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UCLA Extension's Restaurant Industry Conference to Unravel Post-Recession Growth Strategies.

LOS ANGELES -- Is it time to celebrate in the restaurant industry?

With forecasts predicting sustained economic and employment growth, improvements in capital markets and other favorable conditions, the nation's top restaurateurs, investors, lenders and advisors will gather in Los Angeles for the 15th Annual Restaurant Industry Conference to hear experts offer the latest research, insights - and inspiration.

This year's Restaurant Industry Conference, sponsored by UCLA Extension, could very well be a bellwether moment for the $1.3 trillion industry and for the U.S. economy as a whole, organizers said.

"Restaurants lead out of a recession, so how they perform in 2011 could very well confirm the country is on the mend," said Anna Graves, conference chair andco-leader of the Restaurant, Food & Beverage Industry Group for Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. The conference takes place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Thursday, April 21.

The key for restaurant executives, Graves said, is to have the right approach to profitability and not take over-aggressive steps.

"The restaurant industry leaders who gather here in April recognize consumers continue to pinch pennies and running these businesses remains as challenging as ever. Yet, there is room for growth and having the right strategies in place will make all the difference for restaurants," she said.

The conference begins with two fact-filled sessions. Julia A. Stewart, chairman and CEO of DineEquity, will discuss the focus, fundamentals, and financial strategies which are necessary to successfully navigating out of a recession. Edward Leamer, a world-class economist and author of the highly acclaimed UCLA Anderson Business Forecast each year, will provide insights and direction on what 2011 will hold - and explain how restaurant operators might best prepare for it.

The morning will be completed with a "State of the Industry" panel discussionfeaturing Ron Paul, President, Technomic, Inc., and Nicole Miller Regan, Senior Research Analyst, Piper Jaffray, followed by breakout sessions discussing how to instill work ethics in younger workers and key issues in franchising.

The afternoon session includes a panel offering the latest thinking about acquiring capital and insights into financial restructuring. The speakers are: Gene Baldwin, CRG Partners; Kevin Burke, Managing Director, Trinity Capital; Bill Taves, CFO, Claim Jumper Restaurants; and H. G. ("Carey") Carrington Jr., CFO, Romano's Macaroni Grill. The session is moderated by Rod Guinn, Operating Partner of FocalPoint Partners LLC.

The final panel focuses on "emerging concepts," featuring CEOs of companies of companies that sustained significant growth during the recession and continue to outperform their competitors. These include Greg Dollarhyde, president & CEO of Zo[R]'s Kitchen and Dave Prokupek, chairman & CEO of Smashburger. The session will be moderated by Wallace Doolin, Chairman, People Report & Black Box Intelligence.

The conference culminates with the presentation of the 2011Innovation Award to Jose Andres, chef and owner of the ThinkFoodGroup, which operates numerous restaurant concepts, including Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico, minibar by Jose Andres, and Los Angeles' celebrated destination in the exclusive SLS Hotel, The Bazaar by Jose Andres. Andres will accept the award from last year's winner, Kerry Kramp, President and CEO of Sizzler USA, Inc.

"Jose is credited with bringing the 'small plates' concept to the United States, considered one of the fathers of the molecular gastronomy movement, and internationally recognized as a culinary innovator," Graves said, adding that conference attendees will be treated to an informal and highly instructive one-on-one dialogue between Andres and Kramp. "I think this discussion will be particularly interesting. While their concepts may be diametrically opposed, their extraordinary success in appealing to their particular guest base is shared."

Conference details and online registration are available at Please note that the early registration discount ends March 31.

About UCLA Extension

UCLA Extension is the continuing education division of the University of California at Los Angeles. UCLA Extension offers evening, weekend, and online courses and certificates for professionals in business, management, engineering, information systems, entertainment studies, public policy, public health, the humanities and many other fields. Find out more at
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Publication:Business Wire
Article Type:Conference notes
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Feb 9, 2011
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