Financial Fitness for Franchises and Burke Likes Saratoga

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features KFC Foundation, Restaurant Revolution Technologies, ParTech, LevelUp, The Adelphi Hospitality Group, Red Robin and Dinova, Trabon, JBF, Yardbird Southern Table and Freebird Rides.

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KFC Foundation Offers MyChange

The KFC Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization funded by KFC franchisees, announced personal finance program, MyChange, as its newest charitable offering for employees at participating KFC U.S. restaurants. Offered in partnership with Sum180, MyChange fosters personalized financial wellness and teaches foundational personal finance skills to KFC’s restaurant employees who choose to enroll in the program.

“The KFC Foundation programs provide resources to KFC’s frontline workers, based on their real needs. Financial health impacts overall health and wellness. So, we’re excited to provide the people we serve with tools to take charge of their financial trajectory through the new MyChange offering,” said Krista Snider, managing director, the KFC Foundation.

MyChange pairs a powerfully simple and completely confidential financial wellness app with a personal adviser to empower users to take charge of their money right away. Program features include:

  • Budgeting tools and weekly budgeting tips
  • Personalized budgeting plans and actionable, highly personalized next steps
  • Helpful videos and easy instructions
  • Notifications to encourage accountability
  • Personal and private access to financial advisers to provide coaching
  • An online community for peer support and encouragement

During the annual KFC Corporation-sponsored “Your KFC Voice” restaurant team engagement survey, team member responses indicated financial counseling as a primary need, second only to college scholarships. This insight, coupled with the KFC Foundation’s own research and experience with constituents via its hardship assistance program, led the KFC Foundation to establish MyChange in partnership with Sum180.

“Our mobile financial wellness service goes beyond traditional financial wellness services, and similarly, the KFC Foundation goes beyond standard employee support. We’re thrilled to partner with a like-minded organization to bring the Sum180 financial wellness service to KFC restaurant employees,” said Carla Dearing, CEO and founder, Sum180.

MyChange joins several other KFC Foundation offerings, including Rise with GEDworks (personalized high school credential assistance), the KFC Family Fund (hardship and crisis assistance), and the REACH Educational Grant Program (college tuition assistance at $2,000, $2,500 and $3,000 award levels), rounding out the employee assistance organization to support the whole wellbeing of KFC’s restaurant employees.

Operating independently from KFC Corporation and led by a board including KFC franchisees, KFC Foundation receives the majority of its financial support from the Cole Slaw Donation Program, a voluntary program where KFC franchisees elect to have a portion of the sales of cole slaw in their restaurants used to engage in and support the Foundation’s initiatives (averaging out to a $1 per employee per month contribution).

 Revolution Releases Order One Next Gen

Restaurant Revolution Technologies, Inc. (Revolution)  released the next generation of its omni-channel ordering platform, Order One. The burgeoning platform is quickly becoming a favorite among restaurant operators, as it provides a plug-and-play solution for restaurants to easily allow customers to place takeout, delivery or catering orders by phone, website, mobile or, now, even by chat.

The Order One platform submits all orders – regardless of how they were placed – directly into a restaurant’s point of sale (POS) system, removing the need for specialized tablets – which require valuable staff to re-enter orders. Beyond being able to automatically submit orders from all customer input points (phone, web, mobile, text, chat), Order One also monitors submitted orders from start to finish and provides order management protection. If there’s a problem, such as credit card processing failures, Order One, along with its live issue monitoring and order resolution team, will troubleshoot in real-time and ensure customer satisfaction.

In addition, Order One captures customer data to provide restaurant customers with a great experience and insights on order history and activities, offering a comprehensive look at all ordering channels and empowering them with the necessary data to drive revenue and to make crucial business decisions. And now, with the release of the 3.0 version, Order One is a more powerful offering with the following features:

  • Angular 2.0 Ordering Sites: A visually appealing and experiential presentation of restaurants’ menus with real-time updates based on menu item availability.
  • Delivery Enablement: Ability to allow restaurant groups to expand their capabilities by providing a direct-from-the-restaurant delivery option for their customer base couriered by top services such as DoorDash.
  • Chat Ordering: The ability to receive chat assistance on an online or mobile order, and to connect to the same live agent for further assistance.
  • Group Ordering: Ability to have a group order managed, submitted and paid for by a singular payer or multiple payers.
  • Repeat Ordering: Ability for customers to quickly repeat previously placed or favorited orders at a click of a button for fast and easy reordering.
  • Social Login and Sharing: The ability for customers to sync and login via social media accounts and directly share menu items, favorites and other content across social platforms.

“We launched Order One to provide a solution to restaurants that were frustrated with the current off-premise ordering systems on the market,” said Revolution CEO Brad Duea. “Our collaborative, merchant-first approach continues to lead to valuable feedback from our restaurant partners on what they want next from us. We incorporated the most requested features in the latest rollout to continue to innovate and provide the best experience our restaurant partners’ customers deserve.”

ParTech Launches PAR Pay

ParTech, Inc. (PAR) introduced PAR Pay, a SaaS based EMV enabled transaction processing solution for processing credit, debit and store value cards.  PAR Pay is seamlessly integrated as an extension of all PAR POS software solutions and supported by the PAR service infrastructure.  PAR Pay will be available to all Brink and PixelPoint clients in June of this year.

ParTech, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of PAR Technology Corporation (NYSE: PAR). Mobile payment platforms combined with Quick Chip support dramatically improve the guest experience, while providing piece of mind through heightened fraud detection and security monitoring. PAR Pay’s gateway architecture provides real-time transaction visibility through a cloud-based portal, allowing anywhere access to view non-sensitive transaction and settlement details, analyze payment trends, reconcile payments and manage chargebacks across all stores securely from the Cloud.  PAR Pay is also device agnostic, providing merchants with a long term, low cost flexible solution for processing payments. 

Key features of PAR Pay include: 

  • Supports Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and PayPal with Near Field Communication (NFC)
  • Quick Chip support for EMV processing as fast as swipe
  • Store & Forward for automatic approval of transactions during rare offline occasions
  • Device agnostic where customers can choose from a selection of manufacturers and models
  • Payment processor agnostic
  • Tokenization allows for card on file functionality outside of the store
  • Point-to-point encryption (P2PE)
  • PCI-DSS and PA-DSS v3.2 certified

“An improved and frictionless guest experience is paramount at PAR.  We are pleased to now offer a payment processing solution for our customers, which will allow them to meet their payment processing objectives, inclusive of security and speed of service,” said Paul Rubin, Chief Strategy Officer, ParTech, Inc.  “The PAR Pay offering is tightly integrated with all PAR POS software solutions and is fully supported by our service teams and we are confident our customers will see significant value.”

LevelUp Adds Partners

LevelUp recently added 25 fast-growing restaurant brands as partners, including national chains Smoothie King and Zaxby’s, and emerging brands honeygrow, Wings Over and Evergreens, among others. Eight of them have already launched their guest engagement programs, including brand new mobile apps, developed and powered by LevelUp. Those partners include Pret A Manger, The Human Bean, Clean Juice, Showmars, and James Beard award-winning Flour.

LevelUp is a digital engagement solution that empowers restaurants to capture and engage both existing and new customers everywhere they live, work and play, with seamless digital ordering, payment and loyalty experiences. More than 50,000 locations rely on LevelUp to maximize guest engagement for over 10 million customers every single day.

“As the growth engine for restaurants, it’s our job to help restaurants reach new customers and convert them into loyal guests,” said Seth Priebatsch, founder and CEO at LevelUp. “Our Broadcast product enables integrated digital ordering and rewards distribution through leading consumer channels bringing new customers in the door. And our new data-enriching capabilities help restaurants understand and better engage those new customers.”

Two of LevelUp’s newest partners include leading lifestyle brand Smoothie King and fast-growing “indescribably good” chicken chain Zaxby’s.

“Smoothie King is all about delivering the best experience we can to our guests and helping them live a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Smoothie King CMO, Jennifer Herskind. “With LevelUp, we are making it easier for our guests to engage with and frequent our brand.”

“At Zaxby’s, we strive to offer world-class service to our guests, not just with exceptional food, but also by creating a comfortable and fun atmosphere,” said Erin Todd, senior brand manager at Zaxby’s Franchising LLC. “We are thrilled to have LevelUp join the Zaxby’s team to launch a phenomenal digital experience for our guests.”

Chef David Burke Joins Team at The Adelphi Hotel and Salt & Char  

The Adelphi Hospitality Group (AHG) said Chef David Burke has joined the team at The Adelphi Hotel and Salt & Char as Culinary Director, overseeing all food and beverage operations. Chef Burke joined the hotel this month and is currently working to refine the elevated dining experience at the restaurants as well as catering and in-room dining services. Chef Burke and his culinary team will reveal enhanced menus that will echo his signature style for The Adelphi Hotel’s restaurant concepts, The Blue Hen and Morrissey’s Lounge, as well as the adjacent Salt & Char. Details on the enhancements will be announced at a later date. 

