Restaurants succeed by building value. The metrics of value measurement are food quality, price, service, the environment and the dining experience as a whole. We take a holistic approach to helping our clients become successful by assessing and analyzing every facet of a restaurant. We measure how well its brand is living up to its promise, how effectively their marketing is creating customer relationships, how well its kitchen is delivering the taste that customers crave, how smoothly the service is functioning, how well the management is performing and how effectively its operations are utilizing technology.
The RTS team is a group of hospitality specialists, each with 25 to 45 years of real world experience running businesses – in the trenches. We are CEOs, CPAs, CTOs, CCOs, analysts, chefs, strategists, planners, organizers, communicators, researchers, branders, trainers, marketers, and leadership builders.
It’s not our job to make suggestions and wish you luck. We join your team, involve you in assessing your business and uncovering paths to improvement. From what we learn together, we help you devise and execute tactics to optimize every facet of your organization.
Our Restaurant Consulting Solutions
Chaos Strategist & Founding Partner
Fred is the founding and managing partner of Results Thru Strategy. LeFranc’s aptitude in strategic planning, leadership training, and business development has helped numerous companies achieve increased sales and profits.
His expertise is in strategic planning, organizational development, executive coaching, performance management, marketing strategy and technology-based systems enhancement. Mr. LeFranc’s 4 decades of hospitality experience includes stints as COO, CEO board member and President of numerous hospitality and technology brands, including Flat Rock Grille, Ruby’s Diner, Fishbowl Marketing and Louise’s Trattoria. His admirable turnaround for Louise’s, which involved design, concept development, food production, IT systems and operational executions, was chronicled in Inc. Magazine.
Briana Benson’s focus is in providing in-depth proposal research. This includes providing data collection, background information, as well as administrative support as needed for the partners at RTS.
Briana has worked on a variety of projects at Results Thru Strategy including the creation of a digital document library for Goldco, onsite data collection for Goldco and Charlotte Medical Center, and market and competitive research for Del Frisco.
Briana has a Bachelor’s in History from Western Carolina University, and in 2013 graduated with honors from University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a Master’s in Library and Information Studies.
Briana lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her partner, Brent Metcalfe, a web developer and her black lab, Snow.
Alex Birnbaum is a results-focused technology consultant who provides CIO and IT advisory services to hospitality and healthcare companies. His expertise includes strategic planning, architecture, business process engineering, IT governance structures and operational systems efficiency improvements.
Alex has led the technology practice for Results Thru Strategy since 2015. He has worked with emerging and legacy brands, ranging from 1 to 1000 units to develop technology solutions to business problems.
From 2010 to 2014, Alex led the Information Technology department for Craftworks Restaurants and Breweries Group, where he transformed IT from a back-office function to a strategic partner with operations and marketing during the merger of Rock Bottom Restaurants and Gordon Biersch Restaurants. Prior to the merger, he was Senior Director of IT for Gordon Biersch from 2000 to 2010.
With roots in operations, Alex is committed to finding low-cost, high impact technology and process changes that boost efficiency and profitability.
Supply Chain Specialist
Lauren LeFranc is an NRAEF Certified Foodservice Management Professional who has negotiated contacts, sourced products, managed vendors, overseen inventory control and distribution, and managed multi-million dollar budgets.
She has worked in a variety of venues, including full service, fast casual, quick service and third-party operations. Lauren has consulted for Bennigan’s, BJ’s Restaurants, Freshii, Pizza Patron, Steak n’ Shake, Which Wich, and Yard House Restaurants. She also spent four years with The Walt Disney Company as Manager of Food & Beverage Sourcing for Disneyland Resort and ESPN Zone restaurants. She earlier served in several sourcing and procurement positions with Fresh Choice and El Torito Restaurants. Her product knowledge has allowed clients to trim food costs by anywhere from 100 to 500 basis points, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Rebecca Foulk, an accomplished chef and cookbook author, has a passion for food, managing teams and creating craveable menu items that are simple to execute. Her culinary experience includes all industry segments along with gourmet retail and catering.
