Greene Turtle Goes Straw Free and the Sani Awards

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille®, The Shake and Burger Bar,  The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, F&Co, Sani Professional, Back Bar USA and Mina Group, Chipotle, Paytronix and Peet’s Coffee and ezCater.

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Greene Turtle Going Straw Free

Starting on World Turtle Day, May 23, The Greene Turtle Sports Bar and Grille® went straw free, in an effort to protect marine life. Over 500 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States. By going straw free, The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille® is saving over 7 million plastic straws from entering the ecosystem. Biodegradable straws, provided by Aardvark straws, will be available for certain beverages and upon request.

Greene Turtle

In support of the restaurant’s effort, Diageo, a global leader in beverage alcohol with a vast collection of brands across spirits and beer, will donate $1 of every bottle of Naked Turtle Rum sold at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille® to the Sea Turtle Conservancy to help promote awareness about the different species of sea turtles and the various threats to their survival. A few of the signature drinks at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille® featuring Naked Turtle Rum include: “Original Blood Orange Hell in the Shell” (Naked Turtle White Rum, Tequila, Gin, Cranberry, Sprite, Blood Orange Sour, Peach Schnapps and New Amsterdam Vodka); “Hurricane Hell in the Shell” (Naked Turtle White Rum, Southern Comfort, Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice,  Pineapple Juice, Citrus Sour and Grenadine); and the “Light & Stormy” (Naked Turtle White Rum, Bitters and Gosling’s Ginger Beer).

“The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille® values protecting marine life,” saidLayla Nielsen, Senior Director of Marketing at The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille®. “We are excited to do our part by skipping the straw and helping reduce the number of plastic straws in the ecosystem.”

Shake and Burger Bar Opens

The Shake and Burger Bar opened at 344 Third Ave., in the Kips Bay neighborhood of New York City under the direction of restaurant consultant Eddie Fahmy of A2Z Restaurant Consulting. The 344 Group offers gourmet burgers, “insane” shakes and an assortment of  American classics. The  signature burger, dubbed the Stuffed Cheeseburger, features a special blend of hanger steak, brisket, short rib and prime chuck stuffed with cheddar and American cheeses, served on a black activated charcoal bun. Unique to the new restaurant, the black activated charcoal buns are sourced from a local bakery in neighboring Astoria.

Stuffed Burger

Other concoctions include the Truffle Mac N Cheese Burger, a half-pound burger topped with truffle mac n cheese and Applewood smoked bacon served on a pretzel bun; the Caribbean Burger, a half-pound burger topped with cheddar, fried queso blanco, fried egg and pickled red onion served on a plantain bun; and the Black N Blue Burger, a half-pound blackened burger topped with crumbled blue cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and Cajun aioli served on a black bun. For the non-meat eaters, a salmon and a veggie burger are available. 

Juniors Cheesecake Shake

Beyond the burgers, a staple offering of The Shake and Burger Bar features specialty “insane” shakes. Top choices include: The Salty Nut, a chocolate ice cream and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup shake topped with peanut butter cake, chocolate covered pretzels, salty pretzel sticks, peanut butter cookie and sprinkles; The Oreo Brownie, a vanilla ice cream and Oreo shake topped with cookie dough, chocolate syrup, marshmallow, M&M’s, Rice Krispie Treat, Oreo cookies and sprinkles; and the Junior’s Cheesecake Raspberry Milkshake, a vanilla ice cream shake topped with Junior’s Cheesecake, raspberry sauce, graham crackers, red sprinkles and fresh whipped cream. Three “insane drunken” shakes are available, the signature being the Fireball Cinnamon Toast Crunch Shake, a vanilla ice cream shake with a shot of Fireball and RumChata mixed in with Cinnamon Toast crunch, topped with a cinnamon bun, churro and drizzled with vanilla frosting. Plain vanilla, chocolate and strawberry shakes are also Prices range from $7.50 to $17.

The Shake and Burger Bar

Inside The Shake and Burger Bar you’ll find street art images of James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, a sleek industrial design, a circular bar and multiple TVs.

SWRG Debuts in Suburbs

The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc. (SWRG), a collection of American steakhouses headquartered in Boston, has opened its first suburban setting in the town of Wellesley. 

Smith & Wollensky © 2018 Galdones Photography

“We are excited to introduce our first suburban restaurant and bring a taste of ‘America’s Steakhouse’ to the town of Wellesley and surrounding areas,” said Michael Feighery, CEO & President of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. “As a Boston-based brand, our local community is near and dear to us. The team has been passionately working on this special location to deliver a suburban adaptation of our brand to loyal guests who live in and around Wellesley and serving new patrons as well.”

