Chipotle’s Commitment to Sustainability and Blendid, the Autonomous Robotic Station

The Marvelous Monday edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features Chipotle Mexican Grill, Villa Restaurant Group, HotSchedules, King-Casey and Revenue Management Solutions, EAS Consulting Group and FoodMinds, Paytronix, Not Your Average Joe’s, 6d bytes, Groupex and DataCandy as well as Medieval Times.

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Chipotle’s Sustainability Commitment

Chipotle Mexican Grill  announced its commitment to divert half of all of its restaurant waste from landfills by 2020. Since 2015 Chipotle has made strides towards reducing the amount of food and packaging waste bound for landfills, increasing its diversion rate from 31 percent that year to 40 percent in 2017. Now the company embarks on achieving a 50 percent diversion rate.

Landfills can often contain materials that could have been recycled or composted for greater environmental benefits, but instead emit greenhouse gases that may contribute significantly to global climate change. By diverting materials that would otherwise be sent to a landfill, Chipotle is doing its part to help lower emissions and be a positive force for change.

“Increasing our waste diversion rate to 50 percent is an ambitious goal, but we feel it’s important to be assertive in our efforts to advance our purpose,” said Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability at Chipotle. “We remain deeply dedicated to bringing guests great tasting food while upholding Chipotle’s values and commitment to food made with respect for the land and environment.”  

To reach this goal, Chipotle and its partners are implementing several best practices, including:

  • Reduce: Programs such as Chipotle’s Mindful Prep initiative, which trains restaurant staff to minimize food waste during the preparation process, along with targeted initiatives to reduce packaging, have lowered the amount of total waste upfront.
  • Right Sizing: Chipotle adjusts services and food preparation to its sales per restaurant so less food is going to waste at the end of day.
  • Recycling: More in-restaurant recycling and compost programs are being implemented for food packaging disposal. With this, Chipotle is working towards a goal of ensuring 100 percent of its restaurants are recycling by 2020.
  • Waste Audits: Chipotle goes a step further in waste management by using existing data to predict and manage its waste diversion rate. For example, after auditing its restaurants, the company replaced plastic wrap, a non-divertible product, with reusable lids to reduce the amount of material it sends to landfills. Chipotle is constantly assessing opportunities like these to reduce waste and support the environment.
  • Food Donations: By 2020, Chipotle has pledged that 80 percent of its restaurants will participate in the Harvest Program, which donates leftover food to local community organizations.
  • Composting: The company is also committed to increasing the availability of composting in its restaurants to 20 percent by 2020.

A full-time Diversions Coordinator will continue to oversee the work Chipotle is undertaking to meet the 50 percent goal. Chipotle also engages trusted partners to ensure proper waste handling at its restaurants. One of these partners, RiverRoad Waste Solutions, works with approximately half of Chipotle restaurants to constantly evaluate and implement programs to maximize waste diversion.

“Chipotle is never satisfied when it comes to minimizing its environmental impact,” said Kris Bunnell, CEO of RiverRoad Waste Solutions. “The company is always looking for new ways to go above and beyond to do what is best for their guests, the community and the environment.”

Villa Restaurant Group Debuts Online Ordering for Catering Program

Morristown-based Villa Restaurant Group, a global multi-brand restaurant operator and franchisor, expanded into online ordering for catering for two of its holdings, quick-service pizza brand Villa Italian Kitchen and better-for-you brand with on-the-go options,Green Leaf’s Beyond Great Salads. As of March , both brands have the ability to fulfill orders for groups of 10 – 500+ at corporate meetings, school functions, sporting events, fundraisers and more – all at the click of a button.

By visiting each brand’s website, catering page or Facebook, guests can choose their order details and plan the menu of their dreams. Villa Restaurant Group will take care of the rest, to provide the easiest ordering experience possible, and can accommodate last-minute needs. Additionally, all prices include plates, utensils, serving utensils and napkins.

