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August 10-12, 2021 | Atlanta – Early Bird registration ends May 28. Sign up today!



3:00 pm | Registration opens

4:00 pm | Welcome

Opening Remarks

• Cherryh Cansler | VP of Editorial | Networld Media Group

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


Beto Guajardo
Focus Brands International

5:00 pm | Group Activity

Community Give-Back Party

Join us for a Community Give-Back Party, where for one hour we will make care packs (such as hand wipes, toothbrushes, hand sanitizers, water, snacks, tissues and feminine products) for the homeless. In 2019, our efforts benefited 2,500 families! This year, our partner is Safe House, a non-profit that serves the Atlanta-area homeless community.


6:00 – 8:00 pm | Networking

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.

Brian Whitney | VP, Sales | Appetize

  • Sponsored by Appetize


7:00 am | Registration & Breakfast

7:45 am | Breakfast Briefing

Transforming the Restaurant IT Network with SD-Branch

• Chase Mullican | Regional Director of Sales |  Netsurion

  • Sponsored by Netsurion

8:00 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.


Linking Your Hidden Data to Drive More Guest Visits
Stephen Farr-Jones | President | ADM Marketing

Changing Food Culture from the Inside Out
Mindy Armstrong | Director of Menu Strategy & Product Innovation | Buffalo Wild Wings

Brand Evolution: The Intersection of Innovation and Legacy
Cheikh Mboup | President & COO | Edible Brands

Discussion Topic – Coming Soon!
Laurie Schalow | Chief Corporate Affairs & Food Safety Officer | Chipotle Mexican Grill
Kerry Bridges | Vice President of Food Safety | Chipotle Mexican Grill

  • Sponsored by ADM Marketing

9:00 am | Refreshment Break

9:30 am | General Session

Using Mobile Marketing to Defend Your Turf

Competition for customer dollars is steeper than ever as brands are not only going head to head with one another but also with grocery stores, gas stations and subscription meal services.

There’s no doubt that these nontraditional restaurant experiences are a threat, but luckily fast casuals have a weapon at their disposal, and it’s mobile marketing.

Whether it’s finding their nearest location in mobile search or seeing an offer shared by their friend, mobile influences 56% of all offline transactions.

Executives in this session will share how they’re using mobile marketing techniques to protect their piece of the fast casual turf.

Chris Demery | Chief Technology Officer | Blaze Pizza
Steve Felson | VP of Operations | Bonchon
Danielle Porto Parra | CMO, VP Marketing | McAlister’s Deli

Stu Greer | Enterprise Account Executive | SOCi

  • Sponsored by SOCi

9:30 am | General Session

Are you Preparing and Equipping Your Frontline for Success?

It’s a brand’s job to not only protect its employees but also make sure they have everything they need in order to perform their duties. And that has never been truer when so many restaurants are dealing with labor shortages. Workers now have the luxury of choosing only the companies that equip them with the proper technologies to handle an ever-increasing demanding industry. They expect convenience when it comes to managing their schedules, training and daily tasks. This session will feature executives who have found affordable ways to do just that.

Dennie Laney | VP of Training & Development | MOOYAH Burgers Fries and Shakes
David McDougall | CEO | Your Pie Franchising, LLC
Phil Tumberger | Director of Business & Client Development | Rosnet

Cherryh Cansler | VP of Editorial | Networld Media Group

  • Sponsored by Rosnet

10:30 am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Taming the Beast: How to Make Third-Party Delivery Your Ally

The pandemic has shown us that delivery is a must-have these days, but there are still so many questions surrounding how to do it successfully. Do you hire in-house drivers or work with third-party platforms? Which are the easiest in which to partner? Which take too much off the top? How can you integrate them into your existing systems? How can you ensure that your food arrives in good shape?

Those are just a few questions that our experts will answer.

Justin McCoy | VP of Marketing | Cousins Subs
C.J. Ramirez | SVP of Marketing | Dog Haus
Jean Schneider | Director, Franchise Development & Innovation | The Human Bean

Mario Paysse | VP of Sales | Botrista Technology

  • Sponsored by Botrista Technology

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Using Technology to Acquire NEW Customers

We’ve all heard the stats about how it costs more to attract new customers than to keep old ones, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about introducing your brand to newcomers.

This session will offer tech-savvy tips and tricks to help you not only entice first-timers to give your brand a chance but also how to make the most out of that first impression.

