Donate the Change and Sardine Factory Celebrates 50 Years

This edition of MRM's News Bites features Grubhub,The National Restaurant Association and Winsight, Oracle and Omnivore, Red Lobster, Dunkin' and National DCP, Global Payments and SICOM Systems, Ceterus, Panasonic System Solutions, Como, Fourth and Qu.

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Grubhub Launches Donate the Change Effort

Grubhub launched Donate the Change, a new feature that allows diners to support organizations that help those in need across the nation. To kick off the launch, Grubhub is partnering with No Kid Hungry


“Grubhub’s mission is to connect hungry diners with great local restaurants but we realize not everyone has that luxury, so we looked for ways we can use our platform to help those in need,” said Matt Maloney, chief executive officer of Grubhub. “The introduction of Donate the Change and this partnership with No Kid Hungry allows us to empower our more than 15 million active diners to make a small contribution every time they order to make a huge impact on the life of a hungry child.”


Starting today, diners ordering online or through the Grubhub and Seamless apps will now be able to round up their order total to the nearest dollar, showing how one person’s spare change, when combined with others, can make a big impact. A staggering 12.5 million kids live with hunger in America. All donations made will allow No Kid Hungry to connect kids in need to effective food programs such as school breakfast and afterschool meals. Studies show that when kids get the food they need, they perform better in school, have fewer health problems, and are more likely to graduate from high school.


“One in six children lives with the threat of hunger, which can lead to many long-term problems in a child’s life. We’re grateful to be partnering with Grubhub and its diners to help tackle one of the biggest issues impacting children today,” said Tom Nelson, President and CEO of Share Our Strength, the organization behind the No Kid Hungry campaign. “Every dollar donated helps us provide up to 10 meals to children in need. By simply rounding up and donating their change, Grubhub’s diners will ensure thousands and thousands of children get the healthy meals they need to succeed.”


As part of this effort, Donate the Change will partner with a variety of organizations throughout 2019, aligning with causes that support the communities and groups Grubhub serves. For more information and to join thousands of diners in our Donate the Change initiative, please visit or opt-in online or through the Grubhub and Seamless apps as prompted at checkout.

National Restaurant Association Teams with Winsight

The National Restaurant Association and Winsight LLC formed an equity partnership, through which the National Restaurant Association will become an equity partner of Winsight, and Winsight will assume operational ownership and execution of the annual National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.


The National Restaurant Association Show, the largest annual gathering of foodservice professionals in the world, will continue to be branded under the name of the Association as part of a 45-year sponsorship agreement for the exclusive branding, content, and promotion of the Show. The National Restaurant Association will have an advisory seat on Winsight’s board of directors. Winsight’s publication, Restaurant Business, will become the official magazine of the association.  


“This collaboration will allow us to grow the impact and reach of our Show, while also elevating the level of service we provide to our members, including enhanced member benefits, advocacy, training and certification, and content,” said National Restaurant Association President and CEO Dawn Sweeney. “The new relationship with Restaurant Business gives us an additional avenue to expand and amplify the stories important to the industry and our members.”


The most recent National Restaurant Association Show drew 65,000 attendees and covered more than 700,000 square feet of exhibit space. In 2019, the Show will celebrate its centennial anniversary, at Chicago’s McCormick Place, from May 18-21. The Association’s Board of Directors and related meetings will continue to be held during this time.


Mary Pat Heftman will become President of the Restaurant Show Group at Winsight, and the current Convention team will move to Winsight as well. “This strategic partnership accelerates our efforts to bring Show attendees and exhibitors better and deeper programing and expedites the digital transformation taking place throughout the industry,” said Heftman.


“Collaborating with the National Restaurant Association provides a tremendous opportunity for Winsight and its team. Through products such as Technomic’s company profiles, menu insights, and consumer trends, combined with our media business’s vast market knowledge and audience intelligence platform, we look forward to serving the ever-increasing needs of the Show and the industry,” said Winsight CEO Mike Wood. “We welcome Mary Pat and her team to Winsight, and we are confident our resources, combined with those of the National Restaurant Association, have created a partnership dedicated to the success of the restaurant and foodservice industries of today and tomorrow.” 


Financial terms were not disclosed. The companies signed the agreement Sept. 28 and expect to close the transaction in Q4 2018.


