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New keynote speakers added to Restaurants Rise powered by MUFSO throughout the month of October.

MOD Pizza’s Scott and Ally Svenson highlight new Restaurants Rise powered by MUFSO keynotes

Executives from leading restaurant chains, associations and market research firms have joined Restaurants Rise powered by MUFSO for keynote addresses this October.

Restaurants Rise is a digital community and virtual event hosted by Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality. It is returning in October with new live events – now powered by the 40-plus-year-old Nation’s Restaurant News event, MUFSO. Registration is free for all restaurant operators is now live at

Leading off new keynote speakers are Scott and Ally Svenson, co-founders of the fast-casual pizza chain MOD Pizza. They will share their leadership insights on how they have successfully managed their business through staying true to their mission, brand culture and never losing focus on the importance of community impact. That keynote is Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. EDT.


Scott and Ally Svenson, co-founders of the fast-casual pizza chain MOD Pizza.

Also joining the lineup of speakers are the Women’s Foodservice Forum CEO Therese Gearhart for a session on advancing and empowering leadership for women in foodservice, Dr. James Pogue on how the restaurant industry can embrace diversity and inclusion, and Tom Bene, the president & CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Therese Gearhart (002).pngWomen’s Foodservice Forum CEO Therese Gearhart.

Additionally, Alice Elliot, CEO and co-founder of The Elliot Group, will moderate a leadership discussion on how to successfully mentor and inspire the next generation of foodservice industry leaders. Joining Elliot are Phil Hickey, chairman at Miller’s Ale House; Jon Luther, board member at Inspire Brands; and Rick Federico, chairman at Jamba.

Market research firms Datassential and Black Box Intelligence have also signed on to present at MUFSO. Datassential’s Jack Li will present on consumers’ diverging paths to recovery. Polarization and generational divides existed well before the coronavirus crisis, but the pandemic’s effects will be uneven across demographic and regional lines. That dynamic will only make it harder for restaurant leaders to know where to expand, what to serve and who to target. In his wide-ranging keynote, Datassential Founder Jack Li warns against assuming only the youngest consumers will be the “COVID Generation.” Instead, we should consider how people across all age cohorts are going to want different things from a post-pandemic foodservice industry and how this period of disruption will affect where they live and work, what they have in the bank and how they eat.

Kelli Valade.jpgKelli Valade, president and CEO of Black Box Intelligence.

Kelli Valade, president and CEO of Black Box Intelligence, will present on the forever changed restaurant industry and what it takes to win in today’s environment. She’ll present new data on consumer sentiment and guest trends, the restaurant workforce, and industry sales and traffic.

These new keynotes join already announced sessions led by Erica Dhawan, founder and CEO of Cotential, Soledad O’Brien, Omar Johnson and Vijay Vaitheeswaran, U.S. business editor for The Economist.

Restaurants Rise has also added new breakout speakers including menu expert Nancy Kruse, multi-unit leadership guru Jim Sullivan, AlixPartners’ Adam Werner and CapitalSpring’s Chad Spaulding.

MUFSO 2020 will deliver education, connection and inspiration for the restaurant industry in a new, state-of-the-art virtual tech stack. It will offer 16 keynotes, more than 40 best-practice sharing sessions, networking events, one-to-one or breakout gatherings, speaker Q&A, virtual exhibition booths and more. The community will bring together thousands of industry leaders set on reshaping the future of foodservice at its most crucial moment. Live sessions will be held each Tuesday and Thursday in October.

Title sponsors for MUFSO include the Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Foodservice and Johnsonville Foodservice.

Correction: September 15, 2020
This article has been updated with Jon Luther’s correct title.
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