Workforce Management in Fast Casual and QSR Summit 2025

February 4 - 5, 2025

2025 Agenda

February 5th 2024

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Attendee Registration

5:05 pm - 5:35 pm

Pre-Event Panel

Kelly Saunders
VP of Learning & Culture

Ashley Utz
CPO Advisor
Sunny Day Fund
Jamie Starner
Sr. Director of Talent Acquisition & Retention

Sid Pailla
Chief Executive Officer
Sunny Day Fund

Investing in Frontline Heroes: Ensuring Financial Security for QSR and Fast Casual Workers
  • Explore the importance of providing fair wages, financial resources, and other development opportunities to frontline employees
  • Discuss benefits like paid time off, retirement plans, and employee assistance programs that can improve the quality of life for your employees
  • Analyze the long-term benefits of investing in the financial and health well-being of your frontline employees


5:40 PM - 6:40 PM

Pre-Event Drinks Reception

Pre-event cocktail kickoff brought to you by

February 6th 2024

7:50 am - 8:50 AM

Registration and Networking Breakfast

8:55 am - 9:05 AM

Opening remarks

Mike McGloin
Vanessa Varano
VP Learning & Development
Mac Haik
9:05 AM - 9:35 AM

Opening Keynote

Rachel Richal
Vice President Training
Buffalo Wild Wings

Game On! Tapping Into Fun and Competition to Drive Results and Engagement
  • In today’s world where people are craving connection and camaraderie, having fun in the restaurant is key to recruiting and retaining team members. If the team is having fun, the guest experience wins too. The spirit of fun and competition can connect teams while driving important business metrics. Learn how to move from a focus on formal training, to a culture of learning focused on excitement, curiosity, empowerment, active participation and connecting team member goals to company values and strategic initiatives.


9:40 AM - 10:10 AM

Fireside Chat

Gregg Majewski
Craveworthy Brands

Sam Stanovich
SVP Franchise Leadership
Big Chicken

Leading with Culture: Discussing the Importance of Leadership and Culture for Today’s QSRs
  • Understanding what it means to lead from the front and how the right leadership builds the right culture from the top down
  • Discussing the significance of a people-first, authentic approach to leadership and culture
  • Learning from your mistakes: why admitting when you are wrong builds a better culture
  • Building a Cultural Playbook: Digging deeper into the guiding principles that drive successful replicable results


10:15 am - 11:35 am

Open Networking

Innovation Lounge sponsored by

11:40 am - 12:10 pm


Labor Management

Felicia White
Director of Franchise Training
Scooter’s Coffee

Scaling Up Through Next Gen Training: Combining Soft Skills with Tech-Based Training for Frontline Leaders
  • Discussing the importance of being trained on emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and other soft skills as part of Scooter’s Frontline Leadership Management program
  • Looking at how Scooter’s has combined tech-based platforms to scale training with growth while empowering frontline leaders
  • Case Study: Implementing a simulation-based mobile platform to train baristas better



Training & Development

Nicholas Lawrence
VP of Human Resources

Standing Tall when “Short-Staffed”
  • Training your leaders on how to be effective teachers and coaches
  • Building healthy leaders: learning how to give effective feedback as part of healthy leadership
  • Equipping and investing in your leaders to help them lead through tough situations



12:10 pm - 12:40 pm


Labor Management

Rachael Nemeth

Tools for Inclusive Restaurants: Making Training Accessible for All
  • Discussing how to demonstrate why accessibility matters to both employees and the business
  • Showcasing examples on how to design for a diverse or low-tech workforce
  • Addressing how to prioritize and learn in a dynamic people industry


training & Development

Rob Meng
Faster Lines

How do we know when we are really busy: Using data to question your historical assumptions
  • Understanding how to use data to push past assumptions and see what is possible
  • Using multiple data points to build insights that help managers course correct bottlenecks in real-time while developing predictive solutions
  • Improving overall operational excellence through better scheduling, job splitting, and right-sizing your labor force


12:45 pm - 1:45 pm


Natalia Micheletti
Pryze App

Using the employee experience to increase profits


Justin Buckley
Chief Executive Officer
Axial Shift

How to increase sales, improve retention, and make hiring easier via Gamification


