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SUMMER 2019

INSIDE: &PIZZA STARTS A NEW CHAPTER ADDING PIZZAZZ TO COCKTAILS WHAT’S NEXT FOR KITCHEN UNITED? WOMEN RISING IN THE INDUSTRY AND MORE… RCS.EATERYPULSE.NET


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TABLE OF CONTENTS | SUMMER 2019 04 Editor’s note 06 Putting pizzazz in cocktails 08 2019 ProStart winners 12 Q&A: Andy Hooper, &pizza 14 Women rising in the restaurant industry 18 Healthy beverage trends 23 Notable acquisitions, M&A activity 24 Q&A: Craig Cochrange, Kitchen United 26 Eatery Pulse adds user-generated content 28 ProStart mentoring gives students the edge 32 A tale of two technology companies

BUSINESS Executive Editor Rick Zambrano contactrick@eaterypulse.net Assistant Editor Margaret McConnell Editorial Designer Ashley McCarty Contributors Eric Nomis Restaurant C-Suite Magazine is distributed by Eatery Pulse Media. Eatery Pulse is a primary source of restaurant industry news and content, providing information services, consulting and a creative, custom-content studio for business. This digital magazine was specifically created for multi-unit restaurant executives. It delivers the most highlymeaningful news for the restaurant industry’s top leaders of today, and the visionaries of tomorrow. Today’s C-suite executives and their managers need information that is carefully selected, meaningful and delivered in a seamless, cohesive fashion. Stay updated with all our content at: subscribe.eaterypulse.net Copyright 2019 Eatery Pulse Media.

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Powered by On the cover: &pizza Astor location in New York City. Photo by &pizza. Photo Left: Not an aviation at BG Lounge, Beverly Hills. Photo by JS2.

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Editor’s Note between restaurants and third-party providers this year on fees and standardizing providers’ marketing practices. Kitchen United, which provides turnkey commissary kitchens for restaurants to expand capacity— nearly stripped-down food halls— is filling a fast-growing niche in restaurant delivery. In June, it expanded with a new kitchen center in Tempe, Ariz. Soon, it will be in major cities across the United States, including the East Coast. In this issue, Kitchen United’s Craig Cochrane reveals more insights into the restaurant delivery trend and his company’s own plan for growth.

Restaurant delivery, in addition to takeout, is now a significant opportunity for restaurants. Photo by Clay Banks.

Summer is normally a time when restaurant professionals, including corporate executives, are thinking of slowing the pace and planning a vacation. The changing face of consumers, skewing more techsavvy and global these days, means this summer may not be a time to slow down at all. In this issue, we cover some of the seasonal trends in beverages that hold much opportunity for incremental business. As the restaurant industry advances, so do issues of a living wage and female empowerment in leadership ranks; we have our eye on these issues. Read about restaurant women rising in the restaurant industry on page 14.

Additionally, we’re sharing some of our news coverage of the 2019 ProStart Invitational, which came to our hometown of Washington, D.C. this spring. There always seems to be a new slant to the hot topic of restaurant delivery. Currently, we’re looking at how larger chains are able to secure lower fees from thirdparty delivery providers, while at the same time, these providers are getting scrutinized. Thirdparty fees, online practices and duplication of restaurant websites using their name have come under the microscope. The first-ever inquiry began in New York City at the end of June. And there will certainly be more back-and-forth

RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 4

We are also growing: We’re excited to expand our content for independent restaurateurs through the national expansion of Eatery Pulse News. In addition, we’re diversifying our coverage by sourcing user-generated content. What’s on your mind and what best practices can you share? If you’re a subscriber (at subscribe. restaurantcsuite.net), you’ll soon be able to submit exclusive pieces for publication or volunteer to be interviewed for feature pieces in our magazines or upcoming podcasts. (You can read the guidelines here: https://eaterypulse.com/ eatery-pulse-content-collaborationcommunity/) Thanks for your support and readership! Sincerely,

Rick Zambrano, Executive Editor contactrick@eaterypulse.net


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Delivering pizzazz in cocktail drinks Infusions, liqueurs, tactics make the drink By Rick Zambrano

Rosas El Jalisco cocktail at BG Lounge. Photo by JS2.

Restaurants are keeping it fresh in 2019, both from an ingredient perspective and with their plans for their beverage programs. They’re also waxing savory and herbal. According to the What’s Hot 2019 Culinary Forecast, published by the National Restaurant Association, savory, fresh and herb-infused ingredients are a top trend. More than half of restaurant operators plan to add new adult beverage items in 2019, suggests the report. In the casual-dining and fine-dining segments, about 70 percent are introducing new drinks. Bartenders and mixologists are leaning to the adventuresome, savory and herbal, yet keeping things familiar. “A dash of angostura RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 6

or other bitters can also really add that medium palate of savory you’re missing when a cocktail falls a little too tangy or sweet, says Patrick Cook, beverage director, Hyperion Public Studio City. Bitters, when used in moderation, can be a great unsung hero.” At Hyperion, guests enjoy the Ventura Boulevardier, which combines Wild Turkey Rye, Punte E Mes, Cynar 70, Mole bitters, and orange peel. Mole Bitters deliver hints of chile and chocolate that can add richness and depth. Cynar 70 not only delivers a kick to the drink but balances it with “a rich, sweet (but not too sweet), nutty, mildly bitter finish,” said Food and Wine of the high-proof liqueur.


At the bar, botanical flavors and hints of floral tones heighten a drink’s sophistication. At P.J. Clarke’s in Philadelphia, Mike Gillespie, assistant GM and bar manager, uses Fever Tree tonic blends, such as Mediterranean, to spice up classics as familiar as the Gin & Tonic. “We use many Fever Tree products at P.J. Clarke’s,” he says. “They make a number of interesting tonics… (in the) Mediterranean Tonic, one of my personal favorites, they use quinine (which is essential to tonic) from the Congo and add essential oils from flowers, fruits and herbs located around the Mediterranean.” Chief mixologist Asadour Seheldjian at BG Lounge in Beverly Hills creates a deep flavor experience in the Rosas El Jalisco, featuring El Tesoro Reposado Tequila, fresh grapefruit juice, homemade rose simple syrup, fresh lime juice and thyme; also in Not an Aviation, combining butterfly pea flower infused Amass Gin with centerba torella, italicus, fresh lemon juice and rosemary. BG Lounge’s sophisticated drinks blend well with its elegant lounge feel and nod to art with paintings that evoke a museum-like ambiance.

