Menu trends get a spotlight at this year's Restaurant Leadership Conference

With menu development broadening beyond marketing and R&D, the top-to-top conference will feature a number of sessions aimed at giving other members of the C-suite the smarts to participate.
Photographs courtesy of David Chang, Nancy Kruse

The process for deciding what a restaurant chain should offer its customers is changing dramatically, with a virtual brand as likely to be added today as a sandwich or salad might have been in pre-pandemic days. That’s in addition to dynamics like the trend toward smaller menus and the need to pivot because of supply chain issues.

Clearly the responsibility for managing a chain’s menu now extends beyond the CMO and R&D team. That’s why the agenda for this year’s Restaurant Leadership Conference has been tweaked to provide CEOs and their senior teams with a C-suite’s guide to food and menu trends.

A keynote presentation by noted menu authority Nancy Kruse will provide senior chain executives with a snapshot of how early adopters are adjusting their bills of fare to reflect the trends. Her overview will be geared specifically for the C-suite.

Another session, “How to Create and Execute a Successful LTO,” will delve into how a limited-time offer needs to be structured at a time when menu simplicity and labor implications are as top-of-mind as an item’s drawing power. The presentation will provide the perspectives of suppliers, culinary specialists, marketers and operations execs.

The vagaries of the present-day supply chain will be addressed in a separate session, “Supply Chain Disruption: Challenges and Solutions.” As the title implies, the focus will be on strategies and tactics for coping with the situation, all fire-hardened by operators’ experiences.

One of the nation’s most prominent chefs, New York City’s David Chang, will share how he combined kitchen mastery and an acute sense of the next culinary trend into one of the industry’s most successful multiconcept groups. Chang may be best known for Momofuku, the noodle bar that opened just a course or two before ramen concepts flooded the market, but he’s also the creator of Fuku, a sandwich chain that presaged the surge in chicken-sandwich and hot chicken concepts.

“Menu has become so strategic for restaurant companies,” said Chris Keating, EVP and head of conferences for Winsight Media, the presenter of the Restaurant Leadership Conference and owner of Restaurant Business. “It’s obviously the main draw for customers, but commodity prices, supply chain, and labor are making smart menu management more important than ever.”

The Restaurant Leadership Conference will be held April 10-13 in Scottsdale, Ariz. Click here to request an invitation.  


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