Fazoli’s Refreshes and Chipotle Rewards

This edition of MRM News Bites features Cameron Mitchell Hall, The Local Culinary, Fazoli’s, Chipotle, Applebee’s, CraftWorks Kitchen, Chicken Guy! ​​​​​​, Tripleseat and Benbria, Southern Glazer’s, SevenRooms, Postmates, ItsaCheckmate and Five Guys, ChefUniform.com and the Foodservice Packaging Institute.

Cameron Mitchell Hall Dedication

Columbus State Community College  dedicated Cameron Mitchell Hall, the college’s new home for the School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, top photo. The building is named after restaurateur Cameron Mitchell of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ (CMR) who generously took the lead on the philanthropic campaign and provided a $2.5 million gift in support of the project.


Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Columbus City Council President Shannon G. Hardin joined Mitchell, CMR President David Miller and Columbus State President David Harrison for the dedication ceremony in recognition of the collaborative effort that made Mitchell Hall a reality. The $34.5 million project is funded by $10 million from the state, $10 million in private philanthropy and $14.5 million from the college, and is complemented by more than $7 million in streetscape improvements funded by the city of Columbus.

“This is a proud moment for the state of Ohio and for Columbus State,” Husted said. “A year ago, this site was a parking lot. Today, it’s a state-of-the-art hospitality and culinary education center that will provide access to good-paying jobs in a high-demand industry. This is a great example of partners in the private and public sectors working together to invest in projects that will train Ohioans for the jobs of the future.”


“Mitchell Hall is a great example of public-private partnership for the betterment of the future of our City,” Ginther said. “The College has been a true partner toward the development of the Cleveland Avenue ‘Opportunity Corridor.’ We believe this project will be a catalyst for further improvements within the neighborhood and is a sign of more good things to come.”

“I am beyond pleased with the realization of the vision for this project,” Mitchell said. “It was just a few years ago that I asked the question, ‘How can we make this happen?’ With such great partners, it turns out that the answer was enthusiastic coordination from all sides coming together for a common purpose. I look forward to seeing these talented students continue to elevate our city’s culinary reputation.”

“Today is a celebration of an accomplishment made possible by many hands joining together for a common goal,” Dr. Harrison said. “Columbus State gives thanks to all of our partners for creating an unprecedented pathway for students to thrive in a rapidly growing industry.”

The Mitchell Hall dedication ceremony represents the culmination of 18 months of construction. Project architect is DesignGroup. Gilbane is construction manager. Features of the 80,000-square-foot, three-floor facility include:

  • More than doubling Hospitality and Culinary Arts enrollment capacity to more than 1,500 students.
  • Degrees, a professionally managed, student-staffed 50-seat sit-down restaurant and bar and Blend, a 20-person retail café and bakery, both with outdoor seating.
  • A 400-plus seat banquet-capacity conference center with onsite catering and a sweeping balcony overlooking downtown.
  • A 100-seat culinary theater.


“The Mitchell Hall project will be an incredible asset for our community, adding to the creative momentum in the Discovery District,” Hardin said. “Even more important than the bricks and mortar, we will provide our young people direct access to world-class culinary training so they can thrive in Columbus’ middle class.”

 “The greater Columbus hospitality and culinary industry is ready for the pipeline of talent Mitchell Hall will produce,” Miller said. “Columbus State’s enrollment and program growth comes at the right time to support this booming sector of our economy.”

The Local Culinary Launches in Miami

The Local Culinary, an all-new virtual restaurant concept led by European restaurant industry veteran  Alp Franko, celebrated its official launch, with the opening of its first location in downtown Miami. With a commissary-style dark kitchen located on South Miami Avenue, The Local Culinary operates eight individual concepts where chefs produce a range of creative, inspired menus.  From Mexican, Italian and Asian cuisines to burgers, fried chicken, healthy bowls, gourmet salads and more, the company’s delivery-only virtual restaurant fare is available to Miami residents through UberEats, Postmates, GrubHub and DoorDash.

The Local Culinary was founded by Franko, an entrepreneur with expertise in hospitality management, optimization and overall strategy. Franko is also the founder of the New York-based private equity group, BlackBull Investment, which is dedicated to investing in the hospitality sector.

Franko set out to create The Local Culinary based on the rising demand for delivery-only restaurants. According to a recent survey on Upserve.com, 60 percent of U.S. consumers order delivery or takeout once a week, and 31 percent say they use these third-party delivery services at least twice a week. Orders placed via smartphone and mobile apps are expected to become a $38 billion industry by 2020, with millennials as a driving force.

