OCTOBER 25, 2017

12:00 – 5:00 pm

The Willard InterContinental


1:00 – 1:30 pm

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Roundtable Sessions 1


Privacy & Data Security: Talking About What Ails You
Table #1

Website data, rewards programs, credit card compliance, point of sale data, digital advertising and more. And, unlike fine wine, these problems don’t get better with age.

Moderator:  Christin McMeley, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Washington, D.C. | Discussion Facilitators: William Hellmuth and Alexander Reynolds, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

To Label or Not to Label? Walking the Information Disclosure Line between Helpful and TMI
Table #2

Consumers are demanding more information about the foods they consume, and restaurants are no exception. The trick is finding the sweet spot between providing enough information to help the consumer make informed eating decisions and overwhelming the consumer with no helpful information (at the cost of restaurant’s regulatory compliance budget). Restaurants that voluntarily provide additional information about the foods they serve also walk this line. Where is that line? How much information is enough? What information do consumers want or need to have to make informed eating decisions? Join this session to share your candid and unfiltered opinions about the current state of labeling efforts and what we should do with them.

Moderator: Chip English, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Washington, D.C. | Discussion Facilitator: Zach Korte, Food Safety Quality Engineer, CAVA, Washington, D.C.

Navigating Tied House Laws for Investors
Table #3

Laws generally prohibit simultaneous ownership of a retailer (i.e., a restaurant group) and a manufacturer (i.e., a maker of beer, wine or spirits) which can wreak havoc on an investment strategy. Session focuses on strategies to avoid tied house issues and structural considerations when an issue is presented.

Moderator: Jesse Lyon, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitator: Vann Russell, Founder & Managing Director, Arlington Capital Management, Birmingham, AL

Operations: Driving Value from Upstream
Table #4

Supplier engagement strategies. Safe and reliable supply chains are critical. Meet with restaurant and supply chain experts to discuss how you can drive more value, operate safely and save money with supplier engagement efforts.

Moderators: Kurt Schnaubelt, Managing Director, AlixPartners, Dallas, TX | Molly Harnischfeger, Director, AlixPartners, New York, NY

What to Expect from the Leasing Market in 2018
Table #5

Despite concerns of market saturation and rent pressures, 2017 has generally seen high demand for restaurants and steady, if not higher, rents. With operating costs impacting margins in many parts of the country, among other economic trends, join this session to discuss perspectives on what’s in store for 2018.

Moderators: Michael Zahn, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Kyle Kavanaugh, President, Main and Main, Santa Monica, CA

High Rolling/Navigating Restaurant Development in Casinos and Hotels
Table #6

Casinos and hotels often produce some of the highest volume and most profitable restaurants in the United States. The session focuses on how to get positioned for casino and hotel restaurant operations through leases, licenses and/or management agreements.

Moderator: Matt LeMaster, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA | Discussion Facilitators: Thomas Lynn, Corporate Counsel, Hospitality Development, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas, NV | Bashar Wali, President, Provenance Hotel Group, Portland, OR | Octavio Mantilla, Co-Owner, Besh Restaurant Group, New Orleans, LA | Bill Freeman, CEO, Mina Group, San Francisco, CA

The Franchised Restaurant Market: What’s Hot in M&A and Franchising
Table #7

2017 has seen continuing private equity activity in franchisors and franchisees alike. What brands and segments will sizzle or fizzle in 2018? Who will see the most M&A activity? Whose best days are behind or ahead? Join a candid discussion about what to expect in 2018. 

Moderators:  Sarah Tune, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA | Cindy McLoughlin, Partner, CohnReznick, New York, NY | Discussion Facilitators: Matt Perelman, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Garnett Station Partners, Bartlett, TN | Alex Sloane, Managing Partner, Garnett Station Partners, Bartlett, TN | Jay Takefman, Partner, Quilvest Private Equity, New York, NY

Learnings from San Francisco
Table #8

San Francisco is one of our nation’s most dynamic food cities and has also become one its most heavily regulated. Join some of San Francisco’s leading restaurateur to discuss how they have adapted and evolved to be successful in a challenging market.

Moderator: Aaron Colby, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Los Angeles, CA | Discussion Facilitators: Adriano Paganini, Owner-Restauranteur, Back of the House Inc., San Francisco, CA | Annie Stoll, Co-Owner, Delfina, San Francisco, CA | Peter Yen, Founder & Chief Executive Roller, Sushirrito, San Francisco, CA | Anjan & Emily Mitra, President & CEO, DOSA, San Francisco, CA | Andy Mercy, Dabba CEO, Tam Brands LLC, San Francisco, CA | David & Leslie Silverglide, Co-Founder/CEO, Mixt, San Francisco, CA

Going Public: Business and Legal Considerations Before Entering the Public Market
Table #9

The past few years have seen several initial public offerings from prominent emerging restaurant concepts, but it slowed down in 2017. Will the trend continue in 2018? Is it your time to consider preparing for a public offering? The session focuses on the prospective outlook for 2018 along with business and legal considerations when undertaking an initial public offering.

