This edition of MRM News Bites features Noodles & Company, Ordermark, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Yelp, Chowly and DoorDash, Chicken Guy!, Revel, JetBlue, Pinkbox Doughnut, Iterable, Sable Kitchen & Bar and Hard Rock International.
Noodling Financial Benefits
Noodles & Company will roll out a suite of financial wellness tools from Even.com on September 25 to help its nearly 10,000 team members get paid early, organize and budget their money, and plan ahead with savings features. Accessible via a mobile app, the tools will support team members' everyday money management needs, giving Noodles another competitive Life@Noodles benefit that can help attract and retain talent.
"We wanted to offer more than the basic Instant Pay service some restaurant companies are trying out," said Sue Petersen, Vice President of Human Resources at Noodles & Company. "With our new financial wellness package, team members can benefit from InstaPay plus set aside funds for something special and create longer-term financial goals. We're thrilled to deliver a benefit to help our team members succeed in their jobs and careers at Noodles, and in life."
These financial wellness tools are the latest addition to Life@Noodles, Noodles' comprehensive, competitive team member benefits package. The benefits include parental benefits like $10,000 for adoption assistance; paid paternity leave; phase out to maternity leave and phase back into work at an 80 percent schedule for 100 percent pay; and 100 percent pay for six weeks of maternity leave .
"As we have grown our comprehensive benefits package over the past few years, we've remained focused on finding a solution to help better equip our team members with the tools they need to establish financial wellness and literacy," said Petersen. "In testing this program, team members anecdotally shared that the app encouraged them to save for the first time in their adult lives, and we think this program will serve as a resource in helping team members with their immediate needs while also helping them plan and prepare for the future."
On-Campus Robot Delivery
Ordermark has expanded partnership with autonomous delivery service pioneer, Kiwi Campus. The agreement gives Kiwi Campus access to Ordermark’s growing portfolio of restaurant clients, while Ordermark expands its working relationship with the robot delivery service targeting millennials on college campuses, 57 percent of whom order restaurant delivery services at least twice per week.
Launched in Berkeley, in 2017, the Kiwi Campus (“Kiwi”) restaurant on-demand everything delivery solution sends autonomous “Kiwibots” to its customers’ doorsteps with a fast, reliable, and low-cost solution ensuring the freshest food and a satisfying delivery experience. Using Kiwi’s advanced autonomous technology, Kiwi guarantees a safe delivery approximately 65% faster than traditional couriers. Often found roaming the residence halls of UC Berkeley, Kiwi’s prices its groundbreaking, state-of-the-art delivery service at an affordable delivery cost that is often significantly less than competing providers.
“Ordermark restaurant clients are looking to be on every possible delivery app or service in this fast-growing marketplace. Thanks to our expanded partnership with Kiwi, an industry pioneer, Ordermark is able to bring the cost of last-mile delivery down to record lows,” said Alex Canter, CEO of Ordermark. “Expanding Ordermark’s business with Kiwi will help us grow together as Kiwi expands its geographic footprint and with delivery costs that have never been achievable with human labor. “Partnering with Kiwi fortifies Ordermark’s client portfolio and helps restaurants incrementally grow revenues and their bottom line with the highly desirable and lucrative college student market segment.”
“Ordermark is the future of restaurant merchant integration into the digital economy,” said Felipe Chavez Cortes, Kiwi Campus CEO. “In just two years, Kiwi has filled more than 50,000 orders — including more than 30 percentwith Ordermark – reducing delivery times by an average of five minutes and improving the user experience and overall customer satisfaction,” he added. “Kiwi is expanding out of its Berkeley base of 18 Ordermark restaurants and across the Bay Area and into Northern California with its forthcoming
Palo Alto/Stanford and Sacramento launches. Expanding Kiwi’s working relationship with Alex and his team is key to staying ahead of the market with Ordermark’s best in-class technology solution for restaurateurs and capitalizing on a period of tremendous growth and opportunity in the restaurant delivery sector.”
Noodles Front and Center
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto opened his ramen and yakitori Izakaya concept, Momosan Ramen & Sake in Seattle. Located inside The Publix building at 504 5th Avenue South in Seattle’s International District, this casual dining experience features the Iron Chef’s signature take on Japanese ramen, grilled yakitori and Izakaya dishes, plus a diverse selection of premium sake, beer and spirits.
At Momosan Seattle, noodles are front and center, highlighting Chef Morimoto’s varieties of Japanese-style flavor forward ramen, ranging from a dense and silky tonkotsu to a lighter Tokyo chicken, as well as tsukemen, tan-tan, duck and butabara ramen options. The menu also includes a variety of grilled dishes and Japanese bar snacks, all with Chef Morimoto’s signature twist, along with a selection of sushi.
Playful small Izakaya plates and appetizers take guests on a comfort food journey, including duck tacos, pan fried pork gyoza, soft shell bao, sticky ribs, spicy wonton in Szechuan sesame chili sauce, duck fat French fries, and seared jellyfish with yuzu soy. Over a dozen skewered and grilled yakitori items are also available, such as duck, salmon, shrimp, pork belly, chicken wing, corn and butabara asparagus.
The menu showcases a vast sake list, including a selection of Chef Morimoto’s signature sake and wine; an array of Japanese whiskey and shochu; cocktails such as Mango Matchashu (sake, mango puree, matcha) and Spiced Car (Iwai Mars whiskey, honey, yuzu);draft and bottled beer including classic Japanese style lager, three Morimoto signature beers in collaboration with Rogue Ales, and a local brew, Bodhizafa IPA.
The 110-seat, bi-level restaurant offers dining at the intimate ramen bar overlooking an open kitchen, for an up-close-and-personal culinary experience, along with individual and communal dining seating. Elaborate silver chandeliers hang over an expansive communal table at the upstairs bar, overlooking a shelf decorated with colorful Japanese toy collectibles, selected by Chef Morimoto himself. Three of these shelves are placed throughout the restaurant, for a playful vibe.
Momosan Seattle is Chef Morimoto’s third Momosan location. His first ramen shop opened in New York City in 2016, followed by his second Momosan shop in Waikiki Beach in May 2018. Chef Morimoto will open his fourth Momosan location in Brooklyn in 2020.
Yelp's Brand-Building Help
Yelp Inc. added updates to its restaurant product offerings with the launch of Yelp Connect and new Waitlist features to help increase diner traffic and customer loyalty. Yelp Connect is a new way for restaurants to build their brands and share updates from their Yelp business pages and on users’ Yelp homescreens. New Yelp Waitlist features include Predictive Wait Time and Notify Me. These features help restaurants spread out customers to less popular dining times and enable people to better plan their dining experience, saving them from waiting outside restaurants.
Yelp Connect and Waitlist demonstrate Yelp’s increased focus and continued investment in developing solutions that bring value to both diners and restaurants on the platform. These products are now available for purchase by logging into the Yelp for Business Owners site or the Yelp Waitlist site.
“Yelp Connect and Waitlist have helped us become an integral partner to restaurant owners as we evolve from a business discovery platform to a destination where consumers not only discover, but also interact and transact directly with businesses,” said Devon Wright, general manager of Restaurant Marketplaces at Yelp. “We’re focused on helping restaurants build stronger relationships with customers by extending our products across the diner journey — everything from finding a restaurant, getting seated, writing reviews and staying connected afterwards.”
Yelp Connect was designed to empower restaurants to market themselves on their own terms and capture the right audience by sharing posts with new and existing diners, such as new menu items, happy hour specials and upcoming events. Restaurant owners will have full control of their updates, including setting end dates for posts about limited-time offerings. Anyone on a participating restaurants’ Yelp business page can now see updates from the business, and diners can stay in the know by following their favorite restaurants.
“Yelp Connect has given me a place to share information directly with existing and potential customers. It’s a great way to present your restaurant exactly how you want to be presented,” said Kathryn Gianaras, owner of NOVY Restaurant in San Francisco. “Being able to scroll down our page and see our own photos and updates that we posted makes us look a lot better on Yelp and is helpful for our guests to see. Plus, I like that I can set expiration dates for my posts, especially for holidays and events so I can set it and forget it.”
Chowly Partners with DoorDash
Chowly partnered with DoorDash to bring DoorDash Drive to Chowly’s restaurant clients nationwide. This partnership will provide restaurant brands of all sizes the opportunity to grow their business by offering on-demand logistics and/or streamlining existing delivery operations to accommodate for peak times, unexpected surge of orders, downtime, and service outside of standard areas.
“We’re excited to partner with Chowly and integrate our unparalleled fleet of Dashers and on-demand ordering platform with their POS solutions to help restaurants nationwide master delivery operations
Through DoorDash Drive, Chowly will enable restaurants to start accepting and fulfilling delivery orders on their native website, mobile app, or even by phone call. When delivery orders are placed, Chowly will automate the process of calling a “Dasher” (a DoorDash driver), without requiring restaurant employees to re-enter the delivery order and address into a separate tablet to call a driver.
“We are very excited to expand our POS integration offering to include delivery dispatch. By partnering with DoorDash, we will be able to provide restaurants big and small the opportunity to offer delivery through their native online ordering sites and mobile apps. This allows restaurants to market and tap into the market of direct customers who are looking for the convenience of delivery, while easing and streamlining delivery operations in the restaurant,” said Tom Lawton, Vice President of Sales at Chowly.
“We share Chowly’s vision of empowering restaurants with the best end-to-end technology to enhance off-premise operations,” said Casey North, DoorDash’s Vice President of Drive. “We’re excited to partner with Chowly and integrate our unparalleled fleet of Dashers and on-demand ordering platform with their POS solutions to help restaurants nationwide master delivery operations while maintaining their brand integrity and a deep connection to their customer base.”
With this partnership, Chowly continues to execute its overarching strategy of simplifying the full spectrum of restaurant operations, adding to its already well established POS integration solution for orders from third-party marketplaces such as DoorDash. Chowly currently integrates over 60,000 orders per day by providing POS integration to Golden Corral, Church’s Chicken, Dos Toros, Protein Bar & Kitchen, and many other brands that are taking a technology-first approach to delivery. In the coming months, Chowly plans to further expand its POS integration solutions to enhance all aspects of restaurants’ operations.
Chicken Guy! in Miami
Chicken Guy! officially opened in Miami. Located inside Aventura Mall’s Treats Food Hall, the fast/casual restaurant opened its first South Florida location today. A collaboration between celebrity chef, Guy Fieri, and restaurateur, Robert Earl, Chicken Guy! delights diners with house-made, succulent chicken tenders paired with 22 signature sauces. The opening in Miami follows the success of the restaurant’s first location at Disney Springs, which opened in Orlando at the Walt Disney World Resort in 2018.
“Winner, winner, Chicken Guy! dinner…we’re open for business at the Aventura Mall.” said Fieri, host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Fieri and Earl will open the brand's first Minnesota location this winter in the Mall of America. It will be the first Chicken Guy! to open since its first location opened in Disney Springs the summer of 2018.
“'Go Big or Go Home’ has always been my motto and when it comes to bringin’ Chicken Guy! to Mall of America, I think it’s spot on,” said Guy Fieri. “The people of Minnesota know great food and I’ve been able to try a lot of it while visiting on DDD. But now, I’m stoked to add a lit bit of my own flavor with my real deal chicken tenders and sauces."
“We are thrilled to open our fourth Chicken Guy! location in Miami and have plans to open multiple locations in the South Florida market within the next year,” said Chicken Guy co-founder, Robert Earl. “Aventura Mall is the perfect place for us to expand the brand, bringing our quality product and service to the area. We can’t wait for people to try it!”
