A Starbucks Farewell and White Spot Celebrates 90 Years

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features Starbucks, White Spot, Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc., Bardstown Bourbon Company, Russo’s Restaurants, LeaseQ and SEFA and ParTech, Inc. and Envysion.

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

MRM Daily Bite Logo

Schultz Bids Farewell to Starbucks

Howard Schultz is stepping down as Starbucks executive chairman and member of the Board of Directors and will be honored with the title of chairman emeritus effective June 26.

During his four decades as ceo and chairman, Schultz grew Starbucks from 11 stores to more than 28,000 stores in 77 countries. Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks has delivered a 21,000 percent gain in the value of its stock price since its initial public offering in 1992. The company’s growth was fueled by his decisions to provide uncommon benefits for those who work for Starbucks, including comprehensive healthcare, stock ownership and free college tuition, even for those working part-time, the board said.

Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks has delivered a 21,000 percent gain in the value of its stock price since its IPO in 1992.

“I set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and World War II veteran, never had a chance to work for,” Schultz wrote in a letter addressed to past and present Starbucks partners. “Together we’ve done that, and so much more, by balancing profitability and social conscience, compassion and rigor, and love and responsibility.”

Schultz’s journey began in 1981, when he walked into the first Starbucks store, located in Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market. The following year, he moved with his wife, Sheri, from New York to assume the role of director of operations and marketing. Schultz’s passion for the highest quality coffee heightened on a business trip to Italy, where he was captivated by the sense of community, romance and theater found in Italian coffee bars. In the years following his return to Seattle, Schultz purchased Starbucks with the support of local investors and dedicated his career to bringing his vision of a modern coffee house to life in America and around the world.

Schultz elevated the concept of Starbucks as the third place between home and work: a comfortable, welcoming environment that provides uplifting experiences, community and human connection. Schultz has been named as one of The World’s Most Influential People by Time magazine as well as Business Person of the Year by Fortune. Most recently, Schultz has received the Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award and has been presented with the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Business Leadership award and the NAACP LDF (Legal Defense and Education Fund) National Equal Justice award.

Last April, Schultz transitioned from ceo to executive chairman, shifting his full-time focus to the company’s social impact initiatives as well as innovation and global development of the company’s premium Reserve brand, including Starbucks Reserve Roasteries, Reserve stores and the Company’s partnership with renowned artisanal Italian bakery, Princi. Following his transition off the Starbucks board at the end of June, Schultz will oversee the opening of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan on Sept. 6 – marking the company’s long-awaited entry into Italy – and the New York Roastery in late October.

Starbucks also announced today that its Board of Directors has appointed Myron E. “Mike” Ullman as its new chair of the Board and Mellody Hobson as vice chair of the Board effective upon Schultz’s retirement. 

“There are no words to fully express our gratitude to Howard for the extraordinary company he has built,” said ceo and member of the Board of Directors Kevin Johnson. “He’s helped Starbucks earn the respect of millions around the world by always being true to a higher calling, and always being bold in creating a better future. He’s taught all of us that it’s possible to be a very different kind of public company. That must, and will, continue on my watch.”

In Schultz’s letter to partners, he thanked them for their collective efforts to build a different kind of company. “Because of your creativity, your hard work, and the love that you have poured into the company, Starbucks today is widely embraced and respected. As I prepare to step away, I’d like to humbly remind you not to lose sight of what matters most: your fellow partners and our customers.”

Photographed in the early 1990s, Howard Schultz in Guatemala on a coffee farm with 27-year partner, Dave Olsen. Dave was the company’s first chief coffee buyer who later became senior vice president of culture and leadership development before he retired in 2013. Schultz has referred to Dave over the years as the “coffee conscience of the company.”

He also expressed deep confidence in the team that will continue to lead the company. “Kevin Johnson is a true servant leader, and he will lead Starbucks as this great company enters its next journey. It’s our duty as leaders to constantly reimagine Starbucks. I am honored to call Kevin my friend and partner. And Starbucks is fortunate to have him. This leadership team is extraordinarily capable. They, too, believe that Starbucks has a responsibility to use our scale for good.”

Schultz is looking forward to spending more time with his family this summer. He is also writing a book about Starbucks social impact work and the efforts to redefine the role and responsibility of a public company in an ever-changing society.

White Spot Celebrates 90

From the humble beginnings of serving peanuts and hotdogs out of Nat Bailey’s Model T Ford in 1928, to proudly serving over 12 million guests a year with 65 restaurants throughout BC and Alberta, White Spot is Canada’s longest running restaurant chain and truly BC’s Own restaurant. 

