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October 13-15, 2024 | Denver, CO — Save $300 when you sign up by July 26! Register Now



10:00 am | Registration opens 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 Charlotte’s top local fast casual restaurants.

Tours include:
ACE No. 3
Amélie’s French Bakery & Café
Capishe: Real Italian Kitchen
Chopt Salad
Clean Juice
Hubee D’s
Ilios Crafted Greek
Inizio Pizza Napoletana
JJ’s Redhots
Viva Chicken


3:00 pm | Registration opens

5:00 pm | Opening Remarks

Cherryh Cansler | VP of Editorial | Networld Media Group

5:10 pm | Opening Keynote

Growing Your Off-Premise Business While Enhancing Your On-Premise Guest Experience

Companies that innovate will be successful, but companies that innovate on people and talent will win. If you have the talent piece in place, your brand can thrive in an age where every company in every industry is disrupting or transforming their category. As a long-established successful fast-casual brand, Panera has been on a transformation journey of its own, underscored by investments in technology—to seamlessly integrate digital ordering platforms, Rapid Pick-Up and delivery services—as well as its commitment to clean and healthy ingredients. A pivotal part of that journey, for every company, is attracting both customers and top talent to carry the brand into the future.

Eduardo Luz | Chief Brand & Concept Officer | Panera Bread
Rob Sopkin | SVP, Chief Development Officer | Panera Bread

  • Sponsored by 7shifts


Eduardo Luz
Chief Brand & Concept Officer
Panera Bread


Rob Sopkin
SVP, Chief Development Officer
Panera Bread

5:10 pm | Opening Keynote

Why Companies That Innovate on People and Talent Will Win

Companies that innovate will be successful, but companies that innovate on people and talent will win. If you have the talent piece in place, your brand can thrive in an age where every company in every industry is disrupting or transforming their category. As a long-established successful fast-casual brand, Panera has been on a transformation journey of its own, underscored by investments in technology—to seamlessly integrate digital ordering platforms, Rapid Pick-Up and delivery services—as well as its commitment to clean and healthy ingredients. A pivotal part of that journey, for every company, is attracting both customers and top talent to carry the brand into the future.

Karen Kelley | SVP, Chief Restaurant Operations Officer | Panera Bread

  • Sponsored by 7shifts


Karen Kelley
SVP, Chief Restaurant Operations Officer
Panera Bread

6:00 – 8:00 pm | Networking

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 SupplyCaddy


7:00 am | Registration & Breakfast

7:40 am | Breakfast Briefing

How To Get Ready for What’s Next!

Bob Vergidis is the founder and Chief Visionary at For over 30 years, his focus has been helping restaurant chains grow by providing them with the technology and ideas needed to compete on the same level as their larger competitors.

In this session, Bob will discuss the future of restaurants and what you can do to be ready for what is coming next. Covid has already moved the industry 15 years forward, but that was then. Now it is a whole new ball game with new competitors, partners, and huge opportunities. There might never be a better time for the restaurant industry, but it takes smart thinking and bold decisions. Bob will cover the key trends and talk about where you should be focused to take advantage of the new trends as well as avoid the pitfalls.

Bob Vergidis | Founder/Chief Visionary | The Point of Sale Cloud

  • Sponsored by The Point of Sale Cloud


Bob Vergidis
Founder/Chief Visionary
The Point of Sale Cloud

8:00 am | General Session

Executive Perspectives: Inspiration for Today’s Restaurant Leaders

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


The Digital Flywheel: Accelerated Revenue Growth Starts with Loyalty
Zach Goldstein | CEO & Founder | Thanx

Community Building: Putting Community On The Menu
Adenah Bayoh | Founder | Cornbread

Creating an Award-Winning Brand in Half a Decade
Landon & Kat Eckles | Co-Founders, CEO & Chief Branding Officer | Clean Juice

The 3 Key Moves in a Labor CRISIS
Kathleen Wood | Founder & CEO | Kathleen Wood Partners | Suzy’s Swirl

  • Sponsored by Thanx

9:00 am | Refreshment Break

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Tech Talk: The Future of Contactless and Online Ordering

Although the industry was embracing online ordering and contactless delivery, the onset of COVID-19 sped up adoption. What was once considered “nice to have” quickly turned into a “must have” for any restaurant hoping to do business during the pandemic.