Most recently, Becky was Corporate Chef/Director at Corner Bakery Cafe, responsible for creation, development and menu planning of all food and beverage items for the 195-unit restaurant chain. In addition, she worked with training to ensure consistent food execution, aided with marketing and helped the chain’s vendors develop new products.
Prior to Corner Bakery, Becky was Whole Foods’ Regional Chef for the Mid-Atlantic Region, creating recipes for both store and commissary and helping to grow the data base from 50 to 1,500 recipes. Her responsibilities included oversight of prepared foods in seven stores and daily operational systems. Earlier in her career, she served as Store Chef at Sutton Place Gourmet, developing a new catering menu while driving prepared food growth by experimenting with new recipes, techniques, food items and trends. She’s a graduate of Johnson & Wales University School of Culinary Arts.
Becky’s new cookbook is “Cooking Soup to Nuts” (Dorrance Publishing).
Real Estate Strategist
Lew is a skilled lease negotiator who over 25 years has lowered or eliminated real estate costs for distressed restaurants, saving them tens of millions of dollars. He has also helped growth-oriented companies plan rent renewals and improve site-selection processes.
A multiunit operator himself, Lew believes companies thrive when there’s a tight connection between real estate strategy and the company’s vision to propel growth through policy.
Lew launched his real estate career in the early 1990s, managing a 1.5 million square-foot shopping center in western Canada. In 1992, he and a partner purchased the master franchise rights for Domino’s Pizza in Canada, eventually developing some 200 units coast to coast.
He has also worked as an independent real estate strategist, advising C-level executives of major QSR brands on real estate sites and acquisitions in Canada and the U.S. Three years ago, he became the Master Franchisee in Canada for Johnny Rockets. Today, he operates four units in Vancouver and Victoria.
Lew earned an M.B.A. in International Business and a B.A. from the University of Calgary.
Operations & Concept Development
Len Ghilani’s experience includes designing, developing, opening, and operating new restaurants and hotels. He has also developed management systems for operations, finance, and F&B.
Ghilani has opened and operated more than 275 restaurants nationwide — in both public and private arenas, and in regional, corporate and franchise environments. As V.P., restaurant division, for Morrissey Hospitality Companies and as V.P. of operation services for Parasole Restaurant Holdings, Ghilani improved financials and operations of managed restaurant concepts and developed new restaurants and F&B venues in hotels, resorts and family entertainment complexes. Len was chief operating officer of Buca Inc., an Italian casual-dining chain, opening 48 Buca di Beppo restaurants while overseeing a 400 percent growth in staff. He has also held executive positions with Einstein Noah Bagel Corp. and Chi-Chi’s Mexican Restaurants.
Jim Greco, a turnaround specialist, is an expert in creating shareholder value through strategic planning, operations engineering and brand positioning. He has led several food-service businesses, most recently Newk’s, a next generation fast casual chain acquired by Sentinel Capital in 2014.
He was engaged to lead the company to accelerated growth. Prior to Newk’s, Jim led a turnaround as CEO at Sbarro, a leading Italian QSR chain with over 1,000 locations in 40 countries. He has also partnered with Sun Capital to acquire and turnaround Bruegger’s Enterprises, where he served as CEO until selling the company in 2011. The turnaround resulted in a return on investment of 13 times. Jim, who holds a law degree, also led two private label food manufacturing companies where he revitalized and grew the businesses. In 2009, Nation’s Restaurant News named Jim Operator of the Year, one of the industry’s highest honors. He is the author of several articles on management and leadership and is a frequent speaker at industry events.
Jessica is a financial specialist with nearly two decades worth of private equity and senior-level operating and management experience in restaurants and retail. Prior to joining Results Thru Strategy, she co-founded Rellevant, a boutique private equity firm she and a partner currently operate, and was a Partner in TriSpan’s Rising Stars fund, which is dedicated to restaurants.
