Wade Allen Chili's Grill & Bar VP of Customer Engagement & Digital Innovation During his tenure, Wade led the implementation and continued advancement of Ziosk® tabletop devices, which rest in the hands of each Guest at nearly every Chili’s restaurant across the country. He also launched Chili’s digital loyalty program and partnership with Plenti, the first U.S.-based loyalty coalition.
Prior to joining Brinker International, Inc. in 2014, Wade served as President of CouponFactory, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rockfish Interactive. In this position, he was responsible for the company’s overall strategy and retail digital shopper marketing initiatives as well as new business growth and product ideation. He held positions as Vice President of Retail for Rockfish Interactive and as Account Director/Solution Lead at the integrated marketing agency, RAPP, where he worked on a number of Brinker brands.
Wade’s perspective on technology and trends has been quoted in a number of credible outlets including Bloomberg, DigiDay and Forbes. He has also been published several times by Shopper Technology Institute, including the book, “The Essentials of Shopper Technology.” He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Brigham Young University and a master’s in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University.
Brian Anderson Modern Market Director of Technology Brian took on the role of director of technology at Modern Market in January of 2017. Modern Market is a Denver-based brand with a focus on serving clean, healthy food across 25 locations. Brian has implemented several initiatives to prepare the company for continued growth, such as unifying the store network platform and standardizing the POS system.
Prior to Modern Market, Brian served as director of technology at Matchbox Food Group, a multi-concept brand with full-service and fast-casual restaurants based in Washington, DC. While there, he helped the company expand to 3 concepts and 15 locations by implementing several technology solutions to improve operations, store management and security.
Brian is a third-generation restaurateur, with his roots in operations. His first job was sorting silverware at a very young age in his family’s restaurant on Siesta Key, FL. He worked every role in both FOH and BOH before his passion for technology won out. This experience gives him a unique ability to translate technology into solutions that improve operations the food industry.
Chris Andrews Pei Wei VP-IT Chris Andrews is the vice president of information technology at Pei Wei Asian Diner. Chris holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Texas Wesleyan University as well as a Master’s in Professional Accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Chris started his career with his family’s Dallas based IT outsourcing company before transitioning to consulting at KPMG and Grant Thornton. Since leaving consulting, Chris has held the top IT position as well as senior leadership roles with several Dallas companies. Previously at On The Border, Chris led the technology transition from Brinker International for all corporate and restaurant services. In under a year, he and his team helped transition all telecom, wide area network, point of sale software/hardware, corporate infrastructure and supporting applications. His approach included a leveraged blend of outsourcers/contractors, cloud services, in-house infrastructure and SAAS.
Throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to work in a variety of verticals and has been exposed to a wide array of technology solutions and architecture. His work experience has included IT effectiveness reviews, security penetration testing, data warehouse design, bankruptcy turn-around and IT governance reviews. Chris has presented at MURTEC, Pervasive Software’s IntegratioNEXT 9, InnoTech Dallas as well as multiple governance/risk management/compliance presentations to students at LSU and UTA.
Paul Barber Dunkin' Brands Vice President, IT Marketing Systems
Karen Bird Hooters of America, LLC Chief Information Officer
Maryann Brydak Potbelly Sandwich Shop VP, Information Technology Maryann has spent 20 years leading restaurant and retail transformation initiatives at corporations such as Potbelly, OfficeMax and Sears. She is part of the executive team at Potbelly and leads the IT department through growth, and many digital and customer experience innovative initiatives. She has partnered with many industry solution providers such as NCR, LevelUp & GrubHub to deliver seamless experiences.
Her strong in depth knowledge of restaurant technology, retail, marketing, merchandising and technology integrations allowed her to drive many challenging cross-functional customer facing solutions. Prior to Potbelly, she held many leadership roles at Fortune 500 companies including, POS implementations at Sears, merchandising transformations at OfficeMax and merger integrations between OfficeMax and Office Depot.
Maryann holds a BS in Computer Science, MBA in Information Management & Marketing and more recently executive certificates in M&A and Finance from Booth School of Business.
Benjamin Calleja Livit Design CEO
Phil Crawford Shake Shack VP of IT
Dorothy Creamer Hospitality Technology Editor Dorothy Creamer, editor of Hospitality Technology has been with HT for five years, starting as the publication’s managing editor. In that role, she managed daily editorial operations plus the brand’s digital channels, including its website and e-newsletters. In 2016 she was promoted to editor and now, in addition to driving HT’s editorial direction, she is responsible for the analysis and writing behind the brand’s three benchmark industry research reports. She also develops content and leads speaker recruitment efforts for HT’s three annual industry events. Creamer has been with HT’s parent company since 2009. Prior to joining HT, she led the full editorial strategy for several merchandising magazines. A publishing professional for 15+ years, Creamer started her career as an editor for a consumer publications house, where she rose through the ranks to be editor-in-chief of magazines with subjects ranging from children’s/teen entertainment, cooking, hairstyles and home décor to men's entertainment.
Chris Demery Bloomin' Brands, Inc GVP & General Manager, Off-Premises Dining Chris is responsible for all Off Premises Dining activities within Bloomin’ Brands Inc., including Do-It- Ourselves (DIO) for Outback Steakhouse, Carrabbas’ Italian Grill, and Bonefish Grill, integrating with 3 rd Party delivery organizations, as well as defining, developing, and implementing smaller footprint Off Premises locations for Bloomin’ Brands.