“We are thrilled to make our catering offerings more accessible to consumers nationwide,” said Stephanie Beamer, Division Vice President, Franchise & Catering. “Making a catering order through Green Leaf’s and Villa Italian Kitchen has never been easier, thanks to our new platform and customizable options. We hope our loyal customers will be happy to see what we’ve done!”

 Founded in 1964 by Michele (Michael) Scotto, a Naples, Italy native, Villa Restaurant Group, began as a small pizzeria next to the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. Today, Villa Restaurant Group is an international organization that recently celebrated its 52nd anniversary with nearly 400 restaurants in malls, airports, casinos and other high-traffic locations. Villa Restaurant Group’s quick-service restaurant brands, including Villa Italian Kitchen®, Green Leaf’s Beyond Great Salads®, Bananas Smoothies & Frozen Yogurt®, South Philly Cheesesteaks & Fries®, Far East Asian Fire®, and other emerging brands, can be found across 42 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and five additional countries. Villa also operates full service restaurants in New Jersey under the 40North Restaurant Group® brand including The Black Horse Tavern & Pub®, The Office Tavern Grill®, The OFFICE Beer Bar & Grill®, Steelworks Buffet & Grill®, Piattino® and George & Martha’s®.

HotSchedules Enhances Clarifi

HotSchedules® added new machine learning-based forecasting capabilities within Clarifi, the first cloud-based intelligent operating platform for restaurants. This latest innovation leverages advanced algorithms to automatically produce incredibly accurate forecasts, helping restaurateurs make better ordering and staffing decisions as they deal with the complexities of changing consumer demands, legislative mandates and off-premise requirements.

Clarifi’s advanced forecasting engine partners the manager with the machine. The machine offers raw, unemotional number-crunching power while the manager brings the contextual awareness and human intuition that can only be gained on the job.

“HotSchedules’ advanced forecasting capabilities strike a balance between centralized forecast management for above-store leaders with the changing demands of the day that only a store manager can see,” said Abe Ruiz, chief operating officer, Eat Here Brands. “I’ve seen the forecasting and robust scheduling tools shave as much as a half a point or more off of labor costs while optimizing the guest experience to increase revenue opportunities.”

No two restaurants are the same; therefore, the same forecasting model will not work for all.  Clarifi uniquely leverages multiple, competing algorithms to ensure the automatic delivery of the most accurate forecast for each store.

“Our goal is to help our customers minimize human error and get better predictability through machine learning while preserving the managers’ on-the-ground knowledge and experiences. Restaurant managers shouldn’t have to be data scientists, so we are using machine learning with store-level inputs to automatically generate forecasts that help them do their jobs better,” said Sean Fitzpatrick, chief operating officer and head of product at HotSchedules.

King-Casey and Revenue Management Solutions Team Up

King-Casey and Revenue Management Solutions are working together to combine their  skill sets in helping restaurant brands optimize their menu strategies.

For certain clients, King-Casey and Revenue Management Solutions (RMS) are combining their approaches: King-Casey specializes in conducting and analyzing in-depth research of customer attitudes and behaviors, while RMS focuses on utilizing point-of-sales data to analyze customer purchasing behavior.

The two companies have started working together on behalf of several clients, and are finding that this approach helps restaurant brands to be smarter as they optimize their menu strategy, design, content and pricing structure in a way that promotes profitability while encouraging repeat customers.

As an example, clients often want to know how to sell more items that will enhance profitability, while understanding the thought process behind customer decisions. By working together, King-Casey and RMS can offer a complete picture of what customers are thinking and how those mindsets can be turned into menu decisions.

“The beauty of this approach is that it’s based on methodologies that our firms have proven over the years,” said Tom Cook, Principal of King-Casey. “For more than 30 years, we’ve been helping restaurants increase sales and profits by applying our customer-centric MenuBoard Optimization process. Now, RMS’s analytical skills and algorithms enable us to develop and test many different product and pricing strategies to determine which are best for improving business performance.”