Oracle Partners with Omnivore

Oracle Food and Beverage has collaborated with Omnivore for restaurant app development and a Gold level member of Oracle PartnerNetwork (OPN), to encourage restaurant operators to develop differentiated customer experiences and further streamline operations with their Oracle Food and Beverage investment. With this Omnivore connection, restaurant operators can easily take advantage of an ecosystem of third party solutions through a single point of integration into the Oracle Food and Beverage Simphony restaurant management platform.    

"Guests are demanding engaging and personalized experiences from dining establishments and we believe continuous implementation of technology is essential to helping restaurant operators keep pace," said Chris Adams, vice president of strategy, Oracle Food and Beverage. "Through our collaboration with Omnivore, Oracle Food and Beverage is accelerating innovation in the restaurant community by making it easier than ever for operators to take advantage of the latest third party solutions."

Omnivore connects restaurant point of sale to over 150 restaurant technologies, aligning brands with consumer, staff and support center needs in order to grow transactions while minimizing expenses. 

"Together, Omnivore and Oracle Food and Beverage bring merchants a true open, best-of-breed POS technology platform, giving restaurants access to the best available technologies to meet even the most creative brands' digital needs," said Mike Wior, CEO, Omnivore. "We're proud to help Oracle customers navigate innovative third party solutions within a rapidly evolving digital landscape."

Sardine Factory Celebrates 50 Years

The Sardine Factory restaurant on historic Cannery Row turns 50 on October 2.  The golden anniversary marks a significant milestone for owners Ted Balestreri and Bert Cutino.


“We were just two guys with a dream.  To look back and remember all that has taken place at the Sardine Factory during the last 50 years and the many guests we have been honored to serve is humbling,” states Balestreri.


For 50 years, the Sardine Factory has hosted celebrities, movie stars, sports legends and public figures from all over the world.  Stars such as Clint Eastwood, Kenny G, Ray Romano, Phil Mickelson, Maury Povich, Connie Chung, Jim Nantz, and Chef Masaharu Morimoto, best known as an Iron Chef have dined at the restaurant. In 2012, Balestreri and Cutino were honored to welcome Prince Albert of Monaco for a special luncheon.  


In 1971 Clint Eastwood directorial debut film, Play Misty for Me, filmed in the Sardine Factory.  Television filming at the restaurant also included a segment on Rachel Ray’s Food Network show, Tasty Travels with Rachael Ray, and Chef Bert Cutino appeared as one of the judges on the Food Network special, Top of the Class, with Guy Fieri.


The Sardine Factory, once an old sardine cannery worker cafeteria, began with only 72 seats and has since grown to a seating capacity of 250. Over the last 50 years the Sardine Factory has received virtually every award possible in the industry, including the Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRoNA) Award, the Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence and Grand Award and Restaurant Hospitality's Best Wine List in America.  The restaurant was also named the Best Restaurant in Monterey County Over Ten Years Old by Monterey County Weekly readers, voted one of the Top Ten Most Romantic Restaurants on the Central Coast by Open Table and listed as one of the Top Ten Seafood Restaurants in Carmel/Monterey by, in addition to many other honors.  This month Wine Spectator listed the Sardine Factory as One of the 12 Seafood Restaurants to Catch Great Wine in the United States.


The Sardine Factory is located at 701 Wave Street in MontereyCalifornia


Red Lobster Changes Straw Policy

Red Lobster will begin offering plastic straws only upon request* starting in November and will begin to replace plastic straws with an eco-friendly alternative straw by the end of 2020. This commitment is expected to eliminate almost 150 million plastic straws per year from Red Lobster's more than 700 restaurants and expands the company's Seafood with Standards practices beyond sourcing traceable, sustainable and responsibly-sourced seafood to include efforts to support healthy oceans. 

red lobster straw

"We are proud to be the first large casual dining restaurant company to make a commitment to eliminate plastic straws from our restaurants," said Kim Lopdrup, CEO, Red Lobster. "This is a meaningful step in our long-standing commitment to protect and preserve the world's oceans and marine life. We hope our work helps raise awareness around the issue of plastic straws and encourages other businesses to make similar changes." 

