Electrolux in the Smart Kitchen and Ghost Donkey in Vegas

This edition of MRM's News Bites features McCormick & Company, Grupo Anderson's, Kraft Heinz, Electrolux, QSR Automations, TripAdvisor, Ritual, Yumpingo, Thanx, Block 16 Urban Food Hall, SpotOn, Tripleseat and Alamo Drafthouse, Charlie Palmer Steak Napa and  Voodoo Doughnut.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

McCormick Opens New HQ

McCormick & Company, Incorporated opened its new global headquarters in Hunt Valley, Maryland. The state-of-the-art headquarters brings together 1,000 employees previously located across four different office buildings. 

"Our move to one global headquarters is a transformative step for McCormick – it exemplifies our continued commitment to the Baltimore region and the future of our truly global company," McCormick Chairman, President and CEO Lawrence Kurzius said. "Our new location fosters greater collaboration and innovation, while also enhancing McCormick's sustainability, improving employee health and wellness and bringing our passion for flavor to life. We are thrilled to be in this new space and I look forward to the great work we'll do here together." 


Designed to maximize employee flexibility, the new campus-like global headquarters features:

  • Open floor plans with a wide variety of workspaces, huddle rooms, think tanks and collaboration spaces that provide employees with the ability to choose the environment that best suits their needs and preferences 
  • State-of-the-art test kitchens for product development and flavor innovation 


  • A brand-new employee café that showcases McCormick's many global brands and culinary innovations 
  • A gourmet coffee bar, as well as pantries at the center of each floor, which serve as hubs for employee connection 
  • Onsite culinary education, incorporating high-end cooking equipment and an extensive curriculum

The LEED Gold designed building also reflects McCormick's commitment to sustainability. The construction incorporated locally-sourced, reclaimed wood and the building features an indoor green roof with native Maryland plantings. All furniture in the building is non-toxic, chemical-free, and largely comprised of recycled material. McCormick also seeks to promote composting throughout the building by only providing compostable serve ware to employees and implementing an advanced waste management system.

The building was developed and renovated by Greenfield Partners, LLC with exterior design by Studios Architecture; Gilbane was the general contractor for the project; CBRE provided engineering and architectural support; interiors were designed by IA Interior Architects; TB&C assisted with branding. McCormick is leasing the building from Greenfield.

Grupo Anderson's Puts Señor Frog's Up for Sale

Grupo Anderson's announced plans to sell its iconic fun themed restaurant brand Señor Frog's in the United States. The group owns and operates restaurants and bars located in the main cities and tourist destinations in Mexico, the United States and the Caribbean. Currently they have five Señor Frog's business units in the country: Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando and San Juan (Puerto Rico).

According to a study conducted by Lizan Retail Advisors (LRA), a New York based consulting firm that recently assessed the chain's potential of market development in the US, Señor Frog's brand recognition is very high. 

"Señor Frog's is a key player in the fun themed restaurant market, a niche segment serving food and drinks in a casual / relaxed atmosphere, unified by a central theme, catering to tourists / visitors and local populations" reads the study, which identified 30-40 feasible US locations that qualify to support a Señor Frog's restaurant, by prioritizing those locations within high-traffic domestic tourist destinations.

For almost five decades, Señor Frog's has been serving interactive action and humor as side orders to their characteristic Mexican dishes.

Kraft Heinz Launches Food Industry Venture Fund

Kraft Heinz launched Evolv Ventures, a venture fund that will invest in emerging tech companies transforming the food industry. Kraft Heinz has committed up to $100 million to Evolv Ventures and brought on venture investor Bill Pescatello to lead the fund.

“New technological innovations in the food industry create endless new opportunities to strengthen business models,” said Bernardo Hees, Chief Executive Officer at Kraft Heinz. “Through Evolv Ventures, we will work with tomorrow’s most innovative founders and companies in the space, and use the full resources of Kraft Heinz to help them succeed.”

“At Evolv Ventures, we will move beyond brands to have a committed first look at our industry’s most promising and disruptive tech-enabled companies,” said Pescatello. “With the insights, data and access available at Kraft Heinz, we look to take full advantage of our unique position and be the foremost value-added investor in the space.”