“We deliver increased margins across menu items for our clients, without negatively impacting customer buying patterns and behavior,” said Mark Kuperman, Chief Operating Officer of RMS. “While we focus on analyzing data that shows customers’ actual buying behavior, King-Casey brings the ability to understand the sentiments driving that behavior. By working together, we can provide clients a powerful combination of knowledge.”

The two firms are now telling their respective clients about this new approach, and are getting significant interest. Founded in 1953, King-Casey is a pioneer in restaurant consulting, branding and design. Clients include Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway and Del Taco.  Revenue Management Solutions, based in Tampa, Florida, is a leader in bringing a data-based approach to pricing and menu optimization for restaurants, providing solutions for a number of leading global restaurant brands, including many of the largest companies in the industry. RMS assists more than 50 major brands in more than 40 countries, with its patented processes of revenue management used in more than 100,000 locations globally. 

EAS Partners with FoodMinds

EAS Consulting Group and FoodMinds formed a strategic partnership to help the food industry navigate complicated issues surrounding the science of food and nutrition, the development of products to meet consumer demand and the regulatory hurdles of ensuring safe and compliant product-lines. 

As consumer demand for greater transparency in food products increases and federal and state regulatory agencies implement pre-emptive, preventive requirements aimed at protecting consumer safety, the collaborative effort by EAS and FoodMinds will help ensure:

  • Identification and mitigation of risks to branding and regulatory compliance;
  • Properly structured, vetted and compliant partnerships with co-manufacturers and suppliers, amidst the current preventive mindset of FDA, state and customer requirements;
  • Crisis preparedness to maintain brand value and integrity; and
  • Forward thinking strategic plans and operating procedures, engaging the most up-to-date industry guidance, practices and technology to meet stakeholder expectations.

Together, EAS and FoodMinds offer a comprehensive team of experts, facilitating a structured approach to the most challenging issues facing the food industry.  With specialists in food and nutrition sciences; toxicology; microbiology; FDA, USDA, EPA, FTC and state food laws, regulations and enforcement practices; food labeling and claims requirements; product branding; public relations and market research; consumer behavior; crisis communications; and technical and scientific writing, the joint teams have the capability to overcome the numerous challenges facing the food industry and drive successful outcomes for clients. 

Paytronix Updates App

Paytronix Systems, Inc., introduced the next version of its branded mobile app with native online ordering, a self-service content management system and a new UI/UX. The new and improved features are designed to give brands more control over their mobile experience and to get their mobile apps up and running quickly and cost effectively.


The updated Paytronix Mobile App includes:

Native Online Ordering – Integrates online ordering platforms, such as OLO, directly into the mobile apps to give guests a slicker experience, enhanced graphics and a more intuitive order flow. Single sign-on integrations mean the guest only has to identify themselves once for ordering and loyalty. Marketers can send out an “order now” push message to their apps that will instantly increase revenue.

Self-Service App Updates – Frees marketers to change the look of their app on the fly without releasing a new version to the Android and Apple stores. The updated content management system enables brands to modify their apps’ look and feel with new color, fonts and images as the promotional calendar changes, the brand evolves, and as guests demand more.

UI/UX Facilitates customer navigation with a cleaner look and feel and a customizable progress bar. Designed to increase enrollment, the mobile registration pages have been updated with a conversational series of pages that makes it easier to capture and augment customer data.


“In today’s digital and mobile-based world one of the biggest stumbling blocks for brands is creating a seamless, remarkable customer experience in all touch points. The integration of online ordering and rewards programs — or integration of any technology type — is rapidly becoming a ‘table stake,’” said James Park, CEO of Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh. “Native online ordering within an affinity platform combines the two functionalities in one mobile app and gives the guest that holistic and seamless brand experience they expect from a top brand.”

