LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 20, 2018) — Executives from KFC, Papa John’s, Long John Silver’s and Texas Roadhouse joined more than 250 restaurant industry leaders last week at the Omni Hotel in downtown Louisville for the 2018 Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit.
The Summit, produced by Louisville-based Networld Media Group, was making its first stop in Louisville after two years in Dallas. Networld is planning to bring the event back to Louisville in March 2019.
“We’ve been producing events like this for 13 years. It was exciting to finally bring one to our home city,” said Kathy Doyle, Networld’s president and publisher. “The new Omni Hotel was a magnificent venue for our conference and a terrific showcase for Louisville.”
The Summit started with a keynote presentation from George Felix, director of advertising for KFC U.S. Felix talked about the brand’s resurgence behind its highly successful ad campaigns featuring a revolving cast of celebrities playing Colonel Sanders, the company’s late founder and iconic spokesman.
Following the opening keynote, attendees gathered in an adjoining ballroom for a “Give-Back Party” where they spent an hour making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bagging apples for Louisville’s Dare to Care Food Bank. A Dare to Care representative said the food would be distributed to 2,400 needy families in the local community.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer made an appearance on the second day of the event to welcome the restaurant operators in attendance and encourage them to consider Louisville for their franchise expansion plans.
Fischer also recounted how he co-invented the SerVend ice machine in his 20s and then eventually sold the company to The Manitowoc Company. Manitowoc changed its name to Welbilt in 2017, and Welbilt was the Summit’s premier platinum sponsor.
Networld launched the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit in 2016 to provide a forum for restaurant operators to learn how innovation in all facets of their business can lead to franchise growth.
“‘Powering franchise growth through technology and leadership’ is an amazing tagline for this conference and a great challenge for all of us,” Matt Friedman, CEO of Wing Zone, told the audience during a session on mobile marketing.
The Summit also featured speakers from Lexington-based A&W Restaurants and Fazoli’s, as well as Arby’s, Church’s Chicken, Jersey Mike’s, Red Robin, Wendy’s, and more. The event was sponsored by more than 40 food, technology, equipment and service suppliers.
Networld plans to announce dates soon for the 2019 Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit.