A Cup of Sustainability, IHOP Delivers and Clean Labels

MRM’s News Bites returns with news from The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, Shoney’s, IHOP and DoorDash, Parts Town, Peter Luger Steak House and Wondertable,  Umami Burger, Toast, Softtek, US Foods, Chef Works and Gather and EVENTup.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Finding Packaging Solutions

The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge, convened by Closed Loop Partners, announces that McDonald’s joins Starbucks as a founding member of the group joining together to develop a global recyclable and/or compostable cup solution. This announcement follows recent commitments by both companies to drive innovation of their packaging and help reduce waste. 

McDonald’s is committing $5 million in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to help launch the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge announced earlier this year, bringing the total contributed to $10 million. The Challenge kicks off in September and invites innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit their ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cups. Awardees will receive acceleration funding up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions. 

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said Marion Gross, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, McDonald’s USA. “We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”

“We are proud to come together with industry partners like McDonald’s to drive innovative, scalable solutions for cup waste,” said Colleen Chapman, Vice President of Global Social Impact focused on sustainability for Starbucks. “A better cup will benefit the entire industry and we invite others to join us as we move these efforts forward.”

NextGen builds on years of work in the industry and is a critical step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that will potentially allow the 600 billion cups globally to be diverted from landfills and given a second life. ‘

“There has never been a greater need to tackle the ways in which we source and recover materials. McDonald’s participation is a strong step forward in building momentum from major brands to come together and develop innovative approaches to materials waste,” says Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability Research and Development (R&D) and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S. “Working together across the entire value chain of these major companies will allow us to create a comprehensive and lasting solution to this critical conservation challenge.”

Launching in September, The NextGen Cup Challenge, in partnership with OpenIDEO, is the first initiative in this journey. The NextGen Cup Challenge will be open to supply chain leaders, innovators and solution providers that have promising solutions to recovery of single use cups, with a focus on the fiber based hot and cold cup, starting with creating a fully recyclable and/ or compostable cup in North America. 

“To date we have received more than 1,000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating in the challenge and we anticipate some exciting and impactful proposals,” says Kate Daly, Executive Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “In our experience investing in circular economy innovation, we find the most successful path to scaling a systems-changing solution is to bring together key players along the entire value chain in a pre-competitive collaboration. This is the type of partnership we need to foster innovative solutions without sacrificing profit. We are working with consortium members to build a robust shared set of technical, performance, and environmental criteria that we will announce later this summer.”

While NextGen intends to work on the entire cup system, including cups, lids and straws, its first challenge will focus on the fiber-based hot and cold cup. For more details on the consortium or challenge, visit www.nextgencup.com.

Shoney’s to Phase Out Plastic Straws

Shoney’s® is choosing paper over plastic and will phase out plastic straws at all of its company-owned stores by 2020, according to Shoney’s Chairman and CEO David Davoudpour.

“America has spoken and Shoney’s always listens and for the sake of the environment and our communities, we are taking action,” said Davoudpour. “We are in the people business and have spent decades doing the right things in our neighborhoods as well as our restaurants and are committed to being at the forefront of this change. Our objective is to introduce FDA-compliant eco-product straws with paper and plant materials which are 100-percent compostable. When Shoney’s first opened 70 years ago in Charleston, West Virginia, the paper straw was the only straw. But it had its shortcomings and was phased out in the early seventies. But today is a new day, where longevity and sustainability usurp convenience. Shoney’s is here for the long haul and getting it right is always at the top of our priority list.”

In order to get back to what Davoudpour calls Shoney’s “Glory Days,” the brand is now growing through franchising following an extensive revitalization effort. Shoney’s is offering franchising opportunities to qualified single and multi-unit candidates.

IHOP Teams with DoorDash

IHOP® Restaurants is rolling out its first, and largest, national delivery program in partnership with DoorDash. The introduction of delivery at select IHOP restaurants across the U.S. is a  step in expanding the brand’s IHOP ‘N GO® (to-go) platform which already includes a fully-integrated online ordering system through IHOP.com and the IHOP mobile app. 

