Executive Director

"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."

- Benjamin Franklin

What started as a personal love of food and a side business venture as a restaurant investor turned into a full career for Laurie Thomas, owner of Nice Ventures, which currently owns and manages two successful restaurants in San Francisco: Rose’s Café and Terzo. In January 2020 Thomas took on the Acting Executive Director for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a nonprofit trade organization focused on helping bay area restaurants survive and thrive.  Her previous 13 years of GGRA Board of Director experience plus her 20+ years experience owning/operating restaurants in San Francisco made this a perfect fit for Thomas. Prior to becoming a restaurateur, she earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University, an MBA from Harvard Business School and held senior management positions at several enterprise software companies in Silicon Valley. When she is not working or eating in her restaurants, Thomas is committed to giving back to the San Francisco community.  In July 2019 Thomas joined the SF Travel Association Board, which works to promote San Francisco as a top travel destination.  She is a member of the honorary board of Meals on Wheels; a SF non-profit focused on feeding the elderly and was a founding member of the Friends of Larkin Street, a sub-board of Larkin Street, focused on fundraising for at-risk youth.  She also volunteers for non-profits through the HBS Community Partners. In her spare time, Thomas enjoys skiing, hiking and traveling with her husband, golden retriever and rescue cat.

Chhavi Sahni

Policy & Education Manager

"If you are what you eat, then I only wanna eat the good stuff."

- Remy, Ratatouille

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Chhavi has always been a supporter of the local restaurant industry. She leads research and communication on policy issues to our member community. She also manages educational programming including proctoring the GGRA Food Safety Manager Program. Prior to joining the GGRA, Chhavi spent four years at Gap Inc. before entering the non-profit world as a Special Projects Manager for the International Ocean Film Festival. When she's not helping out at her parents’ ethnic grocery store, Apna Bazaar in Antioch, you can find her indulging on a donut from Bob's or a slice of pizza from Golden Boys. Chhavi earned her degree in International Relations- Economics at the University of California, San Diego.

Alex Wagner

Community Engagement Manager

""Food is our common ground, a universal experience.""

- James Beard

Alex Wagner comes to GGRA with a background in event planning and experience in the restaurant industry. While in college, Alex became a line cook at a farm to table restaurant in Winters, CA. In search of blending both her passion for events and the restaurant industry, Alex joined us as a Marketing and Communications Summer Intern for Eat Drink SF in 2018 and has since transitioned into her role as Community Engagement Manager. She is eager to support and continue to grow our community while exploring the Bay Area’s incredible food scene!