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STAN FRIEDMAN – CHAIRMAN

Restaurant & Franchise Industry Executive

A 24 year veteran of franchising and life-long foodie, Stan Friedman is the Chairman of the Induction Committee for the National Buffalo Wing Festival Hall of Flame. For nearly five years, Stan served as Executive Vice President and partner at the Wing Zone Franchise Corp., where he led the Atlanta based chain’s development charge, growing them to nearly 100 units. Currently, Stan is the President of FRM Solutions, Inc., a franchise-centric technology company that assists franchisors with the management of relationships, with prospective and existing franchisees. Stan is also first vice chair of the International Franchise Assn.’s Diversity Institute and Chairman of the Advisory Board for the “Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative,” a collaborative endeavor headed by Coliseum Enterprises. Stan has also served on the board of the Georgia Restaurant Association and most importantly, he is a confessed “wing-o-holic.” He loves Buffalo and travels to WNY several times a year, satisfying his craving for the world’s greatest selection of wings, while doing his part to promote economic development in our region.

Donn Esmonde

DONN ESMONDE 

The Buffalo News

Donn Esmonde has been a columnist at The Buffalo News for 12 years. He started his 24-year career with The News as a sports feature writer and columnist, and for five years was the columnist in the Life section. He’s won numerous NYS Associated Press awards, in addition to other honors. In August of 2002, he heard about the movie “Osmosis Jones” that featured actor Bill Murray playing a guy addicted to fried food and other artery-clogging fare. His young daughter, fearful he would keel over, wanted him to take a hiking vacation. Instead, he bolted for the National Chicken Wing Festival in Buffalo. Which raised the question: Why isn’t there an annual National Chicken Wing Festival in Buffalo? Esmonde wrote a column suggesting that there should be a National WingFest in Buffalo in 2001, as a way of staking claim to what is rightfully ours as well as to capitalize commercially on a Buffalo invention. Buffalo’s own Drew Cerza read it and called him the next day. Donn wrote about Drew’s plan in his next column and asked the community for its support. The rest is history. That was seven years and 2.4 million wings ago.

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BRYAN WITTMAN

Vice President of Global Special Events – Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

As Vice President of Global Special Events for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, the Buffalo, NY native is responsible for the creative development, management and production of major special events and marketing projects for Disney Theme Parks and Resorts around the world. Bryan went to Saint Francis High School in Athol Springs, NY and is also a graduate of Ashland University in Ohio with a degree in television production. Bryan has an extensive background in marketing and entertainment and has held executive positions with Marriott and Six Flags Theme Parks, the Ice Capades and the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, NY. Career highlights for Bryan have included numerous grand opening celebrations for Disney Theme Parks, attractions, parades and shows, annual themed signature events and festivals, Super Bowl halftime shows and film premieres.