Adelphi Hotel Photo Courtesy of

“Chef Burke and I have a longstanding business relationship and friendship, so it is with great pride and confidence that we welcome him to our family in Saratoga Springs,” said Larry Roth, Co-Owner of Adelphi Hospitality Group. “Chef Burke is known for his world-class restaurants that offer guests not only some of the most delicious food but also an overall exceptional dining experience. We are thrilled to be bringing someone of Chef Burke’s caliber to The Adelphi Hotel and Salt & Char.” 

The Blue Hen Photo Courtesy of

“I’m grateful for the wonderful opportunity to be heading up the culinary concepts at such an iconic and historical property such as The Adelphi Hotel,” said Chef David Burke. “Saratoga Springs is a special town with a warm and welcoming community. I look forward to spending a lot of time in the area and getting to know the people and region even better.” 

Red Robin Joins Dinova Marketplace

Red Robin has joined Dinova, Inc.’s exclusive business dining marketplace.

“This is a great opportunity for Red Robin to partner with Dinova and expand our business to reach the loyal customers within their network of more than 300 corporations around the globe,” said Dana Benfield, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Red Robin. “Our craveable gourmet burgers, impressive lineup of seasonal, craft and traditional brews, and Bottomless value promise offers something for everyone. We look forward to treating our new guests to an unforgettable experience when dining in-restaurant or ordering to-go and catering for office meetings and other events.”

“We are thrilled to have Red Robin partner with us as we continue to offer more diverse restaurant options to business diners across the country,” said Vic Macchio, CEO and founder of Dinova. “Providing great experiences and situation-appropriate restaurants for every business meal is what we do best as we actively build our marketplace.”

Trabon Signs on Partners

Trabon, a leading menu management technology solutions company, has partnered with 54th Street® and True Food Kitchen® to use their MenuNet® platform to easily modify and publish location specific restaurant menus.  Guests of 54th Street will also be able to customize their meals and filter by dietary need or desire using Trabon’s My Meal, My Way™ Nutrition & Allergen Calculator, and Trabon will be printing and distributing all menus. MenuNet helps restaurant brands manage all food, beverage, price and nutrition variations from a single source and across all brand channels. Using the Trabon My Meal, My Way Nutrition and Allergen Calculator restaurant brands can share interactive, accurate nutrition and allergen data with their guests. Guests crave the ability to personalize meals to fit their specific wants and needs.

 Trabon’s proprietary MenuNet platform replaces manual artwork versioning and creates content ready for integration to other brand menu information channels including online ordering, third-party delivery and POS systems.  Integrating menu content from a single source platform drives greater menu accuracy across all brand touch points.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with both 54th Street and True Food Kitchen,” said Trabon Chief Business Development Officer Nancy Hampton. “Each brand is uniquely positioned and they are redefining their restaurant segments.  Technology is important to both brands and they are bringing on tools that will enhance their ability to thrive in a very competitive environment.”

“We are excited for our new partnership with Trabon,” said 54th Street Director of Marketing Kelly Reid.  “We feel strongly Trabon will help 54th Street streamline workflows and support brand growth by helping make menu customization by market easier to manage and communicate,” added Graphic Designer Jill Alvarez.

True Food Kitchen is using MenuNet to help the health-driven, seasonal restaurant brand create location-specific menus that rotate four times a year and feature regional pricing and beverage offerings specific to a particular market. The 22 restaurant operation is also leveraging MenuNet’s integration with Yext, which gives restaurant brands the ability to seamlessly update and publish consistent, accurate location-specific menu content, including pricing and nutrition, across the web. The MenuNet app in the Yext App Directory makes it easy for restaurants to manage menu content everywhere consumers look for it.

“Trabon is helping our marketing and operations teams manage a more efficient menu change process,” said True Food Kitchen Vice President of Marketing Shannon Keller. “As a restaurant brand with detailed seasonal menu changes, True Food Kitchen will rely on MenuNet to help ensure our rotating menus are consistently accurate across all digital channels.”

JBF Announces Hosts

Carla Hall, Co-Host of ABC’s The Chew, will return to host the 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards. The yearly Awards ceremony and gala will take place on Monday, May 7, 2018, at Lyric Opera of Chicago and will also be aired live exclusively on Twitter for the first time at On Friday, April 27, 2018, award-winning journalist Tamron Hall will host the annual James Beard Foundation Media Awards. This year’s celebration will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers.

