Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit | Dallas 2017

TUESDAY / MARCH 28, 2017

3:00 pm | Registration opens

4:00 pm | Opening Keynote

Doing Well By Doing Good

Jeff Sinelli, founder and CEO of Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, a 500-location sandwich chain best known for its customizable sandwiches, creative ordering system, and personalized sandwich bag, will discuss his take on entrepreneurship and taking risks. He will describe his transformative personal and professional journey, through highs and lows, providing actionable items to begin utilizing in your businesses immediately. Learn why Jeff believes in the power of doing well by doing good and how he ultimately arrived at creating Project PB&J, a charity that donates two PB&J sandwiches for each sold in-store.

5:00 pm Spreading Party

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aren’t just for kids. During this special Which Wich Spreading Party, conference attendees will have the opportunity to Spread the Love by making sandwiches for those in need in DFW. Join us for an hour of fast-paced team-building, filled with lots of music and fun!

The Spreading Party event is an initiative of the Which Wich Cares Foundation launched in 2014. Every single sandwich will be immediately wrapped, packaged and donated to Dallas-area food banks, veteran organizations and schools.

“We believe that the simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich can make the world a better place,” said Jeff Sinelli, founder, CEO and chief vibe officer of Which Wich, who will be one of the sandwich-makers in attendance. “Peanut butter, jelly and bread come together to mean so much more. For the organizations we give to, and the people they help, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be a reminder of home during a hard time and a meal for an empty belly.”


Jeff Sinelli
CEO & Founder
Which Wich Superior Sandwiches

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.



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.

Full Speed Ahead: Crisis Management in a 24/7 World
Ellen Hartman | President and CEO | Hartman Public Relations

A Different Look at Leadership Development: Who’s Developing You As a Leader?
Bobby Shaw | former CEO | Salad & Go and Freebirds

Bringing Culture to the Cart: Win Big With Retail Partnerships
Biju Thomas | Owner/Founder | Biju’s Little Curry Shop


9:00 am | Refreshment Break

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Franchise Development Marketing 101

Franchisors could learn a lot from how universities choose students. Since they have such good reputations, they attract the smartest applicants, which allows them to choose from the best of the best. Smart franchisors should apply the same type of techniques. This panel will show you how to develop marketing campaigns that will inspire the best candidates to want to join your brand. The experts will also discuss commonly missed franchise development opportunities and how to create corporate collateral that helps fuel chain growth.

Travis Edmondson | VP Franchise Sales & Development | Marco’s Pizza
Josh Kern | CMO | T-Bird Restaurant Group
Richard Simtob | President/Partner | Zoup!

Keith Gerson | President & Chief Client Advocate | FranConnect

  • Sponsored by FranConnect

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Be a Hero, Not a Villain: Rescuing Your Brand from Big, Bad Reviews

When used for good, ranking and social media sites, such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and Twitter, can make your brand look like a hero. When yielded as a weapon, however, angry customers can quickly villainize even the most well-meaning companies.

What’s a nice brand to do?

Although customers cannot be controlled, successful brands inspire them to review them in a positive light. Our experts will share best practices when it comes to dealing with good and bad online reviews and talk about what platforms they use to optimize the restaurant experience to connect with their guests. They’ll even share real-life stories on how they’ve turned some of their angriest customers into their biggest fans.

Eleni Kouvatsos | PR & Communications Manager | First Watch Restaurants
Sharon Koval | Digital Marketing Manager | Pei Wei
Katie Milligan | Manager of Guest Services | Firehouse Subs
Kimberly Turman | Digital Marketing Manager | Pie Five

Lee McNiel | Founder & CEO | ReviewPush

  • Sponsored by ReviewPush

10:30 am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Driving Sales with Food Trucks

Global food truck sales hit $1.2 billion last year, which may seem small considering that the global restaurant industry is worth $800 billion. Food trucks and carts, however, are a solid way for established brands to drive sales but are strong enough, these days, to stand on their own without brick-and-mortar parents.

Our food truck experts will give an overview of the future of the industry and share best practice tips on how to get ahead of the food truck craze before it leaves you in the dust.

Keith Hill | Co-Founder | I Love Bacon
Kyle Hollenbeck | Owner/Director of Marketing & Booking | Aioli Gourmet Burgers & Catering
Jae Kim | Founder | Chi’Lantro

Elliot Maras | Editor |

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Perfecting Your Staffing Strategies in a Tech-Savvy, Highly Regulated World

Finding, managing and retaining dedicated employees are some of the biggest challenges that your management team faces, so this session will not only teach attendees how to attract high-performing employees, but how to efficiently train them while keeping them happy enough to inspire long-term employment. Experts will also share their go-to time-saving tips and dissect some of the industry’s latest technologies used to manage staffing issues. Lastly, the panelists will discuss how the government’s latest rulings on employment are affecting their staffing strategies.

Mary Barker | VP of Human Resources | Rave Restaurant Group
Kimberly Brastad | Director, Global Curriculum/Training | Dairy Queen
Sheri Miksa | President & CEO | Mazzio’s LLC

David Cantu | CRO | HotSchedules

  • Sponsored by HotSchedules

12:00 pm | Lunch Session

Eradicating the inefficiencies that needlessly cost operators $MM’s per year

New technology is exposing the true cost of owning and operating food service equipment. It’s revealing the fact that great inefficiencies, caused by a fragmented industry using disparate systems—among other factors—are needlessly costing the industry tens, maybe even hundreds of millions every year. Fortunately, that same technology is also making it possible for chains to do something about it and put at least that much back to the bottom line where it belongs. In this session attendees will learn how they, with little to no investment, can reverse this trend, and increase the health of their business along with the reliability, longevity and overall ROI they receive from the equipment they rely on each and every day.