By incorporating high quality chef driven dishes with a powerful branding, The Local Culinary is changing by elevating the delivery experience. Each restaurant concept has a separate identity, and all include fun surprises such as candies, toys, sombreros and more to create an at-home or office restaurant experience best enjoyed with family, friends and coworkers.  The eight initial concepts include:

  • The Chef Burger – specializes in high-quality burgers and prime ingredients
  • Dirty Fingers – transforming the fast food game with elevated burgers, hot dogs, wings, fries and more
  • Mama Roma – bringing a true taste of Italy with authentic recipes and high-quality ingredients
  • El Taco Loco – delivering unique tacos with a touch of craziness
  • Shu Shu – bringing Asian-inspired dishes such as lettuce wraps, noodles, pad Thai, spring rolls and more
  • The Green Kitchen – serving nutrient-dense menu options with fresh and flavorful ingredients
  • Yoko Bowl – combines flavors of Asia and Hawaii to create rice bowls with raw fish, vegetables and more
  • Chicks – specializing in all things chicken, from fried to grilled, burgers, savory wings and more

“Inspired by the increasing demand for high-quality food delivery options, The Local Culinary aims to provide easily accessible meals with fresh and flavorful ingredients,” explains Franko. “We set ourselves apart by creating a true restaurant experience for our customers with handcrafted menus, clever packaging and thoughtful branding, which our guests can enjoy from the comfort of their office or home.”

With a second location in the works for Florida, Franko has aggressive expansion plans into other major U.S. markets including New York City.  In addition to delivery, the company will connect with consumers through a series of in-market pop-up restaurant experiences, participation in culinary festivals and brand partnership activations.

Fazoli's New Design

Fazoli’s introduced a  new restaurant design in its hometown with plans to bring the new look  at every location across the country.


The new modern design with communal seating is a nod to the family-friendly atmosphere and also includes artwork that highlights the brand’s “made to order” and “made to share” philosophy, along with fresh ingredient cues emphasized by features like Fazoli’s signature red tomato, which greets guests right when they step through the doors.The new look also includes technology additions with new self-ordering Kiosks and a pickup counter for mobile app and online orders.


“Our new restaurant design was built to showcase our premium menu and highlight the quality that comes from fresh ingredients made to order,” said President and CEO Carl Howard. “As a best-in-class brand, we’re dedicated to enhancing our guests’ experiences by offering variety, value and convenience. Our new remodel strategy is only the beginning.”

The brand is developing two new smaller double drive-thru prototype designs – a new 2,200-square-foot double drive-thru and the option of a larger 2,500-square-foot prototype. These two new building options go along with the traditional 2,500-, 2,800- and 3,300-square-foot facilities being built today.

”Our two new double drive-thru prototype designs are the next piece of the value equation for the Fazoli’s brand,” Howard said. “We are focused on adding a friction-free experience and enhanced convenience for our guests, while reducing startup costs for our franchisees. The new prototype and remodel package will ensure that we remain a vibrant brand for years to come.”


With this new round of upgrades complete, Fazoli’s has a goal of completing a total system remodel by the end of 2021. With remodeled locations seeing close to an 11 percent sales and nine percent traffic lift, turnover dropping by 11.6 percent, staffing up 6.4 percent and an increase in guest review scores, Fazoli’s franchisees are on board. The Fazoli’s team has worked tirelessly to bring down the current remodel expenditure, and it’s now 75 percent less than where it started in 2016, which is significantly below what Fazoli’s competitors are spending, and the results are unrivaled.

Chipotle Crew Bonus

More than 2,600 employees across 135 Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants qualified to earn up to an extra week of pay as a result of its newly announced crew bonus program. If restaurant teams meet certain criteria such as predetermined sales as well as cashflow and throughput goals every quarter, they’ll have the opportunity to earn up to an extra month’s pay each year. 


Chipotle, named America’s favorite Mexican brand in a recent Market Force information study, remains steadfast in its talent retention efforts in order to create a strong brand affinity that translates into a great customer experience. Because of these efforts, Chipotle is seeing that its employee value proposition of cultivating a better world is resonating. Over the past year, the company has seen a decrease in turnover at the manager and crew level. Retaining more crew members means that guests are receiving a more positive and consistent experience in Chipotle restaurants. Additionally, the company is seeing an improvement in throughput, aided by training, focus, and providing its teams with an easy-to-use dashboard that allows for greater visibility on the restaurant’s performance. 

