Industry Leaders to Discuss Success Strategies during Interactive Keynote at 2009 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show

Keynote Executive Panel to feature Joseph Bastianich, Daniel Boulud, Steve Ells, Damian Mogavero and Sally Smith; Steve Dolinsky to moderate

(Chicago)  The National Restaurant Association today announced that five industry leaders behind some of the best success strategies in this fast-changing market will be part of the Keynote Executive Panel – a unique, new event at its 2009 Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and hold an engaging, interactive discussion with the panelists, who include chef-owner Daniel Boulud; Chipotle founder Steve Ells; Buffalo Wild Wings’ Sally Smith; wine maker and restaurateur Joseph Bastianich; and hospitality analytics entrepreneur Damian Mogavero. Award-winning food journalist Steve Dolinsky will moderate the panel, which will be held Sunday, May 17 in the Vista Ballroom, room S406 at Chicago’s McCormick Place during NRA Show 2009 (May 16-19).

“It is more important than ever for restaurants to redefine their value proposition to the guest,” said Michael Kaufman, National Restaurant Association chairman and co-president of Enovo Restaurant Ventures LLC. “At the 2009 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, attendees will learn from leaders who are succeeding today. Show attendees will interact with experienced executives from some of the industry’s top-performing companies across multiple segments, as they discuss their innovative and profitable strategies in this challenging economy.”

The event, titled “Seize the Moment: Energize the Guest Experience and Drive Sales in This Economy,” will be moderated by 12-time James Beard Award winning food journalist Steve Dolinsky, who will lead the lively, open exchange between the panelists and the audience to identify innovative and profitable steps to deliver positive business results. The panelists are:

Joseph Bastianich, partner, B&B Hospitality Group. Mr. Bastianich’s life has been described as “a chart of culinary adventure that includes becoming one of America’s premier restaurateurs — as well as a noted winemaker, bon vivant, street-level philosopher, and eventually, a marathon runner.”  His many restaurants and wine businesses across the country include groundbreaking Babbo, Lupa, del Posto, and Italian Wine Merchants.

Daniel Boulud, chef-owner, The Dinex Group. While originally from Lyon, France, Mr. Boulud has been established in the New York restaurant community for more than 25 years, building his reputation first as a chef and more recently as a restaurateur. His growing list of restaurants includes the renowned DANIEL in NYC, Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort, Lumière in Vancouver, and Maison Boulud in Beijing.

Steve Ells, founder, chairman & CEO, Chipotle Mexican Grill.  After culinary school and work in professional kitchens, Mr. Ells founded Chipotle with an idea to demonstrate that food served fast didn’t have to be a “fast-food” experience.  The chain has since grown into an innovative leader anxiously watched by the entire industry and sought after by a growing base of devoted customers.

Damian Mogavero, CEO & founder, Avero, LLC.  Passionate about hospitality and entrepreneurship, Mr. Mogavero founded Avero to provide restaurateurs with critical decision-making insights. As a leader in performance management, Avero analyzes food and beverage sales data to help operators improve profitability and the guest experience. 

Sally Smith, president and CEO, Buffalo Wild Wings, Inc., and National Restaurant Association Treasurer. Not even the most astute pundits predicted current economic challenges when QSR magazine headlines announced “Sally Smith and her team have performed miracles at Buffalo Wild Wings. And now that the chain has taken off, it intends to soar.”  Delivering on those promises in the face of unexpected adversity makes Ms. Smith’s achievements even more impressive and relevant today.

NRA Show attendees are encouraged to submit their questions for the panelists prior to the event through the Show’s social networking channels – Floored!, the official blog of the NRA Show and International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, @NRAShow09 on Twitter, and National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show on Facebook.

Preceding the Keynote Executive Panel, National Restaurant Association Chairman and co-president of Enovo Restaurant Ventures LLC Michael Kaufman will hold a welcome address and lead the Faces of Diversity awards ceremony. The awards program, created by the Association in partnership with PepsiCo Foodservice, celebrates the restaurant industry’s successes and proactive efforts to embrace workforce diversity and inclusion.

The Keynote Executive Panel is open only to NRA Show attendees, exhibitors and registered news media. The event will start at 2:00 p.m., and doors will open at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, 2009. To register to attend the event, visit Credentialed members of the news media may register at

Celebrating its 90th year, the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals. NRA Show 2009 will be held May 16-19, at McCormick Place in Chicago. The event attracts attendees and visitors from all 50 states and 100+ countries, and showcases more products, services, innovative ideas and other growth opportunities than any other industry event. For more information, visit the Show Web site at