The Westin Chicago Lombard

The 2024
Digital Transformation in Fast Casual and QSR Summit

June 11 - 12, 2024
Chicago, IL

2023 Agenda

Join us June 12th for the our DEI Panel and the pre-event cocktail reception from 5:00 to 7:00pm

Pre Event June 12, 2023

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Event Registration

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Pre-Event Panel

Mike McGloin
Christina Jackson
Chief People Officer
Donatos Pizza

Andrew Chau
Boba Guys 

Solomon Choi
16 Handles

Addressing the Issue of Workforce Challenges within one of the Fastest Growing Legacy Industries
  • What are the first steps to take in addressing the diversity gap within your organization?
  • Best practices in creating an inclusive culture within your existing team?
  • What are the tools you can use to better ensure diversity in your hiring practices?
  • How do you gauge the success of your diversity and inclusion initiatives?
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Pre-event cocktail kickoff

Pre-event cocktail kickoff brought to you by

June 13, 2023

7:25 am - 8:25 AM

Late Registration and Networking Breakfast

8:25 AM - 8:35 AM

Opening Remarks

David “Rev” Ciancio
Co-Founder CMO
Handcraft Burgers and Brews
Sam Stanovich
SVP Franchise Leadership
Big Chicken
8:35 am - 9:10 Am

Opening Keynote

Andy Hooper
Hart House

Building the Restaurant of the Future
  • People: Build sustainability with your team first, and they will help you get the most of your investments in technology
  • Guest Experience: Treat your operators as the customer to maximize the guest experience
  • Data: Drive your digital transformation journey with a data strategy tied to your business goals
  • Technology: Get your business process right before shopping for the tech to improve it


9:15 am - 9:50 am


Digital Transformation

Ross Franklin
Founder & CEO
Pure Green

Using Technology to Fuel Massive Franchise Growth
  • Understanding where the industry is heading and leveraging the right tools and technology to drive your expansion
  • Preparing your brand to scale up and add new franchises in a way that is both cost effective and sustainable
  • Exploring how Pure Green has successfully leveraged it’s tech stack to bypass brokers and connect directly with potential franchisees



Customer experience

Luis Velasco
SVP of Marketing

Leveraging your Marketing Toolkit to Make your Grand Opening a Success
    • Understanding your customer demographics and leveraging the right social media platforms to create buzz around the event
    • How to effectively use sidebars, pop ups, and banners on your website to draw attention to the event
    • Tying it all together with press releases and an effective email marketing campaign
    • Recognizing that an effective marketing campaign can not only lead to a successful grand opening, but can help you ramp up quickly and shorten your time to profitability


9:50 am -10:50 am

Open Networking

Innovation Lounge sponsored by

10:55 am - 11:30 Am


Michael Edwards
Chief Growth Officer & Co-Founder
Dig Insights

Dana Grinshpan
Global Customer Experience Insights Manager

Making McDonald’s Famous for Chicken

McDonald’s are proactively seeking new approaches to menu innovation to develop the latest generation of iconic menu items. Join McDonald’s and Dig Insights as they share how they leveraged a fundamentally new research approach to support agile innovation, to test ideas in ways that speaks the language of the customer and to deliver insights that speak the language of the business.


11:30 am - 12:05 pm


JJ Mills
Global Director, Customer Success

Sarah Rigsbee
Chief Financial Officer
Farmer’s Fridge


Harold Walters
CEO & Co-Founder
Shootz Hawaiian 

Gregg Majewski
Craveworthy Brands


Consolidating and Focusing on the Right Data to Optimize Demand Planning and Labor, and Manage Food Waste
  • QSRs will need to show direct and consistent value in order to remain competitive as consumers’ wallets continue to tighten 
  • Learn from QSRs on how to deliver value and consistency 
  • Empower restaurant managers by giving them access to the data they need to make informed, in-the-moment decisions
  • Using data to automate the flow of inventory, track waste, identify inefficient station scheduling, and adjust production pacing
12:10 pm - 12:45 pm

