View management bios by clicking on photos below.
With more than 35 years in food and hospitality, Paul Damico’s career includes top leadership roles in premium organizations including Host Marriott, Food Brand, Creative Host and the Focus Brands portfolio of restaurants. Before joining team GFG as CEO, he served as CEO of emerging concept Naf Naf Middle Eastern Grill and successfully developed a franchise mode growing the brand to 38 locations. Before Naf Naf, he was Group President of Focus Brands and was responsible for the oversight of McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream and Cinnabon. Paul is known as a dynamic and personable leader with a deep history of collaborating with franchisors and franchisees and has a unique perspective regarding franchising and best practices. Paul has a passion for food and dining having graduated from Johnson & Wales with degrees Culinary Arts and Hotel and Restaurant Management.
Chief Brand Officer & President of Franchise Operations
Jenn Johnston is an innovative brand builder, uniquely able to develop the Brand from every angle. She serves as Chief Brand Officer & President of Franchise Operations for Global Franchise Group® and is responsible for managing multiple strategic brand teams that oversee marketing, operations, research and development, training, communications and customer service activities for all GFG brands: Great American Cookies®, MaggieMoo's Ice Cream & Treatery®, Marble Slab Creamery®, Pretzelmaker®, Hot Dog on a Stick® and Round Table Pizza®. She embodies GFG’s mission of “Championing Brands and the People Who Build Them,” helping grow GFG’s brands into category standouts through her leadership, consumer-driven strategic insight and franchisee first mentality. Jenn is known as a strong mentor of people and teams, and a driving factor behind GFG’s “I Love This Place” culture.
Jenn has been working to build GFG’s brands since 2003 when she took on the role of Senior Director of Brand Marketing & Company Operations for MaggieMoo’s International, LLC. While with MaggieMoo’s, she successfully implemented a company store turn-around program and launched several innovative marketing programs. In 2007, her results got her promoted to Senior Vice President, Brand Marketing when NexCen Franchise Management acquired the Brand. Through further acquisition, Jenn added six new brands to her oversight: Marble Slab Creamery, Pretzel Time, Pretzelmaker, Great American Cookies, The Athlete's Foot (TAF), and Shoebox New York. When Global Franchise Group formed with Levine Leichtman Capital Partner’s ownership in 2010, Jenn became the CMO and COO and she, alongside President & CEO Chris Dull, are the leaders behind each of these Brand’s turn-around stories, driving strong ULE growth since acquisition.
Prior to entering the franchising arena, Jenn spent time brand building in the start-up space, financial services industry and the advertising world where she launched products including L'Oréal Féria hair color at McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Procter & Gamble's Febreze Fabric Refresher and Downy Ball at Grey Global Group.
She’s also the heart behind GFG’s annual “A Bite for the Fight” campaign for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). She is a former Chair of the Board of Trustees for LLS’ Maryland Chapter and she serves on LLS’ National Corporate Development Council. Her personal impact is over a half of million dollars for the organization and the fight against blood cancers.
Jenn holds a Bachelor's in English & Communications from Boston College and a MBA in Finance & Entrepreneurship from Georgetown University, where she was awarded the Phillips Entrepreneurship Prize.
Chief Innovation Officer
Many people dream about having a career that revolves around ice cream and pretzels, but its reality for Allison Lauenstein, Executive Vice President for Global Franchise Group’s Marble Slab Creamery®, MaggieMoo's®, and Pretzelmaker® brands. Allison provides strategic oversight for each of these delicious concepts and is responsible for the EBIDTA of the business segments and the contributing factors driving it including Same Store Sales (SSS) increases and new store growth.
With more than 25 years of experience in brand marketing, strategic planning, and category management, Allison has a reputation for developing and executing 3 to 5 year visionary, but achievable brand plans. She is credited for the development of Marble Slab Creamery/MaggieMoo’s standout “Unlimited Mix-Ins” concept which allows the customer to add as many mix-ins as they would like for one set price. The pricing strategy has set Marble Slab Creamery/MaggieMoo’s apart from the competition and revitalized sales shorty after implementation.
Before joining GFG, Allison had her own strategic marketing consulting company and was teaching Marketing at many colleges and universities. She has spent most of her career in franchising, spending 13 plus years at Dunkin Brands, where she held positions as Director of Brand Marketing for Baskin-Robbins, Director of Strategic Planning for Dunkin’ Brands, Category Marketing Manager for Dunkin’ Donuts, Retail Marketing Manager, Purchasing Manager and Assistant Brand Manager.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MBA from Northeastern University.
Chief Development Officer
Chris Cheek is a franchise and restaurant development veteran with 20 years of experience in the industry. He comes to GFG after serving as CDO of Newk’s Eatery where he led development efforts as the restaurant grew from 65 franchise locations to 130 and from 10 to 24 company owned-operations. As CDO, he helped the brand achieve consistent year over year growth. He also has served as CDO of Toppers Pizza and was VP of Franchise Development for Freebirds World Burrito in Emeryville, CA and VP of Franchise Development for Le Duff America (Bruegger’s, La Madeleine, Brioche Doree, Timothy’s Coffee, Michael’s Bakery Café, and mmmuffins). As CDO of GFG he leads franchise brand expansion, new store development, construction and international growth.
EVP of Manufacturing Plant Operations
A unique component of Global Franchise Group is its manufacturing facility where all dough for the Great American Cookies® brand and dry mix for the Pretzelmaker® brand is expertly created and delicious new products are conceptualized. Raphael is the leader behind this important vertical of the business as Executive Vice President of Manufacturing. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing manufacturing, distribution and customer service activities of the GFG plant. Raphael is also responsible for managing strategic purchasing of commodities, ingredients, equipment and overall capital expenditure planning for Great American Cookies’ manufacturing and for managing strategic sourcing, vendor management and supply chain activities for all GFG brands including Great American Cookies®, MaggieMoo's®, Marble Slab Creamery®, Pretzelmaker®, Hot Dog on a Stick® and Round Table Pizza®.
Raphael brings more than 20 years of experience in Manufacturing, Project Management, Quality Assurance, Food Safety and Continuous Improvement to his current position. His experience involves prior roles such as VP of Operations at Talking Rain Beverage Company, General Manager at JJ Snack Foods and Plant Manager at Mission Foods.
Raphael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Engineering from Loyola Marymount University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Raphael is also a Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CLSSMBB) from Villanova University. He is also a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) with years of experience overseeing and implementing sustainability projects.
VP of Growth Marketing
Lisa is responsible for expanding the reach of GFG brands as the Vice President of Growth Marketing. This includes developing e-commerce channels, merchandising programs and licensing for Great American Cookies, Marble Slab Creamery, Pretzelmaker, Hot Dog on a Stick and Round Table Pizza. Having been with GFG for more than 8 years at GFG, she has successfully launched numerous marketing initiatives and new products for the Pretzelmaker and Hot Dog on a Stick brands.
With almost 20 years of experience, Lisa has a wealth of franchise development and marketing experience. Prior to joining GFG, she worked in the Sales & Marketing division of Ford Motor Company consulting with over 250 Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers on improving sales, market share, and customer satisfaction through innovative marketing and advertising strategies.
She has also obtained entrepreneurial experience by starting and operating a nationally franchised real estate brand in Atlanta, GA. This complemented her marketing knowledge by expanding her skill set in operations, finance, and training. Lisa’s background also includes corporate experience with Proctor & Gamble, Hearst Corporation, and Brinker International.
She holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and an MBA in Marketing from Florida A&M University.