March 11-13 | Louisville, KY  —  Early Bird registration ends December 21. Sign up today!


MONDAY / MARCH 11, 2019

3:00 pm | Registration opens

4:00 pm | Opening Keynote Session

Strategic Brand Building through Entertainment

Canadian entrepreneur Ryan Smolkin’s master goal for his franchise is GLOBAL DOMINATION! As the mastermind behind Smoke’s Poutinerie, Smolkin has always viewed the QSR as an Entertainment brand first, and restaurant second. Ryan will walk guests through a day in the life of Smoke’s Poutinerie and what it takes to build a global brand. He’ll also talk about the journey into franchising as well as the challenges faced and outcomes.

Ryan Smolkin | Founder & CEO | Smoke’s Poutinerie

  • Sponsored by Welbilt


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.


Topic to be announced soon!
Susie Fogelson | Founder | F&Co.

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

What in the World is Blockchain and Why Does It Matter to My Restaurant
Ray Wiley | CEO | Hot Head Burritos & Rapid Fired Pizza


Drive-Thru of the Future
Tracey Fullington | National Account Manager | Essity North America

  • Sponsored by Tork

9:00 am | Refreshment Break

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Solving the Digital Marketing ROI Problem

Trends in online consumer behavior and digital technologies are finally allowing franchisees to see a return on local digital advertising. The internet now represents a game-changing opportunity for you to more efficiently acquire new customers, turn existing customers into brand loyalists and re-engage customers in highly personalized ways.

This session will teach attendees how to ensure that your entire digital presence works in harmony to help drive incremental revenue, gain insights in to what really works to create that revenue, and to leverage customer data in order to personalize marketing campaigns.

Hassy Braggs | Director of Marketing | Your Pie
Jodie Conrad | VP of Marketing | Fazoli’s
David Ponce | CMO | Wings Etc.

Justin Mink | Senior VP of Sales | Scorpion

  • Sponsored by Scorpion

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.

Patrick Conlin | Senior Vice President | Jake’s Franchising, LLC / Wayback Burgers
Matt Friedman | Co-Founder & CEO | Wing Zone
Andrew K. Smith | CEO | Four Foods Group

Scott Absher | Co-Founder & CEO | Shiftpixy

  • Sponsored by ShiftPixy

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.

Kyle Gordon | Owner | Dillas Quesadillas
Kyle Noonan | Owner & Founder | Mutts Canine Cantina
Sebastiaan Van De Rijt | Owner | Bamboo Asia

  • 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.

Jacob Brewer | Sr. Director, Restaurant Excellence | CKE Restaurants Holdings
Cesar Elizondo | Controller | StarCorp, owns over 140 Carl Jr’s & Hardee’s locations
Dan Simpson | CEO | Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

Dave Brewer | COO | Middleby Corp.

  • Sponsored by Middleby Corporation

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

Behind the Digital Scenes: Learn How to Enhance the Customer Experience Via Mobile Technologies

Session description coming soon!

Craig Herbison | Chief Executive | Plexure

  • Sponsored by Plexure

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.

Liz Bazner | Digital Manager | A&W Restaurants

  • 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.

Landon Eckles | CEO | Clean Juice
Christine Specht | President & CEO | Cousins Subs

Scott Absher | Co-Founder & CEO | Shiftpixy

  • Sponsored by ShiftPixy

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.

Randy Gier | CEO | NRG Restaurant Group
Aaron Noveshen | Founder & President | Starbird & Culinary Edge Ventures

Healey Cypher | CEO | ZIVELO

  • Sponsored by ZIVELO

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.

Andrew Gruel | Founder & CEO | Slapfish
Jim Perkins, VP of International Sales | Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Pedro Ramos | VP of Sales | Agilence

  • Sponsored by Agilence

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
Janene Holig | Executive Chef | Hot Indian Foods
Jason Moore | Corporate Executive Chef | Schlotzsky’s

6:30 – 9:30 pm | Dinner Party

Kentucky Derby Museum

Experience the ‘Fastest Two Minutes in sports’ at the Kentucky Derby Museum—Where Every Day is Derby Day!

After a full day of informative and inspiring sessions, get ready for an evening of great food and great conversation at one of the premiere attractions in the Louisville region. The Kentucky Derby Museum celebrates the tradition, history, hospitality and pride of the world-renown event that is the Kentucky Derby.

Located on the grounds of Churchill Downs where the legendary race is held annually, the museum consists of two floors of interactive exhibits, including a 360-degree theater that shows the HD video “The Greatest Race.” Through the film and exhibits, you can can learn what goes into the breeding and training of a young foal and the path it takes to the Kentucky Derby’s winner circle.

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

  • Sponsored by Welbilt

After a full day of informative and inspiring sessions, get ready for an evening of great food and great conversation in a unique setting. Attendees of the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit will be treated to a private dinner party at at a premiere attraction in Louisville that celebrates the tradition, history, hospitality and pride of the Bluegrass State!

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.

Brain Exchange Topics:
 Customer experience: Does yours measure up?
• Data analytics:
Do you understand your KPIs?
• Franchising:
What are the pros and cons of going outside your home market?
• Labor:
Where are you losing money?
• Marketing:
Are you spending too little or too much?
• Menu trends:
What will your customers demand in 2020 and beyond?
• Mobile:
Are you providing the right platforms for your customers?
• Self-service:
Is it time to get on the bandwagon?


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.

Bob Bafundo | President | RAVE Restaurant Group
Larry Jones | VP of Construction | Captain D’s
Jason Valentine | COO | Zoup! Eatery
Doug Willmarth | CMO | Mongolian Concepts

11:00 am | Breakout Session

The Restaurant of the Future: How Next-Gen Technologies Enrich the Guest Experience and Lower the Cost of Innovation

It’s no secret that the most successful restaurants deliver compelling and consistent customer experiences at every possible interaction and at each location. But the cost and effort of extending these experiences across channels and multiple locations can be both costly and overwhelming – especially while ensuring the latest requirements in security and compliance and turning up new locations. Can your current restaurant infrastructure and technology deliver on tomorrow’s customer and organizational needs?

Experts on this session will provide a high-level overview of the benefits of the latest technologies, including delivering robust guest experiences, enhancing security compliance, enriching loyalty programs and simplifying rollouts. They’ll also discuss how to implement them as fully managed solutions to free up CapEx budgets and allow your teams to focus on proactive strategic initiatives.

Scott Davis | President & CCO | CoreLife Eatery

  • Sponsored by Parallel Technologies

12:00 pm | Lunch

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

How to Please the ‘We Want It Now’ Culture

Whether dining at a full-service restaurant, picking up an order at a QSR or grabbing a late lunch at a fast casual hot spot, customers demand immediacy when it comes to speed of service. That means they expect staff to greet them, take their orders and deliver their food ASAP, but that can be nearly impossible when staff communication breaks down.

This session will show attendees how to overcome those staff and service issues by using smarter management and organizational techniques and will also dive into how technology can fix some of the issues.

  • Sponsored by Long Range Systems

12:45 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.

1:45 pm | Refreshment Break

2:00 pm | Closing 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.

Andy Howard | President & CEO | Huey Magoo’s
Paul Macaluso | President & CEO | Krystal
Heather Neary | President | Auntie Anne’s
Kelly Roddy | President | Schlotzsky’s

Peter McLaughlin | Head of Customer Success | PlayerLync

  • Sponsored by PlayerLync

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.