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March 30 – April 1, 2022 | Nashville — Early Bird pricing ends December 10, 2021. Sign up today!



3:00 pm | Registration opens

4:00 pm | Welcome

Opening Remarks

• Cherryh Cansler | VP of Events | Networld Media Group

4:10 pm | Keynote Session

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

Keynote Speakers:
Andy Wiederhorn | President & CEO | FAT Brands
Carl Howard | President & CEO | Fazoli’s

  • Sponsored by 7shifts


Andy Wiederhorn
President & CEO
FAT Brands


Carl Howard
President & CEO

4:10 pm | Keynote Session

Restaurant Strategy and Execution in a Post-Covid World: The Evolution of Store Management, Footprint, and Technology to Meet the New Reality

Beto Guajardo, the president of Focus Brands International, will share his personal and professional lessons in business growth, innovation and leadership. He will provide concrete takeaways on how to partner with stakeholders, prioritize what matters and stay close to the customer. Beto will speak about ways to implement changes that positively impact the business in constrained operating environments and competitive marketplaces.

Beto Guajardo | President | Focus Brands International

  • Sponsored by Immediate

5:00 – 8:00 pm | Networking

Casino Night to Benefit Core

Join us at the start of the Summit for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a variety of games as well as an opportunity to raise money for CORE, which provides financial relief to children of restaurant employees during a health crisis, injury, death or natural disaster.



8:00 am | Registration & Breakfast

8:45 am | Breakfast Briefing

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

7:45 am | Breakfast Briefing

Transforming the Restaurant IT Network with SD-Branch

• Chase Mullican | Regional Director of Sales |  Netsurion

  • Sponsored by Netsurion


Chase Mullican
Regional Director of Sales

9:00 am | General Session

Executive Perspectives: Inspiration for Today’s Restaurant Leaders

In this session, you will hear four short, thought-provoking talks that will leave you challenged and inspired.


Five Pain Points, Four Wins
Josh Halpern | CEO | Big Chicken

Reimagining the Labor Force
Blaine Hurst | Retired Vice Chairman & CEO | Panera Bread


10:00 am | Refreshment Break

10:30 am | Breakout Session

Automating the Franchisee Lifecycle

Vetting, onboarding, training and tracking franchisee progress are imperative to running a successful brand, but they are also expensive and time consuming.

What if there were ways to cut both the costs and the labor associated with managing franchisees? Well, there are several, according to our panelists who will share their go-to strategies.

Craig Sherwood | Vice President, U.S. Development | Little Caesars
Jim Sullivan | Chief Development Officer | Qdoba
Susan Taylor | President & CEO | Juice It Up!

10:30 am | Breakout Session

Labor Shortages? AI to the Rescue!

Labor shortages got you down? Have no fear; AI is here. Learn which types of technology can help operators fill in unemployment gaps left on the front line, at the drive-thru and the back of house.

Dave Craig | Vice President, Human Resources | Fazoli’s
Phil Crawford | Chief Technology Officer | CKE Restaurants
Sean Kennedy | President & CEO | Cowboy Chicken

Rob Carpenter | CEO & Founder | Valyant AI

  • Sponsored by Valyant AI

11:15 am | Refreshment Break

11:45 am | Breakout Session

Marketing With Limited Resources

As nice as it sounds, we can’t all have the marketing budgets of Chipotle, Subway and McDonald’s, but that doesn’t mean your brand can’t capture customer engagement.

These marketing gurus will share some innovative and inexpensive ways they’ve attracted a lot of attention (and dollars) for their brands

Andrew Koumi | Owner | Green Market Cafe
Kyle Noonan | Owner & CEO | Free Range Concepts
Lily Saer | Marketing Manager | The Saxton Group

  • Sponsored by SOCi

11:45 am | Breakout Session

Dog vs Chicken Showdown

CJ Ramirez of Dog Haus and Big Chicken’s Sam Stanovich will take on some of the industry’s hot-button topics.

No chairs, no podiums, just food for thought!

