Business of Food Conference returns to region

newspaperThe Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center is bringing last year’s popular Business of Food Conference back to the region. This year’s event will be Monday June 20, at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel.

Anyone who owns, manages, or dreams of operating a food-related business is encouraged to be part of this full-day professional development experience.  Attendees will come from a wide variety of food-related businesses, from full-service restaurants to cafes and food trucks to specialty food producers.

“Learning from the experts as well as each other is a valuable part of this conference,” said Joyce Krech, SV SBDC Director. “We have time built in for mixing and mingling, and every workshop will have time for questions and discussion.”

This year’s event features a unique lunch-time conversation with experienced owners who will discuss how they created and nurtured specific values and cultures in their successful business ventures.

Keynote Speaker Bob Barnett will focus on helping organizations define a clear vision for future success. Barnett is an expert in sales, marketing, branding, and operations with 30+ years in the hospitality industry.

Workshops throughout the day will cover all essential topics for success:  menu development, kitchen design, marketing tools and strategies, customer and employee relations, financial controls, funding options, and more.

Special guest Martin Butts, of will lead workshops for small-scale and start-up food producers and those who want to include local and organic products in their businesses.

In addition to local business owners and experts, the slate of presenters also includes experts from The Virginia Tourism Corporation, Sysco Virginia, and the Virginia SBDC Network.

“We based the contents of this conference directly on the wishes of last year’s attendees, bringing back some popular options and adding new topics as well,” said Krech. “Food businesses are popular to start, but extremely challenging to sustain. This conference offers direct contacts and guidance to ensure success at any stage.”

The Conference is co-sponsored with the Central Virginia SBDC.  It runs 8am-4pm on June 20 and the cost is $119.  A full slate of workshops and all details can be found at


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