El Pollo Loco’s Pledge and techtown Refresh

In this edition of MRM News Bites, we feature Fat Sal’s Deli, El Pollo Loco, Green Rabbit, Smart Foodservice, Slice,A&G Real Estate Partners, Mastercard, Temporis, The Flavor Experience and Chicken Guy! 

Pulp Fiction Halloween Homage

 Coming off two successful themed Halloween’s Fat Sal’s Hollywood will transform into “The Big Kahuna Burger” and the Pawn Shop from the 1994  film “Pulp Fiction." The Big Kahuna Burger theme will be part of the Interior where staff will be in costume and exterior of the restaurant with  Big Kahuna Burger signage. The featured food items will be “Big Kahuna   Burger,” “Loco Moco Fries,” “The Fat Luau," top photo  and “The Fat Piña Shake."


 Fat Sal’s will also be taking over the space next door to them and  transforming it into the Pawn Shop from Pulp Fiction. This will all take place Wednesday, Oct. 30 and Thursday, Oct. 31 at  Fat Sal’s Hollywood, 1300 N Highland Ave.


Hispanic Promise

As part of El Pollo Loco’s dedication to its Hispanic roots, the company has signed the Hispanic Promise – the first-of-its-kind national pledge to hire, promote, retain and celebrate Hispanics in the workplace.

“The Hispanic Promise directly aligns with El Pollo Loco’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly recognizing our own Hispanic heritage,” said Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer at El Pollo Loco. “We are proud to make this pledge and we invite other restaurant and QSR companies to do the same.”

Green Rabbit Secures Funding

Green Rabbit secured a $31 million minority investment from Guidepost Growth Equity, a leading growth equity firm focused on high-growth technology companies. This investment represents the first institutional capital into Green Rabbit and positions the company to continue its growth in the $20 billion e-commerce food and grocery delivery market by adding additional talent to its workforce and further developing its supply chain automation capabilities.. Six of the ten largest retailers in the U.S. and four of the ten largest global food and beverage manufacturers rely on Green Rabbit to maximize the value of their digital food delivery initiatives.

“Green Rabbit is hyper-focused on becoming the industry leader in perishable fulfillment and powering the future of online grocery,” said Greg Balestrieri, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Green Rabbit. “With this investment, we’ll be able to accelerate growth and scale the development of our proprietary platform to ensure that the fulfillment processes protect perishables and help our customers grow their e-commerce food service initiatives.”

Purpose-built to serve the e-commerce industry, Green Rabbit was initially founded as Candy.com and managed primarily temperature-sensitive, confectionery products. The Company has since dramatically expanded its services and capabilities to ship millions of orders per year for more than 5,000 perishable items across 150 brands. By leveraging its own proprietary algorithms, Green Rabbit ensures that all orders are managed and packaged appropriately, resulting in 99.9% delivery success rate. Green Rabbit has also earned SQF Level 3 Certification, considered the highest food safety compliance measure in the industry.

“We are excited to partner with Green Rabbit and this investment exemplifies Guidepost’s long history of working with bootstrapped, fast-growing, and highly differentiated businesses led by an outstanding team. We look forward to supporting the Company as it pursues a number of exciting growth initiatives,” said Doug Kingsley, Managing Partner of Guidepost Growth Equity.

“As online grocery and perishable food sales represent one of the fastest-growing segments in e-commerce, major retailers and CPGs are looking to maximize their digital growth strategies,” said Won Park, Principal of Guidepost Growth Equity. “We’re excited to partner with Green Rabbit to help them become the cold chain logistics standard that powers the future of digital food service initiatives.”

As part of the investment, Doug Kingsley and Won Park from Guidepost will join the Green Rabbit Board of Directors.

Smart Foodservice to Open Idaho Falls Store

Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores, will open a new store in Idaho Falls, Idaho on Saturday, Nov, 2 at 7 a.m. Located at 1240 Lindsay Blvd, the Idaho Falls store will be Smart Foodservice’s fifth store in Idaho and its 69th location in the Western United States.

The 20,265-square-foot store, like all Smart Foodservice Warehouse Store locations, will carry more than 8,000 items, including fresh meat and produce, cheese, dairy and deli products, frozen seafood, appetizers, french fries, grocery products, baking ingredients, beverages, bread and tortillas, janitorial and catering supplies, tableware and barware. Though Smart Foodservice Warehouse Stores cater primarily to the foodservice industry, they also offer an easy, affordable option for non-profit organizations, schools, church groups, caterers and other individuals looking to purchase larger product quantities at lower prices, all with no membership necessary.

“Our stores provide foodservice operators access to high-quality ingredients, without having to worry about inflated delivery prices and fees,” says John Mathews, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Smart Foodservice. “We offer an assortment that includes major national brands as well as excellent private label products through our First Street-branded items. We are excited to serve new and existing customers in the greater Idaho Falls and Pocatello areas.”