Keeping it simple As far as beverages are concerned, many consumers are returning to simpler and fewer ingredients, a direction that bar programs need to take in stride. “Whiskey and soda or whiskey and ginger ale can fill that desire,” says Eric “E.T.” Tecosky, Jack Daniels U.S. Brand Ambassador and Dirty Sue Olive Juice owner and creator. “And speaking of Highballs, I am starting to see the Jack & Coke find its way back on menus… or I’ve also seen some bartenders starting to use Coke as an ingredient and making some really creative new-school Jack & Coke cocktails.” Zena Polin, restaurateur of award-winning venues in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. is also a fan of making small tweaks to tried-and-true favorites and adopting drinks popular due to simplicity. At The Daily Dish in Silver Spring, Md., her Old Fashioned Rye combines gin and rye and adds dehydrated orange slices; and the Summer Newport features only Plymouth Gin, dry vermouth, and wet rocks on the side.

Getting savory “Another trend we’re seeing is culinary savory flavors making their way from the kitchen to the bar,” says Tecosky. “At upscale spots it isn’t unusual to see cocktails involving mushrooms and broth.” At Birds & Bees in Downtown Los Angeles, The Earth Angel is a whiskey cocktail offering a deep, “luxurious and savory experience,” says Jake Larowe, Birds & Bees GM and bar manager. It features Balvenie 14year Caribbean cask, lactobacillus fermented mushroom juice cocktail, and is served with chocolate dipped dehydrated mushrooms and oranges. Birds & Bees’ unexpected ingredients and house made tinctures, liquors and syrups are always on the menu to add adventure for guests.

Making it an experience The composition of great cocktails is driven by trial and satisfaction. Yet, the drink experience isn’t complete without the accompanying ambience, service level and image-worthiness. “Consumers are attracted to ‘Instagrammable’ cocktails, meaning that we not only need to focus on the recipe and the contents of the beverage, but also the vessel, as that can take the photo opportunity to the next level,” says Shannon Salupo, corporate beverage manager for Quaker Steak & Lube. “Consumers are trading up. They want a beverage or cocktail with a higher perceived value and desirability— something that others will see and want.” What’s next in cocktails? Keeping an eye on trends helps set the tone for cutting-edge bar programs. According to Tecosky and Salupo, brandy is on the rise—also mezcal; within the whiskey category, Rye is a pace setter. The current, more discerning consumer wants a beverage experience that is refined by what accompanies or infuses the liquor of choice, and is completed by drink knowledge, appearance and ambiance. From botanical and savory, to simple and fresh, these trends can raise the bar, and guide a successful adult beverage program this year. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 7


National ProStart Invitational winners of 2019 competition awarded in D.C. Texas, Florida win big at 2019 NPSI, top five teams recognized at Awards Ceremony By Eatery Pulse Team Texas won big at NPSI 2019. Photo by ProStart.

As far as National ProStart Invitational winners go, the state of Texas was the top dog this year. Students at its Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy in Rockwall and Ben Barber Innovation Academy in Mansfield took home first place trophies in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management competitions, respectively. The National ProStart Invitational (NPSI), held this year in Washington, D.C. at the historic Omni Shoreham Hotel, is a fierce student competition that is organized by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF). Florida also posted a strong showing this year, placing in the top five in Culinary and Restaurant Management. RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 8

ProStart is a top classroom-to-work vocational training program under the wing of the NRAEF. The NPSI event helps students bond with each other, develop additional connections with industry leaders and hone highly-prized skills for work in foodservice. Eatery Pulse Media was in attendance this year, documenting the hard work and perseverance by students. The NRAEF and the teachers and mentors who participate behind the scenes make ProStart competitions a success. The NRAEF vocational program’s positive impact on students’ lives cannot be overstated. Earlier this year, Gifford told


us, “ProStart unites the classroom and the industry to develop the next generation of restaurant and foodservice leaders. In addition to bragging rights, the winning state and national teams are awarded scholarships to pursue post-secondary education.” The NRAEF awarded trophies at the NPSI Awards Ceremony and Gala. Dawn Sweeney, National Restaurant Association and NRAEF chief executive; Rob Gifford, NRAEF executive vice president; Kristin Bitter, vice president for industry affairs at Coca-Cola; and Lance Trenary, Golden Corral chief executive, helped present these awards. Here are the National ProStart Invitational winners in the categories of Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management:

Winners take home the prize Culinary Arts: National ProStart winners • Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy in Rockwall, Texas (first place) • Herndon Career Center in Raytown, Missouri (second place) • Anderson Career and Technology Center in Williamston, South Carolina (third place) • Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey (fourth place) • Leto High School in Tampa, Florida (fifth place) Restaurant Management: National ProStart winners • Ben Barber Innovation Academy in Mansfield, Texas (first place) • East Ridge High School in Clermont, Florida (second place) • Provo High School in Provo, Utah (third place) • Wilson Central High School in Lebanon, Tennessee (fourth place) • Kalamazoo Resa North West in Kalamazoo, Michigan (fifth place)

Ben Barber Innovation Academy in Mansfield, Texas took first place in Restaurant Management. Photo by ProStart.

The Texas team that won the Culinary Arts competition (Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy) prepared a menu that featured a sesame-crusted ahi tuna with mango, fennel, and wasabi salad appetizer. For the entrée, the team prepared ovenroasted beef tenderloin and pan-seared lobster with crab-stuffed mushrooms and assorted vegetables. To top it off, the team offered up a dessert of glazed white chocolate chai mousse and ginger Swiss meringue with apple cranberry compote and ginger cookie crumble. The Texas team from Ben Barber Innovation Academy won first place for restaurant management. Their winning restaurant concept was “Mezzo y Medio,” a fusion restaurant concept, bringing a medley of Latin, American, and Italian flavors. This year, the Educators of Excellence received their awards during the competition. The top nationallyrecognized educators were given trophies and cash awards at the ProStart Invitational Awards Ceremony.

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Dr. Gene Burton College and Career Academy in Rockwall, Texas took first place in Culinary Arts. Photo by ProStart.