Red Lobster is currently sourcing and testing a variety of eco-friendly alternative straw products. The company plans to engage advocates for people with disabilities to help inform the selection of a new product. 

"We have a diverse guest base, so it's important that we identify a straw product that accounts for that and meets a broad variety of guest needs," said Lopdrup. 

Red Lobster has been committed to sustainability since opening in 1968. Today, as the largest seafood restaurant in the world, Red Lobster remains committed to creating and upholding seafood sourcing standards that ensure availability of seafood for generations.

Dunkin' and NDCP to Boost Coffee Sustainability

Dunkin' and National DCP (NDCP), the franchisee-owned supply chain management cooperative, inked a five-year agreement with World Coffee Research (WCR), a nonprofit collaborative research and development program of the global coffee industry, to boost coffee sustainability. A percentage of sales from every pound of Original Blend coffee beans sold to Dunkin' franchisees for use in Dunkin' restaurants will now go to WCR in support of coffee sustainability efforts. 

This financial contribution, which could amount to $2MM over the course of the agreement, will support WCR's mission to grow, protect and enhance supplies of quality coffee, while improving the livelihoods of the families who produce it.  

"The commitment by the Dunkin's system makes them one of our biggest donors and a leader in collaborative, pre-competitive agronomic research and development," said Tim Schilling, CEO of World Coffee Research. "With rising temperatures and more frequently extreme weather, the need to make coffee plants more resilient to threats like diseases and droughts has never been more urgent. The support from Dunkin' will be transformational in protecting the availability of quality coffee, and protecting the livelihood of coffee farmers across the globe through access to new coffee varieties and technologies."

This funding for WCR's research will advance several key objectives towards coffee sustainability, including:

  • Increase the supplies of quality coffee for the global coffee market through innovative, collaborative research on key supply constraints, including climate change, disease and insect problems, yield and quality, and the lack of genetic diversity. 
  • Better understand the causes and effects of genetic, agronomic, and post-harvest factors on the quality of coffees in order to increase quality and volumes of coffee. 
  • Improve the livelihoods of coffee growers by providing them with better, higher revenue-earning varieties and agronomic technologies. 
  • Increase the capacity of coffee origin countries to execute advanced coffee research that will result in increased cup quality and volumes of quality coffee.

According to Karen Raskopf, Chief Communications and Sustainability Officer at Dunkin' Brands, "As a leading coffee retailer, we have a responsibility to protect the commodities we source, and the farmers and producers whose livelihoods depend upon them. On behalf of our franchisee community, we are proud that every cup of Dunkin' Original Blend coffee sold will support World Coffee Research's ambitious and vital research efforts."

"We are excited to support the work being done by World Coffee Research benefiting farmers around the world and shoring up long-term supply assurance for our franchisee cooperative members," explained Matt Daks, Director of Strategic Sourcing for Coffee and Tea at National DCP. "Through WCR's CheckOff Program, we can help combat the impacts of climate change, develop more vibrant, vigorous, varietals and ensure farmers can grow healthier trees, resulting in better quality and higher volumes. In turn, our members can continue pouring the best tasting, freshest coffee available into the cups of millions of Americans every day. Dunkin' stores sell 80 cups of coffee every second, and each one of those is supporting this incredible partnership."

Global Payments Acquires SICOM Systems

Global Payments Inc. plans to acquire SICOM Systems, Inc. from LLR Partners. SICOM provides enterprise, cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) solutions and other technologies to quick service and fast casual restaurants, as well as food service management providers, worldwide.

“The acquisition of SICOM aligns perfectly with our software-driven payments strategy and establishes Global Payments as a leader in one of the largest addressable markets we serve today,” said Jeff Sloan, Global Payments’ Chief Executive Officer. “SICOM’s technologies are highly complementary to our existing Xenial solutions, with the combination providing Global Payments’ market-leading technology solutions across the entirety of the restaurant vertical market. The transaction also allows us to expand our owned software solutions into food service management, a large addressable market globally with attractive fundamentals, while further accelerating our business mix toward technology enablement.”

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Global Payments will acquire SICOM in a cash transaction valued at approximately $415 million. Global Payments will finance the acquisition with its existing credit facility and cash on hand. The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2018. Global Payments expects the transaction to have an immaterial impact on 2018 financial results.