Now that the pandemic is less of a worry, however, are these technology upgrades still necessary? If so, which platforms are best, and how does a restaurant with a small budget decide how and where to invest.

Attendees will not only learn the answers to these questions but also hear experts weigh in on what other customer experience technologies are coming soon.

Justin Bartek | Marketing Director | bushi by JINYA
Sean Kennedy | President & CEO | Cowboy Chicken
Julio Ramirez | CEO | BurgerFi

Frank Chen | Director of Product Marketing | Toast

  • Sponsored by Toast

9:30 am | Breakout Session

Is Your Supply Chain Broken?

The supply chain is one of the most important aspects of a successful operations model, but too often restaurants make mistakes, which end up losing them money. This session will reveal several ways that attendees may save those dollars, including tips on supply chain management, master distribution agreements, managed produce and contracts.

They’ll learn how to identify overcharges, maximize contract utilization, upgrade management reporting and maximize rebate dollars.

Zaid Ayoub | Founder & CEO | SAJJ Mediterranean
Olivia Bane | Director of Company Operations | I Love Juice Bar
Nour Rabai | Founder & CEO | PITA Mediterranean Street Food
Samir Wattar | COO | Layne’s Chicken Fingers

Vince Purves | President | Consolidated Concepts

  • Sponsored by Consolidated Concepts

10:30 am | Refreshment Break

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Using AI to Build Customer-Specific Marketing Campaigns

Restaurants must not only be experts when it comes to food but also in delighting customers. Today’s customer experience extends across platforms, whether that’s dining on-premises or ordering something for delivery off-premises.

That means having a stronger understanding of your customers and providing personalized marketing campaigns in addition to live one-to-one experiences. This can only be accomplished when artificial intelligence and machine learning are used properly.

Experts in this session will discuss how they use AI and ML to drive individual actions, as well as the campaigns that build loyalty.

Ryan Harrison | Chief Operating Officer | Zunzi’s
Scott Johnson | VP Head of Marketing | Smashburger
Laura Sporrer | Senior Marketing Manager | Teriyaki Madness

Kristin Lynch | Director of Restaurant Data Insights | Paytronix

  • Sponsored by Paytronix

11:00 am | Breakout Session

Enhancing Off-premise Operations to Build Customer Trust

Although consumers were starting to embrace delivery and carry-out options by the beginning of 2020, the pandemic accelerated the off-premise trend and forced operators to adjust their business models to win in this new normal.

They not only had to lean into technology to help them offer contactless experiences, but they also implemented strict hygiene and food safety protocols in hopes of gaining customer trust.

This session features restaurant leaders sharing those journeys. They’ll discuss what companies they partnered with and why, how much they invested and what they’d do differently.

Jim Bitticks | COO | Dave’s Hot Chicken
Tom Ferguson Jr. | CEO | Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken
Tinku Saini | CEO & Co-Founder | Tarka Indian Kitchen

Tracey Fullington | National Account Manager | Essity North America

  • Sponsored by Tork

12:00 pm | Lunch & Learn

Leading With Innovation / 5 Trends That Are Shaping Our Future

Scott Heim | Divisional President | Evo, Inc.

  • Sponsored by Middleby Corporation


Scott Heim
Divisional President
Evo, Inc.

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Leaning Into Modernized Loyalty to Drive Digital Acceleration

Establishing an emotional connection between your brand and customers is the height of marketing success, but achieving it is complex.

This session will feature operators using technology to deliver frictionless interactions that exceed customers’ expectations, increase their visit frequency and spend and drive the advanced loyalty your brand craves.

Tom Carr | CMO | Chicken Salad Chick
Laura Rea Dickey | CEO | Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants
Desi Saran | Founder & CEO | Sweetberry Bowls

Kevin Sanders | Industry Solutions Director, Restaurants | Cheetah Digital

  • Sponsored by Cheetah Digital

12:45 pm | Breakout Session

Why Restaurants Are Ditching the Transaction Mindset To Focus On Customers

Restaurant brands used to win by driving transactions and focusing on output metrics—keeping tabs on cover counts and obsessing over same-store sales. Winning didn’t require knowing who was dining or ordering, why, or how often. Now, leading restaurant brands in every category are personalizing the guest experience, in-restaurant and online, to maximize customer lifetime value—an input metric that can be impacted by the decisions being made across every business unit—from finance and marketing to operations and culinary.

