March 24-26, 2024 | Kansas City, MO — Early Bird registration ends Feb. 23. Register Now


SUNDAY // MARCH 24, 2024

| Registration

Registration Opens

All attendees, sponsors and speakers must check in at the registration desk and pick up a name badge. Please wear your badge at all times during the Summit.

| Exhibits

Tech and Suppliers Pavilion

Spend some time in our tech and suppliers pavilion, where you'll learn about products and services dedicated to improving your company's operations.

| Welcome & Opening Remarks
  • Cherryh Cansler | Vice President of Events | Networld Media Group

| Opening Keynote

It’s Okay To Be An IDIOT

Prepare to embark on an extraordinary journey with Dustin Portillo in this unparalleled presentation. Brace yourself for a truly transformative experience that will inspire and entertain you and delve into the immense power of embracing your authentic self.

Through his unique storytelling and humor, Dustin will explore the concept of embracing our inner “IDIOT” to unlock the secrets of personal growth and tap into your true potential. This presentation will ignite a deep self-acceptance, empowering you to embrace your unique quirks and fearlessly conquer life’s challenges. Join us on this remarkable journey and unleash the idiocy within you!

Keynote Speaker:
  • Dustin Portillo | Speaker / Author

Sponsored by SMG
Keynote Speaker
Dustin Portillo
Speaker / Author

| Keynote Session

Workshopping It with TikTok

With 38% of TikTok users having visited or ordered food from a restaurant after seeing a TikTok video about it, restaurant brands should be using the platform to showcase their menu items, create behind-the-scenes content and engage audiences through challenges and trends.

That's easier said than done, however, which is why Lauran Driver, TikTok's head of Industry - Dining | Auto | Travel, will lead a workshop featuring real marketing campaigns while chatting with executives and creators who use the platform daily to connect with their customers.

  • Lauran Driver | Head of Industry - Dining, Auto, Travel | TikTok
  • Brad Haley | CMO | Dave's Hot Chicken

Sponsored by TikTok
Lauran Driver
Head of Industry - Dining, Auto, Travel

| Networking

Give-Back Party

Join us for a Community Give-Back Party, where for one hour we will create care packs (such as hand wipes, toothbrushes, hand sanitizers, water, snacks, tissues, and feminine products) for Relentless Pursuit Outreach and Recovery. RPOR strives to heal and restore survivors, bring justice to offenders, educate others on prevention and awareness, and be leaders in the community in order to end the exploitation of human beings.

Sponsored by SMG

| Networking

Opening Reception

We’ll celebrate the opening of the Summit with cocktails, appetizers and live music.
Sponsored by TikTok

MONDAY // MARCH 25, 2024

| Registration

Registration & Breakfast

Breakfast is open to all Summit participants. Be sure to check in at the registration desk and pick up your name badge if you haven’t already.

| Breakfast Briefing

Setting the Tone: Leveraging Music to Attract Next-Gen Diners

In this breakfast briefing, we’ll discuss how music can become a core element of your restaurant's branding strategy to attract the next generation of diners. Discover the power of music in creating dining experiences that resonate with Gen Z and Millennials, who crave environments that are not just about eating and drinking, but also social engagement. When patrons enjoy the music together, they spend more time and money with you.

We'll outline practical steps for integrating music into your restaurant's ambiance, from curated playlists that reflect your brand's personality to innovative technologies allowing customers to interact with the music directly. Learn how these experiences can enhance brand identity, foster a deeper connection with diners, and set your establishment apart in a competitive market.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategies for crafting interactive music experiences that amplify your brand's unique story. 
  • Insights on how music influences diner perception and loyalty.
  • Tips for using music to engage with customers on a more personal and memorable level.

Join us for a session that will enhance your brand strategy ensuring your restaurant hits all the right notes with the next generation of diners. 

  • James Sura | SVP, Sales | TouchTunes

Sponsored by TouchTunes
James Sura
SVP, Sales

| 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 invigorated and inspired.

