May 23, 2016

Signature ’16: Turn the tables at National Restaurant Association Show

(Chicago) The National Restaurant Association’s new twist on the traditional keynote address, “Signature ’16: Turn the Tables,” at the 2016 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show resulted in an inspiring and engaging conversation on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m.

The Association’s President and CEO Dawn Sweeney hosted three of the restaurant industry’s game-changers, who are turning the tables on conventional thinking, and answered provocative questions gathered from social media ahead of time.

Sweeney faced the future of local food with The Kitchen’s Kimbal Musk; talked the evolution of guest experience with Red Robin’s Denny Marie Post; and addressed the benefits of conveniently connecting diners and restaurants with Uber Everything’s Jason Droege.

Throughout the 90-minute keynote panel discussion, each trailblazing executive discussed with the NRA Show’s audience how the business of hospitality is evolving and continuing to cater toward a multitude of customers and age groups through brand revitalization, technology, sourcing, and more. Each session produced social media-worthy snippets on topics ranging from restaurants creating dishes that are made to go viral, implementing technology to enhance diner choices, and striving to source local on a larger scale.

Signature speakers produced myriad Tweet-able moments including:

·         The Kitchen’s Kimbal Musk says slow food can successfully scale:

  • “You don’t have to solve the problem for the whole world. You just have to solve the problem this week.”
  • “Critical to scaling local is doubling down where you are.”
  • “Build the relationship, so farmers can learn how to be a better partner for restaurants.”

·         Red Robin’s Denny Marie Post says a traditional brand can be taught new tricks:

  • “We needed to morph our restaurants in a way that allowed us to serve different kinds of customers.”
  • “Expect in 5 years to see a dramatic change in the expectations of guests for on-demand service.”
  • “Millennials have different needs and we’re going to need to stay on top of that.”

·         Uber Everything’s Jason Droege says a third-party delivery service can deliver:

  • “The problem of connecting people with the food they want has a lot of power.”
  • “[We] have to understand the details on the ground if [we’re] investing in a restaurant.”
  • “[We] work [closely] with restaurants to figure out how far their food should be delivered to maintain their food quality.”

Sweeney facilitated an open discussion between these change-agents and the industry at-large, and challenged attendees to stretch their thinking about how to transform their business. Signature ’16: Turn the Tables, presented by American Express, took place on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. at McCormick Place’s Grand Ballroom.

The following details on how each Signature ’16 speaker became the industry’s leading game changers:

The Kitchen’s Kimbal Musk is on the board of Chipotle Mexican Grill, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. His personal mission is to strengthen communities through food. Kimbal is a co-founder of The Kitchen, a growing family of restaurants that sources directly from local farmers, stimulating local farm economies to the tune of millions of dollars a year, and creating quality jobs. In 2011, Kimbal co-founded The Kitchen Community, a complementary non-profit organization. The Kitchen Community builds Learning Gardens in schools around the U.S. reaching hundreds of thousands of students every school day, improving their vegetable intake and academic achievements. Follow Kimbal on Twitter @Kimbal and Instagram @KimbalMusk.

Red Robin President Denny Marie Post oversees the brand’s Strategy, Marketing, Menu Innovation and Implementation, Company Operations, New Restaurant Opening and Enterprise Transformation teams, as well as leading Franchise Operations, Red Robin restaurants in Canada and development of Red Robin Burger Works and Alternative Platforms. Denny has more than 30 years of leadership experience in consumer-driven marketing and product innovation as well as building teams to develop and execute on strategies that increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Uber Everything's Jason Droege is focused on leveraging Uber's extensive logistics network to launch new business ventures. Under his leadership, the company has brought innovative same day services such as UberRUSH and UberEATS to market in 13 cities across four countries and three continents. Jason's expertise as a successful founder and business leader across e-commerce, enterprise software, and internet services has resulted in the development of a robust logistics platform that is revolutionizing the delivery industry. Follow Uber on Twitter @uber.

National Restaurant Association’s President and CEO Dawn Sweeney
As President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Restaurant Association, Dawn Sweeney leads the primary business association for the restaurant industry. Since taking the helm in late 2007, she has led the Association to several major legislative victories and has launched the first-of-its-kind children's menu initiative – Kids LiveWell. Under Sweeney's leadership, the largest restaurant and hospitality industry trade show in the United States has seen solid growth, while many other trade shows have struggled. She’s been instrumental in highlighting key areas of opportunity for the industry.

To follow take a look at the conversation on social media, visit Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. NRA Show 2016 will be held May 21-24 and BAR at NRA Show will be held May 22-23 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. To register, please visit

The National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show® is the largest annual gathering of restaurant, foodservice, and lodging professionals in the world. NRA Show® 2016 will be held May 21-24 at McCormick Place in Chicago, and the 2016 BAR at NRA Show Event, held in conjunction with NRA Show, will take place May 22-23. The events attract 66,000+ attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and showcase the latest products, services, innovative ideas, up-to-the-minute information about trends and issues, and growth opportunities. For more information, visit the NRA Show and BAR websites at and and find the NRA Show on Twitter @NRAShowFacebook, Instagram @NRAShowYouTube, Flickr, Pinterest and our year-round content hub Brainfeed.

About the National Restaurant Association

Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.5 million employees. Together with 52 State Associations, we are a network of professional organizations dedicated to serving every restaurant through advocacy, education, and food safety. We sponsor the industry's largest trade show (National Restaurant Association Show); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF's ProStart). For more information, visit and find @WeRRestaurants on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.