Moderator: Andrew Schultheis, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA | Discussion FacilitatorsChris O’Cull, Managing Director-Equity Research, Stifel, Brentwood, TN| Damon Chandik, Managing Director, Piper Jaffray, San Francisco, CA | Russ Bendel, CEO, The Habit Burger Grill, Irvine, CA Norman Abdallah, CEO, Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Southlake, TX

Piper Jaffray Industry Benchmark Report with Nicole Miller Regan
Table #10

Navigating the Delivery Channel
Holmes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Find out how the market has grown, what different strategies various restaurant concepts have taken, and what top tips to consider when negotiating with delivery partners to make it a profitable add-on service to your restaurant brand.

Moderator: Joel Davis, Chief Strategy Officer, Revenue Management Solutions, Tampa, FL

How to Attract and Retain Key Employees: Employee Equity and Non-Equity Incentives, Strategies, and Best Practices
Hughes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Stock options, profits interests, phantom equity, profit-sharing, long-term bonus programs and other programs can lure top talent and keep them on board for the long haul. Discuss the differences and alternatives between the different approaches.

Moderators: Stephanie O’Rourk, Partner, CohnReznick, Atlanta, GA | Amy Hwang, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA | Rodney Morris, Senior Vice President, Elliot Associates, San Francisco, CA

1:35 – 2:05 pm

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Roundtable Sessions 2


What Role Should (and Can) the Government Play in Determining What We Eat and Drink?
Table #1

Legislative efforts to shape our food system, such as fast food bans, “soda taxes,” local menu labeling, and nutritional criteria for public schools, have increased tremendously in recent years. Proponents argue that these efforts have improved the health of consumers in the battle against obesity and poor nutrition, while critics argue they have failed to make a significant impact. In a country with such a complex food system and competing goals, discussion focuses on what role the government should (and can) play in shaping what we eat in light of these problems.

Moderator: Alli Condra, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitator: Ona Balkus, Legislative Counsel in the D.C. Council Committee on Transportation and the Environment, Washington, D.C.

The Pitfalls of Financial Diligence: Things to Be Aware of that Impact Valuations
Table #2

Valuation never goes up because of due diligence. Today, most bankers require Sell Side Diligence before going to market. It’s never too soon to prepare and here you will learn about what speed bumps you can avoid that can derail or slow a deal as well as how to present the company to increase valuation.

Moderator: Claudine Cohen, Principal, CohnReznick LLP, New York, NY | Discussion Facilitator: Peter J. Mavrovitis, Head of Strategic Investments, Union Square Hospitality Group, New York, NY

Combating Branding Thieves, Infringers, and Copycats
Table #3

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to misappropriation of trade secrets and infringement of trademarks it is more akin to battery. Join fellow leaders to discuss how to deal with copycats, infringers, and others who dare trade off your good will and hard work.

Moderator: Sheila Fox Morrison, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR

The Future of the Restaurant Market in Washington, D.C.
Table #4

The nation’s capital has become a go-to destination for many of the most intriguing restaurant concepts around the United States. Join local leaders for questions and answers about one of America’s most compelling restaurant markets. Learn what’s next for the District, new developments on the horizon, and how you can be a part of the D.C. business landscape.

Moderators: Chad Shuskey, Vice President, Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership, Washington, D.C. | Emily Rasowsky, Director of Marketing, Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership, Washington, D.C.

Building the Board: Tips for Attracting and Retaining Value-Add Advisors and Directors
Table #5

For any success-oriented business, a strong network of advisors/directors can make an indelible impact. Discuss strategies for attracting and incentivizing high-quality candidates along with market terms for participation.

Moderator: Laura Warf, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitators: Merle Waterman, CFO, The Kitchen & Next Door and American Eatery, Boulder, CO | Steve Schulze, CEO, Nekter Juice Bar, Newport Beach, CA | Dan Bonoff, Managing Director, Goode Partners, New York, NY | Blythe Jack, Managing Director, TSG Consumer Partners, San Francisco, CA

Branding Through Real Estate
Table #6

Join this session to discuss effective real estate strategies to ensure that your site-selection process enhances the value of your brand.

Moderators: Michael Zahn, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Kyle Kavanaugh, President, Main and Main, Santa Monica, CA

Tips and Traps when Raising Capital from Individuals and High-Net-Worth Investors
Table #7

A significant portion of restaurants are funded by equity investments from “friends and family” and/or angel investors. Session focuses on practical tips to help provide for a successful capital raise and the laws that govern such raises.

