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Meet the Team

Get to Know the Leaders Driving Wienerschnitzel’s Success

J.R. Galardi

CEO, Galardi Group

J.R. Galardi is the President & CEO of the Galardi Group, the parent company of the restaurant brands Wienerschnitzel, Tastee Freez, and Hamburger Stand. Son of Wienerschnitzel founder John N. Galardi, J.R. started in the restaurant business when he was 13. Working the fry station, cashier and janitorial duties during summers throughout high school, J.R. interned as a Wienerschnitzel Franchise Business Consultant during college to gain valuable experience in field support of our franchisees. After graduating from the University of Colorado and working as Wienerschnitzel’s Marketing Manager, J.R. focused on looking towards the future of the brand.

As a young professional, J.R. understood what would get this demographic’s attention and conceived the Visionary Marketing team. This advanced new concept was created to hit the streets and meet the younger generation face-to-face. Over the years, the Visionary Activation team has served millions of free hot dogs and reached new Wienerschnitzel guests through unique channels of public service, social media, concerts and other special events, plus strategic integration with extreme athlete sponsorships. Since his role in marketing, J.R. has held positions as Director of Administration, Executive Vice President and is now President and CEO of Galardi Group, Inc. J.R. is the face and leadership of the future; active in developing new partnerships and bringing innovative and profitable solutions to our franchise community.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise President headshot

Cindy Galardi Culpepper

Executive Chairperson, Galardi Group

Cindy Galardi Culpepper, Executive Chairperson and advisor to the Galardi Group, stepped into the leadership role in 2013. Cindy grew the business into what it is today, driving new initiatives, company structure, culture, values and a sense of purpose that successfully operates under its roof. In February 2022, her son J.R. Galardi stepped into the CEO role, allowing Cindy to continue focusing on numerous charity and community outreach programs. With the mission of “serving food to serve others,” Cindy implemented a plan for Wienerschnitzel to contribute a portion of its annual revenue and dedicate company time to multiple charities. Always outgoing and personable, Cindy is a key figure and advisor to the Galardi Group.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise CEO headshot

Doug Koegeboehn

Chief Marketing Officer

Doug Koegeboehn is the Chief Marketing Officer for Wienerschnitzel, the world’s largest hot dog chain. Doug loves the enjoyment of food and knows pretty much everybody else does, too. That’s why he has relished spending much of his entire career working on food-related business. It started when he was 15 and landed a job at Burger King. Then when Doug graduated college, he joined an advertising agency working on the El Pollo Loco account. For the next 20 years, Doug led agency teams on national food accounts, including Dole, Marie Callenders, California Avocado Commission, Yogurtland and his favorite, Wienerschnitzel. In 2015, an opportunity arose, and he joined the Wienerschnitzel family as CMO and is loving it. On the personal side, Doug feels extremely lucky to be married to his beautiful wife for the past 25+ years and has two great kids. His marriage and his children are his greatest accomplishments in life.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise CMO headshot

Ted Milburn

Director of Franchise Development

Ted Milburn joined the Galardi Group in January 2015 to help spearhead new franchise growth. Previously, Ted worked with internationally-recognized companies: including Nestle Toll House Café, where he led North American franchise efforts to record new growth and directed franchise development for brands under the Kahala Corp. umbrella, including Blimpie, Cold Stone Creamery and Taco Time. Ted brings passion and innovation to strategic franchise initiatives while developing new franchisee relationships. An avid outdoorsman and college sports fanatic, Ted also serves in numerous charitable causes in the Seattle area with his wife and son.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise Director of US Development headshot

Laurie New

Director of Real Estate

Laurie New joined Galardi Group as Director of Real Estate in May 2022. Previously, she worked for Inspire Brands supporting Dunkin’, Baskin Robbins, and Jimmy John’s franchisees with their restaurant development in California and Nevada. Prior to that, Laurie worked for 7-Eleven Inc. for over 12 years in both Operations and Real Estate, contributing to a significant growth in profit, net income, and store count for both the company and its franchisees. Laurie is excited to work with our franchise partners to help secure successful new locations for the continued growth of the Galardi Group brands. Laurie and her family live in Riverside, CA. She enjoys spending time with family at the beach and in the mountains, and is looking forward to future RV camping adventures.

