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We’re bringing the restaurant and foodservice industry together in a new way to help navigate a new normal.

Restaurants and foodservice have been tested at the heart. In this Restaurants Rise digital community, the industry can access information, inspiration and solutions to combat the crisis of COVID-19. Powered by the award-winning editorial team of Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality, with partners Datassential, The Elliot Group and Black Box Intelligence, this digital gateway will provide featured content – whitepapers, insights, data, case studies, video interviews, and much more – to aid operators.

Restaurants Rise will also go LIVE! June 2-5 for four days of 20 webinars and keynotes featuring insights into: The New Normal for Ops, Workforce Solutions, Meeting New Consumer Demands and Growth Strategies & Solutions.

And finally, we’re in this together! Restaurants Rise is here to help support the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. A portion of proceeds and live fundraisers in June will benefit this fund created to help restaurant industry workers experiencing hardship in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Featured Speakers

Don’t miss these keynote presentations!

Winning the New Normal: Using Your Core Values to Navigate an Ever-Changing Landscape

Charlie Morrison
Chairman & CEO

What the Data Shows: The state of the forever-changed restaurant industry

Kelli Valade
President & CEO
Black Box Intelligence

The Future has been Accelerated: A look at what will work – and why – for restaurants

Jack Li
Haiku Master

Stay informed as we add new speakers to the agenda.

Support America’s Restaurant Employees!

There are more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S., home to more than 15 million workers. Early estimates indicate that our industry is the largest sector impacted by the spread of COVID – 19, with 5 to 7 million restaurant workers expected to lose their jobs. In the face of this global pandemic, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) believes that their mission – to support and empower our industry’s workforce – is more important than ever.

NRAEF set up the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to help restaurant industry workers experiencing hardship in the wake of the outbreak. Through this Fund, grants will be awarded to restaurant industry workers who have been impacted by COVID – 19.

Restaurants Rise LIVE!

June 2 through June 5 | 1:00pm ET-4:30pm ET Daily

Click on the arrow to view more information about each session. Sign up for each session you’d like to attend by clicking on it. You’ll be prompted to register the first time and then you can sign up to get reminders for additional sessions with one click! 

New Normal for Operations

Insights and ideas on getting back to the new normal of operating your business.

Mobile Safari users may experience issues signing up for sessions if cross-site tracking is not enabled in your phone’s Safari settings. You can typically resolve this registering to join the community, and then clicking on each session you’d like to attend.

Learn more about our Restaurant Rise LIVE! speakers.

Resource & Education Center

Head to the Resource & Education Center to view valuable content from our editorial team and Restaurants Rise sponsors.

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Our Partners

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Brian Whitney
Vice President of Enterprise Sales, Appetize

Brian Whitney leads Appetize’s sales efforts in the Professional and Enterprise space. He brings over 20 years of POS experience to Appetize and has worked with Radiant Systems, NCR and Allure over that term. Brian has worked globally in over 20 countries on 5 continents in industries throughout hospitality, airports, cinemas, stadiums and retail. An avid college sports fan he lives in Atlanta with his wife Monica and daughter Annabeth.

Michael Lastoria
CEO and Co-Founder of &pizza

Michael Lastoria is a serial entrepreneur known for building companies around four core principles: design-driven, culture-centric, brand-led, and most importantly, morally sound. In 2012, he co-founded &pizza, a counter culture pizza brand embodying these values.

Since its conception, &pizza has grown to 32 throughout the East Coast. The company’s success, he asserts, is built on the shoulders of the company’s employees, the &pizza Tribe. He sees them not just as employees, but as both the face of the brand and the core of its business. They live and breathe the brand and its culture, and some tribe members even tattoo their allegiance in ink; “&” tattoos are offered for free by the brand to its Tribe as a demonstration of its commitment to building a cultural movement, not just a product-pusher. Every shop is different, designed around, with, and inspired by the community it serves, often times incorporating local artists’ work into their design.

In addition to &pizza, Lastoria cofounded JWALK, a New York based full service creative agency. After rapid expansion, he and partner Doug Jacob sold the company in 2017 to beauty powerhouse Shiseido.

Rick Badgley
EVP, Chief People & Administrative Officer at Brinker International

Rick Badgley serves as executive vice president and chief people and administrative officer for Brinker International, Inc. He oversees all aspects of the Team Member experience, corporate communications, government relations, Guest relations and business continuity for Brinker and its brands and leads Chili’s® Grill & Bar global business development.

Rick joined Brinker in 2016 as chief people officer where he helped transform the PeopleWorks team to strategic business partners resulting in record-high Team Member engagement, industry-leading turnover and award-winning training programs. In 2018, he was promoted to his current role and took on additional responsibility, including leading Chili’s international business.

Prior to joining Brinker, Rick served in multiple retail and hospitality leadership roles with TOMS, Starbucks and Wyndham Worldwide. Rick enjoys spending time with his wife, Stephanie, and two boys, Jackson and Cameron. He holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management and a master’s in hospitality administration from Johnson and Wales University.

In 2002, he founded a leading marketing and media services company. As co-founder and CEO, Michael oversaw the company’s growth and sale to Seaport Capital a New York-based private equity firm, in 2006.