CJ Ramirez | EVP & Marketing Director | Dog Haus
Sam Stanovich | SVP of Development & Alliances | Big Chicken

Zack Oates | Founder & CEO | Ovation

  • Sponsored by Ovation

12:30 pm | Lunch & Learn

12:00 pm | Lunch  & Learn

Dispelling the Myths and Skepticism Surrounding Ventless Kitchens

Scott Heim | President | Middleby Ventless Solutions & Evo America

  • Sponsored by Middleby Corporation


Scott Heim
Middleby Ventless Solutions & Evo America

1:30 pm | Breakout Session

Streamlining Your Hiring Process to Cut Drop-out Rates

Gone are the days when job seekers would jump through hoops for the chance to work for your brand. With labor shortages affecting nearly every industry, it’s imperative to make the hiring and onboarding processes quick and as easy as possible. This session will explore a variety of ways to use technology to do just that. Experts will discuss everything from making it easier for candidates to post their info and drug testing them to performing background checks and tracking vaccine status and policy and program review and development.

Marc Bourne | Director, Background Screening Services | FSSolutions

  • Sponsored by FSSolutions

1:30 pm | Breakout Session

Money Hungry: Remodels, Acquisitions and Build-outs

You know what they say, you have to spend money to make money, but where does that money come from? This panel centers around how to help franchisees raise money to grow their footprints.

Clifton Rutledge | CEO | Shipley Do-Nuts
Jeff Sturgis | Chief Development Officer | Another Broken Egg Cafe

2:15 pm | Refreshment Break

2:45 pm | Breakout Session

Taking (Back) Control of Customer Data

Third-party delivery companies and ghost kitchens have made it possible for brands of all sizes to offer delivery, but it’s not always profitable. Restaurants getting it right are finding ways to not only capture customer data but also entice them to order from their own channels as opposed to the UberEats and GrubHubs of the world.

Claiborne Irby | SVP, Customer Engagement & Strategy | Focus Brands

  • Sponsored by Lunchbox

2:45 pm | Breakout Session

Tech Troubles

Systems that don’t talk to one another, complicated user systems, outdated hardware and expensive upgrades are just a few of the headaches caused by technology in the restaurant industry. Ditching it all, however, isn’t an option, so what are your options when it comes to tackling your tech issues?

Our techies weigh in!

Liz Bazner | Director of Digital | A&W Restaurants
Jason Breazeale | Director, Architecture & Innovation | Denny’s

3:30 pm | Refreshment Break

3:45 – 5:00 pm | General Session

Prove Your Case!

Operators hear pitches all the time about products and services that will grow their business, but where’s the proof? We’ve got it right here. This session includes four 15-minute presentations, each featuring one vendor and one operator sharing the how, when and ROI behind recent rollouts.

6:00 – 9:00 pm | Offsite Event

Dinner Party

After a full day of informative and inspiring sessions, get ready for an evening of great food, conversation and fun.

  • Sponsored by 7shifts

6:00 – 9:00 pm | Offsite Dinner Party

The Painted Pin

After a full day of informative and inspiring sessions, get ready for an evening of great food, conversation and fun at The Painted Pin!

The Painted Pin is an upscale boutique bar, bowling and entertainment venue with 20 full-service lanes in an industrial warehouse space in the heart of Buckhead’s Miami Circle. In addition to bowling, complimentary classic interactive games including indoor bocce ball, table shuffleboard, ping pong, skeeball, southern skittles, giant Jenga, bimini ring toss and oversized basketball pop-a-shots are available.

This private dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost. Transportation will be provided.

  • Sponsored by Immediate

FRIDAY / APRIL 1, 2022

8:00 am | Breakfast

8:45 am | Breakfast Briefing

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

8:45 am | Breakfast Briefing

All the Right Restaurant Performance Metrics to Track

• Mandi Wooledge | President & COO | Decision Logic

  • Sponsored by Decision Logic


Mandi Wooledge
President & COO
Decision Logic

9:00 am | General Session

Brain Exchange

The Brain Exchange breaks attendees into small groups to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing restaurant operators today. These informal group discussions allow attendees to learn from one another’s mistakes and successes.


2022 Brain Exchange Topics:

9:00 am | General Session

Brain Exchange

The Brain Exchange breaks attendees into small groups to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing restaurant operators today. These informal group discussions allow attendees to learn from one another’s mistakes and successes.

Brain Exchange Topics:
CONTROLLING COSTS | Sponsored by MarketMan
DELIVERY | Sponsored by Restaurant365
 DRIVING VISITS & SALES | Sponsored by GroundTruth
 LABOR | Sponsored by Workstream
 LOYALTY | Sponsored by Chatmeter


10:00 am | Refreshment Break

10:30 am | Breakout Session

What if the (Menu) Price Is Wrong?

Food costs aren’t getting any cheaper, but does that mean you can pass it on to your customer? And who decides the price: Marketing or Finance? Also, when is it time to raise prices?

