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When Should New Diets Become Part of the Menu?

Fad diets have become so commonplace that restaurant brands often find themselves trying to incorporate menu items to fit some of those needs without alienating non dieters.

The popularity of Atkins, for example, has faded, but Atkins-friendly options, such as lettuce wrapped burgers, is proof that some diets become more than just fads. But how do you know when to embrace or ignore diet trends?

One could argue that today’s Atkins is the Paleo Diet or even the Keto Diet. Both — like Atkins — are heavy on the protein and low on carbs. Does that mean pizza and burger brands need to find innovative ways sans bun and crust to please those eaters?

This panel of experts will answer those questions and more about catering to diet trends.


Mike Clock | President | Newk’s Eatery

Mike Clock has over 23 years of experience in the accounting and finance fields with 22 years in the restaurant industry. He currently serves as President of Newk’s Eatery. Prior to joining the leadership team at Newk’s, he was the Chief Financial Officer for Good Smoke Restaurant Group, the parent company for two long standing barbecue brands, Dinosaur BBQ and Jim ‘N Nick’s Community BBQ. There his primary responsibility and focus was on financial strategic direction, brand support, and external financial communications for GSRG. Mike has also had the privilege of serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Le Duff America Inc., the second largest Bakery / Café concept in North America.

Maria Pourteymour | Co-Founder | Luna Grill

Chief Cuisine Officer and Co-Founder of Luna Grill Maria Pourteymour began her culinary journey as a child in the kitchen with her grandmother. She learned that preparing homemade meals was a powerful way to demonstrate love for friends and family. After moving to a new neighborhood in 2004, Maria found herself disheartened by the lack of quick, nutritious options to feed her then four-year-old daughter. It was out of this necessity for wholesome, well-rounded food for her family that Maria decided to co-found Luna Grill. Now, Maria’s easy, healthy recipes transcend her kitchen to the 41 kitchens of Luna Grill.

Patrick Sugrue | President & CEO | Saladworks

Patrick Sugrue brings more than 20 years of experience in the food industry and extensive executive expertise to his role as President and CEO of Saladworks. Patrick began his career at The Gallo Winery and The Coca Cola Company before working for well-known brands including Honey Baked Ham, Fearman’s Pork, Inc. and Sofina Foods. Since joining Saladworks, Patrick has led the company in a brand positioning study, creating and implementing an innovative strategic plan, and driven the launch of new menu items, a systemwide remodeling project and a technology bundle, all with 2017 comp sales up 8 percent. Patrick is committed to empowering franchisees and driving unit-level profitability.


Jason Herron | Director of Marketing Insights | Simmons Foods

Jason Herron is the Director of Marketing Insights for Simmons Foods. Over the last decade, Jason has developed various reality-based research programs for clients that has gained Simmons many coveted thought leader roles and first developer advantages. Jason holds a B.A. in Marketing, Advertising, and a M.A. in Consumer Behavior. His mission at work is to drive more valuable customer engagement across Simmons’ broad range of brands, market environments, and clients.

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