Reporter's Notebook

Words of wisdom from MUFSO 2012

Robin Lee Allen

The first MUFSO Super Show is in the history books — with lots of exclamation points beside it!

Held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, MUFSO 2012 brought together more than 1,200 attendees for two days packed with learning, networking and celebrating. The event comprised elements from Nation’s Restaurant News, Food Management and Restaurant Hospitality, creating a bigger, better Super Show.

Former presidential hopeful Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and marketing guru Scott Stratten delivered thought-provoking keynote speeches, and myriad industry leaders dissected their business strategies and shared best practices during educational sessions reflecting five tracks: Operations, Marketing, Culinary, Entrepreneur and Onsite.

Evenings were spent wining, dining and toasting the accomplishments of successful leaders and progressive concepts honored during the course of the confab.

Here are a few of the deep thoughts, great sound bites and fun tidbits heard at MUFSO this year:

“The great joy of the restaurant industry is developing the next generation of leaders.”
Cheryl Bachelder, chief executive, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen

“There’s only one problem in the restaurant industry, and that’s getting people in the door.”
Richard Melman, founder, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises

“It’s my company and I do what I want.”
Jimmy John Liautaud, founder and chief executive, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shops

“This is absolutely the most humbling moment of my life.”
Rick Federico, chairman and chief executive of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc., upon receiving the Norman Award

Regardless of who wins in November, “we’re going to … have a moment of clarity shortly thereafter in terms of tax policy, because that’s where the marketplace is moving for Republicans and Democrats; [and] in terms of spending priorities, which is completely bankrupting this nation and leaving the next generation saddled with the most massive obligation we’ve ever passed down to the next generation.

“I believe it will be a boost for this marketplace like we haven’t seen in a very long time. We’ll look back next year and see that we’re still wallowing in debt, the housing market is still sucking wind, but we [will] kind of know where we’re going, we’ll keep moving forward as Americans and pull ourselves together.” – Jon Huntsman Jr., former governor of Utah and former Republican candidate for president

“You’re either at the table or you’re on the menu.” – Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive, National Restaurant Association

“Time is precious—even more than money today.” – Mark Medansky, chief executive, Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group

“I think it’s real smart for seasoned restaurateurs to surround themselves with bright, young kids.” – Richard Melman

“Anyone can be cool, but awesome takes practice.” – Scott Stratten, president, Unmarketing

“Super PACs are destroying our democracy.” – Jon Huntsman Jr.

“You never want a franchisee to hear something important from someone else.” – Trey Hall, veteran marketing executive who has worked with Quiznos, T.G.I. Friday’s and Pizza Hut

“Taste over trend; good food never goes out of style.” – Richard Melman

“We’re at a turning point in American history — at a time when we need to be inspired and pull together, regardless of your point of origin or background.” – Jon Huntsman Jr.

“Digital changes everything. It defines your brand image and allows independents and small chains to compete more effectively with the mega-chains. It allows for three-way communications: You to the customer; the customer to you; and most critically, your customer to the potential customer.” – Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president, foodservice strategies, WD Partners

“If you are involved with a really successful restaurant brand, stay there.” – Paul Motenko, co-founder of BJ’s Restaurants and co-chair and co-chief executive of Hot Concepts! award winner Stacked: Food Well Built

And something very important to keep in mind in the race to harness the power of social media:

Social media “just amplifies things. If your restaurant sucks, it just sucks harder in social media.” – Scott Stratten

Contact Robin Lee Allen at robinlee.allen@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @RobinLeeAllen

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