MAKE by Slice

 Slice – the online and mobile ordering platform for local pizzerias –  hosted the first annual MAKE by Slice conference at Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City.  The event was open to local pizzeria owners, makers, and suppliers from across the country for a day of discussion around the top challenges and opportunities facing today’s independent restaurateur. Along with Slice founder and CEO Ilir Sela, the brightest minds in pizza shared their tips on how to survive and thrive against advancements from “big pizza” competitors.. 


Speakers included Mark Gjonaj, New York City Councilman, Michael Hauke, Owner of Tony Boloney’s, and Giorgia Caporuscio, Pizzaiola and Owner at Keste, who spoke on topics ranging from small business challenges to "How to grow from one to multiple locations" to how to create a menu that sells.  

Slice announced the winners of their inaugural MAKEr awards, which honors pizzeria veterans who are going the extra mile. The winners included: 

MAKEr of Honor 2019

  •  Dino Redzic & Nick Krkuti, Owners of Uncle Paul’s Pizzeria for their decades of hard work, championing what it means to be a local maker. 

Breakout MAKEr 2019

  • – Alfred Mitaj, Brooklyn Pizza Master’s for their cutting edge business strategies and helping inspire others to evolve. 

techtown Refresh

Parts Town announced the refreshed launch of techtown, enhancing the first and only online community for service technicians in the foodservice equipment industry. The initial version of techtown launched in 2016 as the first online community for foodservice technicians in the industry. The new techtown provides the same community environment to ask questions and share information, access to industry news and resources for service techs, all under one roof. Techtown is also mobile-friendly, making it easy for service technicians to get support and advice in the field where they need it most. Features of the new community include:

  • A forum for users to interact and share advice from the field, including uploading video and photos to the community
  • Industry news, product reviews and more
  • Messaging capability within techtown to connect directly with other techtown members
  • Techtown rewards, a points program that rewards users with points for sharing their knowledge, asking questions and more. Points create recognition for community members who participate in the community and can be redeemed for physical rewards
  • Opportunities for community-driven content such as guest blog posts
  • Ability for manufacturers to quickly get content into the hands of service companies
  • Coming soon: The ability to create private groups to share information with only those who need it, giving service companies the opportunity to create a small community just for their own tech

“We’ve updated techtown to provide hard-working service technicians in the foodservice equipment industry with a best-in-class resource to learn from one another and share information, improving the ability in the field to get foodservice equipment up and running faster,” said Steve Snower, Chief Enthusiasm Officer, a.k.a. CEO, of Parts Town. “We are always looking to do more to support service companies and their technicians in the field to make their tough jobs easier. Techtown is another resource they can use in addition to the extensive resources available at partstown.com and on the Parts Town App.”

Techtown can also house content that manufacturers want to share with service companies that repair their equipment. “Techtown gives manufacturers another opportunity to quickly get information in the hands of technicians that keep their equipment running smoothly,” Snower continued.

Hoffmann Joins A&G

Jeffrey K. Hoffmann joined A&G Real Estate Partners as a Senior Managing Director and head of the firm’s fast-growing restaurant division.

“Jeff is a trusted strategic partner with broad experience and extensive relationships in the restaurant business,” said Andy Graiser, Co-President of Melville, N.Y.-headquartered A&G. “He brings strong leadership to our deep bench of experts in this industry. We are very excited to welcome Jeff to the team at A&G.”

Over the past 26 years, Hoffmann, who will be based in the firm’s Chicago office, has advised and financed hundreds of restaurant operators of all types and sizes. Those names include Dave & Buster’s, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Burger King, Jack In the Box, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, Denny’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, TGI Fridays and Applebee’s, to name a few. Hoffmann has also worked extensively with many regional operators in his career.

Hoffmann joins A&G at a time when the firm’s restaurant division, which provides real estate solutions to restaurants across North America, is growing rapidly. His role will include assisting A&G’s clients with store-optimization plans and occupancy-cost reductions. 

“Jeff’s in-depth knowledge of the restaurant business, combined with his extraordinary financial acumen, gives him a unique perspective that will be enormously useful to our restaurant clients,” Graiser said. “The industry is changing quite dramatically, and our team is evolving to meet that demand.”

Hoffmann comes to A&G after serving as Vice President of the Franchise Finance Group at CIT Bank in Chicago. He previously cofounded and led the restaurant, franchise and beverage corporate banking group at Fifth Third Bank, also in Chicago, to become a premier banking partner.

While there are still tremendous opportunities in the restaurant business, Hoffmann noted, many operators are feeling squeezed by mounting pressures in the marketplace.

