HotSchedules Introduces Clarifi and the Spookiest Restaurants

MRM’s Daily Bite has news from HotSchedules, CardTek,  TripAdvisor,  Food Rescue US and OpenTable. Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at 

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HotSchedules Launches Clarifi

HotSchedules®, launched Clarifi™ –  the first cloud-based intelligent restaurant operating platform specifically designed to help operators, managers and their teams prepare and perform in the face of the unpredictable.


Through its Foundation, Labor, Inventory, Financials & Cash, Asset Management and Talent Development modules, Clarifi was designed to solve the people, product and operational challenges restaurateurs face. Built around intelligent workflow, Clarifi provides actionable insights that maximize the effectiveness of managers and their teams so they can consistently provide the great products and levels of service that keep customers coming back, according to HotSchedules.

“We understand that at the heart of a great restaurant is a great management team. But great managers are in short supply,” said Mike Arenth, Chief Executive Officer at HotSchedules. “We built Clarifi to help managers plan for the expected, but also effectively navigate the dynamic realities of running today’s restaurants.  We do this by helping them make better decisions, faster.”

Clarifi leverages key data that a restaurant collects every day to serve up actionable insights.

Those decision-making capabilities begin at the core of the platform, Clarifi Foundation, which marries business rules with internal and external data, flexible reporting capabilities and intelligent workflow. When modules like Inventory and Labor are combined with Foundation, managers can access data and event-driven advanced forecasting capabilities, build and share dynamic reports, and receive actionable insights that not only signal there’s a problem, but suggest solutions to solve it. As managers make better decisions, they are more equipped to identify revenue generating opportunities, drive consistent operations, control costs, and maintain compliance.

Similar to the way a smartphone app uses GPS to re-route drivers when there’s a traffic accident, Clarifi leverages key data that a restaurant collects every day to serve up actionable insights – or recommendations – so that even an unseasoned manager can make decisions like an experienced one.

“As we relaunch the Logan’s Roadhouse brand, our whole focus is on cultivating our culture through our people and enabling them to be successful,” said John LaPorte, Chief Information Officer at Logan’s Roadhouse. “Already, with the Clarifi Talent Development solution we’re seeing great energy and results. Our CEO likes to go in and see the successes – those micro-moments of culture at work – and then he uses the social features to shine a light and give praise to those teams doing the right things to drive the right results. The HotSchedules team feels like an extension of ours, and we’re excited to continue to grow and empower our teams with this strong partnership and the innovative Clarifi platform and modules that we will be rolling out in the coming months.”

Designed for restaurant brands ranging from a few stores all the way up to major restaurant chains with thousands of locations across the globe, Clarifi’s modular architecture is built to scale and also integrate with existing systems restaurateurs have already deployed. Some capabilities include:

  • Restaurant managers need to know in advance when sudden weather changes are going to happen so that they can create or edit the schedule. With Clarifi, a restaurant manager receives an Insight when the current weather changes from sunny to a sudden localized storm. The manager then asks staff to prep the patio for weather, tells a server who was going to have overtime that day that they can leave and moves the patio servers inside to handle the increased volume. Great example of how one simple insight can help managers make several key decisions that have a positive impact on the bottom line and revenue opportunities.
  • A manager receives an Insight about an employee who is underpaid compared to their peers who have similar sales trends. The manager can use that insight to give their employee a raise and reduce turnover / improve retention of a great employee who drives sales.
  • A manager receives an Insight that they have too much chicken on hand. They double check their recent inventory count data and use historical data to see which past menu items with chicken were popular sellers and what the promotion was for that chicken dish and re-run the same promotion.
  • Restaurant managers can receive an Insight about lower prices for an inventory item at an alternate vendor, so they can reduce food cost by purchasing from an alternate vendor
  • A manager receives an Insight that there will be a shortage of staff based on projected volume, overtime numbers, plus the restaurant’s turnover trends to project that they will need to hire. The manager can plan a career day or increase advertising to attract more candidates.
  • If an employee is underperforming, managers can receive insights about that particular staff member so they can be aware and provide more training to help them succeed.