“We are strategically investing in our people by giving all employees the opportunity to earn a performance bonus and it’s paying off,” said Marissa Andrada, Chief People Officer of Chipotle. “It’s exciting to see how many locations qualified and the high level of engagement from our restaurant teams.”

“Our team works hard every single day. From mashing avocados to servicing the line, everyone is focused on working together to provide the best possible guest experience,” said Angel Zuniga, General Manager, Bristol Center Chipotle in Santa Ana, California. “The all-crew bonus reinforced the sense of pride and passion for what we do and how we do it.”

All hourly restaurant employees who have been employed for the full quarter are eligible to participate in the new quarterly bonus program.  This new quarterly bonus program is in addition to the existing annual crew bonus that is available for employees based on tenure and a minimum of one year of service. Chipotle crew members also receive a number of other competitive benefits including paid meal breaks (complete with a free Chipotle meal per shift, guac included!), free English as a second language and GED classes for employees and family members, 100% tuition reimbursement up to $5,250 a year, as well as available dental, vision and medical insurance.

Applebee's Delivers Nationwide

Applebee’s® Neighborhood Grill + Bar just made dining at home or on-the-go easier, more convenient and more flavorful with Applebee’s Delivery℠ available at participating restaurants nationwide. Now, wherever you are, you can order online at Applebees.com or through the mobile app and Applebee’s Delivery, powered by DoorDash.


Applebee’s is celebrating the news in two big ways. First, hungry fans can take advantage of free delivery now through Sunday, September 1 when ordering Applebee’s Delivery.* And to commemorate Applebee’s new partnership with NBC Sports’ Football Night in America, free delivery will continue every Sunday throughout the football season (September 8 – December 29).

“This latest Applebee’s Delivery innovation allows our neighbors to enjoy their favorite Applebee’s dishes wherever they are,” said Scott Gladstone, vice president of strategy, off-premise and development at Applebee’s. “Within the casual dining category, we continue to be at the forefront of innovation in off-premise offerings, and will continue to look for ways to make enjoying our food available to our guests for any occasion. Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than having warm, delicious food delivered to you, wherever you are – with free delivery.”

CraftWorks Kitchen Debuts

CraftWorks Kitchen, a new American tavern concept, will open in Plano’s LakeSide Market in October 2019.  The restaurant is the brainchild Troy Cooper and Mike Hutchinson.


The 3,100-square-foot space features a warm, casual ambience.  The restaurant will seat approximately 70 in the cozy dining room with seating for another 15 in the clubby bar.  Outside, a comfortable patio will seat approximately 50 people, and will be home to live entertainment each weekend.

CraftWorks Kitchen’s menu offers diners an elevated take on modern American cuisine, all at a moderate price point.  The restaurant will open serving both lunch and dinner, as well as a festive weekend brunch. The menu plans signature appetizers including an Ancho Spiced Candied Bacon, Blue Cheese Chips and New Orleans-inspired chicken wings.  Entrees feature steaks including a Duck Fat Sous Vide Filet, fresh seafood such as salmon and Ahi tuna, and pasta dishes.  Lunch or light meal diners will appreciate the array of entrée and side salads, rich hearty soups, and sandwiches including a Reuben featuring house-cured pastrami.

The restaurant plans a signature cocktail list complemented by a curated wine list featuring numerous by-the-glass options.  Guests will enjoy both draft beer and bottled as well as specialty frozen cocktails. COO and culinary lead Mike Hutchinson most recently ran operations for Kenny’s Restaurant Group, the award-winning collection of restaurants including Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill and four other concepts.  Prior to that, Hutchinson had roles with Rockfish, Twin Peaks, Plano Café and others.

President and CEO Troy Cooper comes to CraftWorks Kitchen with a long history of growing brands across multiple markets.  Cooper led such brands as Rockfish, Boston’s, Front Burner and others.

The team plans to open additional CraftWorks Kitchen locations across North Texas.

ChickenGuy! at FedExField

Redskins’ fans rejoice as Chicken Guy! officially opens at FedExField. A collaboration between celebrity chef, Guy Fieri, and restaurateur, Robert Earl, Chicken Guy! features house-made, chicken tenders paired with 22 signature sauces. 


“C’mon now, what’s better than some real deal chicken and football,” said Fieri. “We are stoked to bring Chicken Guy! to FedEx Field just in time for the pre-season.”