Earlier, she served as CFO/COO and later CEO of Eddie Borgo, a luxury accessories brand. She has also been chief financial officer for Folica, an online-consumer products retailer. Before earning her MBA at Harvard Business School, she worked for L Catterton and for Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (later Credit Suisse First Boston). Jessica is also a graduate of McGill University, where she earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Great Distinction.
Kevin Kulikowski is a veteran human resources executive with more than 25 years in the field. His interest in HR began “organically” while a Taco Bell multi-unit manager in Central Florida.
Since then, he has consulted both emerging brands and large companies, including Hard Rock Café, PepsiCo, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Darden Restaurants, Puff ‘n Stuff Catering, and 4Rivers Smokehouse.
His hands-on approach often means spending time onsite assisting frontline leaders and owners with critical human resources based initiative. His wide range of experience — in performance management, compensation plan design, development and implementation of policies and procedures, and workplace safety — enables him to provide broad support.
Kevin holds an MBA from the University of Central Florida and undergraduate degrees from Niagara University and SUNY Cobleskill.
Marketing & Communications
During two decades of marketing leadership, Meg has developed corporate restructure, marketing operations, client acquisition and service-model strategies in the financial services industry. Her passion is working with marketers in the field or corporately, transforming their teams into strategic business partners.
Meg, who headed national field marketing teams for MetLife and MassMutual, has recruited and trained more than 200 marketers nationwide. She has also deployed marketing, communication and client engagement strategies on a national scale.
Her project work includes creating a global communications strategy for a proprietary, multi-language hospitality learning program. Her collaborative efforts have helped companies regain balance, optimize marketing operations and align their efforts to achieve the transformations they need.
Meg holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from Suffolk University in Boston.
Steve Levine is focused on helping companies understand how the market perceives them, and enhancing or altering that perception by strategically targeting and influencing customers.
He defines, creates, communicates and motivates; his mission is to help you persuade your market that your brand is worth getting to know. He has worked with numerous restaurant brands over the years, including Arby’s, Ed Debevics, Orleans, La Salsa, Ruby’s Diner, Flat Rock Grille, Sweet Tomatoes, Friendly’s and Hamburger Hamlet. His involvement ranged from collateral and menu design to multiple-media advertising campaigns to brand overhauls. Steve has earned dozens of awards for campaigns in brand identity, rebranding, packaging, direct mail, print advertising, collateral materials, radio, outdoor and web design. Levine is a member of the New Mexico Advertising Federation.
Financial & Informational Systems Architect
James McGehee is responsible for the Financial Services practice of RTS. He specializes in the creation and implementation of scalable, non-proprietary financial and information technology systems that align with each client’s specific needs.
McGehee’s project work includes arranging a private placement for a small, fast-casual chain seeking a financial sponsor. James has held positions from Senior Financial Analyst to Vice President of Finance to CFO, and has worked for a broad spectrum of hospitality brands, including Hamburger Hamlet, El Gallo Giro, Ruby’s Diner, Pasta Pomodoro, Una Mas Restaurants and Chevy’s Mexican Restaurants. Among McGehee’s talents are strategic planning, financial controls, cash flow management, accounting processes, financial analysis, and insurance and payroll systems. His strengths lie in integrating systems, streamlining operations and eliminating wasteful overhead.
Lynette McKee, CFE, includes executive positions with Dunkin’ Brands, Burger King, Denny’s, and Metromedia Restaurant Group, and prior to forming McKeeCo Services, was the Executive Director of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. She is considered an industry expert in franchising and is a frequent guest speaker at industry events.
She was a member of the Strategic Advisory Board of Nova Southeastern University’s International Institute for Franchise Education and an instructor for the Fast Track MBA program for franchise executives at the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University. Ms. McKee was also a founding board member of both the Women’s Franchise and Distribution Forum and the Women’s Venture Program, a program to assist women with a desire to enter the franchising industry as an owner of a small business.