Case Studies

Digital Transformation

Eric Harsh

Prakash Karamchandani
CEO & Co-Founder
Balance Pan-Asian Grille

Staff Retention: Utilizing Techniques and Technology to Reduce Employee Turnover
  • Unlock the secret sauce to employee retention in your restaurant
  • Discover how effective staff training can supercharge your team’s performance, keep them on board, and boost your bottom line
  • Say goodbye to the turnover blues as you learn how technology and management techniques can create a dynamic, supportive environment that makes your staff feel valued and pumped to grow professionally



Customer experience

Al Subbloie
Founder and CEO

Driving Profitability with Sustainability: Simplify Energy Management through Outsourcing
  • Discover how energy efficient equipment, remote sensing technologies and intelligent monitoring can lower monthly energy bills, reduce site-level emissions, improve food safety, and strengthen customer satisfaction.
  • Learn how energy efficiency upgrades improve customer experiences, better franchise owners’ bottom line and enable operational resilience
  • Discuss DIY vs. outsourcing energy management via innovative business models, like Energy Efficiency-as-a-Service (EEaaS), to enable QSRs to embrace sustainability and also turn it into a competitive advantage


12:50 pm - 1:50 pm


Abhinav Kapur

Actionable Ways to Understand and Optimize the Customer Journey for your Brand


Rodrick Glass
EVP of Sales and Business Development
Creative Realities

Amanda Starr
Sr. Director of Creative and Implementation Services
Creative Realities

Transforming Digital Menu Boards for Power and Profit


Heather Geron
VP of Business Development

Effective Proximity Advertising Strategies for QSR Footfall


Nicole Salem

The Power of Simplification: A Tech Stack Approach for Rapid Growth


1:55 PM - 2:30 PM


Digital Transformation

Bryan Hooper
VP of Digital & Consumer Technology

How to Ensure your Digital Investments set you up for Long Term, Sustainable Growth
  • Understanding your long term growth plans and developing the right digital capabilities to help you achieve these goals
  • Recognizing that every new technology you deploy sets you up for the next one
  • How to pick the right technology to fit the size and scale of your restaurant brand
  • Why it’s essential to avoid things that set you up for now, but ultimately don’t scale with your business


Customer experience

Solomon Choi
16 Handles

Starting, Scaling, and Selling your Company on a Foundation of Exceptional Customer Experience
  • Why it’s critical to understand the market, what works, what doesn’t, and to build a brand that speaks to what customers are looking for
  • How to evaluate and select the right technologies and technology providers to help scale up your restaurant in a way that resonates with new and existing customers
  • Understanding the different ways that technology can help grow your brand, from helping you expand quickly and seamlessly into to new markets to growing sales at existing locations
  • Creating an exit strategy that preserves the differentiated nature of your brand and allows it to continue to deliver an exceptional customer experience after your departure



2:35 PM - 3:10 PM

Case Studies

Digital Transformation

Jonathan Greenlee
Vice President, Sales & Marketing

Ryan Reichmann
Sr. Director, Marketing Technology & eCommerce
Checkers & Rally’s

Sergio Perez
Sr. Director of Omnichannel

Customer Engagement Technology: Best-In-Class Versus All-In-One
  • Learn why restaurants are opting to partner with specialized technology partners versus all-in-one solutions
  • Why has this shift in martech strategy made all the difference?
  • Building flexibility into your digital ecosystem to provide an unmatched experience for every customer


Customer experience

JR Hopwood
Solutions Consultant

Harnessing the Power of your Data for Local Revenue

Data is everywhere, and can come in many forms and flavors. The most successful franchises realize the importance of data in driving impactful decisions. But leveraging data to drive critical decision making doesn’t need to be as complex as it seems. What if you could get your data to make the best marketing decisions for your locations — automatically, and without you even knowing? Join us as industry-expert JR Hopwood discusses ways to harness your data to automate day-to-day decisions that can maximize unit revenue, loyalty, and efficiency.


