Education Sessions Schedule

Keynote Session: Chris Simms, Lazy Dog

As other casual dining restaurants experience a slow down, it's full speed ahead for California-based brand Lazy Dog, which operates 30+ locations across the United States. Started in 2003, CEO Chris Simms said he wanted to create a people-focused culture with hand-crafted, interesting food and beverage. Learn more about his keys to growth, which include a people-focused culture, bold innovation,  and authenticity. 


Sunday, July 14, 2019


1:00pm - 2:00pm


Big Bend Big Ideas Stage


Chris Simms, Lazy Dog
David Cantu, HotSchedules


Chris Simms

Chris Simms

Chris Simms has been involved in restaurants all of his life. While attending Cornell University and spending summers in Jackson Hole, WY, Chris worked his way up the ladders of various restaurants and began his career with P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.

A few years later, Chris began work on his own restaurant concept and the first Lazy Dog was born in Huntington Beach, CA in 2003.

As a casual dining concept for the next generation, Lazy Dog serves handcrafted American food and drink with a creative twist. Guests get the taste of life in a small mountain town from the warm, genuine service and the rustic social setting.

As CEO, Chris keeps a close eye on concept innovation and site development. With plans for 6 more restaurants in 2019 in markets across the country, Lazy Dog will have 36 restaurants with the first in Houston later this summer.

David Cantu

David Cantu

As Chief Customer Officer, David is responsible for sales and building and maintaining strong relationships with customers by engaging with them at all levels to collect and disseminate customer feedback throughout the company. Prior to becoming CCO, David was the vice president of Business Development and co-founder of HotSchedules, Inc. Through his leadership, HotSchedules repeatedly achieved more than 40 percent annual growth goals and was consistently recognized on the Inc. 5000 and Austin Business Journal’s Fast 50 growth indexes.

David’s 17+ years of restaurant operations experience have contributed to HotSchedules’ product development and innovative solutions to improve restaurant operations scheduling efficiencies, labor management, and increased employee engagement. David attended the University of Texas at San Antonio. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and three children. He is an active member of Vistage International, an executive peer advisory program, and enjoys running, fishing, water sports, volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas and escaping to the wine country or beach whenever possible.