  • Blurred Lines: The Evolution of the Limited-Service Concept | Tom Gordon
  • The Great Fall: How Order Channel Conflict Undermines the Cornerstone of Dining Out | Beto Guajardo
  • The False Summit: Your Path to Unexpected Heights | Ryan Maybee
  • Tom Gordon | Co-Founder & CEO | Slim Chickens
  • Beto Guajardo | CEO | Blaze Pizza
  • Ryan Maybee | Co-Founder & Managing Director | J. Rieger & Co.

Sponsored by Chatmeter

| Refreshment Break

| Breakout Session

Dog vs Chicken Showdown: The Rematch

CJ Ramirez of Dog Haus and Big Chicken’s Sam Stanovich will once again take on some of the industry’s hot-button topics in this highly anticipated rematch of bark vs bawk.
  • Zack Oates | Founder & CEO | Ovation
  • CJ Ramirez | EVP & Marketing Director | Dog Haus
  • Sam Stanovich | SVP of Development & Alliances | Big Chicken

Sponsored by Ovation
| Breakout Session

Robotics & AI: Fleeting Fad or Here to Stay?

Restaurants around the world are testing robotics and AI, which are often lumped together but not exactly the same thing. Robotics deals with the development of robots, which can be automatic or need initial instructions from humans, while AI develops software that can perform tasks usually done by humans, such as decision-making, problem solving and logical reasoning.

Automating tasks people don’t want to do or are dangerous seems like a no-brainer, but using it in the wrong areas is just as dangerous as ignoring it. Our experts reveal how to  accomplish long- and short-term goals by choosing the most appropriate applications as well as finding ways to lower costs.

  • Jim Bitticks | President & COO | Dave's Hot Chicken
  • Scott Ford | President & Co-CEO | Hawaiian Bros Island Grill
  • Andrew Simmons | CEO | Mamma Ramona's Pizzeria

  • Anand Tumuluru | CEO & Co-Founder | Loop

Sponsored by Loop

| Refreshment Break

| Breakout Session

Scaling Up: From Small Start-up to Full Growth Mode

You have an amazing concept and you feel like operations are solid enough to start franchising, but what’s the next step? Founders and franchisees join forces to teach you where to go.
  • Craig Haley | President | Smokey Mo’s TX BBQ
  • Josh Halpern | CEO | Big Chicken
  • Andrew Pudalov | Founder & CEO | Rush Bowls
  • Ryan Weaver | CEO | Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken

  • Rachael Nemeth | CEO & Co-Founder | Opus Training

Sponsored by Opus Training
| Breakout Session

Time to Fly: Exploring Unfamiliar Lands

Most brands will agree having a solid footprint in their home market is imperative before opening out-of-state or country locations, but there are times when it’s necessary to focus on both at the same time.

Brand execs who have taken the leap will share what they’ve learned and what they should have done differently. They'll also discuss how they collect and use data to help them decide what countries, cities and neighborhoods to open successful locations.

  • Nate Fowler | President | Long John Silver's
  • Glenn Moon | Vice President, U.S. Development | Moxies
  • Kevin Moran | Chief Development Officer | Blaze Pizza
  • Sam Rothschild | COO | Slim Chickens

  • R.J. Hottovy | Head of Analytical Research |

Sponsored by

| Lunch & Learn

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

Sponsored by Budderfly

| Breakout Session

Tips & Tricks: Curtailing Kitchen Chaos

Learning from other people's mistakes and successes must never be underestimated, which is why this panel will feature operators who streamline their kitchen operations and successfully manage uncertainties while cutting costs and service time.
  • Rafik Farouk | Head of Global Business Development and Retail | PF Changs
  • George McLaughlin | Founder | Vicious Biscuit
  • Sam Mendal | Director of Purchasing | Bartaco

  • Priya Monga | GM Emerging Business | Instacart Business

Sponsored by Instacart Business
| Breakout Session

Transforming Data into Your Superpower

Restaurants should be wielding data as their CX superpower. After all, it’s everywhere from the restaurant floor and kitchen to customer communication channels, and every bit and byte plays a role in driving an enhanced customer experience.

Learn how brands, big and small, are gathering critical insight and using it to not only boost both customer relationships and the store associate role but also attain greater operational efficiencies.

