2020 Restaurant Executive Conference
Innovation, Disruption, Reinvention
Sam Fox, Fox Restaurant Concepts & Co-Founder, True Food Kitchen
Sam’s intense love of the restaurant business has him leaving his fingerprints across each restaurant he opens. Each and every menu item goes through a tasting with Sam. That cool plumbing fixture at Blanco in San Diego? Sam picked it. The dripping paint mural at all the Flower Child restaurants? Yup, Sam, too. The creative visionary has earned some well-deserved street cred as a trendspotter and one of the most intuitive minds in the industry. He is known for popularizing the kale salad (#sorrynotsorry) and is recognized as one of the first to succeed in healthy dining with concepts that are thriving from coast to coast. He has been profiled by numerous media outlets, including Forbes, CBS News and CNBC.
Sam generously gives back to the communities his restaurants serve through FRC’s charitable arm: Feed the Soul and the Fox Family Foundation. And in his spare time, Sam enjoys travelling with his wife and children, sipping on various libations and thinking up new concepts. (See for yourself on his Instagram.)
Chad Houser, Founder, CEO & Executive Chef, Café Momentum
Always one to add a little levity to the conversation, Chad often describes Café Momentum as “taking kids out of jail and teaching them to play with knives and fire.” But levity aside, it’s this charisma and passion to teach life, social and employment skills to Dallas’ most at-risk youth that makes Houser a hit with everyone from philanthropists and dinner-goers to the young people participating in the program. After 17 years as a chef, Chad sold his partnership of Parigi Restaurant to devote his full attention to the role of Executive Director of Café Momentum in 2012.
In the community, Chad has previously served as President of the board of directors for Dallas Farmers Market Friends and as Vice Chair of the El Centro Exes Association (Houser received his culinary training at El Centro) where is also a member of the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute “Hall of Fame.”
David Birzon’s love for the food industry began in 1989 when he started as an evening prep cook and baker at Paradise Bakery in Aspen, Colorado. David was surprised to find extraordinary joy in his position serving up homemade ice cream and cookies to Aspen locals. Together with the founders, David helped build the nationally known brand that proudly grew a strong culture and industry leading economics during his 23-year tenure.
After successfully selling Paradise Bakery to Panera Bread in 2007, David spent four years as a Senior Vice President at Panera and as President of the Paradise Bakery brand, where he was responsible for both company and franchised locations.
In 2011, David and his family moved to Carbondale, Colorado. He set out to find a restaurant business that “could change the world.” David heard about an innovative breakfast concept named Snooze and was immediately blown away by how differentiated and clever the concept was from anything he had seen before.
David became the CEO of Snooze in 2012 and was nicknamed “Old Major,” after the pig who leads all the other animals to revolution in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Under David’s leadership, Snooze has grown to more than 42 restaurants across 6 states, with over 2300 employees.
Menu Optimization Panel
The Science & Art of Menu Optimization: Menu decisions are no longer solely a culinary decision, they are business decisions increasingly driven by scientific methods
Your menu in the eyes of the consumer is your reason for being, and in an increasingly competitive marketplace, your key to profitability. With social media and big data, menu optimization in the 21st century is a much different discipline than the culinary driven processes of the past. Come hear this expert panel discuss how menu decisions require a careful blend of art and science, and have an impact on your entire organization.
Moderator: Mike Lukianoff, Data Science Entrepreneur
Robin Blanchette, CEO & President, Norton Creative LLC
Andrew Hunter, President, Chef Andrew Hunter
Stephanie Perdue, VP Marketing, Chipotle
Jayne Strickland, SVP, Fishbowl
Better For You Panel
Delighting Guests & Winning Loyalty: Serving Awesome Food for Personal and Planet Health
Like never before, restaurant guests have adopted varying types of “eating styles” – from vegan, vegetarian, keto, gluten-free, dairy-free, macro-focused, planet health-focused, and more. These forward-thinking CEOs will share rich insights into how they look at aligning their menus and marketing with guests’ health, wellness, and environmentally conscious values. The panel will also give a sneak peek at how they see the trends, their guests, and their brand evolving in the next 5 years.
Moderator: Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, CEO, Healthy Dining
Christine Barone – CEO, True Foods Kitchen
Steve Paperno, CEO & Founder, Sharky’s
TK Pillan – Executive Chairman, Veggie Grill
Ghost Kitchen/Virtual Restaurant Panel
The Off Premise Boom: How Ghosts Kitchens are Changing the Way Restaurant Operators Think About Growth
The rise of delivery has forced restaurants to rethink how they manage their off-premise business, creating an entirely new category of restaurant growth in the form of shared kitchen space that is fulfilling delivery orders across the country. Hear from industry leader Kitchen United, along with fast growing brand Dog Haus to hear how the off-premise kitchen model is changing the way brands adapt their order ahead, real estate and expansion strategies.
Moderator: Liz DiTrapano, Senior Vice President, ICR
Joy Lai, CMO, Kitchen United
Mott Smith, CEO & Co-Owner, Amped Kitchens
Hot Concepts Panel
Moderator: Fred LeFranc, Managing Partner, Results Thru Strategy
Clay Dover, CEO & Taco Maker, Velvet Taco
Kevin Miles, CEO, Mendocino Farms
Sam Polk, CEO & Founder, Everytable
Steve Schulze, CEO & President, Nékter Juice Bar
Operators’ Tools Panel
Moderator: Scott Nicholson, VP Operations, The Veggie Grill
Mary Hamill, VP of Solutions Engineering, HotSchedules
Rom Krupp, CEO & Founder, Marketing Vitals
Adam Leff, CSO & Co-Founder, Merchant Centric
Marketing Speaker – Big Data
Mike Hanssens, Distinguished Research Professor of Marketing, UCLA Anderson School of Management
Meghaan Blauvelt, Founder, BlueFields Consulting