Moderator: Cliff DeGroot, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitators: Rob Cornog, CFO, Punch Bowl Social, Chicago, IL | Steven Hooper, CEO, Kigo Kitchen, Seattle, WA | Todd Fishman, CEO, Evergreens, Seattle, WA | Scott Case, Investment Advisor, Next World, San Francisco, CA | Jeff Brock, Founder & Managing Partner, Hargett Hunter, Raleigh, NC

Light Speed Evolution of Technology in QSR and Fast-Casual Concepts
Table #8

Necessity is the mother of invention, and with rising operating costs around the country, she’s given birth to more techno babies than John and Kate Gosselin. Remember them? From the front of the house to the back, the QSR and fast casual segments are seeing a heavy implementation of technology in and outside of the four walls. Join operators to discuss how technology is changing business, along with key takeaways from specific uses.

Moderator: Landes Taylor, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitators: Scott Rodrick, Multi-Unit McDonalds franchisee, San Francisco, CA | Meenakshi Nagarajan, Director, Digital Marketing, Dominos, Ann Arbor, MI| Aaron Noveshen, Founder & CEO, Starbird, San Francisco, CA | Chris Mahon, Office Managing Partner, CohnReznick LLP, Washington, D.C. | Seth Hall, Sales Director, Olo, Charlotte, NC

Private Equity for the Emerging Company: Getting Acclimated and Connected
Table #9

For many emerging-company leaders, “private equity” is a mysterious and often misunderstood term. In this session, join experienced private equity investors to discuss, among other things, how they identify and value companies, the types of terms upon which they invest, and general investment expectations.

Moderator: Riley Lagesen, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitators: Tony Owen, President, DOM Capital, Los Angeles, CA & Chicago, IL | Billy Logan, Partner, KarpReilly, Greenwich, CT | Josh Goldin, Founder, Alliance Consumer Growth, Los Angeles, CA | Adam Waglay, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Butterfly Equity, Beverly Hills, CA | John Goldasich, Director, Arlington Capital Advisors, Birmingham, AL

Scaling the Chef-Driven Restaurant Concept
Holmes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Demand for chef-driven restaurant concepts has never been higher, as consumers in nearly every generation are paying more attention and respect to the personalities behind the plate. With fresh and high-quality products and the need for skilled labor, chef-driven brands can be tricky to scale. Discuss how many chef-driven and expansion-minded brands are navigating their growth and development.

Moderators: Melanie Broome, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Ashley Brown, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA | Discussion Facilitators: Peter Merriman, Chef/Owner, Merriman’s Restaurant Group, Lahaina, HI | Toby Roberts, President, Pok Pok, Portland, OR | Martha Hoover, Founder & CEO, Patachou Inc., Indianapolis, IN

Casual Dining Built for Generations Y and Z
Hughes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Like rock ‘n’ roll, casual dining will never die. Although things may taste, look, and sound different, full-service operators are tapping into concepts that resonate with the millennials spending today, and the Gen Z’s who will be spending tomorrow.

Moderator: Robert Thompson, Founder & CEO, Punch Bowl Social, Denver, CO | Discussion Facilitators: Bryan Lockwood, CEO, Real Mex, Cypress, CA | Zak Melang, Co-Founder & CEO, Matador, Seattle, WA | Jeff Carcara, CEO, Barteca Restaurant Group, Norwalk, CT

2:10 – 2:40 pm

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Roundtable Sessions 3


Why LA: Doing Business in the City of Dreams
Table #1

Discuss the benefits of doing business in the City of Los Angeles and learn how the city of dreams is committed to supporting a vibrant restaurant industry.

Moderators: Mario Del Pero, Co-Founder & CEO, Mendocino Farms, Los Angeles, CA | Ellen Chen, Co-Founder & President, Mendocino Farms, Los Angeles, CA | Discussion Facilitators: Sumi Parekh, Executive Officer, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Los Angeles, CA | Alexis Lewis, Manager, Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, Los Angeles, CA

Navigating International Development
Table #2

The demand for U.S.-based brands is strong in many foreign countries, but successfully navigating international development requires considerable diligence and and local knowledge. Session focuses on strategies for successful evaluation and market entry.

Moderator: Rudy Suguetti, Senior VP of Global Development, California Pizza Kitchen, Los Angeles, CA | Discussion Facilitators: Jeff Kolton, Principal, Franchise Market Ventures, New York, NY | Kristin Houston, Senior International Trade Specialist, US Commercial Service, Newport Beach, CA | Dr. Sam Prince, Founder and Director, Zambrero, Sydney, Australia | Mark Friedman, Counsel to the Executive Chairman, Herbalife, Los Angeles, CA

Immigration Status and Foreign Workers: Risks, Rights, and Best Practices
Table #3

The new administration has brought a different approach to immigration, causing considerable concern among employers and employees alike. Ten months into the year, the impact of the new approach is being better understood. Join this discussion to discuss real-life experience with the administration’s approach to immigration issues and best practices for moving forward.

