAH, he served as vice president of finance at True North Advisors. A restaurant industry veteran and graduate of Southern Methodist University, Mike began his career with Steak n Shake and also worked on the accounting staff at Brinker International. 


Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom – Sirini Kumar, CEO, Craftworks
Sirini has been the CEO of CraftWorks Restaurants & Brewery, Inc. since January 10, 2014. Craftworks brands include: Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom. Prior to Craftworks he has held positions in a variety of franchise companies including; Baskin-Robbins, Dunkin’ Brands and Pearle Vision.


Penn Station East Coast Subs – Craig Dunaway, President
Craig has been president of Penn Station since 1999. He formerly had ownership interests in a Papa John’s® franchisee that owned 11 stores, and he served as the secretary/treasurer for that Papa John’s® franchisee. Penn Station was named one of Forbes’ Best Franchises to Buy and QSR’s Best Franchise Deals in 2016. Last year, Penn Station was named the No. 1 sandwich brand by Nation Restaurant News’ Consumer Picks survey.


Pollo Compero, Tim Pulido, President & CEO
Pollo Campero is the world's largest fast food chain of Latin American origin and serves more than 100 million customers per year, with operations in 15 countries across 3 continents. Tim comes to Pollo Campero from Booz & Company, a leading global consulting firm, where he played a key role in formulating the worldwide strategy and tactical plans for Pollo Campero.


Renue Systems ­– David Grossman, CEO
David is the owner and CEO of Renue Systems, Inc., a global provider of comprehensive deep cleaning services to the hospitality industry. The Chicago-based company services many leading hotels and is preferred vendor partner of Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Fairmont, Best Western, Wyndham and others. Renue Systems is a franchisor and operator with nearly 30 offices across North America and overseas. Founded in 1991 by a 21 year-old individual to clean carpets, the company has grown substantially and expanded its capabilities so it can solve the comprehensive and rigorous needs of high-end hotels.


Sbarro – David Karam, CEO
David is the chief executive officer of Sbarro, a leading Italian quick service restaurant company. He joined Sbarro when he was appointed chairman of the board in January of 2012 and assumed the additional duties of CEO in March of 2013. Before joining Sbarro, David was the president of Wendy’s International from 2008 to 2011. During his tenure at Wendy’s, he led a successful turnaround, which included significant improvements in product quality, operational execution and brand profitability. 


School of Rock – Dzana Homan, CEO
CEO since June 2014, Dzana (pronounced ZHA-na) Homan was the head of Futurekids when she experienced her first School of Rock show in 2007. At a live show with a friend whose child started taking his first lessons earlier that year, she was moved by the energy she saw and felt from the stage. Two years into the job, Homan is executing an aggressive growth plan to move School of Rock beyond its core of inspiring young rockers.


Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids – Scott Sharkey, CEO
Scott is the co-founder and CEO of Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids & Sharkey’s Hair It Is, a division of Sharkey’s Franchising Company. Scott opened the first Sharkey’s Cuts for Kids and currently serves as Sharkey's (and its affiliates’) CEO. Scott's responsibilities with Sharkey’s involve all aspects of public relations, advertising, and marketing. Further, Scott is responsible for franchise sales and franchisee development. 


Sky Zone – Jeff Platt, President & CEO
Jeff has been serving as the President & CEO of Sky Zone since 2011 and has led the effort to expand Sky Zone into a global brand operating in 5 countries with over 150 locations, and $300m+ in global revenue. Jeff’s focus on people and innovation has helped land Sky Zone as one of the Top Places to work by Forbes Magazine, Los Angeles’s fastest growing private companies, and ranked on INCs franchise 500 list 5 years in a row. 


Sub Zero Ice Cream & Yogurt – Jerry Hancock, CEO
Jerry is the CEO and founder of Sub Zero Ice Cream, the nation’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream franchise with more than 50 domestic stores and locations in China and the United Arab Emirates. Sub Zero is a science spectacle when it comes to serving made-to-order -321 degree liquid nitrogen treats that are completely customizable and cater to a range of dietary needs. Sub Zero offers seven cream bases, including lactose free, vegan and sugar-free options, as well as premium ice cream and custard. 


Sylvan Learning ­– John McAuliffe, CEO
John joined the Sylvan family in January 2010 as the chief financial officer. As CFO, John was responsible for creating the annual budget and forecasting the financial outlook of the company. In January 2016, John was promoted to the role of chief executive officer for Sylvan. As CEO, John has hit the ground running, laying out an ambitious roadmap for Sylvan’s future success. John has spearheaded efforts to streamline Sylvan’s business model over the last year, resulting in the most flexible and dynamic education franchise in the country.


The Wendy's Company - Angela Coopler, Director
Angela Coppler is the director of franchise development for The Wendy’s Company, spearheading all aspects of franchise management, franchise recruiting and strategic development. In her role, she leads all non-operations franchise activities, including franchise compliance, franchise joint capital planning, facilitating the transfer of franchise ownership and franchising closed or acquired restaurants. Additionally, Angela manages the development process for reimages and new restaurant development, and drives all development reporting and analysis, DMA planning and GIS analytics.


United Franchise Group, Ray Titus, CEO
Ray Titus is the CEO of United Franchise Group and its affiliated companies. He  is a life-long entrepreneur who began his career with his father, franchising legend Roy Titus, and went on to develop a group of successful brands and franchise development services.


Wahlburgers – Patrick Renna, CFO
Patrick is CFO of Wahlburgers, a Boston based burger restaurant founded by executive chef Paul Wahlberg, and celebrity brothers Mark and Donnie Walhberg. Patrick was most recently CEO at Boloco, a fast casual globally inspired burrito chain, where he also served as CFO for four years. Prior to Wahlburgers, Patrick was CFO at Sebastian’s Cafe and Catering, where he spent four years overseeing all financial and administrative policies and procedures for the company; this include leadership during the company’s most profitable growth period.


Walk On’s Bistreaux & Bar – Brandon Landry, Founder & CEO
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 13 restaurants in Louisiana and Texas with over 50 more locations on the drawing board extending to Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and Tennessee. It is anticipated that annual revenues for Walk-On’s will exceed $70 million in 2017.