“For 60 years, IHOP has proudly served our guests freshly made breakfast favorites and more, all day, every day,” said Darren Rebelez, President, IHOP. “Undertaking a national delivery partnership is an exciting new chapter in our story and builds on the foundational work we’ve done on IHOP ‘N GO this past year, including introducing a mobile app, online ordering through IHOP.com, and special packaging that preserves the quality of our food for takeout. Most importantly, our partnership with DoorDash helps us bring more pancakes, to more people, whenever and wherever cravings strike – something IHOP guests told us they wanted.”

Currently, more than 300 IHOP restaurants are set-up for online ordering through the DoorDash website and mobile app with another 600-700 IHOP restaurants expected to be available for delivery by the end of the year.

“As a leading delivery provider with extensive national reach and a focus on strategically – and rapidly – expanding, DoorDash is an ideal partner to help us kick off the next phase of IHOP ‘N GO,” continued Rebelez. “Right now, about 300 IHOP restaurants are signed up with DoorDash with more coming online every day. Given the national matchup between where there’s an IHOP and DoorDash’s current and anticipated service areas, I expect to have close to 1,000 restaurants added to the DoorDash platform before the end of the year.”

“At DoorDash we pride ourselves on offering the best selection in the industry, and today’s announcement with IHOP is especially exciting as this brand has consistently been a top requested restaurant by our customers,” said Christopher Payne, Chief Operating Officer at DoorDash. “Customers can now order their favorite IHOP menu items any hour of the day, from over 300 locations across the country, and counting.”

Parts Town Acquires PartsXpress

Parts Town acquired PartsXpress, an independent supplier of foodservice and commercial appliance parts in the country, powered by Smart Care Equipment Solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

As part of this acquisition, Parts Town will become the primary supplier of genuine OEM parts to Smart Care Equipment Solutions’ technicians. The acquisition will further expand Parts Town’s leadership in supporting field service companies across the globe with the genuine OEM parts they need to deliver field service excellence. Smart Care Equipment Solutions will retain and build on its growing national field service capability, not acquired by Parts Town.

“PartsXpress is an exciting addition to the Parts Town family and will further strengthen the value Parts Town brings to both manufacturers and customers,” said Steve Snower, CEO of PT Holdings, parent company of Parts Town. “This acquisition moves us one step closer to our vision of making it easier, faster and even kinda fun for customers to find and buy foodservice equipment parts. The PartsXpress team brings a strong and diverse customer base and demonstrated expertise and passion for servicing customers, and we look forward to welcoming a new group of accomplished team members to Parts Town’s dynamic culture.”

Bill Emory, CEO of Smart Care Equipment Solutions added, “The sale of PartsXpress is another key step in our strategic plan to build Smart Care Equipment Solutions into the nation’s premier foodservice equipment care company. It allows us to focus on growth by doing what we do best: delivering great service for our customers through the strongest and largest team of commercial kitchen equipment technicians.”

Peter Luger To Open in Japan

Peter Luger Steak House and Wondertable, Ltd. announce an exclusive contract to develop a Peter Luger Steak House in Japan. This marks the first time the renowned Peter Luger brand will expand outside of the United States. The forthcoming Peter Luger Steak House will be in the center of Tokyo and is expected to open by 2020.

“Tokyo is an amazing culinary city where the demand for American beef has grown tremendously and we couldn’t be more excited about working with Wondertable to bring the Peter Luger experience to Japan,” said Amy Rubenstein, CEO of Peter Luger. “We’ll be shipping the same USDA Prime beef that we use in our New York restaurants. Between our strict quality controls and Wondertable’s vast operational expertise, we’re confident that we can give customers the same great experience that they’ve come to know and love in New York.”

“Among Japanese consumers, the award-winning Peter Luger Brand is already synonymous with unsurpassed American dry-aged beef and the New York restaurants are frequently ranked among the top must-visits spots in Asian publications,” said Michio Akimoto, COO of Wondertable, Ltd.“We are honored to bring this acclaimed restaurant to Tokyo, where we know it will be incredibly successful.”  

Peter Luger Steak House has been a fixture in Brooklyn for more than 130 years. When restaurateur Peter Luger first opened the Williamsburg restaurant in 1887 it was called Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley and quickly became a neighborhood favorite. Following Luger’s death the restaurant struggled and was sold at auction to Sol Forman, owner of Forman Family, a local manufacturing company. The Forman family still owns and operates the restaurant today and has since added a second New York location in Great Neck, Long Island. In addition to the restaurants, Peter Luger products are sold in grocery stores and dry-aged cuts are available for home delivery through the online butcher shop.

