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Mike Karns

Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Local Favorite Restaurants®

Mike Karns is owner and CEO of Local Favorite Restaurants. He has extensive expertise in real estate and also directs the operations of Local Favorite Restaurants' sister companies, Triton Commercial Real Estate, LLC and Karns Commercial Real Estate, Inc. His real estate and hospitality experience began with his time as Director of Real Estate for CiCi’s Pizza. Beginning with 12 local restaurants, Karns expanded CiCi’s Pizza into a national brand with close to 400 locations.  

In 1993, he formed Karns Commercial Real Estate (KCRE), focusing on the acquisition and development of retail and office properties that span multiple states, and has developed and invested in real estate for more than two decades. He purchased El Fenix Corporation in 2008 as part of his “real estate driven restaurant operation company” vision, and added Snuffer’s Restaurant & Bar to his restaurant portfolio in 2013 and another local favorite, Village Burger Bar in 2017. Karns also created original restaurant concepts Meso Maya, Taqueria La Ventana, TorTaco and Tulum and has grown to over 40 locations in DFW.

Karns is an active member of the World Presidents’ Organization as well as other elite groups including Stagen Leadership Institute, Tiger 21 and is a long time student of Strategic Coach and its masters program. He was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015. Karns has also been inducted into the Richardson High School Hall of Fame and recognized as a distinguished alumni at his alma mater, Stephen F. Austin University.


In addition to being a recognized leader in the real estate and restaurant industries, Karns and his companies and employees have been long-time supporters of local and national non-profit groups, including The North Texas Food Bank, The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, JDRF Dallas, American Heart Association, The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and charity: water. His dynamic contributions have made a significant difference throughout the Dallas community and worldwide.

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Martin Adler

Chief Legal Officer

Martin Adler is a licensed Attorney and CPA. Adler has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, franchising, real estate development, financial reporting, tax planning, compliance, risk management and asset management both domestically and internationally. He is responsible for successfully transitioning the then largest single International House of Pancakes restaurant franchisee to private equity group owners while exponentially growing their number of units and revenues. Adler has also served as Chairman of the Board with Collin Bank in Frisco, Texas and received his Bachelor of BA at University of Texas at Austin and his Juris Doctor at American University in Washington D.C.

Doug Hipskind

Chief Financial Officer

Doug Hipskind has a diverse financial background that spans investment companies, real estate development, and hospitality. Prior to joining Local Favorite Restaurants, Doug served as the Chief Financial Officer of Houston-based Mexican Restaurants, Inc., where he helped drive the development and growth of several of the company’s restaurant concepts.  Doug served on the Board of Directors of Kona Grill, where he was Audit Committee Chairman and a member of the Real Estate Committee. He has helped launch several companies including a boutique investment bank and an equipment leasing company.  He also developed the Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Colorado. Doug received a BA in Economics from the University of Colorado and a BS in Accounting from the University of Minnesota.  Doug is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Nico Sanchez

Executive Chef

Chef Nico’s love for the culinary arts started at age nine, when he started working at a bakery making deliveries and assisting in the kitchen. Nico later honed his skills at several restaurants and regions throughout Mexico, where he learned about seafood, dried chilies, making sauces from scratch and perfecting tamale-making techniques. He moved to Dallas in 1996 to pursue his goal of becoming a renowned chef. Chef Nico earned his reputation within the Dallas restaurant scene by working at Cuba Libre, The Porch, Hibiscus, and Meso Maya. His food is celebrated for its complexity, unique presentation, and fresh flavors.

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Diane Sanford

Director of Human Resources & Training

Diane is a tenured HR professional with a passion for helping people tap into their strengths and grow their careers. With over 25 years of Restaurant Industry experience she’s led a variety of disciplines. Diane began her career in employee relations on the legal team for Brinker International in 1993 and since crafted a career path that led her to Local Favorite Restaurants in 2022 as Chief People Officer. While supporting others is her day job, she spends her free time serving the community. She’s been at the head of organizations’ community outreach programs, including a partnership with national and local efforts to feed America’s children, such as No Kid Hungry and Irving School District local outreach. She also has a passion for helping dogs. Diane has volunteered with the DFW Lab Rescue Group for over 20 years and has her own brood of 4 rescues at home. She and her family consider themselves foster failures and, when not helping dogs, enjoy spending time together traveling.

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