CEOs of McAlister’s Deli, Firehouse Subs, Fazoli’s to speak at 7th Annual Fast Casual Executive Summit

CEOs and other leaders from the fastest-growing segment of the restaurant industry will gather at San Diego’s US Grant Hotel on Oct. 21-23 for the seventh annual Fast Casual Executive Summit, presented by

Frank Paci of McAlister’s Deli and Don Fox of Firehouse Subs are slated to participate in a “CEO Roundtable” at the close of the conference. Other CEOs on the Roundtable will be Phil Friedman of Salsaritas, J. Dean Loring of Burger Lounge and David Rutkauskas of Beautiful Brands International, the company behind Camille’s Sidewalk Café, FreshBerry, Dixie Cream Donut Co. and other restaurant chains.

Carl T. Howard, CEO of Fazoli’s, and Jim Greco, CEO of Sbarro, are also on the Summit’s agenda in a session titled, “From Turmoil to Turnaround: Lessons from the Frontlines.” In all, 12 restaurant CEOs are scheduled to be presenters or panelists.

Keynote speakers for the event include:

  • David Houle, who has been called the “emerging futurist in the world today.” Houle was part of the executive team that launched MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1 and CNN Headline News. He has won two Emmys, a Peabody and was nominated for an Academy Award.
  • Jim Sullivan, a well-known brand-builder, motivator, trend-spotter and problem-solver who has worked for and with companies as distinct as Walt Disney Company, Starbucks, Chipotle and Apple Retail.
  • Denise Lee Yohn, a brand-building expert who has worked with Jack In the Box, Jamba Juice and Elevation Burger, among others.

“This year’s Summit might very well be our best ever,” said Cherryh Butler, Editor of “The keynotes and panels will address important trends shaping the market and are going to be fantastic.”

The Summit kicks off with a tour of 13 San Diego-area fast casual restaurants, including Rubio’s, Panda Express, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Luna Grill and Daphne’s California Greek. The tour allows attendees to network while sampling the menu and experiencing the atmosphere of some of fast casual’s growing brands.

Summit attendees will also participate in a networking reception and dinner on the flight deck of the USS Midway, a retired aircraft carrier that is now a floating museum in the San Diego harbor.

Registration for the Fast Casual Executive Summit is now open, but is limited to qualified executives of restaurant operators. The Summit is produced by Louisville, KY-based Networld Media Group, publishers of the restaurant industry news sites,, and