Hundreds of the nation’s top restaurant owners, managers, investors, lenders and advisors will descend on Los Angeles tomorrow, for the 15th Annual Restaurant Industry Conference to hear current and upcoming economic trends, learn from the brands that successfully emerged from a recession, understand the latest in winning store designs, discover how to lure millennial customers to the door, and more.
The conference, sponsored by UCLA Extension, will feature revealing observations by Julia Stewart, chairman and CEO of DineEquity, who will talk about the focus, fundamentals, and financial strategies necessary for any restaurant owner to successfully navigate a recession; and by Adam Tihany, widely regarded as an unsurpassed hospitality designer for world brands.
“The next great trend typically emerges from the West Coast and this conference routinely offers the earliest glimpse into what’s ahead for restaurants across the country,” says Anna Graves, conference chair and co-leader of the Restaurant, Food & Beverage Industry Group for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.
“We are pleased to present senior executives who are creating extraordinary success for their companies, one of the nation’s leading economists and other industry leaders whose areas of expertise are all critical ingredients.”
The conference takes place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel. It begins with two fact-filled sessions. Following Stewart’s presentation will be Edward Leamer, a world-class economist and author of the highly acclaimed UCLA Anderson Business Forecast each year. Leamer will provide insights and direction on what 2011 will hold—and explain how restaurant operators might best prepare for it.
Another highlight of the conference will be the presentation of the 2011 Innovation Award to José Andrés, chef and owner of the ThinkFoodGroup and also a Top Chef finalist in this year’s James Beard Foundation awards.
One intriguing session will include young employees from major restaurant chains and a 17-year-old restaurant entrepreneur discussing “How to establish a work ethic in a world that fights against it.” This session will examine difficulties restaurant managers are experiencing in motivating young employees who seem to lack a strong desire to work. Matt Smith, president of The A Game will moderate the session, which will also feature teenage catering sensation Tanner O’Dell.
Other sessions include a “State of the Industry” panel discussion featuring Ron Paul, president, Technomic, Inc., and Nicole Miller Regan, senior research analyst, Piper Jaffray, followed by breakout sessions discussing how to instill work ethics in younger workers and key issues in franchising.
The afternoon session includes a panel offering the latest thinking about acquiring capital and insights into financial restructuring. The speakers are: Gene Baldwin, CRG Partners; Kevin Burke, managing director, Trinity Capital; Bill Taves, CFO, Claim Jumper Restaurants; and H. G. (“Carey”) Carrington Jr., CFO, Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Rod Guinn, operating partner of FocalPoint Partners LLC.
The final panel focuses on emerging concepts, featuring CEOs of companies that sustained significant growth during the recession and continue to outperform their competitors. These include Greg Dollarhyde, executive chairman of Zoë’s Kitchen and president and CEO of Veggie Grill, and Dave Prokupek, chairman and CEO of Smashburger. Wallace Doolin, chairman, People Report & Black Box Intelligence, will moderate this session.