Clarifi’s open API along with standard POS integrations make it possible for IT teams to connect disparate, legacy systems and give in-store teams, franchise partners and above-store leaders an aggregated view of data across the whole organization – reducing the expensive maintenance and development costs typically associated with traditional back office and business intelligence systems.

“HotSchedules has a long history of helping the world’s largest brands and emerging concepts enable and empower their teams to optimize and control costs, drive consistency, reduce compliance risk and grow top line revenue,” added Arenth. “For too long there’s been complacency with fragmented back office technology that hasn’t delivered insights and intelligence to help operators and managers perform at their best. This is a big moment for us and our industry because Clarifi will, once and for all, be the connected, intelligent operating platform that turns good managers into great managers.” 

TripAdvisor Starts TripAdvisor Ads for Restaurants

TripAdvisor launched TripAdvisor Ads for restaurants, offering owners the opportunity to promote their business to millions of potential diners by driving traffic to their TripAdvisor listing through sponsored placements.

 According to the National Restaurant Association, U.S. restaurant industry sales are expected to exceed more than $799 billion in 2017, with an average of three percent of total revenues being applied toward marketing budgets. For the first time, TripAdvisor is now providing independent restaurants and restaurant groups with the ability to reach more of their customers via cost-per-click sponsored ad placements within the site’s native search results.

TripAdvisor’s 2017 Restaurant Marketing Study revealed that the vast majority (85 percent) of U.S. restaurant owners believe they should be doing more to promote their restaurant. Restaurateurs worldwide also reported that online listings like TripAdvisor were among the top three most effective marketing channels for driving more traffic to their business. TripAdvisor Ads is a direct response to this growing marketplace need, providing a quick and easy way for owners to engage directly with potential customers.

Diners searching for the perfect place to eat can continue to rely on reviews of restaurants and customer photos to help them in their decision-making, as well as a popularity ranking driven by review and bubble ratings and not by a commercial arrangement with TripAdvisor. In addition to reviews and a restaurant’s placement within their popularity ranking, TripAdvisor Ads enable owners to buy targeted advertising slots on desktop and mobile web, sending customers directly to their restaurant listing. 

Unlike digital marketing on other sites, TripAdvisor Ads reach diners who are actively searching for restaurants in a specified area. Ads also target diners based on their search selection queries inclusive of categories such as average meal price, cuisine type and timing of meals such as breakfast, lunch or dinner. These paid media placements ensure that restaurant owners are only paying for clicks from valuable consumers interested in their specific business. Diners will see ads appear in the first spot of a relevant restaurant category on TripAdvisor, as well as in the top spot of relevant restaurant search results.

“We want to provide restaurant owners with the best possible suite of products and solutions to entice and convert potential diners into loyal customers,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, senior vice president, TripAdvisor Restaurants. “We launched our Premium for Restaurants subscription service at the end of 2016 to help owners better showcase their business to prospective diners. Now with TripAdvisor Ads, we are providing them with another way to increase their visibility through targeted sponsored placements. Whether you operate a Michelin star fine-dining restaurant or a popular neighborhood deli, this solution ensures that your restaurant’s ad will be displayed to relevant diners at the optimal moment. Supported by more than 28 languages, both travelers and locals browsing TripAdvisor can be sure they are always able to find the perfect restaurant, whether at home or on-the-go.”

Cardtek Partners with TableSafe

Cardtek partnered with TableSafe Inc. to assist with payment industry security compliance and to help TableSafe streamline EMV certification of the RAIL™ payment platform. Cardtek provides EMV Contact and Contactless Level 2 Kernel software, integration, and certification, enabling transactions at any EMV or contactless terminal. Cardtek’s US-based team has been providing EMV L2 Kernel solutions for more than 15 years. TableSafe, Inc.’s RAIL™ payment platform just achieved EMV certification and was approved to process chip and signature payments.

Steve McKean
Steve McKean

“Cardtek’s experience and insight has been invaluable to our EMV certification effort,” said Steve McKean, President of TableSafe. “They will continue to play a critical advisor role as we deliver the first EMV-certified pay-at-the-table solution that’s designed specifically for the full-service restaurant industry.”