The restaurant’s design recently won Shop! Association's Gold Fast Casual Restaurant + Graphics Award. Rough brick walls and corrugated tin ceilings provide an edgy, urban, industrial backdrop to colorful graphics. Simple illustration-style graphics throughout the restaurant can be described as “in-your-face and playful” – on brand with Fieri’s famous personality. Guy greets visitors at a selfie wall in the que area and the restaurant's differentiators are expressed with colorful graphics. Ample seating in the food hall provides a casual and comfortable dining experience for Chicken Guy! guests.
Revel Integrated Debuts
Revel Systems launched Revel Integrated, a new initiative designed to transform the company’s integrated partner network. Revel Integrated offers a set of advanced developer tools and go-to-market infrastructure for partners integrating to the Revel Essentials™ and Revel Enterprise™ POS solutions.
Revel Integrated is part of Revel’s enhanced commitment to focus on strategic partnerships and deepen support for clients. While Revel builds capabilities for all key POS functionality, Revel Integrated allows end user customers to take advantage of best of breed solutions and proficiencies tailored to the needs of their brand.
“Both Revel Essentials and Revel Enterprise provide a comprehensive set of functionality that can help restaurants and retailers thrive in today’s digital world. However, in today’s constantly evolving technology landscape, a POS platform must be able to incorporate a vast array of third-party technologies to meet diverse client requirements,” said Chris Lybeer, chief strategy and marketing officer at Revel Systems. “Our new Revel Integrated program makes it easier than ever for partners to build integrations with our POS, while providing the marketing and sales support essential to drive strong adoption.”
The strategic partner integrations made possible by Revel Integrated gives Revel clients the option to leverage new, innovative technologies by third parties such as customer loyalty, online ordering and delivery management. Current partners of Revel Integrated include Chowly (online ordering), Como (customer engagement), and Plastic Printers (gift cards), with many more in the active boarding process.
JetBlue Adds Restaurants at JFK
JetBlue plans to add seven new restaurants in its home terminal – T5 at New York’s JFK International Airport. This will mark the first major update to the airline’s T5 concession program since moving into the brand-new terminal in 2008. Like JetBlue, the new eateries, all got their start in New York City. Construction will take place this fall and later this year JetBlue will welcome Melt Shop, Otto’s Tacos, Ovenly and Shake Shack, as well as the T5 Chef’s Kitchen which will include to-go offerings from KorillaBBQ, The Little Beet and Lil’ Sweet Chick, the restaurant’s first airport outpost.
“We take our position as New York’s Hometown Airline seriously,” said Mariya Stoyanova, director product development, JetBlue. “Rather than the typical chains, we offer customers traveling through T5 a real and delicious taste of New York from places that real New Yorkers frequent. Besides wanting to showcase all that our birthplace has to offer, we remember being a New York start-up and are always looking to give back to the community that’s supported us from the very beginning. As we add new T5 restaurants, we’re using our platform to support locally-grown and up-and-coming businesses the same way the greater New York community did for us.”
The new T5 restaurants will include:
- Lil’ Sweet Chick – Along with some of the best fried chicken and waffles in New York City, Sweet Chick serves rustic but modern American comfort food including twists on classic dishes and home-baked desserts. The Lil’ Sweet Chick to-go concept will offer bites similar to the entrees available in restaurant’s locations on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and in Long Island City, Prospect Park and Williamsburg.
- KorillaBBQ – With menu items including tacos and burrito-style wraps infused with Korean flavors, KorillaBBQ began with food trucks offering an innovative take on Korean food. The original goal was to share the goodness of Korean food and culture. Now with restaurants in midtown Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn, KorillaBBQ has redefined Korean barbecue serving all-natural, healthy and fresh food.
- Melt Shop – Founded in 2011 in New York City, Melt Shop is a melted sandwich restaurant that uses only the best ingredients. As the pioneers of the melted sandwich movement, the restaurant offers a variety of melted sandwiches, tots, tenders, breakfast, beer, wine, and shakes.