Evolv Ventures will be based in Chicago.

Electrolux Partners with Drop

Electrolux is partnering with Drop, a smart kitchen technology company, to further develop the smart kitchen ecosystem and create opportunities to enhance the taste experience for more consumers. Electrolux business area Home Care & Small Domestic Appliances (SDA) will enable products to work seamlessly with Drop's online platform and app, which will provide tailored recipes and guidance to the specific programs and the capabilities of Electrolux appliances.

"We're excited to partner with Drop and to further explore new ways of making the cooking experience more simple and personalized for consumers," said Ola Nilsson, Head of Electrolux business area Home Care & SDA. "By partnering with Drop, we can further expand our connected ecosystem to deliver great cooking experiences to consumers."

Using the latest technology to simplify and personalize the consumer cooking journey through assisted cooking, new services and partnerships is a growing area of interest for Electrolux. Earlier this year, Electrolux announced several strategic partnerships within the smart kitchen, such as with the eating technology company Innit in Europe, the recipe platform SideChef in Asia Pacific as well as expanding its collaboration with the Google Assistant to Europe.

QSR Automations Adds Vision

QSR Automations introduced a restaurant monitoring app, Vision, designed to provide remote access into to real-time operational data directly from the front of house and kitchen. Available for both IOS and Android, the app allows restaurant owners to monitor the health of their operations and focus on a better guest experience.  

“Restaurant operators struggle to get a complete picture of their operation, especially when they are not onsite. Vision was designed for managers and other above-store personnel to have visibility into their operations from the palm of their hands,” said Lee Leet, Founder and CEO of QSR Automations. “It helps operators monitor and quickly respond to situations as they happen. Our app gives them the flexibility to be away, act fast and be in constant communication.” 

The mobile app enables managers to be away from each restaurant and still have direct access to metrics from their ConnectSmart  display and DineTime guest management systems. Operators have instant access to multiple restaurant locations, in a single sign-on platform. 

Vision's platform enables restaurant of all sizes to tackle complex tasks involved in restaurant management like:

  • Monitoring site performance: Easily navigate and switch between various locations including drill-down analysis by site. 
  • Tracking what matters: Customize the dashboard with over 30 metrics that affect operational flow like daily checks, number of courses, open menu counts, number of active visits and waitlist counts. 
  • Reducing errors and waste: Identify inefficiencies and negative patterns like voided items, comp courses and intervene before it affects restaurant profitability.
  • Cutting down on costs: Breakdown kitchen and guest volume at each restaurant to determine labor-saving opportunities like cutting staff on a slow shift. 

“Vision is a vital piece to our solutions. It is the only restaurant monitoring app to provide metrics from both the front of house and back of house,” said Leet. “We are dedicated to meeting the needs of our customers. We will continue to build more functionality and features within the app.”

TripAdvisor Grows API Program

TripAdvisor named MomentFeed as the first company to join TripAdvisor’s new API program. The API program enables MomentFeed, a leader in mobile consumer experience management for multi-location brands, to sell TripAdvisor’s sponsored advertising product – TripAdvisor Ads – to its hospitality clients. MomentFeed clients who purchase TripAdvisor Ads will have the ability to monitor and manage the product directly within the company’s platform.


 By leveraging TripAdvisor’s new API program, resellers, agencies and partners like MomentFeed can empower restaurants of all sizes to easily manage their marketing spend and drive more diners to their listing. In addition, the API simplifies group purchasing for multi-location businesses, introduces more flexible pricing options for TripAdvisor Premium and TripAdvisor Ads, and allows for TripAdvisor Ads subscriptions to be managed by a third-party.


“Since launching TripAdvisor Premium in 2016, we’ve been working to provide restaurant owners with a suite of easy-to-use online marketing tools,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, Senior Vice President, TripAdvisor Restaurants. “We are excited to collaborate with companies like MomentFeed and scale how we offer our TripAdvisor Premium and TripAdvisor Ads products to help independent and multi-location restaurants better reach the more than 200 million travelers and local diners searching TripAdvisor for great places to eat each month.”