Moderators: Diane Butler and Michelle Salter, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA

The Current State of Tip Pooling: Tips and Traps
Table #4

With a Circuit Court split there is considerable confusion surrounding voluntary and mandatory tip pools. Join this important conversation to make sure that you are not putting your business at risk with a pooling policy that does not pass legal must.

Moderators: Janet Grumer, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Los Angeles, CA | Roy Salins, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, New York, NY

Playing the Haters: Effective Strategies for Dealing with Unduly Harsh and Fraudulent Reviews on Social Media
Table #5

You’ve been there, right? The Yelper claiming a nasty food-borne illness who you know never set foot in your restaurant, angry zero-star vitriol from a psychologically unbalanced hater who was turned away by a door host, the owner of the restaurant across the street posing to serve her own cause. You know the prospects of legal recourse or getting the site to take action are slim to none… so what to do? Join this session to share your most colorful “review” experiences and best strategies for getting things right.

Moderators: Melanie Broome and Erica Rosales, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitators: Frank Klein, CEO, Asian Box, Palo Alto, CA | Brad Rubin, Eleven City Diner, Chicago, IL

Running an Effective Financing or Sale Process
Table #6

Why do some brands command high valuations and successful outcomes while other, seemingly comparable brands generate tepid interest and/or deals that sputter and die on the vine? The planning and execution that goes into a sale or a financing process is often the difference between success and failure. Join leading bankers, investors, and brand leaders to share experiences and best practices on how to achieve a successful outcome and avoid pitfalls.

Moderator: Matt Kelly, Partner & Managing Director, North Point Advisors, San Francisco, CA | Discussion Facilitators: Mark Leavitt, Chief Investment Officer, Union Square Hospitality Group, New York, NY | Josh Goldin, Founder, Alliance Consumer Growth, New York City, NY

Flying High: How to Make It in the Airport Restaurant Space
Table #7

With sales per square foot often three times or more than equivalent street locations and a platform for major brand awareness, airports have become a highly sought-after destination for many restaurateurs. But the world of airport restaurant development is a unique, ever-evolving, and sometimes confounding and frustrating landscape. Meet with experts to answer all your questions about how to successfully navigate the airport space.

Moderator: Kirk Weiss, Vice President of Business Development, Areas USA, Miami, FL | Discussion Facilitators: Michael Levine, COO, Tastes on the Fly, San Mateo, CA | John Phillips, Vice President Franchising, The Habit Burger, Irvine, CA Casey Patten, Co-CEO, Taylor Gourmet, Washington, D.C.

Capitalization Tables, Liquidation Waterfalls, and Equity Financing Calculations
Table #8

Session will enable private equity professionals, CFOs, and bankers to sharpen critical skills and prepare for the negotiation and implementation of the next financing transaction.

Moderators: Landes Taylor, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Jay Sonner, Principal, North Point Advisors, San Francisco, CA

Creating a Culture for Loyal and Long-Term Employees
Table #9

Employee turnover is nearly every restaurant company’s most expensive and challenging problem. How do some brands consistently outperform the market in finding and retaining good people?

Moderators: Gillian Murphy, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Seattle, WA | Jeff Gillett, Executive Vice President, Elliot Associates, Atlanta, GA | Discussion Facilitators: Beth Bolyard Zemni, Director of HR, Joey Restaurant Group, Seattle, WA | Casey Milligan, Director of Operations, Salt & Straw, Portland, OR

Setting the Table for Success with Your Company Structure
Table #10

Is it better to be a LLC, a corporation, or an S-corp? Should you form an entity for each location? Should you take financing at the parent-company level or the restaurant level? What is the best structure for tax? How you decide these questions and others will have a material and long-lasting impact on your business. Each business is unique, and a well-thought-out plan will lead to best results. Discuss considerations with others.

Moderator: Knute Gregg, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, San Francisco, CA | Discussion Facilitators: Stephanie O’Rourk, Partner, CohnReznick, Atlanta, GA | Josh Siegel, Vice President of Business Operations, Momofuku, New York, NY

Early Data from the West Coast: The Impact of Wage Increases on Restaurateurs and Strategies to Address It
Holmes Room at The Willard InterContinental

After two years of aggressive wage hikes in California, Oregon, and Washington state, the impact on business is becoming quantifiable in multiple respects. Join West Coast-based operators for candid thoughts on how their businesses are being impacted and strategies for adaptation.