In this session, we’ll explore how it’s been proven that the top 5% of customers drive 27% of sales and why restaurants that know their customers, their preferences, and their lifetime value dominate.

Todd Madlener | President & COO | Coolgreens
Aaron Noveshen | CEO, Starbird / Founder & Chairman, The Culinary Edge
Sergio Perez | Sr. Director of Omnichannel | Bojangles
Vince Szwajkowski | CMO | Blaze Pizza

Mike Vichich | Co-Founder & CEO | Wisely

  • Sponsored by Wisely

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:
• COST SAVINGS | Sponsored by: Entegra
• FOOD SAFETY | Sponsored by: Steritech
• INNOVATION/TECH | Sponsored by: ServiceChannel
LABOR CHALLENGES | Sponsored by: Revel Systems
• MENU TRENDS | Sponsored by: Botrista Technology
• MOBILE | Sponsored by: Appetize, now a part of SpotOn
• PERFORMANCE METRICS | Sponsored by: Decision Logic


3:30 pm | Energy Break

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

How to Build a Solid Virtual Business

Ghost kitchens are one of the industry’s hottest trends, so this session explores how three established brands have incorporated ghost kitchens into their operations models.

They’ll not only talk about why they decided to embrace the trend so early but also reveal the partnerships they’ve made and the technology required to run a successful virtual business.

Lastly, they’ll share their outlook on the future of ghost kitchens and contactless delivery as well as a few other upcoming trends in operations.

Geoff Alexander | CEO | Wow Bao
James O’Reilly | CEO | Smokey Bones
Jason Valentine | President & COO | Zoup! Eatery

Jonathan Schroeder | Director of National Accounts | Alto-Shaam

  • Sponsored by Alto-Shaam

4:00 pm | Breakout Session

How to Cruise Through Drive-thru Remodels

Finding a drive-thru lane at a fast casual restaurant used to be rare, but they are becoming more commonplace as customers demand contactless pick-up points. This session will feature executives who have incorporated drive-thrus into their business models.

They’ll talk about how to ensure a good ROI as well as pitfalls to avoid.

Kevin King | Chief Development Officer | Smoothie King
Steve Lieber | VP Franchise Business Development | BurgerFi
Paul Peterson | CEO | Caffeinated Ventures

Valerie Cansler | VP of Client Services | Curion

  • Sponsored by Curion

6:30 – 9:30 pm | Offsite Event

NASCAR Hall of Fame

After a full day of informative and inspiring sessions, get ready for an evening of great food, conversation and fun at the NASCAR Hall of Fame!

Boogity, boogity, boogity! Enjoy an evening at the home of legends and explore the history of NASCAR. Uncover new stories and get in on the action at every turn with more than 50 interactive experiences. Get behind the wheel of an iRacing simulator on your favorite track or see if you have what it takes to make the team in our Pit Crew Challenge. Hear intimate, never-before-told stories of the past.

You’ll get to experience it all and have fun with fellow Summit attendees as we will have exclusive access to the NASCAR Hall of Fame!

This private dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost. Please wear your badge.

  • Sponsored by 7shifts

6:30 – 9:30 pm | Offsite Event

Dinner Party

After a full day of informative and inspiring sessions, get ready for an evening of great food, conversation and fun!

This private dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost. Please wear your badge.

  • Sponsored by 7shifts


7:30 am | Breakfast

7:40 am | Breakfast Briefing

The Pursuit of Perfection – Achieving Real Estate Efficiency for Your Lean Team

Taj Adhav | CEO | Leasecake

  • Sponsored by Leasecake


Taj Adhav

8:00 am | General Session

The Perfect Pitch

Following a global contest, five concepts have been selected to be part of The Perfect Pitch. Listen and learn as entrepreneurs pitch their fast casual concepts. The pitchers will address not only the Summit’s attendees but also a panel of advisers who will give them advice about how to grow their concepts.

It’s our “nicer” version of “Shark Tank,” which means it’s all about helping small but innovative concepts get off the ground. The audience members will vote on their favorite pitch, and the winner will receive bragging rights (of course) and a $3,500 prize!

