General Sessions
3:00pm – 5:30pm

Opening General Session

Location: Platinum Ballroom A-E
Welcome & Live Open with BMI featured artists Sara Niemietz and Snuffy Walden

BMI Featured Artists

Restaurant Directions "State of the Industry"

With their front-row view of industry performance and trends, the authorities at Technomic and Restaurant Business will provide a timely and data-backed look at what is challenging operators and what strategies are used to build traffic, sales and consumer demand among top brands. Peter Romeo and Joe Pawlak will cover sales trends, consumer demands, a look at new approaches to menu and marketing, and more, in an overview tailored for restaurant growth enterprises.


Managing Principal

Editor-at-Large and Vice President of Content Innovation
Restaurant Business

Presented By:
Sysco Corporation
“RD Gives Back…” Meet Our Social Enterprise Partner: the ProStart Program from the NRAEF

In this session, we will get to know more about ProStart, a cornerstone program from the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation. It is a two-year, industry-backed culinary arts and restaurant management program for high school students. It annually reaches approximately 150,000 students in more than 1,900 schools in all 50 states, the territory of Guam and Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Europe and the Pacific. ProStart gives students a platform to discover new interests and talents to open doors for fulfilling careers. Join us to hear more about this incredible organization and how you can align your brand with this cause.


Vice President, Industry Affairs | Honorary Co-chair
The Coca-Cola Company

CEO | Honorary Co-chair
Naf Naf Grill

SVP, National Sales / President | Honorary Co-chair
Sysco Corporation / SYGMA

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Presented By:
Coca-Cola Company
Sysco Corporation
Naf Naf Grill
Welcome to Flavortown...An Afternoon with Guy Fieri

Today, most fans know Guy Fieri as the Food Network superstar with the spikey hair. They’re unaware that he climbed to fame through operations and kitchen jobs at several chains that would fit right in with the Restaurant Directions audience, from Louise’s Trattoria to a casual brand owned by Stouffer’s. He even proved himself an able concept creator, turning a tricycle into The Awesome Cart to sell soft pretzels in his hometown—at age 10. He’s been involved with the food business ever since, not only as the host of such hit TV programs as “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” but also as an entrepreneur who’s opened more than 63 restaurants worldwide. He showed his devotion to “real” food when he rebelled as a kid against his parents’ macrobiotic and natural cooking. Yet he hates eggs, loves kale, and can’t bake a cake (his son Hunter is the pastry chef in the family). Join Fieri as he shares behind-the-scenes stories about his TV shows, the 17 one-of-a-kind restaurant concepts that bear his name today, his six best-selling books and his many escapades in cooking, dining and traveling.


Chef, Restaurateur, New York Times Bestselling Author
Host of "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" and "Guy's Grocery Games" on Food Network

Presented By:
Sysco Corporation