SuperSession: The Future of Restaurants

Panelists consider how digital innovations will continue to reshape the industry

At the 100-year mark, it’s only fitting that this year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant Show will turn toward the future for inspiration.

Monday’s SuperSession: The Future of Restaurants puts forward thinking in the spotlight. Sharing the Grand Ballroom stage at McCormick Place will be experts in restaurant technology, from robotics to voice-activated equipment, mobile tools and autonomous delivery. They’ll explore how these innovations are revolutionizing some aspects of restaurant operations.

“There’s a lot of technology for restaurant operators on the market today—so much so that it can be nearly impossible for them to keep up,” says moderator Sara Rush Wirth, executive editor of Restaurant Business magazine.

“At the same time, there are many technologies that can solve problems and improve business for restaurant operators,” she adds. “But in the sea of options, it’s hard to identify what those time and money savers might be compared to those that aren’t on-mission.”

“We’ll share a bit of data, along with new technologies and operator testimonial, to show some of the latest innovations that should be on operators’ radar,” Wirth says.

Participants joining Wirth in this year’s SuperSession represent some of the most innovative restaurant brands and technology companies. They include:

Christopher Thomas-Moore, vice president of global ecommerce and digital marketing for Domino’s. The chain, which former CEO Patrick Doyle has famously referred to as “a tech company that sells pizza,” has been at the cutting edge of foodservice technology, embracing innovations such as driverless cars, AI-automated phone orders and Hotspots, which allow customers to have food delivered to unconventional locations, such as stadiums and parks. Domino’s strategy has resulted in some two-thirds of its orders coming through digital channels. Thomas-Moore, who is responsible for all digital-driven acquisition and retention programs within the organization, joined Domino’s in mid-2018 and has been involved in a number of cutting-edge technology advancements and campaigns.

Melissa Burghardt, chief operating officer at Miso Robotics, a leading robotics and artificial intelligence solutions company. Miso caused a sensation when it rolled out Flippy, an artificial intelligence-driven robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings and acquire new skills over time. Burghardt has more than 20 years of experience with companies like thrv, AT&T, Open X and Yahoo!

Allison Page, chief product officer and cofounder of SevenRooms. The reservation, seating and guest management platform empowers operators to create and cultivate meaningful, direct relationships with guests that enable exceptional experiences. Page has led the firm’s strategy, vision and user experience design since the firm’s inception, transforming the daily operations of restaurants, hotels and nightlife properties across the globe.

As the backgrounds of these experts suggest, “the future of restaurants is already here,” Wirth says. Find out more at SuperSession: The Future of Restaurants at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 20. It’s open to all registered show attendees, exhibitors and media. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

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