Ceterus Introduces New Product

Ceterus unveiled Ceterus Edge for Restaurants, an end-to-end automated accounting and benchmarked reporting solution designed specifically for franchise restaurant owners that is designed to pair a professional accountant with cutting-edge technology to deliver a full accounting solution. The offering provides restaurant owners on-demand access to their financial portfolio across multiple franchise locations, as well as critical peer benchmarking capabilities to assess performance among expenses, revenue, margin, and net income. Armed with this insight, franchise restaurant owners are better positioned to run a more efficient and profitable business. Customers recognize the value of automating their franchise restaurant accounting with Ceterus Edge for Restaurants to ensure they can stay focused on growing their business.


“I appreciate cloud-based solutions that make my job easier and allow me the freedom to stay focused on my business; Ceterus Edge is no exception. Having my financials delivered to my laptop each period has been immensely helpful,” Marc Largent, Multi-Unit Jimmy John’s Franchisee.

Historically, restaurant franchise owners have relied on traditional accounting and bookkeeping software to execute their financials. These tools often lack the specific functionality required to successfully manage accounting for franchise restaurants and rarely provide benchmark data or niche specific KPIs.  Designed with the franchise restaurant owner in mind, Ceterus Edge for Restaurants, delivered via the cloud or through a mobile app, addresses this market need. By integrating with point of sale (POS) systems, bank accounts, payroll systems, and other key institutions, Ceterus Edge automates the inflow of data into Quickbooks Online, and then consolidates the outflow of data into a cloud-based, easy to use interface with P&Ls, Balance Sheets, peer benchmarking data, and historical financials all in one place.

Additional key features include:

  • Period-based financials as opposed to monthly;
  • Multi-unit financial view provides side-by-side financials for all franchise locations, broken down by state and franchise brand, as well as a consolidated profit and loss statements;
  • Peer benchmarking assesses performance in expense categories, margin, revenue and other important financial metrics;
  • Automated integration with point of sale systems and other continuous automation of data inflows expedites the process of closing the books;
  • Fraud alerts delivered via the mobile app can alert restaurant owners operating cash-heavy businesses when sales do not match expected deposits.

“Franchise restaurant owners are under tremendous pressure to stay up to date with financial information given the frequency of inventory updates, daily transactions and cash sales among franchise locations,” said Levi Morehouse, CEO, Ceterus.  “With a decade of experience working exclusively with franchise business owners, we designed Ceterus Edge for Restaurants to uniquely serve the needs of this market. By automating key financial processes, Ceterus Edge for Restaurants provides users insight into period financials as well as daily cash and sales updates to ensure our customers are empowered with the financial insight needed to drive strategic decision making.”


Panasonic's New Kiosk

Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America launched a turnkey kiosk solution designed to provide restaurant customers with an immersive, customized, and faster experience. 

"Panasonic kiosks have proven that they drive a significantly higher check and that the guests using them experience an overall satisfaction similar to or greater than those placing their orders directly with staff," said Michael D. Clarke, Owner, Lickety Split Food Services, LLC, a Texas Dairy Queen multi-unit franchisee.

Panasonic kiosk

Panasonic's end-to-end platform is managed at the enterprise level, allowing chain restaurants to deploy large installations easily and efficiently. The enterprise-grade application features full Point-of-Sale and Payment integration, a cloud-based enterprise management portal, flexible screen design, highly responsive user interface, suggestive selling, and order customization throughout the customer ordering journey.  

"The highly intuitive, digital user interface promotes customer engagement, increases restaurant sales and profits, and frees up staff to tend to other business needs," said M. Faisal Pandit, SVP and Chief Digital Officer, Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America. "Customers interact with kiosks in myriad venues and have come to expect that same connectivity in restaurants too. And kiosks can have a significant impact on sales and profits with transaction uplifts of 20%-30% versus the traditional counter."

Como Introduces Goal Wizard

Como introduced a new Goal Wizard as part of its flagship end-to-end customer engagement solution, Como Sense, and is designed for retail and hospitality chains that struggle to free up the time for initiatives that can push their business forward. 

The all-new feature allows businesses to select a desired goal– i.e. to drive spend, increase visits, promote under-performing locations or engage lapsed customers – and launch a highly targeted campaign within the space of a few clicks. 

