March 11-13 | Louisville, KY  —  Early Bird registration ends November 2. Sign up today!


MONDAY / MARCH 11, 2019

3:00 pm | Registration opens

Ryan Smolkin | Founder & CEO | Smoke’s Poutinerie


Ryan Smolkin
Founder & CEO
Smoke’s Poutinerie

5:00 pm | Community Give-Back Party

Join us for a Community Give-Back Party, where for one hour we will bag apples and make peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for the Louisville community. Last year our efforts benefited 2,400 families! Our community partner is Dare to Care Food Bank.


6:00 – 8:00 pm | Opening Reception

Join us at the start of the Summit for a chance to network with attendees, speakers and sponsors over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.


TUESDAY / MARCH 12, 2019

7:00 am | Registration & Breakfast

8:00 am | Opening Remarks

• Cherryh Cansler | Director of Editorial | Networld Media Group

8:15 am | General Session


In this session, you will hear three 15-minute, thought-provoking talks that will leave you challenged and inspired.


What Danny Meyer Never Told You About the Restaurant Business
Frank Klein | Founder & CEO | Asian Box


9:00 am | Refreshment Break

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Don’t be Intimidated by Blockchain

Serving healthful, organic farm-to-table fare is all the rage, but how do you prove that your offerings measure up to the claims? Blockchain is a good start. With transparent and immutable supply chain tracking via blockchain, a restaurant can trace its beef back to the cattle farms where it was raised and then provide this information to customers.

Restaurants can also use blockchain-powered loyalty platforms to reward customers with tokens that they can redeem for purchases or discounts.

The panel will explore these and other blockchain-based strategies that restaurateurs can implement to strengthen and streamline operations.

9:30 am | Breakout Session

The Delivery Conundrum: Keep It In-house or Take It Outside?

Incorporating delivery into your service mix is one of the hottest trends now in the restaurant space, but with so many third-party vendors and strategies to choose from, how can you be sure you have the best one?

We’ll hear from experts who will describe how they vetted various services and determined which delivery model was right for their brand.

Matt Friedman | Co-Founder & CEO | Wing Zone
Andrew Smith | CEO | Four Foods Group

10:30 am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Democratizing Dining: How the Changing Restaurant Landscape Opens Doors and Cuts Costs

Industry veterans and food entrepreneurs alike continue to navigate a costly restaurant landscape, often significantly investing in real estate, equipment, delivery operations and more. With a little creative planning, however, many innovative brands are cutting costs and streamlining operations in unexpected ways.

This panel will explore those strategies, which often include shared kitchen space, pop-up locations and centralized delivery hubs.

  • Sponsored by Kitchen United

11:00 am | Breakout Session

From AI to VR: When are Tech Upgrades Worth the Upfront Cost?

It’s an exciting time to be in the restaurant business. From back-of-house robots to customer-facing apps that enable virtual experiences, restaurateurs seem to have endless options when it comes to upgrading their technological offerings. But when is it worth the cost?

Our panelists will discuss the pros and cons of their own deployments and talk about emerging technologies that they expect to see in both the near and distant future.

12:00 pm | Lunch

12:30 pm | Lunch  & Learn

Automation and Robotics: The Past, Present, and Future of Your Kitchen

Don Hawkins, Jr. | Group VP, Emerging Chains, Government & Retail | Middleby Corporation

  • Sponsored by Middleby Corporation


Don Hawkins, Jr.
Group VP, Emerging Chains, Government & Retail
Middleby Corporation

1:15 pm | Breakout Session

How to Become a Master Caterer

Offering a solid catering menu used to be a sure-fire way for a brand to stand out from its competitors. Today, though, it’s become a “must-have” on the journey to success and profitability.

This session will not only identify what it takes to implement and grow a thriving catering business, but will also explore the types of technology and software now available to make operations simple and efficient.

Importantly, too, our experts will discuss what an expanding catering business can mean for a restaurant brand’s labor force.

Sunny Ilyas | Founder/CEO | Vale Food Co.

1:15 pm | Breakout Session

Taking Big Data to the Next Level: How to Collect and Organize Across Multiple Locations

We’ve all heard the selling points of big data. It helps restaurants leverage customer data to offer targeted ads and campaigns and can also aid in better operational decisions. The key word, however, is “understanding.”

This session will break down big data and teach you how to make it work for you.

