Day One: Monday, September 16

Tech + Restaurants = Business Success

On the opening day of the conference, we will be exploring the intersection of technology and customer experience in restaurants. From table tablets to tech-less dining experiences, we’ll hear from innovation experts about where the tech works best.

7:00 am - 8:00 am Registration And Continental Breakfast

8:10 am - 8:25 am Welcome Remarks & Icebreaker

Ellen Granoff, Program Director at Future Restaurants

Ellen Granoff

Program Director
Future Restaurants

8:25 am - 8:45 am Opening Keynote Fireside Chat: How White Castle Is Attracting And Retaining The Workforce Of The Future

Imagining the restaurant of the future usually calls to mind images of chef robots, kiosks, autonomous displays, and other innovations. But this overlooks one of the most critical assets a restaurant has: employees. This session will explore how White Castle has both engaged their current workforce and prepared for the wants and needs of the workforce of the future by:

  • Creating an employee engagement app in house for a workforce of this many, which 93% of employees have already begun using
  • Selecting app features that empower employees by enabling them to swap shifts, request time off, communicate with managers, and more
  • Prioritizing employee experience to ensure long-term loyalty and improve customer experience
Jeff Carper, COO at White Castle

Jeff Carper

White Castle

Leslie Patton, Food and Restaurants Reporter at Bloomberg News

Leslie Patton

Food and Restaurants Reporter
Bloomberg News

8:45 am - 9:10 am Keynote Case Study: High Tech Vs. High Touch: A Framework For Evaluating Technology’s Role In Fine Dining

Impeccable service from an attentive waiter, a beautiful dining area, and fabulous food are typical hallmarks of a fine dining experience. And they’ve been the hallmarks of Del Frisco’s Grill, since 1981.  It is possible that technology will become part customers’ expectations when they are at fine dining establishments. As the restaurant world becomes increasing digitized and automated, the question remains as to whether fine dining restaurants can be both high tech and high touch. That’s just what separates Del Frisco’s from their competitors. Join Brandon Coleman, President of Del Frisco’s Grill, as he explores how they’re doing it, as well as:
  • Understanding the changing role of technology in customer experience at different tiers of restaurants
  • Evaluating which technologies enable a high touch customer experience and which actually impede it
  • Determining best practices for being simultaneously high tech and high touch

Brandon Coleman III, President at Del Frisco's Grille

Brandon Coleman III

Del Frisco's Grille

9:10 am - 9:15 am Bite-Sized Advice Help Huddle: Which Parts Of The Consumer Journey Actually Benefit From Tech?

Take five minutes to “huddle” with your peers and network! You’ll discuss how to infuse tech into the customer journey and get tons of advice!

The restaurant of the future will certainly reflect the modern consumer’s growing dependence upon technology and desire for personalized experiences, but what exactly will that look like and how can you prepare? Learn from tech leaders - from the team behind the burger flipping robot at Caliburger to Dunkin Brands who has helped to set customer expectations around the restaurant of the future.

  • Determining which technologies are just novel inventions and which will stand the test of time
  • Defining the role of innovation in the restaurant of the future
  • Predicting the changing role of employees as tasks become increasingly automated and restaurants become increasingly digitized 
  • Deciding which technology investments, organization structure changes, and brand developments will best prepare you for the restaurant of the future

Our panelists will close out the session with J and L paddles to indicate their opinions and perspectives on what the future of restaurants may hold.
Dan Wheeler, SVP, Marketing & Innovation at Wahlburgers

Dan Wheeler

SVP, Marketing & Innovation

Vadim Parizher, Sr. Director, New Technologies and BI at Taco Bell

Vadim Parizher

Sr. Director, New Technologies and BI
Taco Bell

Ben Gaddis, President at T3

Ben Gaddis


Kevin Myers, Chief Marketing & Information Officer at Donatos Pizza

Kevin Myers

Chief Marketing & Information Officer
Donatos Pizza

9:45 am - 10:30 am Morning Refreshment & Networking Break

Grab a coffee and take a spin around the Exhibit Hall during our first networking break of the conference! It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with your fellow attendees while checking out the exciting technologies and solutions on display

10:30 am - 10:50 am Keynote Fireside Chat: Integrating The Old With The New: Best Practices For Modernizing Your Restaurant

Is it possible to have a modernized POS terminal but still take orders on paper? Can you have a robot flipping your burgers but a real human running orders out to the tables? This session will explore the intersection of old and and explore how you can modernize your restaurant without a gut renovation. We will delve into:

  • Determining which areas of your restaurant experience need a technology upgrade and creating a clear prioritization hierarchy for ongoing projects
  • Ascertaining which new technologies will have a cascade effect and require parallel upgrades of other existing systems and which can be implemented in a “vacuum”
  • Focusing on technologies that add value to employees’ experience as well 
  • Evaluating how best to create an integrated technology stack, the backbone a truly omnichannel experience
Phil Friedman, Chairman & CEO at Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill

Phil Friedman

Chairman & CEO
Salsarita's Fresh Mexican Grill

10:50 am - 11:10 am Keynote: From Restaurant to Cloud to Customer Experience - A Fireside Chat with Jack-in-the-Box CIO Drew Martin

The restaurant business is a people business, yet the role of technology cannot be understated in saving money, improving service and enhancing the customer experience. Drew Martin, CIO at Jack in the Box, understands the power of technology and shares his perspectives with us.
Jeff Bradbury, Senior Marketing Director, North America at Hughes

Jeff Bradbury

Senior Marketing Director, North America

Drew Martin, CIO at Jack In The Box

Drew Martin

Jack In The Box

11:10 am - 11:35 am Keynote Case Study: Emerging Roles In Marketing And Digital Experience + CASE STUDY: Building Your Own Digital Ordering Platforms

Learn about 4 emerging roles that will play key roles in setting up your team for success. See how each of them work in-action with a case study on how Bareburger used these roles to help build their own omnichannel digital ordering ecosystem.
•Discover 4 roles that will help create a fantastic in-house marketing team
•Defining new roles that will help keep your marketing/creative team lean and mean
•How to efficiently build your own omnichannel digital ordering for your restaurant

Zach McCurdy, Creative Director at Bareburger

Zach McCurdy

Creative Director

11:35 am - 11:55 am Keynote Case Study: Delivering Fun & Escapism: How Margaritaville Empowers Their Frontline To Create Great Guest Experiences

With 9 out of 10 guests ranking their interaction with a frontline employee as a key driver of their satisfaction, Margaritaville has become a leading lifestyle brand built on offering an anytime, anywhere taste of paradise. Hear from the President of Margaritaville Hospitality, Dan Leonard, on how the iconic brand empowers their staff to deliver authentic, tropical escapism to fans around the world and change the latitude (and attitude) of more than 20 million travelers each year.
Jordan Ekers, Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer at Nudge Rewards

Jordan Ekers

Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer
Nudge Rewards

Dan Leonard, President at Margaritaville Hospitality

Dan Leonard

Margaritaville Hospitality

This session explores best practices for determining which elements of your diners’ journey can benefit from technological enhancements (and which may not). This interactive group discussion will inform your understanding of:

  • Determining which elements of the customer journey necessitate a person to person interface and which can be expedited through technology
  • Looking at guest feedback, social listening, and engagement metrics to determine exactly where in your customer journey technology might be able to replace a human interaction
  • Testing how customers feel about tech (such as digital ordering, experiencing delivery from a robot, iPad usage on location, requesting a refill with a button) in specific locations before rolling out to your other locations or franchisees
Robert Guarino, CEO at 5 Napkin Burger

Robert Guarino

5 Napkin Burger

Zaid Ayoub, Founder & CEO at SAJJ Mediterranean

Zaid Ayoub

Founder & CEO
SAJJ Mediterranean

Val King, Vice President, Information Technology at True Food Kitchen

Val King

Vice President, Information Technology
True Food Kitchen

Kevin Warden, Founder & President at Flyrite Chicken, Inc.

Kevin Warden

Founder & President
Flyrite Chicken, Inc.

Zach Goldstein, Founder & CEO at Thanx

Zach Goldstein

Founder & CEO

These interactive roundtable sessions take a deep dive into the specific areas you came to learn about. Sit and learn in an intimate format from industry thought leaders and problem solvers. You pick which roundtables to partake in – choose the topics relevant to your most pressing initiatives and divide and conquer with your team members taking a seat at the other tables. Each Roundtable discussion lasts 25 minutes. This session is for restaurant attendees only.

