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10:00 am | Registration open for Food Tour participants

11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Fast Casual Food Tours

Join fast casual restaurant executives and other Summit attendees as we tour and eat out at some of Nashville’s top local fast casual restaurants.

There will be six simultaneous restaurant tours. Each tour will consist of three restaurants each.

Caviar & Bananas
Edleys Bar-B-Que
Giardino Gourmet Salads
Holler & Dash
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
Newk’s Eatery
Pie Five Pizza Co.
The Grilled Cheeserie
The Well Coffeehouse

Opening Remarks: Valerie Hanson | National Accounts Manager & Regional Sales Manager | Beverage-Air

  • Sponsored by Ali Group, Amana/Menumaster, Metro and Rancilio Group

3:00 pm | Registration open

5:00 pm | Opening Remarks

• Cherryh Cansler | Managing Editor |
• Steve Willoughby | VP of Sales & Operations | Welbilt

5:10 pm | Opening Keynote

From Successful to Satisfied: How To Become The Leader You Want To Be

Leaders at every level have to deal with a sobering reality: the world has changed more in the last five years than in the last fifty. What worked in the past, will often fail with customers and colleagues today and you must achieve more with less time, less resources and higher stakes. Plus, the more successful you become, the harder it is to change.

Mel will explain how rapid change has impacted your role as a leader and guide you through the process of identifying key areas and opportunities to raise your professional game.

Mel utilizes social science research, peer-to-peer coaching exercises, audience interaction and captivating videos to teach you what it takes to move from being merely successful to being deeply satisfied with work, life and the impact you make in the world.

You’ll leave this motivational experience with key objectives for professional and personal growth, and the knowledge and inspiration to become the leader you want to be.

  • Sponsored by Welbilt


Mel Robbins
CNN Commentator & Best-Selling Author

6:00 – 8:00 pm

Welcome Reception

This is a great opportunity to meet some of our speakers, sponsors and your fellow attendees over hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

  • Sponsored by Steritech


7:00 am | Registration & Breakfast

8:00 am | General Session


In this session, you will hear three 15-minute, thought-provoking talks that will leave you challenged and inspired.

Mastering millennial minds and doing business as a millennial owner
How being different can fuel your rise to the top of the food service industry
What business leaders can learn from jazz musicians

Sunny Ilyas | Founder/CEO | Vale Food Co.
Maira Morales | Executive Chef | Schlotzsky’s
Jayson Tipp | Former SVP Strategy & Chief Development Officer | Papa Murphy’s

Don Hawkins, Jr | Group VP Emerging Chains, Government & Retail |
Middleby Corporation


  • Sponsored by Middleby Corporation

9:00 am | Refreshment Break

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Why Your Loyalty Marketing isn’t Paying Off

You’ve heard it over and over – “Retaining customers is more cost-effective than gaining new ones.” In fact, every dollar invested in customer retention goes 7X as far as a dollar invested in acquiring new customers, according to the Harvard Business Review. That should be enough to grab your attention, but at the end of the day, many brands are still stuck using outdated programs with negative or untraceable ROI.

This session will not only uncover those failures, but it will also teach you about building a customer retention and loyalty program that drives real revenue.

Nicolas Bernadi | Partner and Board member | La Boulangerie
James Park | CEO | Garbanzo Fresh Mediterranean
Steve Schulze | Co-Founder & CEO | Nékter Juice Bar

Zach Goldstein | Founder & CEO | Thanx

  • Sponsored by Thanx

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Predicting Global Menu Trends

As 2017 winds down, it’s time to start planning 2018 menu offerings. Both researchers and chefs will give you their predictions when it comes to the coming year’s top flavors and menu offerings.

Suzy Badaracco | President | Culinary Tides
Jason Dowd | Director, Restaurant & Bar Branded Concepts | InterContinental Hotels Group
Aaron Noveshen | Founder & CEO | The Culinary Edge
Biju Thomas | Owner/Founder | Biju’s Little Curry Shop

Rob Pellicano | Sr. Director of Marketing | Custom Culinary Inc.

  • Sponsored by Custom Culinary

10:30am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Creating the Ultimate Workforce

While the restaurant industry employs more than 14 million people, the competition for finding and retaining the best of the best never ends. Hear from three executives who have mastered the art of finding, training and retaining talent.