By analyzing what works best for its clients, Como enables the launching of campaigns with more than 30 different targeting options while boasting features like smart triggers, personalized benefits, multi-channel communications and more.

Speaking on the launch of Goal Wizard, Yair Holtzer, President of Como America, remarked on the need to help businesses drive customer visits and spend while saving them precious time and making their campaigns more successful.

“Today, we’re officially launching our new Campaign Center that includes the Goal Wizard. It’s here that businesses can promote specific items from the menu, boost registration for their loyalty program or re-engage lapsed customers. 

“We always tell our clients that they must be data-driven and use customer data to fuel their growth. With that in mind, we decided to do the same with our new Goal Wizard. We’re now recommending proven strategies that can achieve solid business results, so restaurants and retail chains can leverage the data we have to create smarter and more successful campaigns.”

Fourth Expands Client Roster


Dairy Queen, Pincho Factory, M Crowd Restaurant Group and others have joined Fourth's expanding U.S. client roster to counter unprecedented restaurant labor challenges.

The platform drives performance and profitability by freeing managers to focus on team and customers, and helps them hire, manage and retain the best talent to deliver the best customer service, loyalty and spend.

"Labor and food are the two primary costs in running a restaurant business, so it's critical to be able to manage those costs effectively. Doing so without the right capabilities is like flying blind," said Jayson Tipp, CEO, Pincho Factory. "We were impressed with the capabilities in the Fourth platform to provide us insight into the data that drives these costs while delivering forward-looking, intuitive, user-friendly tools that empower our restaurant general managers to drive results."

Cowfish, Ashby and Kamehachi have also chosen Fourth's solution, joining Fourth's existing U.S. partnerships with brands like Soho House, Hakkasan, TGI Friday's and Eataly.

"We are delighted to partner with such established and reputable U.S. restauranteurs," said Ben Hood, CEO, Fourth. "As ex-operators ourselves, we are proud to have developed the only hospitality operations platform of its kind anywhere in the world, used by 1100 clients globally to serve up great guest experiences alongside great margins."

Gusto POS Rebrands as Qu

Gusto POS announced today that it has rebranded as Qu™, the technology company that is going beyond the traditional Point of Sale (POS) of the past by delivering a faster, forward-looking, uniquely flexible, and singularly focused solution for fast casual and quick service restaurants.

Qu logo

The comprehensive rebrand includes a new name, logo, positioning, and website, and serves to elevate the company's focus on delivering an enterprise-scale, omni-channel POS platform. The rebrand also speaks to Qu's renewed promise of moving Beyond. Together.  The company is committed to moving forward in lockstep with its clients and other industry-leading technology partners to serve new generations of guests in the most innovative ways — today and beyond. 

While the Qu name is new to the market, the company's reputation as a provider of advanced POS technology is not. After six years in business, enabling millions of monthly transactions across the US, and a track record of zero enterprise-client churn, the company has earned an excellent industry-wide reputation as being forward-thinking and always available to serve its customers. 

"We are excited to announce our rebrand," said Amir Hudda, Chief Executive Officer. "Rebranding as Qu builds upon our success and reflects our unwavering commitment to "quick" — from how we serve our clients to how they serve their guests. With its inherent flexibility, Qu is uniquely qualified to give restaurateurs the tools they need to move faster, stay nimble, and increase profits."

Qu delivers an API-first approach that enables unparalleled flexibility; an omni-channel ordering solution that enables order taking anywhere, anytime; a modern gesture-based, conversational ordering design that delights staff; a cloud-deployed, but not cloud-dependent, architecture that keeps working even when the internet goes down; a rugged hardware platform that has been restaurant proven for decades; and the ability for clients to choose their payment processor. In addition, Qu has introduced the industry's first virtual store-grouping model that eases enterprise management, whether clients need to manage 10 or 10,000 locations.

As Qu moves forward, it will continue its focused approach to developing solutions that are best suited to the needs of fast casual and quick service chains. "We believe that this segment of the industry is at an inflection point in terms of the next wave of technology adoption, particularly at the enterprise level," said Bobby Yazdani, Founder and Managing Partner at Cota Capital. "Qu has the right mix of technology, talent, and partners to drive this change."