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Breakout Session / Friday / April 1, 2022 / 10:30 AM

Sipping Into Higher Sales With Beverage Innovation

Customers are more interested now than ever in treating themselves to innovative beverages while dining out, according to December 2021 research from The National Restaurant Association. The group predicted that flavored sparkling waters, seltzers, spicy-rimmed cocktails and CBD-infused beverages to gain popularity in 2022, but creating such intricate drinks for mass consumption could be quite the challenge for restaurants suffering labor shortages. This session will discuss how to quench the consumer’s thirst despite fewer workers and rising supply costs.


Michelle Gil | Director of Operations | I Love Juice Bar
Steve Madonna | SVP of Culinary | Bar Louie
Chef Steve Madonna, Bar Louie’s Senior Vice President of Culinary has worked in the restaurant industry for nearly 20 years and began his journey with the Original Gastrobar in 2018. Prior to joining Bar Louie’s executive leadership team where he oversees all food and beverage research and development initiatives for the 70-unit brand, Chef Steve worked for Wolfgang Puck Worldwide working his way up from Sous Chef to Executive Chef for their Boston and D.C. catering locations before he took on a larger role at the concept serving as the Director of Culinary and Corporate Executive Chef from 2012 - 2017.
Reid Nolte | Vice President of Brand Strategy | Ballard Brands
Reid Nolte is the Vice President of Brand Strategy for Ballard Brands, a hospitality and food service business that owns, operates, and manages over 180 restaurants. The company portfolio includes PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, WOW American Eats, Boardhouse Serious Sandwiches, and the wholesale brand New Orleans Roast. With over 15 years of marketing experience in the food and beverage sector alone, Reid is responsible for developing and implementing marketing initiatives and product activations designed to increase guest frequency, ticket averages, consumer occasion, and brand equity.
Aaron Noveshen | CEO / Founder & Chairman | Starbird / The Culinary Edge
A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Aaron Noveshen is an award-winning chef and restaurant entrepreneur. He is the Founder and President of The Culinary Edge, an innovation agency that provides global companies with strategic food, brand and operations solutions. Aaron is also the Founder and President of Starbird, a modern chicken concept that is revolutionizing food and convenience in the QSR/Fast Casual marketplace. As Co-founder of Pacific Catch Restaurants, Aaron served as president for 10 years and currently serves on the board of directors. Most recently Aaron co-founded The Culinary Edge Ventures with the mission to create, incubate, operate and grow restaurant brands.
Scott Slaymaker | Managing Partner | Winger Brothers Management
Scott Slaymaker’s industry acumen with restaurant operations dates back to the 1980’s with Chi-Chi’s, Tony Roma’s and TGI Friday’s in the Salt Lake City area and Sizzler in Alaska and Wyoming. Scott Slaymaker along with his brother Eric Slaymaker is a Managing Partner in Winger Brothers Management. Today, Winger Bros operates 9 Wingers Restaurant & Alehouse in 3 states and franchises an additional 15 Wingers. His early plans included a dream of being an airline pilot, but all that was pushed aside when his father, Norm Slaymaker talked his eldest son into running the family-owned Sizzler restaurants in Alaska. The years have proven successful- in 1998 the family’s restaurant group was named one of the Top 50 restaurant franchisee companies by “Nation’s Restaurant News.” Scott continues to play a major role in steering the legacy of his father, who died in 1995.

Jodi Bertram | Director, Marketing | Botrista
Jodi Bertram’s career in marketing for the hospitality and restaurant industries has spanned more than 20 years. Her multifaceted experience includes brand marketing (Houlihan’s, Applebee’s), menu strategy (Applebee’s) and account direction at partner agencies for restaurants including Sonic, Raising Cane’s and Denny’s. Her role at Botrista encompasses not only building the Botrista brand but working with restaurant customers to drive revenue.
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