TripAdvisor Premium helps owners better showcase their restaurant to prospective dinersSubscribers can optimize their presence on TripAdvisor by highlighting their best photos and reviews via Storyboard – a dynamic visual presentation appearing at the top of a restaurant listing. Owners are also able to publicly share the top three reasons why prospective diners should choose their restaurant. Additional benefits of Premium include the ability to highlight a favorite review and access in-depth performance data.


Highly targeted TripAdvisor Ads allow restaurants to be discovered by locals and travelers who are actively looking for a place to eat. Ads target diners based on their search selection queries, inclusive of categories like average meal price, cuisine type and timing of meals such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. Diners see sponsored ads appear in the first spot of a relevant restaurant category on TripAdvisor, as well as in the top spot of the ranked search results. TripAdvisor Ads works on a cost-per-click basis, thus you are only charged for the number of clicks received. Owners have no long-term risk and can cancel at any time.


“We’re proud to expand our partnership with TripAdvisor and bring our hospitality clients the most complete set of solutions to manage and maximize their online presence,” said Cynthia Countouris, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Product at MomentFeed. “In addition to providing our customers with the ability to manage their TripAdvisor restaurant listings within MomentFeed, they will now have opportunity to attract more diners than ever by directly signing up for TripAdvisor Ads via the MomentFeed platform. Those who want to take it a step further are also able to seamlessly activate a TripAdvisor Premium subscription.”

Ritual Eats Week

During Ritual Eats Week, nearly 2,500+ restaurants across the country will be offering promotions on select menu items offered at affordable prices up to 50 percent off in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, San Francisco, Houston and Minneapolis.


Ritual helps local residents discover new eats in their neighborhood, making lunchtime more convenient and social. With Ritual Eats Week, Ritual and Apple Pay are encouraging colleagues to collaborate on their orders and get out of the office to enjoy local food favorites with their teammates, without wasting time in line. 



Any customer who orders with the Ritual app and pays with Apple Pay will have access to these exclusive daily deals — simply make sure you have Ritual and Apple Pay on your mobile phone, and you’re ready to eat! 


Why? Because the workday lunch is in need of a transformation.

  • Ritual Eats Week encourages colleagues to collaborate on their orders and get out of the office to enjoy local food favorites with their teammates, without wasting time in line. 
  • Ritual Eats Week is about bringing people together over a great meal, and we’re excited to be collaborating with some of the city’s most highly-acclaimed chefs and restaurants. 

Yumpingo Makes U.S. Debut

British restaurant intelligence platform, Yumpingo, has launched in the United States with TGI Friday’s, introducing its real-time customer engagement and data analytics technology in restaurants across nine states.

With restaurants receiving over 7,500 at-table food, beverage and service reviews per location per month, Yumpingo’s partnership with Fridays will introduce big data to transform US restaurant operations and create a new future forward. Yumpingo is already used by many of the UK’s largest and most innovative restaurant businesses, including Mitchells & Butlers, Jamie’s Italian, Bill’s and Wahaca. Guests complete a one minute review at the end of the experience, either on Yumpingo devices, which replace traditional check presenters, or on their own device.

Yumpingo delivers over 4,000 percent more reviews per restaurant than from Yelp, TripAdvisor, Opentable, Facebook & Google combined, with up to 66% of guests sharing their voice without any incentive and 20% leaving an email address. This volume and granularity of live customer sentiment allows brands to understand every facet of the customer experience, identify what needs to be fixed, develop specific actions and measure improvements.

Yumpingo will now be used by TGI Friday’s to optimize menu development and execution of food, beverage and service at store, shift, kitchen and server level.

Sherif Mityas, Chief Experience Officer at TGI Friday’s said: “The restaurant industry has traditionally relied too much on gut feel, antiquated spot check surveys and misleading online reviews to track and optimize guest experiences, with a tiny proportion of real customers ever feeding back on their experience. We know technology can solve this. Yumpingo's platform is a real-time solution which taps into the silent majority of our guests, giving the entire TGI Friday’s team complete certainty of how to optimize customer satisfaction with our people and our product.”

Since using Yumpingo, British restaurant group BIRD has seen an 8.3% increase in comp sales in the first half of 2018, attributed to traffic gains resulting from improved product and service. Mitchells & Butlers, the largest operator of restaurants, pubs and bars in the UK with over 1,800 stores, saw NPS increases with an 18% jump in the number of customers promoting restaurants brands within just 4 months.