“The list includes mandatory minimum wage laws, higher commodity costs, larger-scale remodeling requirements, increased competition, and growing fears of a downturn,” the executive said. “To stay ahead of the curve, companies need responsive strategies. Smarter cash-management is essential, and real estate is a huge component of that.”

Sector-specific dynamics are also important to consider, Hoffmann added. Franchisors, for example, sometimes resist franchisees’ efforts to close underperforming stores. “By bringing to the table in-depth real estate market data and an objective perspective, A&G can help franchisees make a strong case for shuttering lackluster locations,” Hoffmann explained. “It’s a mistake to keep units open that are underwater or marginally profitable—especially older restaurants that cause operators to hemorrhage money on maintenance and rents.”

In his past positions, Hoffmann frequently conducted comprehensive business reviews of restaurant borrowers—experience that will further strengthen the real estate analysis and strategy A&G provides to its clients, Graiser said. “Working on behalf of a wide range of stakeholders in the restaurant industry, Jeff will be an incredible resource.”

Hoffmann has worked with large convenience-store operators as well. Along with grocers, he notes, the c-store sector is putting pressure on conventional restaurants by ramping up the quality and variety of its food and beverage offerings. “Channel-blurring means that c-stores and grocers are affecting restaurants, but the converse is true as well,” Hoffmann said. “When it comes to real estate strategies, everyone needs to be at the top of their game.”

Hoffmann’s early professional career began in equipment leasing. Then in 1993 he was introduced to restaurant and franchise lending with the acceptance of a Vice President role with a division of Sanwa Business Credit Corp. in Chicago. Subsequently, he held Vice President roles and was instrumental in building the restaurant business with Peachtree Franchise Finance and Merrill Lynch Capital, both in Chicago. As a Managing Director with Green Oaks Capital, Hoffmann provided capital solutions to middle-market companies in the franchise, restaurant and c-store sectors. At PNC Bank, he held the position of Vice President, Term Lead Credit Products. While in this role, he provided strategic insight, guidance and counsel to bank customers and was the bank’s restaurant industry expert.  

“Jeff knows from direct experience that the upfront strategy is the foundation of any effort to optimize real estate,” said Emilio Amendola, Co-President of A&G. “He has a strong reputation for integrity and an impressive track record of demonstrated results. For A&G, this move is perfectly in keeping with our philosophy of hiring the best of the best.”

Making Food More Visible

Consumers increasingly want to know the story behind the food that they consume – the source of the produce, meats and seafood, and their journey to the table. Mastercard is collaborating with Envisible, a company that enables supply-chain visibility in food systems to bring more visibility to food that people eat every day.

Envisible’s Wholechain traceability system will be powered by Mastercard’s blockchain-based Provenance Solution and used by Topco Associates, LLC, a leading United States food cooperative, to help its member-owners’ supermarkets trace and highlight the origin of seafood. Topco is working with its member grocery chains, starting with Food City, to pilot the use of the technology to provide better line of sight into ethical sourcing and environmental compliance of the seafood selection sold at their stores. The first of several species to be tracked will be salmon, cod and shrimp.

“Given consumers’ expectations for reliable information about the food that they eat, we’re excited to partner with Food City and Envisible on this trace and provenance solution pilot, and the promise of Envisible’s Wholechain solution,” said Scott Caro, senior vice president of Fresh, Topco.

“Using Envisible Wholechain, powered by Mastercard, our grocers will be able to stock shelves with confidence and also be able to pinpoint issues in the food chain during any unfortunate events such as recalls,” added Dan Glei, executive vice president, Merchandising and Marketing, Food City.

With over 100 blockchain patents filed, Mastercard is number three globally among top blockchain innovators1. The company has built a permissioned blockchain network that is integrated with its global network and provides a secure tamper-proof ledger, high transaction throughput, enhanced security, transaction privacy, and support for multiple use cases with one deployment.

Built on its proprietary blockchain technology, the Mastercard Provenance Solution is industry-agnostic and helps brands provide visibility into product journeys and a clear record of traceability designed to contribute to consumer confidence, trust and awareness. The Mastercard Provenance Solution also provides governance capabilities to complex supply chain networks, leveraging Mastercard’s proven track record of establishing trust and rules in highly-regulated markets.

“The identity of things is becoming even more important as consumers raise demands for transparency,” said Deborah Barta, senior vice president, Innovation and Startup Engagement, Mastercard. “Our provenance solution leverages Mastercard’s established network capabilities, globally-scaled technology, and services, such as payments and counterfeit programs. This allows us to deliver trust, financial inclusion and back-end efficiencies to the marketplace.”

