Beverage, dessert innovation to open Fast Casual Executive Summit

Sept. 19, 2013

Research over the past year has shown that restaurants serving innovative desserts and beverages are seeing increased traffic and check spend. That trend has inspired this year's Fast Casual Executive Summit to open the event with "New Menu Stars: Beverages and Desserts," a special session to teach attendees how to create, market and launch specialty menu items, said Cherryh Butler, editor of and hostess of the Summit set for Oct. 13-15 in New Orleans.

"We've been tracking this trend and restaurants serving unique desserts and beverages are ahead of the game," she said. "Whether it's shakes, smoothies, slushy drinks, coffee-infused or adult beverages, this trend is only going to grow."

The panel features several industry experts who have been key players in launching successful dessert and beverages programs, including:

  • Louis Basile, founder of Wildflower Bread Company.
  • Richard Yoo, former McDonald's senior director of new product innovation and marketing.
  • And Ken Kimmel, former SVP, Baskin-Robbins Brand Officer and former VP for Dunkin' Brands.

Moderating the panel is Rolie Zagnoli, managing director of Zagnoli Trading Company, which specializes in helping restaurants create beverage programs. Clients have included McDonald's, Au Bon Pain and Dunkin' Brands.

The panel, Zagnoli said, will help restaurant operators tackle every aspect of creating, launching and marketing dessert and beverages, including:

  • Innovative beverage thinking from concept to customer.
  • Transitional menu thinking from afterthought to key differentiator.
  • Beverages that are on-trend, trend forward and consumer preferred.
  • Identifying and satisfying guest demand moments that can transform your business.
  • Supplier selection and integration.
  • Guest-driven test practices that increase the probability of innovation success.
  • Brand positioning and strategic marketing.
  • And operational and execution excellence.

Registration for the 8th annual Fast Casual Executive Summit is now open at

Photo: Courtesy of

Topics: Food & Beverage , Research & Development / Innovation

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