Mentoring, sponsorship key for building pipeline of restaurant industry talent ProStart continues to develop students within their own communities and across the country. State programs contribute significantly to how much influence and career-enhancing benefit the vocational programs have. Participating schools at the local level work hard to develop future restaurant industry leaders with limited resources. Moreover, local ProStart programs welcome restaurant chains and sponsors looking to make a big impact in vocational training. Although the North Carolina student teams did not place in the top five, they worked hard, and much of their success was made possible by mentors and sponsors. “You’re building a pipeline of employees for the industry locally,” said Mandy Hines, NCRLA Director of Hospitality Education, at the event. She told us that this needs to be the message from state associations and educators at the local level to potential mentors and sponsors. ProStart’s reputation as a resource for top talent conveys a powerful message that can RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 10

engage restaurant chains at the state level. In N.C., some of the sponsors assisted students starting careers. Others helped pay for the trip to NPSI in D.C. and provided supplies. Additionally, top sponsors provided travel bags for the N.C. teams this year.

Students gain access to industry leaders Kwame Onwuachi, James Beard Award winner for Rising Star Chef, “Top Chef” alum and owner of Kith and Kin; Andrew Dana, Timber Pizza chief executive; Rose Previte, owner, Maydan & Compass Rose restaurants; and Chef Jerome Grant, executive chef at the National Museum of African American History and sous chef at the National Museum of the American Indian, were featured this year at Share-a-Coke panels. They were part of two separate forums that helped advance students’ understanding of entrepreneurship and foodservice career exploration. Restaurateurs and chefs were joined by Kevin Rittle, vice president of Global Offer Development at Sodexo, and Kristin Bitter, vice president, Industry Affairs for the Coca-Cola Company.


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Q&A &pizza’s Andy Hooper, president and chief operating officer &pizza starts a new chapter, accelerates expansion Fast casual &pizza is turning the page on a new chapter in its growth. In July, it hired two, new executives and promoted Andy Hooper to president and chief operating officer. The Washington, D.C.-based chain also opened a new store on Wall Street in Manhattan, marking its 36th location. In this Q&A, Restaurant C-Suite dives into further detail with Hooper, who will position the pizza chain for growth, overseeing business operations. Restaurant C-Suite: This is an exciting time for &pizza and the company has expressed aggressive growth plans. What are three key ingredients that will help you double stores in the next couple of years? Andy Hooper: First, our Tribe—aka our employees. People are at the center of our recipe for growth. Our primary focus is on developing new shop leaders from a group of existing employees and Andy Hooper. developing them for future leadership opportunities along the path. Next up is format innovations: Our cube kiosks and mobile locations are chances to learn about new markets and establish our profiles there. Then there’s site selection. We have focused our real estate strategy on leveraging our people pipeline, operational infrastructure, and brand recognition here in the mid-Atlantic coast. Most of the immediate new shop development will be geographically concentrated near our existing shops in the greater D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York markets.

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&pizza shop at UPenn in Philadelphia. Photo by &pizza.

RCS: Can you shed more light on expansion plans (next couple of stores to open, which markets, what types of stores, etc.)? AH: We can’t give out exact details on the next few shops to open just yet, but we’ll definitely be expanding our fleet in the DMV area. We’re gonna keep playing around with new shop formats. We can open a 300-square-foot kiosk and generate as much revenue at peak meal periods as we can in a 2,000-square-foot shop. We can roll out a mobile location that’s basically just a shop on wheels—which helps us save money in terms of real estate. You should see more cubes and more trucks on the road in the future.


&pizza Chinatown location in Washington, D.C. Photo by &pizza.

RCS: Tell us how focusing on the East Coast will help &pizza expand the brand, when other chains that started in D.C. have decided to open stores on the West Coast concurrently. AH: We believe that in the near-term, a focus on East Coast expansion will help us grow faster by leveraging our key strengths. Anchoring our expansion to our existing shop base will help us maintain our existing supplychain discipline, promote future leaders from within, and create more economies of scale for our brand and the causes for which we continue to support. As we expand westward and internationally in the future, we know there will be a market for &pizza and we’ll be confident doing so based on a strong East Coast presence. RCS: How will Erik Bruner-Yang help reinvigorate the menu? AH: As a fellow product of Northeast D.C., we’ve been neighbors with Erik since our

original shop on H Street opened. We have a mutual respect for him and his business; we see eye-to-eye on many things like aesthetics, vibe, and food as an extension to other areas of culture like music and clothing. We both have pretty distinct styles, so we brought him on to revamp our menu. There will be new categories with new pies, courtesy of Erik, but we’re also introducing non-pizza items like a stromboli and garlic knots for the very first time.  RCS: Tell us about new prototype stores and how they relate to the cube kiosk model at Union Station. AH: We’re always trying to figure out the right model for the right location. A cube was perfect for Union Station, which is in a food court in the bottom of a train station. Wall Street made perfect sense for people looking to order ahead or grab pies on the go, so we built it for the location and focused on speed— i.e., no seating. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 13


Women rising in the restaurant industry Female executives rising in the restaurant industry empower others, change outdated norms By Eric Nomis

In the corporate environment, there’s a push currently to make the c-suite more inclusive. Advocates want to see more women in leadership along with equal and fairer pay. The restaurant industry itself has benefited from female leaders. Many women have risen to the highest ranks and have paved the way for a more diverse landscape. Yet, there’s much more work to be done, particularly in light of the #metoo movement and women banding together to call for such inclusion. Kat Cole and Carin Stutz are two female RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 14

leaders (and there are many more) that quickly come to mind. After starting at Hooters, Kat Cole rose through the ranks, becoming vice president in 1995, and then moving to Focus Brands’ Cinnabon in 2010. She became Group president in 2015, and then Focus Brands promoted Cole to COO and president in 2017. An episode of CBS’ “Undercover Boss” brought her story into the spotlight, showing her raw passion, work ethic and no-nonsense leadership style.


Likewise, Stutz has been cast into turnaround scenarios, entrusted to salvage the roughest of restaurant situations. Her tenure at Brinker was her longest. There, she worked at Applebee’s as executive vice president from 1999 to 2007; then,as president of Global Business Development from 2009 to 2011. She followed that up with stints as president and CEO of Cosi (2012), a fast-casual chain that’s still looking to turn its business around, as president of McAlister’s Deli (2014) and EVP and COO of Red Robin (2016). “Ancora Imparo” is Italian for “Yet, I am learning.” It’s a phrase embraced by Shannon Salupo, corporate beverage manager of Quaker Steak & Lube. “When I am receiving feedback from my co-workers or our restaurant operators on a program that I have created or an initiative on which I’m working, I listen closely and work to make any necessary changes.” Empathy, relationship building and the ability to connect with and influence others are common traits of female executives that can help them rise through the ranks. These attributes and skills reinforce the element of pushback in a male-dominated world. Female executives like Cole and Stutz have cast away old norms that can impede females from assuming top leadership roles at companies. Female executives have been found to perform at least as competently as their male counterparts, and in many cases more so, according to a study by Harvard Business Review. In 2012 and this year, the results were consistent. However, the publication also cites data that only 4.9 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2.0 percent of S&P 500 CEOs are women. Statistics and die-hard norms cut against the grain of reality. Says Harvard Business Review, “Women are perceived by their managers—particularly their male managers—to be slightly more effective than men at every hierarchical level and in virtually every functional area of the organization. That includes the traditional male bastions of IT, operations, and legal.”