“The sheer volume of global trade makes it difficult to track the journey and authenticity of food,” said Mark Kaplan, partner, Envisible. “We’re excited that Mastercard shares our vision and is driving consumer trust by bringing its significant expertise in using technology at scale with commercial-grade processing speeds, data flexibility and privacy, and security standards to an area that has previously been considerably opaque.”

Temporis Names First Pastry Chef

Chicago's Michelin-starred restaurants, Temporis, has hired Jacquelyn Paternico as its new pastry chef, the first to hold the role. Paternico joins the Temporis team with owner Sam Plotnick and executive chef Troy Jorge, most recently by way of another Michelin-starred restaurant, Band of Bohemia.


Since joining Temporis this fall, her first two dishes on the inventive 11-course tasting menu include a lemongrass mousse with toasted rice and brown butter cake hidden inside, topped with a toasted rice sorbet, caramelized Masago arare (puffed rice balls), yuzu gel, purple shiso and red veined sorrel. The second dish is a dark chocolate and white chocolate & miso ganache, served with salted caramel sorbet and an apple gelee made from the skins of Honeycrisp apples.



Pastry has been a constant throughout Paternico’s life—her parents were avid home bakers who turned their talent into an Italian-American bakery in their hometown of Rochester, New York. So it's no surprise that by elementary school, she was rolling cookie dough like a pro. After a stint studying textile design, she earned a baking and pastry arts degree from Johnson & Wales University, then moved to Chicago to work her way up the pastry line at Green Zebra, the Waldorf Astoria, Honey’s, The Albert and, most recently, the Michelin-starred brewery Band of Bohemia. 


Change of Guard at The Flavor Experience

Having owned and operated The Flavor Experience for the past 15 years, BSI Conferences' Sharyn and Bruce Iler are passing the baton. Under their guidance, The Flavor Experience has grown from a small conference to one of the foodservice industry's preeminent events. 

"Bruce and I are proud of The Flavor Experience's legacy," says Sharyn Iler. "We are extremely grateful for the support from so many friends of our 'Flavor Family.' Our team is especially excited in knowing that the conference will continue with the same passion under the experienced guidance of Cathy Holley and her team." 

Cathy Nash Holley, publisher and owner of Flavor & The Menu, is no stranger to The Flavor Experience. Since its inception, Flavor & The Menu, a media brand serving the foodservice industry, has been the event's exclusive media partner, and Holley has worked closely with Sharyn and the BSI team in translating menu trends coverage and curating content for The Flavor Experience.

In her expanded role as president of The Flavor Experience, Holley will oversee the continued growth of the event, ensuring a high-impact experience for both operator attendees and sponsors. Under her leadership, The Flavor Experience will continue to provide trend-forward and inspirational tastes and takeaways in a distinguished event format.

"Over the last 15 years, Sharyn and her team—through a combination of passion, expertise and attention to quality—have created an unparalleled event unique in the industry," says Holley. "Building on the many years of accomplished execution, I look forward to the opportunity to bring my foodservice expertise to a deeper role at The Flavor Experience. I am committed to maintaining its position as the ultimate celebration of the passion for flavor that is very much alive in the industry today."

Flavor & The Menu will continue its role as media partner, with its editorial team providing direction on curating content. The Flavor Experience's Christina Fischer, Chef Val Molinelli and Commer Beverage's David Commer and Barbara Akin will make the transition with the new ownership, maintaining their roles in ensuring a quality event that continues to provide trend-forward inspiration for the foodservice industry.

The Flavor Experience is held each August in Newport Beach, Calif. The 2020 event will take place August 17-19 at the Marriott Hotel & Spa.

Guy Fieri Day at Chicken Guy!

Chef Guy Fieri, and restaurateur, Robert Earl, along with Mayor Enid Weisman and Aventura Mall General Manager, Oscar Pacheco were at Chicken Guy! at Treats Food Hall today for a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. Hundreds gathered as Mayor Weisman officially proclaimed it Guy Fieri Day in the city of Aventura. Following the ceremony, Fieri took time to interact with the crowd, fist-bumping fans and handed out samples of chicken tenders and the restaurant’s 22 signature sauces to the hungry crowd.

"At Chicken Guy! we do house-made sauces, hand-brined, breaded, real-deal, fried chicken from Flavortown, right here in Aventura," said Guy Fieri.

“We are thrilled to announce October 25th as Guy Fieri Day in Aventura, said Mayor Weisman. “We are very honored to have Guy’s presence in the area and we look forward to enjoying the restaurant’s signature chicken and sauces for years to come.” 

Chicken Guy! co-founder Robert Earl also announced during the ceremony that the restaurant is slated to open two additional South Florida locations within the next year. 

“We are not stopping at Aventura, as we will be opening locations at Dadeland and Sawgrass in the near future,” said Robert Earl. “This market is such a great fit for our brand and we want to continue to expand.”