“People often ask me how White Spot continues to grow and remain relevant after all these years,” says Warren Erhart, President of White Spot. “I tell them it’s because memories are made here. Whether you’re here for Sunday brunch, a first date, a special birthday or your very first Pirate Pak, we have something on the menu for every occasion. On behalf of all our people, I’d like to thank our long-time guests for their support and invite newcomers to see what’s made us BC’s Own restaurant for all these years.”

To honour White Spot’s culinary history, Executive Chef Danny Markowicz and his team have put a new spin on an old classic: Chicken in the Straw. Featured on their limited-time 90th anniversary menu, Chicken in the Straw – which consists of a crispy quarter chicken served with creamy coleslaw on a “nest” of signature Kennebec fries – is almost as Legendary as the famous Triple “O” sauce.

“Many people automatically think of us as being famous for our burgers and Triple “O” sauce,” says Markowicz. “But the truth is White Spot began as a BBQ chicken restaurant, and was made popular with dishes such as the BBQ’d Chicken Sandwich and Chicken in the Straw. It’s amazing how many guests still ask for these dishes, and the version we have created for our 90th anniversary menu is sure to bring back great memories.”

The modern twist on an old classic, along with other 90th anniversary menu items, will be available from June 4 to July 15.

White Spot 90th Anniversary commemorative coin

In addition to the anniversary menu, and as a way to say thank you to their guests, visitors to any White Spot location on June 16th will receive (while supplies last) one of 50,000 limited edition commemorative coins. White Spot will also be recognized for this momentous milestone through the City of Vancouver proclaiming June 16th ‘White Spot 90th Anniversary Day’ to officially recognize the restaurant’s ongoing success and community contributions.

Henry Promoted at Ruth’s Hospitality

Ruth’s Hospitality Group, Inc. said Cheryl Henry, currently President and Chief Operating Officer, will assume the role of President and CEO effective August 10, 2018. Ms. Henry replaces Michael P. O’Donnell who will assume the role of Executive Chairman. Ms. Henry was also appointed to the Board of Directors effective August 10, 2018.

Henry joined the company in June of 2007, and over the last eleven years has been responsible for nearly every aspect of the company’s day-to-day field operations including culinary, beverage, brand marketing, real estate development, human resources and information technology.

Michael P. O’Donnell, Executive Chairman Elect of Ruth’s Hospitality Group stated, “Cheryl’s appointment as Chief Executive Officer is the culmination of a multi-year succession planning process. Her experience and success managing virtually all aspects of our business over the last decade uniquely qualifies her for the position. We are highly confident that her proven leadership abilities, combined with a world class team and strong business foundation, will continue to create long term value for all our stakeholders.”

Cheryl Henry, President and CEO Elect stated, “I’m excited to build on our last decade of work and further expand the Ruth’s Chris brand. We have the team in place and a winning strategy, so our goal from here is continued operational execution, the centerpiece of which is a strong and positive brand connection with each and every guest.”

Nancy and Mark Oswald, the Company’s largest franchisee added, “We speak on behalf of the entire franchise community when we say we are delighted to welcome Cheryl as our new CEO. Her continuous and unwavering support through the years has been crucial to the growth and success of our brand and we are confident she will bring great things as CEO. At the same time, we thank Mike for his invaluable work over the past ten years and look forward to his continued role as Executive Chairman.”

Rob Selati, Lead Director of the Ruth’s Hospitality Group Board added, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Mike O’Donnell for his decade of service as Chairman and CEO. Under his watch the company navigated the financial crisis, emerged stronger and more focused, and ultimately excelled across numerous growth and shareholder value metrics, including a five-fold increase in shareholder value. His role as Executive Chairman will ensure that he remains an important part of our leadership team, and we are thrilled with his continued presence as one of the Company’s largest shareholders.”

Bottle and Bond Opens

The Bardstown Bourbon Company (“BBCo”), the largest new distillery in America, opened Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar,  the first full-service Kentucky Bourbon Trail restaurant and bar in a distillery. Bottle & Bond showcases gourmet fare from Executive Chef Felix Mosso, formerly with the historic Greenbrier Resort, West Virginia, and more than 200 vintage American whiskeys curated by renowned whiskey author Fred Minnick, including some dating back to the 1800s.