Shannon Salupo, corporate beverage manager, is rising at Quaker Steak & Lube. Photo by Quaker Steak & Lube.

As a collective, women empower each other, shift attitudes In this new age, and strengthened by the effectiveness of female leadership, many women are forming collectives and rising together. There are ways that female executives can further opportunities for other women. “Mentor other women coming up (through the ranks), and share your experiences,” says Simma Lieberman, an authority on workplace inclusion and president of Simma Lieberman Associates. “Bring up the names of other talented women when it is time for promotion or new projects.” Quaker Steak’s Salupo says she was made aware of the search to fill her current position by a former supervisor who went to work for Travel Centers of America, the operator and franchisor of Quaker Steak & Lube. “She reached out to me to share the opportunity for the corporate beverage manager position,” says Salupo. “It was very unexpected as our relationship was very professional… she knew of the successful results I had shown RESTAURANT C-SUITE 15


in that previous role. She saw something in me.” Liebermann says it’s important to prevent others from taking credit for a woman’s work at a company, a practice that has been historically pervasive. Advancement is just as important in the restaurant industry as it is in every other market. Women in leadership positions can change attitudes and norms quickly. There are ways that these leaders can push for change and shift the paradigm from within restaurant companies. Lieberman suggests the following, in her own words: • Include women in pre-meeting meetings. • Learn and use different ways to access people’s brilliance and not just one way. • Ask female leaders and everyone else what they need to achieve their full potential. • Don’t speak for all female leaders or assume you know what they think.

Women in leadership needed as restaurant industry navigates disruptive, challenging times According to Harvard Business Review, women scored better than men in 18 out of 20 capabilities. At a time when the restaurant industry needs fresh and bold thinking, strong financial results and employee retention, the evaluation of women in leadership is reassuring. Women score better in “bold leadership,” “drives for results” and “develops others.” This great aptitude can only help the restaurant industry. When women show strength, they can be perceived negatively. But when taken together, strength and empathy are skills that often form the impetus of a fast-rising female star. “Women in foodservice and many industries often face a double-edged sword,” suggests Salupo. “If they are kind and nurturing they are often not perceived as strong leaders. When they attempt to take charge, they can be viewed as aggressive or inflexible.” Inside restaurants, as in the corporate environment, women deserve the support they need to succeed, as it’s clear that a more RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 16

Kat Cole, president and COO of Focus Brands, has been a restaurant industry trailblazer. Photo by Cinnabon.

inclusive workplace benefits everyone, including customers and financial stakeholders. The restaurant industry is already an extremely diverse employer, with many workers from all walks of life, yet one that can still challenge itself to do better. It is also an economic engine in the U.S., projected to add 515K jobs this summer alone, many of whom will be women. Dawn Sweeney, the president of the National Restaurant Association, is retiring after 12 years of service. During her tenure, many of the association’s management ranks have been filled by female associates, and she has increased association membership by 50 percent. At the same time, more restaurant chains are promoting women to leadership ranks. The restaurant industry can continue to push the envelope on female empowerment. This starts with an earnest effort of female executives who have risen to the highest ranks in a male-dominated world. They’ll usher in this change, not just by example, but by bringing up the next ranks of female leaders.


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Healthy beverage trends QSRs tap better-for-you beverages for incremental business

By Rick Zambrano

Alltown Fresh is an example of a food retailer that makes to-go healthy beverage options plentiful. Photo by Alltown Fresh.

Beverages are great vehicles for food businesses to build incremental business. Consumers are looking for healthy beverages and consumption is driven by personalization and convenience, notes the Hartman Group in a March thought leadership piece. Through the prism of ”healthy”, consumers are choosing beverages termed “better for you.” They define healthy in a variety of ways - functional, clean-label (“free from”), natural, organic which all fit into a paradigm of wellness and personalization. Thus, lower calorie and lower sugar are no longer necessarily the defining attributes of a healthy beverage. RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 18

For context, the Hartman Group, a food research firm based in Greater Seattle, provides these key consumer-driven evaluation points: “Your beverages should be personalized to your individual tastes and health needs; beverages should reflect your values and aspirations; and you can drink what you want, when you want it (mostly).” These perspectives then converge with convenience: accessibility (staying hydrated), portability (“drinking on the go”) and meal replacement (if desired).


Alltown Fresh is a convenience-store concept focusing on fresh and healthy offerings. Shauna Seidenberg, manager of category marketing of dispensed beverage & fast food for Alltown Fresh, says, “In terms of healthy beverages, we’ve seen a demand for functional beverages and choices, such as kombucha on tap with probiotics, and madeto-order smoothies with all organic produce and add-ins like maca (root) and spirulina. We’ve also seen demand for non-gmo and organically-sweetened options made with natural colors and flavors develop…” Innovative flavors are key to driving customer trial. Orange blossom, honeysuckle, jasmine and chamomile are trending flavors for cold beverages and water-based beverages, according to ingredient manufacturer Kerry’s 2019 Taste Charts (Food Navigator). Consumers are drawn to flavors they know from other experiences, but haven’t yet tried in a particular beverage.