“The latest version of the Paytronix branded mobile apps includes features like native online ordering and more intuitive registration pages that are geared to improving the customer experience and increasing customer engagement via their mobile devices,” said Joel Udwin, mobile product manager, Paytronix Systems, Inc. “At the same time, the self-service CMS gives marketers more control in order to help them drive more revenue from their brands’ mobile experience.”

The Paytronix Mobile Guest Experience platform gives restaurants and retailers all the necessary tools to deploy a complete set of world-class guest engagement tools: website, apps, kiosks, surveys, and messaging. Leveraging the Paytronix API, brands develop applications and mobile responsive web sites that deliver exceptional guest experiences and give marketers the ability to manage their accounts from a branded mobile portal.

 D’Amelio Named Chairman and CEO at Not Your Average Joe’s

The Board of Directors of Not Your Average Joe’s appointed Peter D’Amelio to become the Chairman and CEO, succeeding Stephen Silverstein, the company’s Founder. Mr. Silverstein will continue in his role as a Director and will be a consultant to the Company.

In addition,  Silverstein has purchased the Dartmouth Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant (it’s original location) and will operate that location as an independent licensee of the company.

Silverstein said, “It is time for Not Your Average Joe’s to transition from being founder led, I couldn’t be more pleased than to turn the reins over to Peter. Owning and running Dartmouth will be full circle for me, allowing me to continue to contribute to the company I founded in new ways. I am pleased to continue to serve on the Board of Directors and I will do everything I can to help Not Your Average Joe’s grow into the national powerhouse it should be.”

 D’Amelio said, “I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead Not Your Average Joe’s. I will build on Steve’s vision of scratch food at affordable prices coupled with best of class hospitality. I couldn’t be more excited for the future.”

Not Your Average Joe’s was founded by Stephen Silverstein in 1994. Today, Not Your Average Joe’s operates 22 restaurants in 6 states, employing about 1,600 and serving 4.5 million happy guests a year.

Peter D’Amelio joined Not Your Average Joe’s as President in September 2017. He previously held executive positions with some of the best companies in the industry, including his 18 years at Cheesecake Factory where he was president for five years.

Blendid™ Debuts

6d bytes is launching Blendid™, the world’s first fully autonomous robotic station, to help food service companies meet the needs of consumers who want healthy and delicious blends to fit with their busy lifestyles.

The first Blendid station was unveiled this afternoon on the first floor of Plug and Play, the world’s largest startup innovation platform in Sunnyvale. 

The blended drinks, featuring fresh ingredients such as mango, spinach, blueberry, coconut water, kefir, banana and ginger, are prepared by a robot without any human intervention.  Customers use mobile apps or tablets at the robotic station to browse through the menu, pick and customize an option to their taste and allergies, make payment, and the robot prepares and serves the blend with all natural ingredients in under two minutes.

Marketed to food service operators and retail franchises, Blendid requires no staff and can be accessible 24 hours a day, making it perfect for busy cafeterias, supermarkets, gyms, airports, stadiums and offices.

“People want healthy and delicious meals on the go,” said Vipin Jain, 6d bytes co-founder and CEO.  “Blended drinks are only the beginning.  We’ll be adding more cuisines and formats in the near future.”

Jain and co-founder & Chief Technology Officer Venki Ayalur conceived the Blendid concept more than three years ago to lead the robotics and AI revolution that will fundamentally disrupt food and beverage industry.  A recent report from McKinsey predicted that food service is among the top three industries to be impacted, with 73 percent of its activities automated by 2030.

“We welcome passionate entrepreneurs into our ecosystem and are excited to showcase 6d bytes’ latest autonomous food technology here at Plug and Play,” said Saeed Amidi, CEO and founder of Plug and Play. “Vipin was the third tenant in our building when we opened our doors in 2006. As Plug and Play grew, so did his startup, which was acquired by Barnes & Noble a few years ago and we’re excited to witness the success of his newest venture.”

