Thursday, September 17, 2009

FAST CASUAL SUMMIT -- BEST YEAR EVER!

2009 Fast Casual Summit was held in Dallas, TX at the Hotel Palomar

Linda Duke moderated the Branding Panel which included--left to right: Patrick of VGS; Dan Kim, CEO of Red Mango; Alan Hixon, president of MOOYAH Burgers & Fries, and Ed Frechette, SVP of Marketing for Au Bon Pain.


Linda Duke, Secretary, Fast Casual Alliance, commented:


As a member of the Fast Casual Alliance board of directors, and an attendee of the Fast Casual Summit each year since the first in 2006, I am very, very excited about the terrific turn-out (150 people) to this invitation only event. The amount of brain power and take-aways from this year's summit was unsurpassed!

Food Tour Included Central Market and Mooyah Burgers & Fries among others

We added a food tour again this year and had four vans of restaurant operators and suppliers visit over 20 different fast casual restaurant brands in the Dallas Fort Worth area on Sunday, prior to the Summit. Not only did we get STUFFED eating at every stop, we discussed the operations, critiqued the food (some extra critical comments made for a lively discussion) and since I was a van leader, my group ended the tour with some pitchers of margaritas!

Here are some links to the fast casual restaurants we stopped at: http://www.mooyah.com/, http://www.snappysalads.com/, http://www.genghisgrill.com/, http://www.whichwich.com/, http://www.cowboychicken.com/, http://www.vapiano.com/ http://www.raisingcanes.com/


One of the highlights of the event was the announcement by Michael Kaufman of the National Restaurant Association that the Fast Casual Alliance has been chosen to be the "model" for restaurant industry councils going forward, and will become part of the NRA's industry imperatives. This is a testament to how HOT the fast casual segment is and how it really is changing the way people eat! One of the other highlights of the Fast Casual Summit was the HAWAIIAN LUAU cocktail party and dinner at Trader Vic's complete with hula dancers and mai tais. The group of young, passionate and entrepreneurial operators also know how to party and enjoyed themselves to the wee hours getting to know each other and having a blast!



Louis Basile, president of the Fast Casual Alliance and Sue Morelli, CEO of Au Bon Pain

Sue Morelli, CEO of Au Bon Pain, was a great morning keynote speaker and shared how their brand started with a few types of bread in one location in Boston to a top national fast casual mover and shaker. Other educational sessions that were "WHITE HOT" this year included Social Media and Sustainability. Burgerville's CEO, Jeff Harvey (and John Candy look alike), made a great presentation and shared with the group all the sustainability action items their brand has put in place and Peter Truitt of Truitt Brothers, showed how relationships with farmers and growers can make menus more profitable and create value. Finally, healthy living and green eating industry expert , Kate Geagan, showed us how much fat 5 pounds REALLY looks like, and the panel really gave us some great take-aways for changing the way people eat.

Healthy living expert Kate Geagan, and Joe Tortorice, CEO of Jason's Deli

The Summit ended with a CEO panel of Rubio's Restaurants, Jason's Deli, Salsaritas and Firehouse Subs executives giving us tips on how their brands are staying afloat in this sea of uncertainty.

After the Summit, as if we hadn't had enough food, a few of us headed over to Jeff Sinelli's newest restaurant concept, Burgesa Burgers, and enjoyed trying his $5 (even including tax) The Monumental (it is a double burger with tostada, refried beans, slice of ham, avocado, spicy sauce and a jalepeno pepper on top) and his exclusive cane sugar sodas.

Jeff Sinelli, founder and CEO, Burgesa Burgers

Some of the brands in attendance at the Fast Casual Summit 2009 included a few new fast casual concepts in Dallas such as Kuai Dumplings & Soups, Burgesa Burgers Cowboy Chicken and Snappy Salads.

Please take a look at the ATTACHED PDF of PHOTOS to see ALL THE FUN from the event!

Fast Casual Summit Dallas 2009.pdf

My best-LDUKE


















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