Keeping it simple with water Quick-service restaurants (QSRs), including fast-food shops and fast-casuals, as well as convenience stores have been tapping into the better-for-you trend, offering beverages that are functional or simple in terms of ingredients. Water continues to be on-trend favorite as consumers seek beverages with few ingredients. According to research firm Packaged Facts’ U.S. Beverage Market Outlook, 2019, retail sales of bottled and enhanced waters will grow at a 6.4 percent CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2018 and 2023. In the water category, QSRs have ample room for choice as flavored waters, enhanced waters and sparkling waters & seltzers all increasingly respond to consumer demand and provide differentiation for restaurant

brands. While total bottled water and enhanced water grew at a CAGR of 6.3 percent between 2016 and 2018, carbonated and seltzer water grew at 14.9 percent. “Fizzy” water can be popular: Los Angeles-based KOPU water has been carried at hotels and restaurants throughout California, including the Montage Beverly Hills, The Waterfront Venice and Neighbor on Abbot Kinney, SB Public Market, Savoy Cafe, Jinya Ramen Bar and Mesa Cafe. From an artesian aquifer “deep below the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand,” KOPU is an example of a choice that appeals on taste and eco-consciousness. It comes in a resealable aluminum bottle that fits with branding of traditional and polished fastcasual restaurants, in addition to sit-down restaurants. Bottled water producers are looking to eliminate single-use plastic bottles to help the environment and differentiate in a crowded beverage category. KOPU also has naturally-occurring silica, the company says, and includes the ingredients magnesium, potassium, and calcium. In beauty industry circles, silica is purported to have skinenhancing properties. “KOPU’s fine champagne-like bubbles are a unique complement to tasty cuisine and provide a smooth experience for cleansing the palette,” says KOPU Co-Founder Justin Mahy. “They also communicate a message of environmental respect and also have practical advantages of avoiding the dangerous breakage that comes with glass.” KOPU cites data from the Aluminum Association that nearly 75 percent of all aluminum created remains in active circulation. Since the water is imported here by boat, the company also suggests it’s helping reduce carbon emissions and energy use related to truck delivery. In the water category, Packaged Facts says that customization through packaging and RESTAURANT C-SUITE 19


delivery systems presents a big opportunity for producers. That’s because consumers are opting increasingly for sustainable and environmentally-friendly packaging, including aluminum and recyclable paper. Flow Water, an alkaline water with a pH of 8.1 containing electrolytes, is another unique brand. “Further, Flow has a low carbon footprint, using a 100% recyclable Tetra Pak paper carton made from 70% renewable resources and a sugarcane-derived plastic lid,” notes Packaged Facts in its report. CBD-infused water may make sense for some brands. Restaurants have shown a willingness to test the market with limitedtime and permanent CBD-infused food additions. Why not water? CBD claims many associated health benefits, not yet fullyproven, such as easing stress, pain, anxiety, and insomnia. These associations generate a health-halo effect and link CBD with wellness in consumers’ minds. Pushing the envelope, Lagunitas Brewing Company unveiled a sparkling water that has both THC and CBD in Hi-Fi Hops, which it calls an “IPA-inspired” sparkling water. According to Packaged Facts, this water is sold in California dispensaries and contains no alcohol or calories. But QSRs have local and state ordinances to consider, as well as federal regulations. The U.S. Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December 2018 “includes a provision to legalize hemp nationally.” This would go a long way in furthering production of hemp-derived beverages. The FDA is currently in a comment period for review of regulations around the safety and regulation of hemp-derived products, including foods that contain CBD. Consistency on the treatment and regulation of non-psychoactive ingredients by the FDA will be helpful. RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 20

Teas and kombucha provide much opportunity for QSRs In the tea category, many brands and formulations can speak to functionality, from relaxation and energy to probiotic and wellness-enhancement. Cold formulations of tea offer a myriad of choices. For the graband-go refcon, cold, RTD (ready-to-drink) teas are an optimal choice. As consumers look for pick-me-up beverages with specific functionality and implied benefits (that may have yet to be proven, in many cases), they’ll seek out these portable drinks. QSRs benefit from a diverse portfolio of to-go beverages and tea to drive incremental business. Many tea brands are de-emphasizing caffeine and spotlighting other ingredients, which have health halo (health-implied) formulations. These include “stimulants like guayusa, green tea, and matcha, but also yerba mate, which is starting to catch on with young Millennial consumers who are more adventurous with their food and beverages,” says Packaged Facts of this trend. DanoneWave’s STōK brand has the stimulant Yerba Mate. A strong collection of drinks can help satisfy customer demand and increase average check, particularly during the busy, lunch daypart, and in post-lunch snacking. Kombucha, made by fermenting sweet tea, is the new darling in the tea category. With claims of probiotic benefits from fermentation, kombucha is on the rise as a better-for-you beverage option. Gut health is an “enhanced functionality” that it promises, says Packaged Facts. Also, kombucha is a big driver of the tea market’s growth, helping the total tea & RTD category to grow from a current run rate of 2.1 percent to a projected 3.1 percent in the next five years.


KOPU’s innovative packaging helps it fit into any service style. Photo by KOPU.

Serving kombucha on tap offers convenience and a trendy experience at retailers like Whole Foods and Alltown Fresh. “By providing fresh options such as kombucha and organic juice, Alltown Fresh is welcoming non-traditional c-store consumers who typically wouldn’t consider themselves fountain beverage drinkers to give it a try,” notes Seidenberg. Consumers enjoy having healthy choices, particularly when presented in a self-service format. Vermont-based Aqua ViTea, the kombucha on-tap provider for Alltown Fresh, offers flavor varieties such as Peachmint and Hibiscus Ginger Lime. Attesting to its popularity and mainstreaming, Target stores carry a kombucha line packed under its Simply Balanced Store Brand. Also, Packaged Facts spotlights the Dr. Brew brand, which packages kombucha in cans. Its

manufacturer is the first to do so. Yet another top on-trend example: Dr. Brew also carries kombucha in bottles, which is preferable to consumers who like to see a kombucha product prior to purchase.

In-house preparations of teas, lemonades, smoothies Fast casuals like Cava offer in-house beverage options that appeal to consumers looking for flavorful, better-for-you refreshments. For QSRs, cold beverages that are prepared or finished-off in-house convey freshness and craft-like qualities. These beverages can also be perceived as more natural if they use real ingredients and are not powder-based. Cava has carried Unsweetened Black Tea, Jasmine Tea and Peach Green Tea as seasonal, spring varieties. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 21


Self-service kombucha can resonate with health-conscious customers with fast-paced lifestyles. Photo by Alltown Fresh.

South Block Juice, a Washington D.C.-based chain of cafes offering fresh-brewed and coldbrew coffee, plant-based juices, smoothies and acai bowls, is expanding rapidly. Its popularity can be attributed to aligning its products with a healthy lifestyle. At South Block consumers select from a wide array of smoothie options. At its recently opened Ballston Quarter location, green smoothie selections include Avocado Butter, Green Caveman and Super Green + Smoothies. Top fruit-based smoothies include the likes of PBJ and Pink Smoothie. At Alltown Fresh, smoothies are the bestselling cold beverage item at its Plymouth, Mass. location. “The Awake smoothie blends coffee with cacao powder, almond butter, banana, honey and yogurt while the Refresh RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 22

is made with berries and cucumber for a nutrient-packed, hydrating beverage,” says Seidenberg. “We’ve found that flavors and products that feel functional – whether it be hydrating or energy-boosting – and flavors that feel indulgent, such as chocolate or cacao, are what our guests look for.” Offering a tasty selection of lemonades is also a big opportunity for QSRs. As a selfservice option and with portability in to-go cups, fresh lemonade surfaces as a top beverage option. Particularly in the warm months, tangy citrus flavors can be quite appealing as a refreshment. Panera’s choices are on trend here: flavors change seasonally and include Agave Lemonade and Blood Orange Lemonade.


