In today's fast-paced restaurant landscape, the future of marketing is not on the horizon—it's already here, NOW.

Gain the knowledge, tools, and strategies to navigate the dynamic landscape of restaurant marketing at MEG 2024. Our sessions will explore the latest trends in technology, marketing, menu innovation, and data dynamics, ensuring you stay ahead of the curve.   


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*All events will take place at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel, unless otherwise noted.


5:00 - 5:30 pm

First Timers Reception (Operators Only)
Location: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel - Level 2, Adriatic/Aegean Room

Welcome to your first MEG experience! Join us for a special reception tailored just for newcomers, where you can connect with fellow attendees and Steering Committee members who are ready to guide you through every step of your MEG journey.

5:30 - 7:30 pm

Welcome Reception
Location: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel - Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom Foyer

Mix and mingle with friends, old and new, over drinks and light bites.

Sponsored By: 


8:00 - 10:00 pm

Paddlepalooza at SPIN Chicago
Location: SPIN, 344 N State St. (0.7 miles, 15 minute walk from Radisson Blu Aqua hotel)

Join us for an unforgettable evening of food, drinks, and Ping Pong at SPIN Chicago! Whether you're a seasoned pro or just looking to have some fun, this is an event you won't want to miss. Get ready to compete in our Ping Pong tournament or simply kick back and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere with fellow marketers. Dress casually and don't forget your tennis shoes if you're up for a match!

Presented by:


7:30 - 8:30 am

Location: Level 2, Pacific Ballroom

Sponsored By: 



8:30 - 9:00 am

Welcome to MEG
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

9:00 - 10:00 am

Emotion By Design: Creative Leadership Lessons from a Life at Nike
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

Greg Hoffman, Nike's Former Chief Marketing Officer & Author of Emotion by Design

In this compelling, surprising, and dynamic talk, Greg Hoffman—the former Chief Marketing Officer at Nike—shares lessons and stories on the power of creativity drawn from almost three decades of experience at one of the world's biggest brands. A celebration of ingenuity and a call-to-arms for brand-builders to rediscover the human element in forming consumer bonds, Greg gives us an insider's guide to unlocking inspiration within a brand and building stronger emotional connections with consumers.

You’ll learn Greg’s three favorite guiding principles: creativity is a team sport; you should dare to be remembered; and you want to leave a legacy, not just a memory. These principles were the driving engine behind Greg’s work at Nike, where he defined the company’s brand voice and identity through storytelling and experiences. Every story was distinct, yet the result was always the same: a strong emotional attachment between products and people—quite literally emotion by design.

With fascinating stories about Nike’s famous campaigns, this talk reveals the philosophy and rules behind how to create an empowering brand that resonates deeply with people: you do it by unlocking the creativity within your organization and unleashing it out into the world.

10:00 - 10:30 am

Networking Break
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom Foyer

Sponsored By: 



10:30 - 11:35 am

Topic-Tailored Roundtable Discussions, Part 1 (Operators Only)
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

One of the key networking opportunities for MEG attendees is our series of curated roundtable discussions, which allow restaurant operators to share best practices, solve pressing issues and have compelling conversations with other industry peers. Each roundtable is moderated by a subject matter expert who will facilitate and guide the discussion.

NEW this year! The roundtable topics operators would like to take part in will be chosen within the MEG registration process, and not when attendees arrive onsite. Operators can choose two topics for Part 1 and two topics during Part 2.

Topics include:

  • Loyalty Personalization & Segmentation
  • Local Store Marketing
  • Creative In House vs. External (i.e., Marketing Resources + Agencies)
  • Traffic Driving Strategies
  • Catering & Private Events
  • Marketing + Operations
  • ROI – Measurements & Strategies (KPIs)
  • LTOs
  • Let’s Talk Tech Stack
  • Guest Satisfaction & Online Reviews
  • Data Utilization
  • Social Media Trends


11:35 – 11:45 am

Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom Foyer

11:45 – 12:30 pm

Future in Focus: Navigating the Convergence of Marketing, Technology & Operations
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

Moderator: Kim DeCarolis, SVP, Strategic Growth, Craveworthy Brands


  • Paul Macaluso, President & CEO, Another Broken Egg Cafe
  • Jamie Richardson, Vice President, Marketing & PR, White Castle
  • Beth Hardy, Vice President, Marketing, Modern Restaurant Concepts (Modern Market Eatery)

This engaging panel discussion will delve into the dynamic intersection of marketing, technology, and operations within the restaurant industry. In this session, industry experts and thought leaders will explore how the fusion of these key elements is reshaping the way restaurants operate, market themselves, and deliver exceptional dining experiences.