“It is such a thrill to open our first Chicken Guy! inside a football stadium with the Redskins at FedExField. Ever since we opened our first location at Disney Springs in Orlando, Chicken Guy! fans continue to line up to experience a bit of Flavortown,” said Robert Earl.  “We are looking forward to growing the brand and will soon announce additional openings this year.”


Chicken Guy! prides itself on its all-natural fresh chicken tenders, hand-pounded to maximize crunch and paired with a wide selection of delicious sauces. Brined in fresh lemon juice, pickle brine and buttermilk, and infused with fresh herbs, these tenders deliver on flavor and texture. The menu at FedExField features the tenders served as a combo with fries and two sauces, on their own or in a sandwich, including the CG Classic and The Blat. However, MVP’s of the Chicken Guy! flavor game are the 22 different sauces. From Donkey Sauce, Nashville Honey Hot, Avocado Crema, Peri Peri and Curry Mayonnaise – there is something for everyone.

"Guy Fieri and Robert Earl have put together a fantastic food concept that Redskins fans are sure to enjoy," said Chris Bloyer, Senior Vice President, Stadium Operations and Guest Experience.   "We could not be more thrilled about bringing this delicious food to the best fans in the NFL."

Chicken Guy! at FedExField is the second location to open, with the third opening its doors in Miami later this summer. 

Tripleseat Teams with Benbria

Tripleseat is partnering with Benbria®. Through this partnership, Tripleseat will be able to provide an integrated guest experience management solution for their clients and market an event management solution to Benbria's clients, further increasing their profile. With Loop, Tripleseat customers can collect feedback from a range of channels at any touchpoint within the customer journey, engage in real-time, and measure their experience by touchpoint. Loop is omni-channel by design and includes a suite of channels, inbox, reporting, and analytics capabilities. There are no additional integration fees.

"Benbria's ability to easily engage with guests and uncover problems or opportunities to ensure the overall guest experience is the best it could be, are things we admire and are looking forward to working together as we continue our mission of providing customers with the best tools out there," said Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat. "Having the ability to check in with guests throughout an event is imperative, and we're thrilled to be able to provide these additional tools to our customers." 

"Tripleseat's 5,000+ customers and leading event management capabilities closely aligns with how our platform collects guest feedback and engages with guests," said Jordan Parsons, CEO of Benbria. "For businesses, it is more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Customer experience should always be top of mind, and by utilizing a customer experience management platform (CRM) such as Tripleseat, businesses can be more connected to their guests to make sure their time is the best it can be, from beginning to end." 

Southern Glazer's Wins Golden Bar Awards

 Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits announced that its Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits (CPWS) dedicated selling division, representing Diageo across 12 open and 17 control states, was presented four Golden Bar Awards at Diageo’s 16th annual Golden Bar Awards, which took place in Chicago earlier this month.


The Golden Bar Awards are presented to distributors demonstrating excellence in sales, innovation, and advancing social responsibility. Southern Glazer’s CPWS was awarded four of the seven Golden Bar Awards presented that evening, including the prestigious and coveted Spirits Distributor of the Year Golden Bar Award, won by Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits Brokers of North Carolina.

“I’m extremely proud of the strong performance delivered across CPWS in F19, especially the best-in-class results achieved by Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits Brokers of North Carolina, and by the Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits teams of Florida, California and Texas,” said Gerry Rivero, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits of America. “Our commitment to building capabilities at every level of the organization has been the linchpin to our ongoing success.”

The national awards presented to Southern Glazer’s include:

  • Spirits Distributor of the Year: Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits Brokers of North Carolina
  • On-Premise Excellence: Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits of Florida
  • Multicultural Excellence: Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits of Texas
  • Innovation Excellence: Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits of California

In addition to the Golden Bar Awards received, Kirsten Irby of Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits Brokers of Virginia was recognized as Sales Consultant of the Year for Diageo’s Control States division and George Leydecker of Coastal-Pacific Wine & Spirits of Texas was recognized as Sales Consultant of the Year for CPWS.

The seven Golden Bar statuettes, six made of gold and one of platinum, weigh eight pounds, stand more than a foot tall, and are produced by Society Awards, the company that produces The Emmy's®, presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Mandarin Oriental Chooses SevenRooms

SevenRooms​ was selected as the system of record for F&B outlets at ​Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group properties globally. Currently live at The Landmark, Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong and Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai, the platform will be implemented and rolled out across the Group over the next 12 months.

