Education Sessions Schedule

Keynote: Growth Under Pressure

Even under immense pressure, facing the biggest crisis the hospitality industry had ever seen, some brands continued to thrive during the pandemic. Join this conversation to understand what smart decisions were made in 2019 and earlier that set these companies up for a successful 2020 and 2021, despite other very obvious challenges.


Sunday, July 11, 2021


1:00pm - 2:00pm


Big Bend Big Ideas Stage, sponsored by Texas Mutual


Moderator: Joe Monastero, Texas Restaurant Association
Geoff Alexander, Wow Bao
Clay Dover, Velvet Taco


Moderator: Joe Monastero

Joe Monastero thrives on his passion and experience in the hospitality industry and international business, using his unique set of skills and personal grit to succeed in his endeavors.  After a 10-year break from hospitality, working in a variety of higher education companies from culinary & hospitality education to international student recruitment, Joe returned to the hospitality industry in early 2020 when he accepted the position of Chief Strategy & Operations Officer of the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) and Education Foundation (TRAEF). These organizations are responsible for the protection, advancement, and education of Texas’ second largest industry, made up of more than 50,000 restaurants and their 1.3 million employees, accounting for more than $70 Billion in annual revenue.

Growing-up immersed in the operations of his family’s 55-year old business, Monastero’s Ristorante & Banquets, until they closed in the fall of 2017, Joe worked in all areas of the business and became President/General Manager in 2003 and additionally Executive Chef in 2006.  His successes can be attributed to his work ethic, keen analytical skills, creativity and ability to assess problems and create solutions in real time.

Geoff Alexander

Geoff Alexander

Geoff Alexander joined Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in 1993 and began leading Wow Bao in 2009.

Under Alexander, Wow Bao revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in technology & social media adding: mobile & desktop ordering, self-ordering kiosks, mobile gift & loyalty programs, bicycle delivery, national shipping, and a food truck.

Alexander led Wow Bao’s inclusion into airports, NFL/MLB/NHL/NBA stadiums, universities, music venues, and 300+ grocers sell its frozen retail line.

In 2017 Alexander changed the fast casual dining landscape by introducing Wow Bao 2.0 – a tech enabled FOH environment, where guests order via iOS/Android, and pick up from an animated personalized cubby.

After being named to Nation’s Restaurant News 2020 Power List, Alexander evolved the restaurant industry again by launching 150 Dark Kitchens in just nine months – allowing restaurant operators to grow top line sales & increase bottom line profits.

Clay Dover

Clay Dover

Clay Dover is the Chief Executive Officer, President and Taco Maker at Velvet Taco, a restaurant committed to a world of tacos without borders and one of the hottest fast-casual brands in the industry. Since he assumed leadership in March 2017, Velvet Taco has expanded from 4 to now more than 20 restaurants with several more in development Velvet Taco has weathered the disruption from COVID and continues to see consecutive quarters of positive restaurant sales and continued growth in several cities.

A restaurant industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, Dover has served as President and CMO, Fry Cook and Cashier for Raising Cane’s Chicken Finger Restaurants.  He has served in a variety of senior marketing and leadership roles within the restaurant industry throughout his career.

A Texas resident for over 20 years, Dover was named in 2020 as one of the most influential restaurant CEO’s in the Country by Nations Restaurant News and has previously served as Co-Chair of the National Restaurant Association Marketing Advisory Group.  Other achievements and awards include CMO of the Year; Dallas’s “40 under 40 Award”, and Chain Leader Protégé of the Year Award.