“We’re thrilled to have Carla and Tamron represent the Foundation as hosts for the 2018 Awards ceremonies,” said Clare Reichenbach, CEO of the James Beard Foundation. “Each has made an impressive impact on their industries and are role models in their respective fields. We look forward to celebratory and thought-provoking evenings with both, as we embrace this year’s theme, ‘Rise.’”

Carla Hall is a co-host of ABC’s Emmy award winning lifestyle series “The Chew,” where she sits alongside restaurateur and “Iron Chef America” star Michael Symon, and entertaining expert Clinton Kelly. She is best known as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars,” where she won over audiences with her fun catch phrase, “Hootie Hoo” and her philosophy to always cook with love.

Tamron Hall’s signature reporting style has lead her to several notable roles within broadcast journalism since her start as a general assignment reporter at KBTC in Bryan, Texas. She has served as host of “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” on Investigation Discovery since September 2013, where she takes an in-depth look at crimes that have shocked the nation. She was a part of the NBC News team as a co-host of the third hour of NBC News’ TODAY and the anchor of “MSNBC Live with Tamron Hall” for many years. Prior to joining MSNBC in July 2007, Tamron spent 10 years at WFLD in Chicago, where she held several positions including host of the three-hour “Fox News in the Morning” program. In 2015, Tamron received the Edward R. Murrow Award for Reporting: Hard News in Network Television for her segment on domestic violence, as part of TODAY’s “Shine A Light” series. Tamron served as a correspondent for historic moments including the NBC News Special “The Inauguration of Barack Obama,” which won an Emmy for Outstanding Live Coverage in October 2010.

New in 2018, the James Beard Restaurant & Chef Awards will be live streamed exclusively on Twitter. The May 7 Awards will be available for Twitter’s logged-in and logged-out audience and can be viewed at or from @beardfoundation. Coverage will include red carpet interviews, the Awards program, and backstage, insider access with hosts, presenters, winners and Gala attendees. The Twitter broadcast will be co-hosted by television host and food and travel blogger Jaymee Sire; journalist, producer, and red carpet correspondent Alex Hudgens; and cookbook editor, food writer, and host of “The Splendid Table” podcast, Francis Lam.

Winners of the 2018 James Beard Media Awards will be announced at an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City on Friday, April 27. Winners of the remaining awards will be announced at the James Beard Awards Gala at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7, 2018. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

Tickets to the May 7 Awards Gala and the April 27 Media Awards dinner still available for purchase at and through the Awards Box Office 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, by calling (914) 231-6180. General public tickets are $500; James Beard Foundation member tickets are $425. Individual tickets for the Media Awards are $350; table for 10, $3,500. VIP ticket options are also available. Please contact the box office for details.

The 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards are  hosted by Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association and presented in association with Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports as well as the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Airlines, HMSHost, Illinois Office of Tourism, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, TABASCO® Sauce, Woodford Reserve Bourbon; Supporting Sponsors: Breville®, Corporate Essentials, Hyatt, National Restaurant Association™, Robert Mondavi Winery, Skuna Bay Salmon, Taylor Precision Products, Valrhona, Windstar Cruises; Gala Reception Sponsors: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Ecolab, Front of the House®, Kendall College; with additional support from: Chefwear, Emmi Roth, Loacker, and VerTerra Dinnerware. 

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar Debuts

On April 6, James Beard-nominated and award-winning Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, top photo, fficially opened its doors in Southern California. Nestled within the newly renovated Beverly Center, the rustic, country-chic dining destination showcases their internationally recognized Southern cuisine featuring seasonal dishes with ingredients harvested at regional farms.

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar Los Angeles offers a unique and authentic dining experience built around 100-year old family recipes, served in a warm, welcoming environment. Recognized for the modern renditions of classic, home-style favorites, the menu is renowned for its famous Lewellyn’s Fine Fried Chicken n’ Waffles, Deviled Eggs and House-Made Buttermilk Biscuits. 

Paying homage to their new Los Angeles home, Chef Patrick Rebholz has crafted the menu to include light and flavorful options from sustainable foraged ingredients as well as an upscale twist on Southern fare. Guests will enjoy delicious, seasonal experiential dishes like the Mufaletta Saladprepared tableside and the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Salad.  Ingredients will be sourced daily from local farms including Valdivia Farms, Weiser Family Farms, County Line Harvest, Murray Family Farms, Pudwill Farms and Mike & Sons Egg Ranches.