Liz Bazner | Director of Digital | A&W Restaurants
Desi Saran | Founder & CEO | Sweetberry Bowls
Paul Webster | VP Business Development | Livit Design & Fast Fine Restaurant Group (1889/V)

Andrew Schulman | Director, Partner Marketing | Dosh

  • Sponsored by Dosh

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

1:15 pm | Breakout Session

Appealing to Shifts in Consumer Behavior: Rethinking Your Physical Layout

Before the pandemic broke out, restaurant delivery was projected to grow at more than three times the rate of on-premise sales by 2023. Also, the online food delivery market was predicted to grow from $35 billion in 2020 to $365 billion by 2030. Those numbers are sure to be even larger now that restaurants have been forced to embrace contactless and digital orders to serve customers during COVID-19.

This aggressive shift in consumer behavior has already made several brands rethink their physical store layout. Others are still trying to catch their breath and are left wondering if the need for a large seating capacity will continue to shrink. We will take a look at how kitchen and seating layouts are drastically changing to accommodate off-premise.

Randal Black | General Manager | The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille
Alex Canter | CEO | Ordermark
Ross Franklin | Founder & CEO | Pure Green

Ben Lawrence | Aziz Hashim Professor of Franchise Entrepreneurship | Georgia State University

  • Sponsored by Ordermark

1:15 pm | Breakout Session

Cannabis-Infused Cauliflower Crust With Vegan Cheese: Wait, Is That a Thing?

If you haven’t heard of Cannabis-Infused Cauliflower Crust with Vegan Cheese, don’t worry, it’s not a new menu trend. We made it up, but would you be surprised if it were all the rage? Customers’ obsession with trying the newest craze [think CBD] before everyone else is forcing chefs to add dramatic flares to the menu, but when is it too much?

This session will explore the latest menu trends and when or if brands should implement them.

Jeff Fenster | Founder & CEO | Everbowl
Chef Dave Woolley | Director of Deliciousness | Buffalo Wild Wings

Mindy Armstrong | Director of Menu Strategy & Product Innovation | Buffalo Wild Wings

2:15 pm | Refreshment Break

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

Mastering Multi-Unit Expansion

It obviously makes sense to grow your brand via franchise partners you already have, but how do you know which of your franchisees are up for the challenge?

This session will help you evaluate the skills and knowledge of existing partners to see which ones have what it takes to help you expand the brand.

But that’s only half the equation; you must also do your part. Our experts will also help you discover what your company needs in order to support multi-unit ownership.

Nicole Di Pietro | Vice President | Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Rafik Farouk | Sr. Director New Franchise Development | Bloomin’​ Brands
Mahesh Sadarangani | COO | Wingstop
Steve Schulze | Co-Founder & CEO | Nékter Juice Bar

Chris Lybeer | Chief Strategy Officer | Revel Systems

  • Sponsored by Revel Systems

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

How to Know When It’s Time for Your Franchise to Grow Up

Loyal customers love everything about their favorite brands from the food and atmosphere to the logo and tone of marketing materials, but how does that change as they enter different phases of their lives? And will they outgrow you if you don’t grow with them?

Branding and marketing experts will help you decide if your business is ready to move on to the next stage whether that means implementing a total rebrand, enhancing your social media presence or adding a bit of creativity to the menu.

Steven Chan | Founder & CEO | Tin Drum Asian Kitchen
Ellen Hartman | CEO | Hartman Public Relations – Crisis Management & Public Relations Expert
Jackie Lobdell | VP of Franchise Development | Slim Chickens
David McDougall | CEO | Your Pie Franchising, LLC

Bogdan Constantin | Founder & CEO | Voxie Inc.

  • Sponsored by Voxie

3:30 pm | Refreshment Break

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

Solving Labor Woes

Managing labor is time-consuming and expensive but takes frustration to a new level when you add in the ongoing changes regarding employment rulings and laws.

From minimum wage to health care issues, this session will provide an update on labor laws facing the restaurant industry as well as offer best practices on hiring and managing workers.

Drew French | Founder & President | Your Pie
John Pepper | Co-Founder & Chief Worker Advocate | Boloco | Worthee
Dan Pool | Owner | Pools Restaurant Group
Nour Rabai | Founder & CEO | PITA Mediterranean Street Food

Scott Absher | Co-Founder & CEO | ShiftPixy

  • Sponsored by ShiftPixy

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

Keeping Your Franchisees Healthy and Happy

So you’ve found the perfect franchise partner, but now what? Hear from franchisees and franchisors who learned (sometimes, the hard way) how to successfully onboard and train franchisees to ensure solid partnerships. After all, nobody wants an unhappy franchisee.

Brian Dixon | Director of Real Estate | Team Oney, a Papa John’s, Starbucks & Qdoba franchisee
John Ramsay | VP of Franchise Sales | Noodles & Company
Jim Thompson | VP of Operations | Chicken Salad Chick

Stacey Kane | Restaurant Marketing Consultant

  • Sponsored by Leasecake

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.



8:00 am | Breakfast

8:45 am | Breakfast Briefing

All the Right Restaurant Performance Metrics to Track

• Mandi Wooledge | President & COO | Decision Logic

  • Sponsored by 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.

