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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) Marketing Executive Group (MEG) has announced its bi-annual fall conference will take place in Denver Oct. 22 and 23.

Registration begins online in mid-June and is $395 per person with $100 savings for those who register by July 15. For more information visit restaurant.org/Events-Networking/Networking-Groups/Marketing_Executives_Group/Overview.

The theme for MEG's recent conference in Chicago, which was a few days before the start of the National Restaurant Show, was "Learn How to Build a Brand that Connects in a 24/7 Marketplace."

The two-day conference featured an array of industry leaders and consumer behavioral experts who shared their knowledge and expertise with the audience.

Clarice Turner, senior vice president of Starbucks U.S. and the pioneer of "Starbucks Evenings," illustrated how the coffee retailer is becoming a community gathering place for PTA board meetings, knitting circles and book clubs. And, by opening their doors to the community and creating an environment and hub for groups to conduct business and socialize, Starbucks has been successful in capturing a new "daypart" audience, Turner said.

Jeff Harvey, president and CEO of the 39-unit Burgerville, showed how a company can "Serve with Love" stressing the importance of investing in community relationships. The company looks to partner with local farmers and suppliers and, most recently, each location has been renamed for the city in which it does business further creating ties to the local community.

Harald Herrmann, brand president of Yard House Restaurants, served as this year's Industry Keynote Speaker. As co-founder of Round It Up America, where guests are invited to round up their checks to the nearest dollar with the leftover change donated to local charities and the American Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund, Herrmann said that guests feel empowered with the concept and have embraced the idea. To date, Yard House guests have raised more than $1 million for food banks, homeless shelters, and the victims of national disasters.

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