Sherif Mityas, Chief Experience Officer at TGI Friday’s continued, “Data is the most powerful asset we have to ensure we delight customers, optimizing their food and service and ensuring they come back time and time again for more. Yumpingo is a game changer for how restaurants are now able to use technology to optimize the complete customer experience.”

Gary Goodman, founder and CEO of Yumpingo said: “TGI Friday’s are a perfect partner for us as we scale globally and bring our at-table one-minute review platform to the US restaurant market. We share a common vision, to transform the entire customer experience by using technology to seamlessly connect customers and restaurants digitally in live service.”

Thanx Launches Thanx Campaigns

Thanx launchedThanx Campaigns, a next-generation platform designed to enable segmented, personalized marketing across every communication channel and expands upon the Company’s loyalty tools to provide a single technology for all customer engagement with any customer. As a result, Thanx Campaigns allows restaurants and retailers to better identify customer behavior and engage and retain customers while measuring the impact and success of these targeted campaigns by the most important metric: dollars spent.


To help ease the burden of designing and launching targeted marketing as well as tracking the performance of campaigns across channels, the company has introduced Thanx Optimizations and Smart Tips. Designed to help merchants create the most impactful and revenue-generating campaigns, Thanx automatically optimizes variables such as send time, redemption windows for rewards, and customer eligibility — such as how long between visits until a customer is considered “lapsed” — for every promotion or communication to maximize engagement from each individual consumer. Similarly, Thanx Campaigns determines what type of marketing message should be sent to each consumer by aligning customer preferences with their preferred method of communication – email, SMS, or push notification. Every campaign produces a precisely calculated incremental revenue measure through control groups and Thanx’s proprietary credit card and POS integrations.

Thanx campaigns


“Restaurants and retailers have long tracked opens and clicks to judge the success of their marketing, which are terrible stand-ins for the only number that actually matters – incremental revenue driven to the business,” said Thanx CEO and Founder, Zach Goldstein.  “Thanx Campaigns makes targeted customer engagement easier and allows brands to double down on what is driving revenue and stop wasting time and money on things that aren’t.”


“Thanx has improved the way we engage with our customers and as a result of our personalized campaigns, we have seen both sales and customer satisfaction grow significantly, “ said Keith Cox, Founder and CEO at California-based Pacific Catch restaurants. “Their ability to capture relevant data and turn that into actionable insights has saved us precious resources, and been instrumental in helping us grow while we focus on making great food and providing excellent service.”


Thanx Campaigns is divided into three categories. 


·         Automated Campaigns: These ‘set it and forget it’ campaigns run in the background and automatically react to what customers are doing so merchants can maintain a consistent presence with their customers based on their behavior. For example, if a customer has historically visited regularly and has not visited for a certain period, a targeted “Win back” communication can be triggered.  Or, if a negative review has been received via Thanx, a complimentary offer can be delivered quickly in an effort to repair that relationship.  


·         Targeted Campaigns: These proactive campaigns align with a specific result a restaurateur or retailer wants to achieve, such as driving increased foot traffic during a specific daypart or announcing a new location to customers who shop at other nearby locations. Targeted campaigns are pre-built so merchants don’t have to spend time customizing.


·         Send a Message to Everyone: These foundational campaigns simplify and streamline the general customer communication that most brands are already doing by providing the ability to engage all customers from one tool, saving time and the expense of managing multiple platforms, and offering customizable templates and detailed revenue reporting. Thanx integrates with most existing email providers for a turnkey experience. 


“We know that creating deep customer loyalty drives massive growth for merchants. But loyalty is about a lot more than giving out rewards. It’s about deeply understanding every customer and interacting with them just as personally when they are outside the store,” said Goldstein. “There are simply not enough hours in the day for merchants to sift through mounds of data to create personalized and successful marketing campaigns. Thanx Campaigns eliminates this heavy lift and guesswork to ensure we’re enabling our customers to drive the greatest revenue possible without having to depend on multiple technologies or build their own data science team.”