“Blendid concept is at the forefront of two major changes impacting the food and beverage industry,” said Eric Benhamou, founder and general partner at Benhamou Global Ventures, an investor in 6d bytes.  “Food service operators want expanded, cost-effective service hours and customers want healthy, delicious meals.  Blendid is a breakthrough solution to achieve both.”

Blendid is owned by 6d bytes of Sunnyvale, California and is housed at Plug and Play. 

Groupex Canada Teams with DataCandy

Groupex Canada teamed with DataCandy. Through this partnership, Groupex will offer DataCandy’s gift card and loyalty program services to its members at discounted prices, providing independent restaurants greater access to professional customer engagement tools.

For over 30 years, Groupex has helped independent food service operators reduce costs on essential restaurant services and supplies by providing a package of quality branded goods and services at prices only available through volume purchasing. Groupex has established itself as one of the largest food service buying groups in Canada by pairing the needs of its 2,700+ members with leading branded suppliers, such as Pepsico, Diversey, Canada Bread, Canadian Linen, Gordon Food Service and now DataCandy.

“Independent restaurants need a way to understand, retain and reward their most loyal customers; size shouldn’t affect their ability to compete and stay profitable,” says Lorne Schwartz, CEO of DataCandy. “Our team is thrilled that Groupex chose DataCandy to be the first gift card and loyalty program service provider in its portfolio. This partnership will open a lot of doors and help independently owned restaurants level the loyalty playing field.”

Medieval Times Breaks Ground in Arizona

– Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament  broke ground on its tenth North American castle, to be located in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Talking Stick Entertainment District in Scottsdale, Arizona, top photo.

With construction slated for completion in early 2019, the 79,000-square-foot 11th Century-style castle will be the only entertainment venue of its type in Arizona. Having entertained more than 67 million guests across the United States and in Toronto over the past three-and-a-half decades, the immersive Medieval Times experience centers around an adrenaline-charged live jousting tournament, filled with awe-inspiring horsemanship and falconry. Heroic knights engage in rousing displays of strength and skill, as fans cheer their champions over a four-course, utensil-free feast, much as they might have 10 centuries ago.

“We are delighted to welcome Medieval Times to our community,” said Delbert Ray Sr., President of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “Over the two years of planning that made today a reality it became clear we have much in common, from our shared respect for family heritage and authenticity to our mutual esteem for the magnificent horse.”

“Today represents more than the start of construction on a new venue,” said Perico Montaner, President and CEO of Medieval Times. “We have tremendous respect for the rich traditions of the PimaMaricopa people, and are honored to become a part of this proud and storied community.”

Located on a 10-acre lot, adjacent to the Salt River Fields, Medieval Times’ Scottsdale castle will be one of the most architecturally distinctive among its nationwide properties. Designed in muted earth tones to appear as if it’s organically rising from the land, the colossal, stone-walled edifice will incorporate the iconic motifs of Medieval Spain.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament was founded in 1977 in Spain, based on authentic Medieval history and the true story of a noble family with documentation dating back to the 11th Century. The first U.S. castle opened in 1983, and the concept has grown into the most popular dinner attraction in North America, with locations in Atlanta, Baltimore, Buena Park, Calif., Chicago, Dallas, Lyndhurst, N.J., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Orlando, Fla., and Toronto. Medieval Times also is one of the largest breeders of Pure Spanish horses in North America. The 241-acre ranch in Sanger, Texas, has been breeding these rare Andalusian horses since 1992. The horses, known for their glorious physique and noble temperament, are bred and trained for use at all of the Medieval Times dinner attractions. Medieval Times is headquartered in Dallas.

Medieval Times is the latest high-profile attraction to announce plans to open within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s burgeoning Talking Stick Entertainment District. Anchored by Talking Stick Resort, the district also boasts the Odysea Aquarium and Dolphinaris Arizona, Butterfly Wonderworld, Pangaea Land of Dinosaurs, TopGolf and, within the next two years, the anticipated opening of Great Wolf Lodge water park and family entertainment center.