Texas Restaurant Association and Texas Restaurant Foundation Announce 2024 Board Officers and Directors
New class of board members, with diverse backgrounds and extensive industry experience set to enrich both organizations
AUSTIN, TX (January 1, 2024) – The Texas Restaurant Association (TRA) and Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) are proud to announce the appointment of their new Officers and Directors, effective January 1, 2024. The incoming board comprises 10 new TRA Board Directors and 5 new TRF Board Trustees. This strong and diverse group of individuals will bring their unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to help further the mission of both organizations.
Skeeter Miller, President and Co-Owner, County Line BBQ Restaurants (Austin), will serve as Chair of the Texas Restaurant Association Board of Directors, and Russell Woodward, Director of Foodservice and Industry Relations at Nolan Ryan Foods (Austin), will serve as Chair of the Texas Restaurant Foundation Board of Trustees.
“We congratulate our new Board Officers and are excited to welcome these fifteen dynamic and passionate industry leaders to the TRA and TRF Boards,” said Dr. Emily Williams Knight, President & CEO of the TRA and TRF. “With members representing the 23 Chapters of the TRA and every facet of our industry, the Boards of the TRA and TRF guide and support our organization’s mission to serve all Texas foodservice operators and ensure the best environment for they and their employees to be successful.”
Vice Chair Chris Aslam, CEO, Rock Strategic Restaurant Group (Dallas) and Treasurer Ellis Winstanley, Owner of El Arroyo and Axial Shift (Austin) complete the Association’s 2024 Board Leadership. Other Foundation officers include Vice Chair David Cole, Co-Owner, i Fratelli Pizza (Dallas), and Treasurer Melissa Doolin-Koehne, Vice-President of Business Development, Black Box Intelligence (Dallas). Each officer will serve a one-year term.
In addition to naming new officers, the TRA and TRF boards, which, also added the following newly elected Directors:
TEXAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION
The TRA Board of Directors is comprised of 65 voting directors representing each of the 23 chapters that make up the TRA and the various industry sectors that the association represents, including independent single and multi-unit operations, top 100 chain franchisees, top 100 chain companies, and key industry vendors.
Chair: Don “Skeeter” Miller, Owner and President of County Line BBQ, embodies the spirit of the engaged restaurateur, a tenacious advocate for the Texas restaurant industry. Having served as Chair of multiple boards including the TRA’s Austin Chapter, Visit Austin and the Visit Austin Foundation, serving on the boards of American Bank and the Texas Restaurant Foundation, and a member of the Texas House of Representatives Property Tax Relief Committee, the 47-year restaurant veteran has been recognized by many organizations for being an industry champion, not to mention his passionate support of more than 3,000 charities a year through the County Line restaurants in the communities of Austin, El Paso, San Antonio, and Albuquerque. Never one to shy from speaking truth to power, he has represented the industry in Austin, Washington D.C., and on national television, ensuring the needs of restaurateurs and their employees are heard.
Vice Chair: Chris Aslam, Owner and CEO of Rock Strategic Restaurant Group, has been an active member of the restaurant community for more than 25 years, with more than 70 locations across three brands and three states. He is deeply involved in the restaurant community, serving on multiple boards, including past Chair of the TRA’s Dallas Chapter and volunteered with organizations such as No Kid Hungry and the American Cancer Society. A member of the TRA board for much of the past decade, Chris brings thoughtful insights to improve and support the Texas restaurant industry.
Treasurer: Ellis Winstanley, Owner and CEO of Austin staple, El Arroyo, and industry tech solution, Axial Shift, is the consummate hospitality industry entrepreneur, from startups to turn arounds, not to mention brand marketing disruptors. Known for the famous El Arroyo vintage sign, he brought immediate national attention to the challenges restaurants faced in the early days of the Pandemic and launched the first virtual concert fundraiser for the industry in March or 2020. Always tinkering and seeking ways to improve business and the experience of not only the customer but also the employee, Ellis is a staunch advocate for the Texas restaurant industry.
