About Us

The International Food and Beverage Technology Association (IFBTA), a nonprofit trade association, promotes the use of technology within the global food and beverage industries with a specific focus on education, certification, standards, research and networking, while aligning with other industry associations and groups in support of their technology related initiatives; and to further the common business interests of the information technology industry by promoting the utilization of technology within all segments of the global food and beverage industry, including restaurant/foodservice, hospitality/lodging, gaming, onsite, beer/wine/spirits retailing, c-stores, catering, travel and other related segments of the food and beverage industry.

Governed by a board of top-level food and beverage IT executives, the IFBTA incorporates operator and supplier participation and input to promote technology education, networking, and solutions. The IFBTA addresses all areas of technology used in and enabling the food and beverage industries, including:

  • Infrastructure
  • Front of House
  • Back of House
  • Equipment
  • Food
  • Services

Meet the IFTBA

Board of Directors

LOU GRANDE, JR. — Chairman

SENIOR VP OF IT, RED LOBSTER SEAFOOD COMPANY

Lou Grande is an Information Technology Executive with over 25 years of experience in creating shareholder value and operational effectiveness through technology. He has worked for organizations of all shapes and sizes, from “mid-market” to Fortune Global 500 companies. He has broad experience in all aspects of system operations, IT governance, support services, compliance and development, and direct experience with IT strategy, project implementation, team organization and technology consulting.

His industry experience includes foodservice/hospitality, retail and management consulting where Lou gained a solid reputation among colleagues, business partners and customers alike as an executive with a rare balance of strategic insight, operational expertise, technical skills, financial skills, and sales and marketing savvy.

Grande holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Computer Information Systems from Georgia State University in Atlanta. Lou is an Advisory Council Member of FSTec, Chairman of the International Food & Beverage Technology Association, a Board Director of SIM Central Florida, a Founding Board Member of the Central Florida Tech Alliance, and a past Board Member and active participant of the NRA IT Executive Study Group. He is also a five time repeat mentor for Pathbuilders’ Achieva program in Atlanta.

ROB WATKINS — Treasurer

CIO, COMPASS GROUP NORTH AMERICA

Mr. Watkins joined Compass Group in 1994, moving to the Americas corporate office in Charlotte, NC from the UK in 1997 to assist with an ERP implementation. Subsequent project and line management positions culminated in Mr. Watkins becoming CIO in 2001. Mr. Watkins has overall responsibility for leading and aligning technology resources with business needs to enable business growth and change. He obtained a BSc(Hons) from the University of Wales, is qualified as a Management Accountant and acquired an MBA from Cranfield University. Mr. Watkins’ career transitioned from finance to technology during his early years with Compass Group. Prior to joining Compass Group, he worked for a number of organizations, including Pirelli, Reuters and Somerfield (a leading UK grocery chain). Mr. Watkins is married with two daughters, and lives in Charlotte.

DON M. ZIMMERMAN

CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, LANDRY'S

Don Zimmerman is currently the CIO for Landry’s organization based in Houston Texas.  In this role he and his team are responsible for all of the technology deployed by the company.

Zimmerman most recently served as VP, Global Product Management with the NCR Corporation, where he was responsible for all of the software products developed for and sold into the restaurant industry, overseeing significant modernization of the flagship Aloha products.

Prior to that, he worked for ten years with The Wendy’s Company which at one point also included the Arby’s brand. Don and his team were responsible for of the modernization of Arby’s technology, the technology merger of Wendy’s and Arby’s, and the eventual spin out of Arby’s.  He spearheaded the first ever move to a consistent restaurant platform for the Wendy’s brand enabling the start of their Digital Transformation journey.

Prior to his Arby’s and Wendy’s tenure, Zimmerman provided IT leadership to Sears, Roebuck and Company, PepsiCo, and General Dynamics in various capacities both domestic and international.  His experience spans the development of business solutions, digital transformation, data warehousing, business intelligence, project management, and technical infrastructure.

Zimmerman graduated from the University of North Texas with an MBA and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Evangel University.  

Don and his wife reside in the Houston area. 

KAREN BIRD

CIO, HOOTERS OF AMERICA

Karen Bird, Chief Information Officer for Hooters of America is accountable for the strategy and execution of technology systems and services for multiple functional areas within the company. She has responsibilities for both corporate and franchised departments within the overall organization. Karen joined the Hooters of America executive team in July, 2017.

From late 2011 through July, 2017, Karen served as the Vice President, Information Technology for Buffalo Wild Wings. In this role, Karen was responsible for establishing the technology architecture and framework that delivered all core business information to the Buffalo Wild Wings Enterprise. She was instrumental in the development of the strategic plan that delivered a unified technology platform for over 1200 company-owned and franchised restaurants and the delivery of an enterprise service platform for the automation of data integrations.

Prior to joining Buffalo Wild Wings, she served as the technology executive for a number of casual dine and quick service restaurant chains. Her prior history includes; CIO for Whataburger Restaurants, VP of Restaurant Information Solutions for Brinker International, Vice President of Business Systems for Advantica Restaurant Group, and Director of Retail Technology Solutions for Dunkin Brands. Karen started her career as a restaurant-level employee at Burger King. After two years in restaurant operations there, she moved into store accounting services and ultimately into
various roles within the Information Systems department that helped build her technology expertise.