  • Bob Andersen | President | The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill
  • Yaron Goldman | CEO | Rib and Chop House
  • Jill Marchick | VP, Consumer Insights & Business Analytics | Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar
  • Doug Willmarth | President | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes

  • Abhinav Kapur | Co-Founder & CEO | Bikky

Sponsored by Bikky

| Refreshment Break

| Breakout Session

Predicting the Future of Restaurant Delivery

Although over 112 million Americans have used a food delivery service and the food delivery market is expected to reach $1.45 trillion by 2027, delivery has slowed down since the days of COVID-19 when it served as a lifeline for many restaurant concepts. So what’s next in this anything goes era?

Restaurants are not only making their own deliveries as well as tapping third parties, they are also exploring drones, AI-ordering and a variety of other technologies to keep costs down and demand up.

  • John Berberich | Vice President of EMEA & North America | Shake Shack
  • Darden Coors | CEO | Salad Collective
  • Janet Monroe | CEO | ClusterTruck
  • Max Sheets | Founder & CEO | Chick N Max

  • David Wentworth | Vice President, Learning & Talent Development Platform Evangelist | Schoox

Sponsored by Schoox
| Breakout Session

Is Your Content Attracting Customers?

Creating consistent omni-channel content and serving it at the right time and place is the secret sauce to marketing - but how do you know if you are actually building a better customer experience?

Take a page from the operators in this session who have profited by captivating customer loyalty through localization and personalization.

  • Jami Bond | VP of Franchise Development | Goodcents
  • Alexis Eldridge | VP of Marketing | Angry Chickz
  • Steve Lieber | VP of Franchise Development | BurgerFi
  • Greg Wold | VP of Marketing | Toppers Pizza

  • Jaydee Devine | Senior Content Architect | Contentful

Sponsored by Contentful

| Refreshment Break

| 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.

  • MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes and Workstream
  • Desmond Lim | Co-Founder & CEO | Workstream
  • Doug Willmarth | President | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes

Sponsored by Otter, Peblla, Rosnet, Workstream

| Offsite Event

Dinner Party at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium

Are you ready for some football?

After a full day of learning, join us for some authentic KC barbecue and cocktails in the end zone at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. You'll also tour the Hall of Honor, where you can pose with Super Bowl rings and trophies. 

This private outdoor dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost. Buses will leave the hotel at 5:45 p.m.

Sponsored by Botrista Beverages

TUESDAY // MARCH 26, 2024

| Breakfast

| Breakfast Briefing

Static vs. Digital Restaurant Signage – Drive Thrus of Tomorrow

  • Brian Kim | Chief Commercial Officer | DSA Signage
  • Shokouh Shafiei | President/CEO | DSA Signage

Sponsored by DSA Signage

| General Session

Brain Exchange

Join us for small group discussions about four 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:

  • Driving Local Growth with Local Marketing | Sponsored by Evocalize
  • Loyalty Programs | Sponsored by Hang
Sponsored by Evocalize, Hang

| Refreshment Break

| General Session

Discovery 30:

This 30-minute speed round will feature four 5-minute pitches about products and services designed to improve operations and the customer experience.
Sponsored by CONVX, InMarket

| Refreshment Break

| Breakout Session

Don’t Leave Money on the Table: Integrated Digital Campaigns to Generate Revenue Upsides

Despite vast opportunities in digital, restaurants in the US have a blind spot when it comes to effectively using digital advertising to drive business. They are potentially missing out on powerful ways to drive occupancy, loyalty, online order and more effective NSOs - all of which have an immediate impact on revenue.

Join this panel discussion to understand how your peers in the F&B industry are leveraging digital advertising to move beyond cliched recommendations and immediately harnessing the revenue streams generated by online advertising.

  • Jim Balis | Managing Director, Strategic Operations Group | CapitalSpring
  • Alonso Castañeda | VP of Brand Development & Strategy | Savory Restaurant Fund
  • Lovell Holloway | General Manager | Kansas City International Airport
  • Christine Johnson | Chief Operating Officer | Le Duff America

  • Jose Gonzalez | VP Sales | Datawrkz

Sponsored by Datawrkz
| Breakout Session

What Your Marketing Strategy Is Missing

Every restaurant will agree that marketing is essential to growing traffic, but what if their messages aren't targeting the right customers? And if they are, are those customers even engaged?