Table #1: Modern Restaurant Accounting: Shifting From Cost Center To Trusted Operational Advisor
Hosted by: Jimmy Speyer, Vice President, Restaurant365

Table #2: Seen & Heard: Enlivening Guest Experience Through Entertainment And Technology
Hosted by: Nadine Zgonc, VP, Customer Engagement & Brand Strategy, PlayNetwork

Table #3: Empowering Your Team With Digital Tools For Your Field Visits, Restaurant Operations And Training 
Hosted by: Don Chapman, Head of Partnerships & Strategy, Yoobic

Table #4: Restaurant Technology Network Ideation: Get to Know the Membership Community Taking on Industry Standards
Hosted by: Dorothy Creamer, Editor-in-Chief, Hospitality Technology, Abigail Lorden, Vice President, Group Brand Director, Hospitality Technology & Founder of RTN, Restaurant Technology Network

Jimmy Speyer, VP at Restaurant365

Jimmy Speyer


Nadine Zgonc, VP, Customer Engagement & Brand Strategy at PlayNetwork

Nadine Zgonc

VP, Customer Engagement & Brand Strategy

Don Chapman, Head of Partnerships and Strategy at YOOBIC

Don Chapman

Head of Partnerships and Strategy

Dorothy Creamer, Editor-In-Chief at Hospitality Technology

Dorothy Creamer

Hospitality Technology

Abigail Lorden, Founder at Restaurant Technology Network

Abigail Lorden

Restaurant Technology Network

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm Lunch For All Attendees

1:15 pm - 2:15 pm Private Lunch

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

2:15 pm - 2:25 pm Chairperson’s Afternoon Remarks

Bobbi Frioli, Country Manager at Beekeeper

Bobbi Frioli

Country Manager

Track B: Mobile And The Omni Experience

2:15 pm - 2:25 pm Chairperson’s Afternoon Remarks
Rev Ciancio, Marketing and Chief Burger Officer at SinglePlatform

Rev Ciancio

Marketing and Chief Burger Officer

Interactive Campfire Chats & Problem Solving Sessions – For Restaurant Executives Only

2:25 pm - 3:10 pm Campfire Chat #1 Savoring And Sharing Consumer Generated Content: How To Take Advantage Of Social Sharing
Relax by the “fire” in an intimate restaurant-only session with 10-15 other restaurant executives where your “storyteller” will share a quick case study and then open up the floor to questions. 

It is becoming increasingly common for reviews, social media posts, photos and other related content about your restaurant to appear not only on your own website and social channels, but also on those of your consumers. Join us as we discuss ways to harness the power of consumer generated content (CSG) as a powerful form of brand advocacy. Takeaways include techniques for:

-Creating branded hashtags and taggable social media geo-locations to streamline posts about your restaurants
-Designing “wow” moments through food presentation, activations, events, packaging elements and surprises to encourage social media posting about your brand
-Featuring consumer generated content on your own channels to amplify the voices of those speaking favorably about you
-Turning consumer generated reviews and content into meaningful brand relationships by closely monitoring, responding to, and featuring the feedback collected through these channels

Robert Guarino, CEO at 5 Napkin Burger

Robert Guarino

5 Napkin Burger

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

2:25 pm - 2:50 pm Genuine Care, The Secret To Sustained Franchise Growth And Profitability
Thoughts on how to build a strong foundation for a franchise system that delivers unit profitability and invests in the long term sustainment of the brand.  
  • How to build a system that balances the need for long term franchise unit profitability and delivers franchisor financial health.
  • How to create effective and efficient work flow systems as a franchisor that support this profitability balance.
  • How to create long term and annual strategic planning and review systems that support this profitability balance.
  • Defining genuine care and building strategy that delivers it.  No room for a failure to communicate!
  • How to build a true culture of excellence that delivers results.
  • Provide 7 core principles that must be present in your system to ensure sustained profitability

Ryan Achterhoff, Chief Administrative Officer at Pizza Ranch

Ryan Achterhoff

Chief Administrative Officer
Pizza Ranch

Track B: Mobile And The Omni Experience

2:25 pm - 2:50 pm Fireside Chat: Merging The Old With The New: Retro-Fitting Your Restaurant For Mobile Orders
Most restaurants were not designed to simultaneously accommodate both on-location dining, mobile ordering and the slew of delivery partners that have joined the fray. As the demand for these types of "experiences" explode, restaurants must adapt their existing locations, operations and processes quickly to accommodate this customer preference. While a full restaurant redesign would be ideal, the speed of change of customer preferences necessitates immediate action. This session will explore best practices for:
  • Integrating mobile orders into your on-site POS system to streamline food preparation, maximize efficiency, simplify fulfilment, and accurately predict demand 
  • Identifying existing areas of friction and inefficiency for in-store fulfilment of mobile orders
  • Designing fulfilment fixtures like shelving and cubbies to clearly delineate order collection processes for off-premise diners
  • Harnessing your existing understanding of your guests’ preferences and processes to adapt your restaurant without an expensive gut renovation or substantial redesign
  • How to drive loyalty and repeat visits from customers by holding onto your brand experience even with all these shortcuts in place
Gregory Zamfotis, Founder & CEO at Gregorys Coffee

Gregory Zamfotis

Founder & CEO
Gregorys Coffee

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

2:50 pm - 3:10 pm Presentation: Delighting Customers Starts with Employees:
Retailers have gone great lengths to evolve their customer experience through enhanced personalization, loyalty overhauls, grab-and-go and every omni-channel innovation in between. In the wake of this investment, store employees have been left with insufficient tools and substandard processes to do their job effectively – especially in a world of heightened customer expectations. Join Matt Sebek, Vice President of Digital at World Wide Technology, as he discusses how retailers can leverage the intersection of digital and physical insight to transform how they empower their store associates to make better in-store decisions and drive sales.