The Wellesley team is led by General Manager Peter Baker, coming from the Smith & Wollensky Boston Atlantic Wharf location. Baker has worked in the restaurant leadership scene in Boston for over 15 years. The culinary team is headed by National Corporate Executive Chef Matt King, a Metro-West native who has overseen the Smith & Wollensky Group culinary operation since 2010, along with newly appointed Wellesley Executive Chef Andrew Beer. Christian Gianaris leads the wine and cocktail program as Wine Manager, and Private Events and Sales Manager Joseph Bittner oversees private events and sales operations, both joining the Wellesley team from the Smith & Wollensky Boston Atlantic Wharf location as well.

The menu features USDA Prime steaks and signature filets sustainably produced by Double R Ranch, hand-butchered and further enriched through in-house dry aging for 28 days, including a bone-in ribeye and New York cut. Luxurious steak enhancements include lobster tail, Alaskan king crab and foie gras truffle butter. A rotisserie menu  is exclusive to the Wellesley location, offering slow roasted prime rib, organic chickens flavored with black truffle, whole branzino stuffed with fresh herbs and lemon, and Colorado lamb with romesco. The rotisserie was custom built in Chelles, France by French manufacturer Rotisol, leading innovators of advanced rotisserie design for nearly 65 years.

Seafood items include signature shellfish towers brimming with lobster, Alaskan king crab, jumbo shrimp, oysters and clams paired with classic cocktail sauce, cognac mustard sauce, ginger sauce and sherry mignonette, with sharing options for two, four, and six guests; and raw bar selections and seasonal seafood entrees such as barbecue yellowfin tuna. An array of salad options offer add-on proteins such as steak tips, grilled garlic shrimp, pan-seared scallops and tuna. Bar fare choices feature chilled shellfish and casual selections such as the Wollensky’s butcher burger, French dip and an assortment of sliders, including Wollensky’s sliders, filet and crab cake. 

The restaurant offers craft cocktails including a Paloma Rosa, Aviation, Pear Ginger Martini, and a highlighted signature barrel-aged Negroni, as well as classic steakhouse Martinis and Manhattans.  A robust wine list has been designed by Wine Manager Christian Gianaris, including a wide breadth of domestic and international selections offered both by the bottle and the glass. A Coravin wine system allows the offering of a few select premium wines to be poured by the glass, such as Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon and Opus One “Overture” – wines traditionally only offered in bottle format. The restaurant features a custom glass-enclosed Sub-Zerowine refrigeration system, engineered to maintain the perfect temperature and humidity for whites, reds and sparkling wines. While the glass doors allow guests to see every beautiful bottle, no light reaches the wine, ensuring supreme quality in every bottle and glass served.

Smith & Wollensky © 2018 Galdones Photography

Designed by Boston-based restaurant architect designer, Peter Niemitz of Niemitz Design Group, the steakhouse spreads across one floor for an open concept plan, with an interactive expo kitchen. Drawing from the inspiration of the classic American fine dining steakhouse, the restaurant features a rich design scheme of dark mahogany woods, green, saddle and black leathers and custom lighting.  The 225-seat main dining room is surrounded by a 24-seat bar, with bar dining, a unique dining bar facing the extraordinary Exhibition Kitchen, and three private dining rooms that combined can accommodate up to 100 guests.  The design is the evolution of the original Smith & Wollensky concept, now more open and communal with a more relaxed attitude.  Seasonal outdoor seating is situated along Washington Street.  

In addition to Peter Niemitz, the restaurant group partnered with an esteemed lineup of Greater Boston area collaborators to create the new restaurant space: TriMark, a local company based in Attleboro, designed the kitchen; Clarke Kitchen, the exclusive brand caretakers for Sub-Zero appliances in New England, produced the custom Sub-Zero wine refrigeration system; Construction Management & Builders, Inc. (CM&B) constructed the restaurant; and Hospitality experts Stys Hospitality Initiative (SHI), led the project management.

Celebrating 40 years as America’s classic steakhouse, the original Smith & Wollensky location opened in 1977 in New York City. The brand has expanded to seven locations across the top cities in America, including Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Houston, and Miami Beach, as well as their first international location in London.  The restaurant hosted a grand opening preview party on May 23 with a portion of cash bar proceeds supporting the Wellesley Softball Improvement Committee “Field of Dreams” Campaign.

Smith & Wollensky Wellesley is located at 583 Washington Street near the popular shopping and dining destination, Wellesley Square, and just off of Route 9.

Boutique F&B Branding

Susie Fogelson, a food marketing strategist, launched F&Co, a boutique consultancy that delivers brand and content strategy, storytelling concepts and experiential recommendations to companies across the food and beverage arena. Fogelson is well-known for leading marketing and brand strategy at Food Network and Cooking Channel for more than 15 years.