2019 NOTABLE ACQUISITIONS AND M&A ACTIVITY January • Wilmington restaurateur Ash Aziz finalized the sale of three of his restaurants to the Urban Food Group for an undisclosed amount. • P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc. agreed to a purchase by investment firms TriArtisan Capital Partners Inc. and Paulson & Co. Inc. Centerbridge Partners, which owned the chain, will retain its fast-casual sister, Pei Wei. • J.H. Whitney announced it would acquire Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, a 48-unit polished casual restaurant concept which specializes in steaks, seafood and burgers.

Q1

Q2

February • Lemonade Restaurant Group and Modern Market Eatery, two health-minded fast casual brands, announced a merger and formed Modern Restaurant Concepts company. Private equity firm Butterfly coordinated the deal. • Carrols, the largest Burger King franchisee, acquired 221 restaurants from Cambridge Holdings. • New Jersey-based Turning Point Holdings, a breakfast and lunch concept operating 16 units in the Mid-Atlantic, received an investment from Larsen MacColl Partners and NewSpring Mezzanine. • Papa John’s International Inc. accepted a $200 million investment from hedge fund Starboard Value LP with an option of an additional $50 million through March 29.

April • J. Alexander’s rejected Ancora’s purchase offer. • Papa Murphy’s and MTY Food Group announced merger for $190M. • CEC Entertainment, which owns Chuck E Cheese and Peter Piper Pizza, announced it was being acquired by Leo Holdings Corp., a blank check company formed by Lion Capital. CEC is backed by Apollo Global Management. • GPS Hospitality, the Atlanta-based multi-unit operator of nearly

400 Burger King locations and 19 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens, bought 75 Pizza Hut restaurants in four states. • Lucky Strike was acquired by Wellspring Capital. (Eatery Pulse) May • Kona Grill filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Q2

Q3

June • Sweetgreen acquired food-delivery provider Galley Foods. (Eatery Pulse) • Fat Brands acquired Elevation Burger for $10M in cash and debt. (Eatery Pulse) • Del Frisco’s agreed to buyout from L Catterton Group for $650M. (Eatery Pulse) July • Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan took majority stake in Hooters of America. (Eatery Pulse) • Cracker Barrel agreed to take a stake of up to $140M in fastrising Punch Bowl Social. (NRN) • Vintage capital made new, “friendly” offer for Red Robin in amount of $40 per share, valuing Red Robin at $519M. (Restaurant Business Online) • Williston Holdings purchased 24 restaurants from Kona Grill, a polished, casual-dining chain, which is in bankruptcy proceedings. Williston is controlled by Kona Grill’s former CEO, Marcus Jundt. • Cheesecake Factory buys the remainder of North Italia it doesn’t own for an additional $130M, in addition to 45-unit Fox Restaurant Concepts for $223M, including the purchase of Flower Child, but excluding a previous payment for it. (Eatery Pulse)

Source: Duff and Phelps, except where noted.

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Q&A What’s next for Kitchen United Commissary kitchen company partners with restaurant members to grow off-premises business Kitchen United, a turnkey commissary kitchen company for restaurants, has big plans for expansion. Delivering a way for restaurants to expand offpremises business, Kitchen United has been opening Craig Cochrane, EVP of Kitchen kitchen centers across the United. Photo by Kitchen United. Western United States. In June, it expanded to Tempe, Ariz. Now, Kitchen United is setting its sights on major cities, including on the East Coast. Speaking with Craig Cochrane, EVP of Marketing for Kitchen United, we dive deeper into the off-premises trend and how Kitchen United is igniting its explosive growth. Restaurant C-Suite: Please tell us where you see restaurant delivery going. Is it true that we are in the infancy of the business and consumers will continue to look for optimal convenience when eating restaurant food? Craig Cochrane: Without a doubt, restaurant delivery will continue to gain momentum. In fact, William Blair projects third-party ordering platforms will source over $43 billion of delivery orders in the U.S. by 2022, up from its 2018 estimate of $13 billion. People are busier than ever and convenience reigns supreme. For example, once someone has decided they are staying in and not cooking for the evening, they will find a way to order dinner for delivery. If their favorite restaurant doesn’t deliver, or doesn’t RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 24

have their preferred item on the delivery menu, that person will find another restaurant in the same category to order from. We are in the early stages of delivery yet, and have a lot of opportunity for learning and developing ways to make it even more convenient – as evidenced by the creation of new commercial kitchen models like Kitchen United. Autonomous vehicles and drones are no longer science fiction. With further testing these could one day be viable methods for minimizing delivery time. As with any evolving industry, delivery models will change as consumers and restaurant operators demand more and varied services. At Kitchen United, we see a variety of customers—people of all ages, income levels and physical locations. What Generations Z and Y bring to the table is overt demand. While people in their 50s, for example, order for delivery with frequency, it’s the younger generations that created the demand for the convenience of delivery thanks to their fast paced lifestyles and ability to master technology quickly. RCS: Tell us about some of the growing pains that restaurant chains have been having and how you address those concerns. CC: There was major saturation in the restaurant space over the past five to ten years, and with that, we’ve seen some recent closures and consolidations. Additionally, restaurant operators,


many of them smaller in size and without the know-how or budgets to take on new initiatives to drive business, deal with razor-thin margins. When they have service and technology providers knocking at their door to introduce a new CRM tool or digital ordering solution, there’s quite often a sense of reticence. How will we operate this technology? How does it really help my business? At Kitchen United, we work with established and growing restaurant brands that want to expand their market reach without the cost of a standalone build, or offload congestion from their existing, traditional restaurant set-up, or both. We’ve seen most success with brands that have a good understanding already of what delivery operations require, and brands that have existing demand for delivery. We’ve all experienced the headaches of getting lunch at a busy restaurant when customers and delivery couriers are wrestling for their respective orders. The traditional four walls of the restaurant were not built for this level and type of traffic. Kitchen United allows restaurants to capitalize on off-premises business via a streamlined model. Our kitchen centers are built for operational ease—for our restaurant partners, for delivery drivers and for consumers. We literally handle almost everything—cold storage, cleaning, trash removal and more—but the cooking and driving.