Technology Project Manager
As a restaurant industry veteran with more than 30 years’ experience, Brenda Parker has held IT leadership roles with several brands, such as CKE Restaurant Holdings, DineEquity, El Pollo Loco, Denny’s, Taco Bell, Sizzler and Gloria Jeans. She led the Information Technology department for Great Circle Management, a Krispy Kreme and Noodles and Company franchise organization, awarded a Nations Restaurant News IT Innovation Award and a Murtec IT Project of the Year Award.
Brenda has managed large projects, system rollouts and infrastructure upgrades; built and trained IT support teams; helped companies establish steering committees, project management offices and organized cross functional teams; consulted for franchisors and franchisees of such brands as: Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, McAlisters, Grill Concepts, Peet’s Coffee and Tea, just to name a few. Brenda is a change management professional with deep roots in operations providing her with the ability to translate technical processes into understandable operation-centric applications.
Brenda is a past steering chairman of the NRA’s MIS Study Group, has served on technology advisory boards and was awarded a Committee Contributor of the Year Award by Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF).
Executive Technology Strategist
Christopher Sebes provides technology strategy to operators, private equity owners and technology companies. He was most recently President of Xenial (formerly called Heartland Commerce), a major player in restaurant and retail management technology.
Prior to his role at Heartland Commerce, Christopher founded XPIENT, which was sold to Heartland Payment Systems in 2014. Christopher was also the co-creator of Twenty20 Visual Systems, the first Microsoft Windows point-of-sale company.
He received a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management in England and has managed hotels and restaurants in Europe and the U.S.
Frank Steed began his industry career as the doorman at the second T.G.I. Friday’s unit and proceeded to rise to Executive VP. Today, he is a leading expert at developing and rolling out domestic and international franchise programs.
Steed is currently helping a Dallas-based RTS client organize its franchise business, the fastest-growing in the Southwest. Before joining RTS, Steed was CEO of Romacorp., franchisor of Tony Roma’s. Although the chain already had a base of domestic company and franchised units, Steed signed agreements for more than 60 new international restaurants in South America, Europe, and the Middle East. As President of the Bonanza and Ponderosa Restaurants for Metromedia Group, Steed created a centralized franchise system including Bennigan’s, which was not then franchised. Within three years, Bennigan’s was 50 percent franchised through seed market programs and new area growth. Steed has also been CEO of 300-unit Country Kitchen, where he repositioned the coffee shop chain to family casual-dining by overhauling building, décor, uniforms, and menu.
Architect & Designer
Mark Sutherland is President of VisionBuilders, a culinary foodservice design company. Mark’s firm has designed hundreds of foodservice facilities throughout the US as well as internationally.
Mr. Sutherland and his team specialize in creating foodservice spaces thatengage consumers and promote emotional interaction with the brand. They conduct extensive research into demand analysis, space programming, conceptual design, capital project planning, facilities and equipment assessments, project cost estimating and transition services. Their advanced capabilities include CG visualization and graphic design, which enables clients to see a photographic quality vision of a project from any angle during the design phase. Mark was formerly in-house consultant for The Compass Group, the world’s largest contract foodservice company.
Ariel is a systems expert with special knowledge of Compeat RADAR, robust software that integrates various back-office functions.
Ariel launched her career while still in college, working as a catering manager for regional powerhouse Knights Catering in San Francisco. She gained more catering experience as she climbed ranks at two other firms before becoming Catering Director at Copia, the prestigious center for food and wine in Napa Valley.
In 2008, Ariel joined CTUIT, a technology firm, and began providing restaurants with solutions for problems relating to general ledger, sales, AP, inventory, recipe prep and recipe scaling. She had the privilege of being a trusted, influential strategic technology consultant to many exceptional, enterprise restaurant groups. She also directed the account managers team for professional services and provided daily support for client accounts representing $8.5 million in ARR in RADAR.
Ariel holds B.S., in Hospitality Management and Commercial Tourism from San Francisco State University.
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Multiple hours purchased are discounted for your benefit.
Multiple hours purchased are discounted for your benefit.