Dream Team Concept, No FOH Restaurant and Black Bear Diner’s 100th

Today’s top-five include a brand intimacy report, a fast-growing franchise, a restaurant with kiosks for front of the house and a new concept from a dream team of chefs. Send news items of interest to Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine’s Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Top Fast Food Brand Intimacy Rankings

MBLM, the Brand Intimacy Agency focused on strategy, design, creative and technology, today revealed that Chipotle ranked second in the fast food industry, following only Starbucks, according to its Brand Intimacy 2017 Report. The report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions, found that the industry ranked eighth overall out of the 15 total studied. Brand Intimacy is defined as a new paradigm that leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand. According to the 2017 report, top ranked intimate brands continued to outperform the S&P and Fortune 500 indices in revenue and profit over the past 10 years.

Chipotle ranked 64th in the study overall, out of nearly 200 brands, with a Brand Intimacy Quotient of 30.8. It beat out several dominant brands, including the remaining eight in the top 10 for the fast food industry: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway, Domino’s, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, KFC and Burger King. Chipotle also ranked first for men in the fast food industry and performed well with millennials.

“While it has a mixed Brand Intimacy profile, Chipotle has a lot going for it, including having more intimate customers than any other competitors,” said Mario Natarelli, partner at MBLM. “However, we believe that it needs to make and demonstrate tangible change in terms of its food safety controversies to build stronger bonds with consumers.”

In the past years, Chipotle’s popularity has grown exponentially from 16 locations in 1998 to 500 in 2005 to 2250 in 2017. Nonetheless, it has had food safety catastrophes along the way – including the 2015 outbreaks of E.coli and norovirus and the summer 2017 norovirus outbreak and rat incident in Dallas. This makes Chipotle an enigma and MBLM analyzed the fast casual giant to try to understand it from a Brand Intimacy perspective.

Chipotle has an impressive number of customers experiencing intimacy, mostly in the earliest stage. The stages of Brand Intimacy measure the depth and intensity of brand relationships and Chipotle leads the fast food industry for customers in the first stage, sharing, with 21 percent. Its success in this stage is likely a result from the explosive growth while still being relatively new to the category. Although sharing is important, it does not reflect a strong commitment like the bonding stage or co-identification like the fusing stage. Chipotle must assure customers that it is trustworthy so that more will begin to transition to the later stages of intimacy.

While Chipotle is the second most intimate fast food brand, it scores below industry average for every archetype expect fulfillment (29 versus 27), which relates to exceeding expectations and delivering superior service and quality. Low archetype scores for a relatively high-ranking brand indicate that although consumers are connecting with the brand, they are not forming strong associations with it. This could also be related to Chipotle’s youth, but it says something about how the brand communicates and the resulting consumer perceptions. There may be a disassociation between what Chipotle says and does – as it defines itself with a commitment to “Food With Integrity” and that it goes above and beyond the standards of a typical fast food chain. A brand that defines itself this way should be serving safe food and avoiding any outbreaks.

Chipotle, however, excels in the Net Promoter Score (NPS). With an NPS of 26 percent, it is the second highest in the industry behind Dunkin’ Donuts, which has a score of 36 percent. NPS is a reflection of customer satisfaction and it seems to be the one of the strongest aspects of Chipotle’s brand. The satisfaction may be correlated to the brand’s solid fulfillment score. Hopefully this means that despite the recent incidents, Chipotle will still bounce back and learn from its mistakes.

This year’s report  analyzed the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the U.S., Mexico and UAE. MBLM’s reports and interactive Brand Ranking Tool showcase the performance of almost 400 brands, revealing the characteristics and intensity of the consumer bonds.

To download the full Brand Intimacy 2017 Report or explore the Ranking Tool, click here.

birdcall Smart Hospitality Debuts

birdcall,  a contemporary take on a retro chicken restaurant, is the third restaurant concept and venture for the group that is lead by chef Jean-Philippe Failyau along with his partner Peter Newlin. The first location opened its doors in August at 800 E. 26th Avenue in Denver. Known by Failyau and Newlin and the staff as smart hospitality, their goal is to revolutionize the way restaurants take care of their guests.

Customers witness the birdcall experience by ordering from custom designed kiosks. Built from the ground up, Newlin and his team have developed their very own user-friendly, customer facing, POS system that allows the guest to feel completely immersed in the brand experience from start to finish.