Wondertable has nearly 120 restaurants around the world and a track record of introducing American restaurants to the Japanese market including Lawry’s the Prime Rib and Union Square Tokyo, a Danny Meyer restaurant.

Plans for Peter Luger in Japan are still in development by Wondertable. The restaurant, which will replicate the design and operational elements of the New York locations, will be centrally located in Tokyo and be approximately 7000-11,000 square feet. 

Umami’s Artist Series

Umami Burger announced its latest Artist Series collaboration with global award winning Chef Daniel Boulud in celebration of Bastille Day on July 14th. Chef Boulud has created ‘The Umami Frenchie’ as an exclusive culinary creation available at participating Umami Burger locations nationwide from July 14 to September 14, 2018. A key aspect of this collaboration is that $1 from each burger sold will benefit Citymeals, which provides a lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to New York City’s homebound elderly.

Sam Nazarian, Founder & CEO of sbe states: “I and the Umami Burger team are incredibly honored to partner with Chef Daniel Boulud for our latest Artist Series. We are always looking to bring new products and drive innovation through our collaborators to amplify the Umami Burger experience and could not be more excited to have Chef Boulud create something remarkable for our guests. In addition to partnering with such an award winning chef, we are able to support the incredible charitable organization Citymeals on Wheels through our Artist Series program.”

“This collaboration with Umami Burger is first and foremost philanthropic” added Chef Daniel Boulud. “A burger with a cause to support Citymeals and the incredible work they’re doing in New York City. Every time someone will order ‘The Umami Frenchie’ burger, a dollar will be given to Citymeals. This burger also shows people that the French can go casual. I’m known for having created the DB Burger almost 20 years ago, which started the craze of gourmet burgers; I eventually wanted to create a more casual one and that’s how ‘The Frenchie’ came about. It’s different than your typical Umami Burger because it has the DB French touch!”

“Citymeals is thrilled to be part of this delicious collaboration with Chef Boulud and Umami,” said BethShapiro, Executive Director Citymeals on Wheels. “Customers get to enjoy a wonderful burger knowing that their purchase is supporting the preparation and delivery of meals for the homebound elderly.” 

The burger will be available at participating Umami Burger locations through September 14 for $18.

Toast Secures Funding

Toast announced $115 million in Series D funding to accelerate investment in research and development, recruit new talent, and expand its market presence. The financing round, led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., with participation from new investor Tiger Global Management, LLC – as well as existing investors – values Toast at $1.4 billion. 

“The way restaurants serve their customers is going through a fundamental change, and the technology that enables restaurant operations must respond to these new demands. Toast does this,” said Henry Ellenbogen, portfolio manager of T. Rowe Price New Horizons Fund. “Our investment in Toast reflects our belief in the firm’s ability to become much larger over time. We look forward to working with Toast’s management team as they help their clients and grow the business.”

“Toast enables our team to streamline operations in a way that wouldn’t be possible with legacy technology,” said Austin Brinson, VP of analytics at B.GOOD. “Thanks to Toast’s focus on the unique needs of restaurant operators, our entire organization is empowered to make data-driven decisions.”

To support the demand for its platform, Toast now employs more than 1,000 people in over 30 states and is actively hiring new talent to support its increasingly global footprint. New offices opened in Portland, Oregon and Omaha, Nebraska will support Toast’s growing workforce. When combined with Toast’s Boston headquarters and existing office in Dublin, Ireland, the company is well positioned to support thousands of employees in the future.

“With close to $800 billion in annual sales and representing nearly 15 million jobs in the U.S., the restaurant industry is a powerful contributor to local economies,” said Christopher Comparato, CEO of Toast. “As restaurant owners and operators navigate shifting consumer expectations driven by mobility and personalization, they’re selecting Toast as their platform of choice to deliver a guest-first and data-driven experience that increases revenue, streamlines operations, and delights guests.”

The Series D funding allows Toast to accelerate investments in research and development. Areas of continued focus include:

  • Handheld technology to increase sales: Toast Go™, a fully integrated mobile point-of-sale device designed by Toast, transforms how restaurateurs run and staff their business. Odd Duck – a full service restaurant in Austin, Texas – increased revenue by over $500,000 and reduced server turnover as tips grew by $7,000 per server, annually, with Toast Go.  

