Thursday, October 9, 2008

The 2008 Fast Casual Summit

The Fast Casual Alliance, which had expected 80 executive attendees, was ecstatic to learn that more than over 130 executives of some of the top fast casual restaurant brands in the United States planned to attend the 2008 conference which would be held at the Ritz Carlton in Denver, Colorado. The summit was based around discussion panels revealing recent research findings that had been conducted during the summer of 2008. The weekend was packed full of informative lectures broken up into four sessions: The Food Factor, The Brand Factor, The Growth Factor and The Consumer Factor with shorter break-out sessions in between. Each panel featured CEO’s that were knowledgeable on the topic at hand and integrated the research findings with specific examples from their brands. Some of the panelists included: Marc Geman, CEO of Spicy Pickle, Mike Busley, CEO of Grand Traverse Pie Company, Russ Bendel, CEO of The Habit, Dave Wolfgram CEO of Forklift Brands and Alan Hixon of Freebirds World Burritos to name a few. Linda Duke presented the findings from the Brand Factor and moderated a panel with Tom Ryan, CEO of Smashburger and Larry Rusinko, SVP of Rubio’s restaurants. During the summit, Linda raffled off one of the Recipes for Restaurateurs books to a new fast casual brand, Bombay Bowl, a fresh and healthy Indian Grill.

Throughout the weekend, Linda got the executives fired up and excited about brainstorming with the other attending brands. The executives engaged by asking the panelists questions, participating in the session activities and working together to come up with thought provoking ideas on all the topics. At the end of the event, Linda graciously received a beautiful award from the Fast Casual Alliance for all her contributions to the Board of Directors of the Fast Casual Alliance and was appointed to secretary of the board. This was an amazing honor for Linda Duke and she was very thankful for the recognition from the Fast Casual Alliance. Executives left the event with important knowledge and a new network of restaurant connections. Duke Marketing had a very positive experience. We got to meet new restaurant industry professionals and spread some fantastic word of mouth about our new resource to the industry, Recipes for Restaurateurs. The Fast Casual Summit was a hit! The Duke Marketing Team is looking forward to the 2009 summit that will be held Dallas, Texas. Reserve your space soon!

To register for the 2009 Fast Casual Summit, visit:
To inquire about becoming a member of the Fast Casual Alliance visit:

Photos from the event:
Paul Baron from Fast Casual Magazine with Fast Casual Summit panelists

From left: Dave Wolfgram, CEO of Forklift Brands, Louis Basile, CEO of Wildflower Bread Company and Alan Hixon, from Freebirds World Burritos

Linda Duke moderating the Brand Factor with Tom Ryan, CEO of Smashburger, and Larry Rusinko, SVP of Rubio's.

Marc Geman CEO of Spicy Pickle

Mike Busley, CEO of Grand Traverse Pie Company

Linda Duke receiving award for her work with the Fast Casual Alliance Board of Directors

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