Located on 100 acres of active farmland inside one of the world’s most modern and technically advanced whiskey distilleries, Bottle & Bond’s scratch kitchen combines seasonal, local ingredients with regional flair. Comfort food, exceptional salads, and farm fresh meats and cheeses along with a craft cocktail program, one-of-a-kind whiskey and vintage spirits library, curated wine collection, and a selection of local draft beers, provides the perfect foundation for a memorable afternoon or evening.

To bring its vision to life, the company assembled an experienced food and beverage team, led by John Donnelly (“JD”), BBCo’s Executive Director of Food & Beverage. Most recently, JD was the Director of New Restaurant Openings for the Matchbox Food Group, where he was responsible for opening 15 restaurants, developing a culture of hospitality, and ensuring the highest quality experience for guests.

“We practice refined simplicity,” said Donnelly. “Our dishes are simple, yet exceptional and made with the finest ingredients sourced from the highest quality vendors. At the end of the day, our number one job is to ensure that each and every guest returns to Bottle & Bond.”

Bottle & Bond’s Executive Chef Felix Mosso has a celebrated culinary career spanning more than three decades. Chef Mozzo is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and served as a Professor and Course Coordinator in its Culinary Arts and the Food & Beverage Program. BBCo recruited Dan Callaway as its Director of Beverage Operations and Bourbon Education. Dan was recently the General Manager at Decca Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Bottle & Bond’s team of expert mixologists are all Certified Executive Bourbon Stewards by the Stave & Thief Society. They will not only create exceptional drinks, but they will also focus on educating the consumer about bourbon. BBCo encourages guests to enjoy an extensive range of whiskey, bourbon, and rye brands from across the globe, in addition to its own products.

For the vintage whiskey library, Minnick curated extremely rare gems, including an 1890s Cedar Brook whiskey and a pair of early 1900s Overholt Rye. As part of his Fred Minnick Signature Spirits Series, in which he builds vintage spirits menus, Bottle & Bond is Minnick’s debut library. The Bottle & Bond collection tells the story of American whiskey, through each bottle, from the late 1800s and pre-prohibition through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. In addition, Bottle & Bond showcases handmade cocktails, a wine list featuring artisanal wine makers, and craft beer on tap.

“Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar is an experience,” said David Mandell, President & CEO of the Bardstown Bourbon Company. “We’ve created an inviting, fun, and approachable environment where people can enjoy an exceptional meal, great cocktails, and try a wide variety of brands from our unique whiskey collection. Just like our signature Collaborative Distilling Program, Bottle & Bond is designed to bring people together.”

Furthering its philosophy of collaboration and education, BBCo participates in U.S. State Department’s J-1 Visitor Exchange Program and brings hospitality and culinary students from around the world to work at Bottle & Bond. As part of the program, BBCo houses the students, provides transportation, and ensures a year-long curriculum designed to teach them about local culinary arts, bourbon culture, and Kentucky.

“We are proud to bring the spirit of international collaboration into our kitchen and bar,” said Garnett Black, Vice President of Hospitality, Tourism & Community Outreach. “We have 17 students from three nations working side-by-side with our highly-talented food and beverage team. When it comes time for them to return to their native countries, they will be ambassadors for bourbon, Bardstown, and the state of Kentucky.”

Russo’s Development Deal

Russo’s Restaurants inked a development deal with  Zafar “Jeff” Moosa. Backed with more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant franchising industry, Moosa adds the Russo’s name to his portfolio through the acquisition of the Richardson, Texas Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen, located at 700 E Campbell Rd. Through the agreement, he will also significantly expand Russo’s Restaurants’ Texas footprint across Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio. 

Chef Anthony Russo, the brand’s creative culinary mind, founder and CEO of Russo’s Restaurants, the multi-brand franchisor of both Russo’s Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen and Russo’s New York Pizzeria, inked the agreement with Moosa. Moosa’s restaurant franchise investments and operations also include several Taco Bell, Captain D’s and Golden Chick locations. He’s also a former franchisee of Jack in the box and Church’s Chicken.

“Our current pace of growth in Texas – and beyond – is unprecedented for our brands,” said Russo, who has 40 years of culinary expertise featuring fresh, homemade Italian cuisine using family recipes. “With Jeff’s business acumen behind the Russo’s brand, we are equipped to introduce our concepts to more families, friends and business associates. In addition to Jeff’s recent investment, we’re seeing tremendous interest and growth this year with franchising partners in the U.S. and internationally.”