Learning Objectives:
•Apply human-centered exercises for customers AND employees
•Understand how to leverage available data to empower store associates.
•See how key retailers are putting this insight into action
Matthew Sebek, VP, Digital at World Wide Technology (WWT)

Matthew Sebek

VP, Digital
World Wide Technology (WWT)

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

3:10 pm - 3:40 pm Panel Discussion Remix: Too Expensive To Replace: Reducing Turnover In Restaurant Employees Through Enhanced Job Satisfaction
According to TDnK’s 2018 “Recruiting and Turnover Report,” the average annual turnover rate for fast-food restaurants in the United States is 150%, meaning 100% of the existing workforce plus half of new hires. This creates a need for constant hiring, which is a drain on resources and creates a customer experience issue as well, as it is no secret that  your employees’ satisfaction with their job has a trickle-down effect to your customers’ experience with your brand. This session will define techniques for:

  • Listening to employee feedback both for insights into what employees need as well as critical business intelligence that can only be learned on the “front lines” 
  • Offering flexibility in shift-swapping as well as learning formats to bolster employees’ sense of independence and freedom
  • Clearly defining expectations for specific roles and specific metrics for success so that employees can feel fulfilment in their roles and have assurance that they are being evaluated fairly
  • Creating a company culture that values employee experience at the same level as customer experience
Kim Dinsmoore, Vice President of Restaurant Operations at The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc.

Kim Dinsmoore

Vice President of Restaurant Operations
The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc.

Steve Rothenstein, Senior Director of Franchising at Dippin' Dots

Steve Rothenstein

Senior Director of Franchising
Dippin' Dots

Nicole DaCosta, Senior Manager, Learning & Development at Brinker International

Nicole DaCosta

Senior Manager, Learning & Development
Brinker International

Track B: Mobile And The Omni Experience

2:50 pm - 3:20 pm No Track B Session: Feel Free To Check Out Track A!
In order to execute an omnichannel strategy, you must align your channels for seamless user experience. But this does not mean that all of the channels will function the same way; just that they must function in a way that creates a consistent brand engagement experience. This session will explore:

  • Understanding which channels your customers prefer for discovering, ordering, or having orders fulfilled 
  • Optimizing each of your channels for the specific functions that your customers prefer them for
  • Ensuring consistency of item availability by customizing specific menu options for different locations and ensuring that your POS is engineered to process orders accordingly
  • Creating a seamless experience that makes the most of each of your unique channels by acknowledging their individual strengths, weaknesses, and potentials
  • Harnessing the power of your brand’s existing identity and customer loyalty to unify brand experiences
Dan Simpson, CEO at Taziki’s Mediteranean Café

Dan Simpson

Taziki’s Mediteranean Café

Eric Rosenzweig, Vice President – Information Technology at Qdoba Mexican Eats

Eric Rosenzweig

Vice President – Information Technology
Qdoba Mexican Eats

Rashpal Ahluwalia, Director of Technology at Earls Kitchen + Bar

Rashpal Ahluwalia

Director of Technology
Earls Kitchen + Bar

Alan Paul, Co-Founder, Head of Strategy & BD at CardFree

Alan Paul

Co-Founder, Head of Strategy & BD

3:40 pm - 4:25 pm Afternoon Networking & Refreshment Break

Refuel and refresh during our afternoon networking break in the Innovation Lab! We will have beverages and snacks to graze on as you check out the awesome solutions and technologies offered by our awesome partners.

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

4:25 pm - 4:30 pm Bite Sized Advice Help Huddle: If You Were On The Front Lines Of Your Restaurant, Which Employee 'Perks' Would Be Most Important To You?
You’ll put yourself in your employee’s shoes during this five minute roundtable exercise. This mini-session is done in your seat / roundtable. 

Track B: Mobile And The Omni Experience

4:25 pm - 4:30 pm Bite Sized Advice Help Huddle: What Are The Best Restaurant Apps On Your Phone And Why?
Take a look at the mobile restaurant experience and work through app challenges with your peers. This mini-session is done in your seat / roundtable. 

