Dallas To Host National Restaurant Innovation Summit

Robots. Gamification. UX. CX. Blockchain in the kitchen. Tech trends of all kinds are on the radar for the National Restaurant Association's first summit in Dallas.

Dallas’ national reputation as a leader in the food and beverage sector has earned the city a major prize. For the first time, the city will host the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 Restaurant Innovation Summit Nov. 7-8 at various venues.

Some of the biggest brands in the country will be on-hand — Yum!, Kellogg, White Castle, PayPal, FoodLogiQ — for thoughtful explorations of the latest in restaurant tech.

Wondering where digital payment is heading in today’s evolving landscape? Curious to learn about alternative proteins and the potentially growing impact on restaurant menus in the industry? Ever asked yourself how automation — and robots — will transform society?

There are sessions for that.

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Innovation-focused leaders and C-level executives from across various restaurant categories will gather to converse about diverse topics, such as elevating the guest experience, maximizing operations, and staying ahead of tech trends.

“Dallas has been put on the map in recent years as one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and has established itself as a startup hub,” Laura Knapp Chadwick, director of member engagement-technology & data security for association, told Dallas Innovates.

“It has also taken great strides to integrate technology into the city landscape, which made it the perfect place to host the Restaurant Innovation Summit,” Chadwick says. “We are excited about Dallas because it is known as a hospitality town, with so many restaurant and hospitality brands calling it home base.” 

“Dallas has been put on the map in recent years as one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, and has established itself as a startup hub.” 
Laura Knapp Chadwick

Other event sessions will touch on a variety of relevant topics, including using technology to address third-party delivery services, VR/AR, blockchain, and understanding Gen Z. And, you won’t want to miss keynote speaker Jane McGonigal, a future forecaster and designer of alternative-reality games, as she highlights the gamification trends shaping up in the restaurant industry, like loyalty apps, tableside tech, and employee-engagement programs.

Attendees will fill various venues across the Dallas-Fort Worth region, from lodging at the W Dallas Victory, to sessions housed in The Empire Room, to a foodservice and technology tour at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Last year, Site Selection magazine named Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington the No. 1 “most competitive” North American city in the food & beverage sector. North Texas is an area known for corporate headquarters, as well as restaurant innovation in the form of test kitchens for major national corporate brands like Frito-Lay, Pizza Hut, Jamba Juice, and Which Wich.

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“DFW is a great place for food and beverage companies, both headquarter and manufacturing operations,” Duane Dankesreiter, senior vice president, research and innovation for the Dallas Regional Chamber, previously told Dallas Innovates. “Those companies come here because of our central location, cost of doing business, and access to great talent.”

This is the association’s sixth summit, Chadwick says, with the past two years’ weekends being held in Austin before moving to Dallas this year.

The National Restaurant Association represents more than 15.1 million employees and is the leading business association for the restaurant and foodservice industry. The restaurant sector makes up 4 percent of the nation’s GDP with $825 million in annual sales and 1 million locations across the country. So, yes — it’s a pretty big deal.

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