The Texas Restaurant Association also added several new members to the board. The newly elected directors will serve a two-year term, and include:
Allison Balfour, Owner, Southerleigh Hospitality (San Antonio)
Rose Broussard, Co-Owner, Off the Bone BBQ (Dallas)
Chelsea Cace, Owner, The Cace Kitchen (Tyler)
Kyle Citrano, Managing Partner, George’s Restaurant (Waco)
Yolanda Franco, Owner, Western Sky Steakhouse (San Angelo)
Rena Lee Frost, Chef/Owner, Mac’s on Main and Mac’s Bar & Grill (Dallas)
Abbie Krolczyk, Director of Sales, Kesco Supply (College Station)
Gregg Majewski, CEO, Craveworthy Brands (Dallas)
Paul Miller, Owner, GR8 Plate Hospitality (Houston)
Larry Reinstein, Founder, LJR Hospitality (Dallas)
TEXAS RESTAURANT FOUNDATION
The TRF Board of Trustees is comprised of 32 voting members representing every facet of the industry, united to develop a strong workforce. These Boards provide the Association and Foundation with governance and strategic guidance to serve the needs of the Texas restaurant and foodservice industry.
Chair: Russell Woodward is the Director of Foodservice and Industry Relations at Nolan Ryan Brands where he provides leadership for the beef brands and the foodservice initiatives, fostering strategic partnerships and building programs to strengthen the beef presence in the retail and foodservice sector. He has been in the foodservice industry since college, from cattle ranching to restaurants to a lifelong career in the beef supply chain sector. He has served the Foundation Board for nearly a decade, supporting the development of the industry’s workforce with passion and enthusiasm.
Vice Chair: David Cole of i Fratelli Pizza has been in the Food Service business for 46 years. He and his three brothers founded i Fratelli Pizza in 1987, a business they have built to include 21 locations across Texas. David has served as a member and Chair of the Greater Dallas Chapter (TRA) Board as well as other organizations including the Irving, TX Convention & Visitors Bureau. He serves on both the Association and Foundation Boards, tenaciously supporting the industry and development of our workforce, especially through the Texas ProStart program. He was inducted in the TRA Hall of Honor in 2020.
Treasurer: Melissa Doolin-Koehne is Vice President of Business Development for Black Box Intelligence, the restaurant’s leading resource for financial, workforce and consumer benchmarks and insights. Melissa has been part of Black Box Intelligence for close to 20 years, using her passion for the restaurant industry to help companies become best-in-class performers. Born and raised in the restaurant industry, she is a foodie and service leader at heart who enjoys supporting restaurants as an industry of choice, developing a strong, dynamic, and diverse workforce.
In addition to naming its new board officers, the Foundation also introduced its new Board Trustees. They include:
Erik Dickison, Vice President of Sales, Tripleseat Software (Dallas)
Elizabeth Fauerso, Principle, EBF Development and Design Studio (San Antonio)
Tom Foley, Founder, Indigo Group / Roots Southern Table (Dallas)
Fernando Perez, Head of Operations, Pollo Campero USA (Dallas)
April Zamora, Division Director, Reentry and Integration, TX Dept. of Criminal Justice (Austin)
ABOUT THE TEXAS RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION
Formed in 1937, the Texas Restaurant Association serves as the advocate and indispensable resource for the foodservice industry in Texas. As a leading business association, the TRA represents the state’s $95 billion restaurant industry, which encompasses upwards of 55,000 locations and a workforce of over 1.4 million employees. Along with the Texas Restaurant Foundation, the workforce development arm of the TRA, the association proudly continues to protect, advance, and educate a growing industry as the TRA enters its 86th year. For more information, please visit www.txrestaurant.org.
ABOUT THE TEXAS RESTAURANT FOUNDATION
Established in 1994 by the Texas Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Foundation (TRF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to building and maintaining a strong professional foodservice workforce in Texas. Leveraging the latest skills, tools, and certifications, the TRF creates pathways of opportunity for one of the state’s largest and most diverse industries. The organization’s flagship program is Texas ProStart, an industry-based, two-year high school culinary arts and restaurant management program that reaches more than 25,000 students across 215 high schools in Texas. The TRF also supports restaurants in times of crisis; for example, in 2020, the TRF established the TX Restaurant Relief Fund to raise and distribute more than $3.5 million to support over 800 independent restaurants and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.