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MUFSO Hot Concepts New Bohemia Heather Abbott
Bubba’s 33 was a hit with the MUFSO crowd, including Informa Managing Director Kent Scholla.

Hot Concepts, Gene Simmons kick off 58th annual MUFSO conference

One of the largest gatherings of foodservice executives is underway in Dallas

This is part of Nation’s Restaurant News' special coverage of the 2017 MUFSO conference, taking place Oct. 1-3 at the Hyatt Regency at Reunion Tower in Dallas. Follow coverage of the event on and tweet with us using #MUFSO. Stay connected on the go by downloading the MUFSO app.

Top foodservice executives from across the U.S. on Sunday kicked off the 58th annual MUFSO conference, which opened with sessions on how consumers are redefining service, a cook-off for charity and a taste of five emerging Hot Concepts.

Close to 1,000 attendees were expected for the three-day conference, which is produced by Nation’s Restaurant News, Restaurant Hospitality and Food Management, each part of Penton’s Food and Restaurant Group.

“MUFSO is unique as an event that brings long-time industry veterans together with young innovators to network, learn from one another and get perspective on what has been a challenging and competitive time for the restaurant world,” said Laura Viscusi, vice president and group publisher for the Penton Food and Restaurant Group. “This is an event where operators can plug in, recharge and leave powered up to improve their business.”

Jenna Telesca, editor-in-chief of NRN and editorial director of Restaurant Hospitality, added, “I love MUFSO because it brings to life the stories the editorial team writes all year. It is the embodiment of the Nation’s Restaurant News brand with networking, great food and leading industry speakers.”

The conference opened with a chef competition that benefits a good cause.

Anthony Audette of Jack in the Box, Quinn Adkins of Culver’s Restaurants, Jamie Carawan of Twin Peaks, and John Baez of Landry’s Specialty Restaurant Division competed in the Texas Pete Kitchen Hero Cook-Off for the opportunity to present $10,000 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. The winner will be named on Monday.

In a breakout session, restaurant industry consultant Jim Sullivan exhorted multi-unit operators to focus on employee retention.

Heather Abbott

Jim Sullivan giving his keynote address

Sullivan noted that the industry is facing numerous headwinds, including commodity deflation, industry oversupply, a lack of workers, rising wages and a downturn in the retail business.

“The restaurant business is certainly moving in a fast direction,” said Sullivan, founder and CEO of the foodservice-consulting firm “Either you’re going up or going down. If you’re standing still, you’re going backwards in this economy.”

Many of the 10 best practices in multi-unit leadership, from brands that are the top performers, deal with employee relationships and retention. Leaders, for instance, should focus on developing leaders who can replace them, Sullivan said.

Employee turnover is a major industry problem, estimated at an average of about 110 percent per year, he noted. By comparison, slaughterhouses’ average turnover is 100 percent.

“More people would rather work on a killing floor than in a kitchen,” he said, adding that turnover “challenges us every day.”

That turnover has a real cost. Typically, the average cost to hire and retain an employee is $4,000. If the cost is just half of that, Sullivan said, a company with 10 percent profit that has to replace 40 people during the course of a year would have to generate $800,000 in sales to pay for that turnover.

“That’s a hard cost,” he said. “That kind of turnover takes 96 days in sales to pay for.”

Heather Abbott

The team of Hot Concept Bibibop with Jenna Telesca and Gene Simmons

MUFSO’s opening day also honors 2017’s Hot Concept Award winners with a reception, where they offer attendees a taste of the menu at each of the emerging brands. Gene Simmons, front man for the band Kiss and a founding partner of the restaurant chain Rock & Brews, brings star power to the event as its emcee.

Hot Concept winners this year include the build-your-own Korean bowl concept Bibibop Asian Grill; the beer-and-sausage hall New Bohemia Wurst + BierHaus; the craft-beer educator Public School on Tap; the healthful Flower Child; and sports restaurant Bubba’s 33.

Top executives from each of the Hot Concepts winners are scheduled to share more about their brands on a MUFSO panel Monday morning.

Read more about the 2017 Hot Concepts award winners:
Bibibop Asian Grill
Bubba’s 33
Flower Child
New Bohemia
Public School on Tap

Monday’s busy slate of events leads off with a keynote from chef, restaurateur and co-host of “The Chew” Carla Hall, culminated by a gala celebrating the 2017 Golden Chain winners, along with the recipient of the annual Norman Award. At the event, Nation’s Restaurant News will reveal the 2017 Operator of the Year, selected by their industry peers.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze 

The MUFSO Premier sponsor is The Coca Cola Company

Presenting sponsors are: Blount Fine Foods, The Coca Cola Company, UNiDAYS

Kitchen Hero Cook-Off is presented by Texas Pete/TW Garner Food Company

The Hot Concepts Reception is sponsored by Rock & Brews

The Industry Awards Gala is sponsored by Tyson Foods, Daiya Foods, Natural brands

Pillar sponsors are: Alchemy Systems, Bloom Intelligence, Boylan Bottling, Cardlytics, Mainstreet, Inc., Nudge Rewards, S&D Coffee, Smithfield Farmland Foodservice, Sweet Street, Weston Foods, Zenput

The MUFSO app sponsor is Steritech

Refreshment breaks are sponsored by Blount Fine Foods, Boylan Bottling, Royal Cup Coffee, Smithfield Farmland Foodservice, Sweet Street, Ventura Foods, and Weston Foods

The Supplier Exchange Luncheon is sponsored by Hale & Hearty, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale and Copper Moon Coffee

The Lanyard & Welcome package is sponsored by Hospitality Mints

MUFSO Breakfast sponsors are Moore’s Food Resources, Community Coffee and Natural Brands

VIP Dinner sponsored by Moment Feed, Pan Pacific Plastics and Rotella’s Bakery

The official music sponsor is Rockbot

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