2021 Finalists:
Asian John’s, Atlanta, Georgia
Chick N Max, Wichita, Kansas
iniBurger, Pleasanton, California
Magic City Hoagies, Minot, North Dakota
Pasta78, Chandler, Arizona

Learn more about the 2021 Finalists!

Chad Cohen | Principal, Strategic Operations Group | CapitalSpring
Chad Coulter | Founder & CEO | Biscuit Belly
Zack Oates | Founder & CEO | Ovation

  • Sponsored by Ovation

9:45 am | Refreshment Break

10:05 am | Breakout Session

Not Only Surviving, But Thriving Through the Pandemic

While many restaurants across the world closed or struggled to stay in business over the past year, a few posted higher-than-ever sales.

This session will feature three of those brand leaders revealing their strategies for handling the crisis. They’ll talk about how they pivoted their operational models, redistributed labor and added new menu offerings as well as how they created new revenue streams to pad the bottom line.

Jack Gibbons | CEO | FB Society
Jonathan Luther | Co-Founder & Proprietor | JJ’s Red Hots
Tom Sacco | CEO & President | Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Parlors & Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Kitchen

Doug Sutton | President | Steritech

  • Sponsored by Steritech

10:05 am | Breakout Session

Eating Out Again: Restaurant Insights for Marketing in the New Normal

The pandemic of 2020 clearly affected when, where and how consumers source food, along with how they will engage with restaurants going forward. As brands seek to activate more guests, what should marketing look like in this post-pandemic era? Has the customer path-to-purchase changed? How can brands make their comeback stronger than the setback?

This panel will address these questions and more by showcasing new, survey-based research report findings. In this session, we will provide a fascinating glimpse into the consumer “value equation” and the role that Incentive Marketing should have in your media strategy. Discussion topics to include:

    • How restaurants can best engage consumers at this moment
    • How incentive marketing can drive post-pandemic behavior and play a major role in enticing new – or lapsed – guests
    • How urgency marketing gives marketers tools to support shifts toward app purchases and brand loyalty

Matt Lukosavich | Director, Industry Strategy – Restaurant | Vericast
C.J. Ramirez | SVP of Marketing | Dog Haus
Mandy Shaw | CEO | Blaze Pizza

Cherryh Cansler | VP of Editorial | Networld Media Group

  • Sponsored by Vericast

11:05 am | Refreshment Break

11:25 am | Breakout Session

Is It Time for an Upgrade?

Although it may seem like up-and-coming brands have an edge when it comes to featuring the latest design trends and technology advancements, legacy brands don’t have to look and feel outdated.

This session will feature execs from older brands that have recently remodeled or redesigned their customer experience from new layouts and technology upgrades to hybrid service models.

Jim Butler | President | Jon Smith Subs
Stacey Kane | Restaurant Marketing Consultant
Tom Krouse | President & CEO | Donatos

Scotty Perkins, CAMS | SVP & Head of LedgerPay, CCO | LedgerPay

  • Sponsored by LedgerPay

11:25 am | Breakout Session

Meatless: It’s What’s for Dinner

With more than 60% of Americans saying that since COVID-19 they have incorporated more plant-based foods into their diets, fast casual restaurants – regional and national – are glowing up their meatless options.

And while a meatless strategy makes sense for many brands, how do you know if it will work for your restaurant?

Chefs in this session will weigh on the right and wrong ways to incorporate meatless options to your menu.

Dina Mitchell | Founder | PowerSoul Cafe
Chef Daryl Shular, CMC | Founder & CEO | Daryl Shular Hospitality Group
Bettina Stern | Co-Founder | Chaia Tacos

Chef Grant Petersen | Sales Director | Meatless Farm
Boudewijn Tiktak | CEO | Meatless Farm, North America

  • Sponsored by Meatless Farm

12:25 pm | Lunch & Learn

Loyalty That Lasts: Using Digital Transformation to Future-Proof Your Brand

We’ve all heard the adage “the only constant is change.” That reality has hit especially close to home for the restaurant industry over the past two years. In this era of digital disruption and endless distraction, how do brands identify and adopt emerging technology quickly enough to stay one step ahead of their guests’ changing wants and needs?