KATHY ALCARAS (SY)

DIRECTOR OF IT, EUREKA! RESTAURANT GROUP

Kathy is the Director of Information Technology for Eureka! Restaurant Group, with 26 locations throughout the U.S. Her ultimate purpose is to help create efficiency through technology, and implementing new technology to assist with sales increase and company growth.

Her experience in the restaurant industry has reached over 30 years in both quick-service, as well as in full-service restaurants: 14 years in restaurant operations, and the latter years in Restaurant IT. The combination of her operational and technical knowledge definitely helps her accomplish IT projects for restaurants; thinking with both the operators and technologist in mind.

With the growing needs of the economy and the needs of our restaurant’s guests, Kathy often enjoys learning and sharing information about Restaurant Technology, and looks forward to implementing new technologies that will benefit us in the restaurant industry.

Kathy has spoken in panels for conferences in MURTEC, YPO, and RestCon, and had written articles in publications of Hospitality Technology magazine. She also volunteers for the California Restaurant Association Foundation’s Restaurants Care, Grateful Table and ProStart programs. The Restaurant Industry has been given her many great opportunities, so it’s only right to pay it forward to others!

SARAH NAQVI

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & CIO, HMSHOST

Sarah Naqvi am a visionary leader with 30+ years of proven record as a successful IT executive driving business transformation enabled by technology. With a direct reporting relationship into the office of the President, she is responsible for a yearly budget of over $50 million and management responsibility of a staff of 95+ global IT professionals. Sarah’s current scope of responsibility includes supporting application development footprint, manage the security and compliance function, design and advance the network infrastructure and drive digital transformation for a $3 billion dollar food and beverage organization.With digital transformation a business necessity, Sarah has had the privilege to lead the strategic road map for digital and developed diverse digital end points to include kiosks, mobile apps, ecommerce platform, table-top ordering devices, and mobile wallet etc. to name a few.

The greatest achievement of all is Sarah’s ability to develop high performing teams. With a collaborative style of management, she has led and helped complex teams achieve high standards of performance and exceed expectations and led boardroom discussion on strategy. Additionally, she has presented at a number of conferences, written for many notable publications and conducted webinars on digital.

Industry recognition includes:
Capital CIO of the year – 2018
Computer World 100 Premier Technology Leader – 2017
Top 100 CIO’s – Computer World – 2016
Tech Accelerator of Year – FSTECH – 2015
Finalist CIO of the Year – Tech Council of Maryland – 2014

UMMARA MARSHALL

GLOBAL SENIOR DIRECTOR, POS, MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL, INC

Ummara is the Senior Director of POS in Global Operations at Marriott International. She joined Marriott in 2007 where she started her career as a Director of Operational Excellence at Gaylord National. In the hospitality industry, Ummara also worked at an independent hotel, a Hilton property and a Management Company.

Prior to hospitality, Ummara worked in NYC on Wall Street for 6 ½ years in Investment Banking focusing on Mergers and Acquisitions, High Yield Finance and Private Equity. In DC, she worked at the Advisory Board Company as a Senior Consultant. She has also been involved in starting up two companies – an internet company and a nanotechnology hedge fund.

Outside of work, Ummara is a mom to 2 young boys and is very passionate about paying it forward to her community. Currently, she serves as a Board Member for a Montessori School, an active PTA member and volunteer at an Elementary School, the Social Chair of a Travel Soccer League and a volunteer with the Cub Scouts. During her time in NYC, she was an actively involved with multiple homeless organizations and assisted with care for late stage cancer patients at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She loves to run and exercise to keep up with her two boys.

Ummara received her B.A. in Economics from Harvard University. She also completed a Master Black Belt in Six Sigma.

VIKRAM BADHWAR

GROUP HEAD OF OPERATIONS TECHNOLOGY, NANDO'S

YOO JIN YI

IT MANAGER, GIBSONS RESTAURANT GROUP

ZERRICK PEARSON

VP OF IT, FIVE GUYS BURGERS AND FRIES

Zerrick Pearson is the Vice President of Information Technology for Five Guys Enterprises, L.L.C., a company that operates more than 1350 franchised or company-operated restaurants domestically and internationally. Zerrick is responsible for developing and implementing information technology initiatives across the Enterprise. Having been born into the restaurant industry through family owned restaurants, Zerrick has been involved in restaurant operations for almost 25 years.

Zerrick is currently implementing a cloud-based POS solution that allows Five Guys to leverage new and emerging technologies to drive efficiencies while focused improving the customer experience.

Prior to his time with Five Guys, Zerrick held the position of Vice President of Information Technology with a publicly traded Washington, DC based Company. While there Zerrick managed all IT initiatives, bridging the gap between IT, Finance and Operations.

Zerrick is a member of the IFBTA and various other industry specific IT organizations.

Zerrick enjoys researching emerging technology, soccer, politics and movie nights with his family.