are fulfilling more orders “on demand.” Labor is another challenge impacting the industry. With implementation of a $15 per hour minimum wage, high turnover and low unemployment rates, restaurants are having a hard time hiring and keeping staff. Lastly, I’ll refer back to my previous comments on market saturation and restaurant brands that have limited resources both in regard to budget and personnel. RCS: What are the next steps for Kitchen United and where will we see your commissary kitchens next? CC: We have aggressive growth goals and expect to open up to 400 locations over the next four years. We are thoughtfully and carefully scouting each market we believe will be successful for our model. We’ve announced leases in Austin, Los Angeles and Columbus, to name a few, and will be opening a second location in Chicago. RCS: Tell us about a planned future presence on the East Coast if there is one. CC: Kitchen United has plans to be in all major cities in the U.S., and we use data to pinpoint where within each city. We’ve got our eyes on New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, just to name a few. New York truly is unlike any other market, and we think we’ll see particularly great opportunities there.

RCS: What are three challenges that restaurant chains have right now outside of your solution and that also need resolving?

RCS: How does your solution address the way chains expand in the future and their use of real estate?

CC: Creating a tech stack that makes restaurant operations run smoothly is quite the task—sort of like a puzzle. Technology can help make sense of orders coming to the restaurant from so many different sources (web, app, in-person) and being prepared for so many scenarios (pickup now, pickup later, delivery, dine in, catering, etc.). This technology is still evolving as restaurants

CC: We aim to serve as an easy and costeffective opportunity for expansion for established restaurant brands. As demand for delivery, pick-up and catering continues to grow, restaurants will increasingly find the need to expand market reach or to offload congestion. Kitchen United will serve as a logical extension of their traditional restaurant models. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 25


Eatery Pulse continues to expand inspired content Firm adds user-generated content, expands independent-restaurateur news nationally Photo by Vitchakom Koonyosying.

Washington, D.C. (July 25, 2019) Eatery Pulse Media, a primary source of restaurant news and custom media, and a business consultancy, celebrates the one-year anniversary of Eatery Pulse Streem, its blog and multimedia content platform. To mark the occasion, effective August 1, its community content program expands to include usergenerated content. Eatery Pulse is also augmenting its independent-restaurateur content, and will now include it online. The new dual independent-and-chain online news platform will be known as Eatery Pulse News (formerly Eatery Pulse Streem).

user-generated content,” said Rick Zambrano, Eatery Pulse editor. “By building community content, we can add additional insights and perspectives to our library of restaurant news while continuing to add news briefs, data-driven analyses and first-hand articles.”

Additionally, in September, the fresh, focused restaurant industry news platform will add podcasts. “We’re happy to build a unique source of restaurant news and insights, by adding

Eatery Pulse recently released a new custom media program, adding ways that foodservice organizations and experts can create their own content. Creative Content Studio helps

RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 26

Content creators on Eatery Pulse will be experts who have previously published in another online news site or publication. Restaurateurs and restaurant executives are also welcome. They can read the guidelines here at collaboration community, and submit content if they’re qualified.


foodservice professionals and organizations engage their audiences and attract new leads through robust and compelling thought leadership. With fresh, focused, inspired content, Eatery Pulse Media provides an alternative to mainstream foodservice news curators. Each month, it expands its library of hundreds of restaurant industry articles and provides ontrend, data-driven analysis of major news events. As Eatery Pulse has expanded content, restaurant executives and owners have increasingly embraced the information services firm as a reliable and trusted source of the most-relevant industry goings-on. “Eatery Pulse News will be the restaurant industry news site that restaurant executives and owners will be checking frequently,” says Zambrano. “By amplifying our multimedia news platform and adding user-generated content, we diversify and improve our news and analysis. We welcome experts, executives and owners to tap into our platform.” Navigate here to read more about our Collaboration (Content) Community and to participate.

About Eatery Pulse Media Based in the Washington, D.C. market, Eatery Pulse Media is a primary source of national restaurant industry news and content, providing information services, consulting, and a creative custom-content studio for business. As a multi-brand trade publisher, it delivers news content in multiple formats, including video broadcast. Eatery Pulse empowers foodservice professionals, business owners, and foodies to further engage and celebrate food and drink topics, as well as to profit and benefit from a growing and renowned food scene.

Eatery Pulse celebrates food and drink culture and is a trusted source of restaurant industry news and trends. Photo by Nathan Dumlao.

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Mentoring, real-world training give ProStart vocational students the edge Exposure to restaurant industry role models, leaders help define ProStart student careers By Rick Zambrano

Nebraska culinary team at NPSI 2019.

This month, about 400 students descended on Washington, D.C. for the 2019 National ProStart Invitational (NPSI). The competition is organized by the National Restaurant Educational Foundation (NRAEF). ProStart is a comprehensive, classroom–to-work vocational program that trains students in the culinary arts and restaurant management. State competitions determine winners who then get to compete at the national level at the ProStart Invitational. Students participating in the ProStart vocational program reap enormous benefits.Take Sharon Skutchan of Lincoln, Neb., for example: she is a teacher who accompanied Nebraska’s RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 28

state champions on their trip to the national competition in D.C., and a former ProStart participant. Her experience as a student made her more grounded and a better leader, she says. Skutchan competed in both the culinary and management competitions in 2013. Additionally, ProStart motivated Skutchan to become invested in learning. As a student, she spent three to four hours, two to three times per week on ProStart within the Milford Public High School system. Now, she teaches there, helping kids learn culinary skills and recipe formulation, and bringing the training she received full circle.


Vocational programs connect with students It was a ProStart teacher and mentor, she says, who early on encouraged Skutchan come “out of her box.” This teacher helped her to develop more poise, confidence, and willingness to “go into kitchens.” Now a private caterer and chef, Skutchan benefits from ProStart initiatives at the state level in Nebraska. To give that back to the public school system within the ProStart environment is commendable. “I’ve found the most fun as being a mentor because I can watch the team work from beginning to end,” she says. Two North Carolina students, Ky’ra Joyner and Micah Thomas, made the most of their experiences at ProStart. Joyner was part of her state’s management team presenting the Flippin Fire concept to judges at NPSI 2019. A key moment Joyner won’t easily forget is when a judge asked this: If the temperature is 66 degrees outside and the cooler stops working, and the temperature reads 41 inside the cooler, what do you do? She says students only heard the first part of the question and thought they should discard the shrimp, when in fact it was at the upper range of proper safe temperature. Under pressure, the management students had come to a decision too quickly.

