Len Ghilani, President – The Ghilani Group

Len has more than 28 years of industry experience, opening and operating over 275 restaurants, with a proven ability to develop and grow concepts nationwide, in both public and private arenas, and in regional, corporate and franchise environments.

Len’s experience encompasses designing, developing, opening and operating new restaurants, hotels, resorts and entertainment centers; management and team development; operations and financial management systems and the development of food & beverage programs for all hospitality venues.

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John E Berg, Partner – Monroe Moxness & Berg

With an in-depth knowledge of the franchise and multi-unit retail industry, John represents numerous multi-unit operators, assisting with their strategic planning and daily operational issues.  In addition, John works closely with industry franchisors, lenders and vendors, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and seminars.  John has been honored by Franchise Times as one of franchising’s top 100 “Legal Eagles,” and he was recognized by Minnesota Law & Politics as a “Super Lawyer” and a “Rising Star in the Legal Profession.”

John has significant experience in large workout transactions and restructuring borrowers’ financial obligations.  His results-driven practice includes evaluating and managing the tax aspects of complex financial transactions, including multi-tiered financing and complex corporate capitalization structures.  He also represents clients in the resolution of state and federal tax controversies at the examination, appellate, and tax court levels.

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Christopher Lower, Co-Owner – Sterling Cross Communications

Christopher is behind Social Media campaigns for over a dozen clients in the Hospitality, Technology, & Professional Services Industries such as: moto-i, Baja Sol, Curry Up, The Bailey Group, Hospitality Minnesota, The Minnesota Restaurant Association, The Minnesota Lodging Association, & The MN Campground & Resort Association. Christopher has over 17 years of Marketing, Sales, PR, & Copywriting, and 10 years of focus on emerging web technologies and their use in marketing & management. (@MrChristopherL on Twitter and blogging at – Christopher was recently named as one of the top 20 MN Innovators in Social Media and has contributed on KMSP Fox 9 as a Social Media Expert.

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Peter Dugan, Senior Associate – CB Richard Ellis

Peter Dugan is a Retail & Restaurant Specialist at CB Richard Ellis.  Peter’s primary goal for his clients is to optimize revenue and profits through strategic location analysis by picking the right location that matches the individual client’s business model.  He also works with private developers and landlords to either create or reposition developments for success in the marketplace.  Peter represents regional retailers, merchants and restaurateurs.

Prior to joining CB Richard Ellis, Peter worked with the federal government, operated a family-owned retail business and was a manager for a regional beverage and food specialty retailer.

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Corey Stender, Hotel Real Estate Advisor – Timm & Associates, Inc.

Corey Stender is a veteran of the hospitality industry. His roles have included operational management, food and beverage management, and marketing and feasibility studies.

A member of Timm & Associates, Inc. since 2001, Corey has been involved in numerous hotel transactions ranging from small economy hotels to upper-tier full service hotels. Corey is active with Asian American Hotel Operators of America (AAHOA), Minnesota Lodging Association, and other national lodging affiliates.

He has also been a guest speaker on several occasions at the University of Wisconsin Stout’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management on different hospitality issues.

Corey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Stout and sits on the Hotel and Restaurant programs advisory committee. 

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Irving A Cohen, CIC, VP & Risk Management Director – Bearence Management Group

Drawing on his marketing background, Irv helped develop several niche marketing programs for the agency.  Today programs for hospitality, property management companies, developers and private schools account for a significant portion of the revenue at the agency.

Irv is active in the Carlson School of Business, where he has serves as a mentor for business students for the past seven years.  Irv also sits on one of the insurance carrier’s advisory councils.

The Bearence Management Group ranks as one of the top 15 largest Independent Agencies in the state, and amongst the fastest growing in the USA.

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Todd Olson, Sales, Premier Restaurant Equipment

Todd Olson has been instrumental in working as a team member with the owner, consultant, architect and construction trades.  As a CFSP, Certified Foodservice Professional, Todd has demonstrated a vast knowledge of equipment, design and it’s application to food preparation and traffic flow.  His market segment specific knowledge, combined with his industry involvement, makes him an excellent source of information and support for the complex coordination of design, project management and installation of each project. 

From small to large projects, Todd will take the time and apply the professionalism necessary to bring the project together exceeding all expectations.   From design to the equipment procurement, Todd Olson and Premier will be very excited and pleased to add you to their list of satisfied clients.

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Todd J Lifson, CPA, Partner – Premier Restaurant Equipment

Todd J. Lifson is a Partner in the Accounting and Auditing Division and a member of our Executive Committee. Todd specializes in business consulting for complex audit, merger and acquisition, and litigation support engagements. Todd has significant experience with privately held mid-market and publicly held (SEC) businesses encompassing a broad range of industries, including marketing and affinity program providers. Todd’s expertise includes assisting business owners and senior management teams with the development and implementation of their business plans and effecting change to maximize operations. Todd joined the Firm in May 2001, after thirteen years of broad-based client experience with a national public accounting firm.

Todd’s strong technical background includes two years working with the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Emerging Issues Task Force and serving as project manager for the development of a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) manual. Additionally, Todd co-authored the retail accounting and auditing section of Montgomery’s Auditing, 11th edition, and two training courses: “Introduction to Retail” and “Retail Fundamentals.”

Todd is a Certified Public Accountant with numerous professional affiliations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants. Todd also serves as a board member on an assisted living and nursing home facility. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.

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