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October 13-15, 2024 | Denver, CO — Save $450 when you sign up by June 7! Register Now


SUNDAY // OCTOBER 13, 2024

| Registration

Registration Opens for Food Tour Participants

All attendees, sponsors and speakers must check in at the registration desk and pick up a name badge. Please wear your badge at all times during the Summit.

| Food Tours

Fast Casual Food Tours

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

Tours include:

| Exhibits

Registration Opens & Suppliers Pavilion

All attendees, sponsors and speakers must check in at the registration desk and pick up a name badge. Please wear your badge at all times during the Summit.

Spend some time in our suppliers pavilion, where you'll learn about products and services dedicated to improving your restaurant's operations.

| Welcome & Opening Remarks
  • Cherryh Cansler | Vice President of Events | Networld Media Group

| Opening Keynote

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

Keynote Speaker:
  • Jason Rusk | SVP Restaurant Operations | Wonder

Sponsored by Botrista Beverages
Keynote Speaker
Jason Rusk
SVP Restaurant Operations

| Awards Presentation

Fast Casual Hall of Fame

For more than 20 years, fast casual concepts have been at the forefront of innovation in the restaurant industry, proving to be trendsetters in store design, menu development, customer experience and restaurant technology. That would not be possible, however, without the blood, sweat and tears of the men and women who lead those brands each day.

The Fast Casual Hall of Fame will honor three individuals, who through their vision and leadership, have driven not only the success of their brands, but of the fast casual segment as a whole.

Join us as we recognize this year's Fast Casual Hall of Fame Honorees.

| Networking Event

Welcome Reception

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

MONDAY // OCTOBER 14, 2024

| Registration & Breakfast

| Breakfast Briefing

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| General Session

The Perfect Pitch

Following a global contest, several 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), a $3,500 prize and 6 months of free service with Ovation!

Nominations now open! Deadline: June 28. Learn More

  • Zack Oates | Founder & CEO | Ovation
  • Etkin Tekin | Co-Founder & CEO | Haven Hot Chicken

Sponsored by Ovation

| Break

| Breakout Session

Are Third-Party Delivery Platforms Propelling Growth or Draining Profit?

In today's competitive landscape, leveraging delivery aggregators offers undeniable reach, but soaring commissions, hidden fees and operational complexities can quickly erode your bottom line.

This session will help attendees navigate the third-party delivery landscape for real profitability by exploring data-driven insights, negotiation strategies, operational efficiencies, streamlining workflows to minimize delivery delays and maximize margins, marketing tactics and how to leverage technology solutions to automate processes and increase profitability.

Sponsored by Loop
| Breakout Session

Tapping Technology to Increase Catering Sales

Unlocking catering success lies beyond just delicious food. It's about leveraging technology to unlock efficiency, personalize experiences and drive profitable growth.

Join this session to delve into the cutting-edge technologies revolutionizing catering. Learn from industry experts and successful restaurateurs who are: Streamlining the order process, maximizing operational efficiency, discovering inventory management tools, routing optimization solutions, enhancing guest engagement and staying ahead of the curve via virtual reality experiences, AI-powered menu recommendations and contactless catering solutions.

Sponsored by Lunchbox

| Break

| Breakout Session

Beyond Burgers & Fries: Diversifying Your Menu for Competitive Advantage

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving, and consumers are demanding more than standard fast food, which means diversifying your menu is no longer an option, it's a necessity. This session will help attendees identify emerging trends and analyze their audience by learning how to segment customer base and tailor menu offerings.

It will also explore strategies to develop exciting menu items without sacrificing margins and how operators are using  technology to streamline menu development, optimize costs, and personalize dining experiences.

  • Geoff Alexander | President & CEO | Wow Bao

Sponsored by Consolidated Concepts
| Breakout Session

Building Restaurant Empires: Redefining Customer Engagement & Operational Excellence

Join this session to explore cutting-edge solutions that revolutionize customer engagement and operational excellence. Attendees will discuss how to future-proof their brands while also sharing best practices for optimizing workflow, inventory management and data utilization to drive efficiency and cost savings.

The experts will also dive into innovative strategies to engage, retain, and build loyalty and unlock untapped opportunities for growth through personalized marketing, strategic partnerships and emerging technologies.