“By eliminating the front of house and replacing it with custom software that delivers 100 percent accuracy to our guests, we are able to focus on providing high-quality ingredients at an affordable price point. We hope our attention to detail alongside incredible food, will set the standard for the future of fast food,” commented Newlin, President of Park Burger.  
In addition, hungry customers can order from the custom birdcall app to place orders before they even arrive, avoiding lines and allowing more time spent with friends rather than standing inline to order. All information that needs to be communicated to the customer is sent via email or text with the option to dine in or out. Even the back of the house has a kitchen display and tracking system, making it as efficient as possible.
“As the industry becomes more challenging, the question becomes do you want to decrease quality or increase price? With birdcall, we are going to do the opposite by increasing quality and decreasing our prices. It is about providing sustainable jobs in a way that allows quality and all natural ingredients to be more available at an affordable price,” added Newlin. 
With three kiosks in front of the restaurant, guests will swipe their card to access the interactive menu to select or customize their order through a seamless user-interface. Before they know it, their name will appear on a larger screen in the corner with an exact time their order will be ready and will always come out hot. birdcall is the first restaurant to offer a simple beer selection through a kiosk.
Upon a return visit to birdcall, guests swipe their credit card and their name automatically appears with their previous order providing an option to re-order their favorites or to try something new.
Scheme Works is responsible for the modern, clean architectural design of birdcall with custom designed furniture by House Fish, street art and original artwork on the walls from local artists.
Composting as much as possible, birdcall aims to be the leader in green by making their eco-footprint a vital piece of their operations.
“Sustainability is a core philosophy of all of our restaurants and birdcall will be no exception. We will be recycling and composting everything possible,” added Newlin.
Two other locations are in the works with the addition of their first drive-thru location. 
Black Bear Diner at 100

Black Bear Diner noted that the opening of its newest restaurant in Tucson, Arizona marked a major milestone as its 100th location. The brand exceeded its original goal of opening its 100th location by 2018.

“It’s amazing to see the brand take hold in so many markets throughout the United States,” said Bruce Dean, co-founder of Black Bear Diner. “We started Black Bear Diner in Mount Shasta just over 20 years ago and never could have imagined where we would be today. We are grateful for having an experienced and strong management team that has helped us grow strategically while maintaining our high level of customer service and exceeding customer expectations.”

“2018 looks to continue our growth with our plans to open an additional 20 locations in the next 14 months,” stated Dean. Black Bear Diner is also continuing its plans to move eastward with the recent announcement of expansion into Oklahoma (late 2017, Oklahoma City) and Texas (Katy, TX, Jan. 2018). With the expansion into Texas and Oklahoma, Black Bear Diner will extend its reach into a total of 10 states.

Emmerson Neo Bistro to Open
Emmerson will open in the heart of Boulder on August 24, featuring an exciting and extraordinarily talented team of hospitality industry veterans from New York, Los Angeles and Boulder, top photo.
Emmerson, an all-day neo bistro, will feature a menu aimed to reignite diners’ appreciation for grains through beautifully baked breads and pastries, homemade porridges and pastas and cocktails made with grain-based spirits. Emmerson is the brainchild of five collective owners, including:
  • Michael Gibney, Executive Chef/Partner – Best-selling author of “Sous-Chef: 24 Hours on the Line” (named one of the ten best non-fiction books of the year by TIME magazine) and veteran of numerous New York kitchens from Tavern on the Green to 10 Downing.
  • Jeb Breakell, Executive Pasty Chef/Partner – CIA-trained pastry chef with experience at two-Michelin-starred Blanca and Atera, and three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park and Thomas Keller’s seminal Per Se.
  • Tre Gerbitz, General Manager – Well-known and beloved front-of-house master in Boulder’s restaurant scene through the Walnut Restaurant Group where he was a fixture at local institutions like The Med and Brasserie Ten Ten.
  • Ben Foote, Beverage Director and Assistant General Manager – Colorado native and local beverage guru who was most recently the bar manager at Chef Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly following several years working in some of New York’s hottest bars including Atera and Extra Fancy.
  • Ben Kaplan, Restaurateur – One of Colorado’s top restaurant entrepreneurs, Ben has been an investor and/or partner in restaurants and destinations including Oak at Fourteenth, The Source, The Source Hotel, and Brider. Ben spent the past two years personally selecting the partners for this exciting opening.
Another member of the Emmerson team is Nancy Kwon, who left L.A. to relocate to Boulder and become the bar manager and cocktail curator for the new restaurant. Credited with introducing the craft cocktail movement to Los Angeles’ Koreatown, Nancy won LA Weekly’s “Best Bartender” award in 2015 and ranked in the top five in Craft Cocktails America’s list of the “Top 50 American Bartenders” in 2016.
“Each of us is committed to this project in a way that truly feels like family,” said Kaplan. “It’s the perfect marriage of fresh, outside perspective from our chefs who moved here from New York to be a part of Emmerson, and home-grown talent from our two local hospitality pros from Boulder’s thriving and close-knit restaurant culture.”
The approachable space of Emmerson at 1600 Pearl Street consists of 5,160 square feet and 125 seats, as well as a 290 square foot outdoor patio that seats 25 for al fresco drinking and dining.
English Under the Arches

On Monday, August 14, 18 McDonald’s employees, whose first language is Spanish, graduated from the “English Under the Arches” Program.

The eight-week course geared toward enhancing English language speaking skills. McDonald’s is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the English Under the Arches Program this year with more than 5,500 program graduates nation-wide. 

Archways to Opportunity programs are available to eligible U.S. employees at participating restaurants to give them the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education advising services and learn English as a second language. More than 60 local employees have graduated from the online and in-person course in the past year.     

“We’re so proud of all our team members who are graduating today, and I’m especially proud of my employees Cynthia and Nancy,” said Deanna De La Garza, local McDonald’s Owner/Operator. “It’s a joy to celebrate each and every person who has completed the English Under the Arches program. I’ve seen this program boost confidence and open doors for our employees at McDonald’s and beyond and I’m thrilled to be able to offer such a program to my team.”