The key is in building an intelligent, integrated loyalty ecosystem. It scales, flexes, and leverages consumer data at every touchpoint to deliver an increasingly personalized, convenient, and consistent experience back to your guests.

In this session, you’ll learn how to use modern loyalty as the centerpiece for a customer experience that will stand up against whatever the future holds next.

Lori Stout | VP of Marketing | Punchh

  • Sponsored by Punchh


Lori Stout
VP of Marketing

1:10 pm | Breakout Session

Fueling Up Your Bottomline with Beverage Innovation

By incorporating and promoting new and interesting beverages, restaurants have been able to quench customers’ thirst and appeal to new customers and different dayparts. Fast Casuals can take this a step further by energizing their customers through beverage innovation. With a stimulating 10.5% increase in energy drink and caffeine-infused beverage sales and a high rate of ongoing consumption by nearly half of the of-age US population, restaurant operators are keeping pace by incorporating energizing beverages into their menus.

This session will feature brands that are exploring beverage innovations from ready-to-drink options and craft cocktails to shakes and smoothies.

Kristi Bullock | Director Menu Innovation | Tropical Smoothie
Steve Felson | VP of Operations | Bonchon
Steve Schulze | Co-Founder & CEO | Nékter Juice Bar
Samuel Stanovich | Senior VP of Franchise Leadership | Big Chicken

Charles Dixon | On-Premises National Accounts Manager LSR/QSR segment | Red Bull

  • Sponsored by Red Bull

1:10 pm | Breakout Session

Using SMS Marketing to Build Diner Loyalty and Drive Repeat Orders!

Over 90% of consumers say they’d be open to signing up to receive text messages from businesses—and 55% have already done so. For food and beverage marketers, this presents a valuable opportunity to engage diners where they’re already browsing for their next meal: on their mobile devices.

In this session, you’ll learn how top food, beverage, and restaurant brands are using SMS marketing to connect with local customers, build diner loyalty, and increase online orders.

Devin Handler | VP of Brand Marketing | Naf Naf Grill
Jeff Levine | Co-Founder & CEO | Raw Juce
Debbie Roxarzade | Founder & CEO | Rachel’s Kitchen
Chris Smith | Co-Founder & CEO | Zunzi’s

Brock Bergman | Strategic Account Executive, Food & Beverage | Attentive

  • Sponsored by Attentive

2:10 pm | Energy Break

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

Using Tech to Control Labor Woes

Recruiting and keeping employees happy is just part of the struggle employers are facing when it comes to labor issues. With minimum wages rising, it’s imperative to track labor hour by hour rather than per shift in order to predict labor costs with greater accuracy. Technology can help, however, which is what the experts on this panel will discuss. They’ll reveal what platforms are worth the cost and which they should have avoided.

Andy Hooper | President | &pizza
Eric Ersher | Founder & CEO | Zoup! Eatery
John Pepper | Founder | Boloco

Dale McKee | Director of Sales Support | Xenial

  • Sponsored by Xenial

2:30 pm | Breakout Session

How to Digitally Transform Your Restaurant’s Operations

From food safety and preventing incidents, to ensuring team members follow your brand and regulatory standards, to delivering the optimal guest experience day in and day out – running a restaurant in 2021 is no easy task, but there are a variety of strategies and tools to make it easier.

Experts in this panel reveal what’s worked – and what hasn’t – for them.

Matt Friedman | Co-Founder & CEO | Wing Zone
Jon Sherman | CEO & Founder | Sticky’s Finger Joint
Danielle Williams | Ops Services Manager | Checkers & Rally’s Drive-In

Keith Cole | VP of Sales | CMX

  • Sponsored by CMX

3:30 pm | Refreshment Break

3:45 pm | General Session

CEO Roundtable / State of Industry

This panel packed with fast casual CEOs will talk about important issues restaurant operators face today and what it will take to succeed in 2022 and beyond.

Paul Ballard | Co-Founder & Owner | Ballard Brands & Ideation Hospitality
Anthony Russo | President | Russo’s New York Pizzeria
Dan Simpson | CEO | Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe
Susan Taylor | President & CEO | Juice It Up!

Cherryh Cansler | VP of Events | Networld Media Group

  • Sponsored by Cardlytics

5:00 pm | Summit concludes

Agenda and speakers are subject to change.


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