SevenRooms focuses on enabling operators to capture approved data across the guest journey. By implementing SevenRooms’ white-label booking widget across its websites and other online channels, ​Mandarin Oriental will have the ability to capture approved guest data, including personal, preference and transactional data, that can then be used both in- and post-service to drive repeat visits through direct reservations across the Group. 

Using the platform, Mandarin Oriental’s front-of-house teams will be better equipped to personalize the guest experience, from when they check in for their reservation and order their meal, all the way through to when they leave through the front door. Solutions provided include: reservation and seating management, POS and PMS integrations, guest profiles with customizable and automated guest tags, experiences & upgrades, and marketing automation and guest engagement tools like review aggregation, email automation, and special offers.

“Mandarin Oriental is known the world over for the attention-to-detail they put into every aspect of the guest experience, and their F&B is no different,” said ​Joel Montaniel, CEO of SevenRooms. “We are excited to be partnering with an innovative global company who understands the value of the guest experience, and who is actively looking for new ways to personalize these service touch points across the guest journey to inspire loyalty. Mandarin Oriental’s approach to hospitality has made them an award-winning leader in guest experience, and we look forward to our continued partnership in the years to come.”

“We are delighted to partner with SevenRooms to bring the next generation of guest experience platforms to our hotels and guests,” said ​David Nicholls, Global Director of Food & Beverage at Mandarin Oriental.​ “At Mandarin Oriental we pride ourselves on our ability to offer a truly bespoke level of personalized service. This software will help us to gain a better insight into our guests’ preferences, anticipate their needs and allow us to offer customized experiences and special dining events across our food and beverage outlets globally.”

Five Guys on Postmates

Postmates has partnered with Five Guys to enable national on-demand delivery, including an integration with ItsaCheckmate. Five Guys and Postmates customers will now find Five Guys locations across the country integrated into the Postmates feed,.

"We are thrilled to launch our integrated partnership with Five Guys for on-demand delivery," said Dan Mosher, SVP, Merchant Lead, Postmates. "Five Guys is an incredible family-run business that has a dedicated following and is extremely popular on the Postmates platform."

The Postmates Data and Analytics team dug into the data to uncover these Five Guys Delivery Facts:

  • Dinner is when people love their burgers and fries the most! Most people order Five Guys between the hours of 6-9 pm local
  • The top five items ordered are Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Regular/Little Fries, Little Cheeseburger and a Milkshake
  • Los Angeles orders the most Five Guys, followed closely by Washington DC and Phoenix
  • Someone spent over $700 on a Five Guys order on Postmates. Once in Los Angeles and once in Atlanta


ChefUniforms.com launched a new collection made of lightweight, breathable and stretch materials that benefits the active chef.

This collection was created for the energetic, athletic chef that is always on the move. PERFORMANCE boasts a lightweight, four-way-stretch, moisture-wicking and wrinkle-resistant material.


“PERFORMANCE moves with you and works for you. Its clean and smooth surface is easy to take care of and keeps you feeling fresh. Our focus was to shake things up and introduce an edgier, fashionable line,” said David Hawker, VP of Product Development & Design. “This is a progressive collection and we expect to launch women’s product in the Spring of 2020”. 
The collection comes in two coats: Snap Closure Chef Coat and Zipper Closure Chef Coat, and both are offered in black or pewter. Complementing the coats, PERFORMANCE also features two pants- Utility Chef Pant and the Men’s Jogger Chef Pant.  

FPI Looking for New President

The Foodservice Packaging Institute is looking for a new president after Lynn Dyer announced she would be leaving the association this fall. Dyer has been with FPI for over 20 years and, during that time, achieved many milestones. She helped to quadruple its membership, amplified FPI as the voice of the foodservice packaging industry and guided the industry’s environmental stewardship efforts. 

“Lynn has been a remarkable leader during her two decades of service to FPI,” said FPI Chairman John Ulowetz, senior vice president, foodservice at Berry Global. “Her strategic thinking and deep understanding of the foodservice packaging industry has brought awareness to our industry and advanced the association toward new initiatives, like increased recovery efforts and development of valuable resources for our members.”

Prior to joining FPI in 1998, Dyer worked with the European Food Service & Packaging Association (now Pack2Go Europe) in Brussels, Belgium. “Throughout my career, I have always been — and will continue to be — very passionate about foodservice packaging,” she said. “While I am sad to leave FPI, I am extremely proud of all that I have accomplished at FPI and the position in which I am leaving the association.”

In November, Dyer will be joining FPI member company Pactiv as vice president of sustainability.

The search for FPI’s next president has started, with resumes being accepted until Friday, Sept. 6.