This session will teach attendees not only how to effectively engage their prospective customers but also how to measure the success of those efforts.

  • Tom Carr | Chief Marketing Officer | Chicken Salad Chick
  • Nico Nieto | Chief Marketing Officer | Naf Naf Middle Eastern Grill

  • Chad Urice | EVP Chief Strategy Officer | USIM

Sponsored by USIM

| Refreshment Break

| Breakout Session

Reducing Food Waste AND Boosting Profits: It’s Possible!

Restaurant brands produce nearly 11.4 tons of food waste each year, leading to $25 billion in losses for the industry. Although waste is seen as an unavoidable consequence of operating a restaurant, cutting it is imperative, not only for the environment but also for a brand’s bottom line.

This session will explore how the right technology and processes in place can help restaurants track inventory from delivery to preparation and drive consistency with forecasting, predictive ordering and recipe management.

  • Tom Foley | Founder | Indigo Group LLC
  • Natalie Green | Chief Operating Officer | Nékter Juice Bar
  • Eric Knott | Chief Operating Officer | PDQ Restaurants

  • Marielle Kokos | Head of Sales and Partnerships |

Sponsored by
| Breakout Session

The Role of Electronic Employee Tip Solutions in Increasing Restaurant Profitability

The National Restaurant Association’s recent State of the Restaurant Industry Report for 2024 shows that 38% of restaurant operators say they were not profitable in 2023. With rising food and labor costs, what ways can restaurant operators positively impact profitability?

Electronic employee tip solutions can help by removing the costs associated with physical cash, reducing reliance on armored vehicle deliveries and shifting labor efforts to more profitable areas, restaurant operators can significantly address this challenge area and seek a return to profitability.

In this panel, restaurant leaders will discuss their experiences in employing electronic tip solutions and the impact on overall restaurant performance.

  • Neil Newcomb | CEO | Kelly’s Roast Beef Franchising

  • Andy Korbak | VP of Sales | Instant Financial

Sponsored by Instant Financial

| Lunch & Learn

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| Breakout Session

Why Your Loyalty Program Isn’t Working

Most restaurants have at least some type of loyalty program, but very few make it to Starbucks-level success. Ever wonder why? This panel will dive into what works and what falls flat when it comes to engaging customers.
  • Nathan Casey | VP of Digital Marketing, Engagement & Experiences | IHOP
  • David Daniels | Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer | Potbelly
  • Tommi Tervanen | CEO | The European Pizza Company
  • Peter Vogel | Chief Revenue Officer | vPromos

  • Stacey Kane | Fractional Chief Marketing Officer

Sponsored by vLoyalty
| Breakout Session

Improving Catering Operations with Tech & Human Touch

The global catering services market size is estimated to grow by $103.28 billion by 2027, which means restaurant brands have a chance to grab a piece of the action. Success, however,  depends on a variety of factors, including the introduction of new menus, increasing promotional initiatives and tapping the right types of technology to manage it all.

  • Frank Klein | Founder & CEO | Post Road Hospitality
  • Jennifer Wrenn Klein | Catering & Events Director | FUKU and Bluestone Lane
  • Jessica Leyva | Director of Marketing | Another Broken Egg Cafe

  • Prakash Karamchandani | Co-Founder | Balance Pan-Asian Grille

| Refreshment Break

| 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. This session will definitely be worth staying until the end of the Summit.

  • Sara Carhart | Vice President of Operations | SPIN! Pizza
  • Geoff Henry | President of the Americas | Gong cha
  • Troy Hooper | CEO | Hot Palette Holdings
  • Josh Kern | CEO | SPB Hospitality
  • Rob McColgan | Co-Founder & CEO | Modern Restaurant Concepts

  • Cherryh Cansler | Vice President of Events | Networld Media Group

| Summit adjourns

View 2023 Agenda