But perhaps his proudest recognition is that of fair employer. Michael is a recognized and vocal advocate in the Fight for $15, and employs strict policies of paying a fair and livable wage.

He speaks regularly on the value of design thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. Recent appearances include the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Inc. 5000, WeWork Creator Awards and more.

Michael has been identified as one of the country’s top 25 fast casual executives, and named one of the Washington Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. In 2017, he was awarded the Mort Harris Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Council of America.

Chef David DiGregorio
Chef/Partner at Osteria Via Stato

Chef David DiGregorio attributes his appreciation of food to his Italian family’s tradition of cooking and eating together, knowing as a child that he wanted to be a chef. As part of the Lettuce Entertain You team since 1992, Chef DiGregorio opened Osteria Via Stato in 2004 in Chicago’s River North. The restaurant follows the Italian tradition of seasonal ingredients and local flavors, featuring midwest farmers, produce and purveyors on its rotating menu. Osteria Via Stato’s simple and honest approach has made it a favorite mainstay for today’s epicureans—from neighborhood locals to award-winning chefs and winemakers throughout the world. Osteria Via Stato has received numerous awards including recognition in Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine; as well as being named Best Italian Restaurant in Time Out Chicago. Chef DiGregorio supports organizations close to his heart, including Chicago’s Green City Market, Meals-on-Wheels and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Chicago.

Joe Lam
Director of Consumer Insights of Impossible Foods

Joe Lam is Director of Consumer Insights at Impossible Foods. In this role, Joe and his team use research, data, and empathy to identify how to best reach and satisfy Impossible consumers. Joe’s work includes translating consumer and market insights for use by the product, marketing, and sales teams to drive consumer and operator awareness, adoption, and love of Impossible products. Before joining Impossible, Joe led the Consumer Insights team at Whole Foods Market, where he partnered closely with the marketing and merchandising teams on projects like the Whole Foods loyalty program and marketing campaigns like “Whatever Makes You Whole.” Prior to Whole Foods, Joe led consumer insights teams at Annie’s Homegrown and General Mills, where he focused on new product launches including Annie’s Berry Bunnies.Joe has a Master’s in Business Administration from Rice University’s Jones School of Business, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin.

Jeff Chandler
CEO of Hopdoddy

Growing up in the restaurant industry managing teams for over twenty-five years, Jeff Chandler’s extensive experience and impressive background led him to HopdoddyBurger Bar in 2016 where he has passionately taken charge as Chief Executive Officer. His proven track record for building and leading teams that grow stronger while growing larger further fortifies the award-winning brand. Under Jeff’s leadership, Hopdoddy has poised itself for significant growth by improving operating and financial results, reinforcing brand pillars, securing and solidifying vendor/partner/board/founder/team member relationships and by successfully recruiting world-class leadership talent in Operations, Finance, Development, People, Training and Marketing. These changes, coupled with the company’s strong performance, continues to drive his efforts toward expansion.Prior to Hopdoddy, Chandler double-majored in Finance and Business Administration at the University of Washington and played football for the nationally ranked Washington Huskies, all while pursuing his passion for hospitality. During college, Chandler served as a Supervising Regional Bartender for RAM International, a privatelyheld, multi-concept casual dining and brewing company. After college, Chandler steadily rose to become president and managing operator at RAM, just 12 years after starting at the company. During his rise in leadership, Chandler was responsible for developing strategies and initiating tactics necessary for the company’s significant and successful growth throughout seven western states by strengthening the brands, improving the internal culture, building world-class teams and driving same store sales and improved margins. In 2014, Chandler signed on as Chief Executive Officer of Opper-MelangRestaurants, an independently owned, multi-concept restaurant company, in Seattle, Washington. As CEO, Chandler was responsible for building the foundation for sustainable, significant and rapid growth by investing in people and infrastructure while strengthening operations and improving the outward facing brand pillars. Opper-Melang successfully increased unit count 70% in 2 years across four western states under Chandler’s leadership. One of Chandler’s favorite quotes comes from Navy SEAL & author, Jocko Willnk: “Leaders should never be satisfied. They must always strive to improve, and they must build that mind-set into the team.” Chandler applies that mentality to his day-to-day, forever striving to raise the bar for his business, his team, and the restaurant industry at large.

Nicole Milnthorpe
Chief Financial Officer at Smokey Bones

Nicole Milnthorpe is Chief Financial Officer of Smokey Bones, a full-service restaurant delivering good food, good drinks and good times in 61 locations across 16 states. Nicole has more than 20 years of experience in financial services including Big 4 and C-suite executive positions in national restaurant organizations including Shula’s Steakhouse and Deloitte. Named by the South Florida Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, she graduated from the University of Miami and is a CPA.

Burton Weiss
CEO of Buddy’s Pizza

Burton Heiss joined Buddy’s Pizza as CEO in July 2019. With more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the restaurant industry, Heiss has worked with an array of businesses throughout his career – including Nando’s and Baja Fresh. In his role as CEO at Buddy’s, Heiss is focused on strategic expansion of the Detroit-based brand throughout Michigan and eventually the Midwest. Heiss received a Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational communication from Pepperdine University.