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For all the R&D that's gone into gluten-free foods, catering to some that science proves aren't actually sensitive to anything, it's time for restaurants and ice cream brands to embrace a hot new crowd everybody's talking about: the lactose intolerants. From my very personal experience, I can tell you that we're kinder than those gluten peeps, we're asking nicely and have fun money to spend with whoever starts bringing dairy-free frozen treats to the mainstream.

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I'm old enough to remember the Dow Jones Industrial Average first cracking 10K on March 29, 1999. I was a junior in high school, and it felt like the whole country—and me, especially— was on the cusp of greatness. Eighteen years and 11,392 points later, it once again feels like change is afoot.

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Sixty-three percent of diners agree that visiting restaurants is a form of entertainment for them. For franchise restaurants looking to stand out, particularly as dining dollars are being spread across more off-premise channels such as delivery and carryout, this means focusing on differentiating elements such as convenience, atmosphere and social sharing.

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Sitting down with IFA Chairman Robert Cresanti for a conversation about working through the current chaos in Washington, the impacts of ever-larger multi-unit franchise groups and where he sees the biggest growth opportunities in the industry's future.