- Otto’s Tacos – New York’s best Mexican taqueria isn’t just about tacos, it’s about the best tacos you’ve ever had. Tortilla are made from scratch daily topped with seasoned and seared fillings. The streamlined menu includes Street Tacos assembled on fresh masa tortillas and signature dishes like the Gorgon, and craveable sides like Masa Fries.
- Ovenly – Known for their innovative flavor combos and named New York's best bakery many times over, the company joyfully creates delicious treats that intersect that magical place between savory and sweet (think currant-rosemary scones or pistachio-cardamom cake).
- Shake Shack – Born in Madison Square Park in Manhattan, this modern day “roadside” burger stand is known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, chicken sandwiches and flat-top Vienna beef dogs (no hormones or antibiotics – ever), spun-fresh frozen custard, crinkle cut fries and more.
- The Little Beet – Where wellness meets freshness, The Little Beet was founded with one simple philosophy: to serve real food, deliciously. Inspired by local, seasonal and natural ingredients, the restaurant created a menu that offers wholesome food that makes you feel good about eating it, and even better after.
“These seven new restaurants will help bring the best of New York right to Terminal 5 and are another wonderful example of how the Port Authority and JetBlue are committed to providing a world-class experience for customers with a vibrant local sensibility,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.
In addition to terminal mainstays – 5ivesteak, Artichoke Pizza, Deep Blue Sushi, Piquillo, and several other concessions that represent the wide range of flavors of New York's culinary scene, the newest tastes of T5 will provide visitors and residents alike with a sampling of the best of the Big Apple.
Pinkbox's New Design
Pinkbox Doughnuts®, known for its creative, over-the-top doughnuts, has revealed playful new design, top photo, with the opening of its third shop, located at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave. in Las Vegas.
“We designed our newest Pinkbox Doughnuts to immerse our customers in a whimsical environment inspired by our doughnuts,” said Judith Siegel, owner of Pinkbox Doughnuts. “We want our guests to feel like they are in a box filled with our colorful doughnuts; it’s a Pinkbox paradise.”
Wrapped in shades of pink from top to bottom, the new Pinkbox showcases signature details throughout the shop, including walls that appear to be dripping in pink frosting, a wall filled with the word, “pinkbox,” and a pink neon sign displaying, “Every day is a good day for a doughnut.” A miniature, doughnut-shaped table with a circular hoop and accompanying chairs comes with a bean bag toss game for Pinkbox’s smallest patrons.
Designed to showcase the doughnuts as works of art, the new, oversized cases display hundreds of Pinkbox’s colorful doughnuts, from classic selections such as apple fritters and old fashioned doughnuts to signature creations such as Unicorn, Pooh®, Shaka™, Flaming Red Head, topped with Flaming Hot Cheetos®; the Station Wagon, a white frosted yeast bar filled with Butterfinger whipped cream and topped with Butterfinger crumbles; and PINKY™, Pooh’s pink counterpart and the face of Pinkbox. Other selections include DoughCros®, doughnuts made with light, flaky croissant dough, and a featured “doughnut of the month.” Everything at Pinkbox is made fresh daily and with no preservatives, including house-made ingredients such as sizzling cured bacon to top Porky, a maple bacon doughnut bar; and fresh fruit fillings for the Raspberry Squeeze jelly doughnut.
With the opening of the new shop, Pinkbox has debuted a signature line of vegan doughnuts. They include the Vegan Bar, a classic glazed doughnut bar; the Chocoholic, a chocolate doughnut topped with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips; and the Silly Rabbit, a carrot cake doughnut made with crushed raisins and topped with a buttercream frosting and cinnamon. Pinkbox has also introduced new merchandise, including crop-top sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, hooded sweatshirts, customizable stickers and “squishy balls” made in the likeness of PINKY®.
Iterable Releases Catalog
Iterable, a cross-channel growth marketing platform released Catalog, away to customize campaigns leveraging large amounts of previously unavailable contextual metadata.
The Iterable platform enables brands to create a unified customer experience by orchestrating seamless engagement across email, mobile push, SMS, in-app and other messaging channels.