Marielle Kokos
Head of Sales & Partnerships

How to Effectively Use Sales Forecasting to Improve Labor Management

Juniper Emnett
Director of Product
Intertek Wisetail

People and Beyond: Leading through Rapid Change with Technology


1:50 pm - 2:20 pm


Troy Hooper
Pepper Lunch
Corban Nichols
VP of Restaurant Excellence


Hauke Feddersen
VP of Operations


Arlene Petokas
Chief People Officer
Kura Sushi

Nina Franchina
Chief People Officer


Saving your Front-Line Manager: How to Prevent Burnout, Retain Talent, and Optimize Output
  • Recognizing the pain-points and stressors that your front-line managers face on a daily basis
  • How legacy  communication, feedback, training, and execution systems are contributing to front-line manager burnout
  • Understanding the training and technology that can be used to empower front-line managers with the resources they need to avoid burnout and maximize productivity


2:25 PM - 2:55 PM


Labor Management

Sue Petersen
EVP, Inclusion, Diversity, and People
Noodles & Company

Building an Employee-First Culture that is Turnkey to Success
  • Creating an inclusive workplace that allows everyone to be their most authentic selves
  • Developing platforms and programs that assist frontline workers across multiple facets, thus creating an environment of support throughout the organization
  • Putting the team member experience first as the gateway to the improved guest experience
  • Staying true to and replicating your culture effectively as you grow your brand


Training & Development

Christina Briggs
Director of Training and Development
Shipley Donuts

Disrupt your training process by transitioning from onboarding to ever boarding: A roadmap to engagement, learning, and retention
  • Designing training modules that ease the complexity of operations associated with making fresh, handcrafted doughnuts daily
  • Using the right tech training platforms that provide bite-sized pieces of information and create space for authentic interactions
  • Utilizing existing content differently to increase engagement and knowledge across a generational workforce spanning a plethora of age groups
  • Leveling up learning paths to motivate employees and create a sustainable, continuous learning experience that focuses on core skills, and improves knowledge and retention



3:00 PM - 3:30 PM


Labor Management

David Wentworth
VP Learning & Talent Development

Connecting Learning to Development in a Franchise/Partner Environment
  • The Learning & Development connection
  • Identifying franchise training challenges
  • Examples of successful strategies to deliver a standardized, consistent employee and customer experience


Training & Development

Sean Hurwitz
CEO & Founder
Pixo VR

How 20 QSR Locations are Cutting Turnover by Gamifying Training
  • Training in Virtual Reality – a 3D interactive virtual learning environment with realistically simulated tools, machines and customers – has been proven to cut turnover 31% while simultaneously also reducing training time, training costs, and food and beverage waste. Join Sean Hurwitz, CEO & Founder of PIXO VR, to learn how one QSR brand is implementing gamified Virtual Reality training starting in 20 locations, their impressive results so far, and plans for scale


3:35 PM - 4:55 PM

Open Networking & Happy Hour

Innovation Lounge sponsored by

5:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Eric Knott

The most important investment – Human Capital
  • Being agile and innovative in an evolving workforce
  • Legislation and its financial impact
  • The true cost of total rewards
  • How do you measure the ROI


5:35 PM - 5:45 PM

Closing remarks

Mike McGloin
Vanessa Varano
VP Learning & Development
Mac Haik
5:45 pm - 7:45 pm

Networking and Day 1 Drinks Reception

Appetizers sponsored by

February 7th 2024

8:00 am - 9:00 AM

Breakfast and Networking

9:00 am - 9:10 AM

Opening remarks

Mike McGloin
Vanessa Varano
VP Learning & Development
Mac Haik
9:10 AM - 9:40 AM

Opening Keynote

Andy Hooper
Hart House

Beyond The Straw: Sustainability Efforts that Start with the Employee Experience
  • Examining why plastic straws are red herring for our real workforce “waste” problem
  • Rethinking the “Social Contract” for restaurant jobs
  • Creating a benefits offering that show you give a s***
  • Open-sourcing a blueprint for sustainable, healthy high-performance


9:40 AM - 10:10 AM


Anthony Valletta

Employee Growth and Development at bartaco: A Data-Driven Approach
  • Understanding the impact of data in shaping effective employee strategies
  • Developing highly customizable employee packages that are tailored to individual needs
  • Creating training programs that support personalized learning and career development
  • Looking beyond a “one size fits all” approach to employee development