  • Gregg Majewski | CEO | Craveworthy Brands
  • André Vener | Founding Partner | Dog Haus

Sponsored by Square

| Lunch & Learn

FastCasual Fashion Show

Check out the industry's hottest styles as models strut down the runway showing off this season's must-have uniforms and accessories.

Sponsored by Threads Uniform Agency

| Exhibits

Suppliers Pavilion

Spend some time in our suppliers pavilion, where you'll learn about products and services dedicated to improving your restaurant's operations.

| General Session

Brain Exchange

Join us for small group discussions about 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.

Sponsored by Halton

| Break

| General Session

Discovery 30:

This 30-minute speed round will feature several 5-minute pitches about products and services designed to improve operations and the customer experience.

| Breakout Session

Preparing Your Kitchen for the Robot Revolution

The restaurant industry is facing a triple threat: rising labor costs, shrinking profit margins and the increasing demand for speed and efficiency. While robots might seem like something out of a sci-fi movie, they're quickly becoming a reality in kitchens across the globe.

Our experts will discuss the rise of robotics in the restaurant industry and reveal the different types being used in food preparation, service and cleaning. They’ll also explore the real-world impact of automation on labor costs, operational efficiency and food quality as well as the potential challenges and ethical considerations surrounding robotic implementation.

Sponsored by Aniai
| Breakout Session

Unlocking Brand Loyalty and Growth via Unforgettable Experiences

We all know creating connections with your audience is the best way to build repeat customers, and this session will explore exactly how to create the experiences responsible for forging emotional connections, fostering brand advocacy and unlocking new revenue streams.

Panelists will discuss experience-driven marketing and how to master the art of tailoring those experiences to ensure authenticity and a lasting impact. They’ll also explore technologies and approaches to build deeper customer engagement and how to measure success beyond likes and shares.

  • Chris Smith | Owner | Zunzi’s & Zunzibar
  • Darren Spicer | Co-Founder & CEO | Clutch Coffee

Sponsored by HYVE Brand Concierge

| Break

| Breakout Session

Conquering Your Supply Chain Headaches in 2024 and Beyond

From rising costs to product shortages, navigating the supply chain in this new normal requires agility and strategic thinking. This session will equip restaurateurs with actionable tips and insights to optimize their supply chain for success. It will also teach them how customer preferences and purchasing habits are evolving (e.g., sustainability, local sourcing, online ordering) and highlight the importance of building resilient and adaptable supply chains and finding creative solutions to meet restocks, last-minute needs and niche ingredient sourcing.

Lastly, they’ll dissect emerging trends and technologies shaping the future of restaurant supply chains (e.g., automation, data analytics).

  • Priya Monga | GM Emerging Business | Instacart Business

Sponsored by Instacart Business
| Breakout Session

Navigating the Tech Wave: Streamlining Your Restaurant with Efficiency Tools

Labor shortages, rising food costs and demanding customer expectations make operating a restaurant tougher than ever, but fear not! Technology is here to help. This session will delve into real-world examples of how restaurants can leverage various tools to optimize both front-of-house and back-of-house operations to boost efficiency and profitability.

Discussion topics include using technology to reduce wait times, improve accuracy and better manage inventory operations, such as leveraging smart tools to track stock levels, automate ordering and minimize waste. We’ll also explore the importance of having a POS system that achieves efficiency gains across all operations.

  • Nick D’Antonio | SVP of Information Technology | Salad Collective
  • Kris Douglas | VP, Technology | Smalls Sliders
  • Patric Knapp | Vice President of Operations | Bobby’s Burgers by Bobby Flay

Sponsored by Revel Systems

| Break

| General Session

Prove Your Case!

Operators hear pitches all the time about products and services that will grow their business, but where’s the proof? We’ve got it right here.

This session includes three 15-minute presentations, each featuring one vendor and one operator sharing the how, when and ROI behind recent rollouts.

| Bus Transportation to the Dinner Party

| Offsite Event

Dinner Party at Bierstadt Lagerhaus

Join your fellow industry colleagues for an exclusive dinner party at Bierstadt Lagerhaus, RiNo's premier German-style brewpub.