Steve Erickson | President | PDQ Restaurants
Frank Klein | Founder & CEO | Asian Box
Andrei Stern | Partner, CFO | SuViche

Scott Absher | Co-Founder & CEO | ShiftPixy

  • Sponsored by ShiftPixy

11:00 am | Breakout Session

The Many Faces of Mobile Payments

Though mobile payment isn’t a new concept, adoption continues to increase as customers become more and more comfortable with the technology. Restaurants that haven’t jumped on the payments bandwagon can still find a seat, but should understand that the technology is always changing.

In fact, some restaurateurs have taken a step back from the flashier near field communication technology and have adopted QR codes to reach consumers on more devices. Restaurants are also adding more value-added services, including order ahead to help consumers feel more comfortable using their smartphones for payment.

Sean Kennedy | President | Cowboy Chicken
Todd Peacock | Regional VP of Operations | La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe
Alan Wright | Former CMO | Newk’s Eatery

Theresa Dold | VP, Agency Strategy | LevelUp

  • Sponsored by LevelUp

12:00 pm | Lunch

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

How to Use Design Elements to Increase Your Profits

While most designers understand how colors and design elements affect people’s perceptions, many restaurateurs are missing out on how they can use them to enhance the customer experience and inspire them to spend more money. This session will remedy that by diving into an SCA/Tork-commissioned study that used brainwave technology to measure diners’ reactions to various hues while they ate and drank.

The bottom line of the study? Color is critical to customer experience since it has a notable and predictable impact on their moods and emotions.

Attendees will learn about the color results and also hear from design experts who will discuss how restaurant operators can use other design elements to please customers.

Tom Cook | Principal | King-Casey
Terry Haley | Chief Growth Officer | Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Kellie Sirna | Co-founder and Principal | Studio 11 Design

Tracey Fullington | National Account Manager | SCA / Tork

  • Sponsored by  SCA / Tork

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Top Questions to Ask Before you Grow

Building a new unit or adding a new franchisee is an exciting way to increase your profits, but it’s also a huge risk. This session will help ease those sleepless nights by giving you a variety of questions to ask yourself before taking the plunge. Framing the discussion around your soon-to-be next location, our experts will discuss how to know which part of town suits your concept, how to attract new customers, which dayparts to focus on and how to avoid cannibalization.

Jeff Baldwin | VP of Franchising and Development | Donatos Pizza
Tim Muir | Chief Development Officer | FOCUS Brands
Berge Simonian | CEO | Salata
Jim Thompson | VP of Operations | Chicken Salad Chick

Stephen Polanski | Senior Vice President | Buxton

  • Sponsored by Buxton

1:45 pm | Refreshment Break

2:15 pm | 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:
BRAND MANAGEMENT | Streamlining Your Marketing Supply Chain
BUSINESS DINING | Fast Casual + Business Diners = Big Business
BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE | Using Competitive Intelligence to Win Your Market
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE | Disciplines that Improve Your Customer’s Experience
DIGITAL SIGNAGE | Engage Your Customers With Digital Signage
FRANCHISEES | Driving Franchisee Engagement to Outperform the Competition
IT NETWORK | Why a Flexible Network is Key to Consistent Customer Experience
INNOVATION | Reimagining the Dining Experience
ONLINE ORDERING | Working with the Grubhubs of the World
MENUS | How to Design an Innovative Menu
MESSAGING | The Mobile Marketer’s Dilemma: SMS/MMS vs. Push vs. Beacons
MOBILE ORDERING | App Based Order Ahead Best Practices
REVIEWS | How to Get More Five-Star Reviews
SOCIAL MEDIA | How Restaurants Can Scale Social Media For Success
STAFFING | The Changing Landscape of Recruitment
TRAINING | Modern Learning – Fusing Training with Daily Operations to Get Better Results


3:45 pm | Refreshment Break

4:15 pm | Breakout Session

4 Ways the Cloud Can Take You Higher

While many brands are still scrambling to figure out the cloud, others are using it to help differentiate them from competitors in four areas: customer loyalty, inventory management, speed of service and business decisions. The execs on this panel will clear up any confusion over the technology and will also discuss why they’ve embraced the cloud, the pitfalls they wished they’d avoided when adopting it and the steps they took to get there.