12:30 – 1:30 pm

Location: Level 2, Pacific Ballroom

1:30 – 2:15 pm

From Posts to Plates: Social Media Success Stories
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom


  • Dan Bejmuk, CEO & Co-Founder, Dreambox
  • Pam Nedwetzky, Director, Marketing, Grimaldi's Pizzeria

Explore unique viewpoints on social media success in this engaging session featuring insights from an agency expert and restaurant marketer. Gain practical tips and real-life case studies to elevate your social media strategy.


2:15 - 3:00 pm

AI: Going Beyond the Hype to Drive Real Business Outcomes
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom


  • Zach Goldstein, CEO & Founder, Thanx
  • Abhinav Kapur, CEO & Co-Founder, Bikky
  • Josh Halpern, CEO, Big Chicken

AI is the buzzword driving tech-focused conversations in 2024, but much of the noise is just that. The trick is knowing how to separate what's real and what's just buzz. Join restaurant industry thought leaders Zach Goldstein of Thanx and Abhinav Kapur of Bikky, alongside innovator Josh Halpern of Big Chicken in a discussion about the AI use cases that will actually drive business results.

3:00 – 3:30 pm 

Networking Break
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom Foyer

Sponsored By: 



3:30 – 4:35 pm

Topic-Tailored Roundtable Discussions, Part 2 (Operators Only)
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

Our Roundtable Discussions continue with operators choosing another two topics to take part in.

6:30 – 9:00 pm

Marketing Celebration at ROOF on theWit
Location: ROOF on theWit (theWit Hotel), 201 N. State Street, 27th Floor (0.5 miles, 11 minute walk from Radisson Blu Aqua hotel)

Experience the excitement at ROOF on theWit as we gather for a night of networking and celebration. Connect with industry leaders, gather invaluable insights, and raise a toast to your achievements against the stunning backdrop of the Chicago skyline from 27 stories high.



8:00 – 9:00 am

Location: Level 2, Pacific Ballroom

Sponsored By: 



9:00 – 9:15 am

MEG Business
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

9:15 – 10:00 am

The Sweet Spot Where Menu Marketing Meets Culinary Innovation
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

Moderator: Nancy Kruse, President, The Kruse Company, and Contributor to Restaurant Business Online


  • Amy Alarcon, Vice President, Culinary Innovation, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
  • Venecia Willis, Director, Culinary, Velvet Taco
  • Cai Palmiter, Vice President, Marketing, JINYA Ramen Bar

The relationship between marketing and culinary is crucial for menu innovation, sales, consumer perception, and margin delivery. Back by popular demand, this session will take you on a deep dive into LTOs, examining their journey from concept to launch. We'll explore the objectives behind these offers: are they designed to boost sales, introduce new menu items, enhance margins, or improve consumer perception? Perhaps all of the above? Additionally, we'll discuss the impact and future implications of AI on menu R&D and marketing strategies.

10:00 – 10:45 am

Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

10:45 – 11:15 am

Networking Break
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom Foyer

Sponsored By: 


11:15 – 12:00 pm

Loyalty Programs: Why They Don’t Work the Way Brands Think and the Keys to Unlocking Value
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom


  • Kevin O'Connell, Managing Director, Growth Advisory, Grant Thornton and an 18 Year Restaurant and Retail CMO Veteran
  • Aaron Noveshen, Founder and CEO of Starbird, an Emerging California-Based, Super Premium Fast-Food Concept

Nearly every consumer brand grasps for the holy grail of sales building: customer loyalty. Restaurants, retail, airlines, and many others all implement loyalty programs; yet loyalty strategies often struggle because the foundational assumptions they are based on prove to be false or misleading.

Drawing on loyalty data spanning various industries, we'll debunk common misconceptions and reveal the truth about how customers actually behave. This eye-opening presentation will change the way you approach loyalty marketing, offering fresh insights and strategies to unlock the untapped potential.


12:00 – 1:00 pm

Leading A 5 Star Team: A Journey for Leaders at Every Level
Location: Level 1, Atlantic Ballroom

Dr. Bryan K. Williams, Keynote Speaker, Consultant, Author and Noted Authority on Service Excellence, Purpose-Driven Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. Former Global Corporate Director of Training & Organizational Development at Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

In this engaging session, we’ll delve into the essence of leadership excellence—those who lead 5-star teams. Dr. Williams will take us on an insightful exploration that caters to both seasoned leaders striving for continuous excellence and emerging leaders eager to lay the foundation for a stellar leadership journey.

This session will review the leadership skills and competencies required to orchestrate a team of 5-star caliber, shining a spotlight on time-tested techniques and processes that have propelled leaders to success on a global scale.

 Key takeaways include:

  • How to build a team of highly engaged employees
  • Becoming a leader that others want to follow
  • Communicating the purpose of each person’s role

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