Teaching resilience, real-life work examples, mentoring Questions like these stay with students, teaching them to rise to challenges and develop quick thinking. Samuel Stanovich, president, Stanovich Hospitality Inc. and area representative, Northern Illinois Northwest Indiana Firehouse Subs, says exposure to the realities of restaurant careers is a main benefit of ProStart. Stanovich’s involvement with ProStart has lasted for more than 15 years. “They have a better understanding of what it’s like to work in the industry,” he says, and they learn how “not to sugarcoat decisions.” His partners have helped train teams, contributed to ProStart mentoring, and hired ProStart students.

Sharon Skutchan, a ProStart mentor and previous student competitor. Photo by Eatery Pulse Media.

Micah Thomas, also competing on the North Carolina culinary team, was in charge of the appetizer: Shrimp Escabeche with spiced poached pear on top of crunch almond brittles. Thomas carefully served them over lavender panna cotta and salted caramel. Students learn to expect the unexpected. She says there wasn’t as much room for equipment as they would have liked, and the team had to improvise, taking more time for the mise en place. While Joyner was competing for the first time, Thomas was competing for the second time at the state level. Both students say that teamwork is a big benefit of ProStart. Both also credit the program with helping them make connections with mentors and employers. Impressively, they each have already earned a scholarship to Johnson & Wales that can be used at the Charlotte campus. Thomas is preparing to enter the RESTAURANT C-SUITE 29


school’s program for Pastry Arts. The trajectory of each ProStart program centers around the state restaurant associations. Mandy Hines, director of hospitality and education for the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA), works with the North Carolina ProStart program and says there have been many successes working with restaurant chain executives. In the work that the NCRLA has done, they have found success with positioning the program as a pipeline for future workers. Hines suggests this message resonates with North Carolina-based hospitality companies. The NCRLA has secured significant sponsorship over the years. In fact, sponsors have helped North Carolina students get started with their careers; assisted with the team’s trip to D.C. for the ProStart Invitational; and helped them obtain supplies, other resources and financial gifts. For example, sponsors provided the team’s travel bags students took to the nation’s capital for the competition.

Developing a mutually-beneficial relationship Students benefit broadly from the softer skills, including customer service, PR and learning to speak professionally, notes Hines. Although expected as a part of being immersed in a culture of hospitality, this softer skill set can also start to mold a culinary or restaurant management student into a complete professional. Loyalty is another way that restaurant chains benefit from involvement in ProStart, Hines suggests. ProStart program students are not only employees, they’re also customers— potentially for a lifetime. Companies, like Brinker, Golden Corral and Marriott embrace ProStart, accompanied by the following and goodwill ProStart creates. Companies like these have led the charge in North Carolina and have seen “the potential that the program could have,” she says.

ProStart management and culinary competing teams at NPSI 2019. Photo by ProStart.

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A tale of two technology companies (working together): Chowly and Invoiced By Eric Nomis

Technology is fast-moving and there’s a big opportunity in engaging customers in the digital world—particularly as it relates to restaurants. As the desire for convenience has grown, consumers have turned to order pick-up and delivery in a big way. This month, TDn2K, an intelligence and analytics company, reported that the largest gaps between the growth of offpremises sales and on-premises sales occurred in the last three quarters. Restaurant delivery is a multi-billion dollar opportunity for restaurants as sales shifts from within the four walls to outside of them. Third-party delivery has made delivery across a market or multiple markets possible for restaurants and restaurant chains. With the adoption of third-party delivery ordering has come a barrage of tablets and devices to RESTAURANT C-SUITE | Restaurant news that’s fresh, informed, inspired (by you) 32

receive these orders. Managing these orders has become quite a challenge for restaurants. Chowly is a technology services provider that integrates orders from third-party delivery services into the POS to help restaurants manage the order and optimize the opportunity. Sterling Douglass, Chowly co-founder and chief executive notes two big transformations occurring within the restaurant industry. First of all, there’s a huge percentage of revenue shifting from on-premises to off-premises. Second, more restaurants are doing business in the digital world, outside the four walls. Restaurants must now manage their online profiles, menus and website to become attractive business specifically in the online space.


Until recently, Douglass’ team had been serving more independent restaurants. Now, he’s seen a trend shifting toward multi-unit companies and chains, so now Chowly has a wide range of customers. “We can work with a single restaurant and with muli-unit chains,” says Douglass. And cost is not a big factor, as Chowly’s customers pay $100 per month on average, with the complexity of menus playing a significant role. In June, Olo, a digital ordering company, announced a new partnership with Uber Eats. Olo began integrating Uber Eats orders directly into the POS through a system called Olo Rails. No matter, suggests Douglass. “We’ve been integrating Uber Eats for three years now since they introduced that in the Chicago Market. When you look at Chowly and Olo, there’s not a lot of other options for integrating third party services.” Whether it’s an ”online order, kiosk solution or third party marketplace,” there’s just no place for business to be captured outside the POS, notes Douglass. Chowly sees its roles as helping restaurants manage the shift of technology, particularly as it’s expected to become more prevalent. This year alone, the online preparedmeals delivery market could top $23B and by 2023, $28B. As more business comes from outside the restaurant, fulfilling the orders is much more efficient and accurate via the POS. Chowly works with several chains, notably Pieology, Famous Dave’s and Uno’s Chicago Pizzeria. Another company that Chowly works with is Invoiced, which is a technology company that helps companies that want to focus on their business while making managing receivables seamless and efficient. Invoiced helps Chowly bill customers and get paid quickly. According to Jared King, Invoiced chief executive, his firm helps “companies like Chowly increase their collection metrics by 30 to 50 percent.”

Photo by Simon Rae.

Restaurant clients also benefit because the experience is much improved. Restaurant owners and managers have enough to worry about. A solution like Invoiced enables restaurants to make their payments in a way that continues the positive brand experience of the provider—in this case, Chowly. By automating billing and collections, Invoiced has helped this process, and shown results. Further down the road, Invoiced is making improvements to its solution. A physical lockbox solution is the newest development. It will help its clients accommodate their customers by enabling payments that are not electronic. “For those that have a P.O. Box, they’ll be able to receive their checks automatically and applied to the correct invoices,” noted King. In addition, Invoiced is adding predictive technology so that Invoiced clients can have more insight into the next quarter and their customers who are at risk, but are not yet known. RESTAURANT C-SUITE 33


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