David Baer | COO | Firenza
Laura Rea Dickey | CEO | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants
Chris Ruszkowski | SVP of Marketing | Quiznos

Paul Rubin | Chief Strategy Officer | PAR

  • Sponsored by PAR

4:15 pm | Breakout Session

How Safe and Transparent is Your Food-sourcing Process?

Brands that are transparent about where and how they source their food will have the most loyal customers, according to a recent study. That’s easier said than done, however, considering most brands work with a variety of food vendors all over the country. This panel will discuss what’s driving the trend of increased transparency and how restaurateurs can meet customer needs without losing money.

John LeBel | CEO | Anthony’s Pizza & Pasta
Linda Appel Lipsius | Co-Founder and CEO | Teatulia
• Josh Morgan | Operating Partner | Melt Shop
Chad Newton | Culinary Director | Asian Box

Doug Sutton | President | Steritech

  • Sponsored by Steritech

6:30 – 10:00 pm | Dinner Party

Crazy Town Nashville

It wouldn’t be a trip to Nashville without taking in some live music and a night on Lower Broadway, also known as the “Honky Tonk Highway.” Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Gretchen Wilson, Dierks Bentley and other stars got their start here. Our venue, Crazy Town, is the most fun around and features six bars, three stages, two outdoor patios and a panoramic view of Historic Broadway. The interior of the bar is eclectic, fun & funky! It contains walls of five reclaimed barns, antique signs, enormous hanging guitars, and handmade chandeliers.

This private dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost. Crazy Town is a 10 minute walk from the Omni Hotel.

  • Sponsored by Welbilt


7:30 am | Breakfast

8:30 am | General Session

The Perfect Pitch

Following a global contest, three concepts will be selected to be part of The Perfect Pitch. Listen and learn as entrepreneurs pitch their fast casual concepts to a panel of distinguished investors and consultants who will provide on-the-spot advice.

2017 Finalists:
Capitol Melts | Owner: Robert Haggerty
I Love Bacon | Owner: Keith Hill
Street Shak Caribbean Kitchen | Owner: Tony Bradshaw, CMO: Karen Richards

• Steve DeSutter | CEO | FOCUS Brands
Anand Gala | President & CEO | Gala Corporation
Neil Syal | Co-owner | Rockfire Grill

Daniel Iannucci | Mid Market Account Executive | Toast

  • Sponsored by Toast

9:30 am | Refreshment Break

10:00 am | Breakout Session

Debate: To Franchise or Not?

When it comes to growing a business, franchising is often the quickest way to scale, but is it the best option for all brands? Two experts, one who franchises and one who doesn’t, will debate the pros and cons of both options.

Michael Lastoria | Co-Founder, CEO and Creative Director | &pizza
Jim Mizes | CEO & President | Blaze Pizza

Justin Mink | SVP of Franchise Brands | Scorpion

  • Sponsored by Scorpion

10:00 am | Breakout Session

Giving Franchisees the Power of Customization without Diluting Your Brand

We live in a real-time world, which means restaurant chains not only must be flexible with menu offerings, they need to market those changes quickly and effectively.

This session will help attendees understand how to customize and localize corporate marketing messages without straying too far from the brand’s core message. Experts will also discuss how each unit can strike the right balance between incorporating the local flavor without compromising the company’s overall decor, look and feel.

Scott Ford | President | Goodcents Franchise Systems
Patrick Renna | Chief Financial Officer | Wahlburgers
Ryan Smolkin | Founder & CEO | Smoke’s Poutinerie Inc.

Melissa Marquis | VP of Business Development | GFX International

  • Sponsored by GFX International

11:00 am | Refreshment Break

11:15 am | Breakout Session

Social Media: What is the value of a 5-star rating?

When it comes to social media, what sites should you monitor? What is the impact to your business when customers post negative comments? How can you recover them and keep them coming back? What do best in class restaurant organizations do to earn 5-star ratings?

Melissa Gallagher | VP Marketing | Freshii
Natalie Anderson Liu | VP of Marketing | MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes
Laura Sporrer | Director of Franchise Development | HuHot Mongolian Grill

Brad Christian | Managing Director | Market Force Information

  • Sponsored by Market Force Information

11:15 am | Breakout Session

Diving into Customer Data

Recent research from Winterberry Group found that guest data plays a key role in the way that successful restaurants handle the day-to-day challenges of running their business, such as increased competition, declining guest loyalty and gauging the overall effectiveness of marketing efforts.