David Kreitlow

Director of Training

David Kreitlow has been part of the Wienerschnitzel since 1981. During this time, he has had several roles within the Operations and Training Departments. David has been the Director of Training since 2012. He believes in the importance of providing exceptional tools for the franchisee’s success. David’s passion for and understanding of the brand is unmatched.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise Director of Training headshot

Matthew Steele

Training Manager

Matthew Steele has been an instrumental member of our training team since 2015. He has been in the industry since 2007, previously working for Disney and Baja Fresh, among others. Matthew currently supports all levels of the training process, from team member to franchisee, and both instructor-led and computer-guided training.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise Training Manager headshot

Rusty Bills

Chief Operating Officer

Rusty Bills is the enthusiastic leader of the Operations Department. Rusty’s 12-year tenure with GGI started as a Franchise Area Director. He soon moved on to Manager of Tastee Freez, then Director of Operations, then Senior Director of Operations, and now in his current role of Vice President since September 2017. Rusty has a passion for our food, our franchisees and our crew members. Within his role and oversight of all operations, he is dedicated to elevating the brand’s service, image and cleanliness. Starting in the restaurant business when he was 15, Rusty later took a bus-boy job at California Pizza Kitchen to help pay his way through college. Rusty joined CPK corporate after college, developing strong operational skills in all phases of the restaurant. Prior to GGI, Rusty was Director of Operations for Taco Del Mar. He lives in Laguna Niguel with his wife of over 20 years and two beautiful daughters.

Wienerschnitzel Franchise VP of Operations headshot

Doug Koob

Chief Development Officer

Doug Koob is the Chief Development Officer at Galardi Group, Inc. He joined the company in February 2024. Doug has 40 years of food and beverage experience dating back to his time working at McDonald’s through high school and college. Doug spent 23 years with Starbucks Coffee Company in the global channel development organization in the U.S. and in Europe. In that role, he led teams and drove new business in foodservice, licensing, and franchising channels. After Starbucks, Doug held leadership roles with First Watch Restaurants and Asian Box. In 2016, he started Circle Alliances which is an independent contracting and consulting company focused on business development, strategic planning, and business optimization for food and beverage brands. Doug has a passion for leading teams, creating strategy, building strategic partnerships, and driving new business opportunities.

Doug Koob

Jose Bernal

Project Manager/ Facilities & Construction

Jose Bernal brings over a decade of comprehensive franchise industry expertise to his role as Project Manager at Galardi Group Inc. He has a robust foundation established at Subway, where he seamlessly transitioned from sandwich artist to manager, district manager, business consultant, and construction manager. While concurrently pursuing a degree in Business Administration from California State University, Fullerton, Jose played an instrumental role in building and refreshing multiple Subway restaurants, solidifying his prowess in project management and brand adherence. Joining Galardi Group Inc. in October 2023, Jose’s responsibilities include overseeing project timelines, coordinating with diverse vendors, conducting risk assessments, and upholding stringent brand standards. His adeptness in conflict resolution and effective communication further enhances project outcomes. With a steadfast commitment to professionalism and quality, Jose humbly applies his wealth of experience to drive success in his role at Galardi Group Inc. He strives to deliver exceptional results, recognizing the importance of humility and dedication in every endeavor.

Jose Bernal

Rodrigo Esparza

Facilities & Construction

Rodrigo Esparza, a seasoned Construction Project Manager at Galardi Group, Inc. brings over two decades of invaluable experience in the food and beverage industry to his current role. Born into a family deeply ingrained in the restaurant business, Rodrigo’s journey into food and beverage began at a tender age. Intrigued by the intricate dynamics of construction, Rodrigo embarked on a dedicated path in the field five years ago. Starting as a project engineer, Rodrigo swiftly ascended the ranks, demonstrating exceptional proficiency and leadership qualities. Within a mere three months of joining his previous company, he transitioned into the role of a project manager, a testament to his acumen and rapid adaptability. Throughout his career, Rodrigo has orchestrated an impressive array of commercial construction projects, honing his expertise in overseeing multifaceted endeavors simultaneously. Rodrigo’s adeptness encompasses every facet of project management, from meticulous scheduling to adept team leadership, diligent progress monitoring, and adept problem-solving. At Galardi Group, Rodrigo seamlessly translates his wealth of experience and unwavering commitment to excellence. With a shared vision to deliver projects with precision and efficiency, Rodrigo continues to spearhead initiatives, ensuring the seamless execution of construction endeavors. His unwavering dedication, coupled with his unparalleled skill set, cements Rodrigo Esparza as a cornerstone of success within Galardi Group, Inc.

Rodrigo Esparza

Werner Glass

Director of International Development

Werner Glass joined Galardi Group International in 2021, heading the International Franchise Development and overseeing recruitment and franchisee selection in markets around the world. With nearly 30 years of legal and franchising experience, Werner has led the international franchise growth of major brands including Burger King, Carl’s Jr. and Sbarro Pizza. He is responsible for leading Wienerschnitzel’s expansion strategy in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. These responsibilities include the definition of country entry model, mapping and planning, market prioritization and sales activities. Werner lives in Miami, Florida with his wife, Concetta.

Werner Glass

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