Now Iterable Catalog offers marketers an intuitive way to design dynamic content recommendations from multiple criteria, derived from profile, behavior, application, geolocation data and more.
For instance, imagine a food delivery business wants to showcase the most popular restaurants to customers. Each of its users maintain their own preferences, live in different locations, and have different dietary restrictions.
In this case, the food delivery business would use Iterable Catalog to personalize restaurant recommendations by creating the category "Restaurants" and segment on the specific sets of criteria it would like to include—criteria like restaurant ratings, popularity scores, or even geolocation data. An example of an individualized content recommendation could be: "vegetarian restaurants with a rating of 9 that are located near me." Based on the specific criteria, anyone can generate lists of restaurants that complement its customers' profile data in a matter of minutes, with limitless options, the company said.
Atkinson Named Executive Chef
Executive Chef Kevin Atkinson was named Executive Chef at Chicago's Sable Kitchen & Bar. He brings more than 20 years of culinary experience and a flair for honest, creative and approachable cooking stemming from his Southern roots. Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, Chef Atkinson’s passion for cooking began at an early age while spending summers with his grandparents. He keenly watched them tend to and harvest their garden, which led to his first food love of sweet Silver Queen creamed corn.
Upon graduating from culinary school, Chef Atkinson relocated to Chicago in 2004. He gained vast experience in both fine dining and more approachable refined dining while re-concepting multiple restaurants, including an in-house charcuterie program at the Omni Chicago Hotel, State and Lake Chicago Tavern at theWit Hotel and ETA Restaurant + Bar and Streeterville Social at the Loews Downtown Chicago Hotel.
Alvarez Promoted at Hard Rock
Hard Rock International appointed Elena Alvarez to Vice President of Sales & Marketing – Company Cafes. Alvarez, who has been with Hard Rock® for nearly 14 years, previously held the position of Director of Sales & Marketing, Europe, where she managed Sales & Marketing for Hard Rock Cafe® locations in 13 countries across the continent, aligning the organization’s objectives with business strategy through active participation in corporate strategic planning, sales strategy development, forecasting, sales resource planning and budgeting for 24 Hard Rock Cafe locations throughout Europe.
In her new role, Alvarez will be responsible for the entire Sales & Marketing function for Cafe Operations, including 43 Cafes in North America and 24 Cafes in Europe. She will report directly to David Pellow, Senior Vice President of Cafe Operations at Hard Rock International.
“Elena has developed extensive senior level managerial experience with our company and is one of our most qualified Directors,” said Stephen K. Judge, President of Cafe Operations at Hard Rock International. “We are confident in her ability to thrive in her new role and look forward to the contributions she will continue to make to the organization.”
Alvarez began her career with Hard Rock as Sales & Marketing Manager of Hard Rock Cafe Barcelona in April 2005 and after three years, was promoted to the Regional Sales & Marketing Manager role based in London. During her time in Europe, Alvarez developed creative strategic initiatives for all European Cafes, leveraging hospitality and entertainment relationships to drive top line Cafe and retail sales, while heightening consumer awareness.
Throughout her tenure with Hard Rock, Alvarez has assisted in the implementation of Sales & Marketing structure in nine new Hard Rock Cafe locations across Europe. Further, she has been instrumental in the success Hard Rock Cafe anniversaries, grand openings, events and concerts in iconic locations throughout Europe. She has also been a member of the Hard Rock Heals Foundation Grants Advisory Council, part of the charitable arm of Hard Rock International, since 2017.
Alvarez also helped to establish a collaboration between Hard Rock Cafe and the Vicente Ferrer Foundation in Europe. Throughout this collaboration, which remained intact from 2006 through 2016, Alvarez and her team helped to better the community through actions such as building schools and homes for those in need, delivering thousands of bicycles to high school students, collaborating with special education centers to serve hundreds of children with mental disability or cerebral palsy and financing medical equipment for Bathalapalli Hospital, which helps more than two hundred thousand patients annually.