The National Restaurant Association (NRA), in partnership with Technomic and DigitalCoCo, premier sponsor PepsiCo Foodservice and Primary Color, announced the 3rd annual National Restaurant Association Fast Casual Trends and Directions Conference, an industry event focused on the growing fast-casual segment. The conference will be held at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago on Friday, May 16, and will feature Pro Football Hall of Famer Marcus Allen as a speaker.

This exclusive, invitation-only event is designed to offer C-level fast-casual restaurant executives a comprehensive look at where the fast-casual segment is, where it is headed, and how to capitalize on opportunities. The conference will bring together key players in the fast-casual community, including leaders of the NRA’s Fast Casual Industry Council.

“Fast-casual restaurants are a growing segment of our industry,” says Phil Kafarakis, chief innovation officer for the NRA. “Operators in this space face a unique series of challenges and opportunities. The Fast Casual Trends and Directions Conference will provide vital industry research to arm fast-casual operators with the information they need on their path to success. This conference offers tremendous value to our members operating within the fast casual segment.”

“This is an essential event for fast-casual executives who are looking to gain reliable insights on the current state of the fast-casual segment and a detailed perspective on what is to come,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. “Executives in attendance will have access to exclusive research findings and information and leave with a competitive edge in the marketplace.”

"I have spent over 20 years analyzing the fast-casual segment, over 800 brands, and millions of consumers contribute to the future of fast casual, it's here to stay,” says Paul Barron, CEO and founder of Digital CoCo. “This segment is the future of how innovation in the restaurant business will happen. The FCIC provides a vehicle for like-minded fast-casual innovators to come together for the sharing of ideas but, most of all, to forge relationships that can help the segment become the leader for upgrading the restaurant industry to adapt to the modern day food consumer.”

Programming for this event, led by the teams at the NRA Fast Casual Industry Council and Technomic, draws on years of unparalleled industry expertise in foodservice knowledge, data collection, trend observation, and consumer insights.

“PepsiCo Foodservice is extremely proud to be associated with the NRA and Technomic Fast Casual conference. Since its inception, we have continued to embrace the learning and partnerships developed at this conference. We are also proud to be sponsoring Marcus Allen, Pro Football Hall of Famer, as a speaker at this year’s conference. Marcus has continued to live up to his reputation as an All-Star even in retirement from football and knows what it takes to build an effective team,” says Kelvin Lane, PepsiCo Foodservice senior manager of restaurant strategy.

“Primary Color is proud to be a sponsor of this conference. Since 1985, we have worked closely with the restaurant industry and continue to support their growth throughout the world,” says Paul Wartman, senior vice president for Primary Color. “Fast-casual restaurants are the fastest growing segment of the restaurant space. The Fast Casual Trends and Directions Conference is an important event for fast-casual executives who choose to keep on top of the latest trends in the industry.”


Attendance is limited to C-level restaurant operators, including owners, presidents and founders, as well as sponsoring organizations. Vice presidents and director-level executives at smaller operations will also be considered.

Consumer Trends, Fast Casual, News