While it’s no secret that actionable data insights are a proven trade secret to success, many brands still don’t understand how to apply those insights. This session will explore how to use the data to learn about customer preferences, attitudes, lifestyles and buying patterns, which should ultimately dictate how operators approach their marketing initiatives.

Donna Josephson | SVP & CMO | Corner Bakery Cafe
Steve McMahon | CMO | Saladworks
Stewart Slocum | CMO | Newk’s Eatery

Paula Carren | VP, Professional Services | Fishbowl

  • Sponsored by  Fishbowl

12:15 pm | Lunch

  • Sponsored by  Kraft Heinz

1:00 pm | Breakout Session

Ask a Millennial

Millennials will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017, and $10 trillion in their lifetimes, so they should be a top target of all restaurants. Instead of imploring a bunch of “experts” on the habits of consumers born between 1977 and 2000, this panel will actually explore their thoughts and opinions by interviewing them on stage.

Jeff Grossman | VP of Global Pre-Sales | Oracle Hospitality

  • Sponsored by Oracle

1:00 pm | Breakout Session

Meeting the Demand for Delivery

Driven by greater demand for convenience in food service, delivery is becoming a go-to channel for consumers in developed markets. Global chains are pioneering a global standard for successful delivery formats, stretching the bounds of what foodservice operators can provide in terms of convenience to consumers.

Delivery has evolved beyond dropping a pizza off at a customer’s home, however. It now includes delivering mobile and digital orders to in-store customers . This session will teach foodservice operators about innovative ways to use technology to improve all delivery service.

Jenelle Brown | VP, Operations, Training & Human Resources | Uncle Maddio’s Pizza
Stephen Dutton | Consumer Foodservice Associate | Euromonitor International
Kevin Lee | CEO | Sushiyaa

Kent Savage | Founder & CEO | Apex Supply Chain Technologies

  • Sponsored by Apex Supply Chain

2:00 pm | Refreshment Break

2:15 pm | Breakout Session

Chef Talk: Industry Innovators Reveal How to Cook Up Competitive Menus

Creative and high-quality menu items are the top things separating fast casuals from their fast food competitors. Predicting trends, however, instead of simply jumping on the band wagon is a fine art.

This session brings together several chefs who understand their customers and what offerings they’ll embrace, whether its matcha-covered grasshopper pizza or a new form of “bubbles” in their tea.

The experts will also share their strategies on how to develop, source and market menu items in a profitable and creative fashion.

William Eudy | Executive Chef | McAlister’s Deli
Brad Kent | Executive Chef | Blaze Pizza
Pat Peterson | Executive Chef, Beefsteak | Think Food Group

Jason Herron | Director of Insights & Innovation | Simmons Foods

  • Sponsored by Simmons Foods

2:15 pm | Breakout Session

Innovative or Crazy? How to Know When You Have a Winning Idea

All brands want to be innovative, but how do you know when your idea is innovative or too crazy to work? How do you know, for example, if you will be the next Dollar Shave Club or New Coke? This session brings together executives who will share their successes and failures when it comes to innovation.

Scott Davis | President | CoreLife Eatery
Keith Hill | Co-Founder | I Love Bacon
Prakash Karamchandani | Co-Founder & CEO | Balance Grille

Jim Steinberg | SVP of Enterprise Partnerships | LoyaltyPlant

  • Sponsored by LoyaltyPlant

3:15 pm | Refreshment Break

3:30 pm | Closing General Session

CEO Roundtable / State of Industry

This panel packed with successful CEOs will talk about the latest issues of the day and what it takes to succeed in fast casual.

Steve DeSutter | CEO | FOCUS Brands
Matt Friedman | CEO | Wing Zone
Phil Greifeld | President & CEO | Captain D’s
David McDougall | CEO | Back Yard Burgers
Tommi Tervanen | CEO | Koti Pizza Group

Mike Todd | VP of Sales |  Heartland Commerce

  • Sponsored by Heartland Commerce

5:00 pm | Summit adjourns

Agenda and speakers are subject to change.


Register two attendees and get a third registration at no additional cost!