Speakers

Geoffrey Brown

Geoffrey Brown, GoDaddy

Geoffrey is a member of GoDaddy's local business outreach team. He has worked at GoDaddy since 2015 finding success with social media and online reputation management for local businesses. He has put to practice his experience with Yelp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for these businesses and is looking forward to sharing what he has learned with new audiences.

Session(s):
Johnny Carraba

Johnny Carrabba, Johnny Carrabba Family of Restaurants

Proudly born and raised in the East End of Houston, Johnny Carrabba III was raised in his parent’s family-owned grocery store, Carrabba’s Friendly Grocery. In 1986, Johnny opened The Original Carrabba’s on Kirby Drive. The second location on South Voss Road opened its doors in 1988. In 1993, Outback Steakhouse created a joint venture partnership opening over 250 Carrabba’s Italian Grill Restaurants nationwide. Johnny and his family continue to own and operate the two original Carrabba’s locations. In 2012, the family’s new fast-casual concept, Mia’s Table, opened behind the Original Carrabba’s on Kirby. In 2014, Grace’s, affectionately named after Johnny’s grandmother, Grace Mandola, opened its doors forging the fourth family-owned and operated restaurant. Mia’s Table opened its second location in Shenandoah, in 2018 and the third location in Webster, in 2019. Mia’s Table continues to grow throughout the greater Houston area as future locations include Katy, Cypress, and Memorial City.

Session(s):
Duc Hoang

Duc Hoang, Public Content

Duc Hoang is a content marketing professional at Public Content, a Houston-based Public Relations, Marketing, and Consulting Firm. He runs a food/photography blog @fooodeelicious and @ducducshoot. Started fooodeelicious page in 2016, he is now the founder of a big food blogger group called Grubclubhtx, recruiting top potential food blogger to join. The idea behind Grubclubhtx is to use the power of our top influencers to help local businesses in Houston. He connects his members with pr companies, restaurant owners, and built relationships within the community. He has also attended, hosted, tastings and set up a soft opening for many franchises from out of state. He has worked with many big names such as Miller Lite, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carnival, Stella Artois, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Chili's, TGiF...etc. He was featured in a commercial ad for Miller Lite during the rodeo season and a Carnival Vista campaign. He was voted by Zagat as one of the best top 101 food accounts in the U.S in 2017. 

Session(s):
Catherine Le

Catherine Le, Eating with Catherine

Catherine Le is a Houston fashionista foodie. She runs the popular lifestyle blog, Living with Catherine and also her foodie-focused Instagram account, @eatingwithcatherine. Her work in the food scene picked up after meeting with other Houston foodies and learning the ins and outs of the industry. She’s worked with many PR companies, restaurant owners and managers, and built relationships within the community. She has attended and hosted many tastings for restaurants and influencers and can tell share what restaurants should expect and what the influencers expect when inviting them in to dine. She’s been named one of Houston’s Most Inspiring Stories and Lady Boss: Redefining what a boss looks like by Voyage Houston. She is also featured in “The Trailblazer: Rewriting the Narrative” which highlights inspiring and successful female leaders and role models.

Session(s):
Nicole Bean

Nicole Bean, Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

Nicole Bean is the President of Pizaro’s Pizza Napoletana in Houston, Texas. She was born and raised in Houston and currently owns and operates two pizzeria locations with her family. She has 7 years experience in Napoletana pizza making (trained by her father who was certified with Pepe Miele in 2010). After 3 years in the industry, she went to The International School of Pizza with Tony Gemignani in San Francisco to study American style pizzas. Since certification with the school Nicole serves 3 styles of pizzas: Napoletana, Detroit and New York styles at both locations. “My focus is to create and maintain authenticity of each medium of pizza as they are specific to their region.”

Nicole has competed in pizza competitions in Las Vegas at the International Pizza Expo and The Northeast Pizza and Pasta show in Atlantic City since 2017 and will be traveling to Parma, Italy in 2019 for the World Pizza Championship competition.

Session(s):
Justin Yu

Justin Yu, Theodore Rex

Justin Yu is the Chef/Owner Theodore Rex Restaurant, Better Luck Tomorrow and Public Services Wine and Whisky. His European-inspired American cuisine with a tint towards vegetables has been recognized by Bob Appetit, Food and Wine, New York Times, and Houston Chronicle. He was the James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest in 2016.

Session(s):
Bobby Heugel

Bobby Heugel, Anvil Bar & Refuge & Others

Bobby Heugel is an owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge, Better Luck Tomorrow, The Pastry War, Tongue-Cut Sparrow, Squable and other bars and restaurants in Houston. He also was Founding President of the OKRA Charity Saloon, a non-profit bar that has donated over a million dollars to local charities since 2012. Heugel introduced modern cocktails to Houston over a decade ago, launching a career that has spanned a dozen businesses from bars to restaurants. He consults for hospitality groups, developers, and spirits brands, travels frequently – visiting over 400 distilleries over the past decade, and writes for national publications.

Session(s):
Aman Narang

Aman Narang, Toast

Aman Narang is President and co-founder of Toast. Prior to Toast, he worked on innovation initiatives at Endeca, now Oracle. Aman spearheaded the development of Endeca’s business intelligence platform as well as their mobile commerce platform, each of which became major business units. He holds BS and MS degrees in Computer Science from MIT and currently leads innovation and business development initiatives at Toast.

Session(s):
Chris Simms

Chris Simms, Lazy Dog

Chris Simms has been involved in restaurants all of his life. While attending Cornell University and spending summers in Jackson Hole, WY, Chris worked his way up the ladders of various restaurants and began his career with P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.

A few years later, Chris began work on his own restaurant concept and the first Lazy Dog was born in Huntington Beach, CA in 2003.

As a casual dining concept for the next generation, Lazy Dog serves handcrafted American food and drink with a creative twist. Guests get the taste of life in a small mountain town from the warm, genuine service and the rustic social setting.

As CEO, Chris keeps a close eye on concept innovation and site development. With plans for 6 more restaurants in 2019 in markets across the country, Lazy Dog will have 36 restaurants with the first in Houston later this summer.

Session(s):
Norman Abdallah

Norman Abdallah, Del Frisco's

Norman Abdallah, Chief Executive Officer and President of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, is highly regarded as a strategic and results-driven restaurant executive with a strong entrepreneurial work ethic. Prior to joining Del Frisco’s, Norman was the operating partner for CIC Partners. Before CIC, Norman served as an interim CEO of Dinosaur BBQ. Prior to this, Norman led the turnaround at Romano's Macaroni Grill that resulted in a sale to Ignite Restaurant Group. Before joining Macaroni Grill as CEO and President in July 2010, Norman held the same position at Sun Capital owned Restaurants Unlimited, a $200 million multi-concept company consisting of 14 brands. Previously, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of Fired Up, Inc., parent company of U.S.-based casual dining chain Carino’s Italian.

Norman serves on the Board of Directors for Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group. He is also on the Board of the National Restaurant Association.

Session(s):

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