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January 20, 2021

2021 Guide for Restaurants: 14 Things to Watch

2021 Guide for Restaurants: 14 Things to Watch

After a challenging year, there’s a lot to keep an eye on as we start 2021. This guide details how industry sales can rebound, how operators will drive traffic, increase guest satisfaction and take care of their workforce. As an added bonus, we’ve included expert commentary revealing insight on the political landscape and the economy.

What’s in the Guide?

  • A look in the rearview mirror and recap of 2020 sales & traffic

  • Effects of COVID-19 on brand strategy

  • The paramount importance of meeting and exceeding guest expectations

  • Workforce Watch: including an op-ed by workforce expert Joni Thomas Doolin

  • Economic outlook with leading economist Joel Naroff, Naroff Economic Advisors

  • Public policy considerations with Joe Kefauver, Align Public Strategies

Download the Guide

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Contributor Bios

Joni Thomas Doolin

Founder & Board Member

Black Box Intelligence

Joni Thomas Doolin is the founder and chairwoman of Black Box Intelligence, leading software and solution provider for the foodservice industry. Joni’s extensive industry and community involvement is rooted in her values of conscious capitalism, creative thinking and mentorship to emerging and future leaders. She has served as an advisor to numerous industry associations, media and boards as an expert in workplace and marketplace trends. She received the elite Trailblazer Award from the Women’s Foodservice Forum acknowledging her contributions to the foodservice industry and her work to support the value of diversity in the workplace. Joni and her husband Wallace Doolin have funded an annual scholarship for women and minorities through the National Restaurant Association’s Education Foundation as a commitment to their beliefs.

Joni currently serves on the board of Black Box Intelligence, BBIMetrics, LLC, the national board of directors for Share Our Strength, the nation’s leading anti-hunger organization; the national board of Coaches Collective International, and is a founding member of Changers of Commerce.




Joel Naroff


Naroff Economics

Joel L. Naroff is the Black Box Intelligence economist and president and founder of Naroff Economics, LLC, a strategic economic consulting firm. He advises companies from a wide range of industries on the risks and opportunities that economic developments may have on the organization’s operating environment.

Joel is the author, with veteran reporter Ron Scherer, of Big Picture Economics: How to Navigate the New Global Economy, published in April 2014. The book, written for everyone, provides a roadmap for decoding the mysteries of a tumultuous economy. It helps people put the pieces together and form frameworks for future decision-making.




Joe Kefauver

Managing Partner

Align Public Strategies

Joe Kefauver is the Managing Partner of Align Public Strategies, a full service public affairs and creative firm that helps corporate brands, governments and nonprofits navigate their external environments and inform their internal decision-making. Joe is a respected advisor to senior corporate executives throughout the Fortune 500 and is a valued opinion leader within many consumer-facing industries.

Prior to starting Align Public Strategies, Kefauver was Vice President of Public Affairs for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. where he oversaw all state and local government matters for the world’s largest corporation. Kefauver also served as the Director of Government Affairs for Darden Restaurants, Inc. At Darden, Joe oversaw the company’s federal and state government relations programs as well as their political involvement including managing their Political Action Committee.

Kefauver currently serves as a contributing editor for Convenience Store Age, Retailing Today, Nation’s Restaurant News, Supermarket News, Convenience Store News as well as produces the weekly Working Lunch podcast for NRN.




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