  • Back of house technology to increase speed of service: Eventide, an innovative seafood concept in Boston, introduced a continued service model powered by Toast. In the fine-casual eatery, guests enjoy a mobile ordering experience and receive text notifications from the Toast Kitchen Display System when their food is ready. Servers on the floor extend the service model and provide continuous tableside ordering with Toast Go.  

  • Guest-facing technology to manage brand risk: Harvard Business School found that a one-star change in online restaurant ratings can have a dramatic impact on revenue. With new guest feedback applications under development at Toast, restaurants of all sizes will soon be able to proactively address service concerns and re-engage guests directly through their point of sale.

Softtek Launches Guest Engagement Solution

Softtek launched Softtek Guest Engagement Solution, a cloud-based omnichannel application aimed at increasing restaurant efficiency and improving the dining experience.

By enabling real-time ordering, updating and payment via mobile devices, Softtek Guest Engagement Solution redefines the dining experience. In addition, by integrating point of sale (POS) data with back office data systems, the solution helps restaurants gain customer insight and improve operational efficiency.

“The Softtek Guest Engagement Solution allows a customer to use his or her mobile phone to order ahead before arriving at a restaurant, add to their order while at the restaurant and then pay the check when they’re done,” said Robert Whitehead, Director of Hospitality and Retail Technology at Softtek US and Canada. “By streamlining the transactional components of ordering and paying for meals, the solution simplifies the logistics of restaurant dining, without compromising the value-added human interaction of the dining experience.”

The mobile application digitizes restaurant activities such as placing drink orders and waiting for menus, checks and receipts – activities that cumulatively can take up to 20 minutes. By automating these interactions and reducing table time, Softtek’s Guest Engagement Solution makes dining out more feasible for time-strapped customers. Restaurants, meanwhile, can significantly increase table turnover during peak periods. At the same time, while the tool increases waitstaff productivity, servers can still engage with customers to offer suggestions, describe daily specials and upsell premium items.

“The Softtek Guest Engagement Solution model can help fast casual restaurants leverage technology to satisfy customers and compete more effectively in today’s demanding environment,” said Whitehead. “The platform’s unique approach to automation makes eating out more enjoyable for customers and more efficient and profitable for restaurants.”

US Foods Goes Clean Label

US Foods Holding Corp. said its entire line of Metro Deli®, Rykoff Sexton®, Chef’s Line® and Stock Yards®* Exclusive Brand products will be produced with clean label profiles as part of the company’s Unpronounceable List™ initiative. The initiative is aimed at producing products with simple, more recognizable ingredients by avoiding, removing or replacing ingredients and food additives found on the company’s new Unpronounceables List.

The company’s Unpronounceables List includes more than 80 ingredients the company will avoid using in more than 1,000 of its Exclusive Brand products. Product ingredient labels across the four best-quality Exclusive Brands will now be free of ingredients such as artificial flavors, artificial (FD&C) colors, high-fructose corn syrup, disodium guanylate, sodium benzoate and monosodium glutamate.

The Unpronounceables List initiative builds on the company’s Great Food. Made Easy. strategy committed to helping independent restaurant operators ‘make it’ with versatile and innovative menu options to meet evolving diner preferences.

“Forty-six percent of millennials would be more likely to buy a product with no artificial ingredients and we see this demand for simple, ‘back to the basics’ ingredients extending into the choices consumers make when dining out,” said Stacie Sopinka, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Quality at US Foods. “As diners increasingly make less-is-more food choices, we will continue to streamline and simplify our products by removing or replacing certain ingredients with preferred alternatives so what’s left is simply good food.”

To learn more about the Unpronounceables List initiative visit usfoods.com/unpronounceableslist.

Chef Works Cares

Chef Works granted $25,000 to Kitchens for Good as part of its “Chef Works Cares” charitable initiative.

“We have certain criteria that have to be met when we give out grant money and Kitchens for Good checks all of the boxes,” said Cynthia McCormick, vice president of human resources for Chef Works, who oversees the Chef Works Cares initiative. “When we learned about the amazing work they were doing, it made perfect sense for us to help support them.”

