Celebrating FastCasual.com's Top 100 Movers & Shakers
More than 50 fast casual restaurants received recognition for their success and innovation at the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers Awards Gala May 19, 2013, sponsored by Henny Penny. Here's a look at the top 15 honorees.
The first annual Fast Casual Top 100 Awards Gala took place May 19, 2013, in Chicago. The event, as well as The Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers publication, was sponsored by Henny Penny.
The gala featured a full bar as well as a rich array of exotic foods served family-style in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Palomar in Chicago.
FastCasual.com editor Cherryh Butler prepared to MC the ceremony.
Nate Riggs (right) is a blogger for FastCasual.com. He was joined by Audrey Walker, director of marketing for online management company ShiftNote, and Tim LeDuc, with Wildflower Bread Company.
Claire Curtis, marketing strategist for Chipotle Mexican Grill (No. 5), attended with guest Mike Kopsick.
Juan Martinez (left) and Kenny Lugo represented Giradino Gourmet Salads. The South Florida-based chain placed No. 33 in the ranking of top fast casual brands for 2013.
FastCasual.com editor Cherryh Butler posed with Stacey Kane, from California Tortilla.
Jerett Vance, from Penn Station East Coast Subs, was joined by his wife, Jenny. The Ohio-based chain placed fifth on the Top 100 list.
Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers (No. 12) was well represented by (from left) Sherry Skaggs, Michelle White, Tim Zimmerman, founder Brent Skaggs and Managing Partner Greg White.
Lisa Schaibly and Burger 21 (No. 22) Corporate Chef Shane Schaibly (center) shared a drink with Chuck Greenwood, regional sales manager for event sponsor Henny Penny.
Jason Moles (left) is the field marketing manager for event sponsor Henny Penny. To his right were Rocky Craig and Betsy Craig with MenuTrinfo, and Lori Walderich from Top That! Pizza (No 43).
Alicia Kelso (left) is the editor of QSRweb.com, sister site to FastCasual.com. To her right were Elize Wetzel and Rick Wetzel, founders of Blaze Pizza (No. 19), and Micky Wheatley, a guest of FastCasual.com
Ronald Bay, from Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill (No. 15), with Mary Bay.
Warren Solocheck (left) was a judge who helped determine the honorees for the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers. He was joined by Lisa Solocheck and Paul Prassa, a regional sales manager for event sponsor Henny Penny.
CEO Carl Howard (center) accepted recognition for Fazoli's as the No. 1 Mover & Shaker in the 2013 Fast Casual Top 100. Judges praised the brand for its bold move into the fast casual space and the ensuing turn-around it enjoyed.
David Groll, corporate executive chef, held the award for McAlister's Deli. The perennial segment leader placed second in this year's Fast Casual Top 100, largely for its sales increase and growth in catering.
Bryan Lockwood and Mike Lingor (second and third from left) accepted the No. 3 award for Freebirds, which doubled its locations in 2012. Bryan is the CEO of Tavistock Restaurants, which purchased the brand in 2012.
Hot-as-ever Firehouse Subs came in at No. 4. CEO Don Fox, ranked the No. 1 fast casual executive for 2013, accepted the award. The brand grew by 98 locations and added 144 new franchisees in nine new markets, among other accomplishments.
Clair Curtis (center) accepted the No. 5 honor for Chipotle Mexican Grill. Judges pointed out that despite earlier controversy over produce-buying practices, Chipotle has pledged to deal only with farms that pay minimum wage with good working conditions.
Kelly Frittenburg (sales) and Daniel Cooper (training director) accepted the No. 6 award for Freshii, which is growing aggressively not only in the U.S., but in Colombia, China, Sweden, Austria and Dubai.
The No. 7 brand in the 2013 Fast Casual Top 100 was Penn Station East Coast Subs. Jerett Vance received the plaque for the fast-growing sandwich chain.
Coming in at No. 8 was MOOYAH Burgers & Fries, praised by judges for its use of customer-facing technology, such as kiosks and mobile self-service ordering. Co-founder Rich Hicks and Director of Marketing Alexis Barnett Gillette climbed the stage.
Judy Kadylak, director of marketing for Bruegger's Bagels, accepted the No. 9 recognition. The provider of New York-style bagels was named one of the 2012 top 50 franchise opportunities by Franchise Business Review.
Zoës Kitchen rounded out the top 10 as Rachel Phillips-Luther and Tyre Stuckey accepted the recognition. The brand is known for its original recipes, now served in more than 80 locations.
Wildflower Bread Company, No. 11, was represented on stage by (from right) Tim LeDuc, CEO Louis Basile and Jane Wray. Judges praised the brand's donation of more than half a million dollars in product to feed the hungry.
Greg White, managing partner for Freakin' Unbelievable Burgers, holds the plaque for the No. 12 honoree. The chain was praised for being the only brand in the better-burger segment to have a drive-thru. Also on stage: Tim Zimmerman and Brent Skaggs.
Giraffas, No. 13, was appreciated by judges as a fast-growing import from Brazil and Latin America, where the brand has more than 400 locations. Joao Barbosa, CEO of Giraffas USA, holds the plaque.
Rod Silva, founder of Muscle Maker Grill, enjoys some flex time with FastCasual.com editor Cherryh Butler. The brand placed 14th in the Top 100.
Joe Chum (center) accepts the No. 15 award from FastCasual.com editor Cherryh Butler and Chris Trout from Henny Penny.
Fazoli's CEO Carl Howard and his wife, Rochinna Salvi, pose with the plaque for the brand's No. 1 placement in The 2013 Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers.
Equipment provider Henny Penny sponsored the gala. Pictured from left are Chuck Greenwood and Paul Prassa, regional sales managers; Jason Moles, field marketing manager; and Chris Trout, Americas sales manager, who also hosted the evening.