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The Hungry Searcher: Menus, Attributes, and Attracting Diners in Unbranded Search

We’re witnessing a massive shift in the ways consumers search for food every day. It used to be when you searched for a restaurant online, you got 10 blue links back on a screen, clicked the one you want and get re-directed the restaurant’s site. Today, intelligent services are giving you direct answers and they’re surfacing more types of information than ever before, and diners crave more information than ever. In fact, according to a Yext study:

• Almost 70% of searches for restaurants today are unbranded–meaning they’re being done by cuisine type or food item.
• 83 percent of consumers read a restaurant menu online before deciding where to eat
• More than 76 percent of diners were more likely to choose a restaurant that provided information about price range, dress code and meals served right in the search results.

And more than 67 percent of diners consider three or more options before deciding where to eat, begging the question, does your restaurant, your menu, and other information about the business stand out?

How do you make sure when a customer searches for a menu item like “pizza” or a highly specific search like “casual restaurant with wifi that’s good for kids,” they choose you, and not your competition?

This session will explain what restaurants need to be thinking about in this new age, and what they can do to be found and chosen by today’s hungry searchers.


Janet Brooks | Sr. Digital Marketing Manager | Kizuki

Janet Brooks is the Senior Marketing Manager for Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya. Kizuki is an authentic rapid growing, fast-casual ramen restaurant with locations in Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, Japan and Taiwan. Prior to joining Kizuki, Janet was a Marketing Manager with Pizza Hut, overseeing approximately 150 locations in the Pacific Northwest. Janet holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Public Relations and Business Administration from the University of Oregon.

Akash Kapoor | CEO & Co-Founder | Curry Up Now

Akash Kapoor has been a successful entrepreneur for over 32 years in a career spanning a Cable TV Company in India that is still operating to a Mortgage Banking & Lending business in 26 states. In 2009 Akash founded Curry Up Now, the world’s fastest growing Indian Fast Casual Brand, along with his wife, Rana Saluja-Kapoor and co-founder Amir Hosseini. Akash titles himself as The Chief Trouble Maker at Curry Up Now and dislikes status quo and lives by the mantra, If you don’t get better, you get worse. Curry Up Now is currently developing 50 franchise & corporate stores around the US.

Benedict Koenig IV | Founder | Heritage Eats

As Founder of Heritage Eats, Ben Koenig is committed to incorporating global inspirations and philanthropy into all aspects of business. An avid traveler, in 2014 he spent considerable time backpacking through the Middle East and Asia—an experience that helped inspire the Heritage Eats brand. Prior to his travels, Ben worked with hospitality design and concept firm AvroKO, serving as Assistant General Manager at their Napa restaurant, The Thomas, from 2013 – 2014. This was his second foray into the restaurant world: he helped AvroKO open their first restaurant in 2002. Prior to forging a career in hospitality, Koenig worked as a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs.

Brandon Solano | Chief Marketing & Digital Officer | Pei Wei

Brandon Solano has built a reputation as one of the most creative and unconventional marketing leaders in the U.S. foodservice industry. Recruited in May 2017 to serve as Pei Wei’s Chief Marketing & Digital Officer, Brian spearheaded a multi-media campaign tied to the groundbreaking debut of Wei Better Orange Chicken and Tiger – the brand’s sharp-tongued spokes-animal who has his own Twitter account – which has positioned the brand for significant growth. Prior to joining Pei Wei, Brian served as Chief Marketing Officer at Wendy’s, where he and his team created the brand’s successful 4 for $4 deal.


Lee Zucker | Head of Industry, Food Service | Yext

Lee Zucker joined Yext as Head of Industry for Food Service with deep knowledge, passion and years of experience in the food service technology space. In his role, Lee leads global Food Service strategy, product and partnership development. Before Yext, Lee was Vice President of Sales & Restaurant Partnerships at the venture backed startup Slice–the premier digital ordering and marketing platform for independent pizzerias that focuses on bringing mobile commerce to the $45 billion U.S. pizza market. While at Slice, he grew the restaurant network to over 6,500 independent restaurants in more than 2,000 cities and towns nationwide.

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