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  • Writer's pictureRaquel Weiss Fusco

Remembering the Past; Planning for the Future

Reflections from the Society for Hospitality & Foodservice Management’s 20th Critical Issues Conference

When you feel inspired, you’re more charismatic. And if you’re charismatic, networking feels like a breeze. Your contagious feelings of enthusiasm enrapture the people around you, and you’ll all have more fun and make better connections.

The jam-packed room at last week’s Society for Hospitality and Foodservice Management’s Critical Issues Conference (CIC) certainly demonstrated this statement from a SuperNova South article. It was an incredible day, the 20th anniversary of the CIC, and the first in person one since 2019! From connecting with friends and colleagues to spot-on sessions there was excitement in the room.

The sessions focused on where foodservice and hospitality are going and also embraced the hard truth that inflation, lead times, labor shortages and the state of the world around us are infringing on our industry. I think people really appreciated the difficult conversation.

Being candid, these are challenges we continue to face not only in the business world, but in our personal lives. It is necessary for everyone to be empathetic about the situation despite how frustrating it may be.

However, I’d like to share some advice from the elite|studio e team that might help you out … at least in terms of your foodservice and hospitality design and build projects.

When you know you need a gut renovation or 50 percent of your staff is returning to the office on September 1st, don’t wait. Don’t wait to call us for a site survey. If you have the design proposal in hand, don’t wait to sign it. Whatever part of the process you’re in, even if you’re doing a small ReNew style project or upgrading some equipment, just don’t wait. The reality is, the sooner we get started on your project the better. And that’s a benefit for operators, clients, our team, vendors and all the project stakeholders.

Another topic that resonated from the CIC was understanding operations that emerged post pandemic. Resimerical design was certainly brewing prior to March 2020, but with people becoming used to the comfort of home, resimerical design has taken off. People want that warmth, comfort and familiarity when they head to the office. At elite|studio e, we’re certainly seeing a desire for resimerical design in foodservice operations as people desire a variety of convenience and amenities. Since CIC, I’ve heard the topic come up at a few meetings and it’s only a week later!

While the design of a space certainly attributes to this ambiance, there are simpler things that can be done to create a resimercial feel in the workplace. Here are a few ideas:

1. Bring your pets to work.

Employees who bring their pets to work often lead more productive, creative and engaged work lives, according to After all, who doesn’t love a furry friend at their feet, or in our case … the Orange Lounge?

2. Ditch the dress code.

Let’s face it … athleisure wear, black leggings and tie-dye joggers became our uniform for an extended period. I’m not saying let’s have pajama day every day, but if an employee is comfortable at their desk, they’re more likely to stay longer.

3. Facilitate downtime.

While a change in the environment certainly helps to achieve this, there are certainly other ways to make this happen. At elite|studio e, we love to have a spur of the minute lunch, enjoy breaking a pinata on Cinco de Mayo, and our monthly birthday celebrations. Albeit a short breather from the workday, our team welcomes the fun and an opportunity to recharge.

The pandemic has shifted the way people think at home and at work. The expectations and needs of the employee are different, and the SHFM CIC certainly shed some light on this for all those in attendance.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the location of this year’s CIC – Credit Suisse in Manhattan. Credit Suisse was like a second home to Jay Silverstein who spent 30+ years of his career there as the Vice President of Conference and Dining Services and was also a Past President of SHFM. As the first SHFM Rising Star Chair, I am so lucky that Jay was one of my mentors. He left an incredible impression on many of the organization’s members, especially the young professionals, and a lasting impact at Credit Suisse. It was wonderful to see Jay’s children help lead the CIC and to take some time to celebrate this legend in the industry.


If you missed CIC, I hope you’ll consider joining SHFM at some of our upcoming events.

NRA Networking Breakfast

May 23rd | Chicago, IL

2022 National Conference October 17th-19th | Denver, CO

First SHFM Foundation Gala November 14th | Manhattan, NY

Photo of Jay Silverstein courtesy of Total Foodservice.

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