Canadian Restaurant Trends and Directions Conference Wraps

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BRAMPTON, Ont. — It was a jam-packed day of learning for 135 restaurant operators, suppliers and researchers, who gathered at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton, Ont., yesterday, to attend the second-annual Canadian Restaurants 2012 Trends & Directions conference, hosted by Kostuch Media and Technomic Inc.

Darren Tristano, EVP of Technomic, opened the conference with an overview of the state of the foodservice industry, examining consumer spending and the leading LSRs.

His presentation was followed by an economic overview by Warren Jestin, SVP and chief economist at Scotiabank. Next, Kevin Higar, director of Research and Consulting for Technomic, analyzed the success behind hot concepts such as Browns Socialhouse, Smashburger and Union Burger.

The afternoon sessions saw Melissa Wilson, principal at Technomic, leading a talk about dining habits among different demographics, including the unique problems foodservice operators face when catering to demanding Millennials. Finally, Erik Thoresen, director of Research and Consulting, and Kevin Higar took the stage to discuss menu trends, highlighting comfort foods with a twist, allergies and food sensitivities, a “new” ethnic appeal and trending beverages.

Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher of Foodservice and Hospitality magazine wrapped the conference by leading a panel discussion. Jay Gould of New York Fries and South St. Burger Co., Ken Otto of Boston Pizza International, Inc., David Polny of Cora Franchise Group and Alex Rechichi of Extreme Brandz spoke candidly about the economy, increasing costs and discounting. “Groupon was a big deal, months ago, but it sizzled out. A lot of small operators thought they were doing the right thing but gave away the farm,” says Otto. “It cheapens your brand and brings down the value of your product,” says Gould.

Check out the December issue of Foodservice and Hospitality magazine for more details from the conference.

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