  • Sponsored by Wavicle Data Solutions

2:15 pm | Refreshment Break

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

How to Stop Sweating Labor Issues

Worker shortages, minimum wage increases, the #MeToo movement and the gig economy are just a few of the minefields employers must tiptoe through these days.

This session will show you how to protect your restaurant brand — and at the same time, will introduce strategies for cutting labor costs while keeping your valued employees happy.

Christine Specht | President & CEO | Cousins Subs

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

DIY: Helping Your Customers Conquer Self-Service

Customers want to take their ordering experience into their own hands, but with so many different technologies in use, navigating the self-ordering process can be frustrating and even overwhelming.

Self-order kiosks can be tablets, free-standing units or countertop devices. Adding to the confusion, some accept cash, while others don’t. Operators then must decide what type of content should be displayed and how to integrate kiosks with mobile ordering. And then there are the mobile-only concepts.

This session will discuss the pros and cons of self-ordering options and the steps you can take to help your customers understand and master the process.

3:30 pm | Refreshment Break

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

Protecting Your Brand in the Wild, Wild East of the Franchising World

If franchising outside the comfort zone of your city or state can be nerve-wracking, taking on a whole other country and its unfamiliar culture can seem practically impossible.

This session will teach you how to vet potential out-of-country franchisees, how to identify and avoid potential pitfalls, how to negotiate a fair contract, and how to pursue legal protection for your brand in even the most “franchise-lawless” markets.

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

Ask a Chef

If you want to know what’s on the cusp of menu and foodservice trends, the people to ask are the adventurous and inspired restaurant chefs who are cooking and creating new and exciting dishes every day.

This session will bring together talented fast casual chefs and news-making chefs outside the segment to discuss what’s coming next on the restaurant scene.

Ciarán Duffy | Corporate Executive Chef | Moe’s Southwest Grill
Jason Moore | Corporate Executive Chef | Schlotzsky’s

6:30 – 9:30 pmDinner Party

Evan Williams Bourbon Experience

Located on downtown Louisville’s historic “Whiskey Row,” the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience features an artisanal distillery, guided tours, educational Bourbon tastings, and more! Celebrating the legacy of Evan Williams, Kentucky’s first commercial distiller, this immersive experience brings to life the history and tradition of Kentucky’s native spirit. Dinner provided by Feast BBQ, including pulled pork and chicken sliders with a variety of appetizers and desserts.

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

  • Sponsored by Welbilt


8:00 am | Breakfast

What’s in a name?

At the home of “The Whopper”, Burger King might say just about everything. Naming new products is part of the same business pursuit as innovation itself. We’re seeking differentiation. New customers. A multiplier on sales. Yet when it comes to naming products the process is often emotional and without practice discipline. In his brief breakfast discussion, Jerry Preyss, CEO of Scoppechio and former CEO of branding consultancy Interbrand Cincinnati, will share usable criteria for fast tracking the development of a great name for your next new product.

• Jerry Preyss | CEO | Scoppechio

  • Sponsored by Scoppechio


Jerry Preyss

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.


10:30 am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Remodeling Done Right: Create a Stellar New Look with Staying Power

Renovation and renewal are part of the natural evolution for any brand, but rushing to remodel only to change course again a short time later can be detrimental to a franchise’s growth.

Designers and restaurant operators will discuss lessons learned from their own remodeling efforts and offer some do’s, don’ts and best practices that can make your restaurant remodeling a resounding success.

Jason Valentine | COO | Zoup!

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Breakout Session

Topic to be announced soon.

12:00 pm | Lunch

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Breakout Session

Topic to be announced soon.

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Breakout Session

Topic to be announced soon.

1:45 pm | Refreshment Break

2:00 pm | Closing Keynote 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.

Andy Howard | President & CEO | Huey Magoo’s
Paul Macaluso | President & CEO | Krystal


3:00 pm | Summit adjourns

Agenda and speakers are subject to change.

Group Discount

Take Your Team to the Summit

Register two attendees from your company and add a third at no additional cost.

Applies only to qualified attendees.

Hotel Reservations

Omni Louisville Hotel

Rate: $219/night* | Deadline: 2/18/19

Call 1-800-THE-OMNI and mention that you’re attending the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit.

* Subject to availability at time of booking.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsoring the Summit will put you in meaningful conversations with executives in your target market. Opportunities are available for almost any budget. Download the Sponsor Prospectus to learn more.