What's on tap?

  • A dedicated feast on handcrafted lagers (including their famed Slow Pour Pils!)
  • Delicious pub fare and German-inspired dishes to fuel your #LagerHard adventures.
  • Games galore! From oversized yard games and vintage pinball to a giant video wall, the Bierhalle offers entertainment for all.
  • Soak up the sun (and the suds) at the expansive outdoor Biergarten.

This private dinner party is included with your Summit registration at no additional cost, so grab your stein and get ready to Prost!.

First buses depart at 6:30 pm for the quick 10-minute ride to Bierstadt Lagerhaus.

Sponsored by Botrista Beverages


| Breakfast

| General Session

Executive Perspectives: Inspiration for Today’s Restaurant Leaders

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

  • Leading with the Right Mindset | Jason Brooks
  • Franchising: OG and NewG Perspectives | Steve Lieber
  • Jason Brooks | Founder & CEO | HospiVation, LLC
  • Josh Halpern | CEO | Big Chicken
  • Steve Lieber | VP of Franchise Development | BurgerFi
  • Mitchell Nolan | Co-Founder & Partner | Vett3d

Sponsored by Workstream

| Break

| Breakout Session

Building Your Brand from the Ground Up

If you have ever envisioned your restaurant concept getting replicated across cities, states and countries, franchising may be the path for you. This session will guide attendees through the entire process, from conceptualizing your franchise model to attracting the right franchisees and ensuring operational excellence across your brand.

Panelists will discuss how to create a model that's replicable, profitable and attractive to potential franchisees as well as how to navigate the legal and regulatory framework essential for successful franchising. They will also share effective marketing tactics to attract franchisees and grow your brand footprint.

  • Blas Escarcega | Vice President of Franchise Development | Pollo Campero
  • Frank Klein | Founder & CEO | Post Road Hospitality
  • Sam Rothschild | COO | Slim Chickens

| Breakout Session

From Waste to Wealth: Turning Food Waste into Restaurant Revenue

Food waste is a major cost burden and environmental concern for restaurants, but in this interactive session, industry leaders will share proven strategies for reducing food waste without sacrificing profitability. Attendees will learn about data-driven solutions, creative menu planning, packaging innovation, food rescue partnerships and strategies for educating and motivating staff on food waste reduction practices.

| Break

| Breakout Session

Happy Staff, Happy Customers: Building a Thriving Restaurant Team

In the fast-paced world of restaurants, employee satisfaction is a key ingredient to success. Happy staff provide better customer service, reduce turnover costs, and create a positive work environment.

This session will explore the top strategies for keeping your restaurant team motivated, engaged, and working hard to deliver exceptional experiences. Experts will discuss investing in growth, using technology for hiring, training and engaging employees as well as how to create a more inclusive culture and why work-life balance is so important. 

  • Sawsan Abublan | Founder & CEO | Shawarma Press
  • Laura Eich | Chief People Officer | Biggby Coffee

  • Rachael Nemeth | CEO & Co-Founder | Opus Training

Sponsored by Opus Training
| Breakout Session

Preventing Legal Landmines in Your Restaurant

Although the fast casual industry thrives on speed, innovation and customer satisfaction, legal pitfalls can quickly disrupt momentum. This session equips attendees with the knowledge to identify and prevent common legal issues such as:

  • Food safety and allergies
  • Employee relations (wage and hour, discrimination, harassment)
  • Intellectual property, including trademarks and trade secrets
  • Franchising agreements
  • Data security and privacy

By proactively addressing preventable legal issues, restaurants can focus on what matters most: delivering delicious food and exceptional customer experiences.


Sponsored by Messner Reeves

| Lunch & Learn

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| Breakout Session

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| Breakout Session

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| Break

| Breakout Session

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| Breakout Session

Session Topic – Coming Soon!

| Break

| General Session

CEO Roundtable / State of the 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 2025 and beyond.

  • Sherif Mityas | CEO | BRIX Holdings
  • Jason Morgan | CEO | Original ChopShop
  • Jennifer Schuler | CEO | Handel’s Homemade Ice Cream

Sponsored by

| Summit adjourns

View 2023 Agenda


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