Susie Fogelson

Throughout her tenure, Fogelson developed creative programs to propel brands forward and drive revenue by helping them engage with avid food connected consumers through entertainment and strategic partnerships. Her unique ability to leverage consumer insights and spot emerging trends were critical to Food Networkand Cooking Channel’s success. Fogelson also appeared as a judge for more than a decade on Next Food Network Star, one of the network’s most highly-rated shows, and a talent discovery vehicle.

“We launched F&Co with a singular focus: to help brands engage with the food connected consumer – a segment that we were very influential in creating at Food Network,” explains Fogelson. “The strength of our work comes from an understanding of this audience and food culture, combined with an ability to translate our insights into actionable programs and initiatives to reinforce the brand’s proposition and maximize its potential.”

Fogelson has teamed up with award-winning creative director Gary Nelson to show clients how they can bring storytelling strategies to life. Several companies have already tapped into New York City-based F&Co for insights and strategic counsel, including Applebee’s, Kantar for Nestlé and AB InBev, and start-up The Abbott’s Butcher, a promising new entry in the exciting plant-based protein category.

“In addition to her formidable expertise and experience, Susie brought a fresh perspective and a creative approach to solving our issues,” said Javier Balaguera, Executive Director, International Marketing, Applebee’s and IHOP. “She was able to identify trends and translate them into scalable and executable tactics that helped distinguish us from our competition.”

“Both established and fledgling brands need to operate with an intimate understanding of the dynamic trends that can make or break their success,” added Fogelson. “That may mean transforming along with grocery to more omnichannel commerce models, or reestablishing relevance where snacking has disrupted traditional mealtimes, or taking a closer look at how consumer demand for convenience and transparency suggests new products or approaches.”

The company has also released a 2018 Food Trends Report and launched “À la carte,” a weekly food news round-up. A video series offering unique insights into food trends and food connected consumers is in the works.

In addition to helping brands identify their storytelling strategy, F&Co will help upcoming talent develop their personal brands and points-of-view for pursuing food-related entertainment and partnership opportunities.

“Every company has a food story and successful brands understand that food marketing is very much about entertainment. Finding ways to tell a story through digital/social channels, live experiences and strategic partnerships is critical in today’s marketplace,” said Fogelson.

Sani Award Winners

Sani Professional, the food safety division of Professional Disposables International (PDI), and the Sani Professional Food Safety Advisory Council (SPFSAC) announced the winners of the fourth annual Sani Awards™ award program.  The Sani Awards award program celebrates innovation and excellence in food safety and promotes best practices within the foodservice industry for education/training, employee/customer programs and guest experience.   

The winners by category are:

Category A:  Outstanding Food Safety Program Innovation

Robert Clayton/Michael Cox of the Lombardi Family Concepts won for the implementation of a CASPR Group surface disinfection technology, providing continuous sanitizing of their ice machines.  The Lombardi Family Concepts own and manage 17 restaurant locations across the United States and Mexico.  They strive to maintain the highest standard in food safety and customer experience.  The implementation of the CASPR technology resulted in a major reduction of ice machine maintenance cleaning and reduced the total fungal count 99.99%.

Category B: Exceptional Food Safety Education and/or Training Program Implementation

ATC’s April Rivas of Manteca, CA won for her organizations training and mentoring of small business and start up foodservice operations in the food safety operational and regulatory segments.  April and her team have certified over 2,000 food operators in the last year alone!  Additionally, ATC has helped over 20 small businesses with compliance and SOP regulatory issues as well as conducted private audits in over 500 business in more than 30 states.

Category C:  Leadership in Food Safety

Awarded to Matthew Barone of Kearny High School, Kearny, NJ.  Over the last 7 years, Matt has developed and implemented a food safety program at Kearny High School Culinary Arts Program.  He has tutored over 300 students annually to earn their ServSafe certificate and 2000 students over the life of the program.  With a 90 percentsuccess rating year over year, the Kearny High School Culinary Arts Program has been widely accepted at area culinary schools, developing the next generation of Foodservice Professionals.

Back Bar USA Teams with Mina Group

Back Bar USA, a full-service marketing and consulting firm is partnering with award-winning chef Michael Mina’s restaurant company, Mina Group.

PABU Boston

Back Bar USA will work with Mina Group’s eclectic portfolio of more than 30 restaurants, including Bourbon Steak and PABU Boston, to identify partnership opportunities with upscale beverage and spirits brands. “There is a tremendous opportunity with Mina Group’s innovative, contemporary concepts to implement strategic partnerships with sought-after brands, from boutique labels to some of the biggest names in beverage, wine and spirits,” said Tim Haughinberry, Founder of Back Bar USA.

“We look forward to integrating Back Bar USA’s expertise into our varied beverage programs,” said Benito Martinez, Director of Beverage at Mina Group. “Working together, we look to introduce new events and beverage offerings that will add to the overall guest experience at all of our restaurants.”

Back Bar USA will work with each of Mina Group’s concepts in cities throughout the United States and in Dubai to tailor specific programs to each restaurant, while working with the strength of the company as a whole through purchasing and marketing initiatives.