3:10 PM - 4:10 PM

Open Networking & Happy Hour

Innovation Lounge sponsored by

Happy Hour brought to you by

4:10 PM - 4:45 PM


Zack Oates
Founder & CEO

3 Steps to Increasing Profits through the Guest Experience
  • Understanding how your on- and off-premises customers are feeling and using those insights to fix problems as they come up
  • Uncover hidden trends to drive customer satisfaction and improve retention
  • Creating a tailored feedback experience designed to get you the information you need when you need it


4:45 pm - 5:20 pm


Eric Parkin
Digital Business Leader

The Future of Food is Digital
  • How to advance kitchen operations from siloed, manual and reactive processes, to transparent, automated ones
    • Optimizing labor
    • Enhancing the customer experience
    • Driving profitability
  • Using your data to lower labor costs and free up bandwidth so employees can be free to focus on customer facing activities
  • Minimize food waste by using demand forecasting to cut down on loss, excess, and misuse


5:20 pm - 5:55 pm


Josh Halpern
Big Chicken

Getting to the Heart of Customer Loyalty
  • Understanding why customers no longer feel connected with your brand and why that chasm can’t be bridged through technology
  • Recognizing that with changing demographics and increasing transparency has shifted what consumers are looking for out of brands
  • Exploring what Big Chicken is doing to help close the gap for both staff and consumers


5:55 PM - 6:05 PM

Closing remarks

David “Rev” Ciancio
Co-Founder CMO
Handcraft Burgers and Brews

Sam Stanovich
SVP Franchise Leadership
Big Chicken
6:05 PM - 8:05 PM

Networking and Cocktail Conversations

Join us in our exhibition hall for food & drinks, great conversations

Data Management



Workforce MGMT



Guest Experience



Demand Planning



June 14, 2023

7:30 am - 8:30 AM

Networking Breakfast

8:30 am - 8:40 AM

Opening remarks

David “Rev” Ciancio
Co-Founder CMO
Handcraft Burgers and Brews

Sam Stanovich
SVP Franchise Leadership
Big Chicken

8:40 AM - 9:15 AM

Opening Fireside Chat

Geoff Alexander
President & CEO
Wow Bao

Sam Stanovich
SVP Franchise Leadership
Big Chicken

Developing an Omni-Channel Business – A Look into the Wow Bao Journey 
  • Focusing on meeting customers where they eat, work, and play has led Wow Bao to take an omnichannel approach to growing its business.
  • Investing in the right technology & people to facilitate unprecedented growth and leveraging retail, ecommerce, and strategic partnerships.
  • Exploring how omnichannel is evolving in the restaurant industry and how to set your brand up to take advantage of new and emerging trends and technologies


9:15 AM - 9:50 AM


Manish Dhankher
Chief Customer Officer
Pizza Hut Canada

How Pizza Hut used a Three-Pronged Approach to Achieve Success in Digitization
  • Listen: To the voice of customers & employees
    • With Restaurants now having multiple access points like online, aggregators, dine-in and carry-out, how do you listen to the voice of customers and prioritize projects
    • Simplifying restaurants to become an employer of choice
  • Act: Exploring the use of AI (PizzAi Hut)
    • How to develop smart kitchen systems that prioritize orders and give real time status of food to customers
    • Using AI to define product quality at pizza stations
  • Elevate: Step change
    • Digital AI based food cabinets for carry-out occasions
    • Zero-emissions auto pilot robotic pizza delivery


9:50 AM - 10:25 AM

Plant Based Food Questions Answered Panel

Hannah Lopez
Director of Marketplace Development
Plant Based Foods Association

Lizzie King
Director of Sales
Impossible Foods

Ilana Braverman
Greener By Default

Brian Barbara
VP of Sales
Califia Farms

Ben Kaplan
Co-Founder & CEO
PLNT Burger


Incorporating Plant-Based Foods into your Menu and Brand
10:25 AM - 11:25 AM

Open Networking & Mimosa Bar

Innovation Lounge sponsored by

11:30 AM - 12:05 pm


Digital Transformation

Jim Bitticks
President & COO
Dave’s Hot Chicken

Leon Davoyan
Dave’s Hot Chicken

A Deep Dive into the Present and Future of Digitization
  • Why it’s critical to take a holistic approach to designing your tech stack to ensure the seamless integration of back of house and customer facing technologies
  • How Dave’s Hot Chicken is leveraging guest feedback to create an unparalleled experience both instore and online
  • Effectively deploying Buy Now Pay Later services as part of your resilience strategy
  • Looking to the future of the restaurant industry and how to leverage the metaverse to recreate the in person experience in an immersive virtual setting 


Customer experience

Troy Hooper
Pepper Lunch

Building The Tech Stack For a 500 Unit Global Brand Without a CTO!
  • How PLR got here? What are we facing when tackling this?
  • No matter your size, this is a daunting task
  • Traditional off-the-shelf vs decentralized vs custom versus hybrid architecture
  • The POS is no longer the first and most important decision
  • Take it one large bite then a couple smaller bites at a time or you will choke!
  • Get lots of help!