Ghost Donkey Takes Vegas

Ghost Donkey rounding out the offerings at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas' Block 16 Urban Food Hall, which began serving Las Vegas customers earlier this month. 

Photos by Thomas Hart Shelby


New York City’s mezcal and tequila bar, Ghost Donkey, pulls inspiration from the alluring ingredients and flavors of Mexico to create an authentic fiesta experience. Featuring an extensive selection of mezcal, Ghost Donkey serves expertly selected tasting flights alongside specialty crafted cocktails. All cocktails consist of traditional Mexican spirits from artisanal brands, complementing the resort’s world-renowned cocktail program. Ghost Donkey will also serve a selection of unique late-night snacks including Wild Mushroom Nachos, the perfect combination of chips smothered in a huitlacoche-mushroom puree, cotija cheese, and topped with a poblano salsa.


Block 16 Urban Food Hall brings an emerging class of acclaimed chefs and first-to-market culinary creations to The Strip. A place for locals and visitors alike to celebrate their shared passions for easy-to-love food and drink, additional restaurant concepts include the hip and widely popular New Orleans restaurant, District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew., Nashville’s hot Southern chicken joint Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, Lardo, Portland chef Rick Gencarelli’s over-the-top sandwich eatery, James Beard Award-winning Chef Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Wing from Portland, and Tekka Bar: Handroll & Sake, an original Japanese handroll and sake concept from locally acclaimed Las Vegas restaurateur, Takashi Segawa.



Plate IQ Teams with Compeat

Plate IQ is partnering with Compeat to help manage back-of-house accounting tasks including vendor invoice capture and processing. 


“One of the biggest challenges for restaurants deciding whether or not to adopt new technology is the question of whether—and how well—that technology will integrate with their current solutions,” said Bhavuk Kaul, CEO and Co-Founder of Plate IQ. “This partnership creates a solid technology stack that operators can use to run their back of house, to automate their invoice processing and accounts payable processes and gain real-time insights into their food costs, inventory levels, and more.” 


Plate IQ solutions are specifically designed to help restaurants optimize their operations, unlock actionable expense data and reduce costs. The company plans to announce integrations with other third-party platforms soon. 


“Plate IQ is the most advanced platform available for automating AP processes and gaining real-time insights into food costs,” said Kristi Turner, CMO of Compeat. “Compeat’s partnership with Plate IQ provides our mutual customers with the “one stop shop” solution they need to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive market.”


"Plate IQ has allowed us to automate and streamline our entire back-end for accounting and inventory, alleviating many of the challenges associated with processing the dozens of deliveries we receive daily across our operating footprint,” said Luis Campuzano, CFO of Ciccio Restaurant Group. “Being able to import invoices directly into Compeat is a huge time-saver for our AP department compared to manually entering information and receipts.”

SpotOn Transact Acquires EmaginePOS

SpotOnTransact acquired EmaginePOS which will enable SpotOn to equip restaurants and bars nationwide. The cloud-based EmaginePOS platform offers elite reporting capabilities, remote management, Pay-at-the-Table and online ordering functionality. 


“Since our founding, we have been committed to redefining merchant services and providing best-in-class software for our clients,” said RJ Horsley, President of SpotOn. “This acquisition represents the next evolution of that goal. As our 400-person national sales force continues to expand, we will be able to arm them with dedicated solutions for specific verticals. Having a leading POS platform for the Food & Beverage industry represents a large step in that direction.”


As part of the acquisition, the sales, support, and development teams from EmaginePOS will be joining SpotOn, and SpotOn intends to leverage this transaction to expand its corporate presence in Detroit.


“The EmaginePOS team could not be more excited to join such a product-oriented company like SpotOn,” said Miller. “We’ve spent years developing a solution which we believe is the best in the Food & Beverage industry. By joining forces, not only will we be able to continue to innovate our product offering, but we’ll be able to get our product into the hands of merchants across the country through SpotOn’s national sales team.”

Tripleseat Teams with Alamo Drafthouse

Tripleseat is collaborating with Alamo Drafthouse designed to boost private event bookings through Tripleseat’s software. Alamo Drafthouse has 37 theaters nationwide and continues to expand, with locations in Los Angeles, Manhattan, and Staten Island set to open in 2019.