Interactive Campfire Chats & Problem Solving Sessions – For Restaurant Executives Only

4:25 pm - 5:30 pm Collaborative Problem-Solving Session: Tech-Enabled Farming & The Future Of Food
Our host will kick off the session by posing three questions to the roundtable participants.  They then work in groups of two to solve those problems.  The facilitator walks around to each group of two, helping them with their solutions. At the end the session, they can present back to the entire group with their solutions
Dan Simpson, CEO at Taziki’s Mediteranean Café

Dan Simpson

Taziki’s Mediteranean Café

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

4:30 pm - 5:00 pm Presentation: Hungry For More: How To Build More Units And Expand Your Business
Expanding into new markets and adding more locations to your business is an important way to develop your brand’s identity and drive revenue. But how do you go about expanding your footprint without overextending yourself? This session will explore:
  • Emerging trends in retail formats that can be used in your expansion efforts
  • Utilizing food halls, pop-ups, and collaborations with other brands to test new ideas before putting down roots in a city or neighborhood (and disentangling yourself when these partnerships conclude)
  • Developing a business model that fosters growth for your organization
  • Growing your company’s footprint while  maintaining control over your brand image
Jeff Fenster, Founder & CEO at Everbowl

Jeff Fenster

Founder & CEO

Track A: Employee Engagement And Optimized Operations

5:00 pm - 5:30 pm Lighting Round Panel: From Soup To Nuts: Tailoring Operations To Fit The Physical Journey In Your Restaurants
As the preferences and habits of today’s customers change, both the physical flow and operations of your restaurants must change to keep pace with them. This session will explore steps you can take to tailor your operations create a more seamless and enjoyable path to purchase in your restaurants, including:

  • Physically segmenting separate employee operations for dine-in and carry-out customers to ensure personalized service that is optimized for every type of fulfilment
  • Harnessing the power of self-serve kiosks as a time-saving solution for customers to increase efficiency
  • Harnessing an understanding of typical guest turnover times for seated dining experiences to accurately plan reservations, organize wait lists, and meet customer expectations around speed of service
  • Reimagining your operations to optimize efficiency, minimize congestion and confusion, improve experience, and drive repeat visits
Ryan Nowicki, Senior Director of Operations Excellence & Strategic Initiatives at Dave & Buster’s

Ryan Nowicki

Senior Director of Operations Excellence & Strategic Initiatives
Dave & Buster’s

Steve Felson, EVP, Business Operations at BurgerFi

Steve Felson

EVP, Business Operations

Track B: Mobile And The Omni Experience

4:30 pm - 5:00 pm Fireside Chat Remix: Driving Loyalty Through Your Mobile App: Keep Your Customers Coming Back
Restaurant mobile apps are a dime a dozen and it can be difficult to incentivize consumers to download your app, let alone use it regularly. However, loyalty programs offer a unique opportunity to incentivize app usage through programs that offers exclusive perks and promotions to mobile app users. This session will explore best practices for driving mobile app engagement by:

  • Offering app-only exclusive loyalty benefits like free items and extra points to bolster app engagement 
  • Collecting and utilizing data on what time your customer orders, which locations they frequent, which items they prefer and how often they visit to customize their mobile app experience 
  • Determining the level of personalization customers want for an experience that is tailored but not creepy
  • Personalizing app features based on your consumer’s location, past orders, loyalty program engagement to create a unique experience for users
Rick Stanbridge, EVP / Chief Information Officer at Marco's Franchising, LLC

Rick Stanbridge

EVP / Chief Information Officer
Marco's Franchising, LLC

Track B: Mobile And The Omni Experience

5:00 pm - 5:30 pm Case Study: Meet Them Where They Are: Using Location Data To Create Personalized Experiences
Location services within your mobile app can provide you with a plethora of data
regarding where your customer goes and when. In the case of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, this opens a window of opportunity to provide better and more personalized customer experiences. This session will explore how location data can be used to understand who your customer is and what they want so that you can personalize their experience accordingly. Sean will cover:

  • Offering GPS-enabled directions to your nearby restaurant locations
  • Harnessing an understanding of the competitive landscape in which your customer works or lives to directly compete with other restaurants in the area
  • Aggregating customer preferences based on location to make for location-optimized environments and a truly personalized and thoughtful brand experience
Sean Thompson, IT Director at Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

Sean Thompson

IT Director
Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers

5:30 pm - 6:30 pm Future Restaurants Reception

Take a moment to unwind at our welcome reception. You’ll get a chance to mix and mingle with fellow attendees and speakers and celebrate the end of a full day of learning.

6:30 pm - 6:30 pm Conclusion Of Day One