Menu Development Panel
Nancy Kruse - moderator
President | The Kruse Company
Nancy Kruse is a nationally recognized authority and widely quoted expert on food and menu trends. As founder and president of The Kruse Company in Atlanta, Georgia, she tracks the trends and reports on hot-button issues in both the restaurant and supermarket industries.
A prolific food writer, Nancy is a contributor to Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality magazines. In demand as a speaker, she regularly addresses restaurant associations, major supermarket and restaurant companies, food manufacturers and promotion boards both here and abroad.
Prior to founding her own company, she served as executive vice president for Technomic, Inc., where she conducted a wide range of consulting assignments for Fortune 500 food and restaurant companies.
Nancy earned a Master of Arts degree from the Film School of Northwestern University, and she was a Woodrow Wilson fellow in Russian literature at the University of Wisconsin. She has also completed coursework at the Culinary Institute of America, where she has served as guest lecturer. And she has been named one of the Top 100 Influencers in the US by business-networking site LinkedIn.
Owner, Chairman & CEO | Legendary Restaurant Brands
In early 2015, Paul and his wife Gwen put their money where their passion is by purchasing the venerable Bennigan’s brand and its sister concept, Steak and Ale. Now united under Legendary Restaurant Brands LLC, along with the fast-casual concept Bennigan’s On the Fly, the brands are poised for an exciting new era. Paul has been the President and CEO of Bennigan’s Franchising Company since 2011. Formerly, he was President and CEO of Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, an award-winning fast-casual Mexican chain. His background includes operations, marketing, franchise development, and broker and distributor networks, as well as building and leading teams in start-up, growth and Fortune 500 environments. He’s also been on the franchisee side by building Uno Chicago Grills in the Midwest.
Director of Marketing | Neighborhood Ventures
With more than 15 years of experience in promoting popular restaurant brands, Gje (pronounced “Kia”) Greene-Wallace has the know-how of Generation X but the passion and innovation of a Millennial. Today she’s using those skills as the Director of Marketing at Fish City Grill & Half Shells, where she oversees the public face of 20 casual seafood units across 4 states as well as their ghost kitchen, Sarah’s Hot Chicken. Gje is responsible for branding & marketing, shepherding culinary & beverage development and plays a large role in innovation and strategic planning. Originally from College Station, and a proud graduate of Texas A&M, Gje and her family live in Frisco, Texas.
Senior Vice President of Operations | C3
Joey Simons is the Senior Vice President of Operations for C3, the leading global food tech platform that is re-imagining the food service industry with a brand-first approach through established brick and mortar shared kitchens, digital restaurants and the group’s soon to be opened Citizens Food Halls. Joey oversees and leads all facets of the C3’s global business units, overseeing day to day operations and growth strategy for the group. C3’s digital restaurant brands include Umami Burger, Krispy Rice, Sam’s Crispy Chicken, and Kumi, as well as brick and mortar restaurants Katsuya, Cicci di Carne and Sa’Moto, the latter which are slated to open this summer.
Joey is currently leading the charge of C3’s first CITIZENS Food Hall, launching in New York City this July and which will feature a 40,000 square foot lifestyle food hall at Brookfield Properties’ Manhattan West development in New York City. Additionally, and most recent he oversaw C3’s international expansion with the announcement of partnerships in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Joey brings 15+ years of expertise, driving vision and strategy in multi-property hospitality operations. He has a proven track record of adding millions in revenue, cutting costs and delivering projects of up to $32mm as well as motivating teams of 500+ to deliver top quality experiences and customer satisfaction through training, coaching, and mentoring.
Prior to current work with C3, Joey served as Director of Operations for Blue Ribbon Restaurant Group, steering business operations, finance, and strategic initiatives for a $75M restaurant portfolio. He focused on driving revenue, profits, and property value, while heading business strategies, leading P&L, budgeting forecasting, and overseeing large-scale restaurant build-outs.
Additionally, he served as Director of Operations with Beyond Restaurant Group, where he drove operational vision, strategy, and profitability.
He currently resides in Los Angeles.