10:15 AM - 11:35 AM

Open Networking

Innovation Lounge sponsored by

11:40 am - 12:10 pm


Labor Management

Steve Felson
SVP, Operations & Training

Building a Foundation for Success: Creating the Right Systems for Your Team
  • Deploying the right systems to lead and grow your frontline teams
  • Setting clear expectations for tangible results
  • Developing a step-by-step path to success



Training & Development

Joshua Allen
Director of Training & Development
Paris Baguette

Creating Careers Out of Entry-Level QSR Jobs
  • A deep dive into Paris Baguette’s extensive training program built around turning entry-level employees into expert bakers
  • Leveraging skill-based training into a multitude of career advancement opportunities
  • The importance of investing in early training to promote employee engagement and retention


12:10 PM - 12:40 PM


Tara Augustin
Director of Employee Experience Solutions

Nicholas Lawrence
VP Human Resources

Improve employee turnover, guest satisfaction, and financial performance through front-line engagement + empowerment
  • Get strategies to engage with and empower front-line workers through employee surveys
  • Find a survey cadence and channel mix that drives engagement—collect more actionable data with advice from the experts on fighting survey fatigue
  • Prove you’re listening—make employee engagement more meaningful with best practices for acting on feedback
  • Chick-fil-A HR VP Nicholas Lawrence shares learnings and discusses how his team acts on front-line employee feedback in the field


12:45 PM - 1:45 PM


1:50 PM - 2:20 PM


Labor Management

Craig Dunaway
Penn Station

Matt Hoffman
Director of Training
Penn Station

My Penn Path: Translating your Company Culture into your Brand Culture
  • Effectively communicating your company culture as a franchisor to your franchisees
  • My Penn Path: learning from an award winning training program on how to set up your employees to succeed from the get go
  • Understanding how to use technology to deliver training materials effectively
  • Taking a holistic view from the corporate level to the franchisee level in building the right culture

Training & Development

Adele Dowlin
VP Talent Development
Krispy Kreme

Learning through Digitization: How Krispy Kreme Created an Agile LMS Strategy to Train over 10,000 Employees
  • Exploring how employee development and continuous learning are core to Krispy Kreme’s value system
  • Understanding how to efficiently transition from paper-based learning to digital learning while leveraging a small in-house team
  • Looking at how Krispy Kreme is transforming its LMS through digital, accessible, and personalized content


2:25 PM - 2:55 PM


Labor Management

Tanya Carlson
Sr. Director Services

Redefining Talent Acquisition in QSR: How a leading QSR company used automation and AI to transform their frontline recruiting
  • Learn about the latest applicant needs and expectations in today’s instant gratification world
  • Hear how a leading company was able to significantly improve its frontline hiring efficiency using automation
  • Explore what practical steps you can take to further enhance your hiring processes to efficiently meet your hiring needs


Training & Development

Gunpil Hwang

Kelly Saunders
VP of Learning & Culture

Embracing Automation and Robotics in the Kitchen: Improving Employee Satisfaction and Operational Efficiency while Enhancing the Guest Experience
  • Why a number of QSR brands have been turning to kitchen automation in response to a global labor shortage
  • How automating mundane and repetitive tasks can improve employee morale and reduce turnover
  • Automation and operational efficiency in the QSR kitchen best practices
  • Discussion on the future of automation in the QSR industry


3:00 PM - 3:30 PM


Tiffany Perez
Director Training & Development
Marc Miller
VP of Operations
Mike McGloin
Sherry Broesamle
VP, People
The Flame Broiler
Kelly McCutcheon
Group Director of Training & Development
Strategies for Effective Recruitment and Retention in the Current Labor Shortage
  • In-depth discussion of the challenges and complexities involved in recruiting and retaining workers during the current labor shortage crisis
  • Comprehensive examination and analysis of the primary reasons for employee departures from the restaurant industry and identifying key factors that contribute to low retention rates
  • Exploration of the best practices for attracting and retaining employees in 2023, including comprehensive approaches to compensation, benefits, and employee engagement
  • Identifying strategies for creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture that promotes employee satisfaction, loyalty, and retention in the midst of the current labor shortage crisis
3:35 PM - 3:45 PM

Closing remarks

Mike McGloin
Vanessa Varano
VP Learning & Development
Mac Haik