Changes at Chipotle, Yum! and Smashburger and Dinova’s New and Improved App

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features Chipotle and Taco Bell, Smashburger, Tripleseat, Dinova and Upserve and SynergySuite.

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Niccol out at Yum!, In at Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill appointed Brian Niccol as chief executive officer and a member of the Board, effective March 5. Niccol most recently served as CEO of Yum! Brands’ Taco Bell Division for three years.

Chipotle Chairman, CEO and Founder Steve Ells, who will become executive chairman, said, “Brian is a proven world-class executive, who will bring fresh energy and leadership to drive excellence across every aspect of our business. His expertise in digital technologies, restaurant operations and branding make him a perfect fit for Chipotle as we seek to enhance our customer experience, drive sales growth and make our brand more relevant. The Board is confident that Brian’s passion and skillset ideally position him to make the bold moves needed to improve operations and take the company to the next level, all while remaining true to our purpose and the values that are essential to our customers.” 

Yum! Brands said with his departure, Julie Felss Masino, 47, President, Taco Bell North America, and Liz Williams, 42, President, Taco Bell International, will assume leadership of the Taco Bell Division in their respective roles, reporting to Yum! Brands Chief Executive Officer Greg Creed.

“I want to thank Brian for his leadership and focus on always keeping Taco Bell culturally relevant, innovative and accessible for customers,” said Creed. “As Brian moves on to another opportunity, we’re grateful he has built a world-class leadership team.

Niccol said, “I am very excited to be joining Chipotle at this pivotal time in its history. I have tremendous respect for the Chipotle brand and its powerful purpose. At Chipotle’s core is delicious food, which I will look to pair up with consistently great customer experiences. I will also focus on dialing up Chipotle’s cultural relevance through innovation in menu and digital communications. This will attract customers, return the brand to growth, deliver value for shareholders and create opportunities for employees.”

Niccol was at Taco Bell from 2011 and served as CEO from January, 2015 and president from 2013 to 2014. Under his leadership, he  repositioned Taco Bell as a lifestyle brand and successfully launched numerous product initiatives, including the new breakfast daypart and revolutionized its digital approach through mobile ordering and payment across their 7,000 restaurants.

Julie Felss Masino joined Taco Bell in January 2018 and as President is responsible for ensuring the brand continues to deliver same-store sales growth by driving innovation, new store development and a frictionless customer experience through digital and technology initiatives. She will also continue the brand’s strong partnership with its franchisees to deliver world-class operations. Masino joined Taco Bell from Mattel and, prior to that, has extensive experience in the restaurant industry including Starbucks and Sprinkles Cupcakes.

As President of Taco Bell International, Liz Williams is responsible for the brand strategy and performance of the International business. Prior to this role, Williams was the Taco Bell CFO, where the brand delivered six years of industry-leading sales, profit and brand growth under her financial leadership. Before joining Taco Bell, Williams spent six years with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as Principal in the Consumer and Retail practices in U.S. and Asian markets. She also spent seven years at Dell Computer in various finance, brand marketing and corporate sales positions.

“I’m confident that Julie, an accomplished brand builder and restaurant industry executive, and Liz, a strong brand veteran, are well positioned to ensure a seamless transition and will continue to elevate Taco Bell into a distinctive, relevant and easy brand,” added Creed.  “As we look ahead, I couldn’t be more excited about the strength of Taco Bell as the brand continues its journey to become a $15 billion company with 9,000 restaurants globally by 2022.”

JFC Ups Smashburger Ownership

Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC), Asia’slargest food service company, agreed to acquire an additional 45 percent of the Smashburger brand for $100M USD, bringing JFC ownership stake to 85 percent.

“Jollibee has been an invaluable strategic partner to date,” said Tom Ryan, co-founder and CEO of Smashburger. “Our momentum in 2017 around improved guest experience, iconic and record-setting product launches, and innovative marketing provide JFC a tremendously strong brand to enter the North American market. Our entire team couldn’t be more excited to grow the Smashburger brand and share the great tastes of Smashburger with the world.”