12:10 PM - 12:45 PM

Case Studies

Digital Transformation

Theresa Farrell
Director of Client Services

Jordan Cusner
Head of Guest Insights
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

Consumer Research: The Key Ingredient at the Forefront of Multi-Million Dollar Decisions
  • Consider spotlighting consumer research prior to major supply chain decisions to protect multi-million dollar investments
  • Look beyond traditional supplier recommendations or in-house learnings – not only to avoid bias but to capture deeper insights through product testing and industry-recognized consumer insight methods
  • When considering supply chain changes, determining the best possible option requires a deep analysis to maintain the quality of what consumers want and expect


Customer experience

Rob Meng
Founder & CEO

Digital Transformation of Speed Of Service Data Collection
  • Speed is the first ingredient of customer satisfaction
  • The history and transformation of multi-site collection methods
  • Compare and contrast ways of getting visibility to this critical data    
  • Transformative ways of tracking this critical customer satisfaction metric for cars AND PEOPLE


12:45 PM - 1:45 PM

Networking Lunch

1:45 PM - 2:20 PM


Julie Wade
Sr. Director of Marketing


Casey Lipton
Sr. Product Marketing Manager


Deric Rosenbaum
Groucho’s Deli


Adam Griffith
VP of IT
Original Chop Shop


How to Develop a Differentiated Loyalty Program
  • How have loyalty programs evolved since the end of the pandemic?
  • How can you create a differentiated and highly personalized loyalty program in a highly crowded space?
  • What common pitfalls should you be aware of when designing your loyalty program?
  • How can brands effectively leverage their loyalty program as part of their overall expansion plans?
2:25 PM - 3:00 PM

Case Studies

Digital Transformation

Terri Gaughan
Enterprise Strategy and Architecture Director

Erin Corrigan
Director, Digital Marketing

How Donatos Re-Mastered their Loyalty Program to Improve Customer Experience and Business Results
  • Learn how a traditional email marketing program evolved into a robust loyalty program that delivers outstanding business results
  • Dive into their approach of collecting zero-party data to understand the 360 views of guests and to drive personalization
  • Also, hear about leveraging machine learning for optimized location and member-based offers


Customer experience

Kristin Lynch
Director of Strategy & Analytics

Ken Bott
Sr. Director of Digital Strategy
PDQ Chicken

How a Chicken Brand Took its Tech from Beginner to Advanced in Just Two Years
  • What inputs go into scoring to create specific audience segments
  • How PDQ Chicken uses its mobile app to speak with guests individually
  • The benefits the company has seen from the digital transformation in a hyper-competitive landscape


3:00 PM - 3:35 PM


David “Rev” Ciancio
Co-Founder CMO
Handcraft Burgers and Brews

Casey Tarca
Team Lead, Dining

Jeff Lin
Director, Media & Growth

Forrest Nettles
Head of Brand & Marketing
Groucho’s Deli

Casey Hilder
Director of Marketing
Starbird Chicken

Leveraging Social Media to Create New Opportunities to Engage with Guests

  • How are Fast Casuals and QSRs leveraging social media platforms to better connect with Guests?
  • How do newer players in the social media space differ from legacy platforms, how has your strategy evolved over the last few years?
  • What type of content typically gets the most attention and garners the most engagement?
  • How do you envision social media changing over the next year and how do you plan to adapt to that change?
  • What are the best practices to employ when advertising on the different social media platforms, ie: Facebook / TikTok / Snapchat / Instagram / Google Ads?
3:35 PM - 3:45 PM

Closing remarks

David “Rev” Ciancio
Co-Founder CMO
Handcraft Burgers and Brews
Sam Stanovich
SVP Franchise Leadership
Big Chicken