Moderator: Jenna Mooney, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Discussion Facilitators: Mark Kuperman, Chief Operating Officer, Revenue Management Solutions, Tampa, FL | Kurt Huffman, Founder & CEO, ChefStable Group, Portland, OR | Walter Schild, Founder & CEO, Culinary Lab, Los Angeles, CA | Ian Brousseau, CFO, Matador, Seattle, WA

Evaluating Entry into a New Market
Hughes Room at The Willard InterContinental

For growth-minded brands, the successful entry into multiple geographic markets is integral to the success of the brand. Brand leaders share best practices on evaluating new markets and tips for mitigating risk and ensuring successful entry.

Moderator: Gary Levy, Partner, CohnReznick LLP, New York, NY | Discussion Facilitators: Nick Marsh, CEO, Chop’t Creative Salad Co., New York, NY | Steve Schulze, Nekter Juice Bar, Irvine, CA | Oliver and Leo Kremer, Co-CEOs, Dos Toros Taqueria, New York, NY

2:50 – 3:30 pm

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Real Food for Everyone

Many people knock Silicon Valley for pushing scale at all costs. They have a point because it’s not scale that matters; it’s what you scale. Kimbal Musk, one of the world’s most recognized social entrepreneurs and co-founder of The Kitchen, believes that we should scale things that make life worth living, not just more efficient. For Kimbal, that means scaling real food because everyone has a right to a long, fulfilling life full of joy.

After several successful years scaling and selling technology companies, Kimbal got off the proverbial hamster wheel that is Silicon Valley to pursue his passion for food. While real food is an incredible source of joy, it has only been accessible to wealthy elites. This is not OK. If real food nourishes our bodies, builds our local economies, and helps create the relationships that make life longer and more meaningful, shouldn’t everybody be able to get that? After a life-threatening accident, Kimbal left the tech world to dedicate his life to pursue an America where everyone has access to real food.

ModeratorKimbal Musk, Co-Founder, The Kitchen, Denver, CO

3:35 – 4:15 pm

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

New Guard Restaurateurs and Restaurant Trends

Enjoy a scintillating session with Damian Mogavero, author of The Underground Culinary Tour: How the New Metrics of Today’s Top Restaurants Are Transforming How America Eats.

ModeratorDamian Mogavero, CEO & Founder at DM Ventures and Founder & Former CEO of Avero, New York, NY

4:20 – 5:00 pm

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Iconic Restaurants of America

What does it take to build a brand that stands the test of time? Join a panel of operators of iconic brands from around the United States as they share their perspectives and experiences.

Moderator: Gerard Centioli, Founder, President & CEO, ICON INC, Seattle, WA | Discussion Facilitators: Theodore Suric, General Manager, ‘21’ Club, New York, NY (est. 1930) | Richard Ciota, Managing Partner, Gene & Georgetti, Chicago, IL (est. 1941) | Mark Echeverria, COO/CFO/Proprietor, The Musso & Frank Grill, Hollywood, CA (est. 1919) | David Moran, Area Director of Operations, Clyde’s Restaurant Group, Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington, D.C. (est. 1856)

7:00 pm

The Hamilton Live

“Break Bread” at The Elliot Awards

Celebrate and “Break Bread” at The Elliot Awards as we honor the legends, entrepreneurs, and mentors who make an indelible impact on our industry.

OCTOBER 26, 2017

7:45 – 9:05 am

The Hamilton Live


Come grab a bite between the early sessions, which are held at The Willard InterContinental located right across the street.

7:45 – 8:20 am

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Food Transparency in the Age of Alternate Facts and Fake News

Farm to table, sustainable, local, cage-free, grass-fed, etc. In an age of alternate facts and fake news, what do these words mean, and do they even matter in 2017 and beyond? Sara Brito, Co-Founder of Good Food Media Network (formerly of The Kitchen, The Kitchen Community), shows food professionals how transparency is the only way forward and will change the way restaurants and food service business are viewed and valued. Come see why 90 big-name restaurants from across the country – from fast casual (Tender Greens) to fine dining (The Kitchen) to food service (CU Boulder) – are making the commitment to transparency, and what that means for your business and impact on the good food economy, including findings from 2017 Economic Assessment conducted by the Business Research Division at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder.

ModeratorSara Brito, Co-Founder, Good Food Media Network, Denver, CO

8:25 – 9:05 am

Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

What to Expect from Generation Z?

With an estimated spending power of $44 billion, Generation Z (those born in the mid-1990s to the late 2000s) is an emerging and influential class whose size and economic opportunity is expected to dwarf that of the millennials. Join this forward-looking session to understand what to expect from this diverse and dynamic class of consumers.

