Piper Jaffray Cos. (NYSE: PJC) hosts the 37th annual consumer conference, featuring chief executives from expanding restaurants, retailers and food and beverage companies. Roughly eight hundred investors and industry participants gather at the Lotte New York Palace June 13-14. Competition in the restaurant business is tougher than ever, as consumers often opt to stay home and cook.

Cheesecake Factory Inc. (Nasdaq; CAKE) CEO David Overton is among the speakers. Cheesecake Factory, located in Calabasas Hills, California, operates 193 restaurants under its own brand in addition to 12 Grand Lux Cafes. In 2016, the company acquired minority stakes in North Italia and Flower Child, which are both owned by Fox Restaurant Concepts LLC.

Also presenting is Dave & Buster's Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: PLAY) CEO Steve King. The Dallas-based company has around 98 locations where people can eat and play arcade games at the same time. Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE: SHAK) CEO Randy Garutti will be presenting as well. New York-based Shake Shack, known for its burgers, has more than 100 restaurants.

Both private equity and strategic buyers are buying up restaurants. PE firms are mostly going after regionally focused chains. For example, in 2016, Larsen MacColl Partners backed Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar. At the same time, strategic buyers are looking for new growth channels while diversifying their menus. Burger King owner Restaurant Brands International Inc. is buying Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen; Darden Restaurants Inc. (NYSE: DRI) acquired Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen for $780 million; Golden Gate Capital bought Bob Evans Restaurants from Bob Evans Farms Inc. (Nasdaq: BOBE); and General Atlantic acquired a minority stake in Torchy's Tacos. Restaurant deals helped make April an active month for M&A.

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