Our experts answer all of these and more!

Tony Reaman | CFO | Luna Grill
Chris Sasser | VP of Finance & Analytics | Tropical Smoothie Cafe

10:30 am | Breakout Session

Just Tell Me What You Want: Keeping up With the Fickle Customer

The old saying of, “You can’t please everyone,” went out with “not wearing white past Labor day.” Restaurants, these days, must be everything to everyone, which means engaging with young customers on TikTok and Instagram while providing service with a smile to older customers. Plus, you have whole groups of customers who may not behave like the rest of their cohorts. Some boomers, for example, love ordering from kiosks as some “younger” customers will tell you technology is killing their social skills. What’s a brand to do?

Diane Matheson | VP of Marketing | Wings and Rings
Michael Mohammed | CEO | Chronic Tacos

11:15 am | Refreshment Break

11:45 am | Breakout Session

Making Your Brand the Place To Be

Attracting employees and inspiring them to stay can feel a bit like bribing your teenager to spend time with you, but it shouldn’t have to feel as demoralizing. The “employee whisperers” on this panel will share specific ways they have helped employees love their brands. And like any good parent of a teen, they’ll be sure to share a few mistakes learned along the way.

Stacey Kane | Restaurant Marketing Consultant
Carrie Martin | VP of Operations Services | Mr Brews Taphouse
Zach Vouga | President, COO & Co-Founder | Plant Power Restaurant Group

  • Sponsored by 7shifts

11:45 am | Breakout Session

Finding Middle Ground: Franchisees and Franchisors Weigh In

Franchising is obviously the fastest path to growth, but only if the operations model is solid and the franchisor is willing to work alongside their franchisees throughout the process. The franchisee, of course, must be willing to take advice and criticism.

This session brings together franchisees and franchisors, who have met one another halfway on the road to expansion. They will share the good, the bad and the ugly about their journey to success.

Adenah Bayoh | Founder | Cornbread
Kristen Briede | VP of International & Global Brands | P.F. Chang’s
Amy Ohde | Executive Director, Launch Support | Chick-fil-A

12:30 pm | Lunch & Learn

12:00 pm | Lunch  & Learn

How to Level up and Meet the Moment

Bob Vergidis is the founder and Chief Visionary at The Point of Sale Cloud. For the over 30 years his focus has been to identify future trends and help restaurants be one step ahead.

In this session he will discuss how in just one year, the COVID-19 experience has moved the restaurant business 15 years into the future and what that means for what is coming next. He will share future trends for store format, team member management, technology, and more with practical examples to help your business level up and be ready to take advantage of future trends.

Bob Vergidis | Founder/Chief Visionary | The Point of Sale Cloud

  • Sponsored by The Point of Sale Cloud


Bob Vergidis
Founder/Chief Visionary
The Point of Sale Cloud

1:30 pm | Refreshment Break

1:30 pm | Breakout Session

Attracting Multi-Unit Franchisees

Franchising is all about growing a brand’s presence, but while some brands thrive at capturing the attention of successful multi-unit operators, others fall flat. But why? What is missing from those brands’ operations model that just can’t seem to get it right? This panel of franchisors and franchisees will tell you.

Rafik Farouk | Sr. Director of Global Business Development | PF Changs
Drew Kellogg | CEO | Oath Pizza

  • Sponsored by SynergySuite

1:30 pm | Breakout Session

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

  • Sponsored by Envysion

2:15 pm | Refreshment Break

2:30 pm |  General Session

Franchising Think Tank

This panel, packed with CEOs and franchisors, will talk about the latest issues of the day and what it takes to succeed in franchising.

Tom Gordon | CEO | Slim Chickens
Rob McColgan | Co-Founder & CEO | Modern Restaurant Concepts
Mandy Shaw | CEO | Blaze Pizza
Nick Vojnovic | President & Majority Partner | Little Greek


3:30 pm | Summit adjourns

Agenda and speakers are subject to change.


Take Your Team to the Summit!

Restaurant/Foodservice Operators who register two attendees may add a third attendee at no additional cost.

Group discount does not apply to Franchise Brokers/Consultants or Vendors.


Grand Hyatt Nashville

Rate: $289/night* | Deadline: 3/7/22
* Subject to availability at time of booking.

Click below to book online or call 1-615-622-1234 and mention Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit.


Starting at under $7,000

Sponsoring the Summit will put you in meaningful conversations with executives in your target market.

Download the Sponsor Prospectus to learn more.