Moderator: Scott Finlow, Vice President, Innovation & Insights Foodservice, PepsiCo, Purchase, NY

9:15 – 9:55 am

The Hamilton Live

Restaurant High Kickoff

From a small town off the beaten path in central Oregon, he rewrote the record books around the globe. Share an inspirational and insightful conversation with two-time Olympic gold medalist and world record-holding decathlete, Ashton Eaton, Restaurant High 2017 Honorary Principal.

10:05 – 10:40 am



Managing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Brandeis Room at The Willard InterContinental

As demonstrated by recent events, inappropriate work-related interactions can create a negative working atmosphere and lead to significant consequences for businesses and individuals alike. Join this session to discuss what interactions create risk and how to maintain a workplace culture free of sexual harassment and liability.

Moderators: Janet Grumer, Aaron Colby, and Roy Salins, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Demand-Based Pricing: How Not to Leave Profit on the Table
Stone Room at The Willard InterContinental

When margin pressures are largely driven by escalating minimum wages and rent increases, menu pricing can be a daunting topic for hospitality concepts. But with the right strategy and tools it doesn’t have to be. A carefully designed localized pricing approach will ensure your business reaches maximized profits without eroding traffic.

Moderator: Mark Kuperman, Chief Operating Officer, Revenue Management Solutions, Tampa, FL 

Where Technology is Taking Us
Holmes Room at The Willard InterContinental

You think technology is making an impact on the restaurant industry today? Wait until you see tomorrow. Learn how brands are successfully implementing technology in this thought-provoking and forward-looking session.

Moderator: Aaron Noveshen, The Culinary Edge/Starbird, San Francisco, CA | Panelists: Meenakshi Nagarajan, Director of Digital Marketing, Domino’s, Ann Arbor, MI | Josh Patchus, Chief Data Scientist, CAVA, Washington, DC | Will Pacio, CEO/Co-Founder, Pared and Founder, Spice Kit Restaurants, San Francisco, CA 

The Private Investment Market for Restaurants in 2018: Where Are We going?
Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

2017 has seen significant private investment activity but a mixed bag of valuations and results. What types of deals should we expect next year? What types of concepts will command big valuations? A panel of experts discusses what is in store for 2018.

Moderators: Matt Kelly, Partner & Managing Director, North Point Advisors, San Francisco, CA | Damon Chandik, Managing Director, Piper Jaffray, San Francisco, CA | Panelists: Jon Owsley, Managing Partner, L Catterton, Greenwich, CT | Andy Crawford, Managing Director, General Atlantic, New York, NY | Jeff Mills, Managing Partner, Main Post Partners, San Francisco, CA | Jacob Organek, Partner, Rosser Capital Partners, Greenwich, CT

State of the U.S. Restaurant Industry: Consumer Perceptions and Trends
Hughes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Moderator: Kurt Schnaubelt, Managing Director, AlixPartners, Dallas, TX

Building and Maintaining a Powerhouse Brand
The Hamilton Live

It is said that brand-building is a deliberate and strategic effort to create a desired perception in someone else’s mind, and in the competitive restaurant world a brand strategy is essential.  Join a panel of distinguished brand-builders to hear their thoughts and strategies on how to build a lasting identity with the consumer.

Moderator: Sheila Fox Morrison, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Panelists: Larry Kurzweil, CEO, Lemonade Restaurant Group, Culver City, CA | Nikki Rappaport, Director of Brand & Innovation, CAVA, Washington, D.C. | Joe Essa, CEO, Wolfgang Puck, Los Angeles, CA |Kevin Brown, President & CEO, Lettuce Entertain You, Chicago, IL

10:45 – 11:25 am



Building Successful Relationships with Farmers
Stone Room at The Willard InterContinental

“Farm to Fork” is here to stay, but can the strategy/philosophy be successfully integrated into growth and large concepts with multimarket operations?

Moderator: Alli Condra, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Panelists: Pamela Hess, Executive Director, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, Washington, D.C. | Bennett Haynes, Chief of Produce, Beefsteak Veggies, Washington, D.C. | Tucker Pforzheimer, Managing Partner, MV Mycological, Chilmark, MA | Dan Simons, Owner, Farmers Restaurant Group, Kensington, MD

Taste and Performance: How Good Food Is the Key to a Better You
Brandeis Room at The Willard InterContinental

Getting to the Olympic podium in two of the most difficult events in all of sport, the decathlon and the heptathlon, takes tremendous training and making informed and smart food choices. But to Brianne and Ashton, smart and informed means flavorful, creative, and delicious. Meet our distinguished medalists and learn about how their passion for good food fuels them as they embark on their post-Olympic adventures.

ModeratorsBrianne Theisen-Eaton, Olympic Heptathlon Bronze Medalist & Passionate Lover of Good Food | Ashton Eaton, Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist & World Record-Holding Decathlete

The Impact of Forward-Thinking Women on the Restaurant Industry
The Hamilton Live

The restaurant industry of today and tomorrow is and will be influenced more than ever by female entrepreneurs and leaders. Panel discussion features high-impact female restaurateurs/business leaders who share thoughts on the challenges and opportunities.

