Restaurant Leadership Conference News

Food trucks fill the streets and parking lots of New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin and Portland, Ore. Los Angeles alone counts 9,000 food trucks and carts, including branded vehicles from California Pizza Kitchen and Carl’s Jr. Yet when Ray Villaman, moderator of a trucks panel at the Restaurant Leadership Conference, asked who in the audience has or plans to launch a food truck, only a few hands were raised.

The traditional tools of legislative influence—lobbying, PACs, grassroots efforts—don’t cut it anymore.

Restaurant franchisors know the internet can be an effective local-store marketing tool. But how do they extend the capabilities to franchisees without surrendering a dangerous degree of control?

If you’re going to be the guy who buys that chain that’s fallen on hard times—but might be profitable in your hands—you’ve got to be ready to act early and fast. If you wait until bankruptcy is declared, you’re probably too late.

How do you build a global restaurant chain? Robbie Brozin, the founder of $1-billion-a-year Nando’s Chicken, ended the educational component of the Restaurant Leadership Conference with some specific tips for attendees.

Product recalls can be devastating to the restaurant industry, yet traceability along the foodservice supply chain is complicated and outdated. “Foodservice is where retail was 40 years ago,” said Syndee Stiles, vice president of operations support for McLane Foodservice, at Restaurant Leadership Conference session on traceability.

Energy saving may not be “an overly sexy conversation to have at eight in the morning,” acknowledged OSI Restaurant Partners’ vice president of procurement, Kristin Brooks. But a standing-room-only audience showed up at that hour during the Restaurant Leadership Conference to hear the Outback Steakhouse parent’s experiences in cutting utility costs.