Chipotle to Relocate HQ

Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to relocate its headquarters, currently in Denver, Colorado, to Newport Beach, California. Functions within the current Denver office will either be consolidated in Chipotle’s existing office in Columbus, Ohio or moved to the new headquarters in Newport Beach.

“We have a tremendous opportunity at Chipotle to shape the future of our organization and drive growth through our new strategy,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive officer at Chipotle. “In order to align the structure around our strategic priorities, we are transforming our culture and building world-class teams to revitalize the brand and enable our long-term success,” Niccol added.

“We’ll always be proud of our Denver roots where we opened our first restaurant 25 years ago. The consolidation of offices and the move to California will help us drive sustainable growth while continuing to position us well in the competition for top talent,” said Niccol.

Over the next six months, Chipotle will transition its Denver and New York office functions to Newport Beach and Columbus. Newport Beach will serve as the headquarters for the company’s operations, business development, marketing, communications, finance, supply chain, food safety, technology, HR and other corporate functions. The support functions will be located in the Shared Services Center in Columbus. Following this transition, Chipotle will close its Denver and New York City offices.

This move will affect approximately 400 employees in Denver and New York in Q4 2018, with some being offered relocation and retention packages. The 70,000 field operations and restaurant employees are not part of this reorganization.

By consolidating shared services into the existing Columbus office, Chipotle will grow its workforce there from 100 to over 250 employees. Consolidating in Columbus provides access to high-quality talent and offers cost advantages to support Chipotle’s standardized business operations.

Chipotle chief finance officer Jack Hartung said, “The standardization and consolidation of systems and processes into one location will greatly benefit our company and our shareholders. Through technology and the consolidation of talent, we’ll create a world class Shared Services Center with increased productivity and quality services supporting our employees and our restaurants.”

Peet’s Wins Paytronix Loyalty Award

Peet’s Coffee won the 2018 Paytronix Loyaltee Award for Best Loyalty Restaurant Launch. The Peetnik rewards program grew 350 percent in just six months after the Emeryville, CA-based company relaunched on the Paytronix platform across Peet’s 240+ coffeebar locations. Peet’s Coffee needed to overhaul its Peetnik Rewards program, which was constrained in many ways. The underlying platform was unreliable and frequently crashed, causing a loss of trust among both customers and store teams. Management was hesitant to roll it out full fleet for fear that it would create a negative customer experience.

Paytronix developed custom iOS and Android apps for Peet’s, enabling Peetnik Rewards members to check in and pay in one quick and easy scan at the POS – shaving valuable seconds off the transaction. Members can also select the rewards they want to redeem during the transaction, removing the process from the hands of the cashier.

The stable Paytronix platform helped Peet’s to win back the trust of both its customers and team members.

Just six months after the Paytronix integration, Peet’s saw:

  • A 350 percent increase in Peetnik Rewards membership,
  • Loyalty check penetration increased by 47 percent,
  • A top performing offer drive +1.5 percent in retail comp sales,
  • A sustained positive relationship between loyalty penetration and traffic trends at the Regional and District level
  • Peetnik Rewards digital gift cards drove 47 percent of the total gift card business growth in 2017.

“Before Paytronix, Peet’s was guessing at offers and had minimal insight into its loyalty program performance. With Paytronix, Peet’s tests and measures everything with control groups, and we talk with our team about how best to structure offers. We can see how frequently a customer comes in and what they like to buy, and target campaigns in a more one-to-one manner, based on their lifecycle stage and behavior,” said Lisa Regelman, Director, Loyalty at Peet’s Coffee.

ezCater Launches ezDispatch

ezCater launched ezDispatch, a new offering that connects restaurants and caterers to third-party delivery companies in their area. The service meets the delivery and set-up standards required for business catering orders. Every ezDispatch delivery partner is vetted and tested to ensure reliability and professionalism. ezDispatch is currently available in 50 major markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. ezCater’s target for year-end is to offer the service to 100 markets.

ezDispatch is the latest addition to ezCater’s products that help restaurant operators grow their catering business. Restaurants can choose to use ezDispatch “on demand” to book delivery on a per-order basis or can automatically rely on ezDispatch for every ezCater order.

“ezDispatch has enabled us to take on a higher volume of catering orders than ever before,” said Steven Vastakis, Director of Sales and Catering at Newk’s Eatery. “It’s refreshing to find a partner that has the same high bar for service and experience that we do. I know I can trust the drivers ezDispatch connects us with and I know my brand will be represented well.”

“We’re making catering delivery easy and reliable,” said Jim Rand, Catering Practice Leader at ezCater. “Catering orders are more complex than consumer orders. They’re bigger in size and value and the customer has different expectations. ezDispatch addresses those complexities, and it does so while maintaining the brand integrity of our partners.”