Russo’s Restaurants offers a rare franchise opportunity for entrepreneurs like Moosa interested in proven brands that are entirely chef driven. The business model also offers:

  • A smaller footprint (1,500 – 3,500 sq. ft.) for less overhead
  • A low-cost entry into the restaurant business with an initial investment starting around $395,000 in select markets
  • A focus on fresh ingredients to subtract additional supply costs for preservatives and packaging, and also to meet consumer’s demand for quality food
  • Online ordering, takeout and free delivery options for added customer valu

Recently, Chef Anthony introduced the “Next Generation Pizza & Italian” restaurant model–ideal for on-the-go diners looking for authentic Italian cuisine at shopping malls, strip centers and airports. The restaurant design and environment blends the freshness of a fine Italian restaurant with the magic created around a homemade Italian meal. Plus, the unique, open kitchen design and one-of-a-kind pizza bar provides guests with the chance to enjoy watching Russo’s chefs prepare their hand-tossed pizzas and homemade meals fresh from scratch and to take in the aromas of authentic Italian cooking.

Moosa continues Russo’s initiative to open dozens of locations across Texas. The family-focused original Italian concept has established itself as a Texas-favorite through its growing presence across the state, especially in large cities such as Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. In 2018, the brand’s key development focus in Texas is on the Dallas and Fort Worth territories in addition to three in-state openings, one in Austin and two in Houston Beyond Texas, the brand also has a U.S. franchising focus throughout key markets including Florida, the Northeast and the middle section of the country. Internationally, key growth territories include the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe. 

LeaseQ Partners with SEFA

LeaseQ and SEFA, LLC, have teamed to bring financing automation to SEFA members. The LeaseQ platform allows SEFA members to capture instant, competitive lease and loan quotes for their customers, and manage financing opportunities from quote to close.

“SEFA goes above and beyond in offering value to their members, from impactful shows and trainings, to financing programs. We are honored to be their partner, and look forward to providing their ever-growing member base with access to our signature white-glove service and suite of automated tools to make equipment financing fast and easy,” said Vernon Tirey, co-founder and CEO of LeaseQ.

Founded in 1986, SEFA is the industry’s leading foodservice buying, marketing and training group. SEFA serves more than 60 members, and has more foodservice equipment and supplies dealers in the top 100 than any other buying group. Their mission is to enhance the profitability and competitiveness of their members, while providing loyalty and growth to their supplier partners.

“SEFA is distinct in that we offer our members value, technology and resources with a personal touch, which is why partnering with LeaseQ was such a natural fit,” said Sandra VanBuren, Director of Strategy & Business Operations at SEFA. “With LeaseQ, we are excited to offer a robust, automated equipment financing program to our members today and in the future.”

While a few of SEFA’s members were already using the LeaseQ platform, Lafayette Restaurant Supply is among the first to take advantage of the platform since the partnership began.

“LeaseQ installed a tablet-based kiosk in our showroom, took the time to train our staff on-site to get the most out of the platform, and has a team available for ongoing support. Our customers can now apply using one free application, receive instant quotes from leading lenders and get financing faster than ever before. That’s powerful for us and for our customers,” said Heather Isham, Sales & Marketing, Lafayette Restaurant Supply.

ParTech Teams with Envysion

ParTech, Inc. forged a new partnership with Envysion to set a new standard for loss prevention strategies in the restaurant business.

Launched in 2006, Envysion’s award-winning video solution provides business operators instant insight, using video surveillance as a strategic tool for every aspect of a restaurant business. When combined with POS and other data gathered by PAR’s systems, the Envysion and PAR integration makes it easy for restaurant owners and operators to review in-store operations any time, from any location, and to enable quicker analysis and resolution.

“The best loss prevention programs in restaurants today require a close relationship between data and video. Using video to verify exceptions, transactions, and other incidents brings new clarity and decisiveness to a business operator,” says Kevin Milner, Director of Audit Programs at Envysion. “The integration of Envysion’s video solution to PAR’s POS system helps our mutual clients actively stop theft all from within the workflow they are used to.”

“We are excited to add Envysion to our large ecosystem of partners,” said Paul Rubin, Chief Strategy Officer, ParTech, Inc. “The Envysion network acts as “the eyes behind” all business data—including POS, business intelligence, accounting, operations, environmental, and security—empowering restaurants and food distributors to verify their data and make sound decisions within the invaluable context of video, all while saving time and money. PAR’s customers will greatly benefit from the added protection and seamless integration into existing workflows that the Envysion solution provides.”