He has more than 20 years of experience in both legacy and bleeding-edge technologies and issues, including how to leverage big data, mobile architectures, customer engagement, and enterprise-scale software implementations (like SAP). I'm currently focused on customer convenience, & aligning all customer channels with a cohesive brand-relevant experience.
Louis Grande, Jr. Red Lobster Food Company SVP Information Technology Lou Grande is an information technology executive with more than 25 years of experience in creating shareholder value and operational effectiveness through technology. He has worked for organizations of all shapes and sizes, from "mid-market" to Fortune Global 500 companies. He has broad experience in all aspects of system operations, IT governance, support services, compliance and development, and direct experience with IT strategy, project implementation, team organization and technology consulting.
His industry experience includes foodservice/hospitality, retail and management consulting where Lou gained a solid reputation among colleagues, business partners and customers alike as an executive with a rare balance of strategic insight, operational expertise, technical skills, financial skills, and sales and marketing savvy.
Grande holds a BS in Business Administration degree in Computer Information Systems from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Lou is a past Board Member and active participant of the NRA IT Executive Study Group, a Board Member of the International Food & Beverage Trade Association, an Advisory Council Member of FSTec, a Governing Board Member for the Orlando CXO Executive Summit, and an Advisory Board Member for SIM’s Central Florida Innovation Connection. He is also a five time repeat mentor for Pathbuilders’ Achieva program in Atlanta.
John Huddle Silver Diner Inc. Director of Information Technology
Skip Kimpel Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza Director of I.T.
Andrew Kohn Global Franchise Group Director, Business Technology
Tom Lindblom CKE Restaurants, Inc. Chief Technology Officer Tom has more than 35 years of experience in the technology field, having held technology management positions at several companies. He was most recently the chief technology officer of CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc., a privately held company that through its subsidiaries operates more than 3,800 franchised or company-operated restaurants in 44 states and 40 countries. In this role he was responsible for providing the companies technical vision, setting the tone and direction for the company’s technologies, and aligning technology solutions with the business objectives. He also had responsibility for defining and leading an effective security and compliance program to safeguard sensitive payment and personally identifiable information.
He has been recognized by CIO Magazine and the CIO Executive Council as a “Ones to Watch” Award recipient and is a frequent presenter at industry events.
During his career he has completed assignments in such varied environments as banking, distribution, drugstores, call centers, and restaurants. Tom is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Richard Long Pieology Senior Director of IT
Toby Malbec ConStrata Technology Consulting Managing Director Toby Malbec is an “operational technologist” who brings more than 25 years of technical and operational expertise to his clients. He began his career in the hotel industry coming up through the ranks of operations before getting into the technology domain as hotels were first beginning to embrace the value of technology as a mainstream affordable operational tool. He was responsible for the design and development of some of the first PC-based PMS for small to mid-sized hotels as well as working on the design of early touchscreen-based POS systems.
After 10 years in hospitality, Toby was recruited by Saks Fifth Avenue to head up their client-facing technology initiatives and was responsible for managing the development of several key applications. In 2004, Toby assumed the role of Vice President of Business Development for Springer-Miller Systems, one of the premier PMS companies in the world with applications designed for the resort and high-end luxury properties. In 2008, he joined the IPC (Independent Purchasing Co-Operative), the franchisee-owned arm for Subway restaurants, and was responsible for building and managing the team to build the in-house proprietary restaurant technology platform that would create a standard POS and technology platform for all restaurants worldwide. Subway is the world’s largest restaurant chain with more than 37,000 units in 100+ countries.
Carlo Martinez La Torta Plaza Director of Strategy and Innovation
Sherif Mityas TGI Fridays Chief Information Officer and VP Strategy & Brand Initiatives Sherif Mityas is the Chief Information Officer and VP Strategy & Brand Initiatives for TGI FRIDAYS responsible for the Brand’s global Strategy, Digital and Technology efforts. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the retail and hospitality industries in both senior consulting and executive industry roles.
Prior to joining TGI FRIDAYS, Sherif served as the managing partner for JS Consulting and as the chief executive officer for Hollywood Video/Movie Gallery.
Mr. Mityas received a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering from Boston University, a M.S. in mechanical engineering from Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Ryan Nowlin Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc. VP, Information Technology Ryan has over 25 years of Information Technology experience across a broad range of industries and disciplines with the last 12 years focused on restaurant technology strategy. In his current role as the Vice President of Information Technology for Fiesta Restaurant Group, parent of 350-unit international fast casual Ryan led the digital transformation of the organization from the restaurants through the corporate offices via an innovative cloud-based strategy following a spin-off. Previously, he served in a similar capacity with Corner Bakery Cafe following the Brinker International carve-out, including the implementation of all new corporate and restaurant technology platforms from the ground up.
Prior to the restaurant industry, Ryan spent more than a decade consulting with various organizations in the financial services, healthcare and hospitality industries on matters of information security, business intelligence, infrastructure and overall technology strategy. Ryan earned his Bachelors of MIS from the University of Phoenix and his Masters of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.