Kitchens for Good is a non-profit organization that tackles issues of food waste, poverty and hunger. By taking food that would otherwise go to waste, Kitchens for Good uses that surplus and creates nutritious meals through a culinary apprenticeship program for those formerly homeless, previously incarcerated or aging out of the foster care system.

“It’s an amazing collaboration on so many levels,” said Chuck Samuelson, founder of Kitchens for Good. “There’s an ethos we share between the two companies. We’re about quality and relationships. Chef Works truly understands what we’re trying to do and it’s a fantastic partnership.”

Added Aviva Paley, senior director of Kitchens for Good: “This money will help give more than 100 culinary students the opportunity for a second chance at life and to build a self-sufficient future. Chef Works has got the culinary industry pumping through its blood like we do and it’s a match made in heaven.”

Chef Works Cares oversees three primary philanthropic efforts: The elimination of children living in poverty, aiding children and adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities and protecting and improving the environment.

“We are proud to put the Chef Works name next to Kitchens for Good,” said Chef Works CEO Neil Gross. “While we’re a global company, we believe in helping our neighbors and finding ways to make our community better.”

Chef Works and Kitchens for Good are also collaborating on a sustainable food cooking competition in San Diego in October, hosted by Celebrity Chef Elizabeth Falkner. Additional information will be available in the next month.

Gather Acquires EVENTup

Gather acquired EVENTup. Together, Gather and EVENTup will enable over 12,500 restaurants, event spaces, and venues to grow their businesses by connecting them to millions of planners and consumers across the nation.   

“Like Gather, EVENTup leads its field and has made significant strides in improving and simplifying the way restaurants and other venues plan events,” said Nick Miller, co-founder and CEO of Gather. “Together, we’ll be able to build on our collective momentum and redefine the planning process — driving the industry forward and helping our customers grow their events business.”

More than 5,000 restaurants and venues across the U.S. already use Gather’s software to manage and simplify their event bookings process and, in 2017, planned and managed over 700,000 events, grossing more than $1 billion. This acquisition will provide opportunities for Gather customers to source new events business through listings in EVENTup’s unique online marketplace. EVENTup currently features over 7,500 venues in 300 U.S. cities and covers all types of event spaces, including art galleries, lofts and warehouses, banquet halls, rooftop bars and conference centers.

“We are thrilled to join the Gather team who, like us, is dedicated to digitizing the manual processes that make planning events difficult for venues today,” said Jayna Cooke, co-founder and GM of EVENTup. “We are excited to work together to continue making events easy to plan and enjoyable to manage.”

EVENTup will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Gather, which will continue to offer its event management platform to restaurants and venues across the U.S. Gather will remain headquartered in Atlanta, and EVENTup’s main office will remain in Chicago. Moving forward, Gather and EVENTup will explore opportunities to launch complementary offerings, and accelerate their product roadmap to address the evolving needs of their growing customer base.

delivery.com, a leading destination for on-demand ordering, and TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), the world’s largest travel site, today announced the integration of delivery.com’s restaurant delivery network into TripAdvisor’s desktop and mobile experiences. The new integration brings thousands of new food delivery options to TripAdvisor diners.

TripAdvisor users browsing restaurant listings in the United States now have the option to easily order food from thousands of delivery.com restaurant partners by simply clicking the “Order Online” button. And with delivery.com’s recent release of group ordering, those eating as a group are now able to order even more efficiently.

“delivery.com is thrilled to partner with TripAdvisor to make food ordering effortless for busy travelers and locals,” said Nat Brogadir, VP of Business Development and Finance of delivery.com. “TripAdvisor is one of the world’s largest and most trusted restaurant sites, and for those looking to satisfy their hunger through delivery or pickup orders, we’re excited to provide a quick and easy solution for them.”

“With millions of hungry diners coming to TripAdvisor each month, we are constantly striving to make it as easy as possible for them to find and eat the perfect meal – whether at home or on-the-go,” said Evan Becker, Head of Restaurant Commerce at TripAdvisor. “We’re excited to partner with delivery.com to provide TripAdvisor users with even more online food delivery options.”

For delivery.com’s merchant base of over 12,000 restaurants, this integration provides a brand new channel for them to market their online ordering capabilities to TripAdvisor’s hundreds of millions of unique monthly visitors, as well as to receive incremental orders from a broad range of new customers nationwide.

Terms and length of this agreement will not be disclosed.