Moderator: Kerry Diamond, Cherry Bombe, Brooklyn, NY | Panelists: Kim Malek, Founder & CEO, Salt & Straw, Portland, OR | Erin Patinkin, Co-Founder & CEO, Ovenly, Brooklyn, NY | Lina O’Connor, CFO, Tender Greens, Culver City, CA | Christina Tosi, Founder & Owner, Milk Bar, Brooklyn, NY

The Future of the American Mall and Lifestyle Center for Restaurants: Doom or Boom?
Holmes Room at The Willard InterContinental

According to some, American malls and lifestyle centers are facing impending doom, driven largely by Amazon and other delivery/technology companies. While the demise of certain retailers gives pause for concern, many restaurateurs are cautiously optimistic about their future in malls and lifestyle centers. Join a panel of experts for perspectives on the future of restaurants in American malls and lifestyle centers.

Moderator: Kyle Kavanagh, President, Main and Main, Santa Monica, CA | Panelists: Suk Sing, Chief Development Officer, Bloomin’ Brands Inc., Tampa, FL | Chris Schlueter, Vice President of Real Estate, The Habit Burger Grill, Irvine, CA | Jason Berry, Founder, KNEAD Hospitality + Design LLC, Washington, D.C.

Leading and Building Productive Teams for the Emerging Brand
Hughes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Attracting and retaining experienced and high-quality talent is a big challenge for any business, especially an emerging restaurant concept. Leaders share their perspective on successes and challenges they have faced in building teams for growth.

Moderator: Alice Elliot, CEO, The Elliot Group, Tarrytown, NY | Panelists: Barry McGowan, President, Fogo de Chao, Dallas, TX | Alexis Schulze, Co-Founder & Chief Visionary Officer, Nekter Juice Bar, Santa Ana, CA | Alan Jackson, Founder & Chairman, Lemonade Restaurant Group, Culver City, CA | Lauren Bailey, Founder & CEO, Upward Projects, Scottsdale, AZ

Keeping a Thriving Brand Culture While Managing Investor Expectations
Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Balancing brand integrity and culture with investor expectations is no easy task in the restaurant business. Whether the company is public or private, investor expectations put demands on leadership, and investors face significant pressures as well. Leaders share perspective on how they have navigated challenges while keeping culture and brand DNA intact.

Moderators: Chris O’Cull, Managing Director-Equity Research, Stifel, Brentwood, TN | Vann Russell, Founder & Managing Director, Arlington Capital Advisors, Birmingham, AL | Panelists: Andy Crawford, Managing Director, General Atlantic, New York, NY | Nick Reader, CEO, PDQ, Town N Country, FL | Karen Kenworthy, Partner, Stripes Group, New York, NY | Kevin Miles, President & CEO, Zoe’s Kitchen, Plano, TX | Chris Reilly, Co-Founder, KarpReilly, Greenwich, CT

11:30 am – 12:10 pm



Preparing for the Big One: How to Survive a Major Food Safety Incident (or a Smaller One, too)
Brandeis Room at The Willard InterContinental

It goes without saying that a food safety incident, no matter how small, can wreak havoc on a restaurant’s reputation and business, despite the fact that most food safety incidents originate in the supply chain. Session focuses on steps that restaurateurs can take to protect against a food safety incident and response preparedness when one occurs.

Moderator: David Ernst, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Portland, OR | Panelist:  Brent Reagor, Area Manager, Ecolab, Charleston, SC

Increasing Transparency in the Supply Chain
Stone Room at The Willard InterContinental

Farm-to-table movements illustrate consumers’ desire to know where their food comes from. The importance of supply-chain transparency goes beyond that to issues such as food safety and economically motivated fraud. Achieving that level of transparency throughout the supply chain, however, can be a challenge. What policy changes are required to improve transparency in the food chain? What can restaurateurs do to increase transparency in their own supply chains?

Moderator: Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, D.C. | Panelist: Erik Oberholtzer, Co-Founder & CEO, Tender Greens, Culver City, CA | Merle Waterman, CFO, The Kitchen & Next Door and American Eatery, Boulder, CO | T.J. Callahan, Founder & Owner, Farmheads, Chicago, IL | Dr. L. Timothy Ryan, President, The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of a Qualitative Standard for “Good Food”
Hughes Room at The Willard InterContinental

If Americans can agree upon one thing, it is that distinguishing between what foods are “good” for them and those that are not can be an impossible undertaking. With deeply ingrained traditional dining habits, powerful advertising and food lobbying forces, and selective menu-labeling regulations, we’re faced with a hot mess of confusing and often contradictory information. Join some of the most thought-provoking food minds in the country for a lively discussion to explore whether we can—or should— have a qualitative definition for “Good Food.”

