Networld Media Group, the parent company of FastCasual, has postponed the Restaurant Franchising and Innovation Summit to Aug. 10-12, according to Cherryh Cansler, the company’s vice president of editorial and FastCasual editor. The original plan was to host the event May 4-6 in Atlanta, but a slower-than-expected vaccination distribution rate has delayed the event for safety reasons.

“Pushing the Summit back will allow more attendees and speakers the chance to be vaccinated,” said Cansler, who emcees the event and announced that this year’s keynote is Beto Guajardo, the president of Focus Brands International. Based in Atlanta, Focus owns Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s.

“The past year has offered us an opportunity to pause and rethink how we will win in our markets,” said Guajardo, who will talk about how the company has been focused on elevating the customer experience in and outside the store during the pandemic.

“Technology can differentiate personalization, customization and convenience, but can it replace the human element of connection,” he said. “How we lead our teams, both near and far, and how we establish a distinct experience culture for our employees and customers will be a key combatant in overcoming homogeneous ubiquity.”

Guajardo is one of nearly 40 confirmed speakers for the in-person event. Others include:

  • Noodles & Co
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • Chicken Salad Chick
  • McAlister’s Deli
  • Nathan’s Famous
  • Starbird
  • Tropical Smoothie Cafe
  • Wingzone
  • Your Pie

Guajardo said he was excited to share his experience with attendees but was also looking forward to learning from his peers.

“Restaurant industry conferences fill an important role in helping like-minded professionals and owners to network, meet new people, and share ideas and experiences that can help shape the future of their business or career,” he said.

Networld Publisher Kathy Doyle said the event will be held in Atlanta, so all attendee and sponsor investments will be honored.

“Strict pandemic protocol will be honored as the hotel is working with us to ensure everyone’s safety,” she said.

Click here to read about the onsite safety plan.

Registration is open and early bird pricing is in effect until May 28.

About Networld Media Group

Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the tech, banking, retail and food service industries. Online properties include,,,,,,,, and Annual events include the Fast Casual Executive Summit, the Restaurant Franchising & Innovation Summit, the Bank Customer Experience Summit (BCX), the Interactive Customer Experience Summit (ICX) and the Self-Service Innovation Summit.

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