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How Technology Advancements are Changing your Kitchen and BoH Operations

Two technological advancements are already improving restaurants around the world – robotics and adding smart technology to foodservice equipment. Both are not only changing the customer experience in the front of house but also the level of productivity and labor in the kitchen.

This session will explore how operators must embrace the kitchen of the future in order to automate meal production and to take better care of their units.


Derin Alemli | Founder & CEO | Square Roots Kitchen

Derin Alemli is a serial entrepreneur residing in Chicago. Having founded DownBeats in 2012, he is currently focused on his role as the Founder & CEO of Square Roots Kitchen, a fast casual healthy restaurant that opened their first retail establishment at 120 S Halsted in January 2018 after using non-traditional means to get to market starting in 2016. SRK’s technology-enabled storefront has been revolutionary in creating a humanized approach to automation that makes for happy customers and an efficient operation. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur Derin worked in hedge fund portfolio management for Grosvenor Capital Management. Derin has an MBA from the University of Chicago in addition to holding the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

Geoff Alexander | CEO | Wow Bao

After two decades of working with multiple Lettuce Entertain You concepts, Geoff Alexander took over as President of Wow Bao in 2009. Under Geoff’s leadership, Wow Bao has revolutionized the way diners interact with restaurants by being a leader in technology. He implemented mobile & desktop ordering, installed self-ordering kiosks, pioneered a mobile gift card & loyalty program, added bicycle delivery, as well as domestic shipping, launched a food truck, and turned Wow Bao into a well-respected social media influencer. Geoff has overseen Wow Bao’s inclusion into airports, NFL stadiums, MLB ballparks, university campuses, and more than 50 grocers sell Wow Bao’s frozen retail line.

Steve Schulze | Co-Founder & CEO | Nékter Juice Bar

Steve Schulze is co-founder and CEO of Nékter Juice Bar. Leveraging personal savings and an SBA loan, Steve and his wife Alexis have built the company in seven years into a predominant restaurant and lifestyle brand, offering fresh, clean, nutritious juices, smoothies and acai bowls made without processed ingredients, artificial flavors, added sugars, or unnecessary fillers. With more than 80 locations in six states, over 900 employees and nearly $50 million in annual revenue, Nékter is expanding nationally through corporate and franchise growth with plans to grow to 425 restaurants by 2020. Prior to launching Nékter, Steve worked for consumer-based companies in various sales, marketing and management capacities.


Zach Goldstein | Founder & CEO | Thanx

Zach Goldstein is a die-hard Sacramento Kings fan; it was through many losing seasons where he first learned the value of loyalty. He founded Thanx in 2011 with the goal of helping merchants identify, reward and retain their best customers / die-hard fans. Previously, Zach worked with retail and tech giants at Bain and Company, where he focused on customer satisfaction and retention. He received his MBA from Stanford and shivered his way to a BA at Dartmouth.

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