LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hold that mini-burger. Ramp up social media. Figure out your health plan. We know sliders are fading in popularity, consumers are flocking online to pick restaurants, and the Affordable Care Act is looming, but what is next?
If history is any indicator, the next big concepts for U.S. restaurants will be unveiled during UCLA Extension 17th Annual Restaurant Industry Conference on Wednesday, April 3. Held on the UCLA Campus at Covel Commons, the conference is the biggest single-day gathering of top restaurant company executives, investors, lenders and advisors.
“There are plenty of predictions and forecasts for the restaurant industry, but the annual UCLA Extension Restaurant Industry Conference consistently delivers true insight on what is really about to happen,” said Anna Graves, conference chair and co-leader of the restaurant, food and beverage industry group for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. “It was at prior conferences that the size and scope of the farm-to-fork and food truck phenomena were first explored, as well as the importance of internal marketing and leadership from multiple dimensions. We expect more substantive trends to be unveiled this year.”
Restaurants and menus are constantly morphing, but how do chefs and CEOs determine the winning combinations without costing dollars and customer loyalty?
While sliders may be fading from menus, some chains are finding variations are increasing in popularity. Take, for instance, the growth of the Umami burger. Adam Fleischman, founder and CEO of the Umami Restaurant Group, (which also launched its 800 Degrees pizza chain) will join an “emerging concepts” panel that includes Alan Jackson, founder, and Ian Olsen, COO, of the Lemonade Restaurant Group, as well as Tony Shure, co-founder of the Chop’t Creative Salad Company and Burton Heiss, senior vice president of Nando’s Restaurant Group, Inc.
Examining menu evolution will be Amy Alarcon, vice president of Culinary Innovation, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen; Alex Benes, partner at Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill; Randy Kies, senior vice president for growth and development, Lark Creek Restaurant Group; and Donald Moore, chief culinary officer and SVP of kitchen operations, The Cheesecake Factory, Inc. Moderating this panel will be Steven Goldstein, partner, The Culinary Edge.
Who are the true performers? Which restaurants are winning over customers the best – and maintaining their loyalty – will be part of an in-depth, market research discussion by Ron Paul, president and CEO, and Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, Inc. Unveiled during this session will be the top 500 chain restaurant performance index compiled by Technomic.
What else is on the horizon? The new health care reform law certainly will create fundamental changes for restaurants in 2014 – and now is the time to prepare, Graves said.
An expert panel will offer attendees the latest advice and insights into the Affordable Care Act. Panelists include Behzad Cohan, president, CG Investments, Inc.; Scott Morsch, area senior vice president, Gallagher Hospitality & Restaurant Group; Michelle Neblett, director of labor and workforce policy, National Restaurant Association; Scott Nicholson, vice president of operations, Veggie Grill; and Paul Potvin, CFO, Elephant Bar Restaurants.
The conference also features a panel discussing crisis communication and brand protection.
Although the recession is over, restaurant owners remain concerned about the economy and food prices. Will a “real” economic recovery occur in 2013? Well-known UCLA economist Dr. Edward E. Leamer will offer the latest figures on whether the U.S. will recover more jobs lost during the recession and how employment rates will likely impact restaurants.
One highlight of the conference will be the presentation of the 2013 Innovation Award to Dr. Tim Ryan, president, The Culinary Institute of America. Presenting the award to Dr. Ryan will be last year’s winner, Jerry Deitchle, chairman of BJ’s Restaurants.
Conference details and online registration are available at www.uclaextension.edu/restaurant. Follow conference updates on Twitter at #UCLARC. For information about UCLA Extension’s restaurant management classes, call (310) 206-5075 or type “restaurant” on the main website search box.
About UCLA Extension
UCLA Extension is the continuing education division of the University of California at Los Angeles. UCLA Extension offers evening, weekend, and online courses and certificates for professionals in business, management, engineering, information systems, entertainment studies, public policy, public health, the humanities and many other fields. Find out more at uclaextension.edu.