JFC’s majority stake in Smashburger positions the brand for continued growth, execs said.

“This reinforced strategic partnership with JFC will allow Smashburger to continue to focus on growth in both existing and new markets including the opportunity to bring our great tasting burgers, fries and hand-spun shakes to Southeast Asia. We look forward to building upon our successful relationship to further bolster the brand as an international leader in the better burger segment,” said Bradford Reynolds, CFO of Smashburger.

Venues by Tripleseat
Event sales and management platform Tripleseat launched the new Venues by Tripleseat, a website designed to simplify finding the perfect venue for any event. The tool enables event planners to search across multiple criteria including location, budget, headcount, venue type, and cuisine, eliminating hours of laborious manual research.
The newly-redesigned website, available at, is the latest addition to the Tripleseat product suite. 
“The private dining and special events market continues to grow to new heights  as more and more people look to venues like restaurants for their next event or meeting. With the ease and convenience of our venues website, event planners can find the perfect restaurant, hotel or unique venue to host their next board meeting or soiree,” said Jonathan Morse, founder and CEO of Tripleseat. “We’re confident the updated Venues by Tripleseat site will provide a positive, seamless experience for people looking to book an event”
Dinova Updates App

Dinova, Inc.  launched a new version of its app and web search, top photo. Capitalizing on its one-of-a-kind user base, Dinova’s online and mobile experience provide restaurants and business diners with direct access to one another through a proprietary channel that otherwise doesn’t exist. The new app and web search give users access to state-of-the-art technology that enhances usefulness and content.

In early 2017, Dinova brought in Chief Technology Officer Danny Davis as part of its renewed focus on improving the digital user experience. Davis’ team was tasked with creating a unique dining interface that allows business diners to explore the more than 14,000 restaurant locations in Dinova’s marketplace.

“The new Dinova app creates a user experience that allows business diners to search for any cuisine type in any market at any time,” said Davis. “We’ve included a dynamic search radius that will always have dining options readily available no matter where the user is located. The app also gives users access to online ordering and catering at many of our 14,000 restaurant locations nationwide.”

The new app offers a robust keyword search, quick access to catering and private dining options, and provides information on special dietary offerings from each restaurant. These features are also accessible on Dinova’s web search as another user access point – their desktop – when planning trips, in-office catering or client meals.

“As a technology-enabled marketplace, we are beyond excited about this app and how it enables a new generation of corporate and small business users,” said Vic Macchio, CEO and founder of Dinova. “Having a better online and mobile experience will give all of our participating restaurants more exposure, while giving our diners an easier way to find the best option in his or her selected area.”

Dinova’s new app is available in the Android and iPhone app stores.

SynergySuite Partners with Upserve

SynergySuite, the cloud-based back-office platform, announced a strategic partnership with point-of-sale provider Upserve. SynergySuite is joining the Upserve Marketplace to enable Upserve customers to streamline their back-office operations with SynergySuite’s restaurant management software leveraging data from their Breadcrumb POS.

“Making each day more productive for the restaurateur is what SynergySuite is all about. Ensuring managers are out front with diners is key to a great restaurant,” said Suzanne Keane, Chief Operating Officer at SynergySuite. “We are delighted to make SynergySuite available to Upserve customers so restaurant managers have a full suite solution available to help them manage their restaurant processes efficiently and gain live, actionable information to increase the profitability of their restaurant.” 

With this partnership, SynergySuite will be able to provide Upserve customers with a full set of mobile tools developed for inventory, purchasing, scheduling, recipe costing, food safety, cash management, and staffing. SynergySuite’s back-office platform now seamlessly integrates with Breadcrumb POS data to help streamline operations and ultimately improve profitability through intelligent purchasing recommendations, optimized staff scheduling, and food safety monitoring. 

“Restaurant software — like a restaurant’s staff — needs to work together in order to succeed,”  said Dave Hoffman, Vice President of Corporate Development at Upserve. “We’re excited to partner with SynergySuite, streamlining processes and deeper analysis into their performance for customers.”