“Alamo Drafthouse has been working with Tripleseat for just under a year and has been blown away by the software’s ease of use and robust reporting capabilities. The ability to fully customize the software to suit each venue’s needs has been a real game changer for us and we are excited to explore all of Tripleseat’s potential,” says Kimberly Sandel, Manager of Private and Community Events at Alamo Drafthouse Austin. 

"With a variety of streaming service offerings that allow consumers to watch a movie with the touch of a button, it’s hard to get customers to go to the movie theater anymore,” says Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat. “People want to be entertained, and by partnering with such a unique cinema brand that offers a seamless and enjoyable experience for people to eat, drink and enjoy popular movies, we’re excited to be part of their continuous growth."

Lopez Named Executive Chef at Charlie Palmer Steak Napa

Francisco Lopez, Jr. today as the new executive chef of Charlie Palmer Steak Napa housed at Archer Hotel  in downtown Napa. Chef Lopez will be responsible for managing all food and beverage offerings within the hotel, including in-room dining, catering, events, and Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar. Promoted internally from his position as executive sous chef, Chef Lopez possesses classic French training, a passion for the culinary arts, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and a firm belief in quality, locally sourced ingredients. Inspired by the bounty of Napa Valley and fond memories of cooking with his family, Chef Lopez brings a fresh and honest yet delightful approach to the bold, American style-menu at Charlie Palmer Steak. 

Chef Francisco Lopez Jr.

Prior to joining the Charlie Palmer Group in 2017, Chef Lopez served as Sous Chef at Calistoga Ranch under Chef Bryan Moscatello, Lead Chef de Partie at The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Tournant at Etoile at Domaine Chandon under Michelin-starred Chef Perry Hoffman in California’s Wine Country, and Tournant at Café Boulud in West Palm Beach, Florida. 


A graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute, Chef Lopez also holds a Certificate in Culinary Arts and International Baking & Pastry. Renowned for his creativity, strong butchery skills, and contemporary sauce work, he has been recognized by the American Culinary Federation, The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, and San Pellegrino. 


“Chef Lopez has earned a great reputation throughout Napa Valley for his talent and tireless work ethic. I look forward to discovering his personal spin on the menus in Napa and watching him build upon the foundation of excellence and innovation at Charlie Palmer Steak in California’s Wine Country,” said Chef Charlie Palmer. 


“I’ve long admired Chef Palmer and I’m excited to continue my work with him and the talented team at Charlie Palmer Steak in this new role,” said Chef Lopez. “Napa Valley is one of the best culinary destinations in the world and I look forward to creating delicious, unforgettable dishes that reflect the character of this special place.”  


In collaboration with Chef Palmer, executive chef Francisco Lopez, Jr. has created a dynamic, modern American steakhouse menu, featuring dishes and ingredients sourced from Napa Valley’s surrounding agricultural and viticultural regions. Charlie Palmer Steak Napa is the fifth iteration of Charlie Palmer Steak, with sister properties in New York, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Reno. 



Sweetest Way to Give


Participating Voodoo Doughnut locations have teamed up with the National Brain Tumor Society in the month of October, donating a portion of the proceeds from EVERY Mango Tango sold.


The Mango Tango is a raised yeast doughnut filled with mango jelly and topped with vanilla frosting and Tang dust. This sugary confection was created by Robin“Lobster” Ludwig, Voodoo’s former CEO, who in 2013, was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. After a brave fight, Robin lost his battle in October 2015.

mango tango


“Most of us have been effected by cancer in some way or another. Teaming up with an organization that hits so close to home reminds us of this scary impact. We hope to continue spreading awareness and funds in honor of Robin.” Voodoo

Doughnut co-founder Tres Shannon said.

mango tango


“The National Brain Tumor Society is honored to partner with Voodoo Doughnut. The Mango Tango is not only raising crucial funds to support our mission of finding better treatments and, one day, a cure for brain tumors, but it’s also raising invaluable awareness. With no known prevention or early detection methods, few available treatments, and no existing cure, as a community we can’t afford to not take action,” said Lauren Gainor with the National Brain Tumor Society.