The 53rd annual MUFSO conference began Sunday, as more than 600 restaurant operators and nearly 1,000 total attendees gathered to share ideas and best practices at a time of shaky economic recovery, but continued growth, for the foodservice industry.
This year’s conference, taking place Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, is expected to be the largest in more than 15 years, and is produced by Nation’s Restaurant News and Penton Restaurant Group sister publications Food Management and Restaurant Hospitality. The three-day executive conference is offering five educational tracks: operations, culinary, marketing, entrepreneur and FM Ideas, a non-commercial track designed specifically for Food Management readers.
“With a tepid economic environment at best, we couldn’t be more pleased with the number of participants this year,” said Randall Friedman, Group Publisher of the Penton Restaurant Group. “The size of MUFSO speaks to the value of the deep and varied educational content assembled, and proves the foodservice industry still finds face-to-face meetings to be the richest learning environment.”
MUFSO began Sunday with an afternoon of educational sessions honing in on the uses of technology to improve customer satisfaction, marketing within a franchise system and a look at how restaurant renovations can drive sales. Expert commentary from industry research firms The NPD Group, Technomic and WD Partners also helped open MUFSO with the latest information on consumer trends, while menu trend analyst Nancy Kruse presented the State of the Plate for this year and next.
“The level of competition is extraordinary,” said Kruse about the current culinary scene. “You continue to up your games, your customers get more and demand more, and as a result you get better and better."
Sunday night closed with a panel discussion and celebration of the 2012 Nation’s Restaurant News Hot Concepts award winners: Coolhaus; Del Frisco’s Grille; STACKED: Food Well Built; and Pie Five Pizza Co. The winners were joined by Restaurant Hospitality’s Richard Melman Innovator Award winner Joachim Splichal, co-founder of the Patina Restaurant Group.
Also Sunday, Food Management celebrated its Best Concept award winners at PIRA Latin Fire in Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
For all coverage from the MUFSO conference, stay at NRN.com At the Show and follow the #MUFSO hashtag on Twitter. Monday’s schedule includes a keynote presentation from Jon Huntsman Jr., former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, 15 educational sessions, and the Industry Awards Gala, which highlights the Nation’s Restaurant News Golden Chain award winners and the naming of the Operator of the Year. Tuesday will include keynote presenter Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, additional educational sessions and the CEO panel with Golden Chain honorees and other award winners.