Moderator: Adam Schlegel, Consiglieri, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, Denver, CO | Panelists: Sara Brito, Co-Founder, Good Food 100, Denver, CO | Andy Pforzheimer, CEO, Barteca Restaurant Group | Stephen Goldmann, Principal, The Culinary Edge, San Francisco, CA | Katherine Miller, Executive Director, James Beard Foundation

Navigating Nontraditional Development
Holmes Room at The Willard InterContinental

Nontraditional venues, such as airports, casinos, college campuses, sports arenas, travel centers, and military bases, can present intriguing development opportunities for many brands. That said, the world of nontraditional development is competitive and complex and can baffle and frustrate the uninformed. Concerns about operational integrity; lengthy, competitive, and politically influenced RFPs or the like; and a brand’s ability to support nontraditional expansion are issues a brand must face when entering the nontraditional development world.

Moderator: Kirk Weiss, Vice President of Business Development, Areas USA, Miami, FL | Panelists: Paul Damico, CEO, Naf Naf Grill, Chicago, IL | Paul Ballard, Owner, Ballard Brands, New Orleans, LA | Javier Malespin, Managing Partner, Blue Stone Management, Los Angeles, CA

Built to Scale
Crystal Room at The Willard InterContinental

Join this session with seasoned professionals to discuss lessons learned when growing a concept to scale, including entry into new markets, financing strategies, and other topics.

Moderator: Dan Smith, Elliot Advantage, Austin, TX | Panelists: David Birzon, Chief Executive Officer, Snooze, an AM Eatery, Denver, CO | Alex Munoz Suarez, President, Momofuku, New York, NY Jeff Chandler, CEO, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Austin, TX | Tim McEnery, CEO, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant, Chicago, IL

12:15 pm

The Hamilton Live

Lunch and Sessions

12:30 – 1:05 pm

The Hamilton Live

Building the Business Case for Bringing Higher-Quality Food to America’s Food Deserts: Learnings from the Front Lines

By all accounts, there is a substantial and pent-up demand for higher-quality food and jobs in underserved markets. Those on the front lines are seeing the positive impact on customers, employees, and communities. With proper policies and support, there is the strong belief that good food and good jobs can eradicate food deserts and help solve obesity issues and many other problems that plague Americans and our communities. Hear from those who are leading such efforts and how private business and government can work together to achieve positive results.

Moderator: Michael Halen, Consumer Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence, New York, NY | Panelists: Sam Polk, Co-Founder & CEO, Everytable, Los Angeles, CA | Karim Webb, Co-Owner & Operations Partner, PCF Restaurant Management, Los Angeles, CA | Scott Plank, Managing Member, War Horse LLC, Baltimore, MD | DeMille Halliburton, Director of Food Co-Op/Incubator, Los Angeles, CA (Crenshaw District) | Don Degnan, President, The Kitchen, Denver, CO

1:10 – 1:45 pm

The Hamilton Live

The Industry of Opportunity: Blowing Doors Wide Open to Good Jobs for Teens and Young Adults

Restaurant jobs provide critical life and work skills that few other industries can provide. Yet, recent policy trends are closing doors to teens and young adults. Join this dynamic and forward-thinking session to discuss ways to open the restaurant industry’s doors to American’s emerging talent wider than ever.

Moderator: Dawn Sweeney, President & CEO, National Restaurant Association, Chicago, IL | Panelists: Brett Schulman, CEO, CAVA, Washington, D.C. | Denny Marie Post, President & CEO, Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews, Greenwood Village, CO

1:50 – 2:30 pm

The Hamilton Live

Restaurant High Inauguration of the President & Vice President of the United Tastes of America: Eat, Drink and Be Murray

A conversation with Bill and Homer Murray

Moderator: Mario Del Pero, Co-Founder & CEO, Mendocino Farms, Los Angeles, CA

3:30 – 5:00 pm

Dirksen Senate Office Building (SD-G50)

The United Tastes of America Food & Job Mixer

3:30 – 4 p.m. – The “Taste of Union” Address

4:00 – 4:30 p.m. – Reach for the Stars with Ashton Eaton, Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Lightshow, and Dylan Sprouse

4:30 – 5 p.m. – Closing Remarks

6:00 – 8:00 pm (approx.)

Farmers & Distillers

After-Party (Immediately Following the Food & Job Mixer)


The Hamilton Live

600 14th St NW Washington, D.C. 20005

The Willard InterContinental

1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004

Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20002


"Break Bread" at The Elliot Awards
Paula Benson
Event Manager

Restaurant High 
Emily Compagno
Client Relations Manager