  • Sponsored by Welbilt


Gary Meehan

1:15 pm | Breakout Session

Risk vs Reward: How to Mitigate Risk When Scaling Your Franchise

Expanding growth through franchising doesn’t come without risks, but successful chains rely on specific procedures to mitigate as many as possible. This panel of experts will discuss how they use audits to create custom training programs for executives, franchisees and employees to ensure safety while still driving value and increasing sales during scaled growth.

Tom Gordon | Co-founder & CEO | Slim Chickens
Steve Rothenstein | Senior Director of Franchising | Dippin’ Dots
Jim Thompson | Vice President of Operations | Chicken Salad Chick
James Vitrano | General Counsel & VP of Global Franchise DevOps | Ruby Tuesday

Doug Sutton | President | Steritech

  • Sponsored by Steritech

1:15 pm | Breakout Session

Navigating the Supply Chain

Whether you’re taking your brand global or to a different neighborhood, controlling the supply chain is imperative to a successful business. This panel will teach you how to navigate the supply chain and learn ways to set up relationships that benefit both franchisor and franchisee.

Michael Berger | Founding Partner | Elevation Burger and Pupatella
Rafik Farouk | VP, Franchise Development and Operations | Consolidated Restaurant Operations, Inc.
Sean Kennedy | President / CEO | Cowboy Chicken

Trevor Hansen | Vice President | Visualogistix

  • Sponsored by Visualogistix

2:15 pm | Refreshment Break

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

Tech Talk

We live in a technology age — loyalty apps, email and text messaging, digital menu boards, geofences– but do you have to have it all? And if you are a small brand where do you start? This session will discuss the differences among the tech platforms, how to get the most out of your tech budget and which technologies are actually worth the investment.

Liz Bazner | Digital Manager | A&W Restaurants
Bo Davis | COO | US Beef (Arby’s)
Keith Peterson | VP of Marketing| VERTS Mediterranean Grill

Adam Bricker | Vice President, Technology Innovation | Steak n Shake

  • Sponsored by LevelUp

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

How to Protect Your Brand When Going Global

How can you manage your marketing to keep a central voice when operating all over the world? Is it OK to allow the franchisee to control his own messaging or does that lead to a disjointed brand voice? Our experts will answer these questions and more to help you keep control of your brand.

Shawnon Bellah | COO | Crest Foods, Inc. (Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip)
Paul Mangiamele | Chairman & CEO | Bennigan’s (Legendary Restaurant Group)
Anthony Russo | CEO, chef and founder | Russo’s Restaurants

Barbara Safina | Brand Manager | Cockrell Enovation

  • Sponsored by Cockrell Enovation

3:30 pm | Refreshment Break

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

Building Your Brand Personality for Franchise Development

Successful franchisors understand that the average consumer isn’t their only customer. In fact, future business owners are just as important as lunch and dinner customers when it comes to building your business. This session will show you how to use marketing techniques, including social media, for franchise development.

Scott Davis | President | CoreLife Eatery
Kevin King | Chief Development Officer | Smoothie King
Jeff Sturgis | Chief Development Officer | McAlister’s Deli

Matt Silk | Head of Strategy | Waterfall

  • Sponsored by Waterfall

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

Taking Your Marketing Program Digital

Whether your brand is big or small, creating a high-quality digital marketing program is imperative. Punch cards and simple email programs no longer cut it, and Google/Facebook ads may not bring the returns you want. This session will give you best practices to follow when it comes to taking your marketing platform digital. It will also discuss how to get buy in from all your VIPs from your CEO to your franchisees.

Natalie Anderson Liu | VP of Marketing | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Emily Bennett | Vice President of Regional Marketing | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants
Bruce Schroder | President | Moe’s Southwest Grill

Dan Roarty | Senior Vice President of Restaurants | Groupon

  • Sponsored by Groupon

6:30 – 9:30 pmDinner Party

Wine Tasting at Times Ten Cellars

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 Times Ten Cellars. We’ll experience a wine tasting and enjoy an Italian buffet dinner, including pizzas from Urban Crust food truck and desserts from Cheesecake Love. This winemaking facility offers wines from select vineyards in California’s premier wine regions as well as their own wines from their vineyard in Alpine, Texas. The dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost.

Transportation will be provided. Buses will depart at 6:15 pm.



8:00 am | Breakfast

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 | Closing Keynote

A Great Recipe to Scale a Positive Culture at Work

Most of us have learned how to scale our recipes, production systems and financial metrics. The challenge in this day and age, especially with those in the “people” business, is the ability to scale a positive, high-performing work environment. Nick Sarillo, Owner of Nick’s Pizza & Pubs knows it is possible and how you can do it across your restaurants, too. Do you wonder what kind of wisdom a guy with only two pizza restaurants in Illinois can provide to make you want to stay till the end of the Summit? Consider this…Nick’s Pizza & Pub has margins nearly twice that of the average pizza restaurant and boasts more than a 75 percent employee retention rate. Nick credits his company’s success to his purpose-driven culture, which is the focus of his book, A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business. His insights have been featured in Inc., The New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Entrepreneur and Investor’s Business Daily.


Nick Sarillo
Entrepreneur, Speaker, Author
A Slice of the Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business

12:00 pm | Summit adjourns

Agenda and speakers are subject to change.

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Hotel Reservations

The Highland Dallas
Rate: $224/night | Deadline: 3-Mar-2017

Call (214) 520-7969 and mention that you’re attending the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit.

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.

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