Brain Exchange Topics:
CONTROLLING COSTS | Sponsored by MarketMan
DELIVERY | Sponsored by Restaurant365
 DRIVING TRAFFIC | Sponsored by GroundTruth
OMNICHANNEL ORDERING | Sponsored by ItsaCheckmate


10:30 am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Thinking Like a Retailer for Post-Pandemic Growth

As customer demand plummeted during the pandemic, restaurants weathered severe declines in growth and profitability. Now it’s time to build back better. Just as the retail industry quickly innovated to survive consumers’ widespread adoption of e-commerce, this expert panel will examine key strategies restaurants can use to thrive in an age of unprecedented industry disruption.

Scott Johnson | VP Head of Marketing | Smashburger
Rishi Nigam | Co-Founder & CEO | Franklin Junction
James Walker | SVP, Restaurants | Nathan’s Famous
Alex Williams | Chief Brand Officer | Moe’s Southwest Grill

Sharon Napier | Chair & Founder | Partners + Napier

  • Sponsored by Partners + Napier

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Is “Best of Breed” The Best Approach?

Synchronous Solutions vs. Conventional Wisdom ‘Layering’

We’ve all been indoctrinated to—and supportive of—adopting best of breed as it relates to technology. But in doing so, we sometimes fall into an unintended trap when facing the daunting task of managing multiple vendors and disparate layers of complexity. Whether working with smaller organizations that do not fully comprehend the requirements of larger enterprises or struggling with the inability to properly share data across multiple platforms, the best of breed approach can be fraught with issues–especially when it comes to the highly complex process of seamless API interactions and the attainment of added value.

In this session, you’ll learn the best approach to implementation, including pitfalls to avoid when rolling out new technologies, questions to ask your POS provider, and the measurable advantages and benefits of a synchronous approach to enterprise solutions. Still not sold? Think “Menu Mayhem” and the resultant task of menu management!

Aaron Noveshen | Founder & President | Starbird & Culinary Edge Ventures

Elliot Maras | Editor | Kiosk Marketplace & Vending Times

  • Sponsored by PDQ Signature Systems

12:00 pm | Lunch  & Learn

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

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

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Bringing Your Kitchen out of the Dark Ages

As retail space becomes more expensive, restaurants are trying to operate in smaller footprints. This means there is a constant need to reassess and evaluate new ideas surrounding cooking solutions. There are more open kitchen designs, for example, sparking the demands for flexible cooking equipment as well as more efficient equipment that can deliver against an ever-changing menu.

In this session, you’ll hear from restaurant operators who are on a mission to bring their kitchens into the future. They’ll discuss the equipment issues they’re facing, the benefits of scaling down prep areas by using commissaries and finding ways to automate back-of-the-house processes as well as what is happening with Sous Vide efforts.

Lastly, they’ll pull back the curtain on their own kitchens, giving attendees a look into what has worked best for them and what they wished they could do differently.

Alonso Castañeda | VP of Brand Development & Strategy | Savory Restaurant Fund
Matt Friedman | Co-Founder & CEO | Wing Zone
Eric Marcoux | VP, Quality Management | Smashburger

Scott Heim | President | Middleby Ventless Solutions & Evo America

  • Sponsored by Middleby Corporation

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Local-Store Marketing: The Key to Making Your Restaurant the ‘Place to Be’

It’s no secret that getting involved in your local communities helps generate traffic and sales gains. What’s hard, however, is understanding the best way to connect with your neighbors. Funds are limited, so you have to make choices on where and how you invest. Event sponsorships, product promotion, social media and engaging with schools in your area are just a few avenues to explore. This panel of experts will discuss what’s worked for them as well as mistakes they’d avoid in the future.

Brett Campbell | Vice President, Field Marketing | Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Stacey Kane | Restaurant Marketing Consultant
Kyle Noonan | Owner & CEO | Free Range Concepts

Karl Mawhinney | Chief Partnerships Officer | Huddle, Inc.

  • Sponsored by Huddle Tickets

1:45 pm | Refreshment Break

2:00 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.

Kevin Bazner | CEO | A&W Restaurants
Joe Guith | Category President, Restaurant Brands | McAlister’s, Moe’s & Schlotzsky’s
Ricky Richardson | CEO | Eggs Up Grill
Carin Stutz | CEO | Native Foods
Charles Watson | CEO | Tropical Smoothie Café

Mark Wayne | Chief Revenue Officer | Viking Cloud

  • Sponsored by Viking Cloud

3:00 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.


The Westin Buckhead Atlanta

Rate: $199/night* | Deadline: 7/19/21
* Subject to availability at time of booking.

Click below to book online or call 1-800-937-8461 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.