The menu is a journey of classic Southern cooking that has been peppered with a complex and inimitable style. The collection of unforgettable homestyle recipes include a Sweet Tea Braised Long Bone Short Rib, Louis Style Pork Ribs, Whole Lobster Mac & Cheese, and a Bourbon Aged Steak deemed “The Duke.” These flavors break the traditional constraints of Southern cooking, resulting in an offering unique to the Los Angeles dining landscape.

James Beard-nominated Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith has designed an eclectic selection of playful desserts that are guaranteed to evoke an edible nostalgia.  Layered with both savory and sweet components, Goldsmith pulled menu inspirations that are indulgent pick-me-ups made with the best seasonal ingredients that are satisfying and good for the soul.

Complementing the culinary concept, the cocktail program at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar Los Angeles, curated by Joshua Holliday, is pulling no punches.  Complete with hand carved ice and exotic ingredients, drinks like the Tarragon in Technicolor are equally approachable as they are familiar, while offering a bit of flair as the colors change throughout consumption.  The cozy bar scene, featuring both a lounge and ample bar seating, will also offer an impressive list of over 100 bourbon and whiskey options. 

Helmed by award-winning restaurateur John Kunkel, the sophisticated dining destination boasts indoor and outdoor seating options alongside meticulously designed private and semi-private spaces, designed for social gatherings.  

Kunkel stated, “We are committed to continually providing our guests with high-quality, made-from-scratch, classic Southern cuisine, and thrilled to take the art of hospitality to a new level with Yardbird Los Angeles.”

Freebird Rides Partners with Boston Bars and Restaurants

Freebird Rides, a new Uber-affiliated app, announces its arrival in Boston by partnering with more than 100 local bars and restaurants to offer customers cash rewards in return for their patronage via Uber. Freebird seamlessly connects with Uber and provides a platform to help restaurant and bar owners drive consumers to their establishments. Meanwhile, “freebirding” consumers get free Uber rides or cash rewards on food and drink purchases, while leaving their car at home and ensuring a safe and hassle-free night out.

While the consequences of some delivery-oriented technologies, from online shopping to meal delivery services, have encouraged isolation among consumers, Freebird’s technology is helping small business owners in the bar and restaurant sector fill their establishments once again. The app encourages consumers to get out, network and socialize the original way, over a meal or a drink, rather than from behind a screen at home.

Freebird Rides was founded by Kurt Brendlinger, who is the Company’s CEO and partner of Santa Monica Capital Partners, an entrepreneurial merchant bank. In addition to his track record of turning ideas into successful businesses, he is one of the senior advisors to production company 3 Ball Entertainment, whose hit series include The Biggest Loser (NBC) and Bar Rescue (Paramount Network).

“Freebird Rides is actually a conduit to going out, discovering a new place with friends, getting there and back safely and earning cash rewards,” CEO and Founder Brendlinger says. “It’s a win for regular Uber users and a solution for businesses that benefit from a service that drives customers to their door.”

Co-CEO of 3 Ball Entertainment, Todd A. Nelson, said, “As the creator and executive producer of Bar Rescue, and many other makeover shows featuring entrepreneurs, I’ve seen first-hand the struggle small business owners have to drive customers to their establishments and keep them coming back. New smartphone technology presents an even bigger challenge, so I am thrilled to be an investor in Freebird Rides, whose technology literally incentivizes patrons to go out rather than stay in, while helping keep them safe in the process.”

Freebird Rides was tested successfully throughout Los Angeles and Orange County, CA in fall 2017, and for the last several weeks in Boston before its official launch today. Free to consumers, the app is a unique form of marketing for restaurants and bars because they only pay Freebird when someone pays a tab with a Freebird linked credit card. Freebird does not require businesses to sign a contract. Additionally, businesses can choose which days to offer rewards to Freebirders and can use it to promote targeted menu items on social media.

“Giving VIP incentives to consumers that ride responsibly gives us the opportunity to defeat drunk driving,” commented Brendlinger. “We want to make it free and easy for consumers to be safe while enjoying a night out on the town. Freebird provides that solution. We are already thrilled by the initial response to the app by consumers and business owners alike.”

Brendlinger was drawn to Boston as Freebird’s first launch market because of its tech-savvy and strong Uber population, coupled with the city’s vibrant restaurant and bar scene and notorious lack of parking. Brendlinger is familiar with the Boston market since both his daughters chose Boston for college.

 The app partnered with Guinness Beer offering Safe Rides home to consumers during the weeks before and after St. Patrick’s Day, a program Guinness extended because of its positive reception by consumers. Freebird is also partnering with Burke Distributing and Martignetti Companies, distributors of beer and wines and spirits respectively.