The EMV liability shift exposes full-service restaurants to an increase in chargebacks, which can negatively impact their bottom line. Until now, full-service restaurant operators have not had a solution certified to accept EMV cards using a pay-at-the-table format. TableSafe has broken down this barrier, providing an EMV-ready solution that blends seamlessly with normal table service.

The low-profile RAIL is an easy to use device housed inside a patented billfold that replicates the traditional leather folio commonly used by full-service restaurants to deliver guests’ checks. Once the billfold is opened, this payment agnostic platform enables guests to securely self-pay with their credit card or Samsung Pay® – and soon will offer the ability to pay with other mobile apps, including Apple Pay® and Android Pay®. It also allows guests to auto-calculate tips, split the bill multiple ways, and receive email receipts. Once the payment process is complete, the RAIL enables guests to provide real-time feedback on their dining experience, enabling the restaurant to gain valuable insights on their food and service.

“TableSafe is setting a new standard for pay-at-the-table technology in the hospitality industry and we’re very excited to play a role in helping the company achieve EMV certification of the RAIL payment platform,” said Ayse Sarigollu, Chairwoman at Cardtek. “This is the future of payments for full-service restaurants.”

Food Rescue Adds Android App

Food Rescue US, the volunteer driven, direct transfer, national food recovery organization,  has launched the Android version of their award winning app; the IOS version is already available in the App Store. FRUS is focused on transferring healthy, usable foods to where it can feed those in need. This volunteer driven, technology fueled process coordinates with restaurants, grocers, bakeries, caterers and other food-service organizations, who have foods destined to be thrown away, and delivers the food to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations serving food insecure individuals and families.

Established in 2011, Food Rescue US specializes in large scale, grassroots, fresh food recovery resulting in equally large scale waste reduction. Currently operating in more than a dozen locations around the country, to date the organization has rescued and delivered over 20 million meals, saving 31.2 million pounds of food from landfill, at an estimated value of $52.7 million.

Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Mullins stated, “We’re excited to be available on Android phones, now anyone can be a part of joining or forming a food rescue community where they live. The simple solution to ending local hunger just became that much simpler.”

The technology empowers individuals or food industry organizations, nonprofit and for profit alike, to start a new food rescue community or expand an existing food rescue program. Unique characteristics include:

  • A complete view of food rescue schedule through the Volunteer Food Rescuer Portal
  • Simple sign up for food rescues at the volunteer’s convenience
  • Following the Food Rescue Matching algorithm based on supply, demand, capacity and distance
  • Allowing Food Donors to list and track their food donations through the Food Donor Portal
  • Allowing front line hunger relief organizations to list their specific needs and track the food they receive through the Receiving Agency Portal.
Spookiest Restaurants in America

OpenTable listed  the 13 Spookiest Restaurants in America. Spanning from coast-to-coast, each of these restaurants denote a wide variety of cuisine and culture, served with a side of fun and fright.

In the spirit of the season, these restaurants pay homage to their histories and haunted pasts with delicious seasonal fare and ample storytelling.

The Pirate’s House in Savannah, GA has some of the best Halloween décor in the South. It’s also home to a host of mysterious underground tunnels.

“Each restaurant featured in this curated list has a story that celebrates and evokes the mystery, magic and superstition of Halloween,” says Caroline Potter, Chief Dining Officer of OpenTable. “Diners will not only be able to immerse themselves in the spirit of the season, but also receive a stellar dining experience.”

  • Cascades Restaurant and Lounge – Stanley Hotel; Estes Park, CO: “Come with us” on a weekend jaunt to this quaint, countryside hotel restaurant just as Stephen King did while working on The Shining.
  • Chelsea’s Chowder House – The Queen Mary; Long Beach, CA: Chelsea’s sits aboard The Queen Mary, a former WWII vessel where a nefarious cook is said to have used “special ingredients” in his dishes, curiously after several sailors went missing.
  • FireflyStudio City, CA: This quiet eatery summons the undead each year, transforming itself into an eerie retreat for Halloween spirits and guests, complete with themed dishes and décor.  
  • Muriel’s Jackson SquareNew Orleans, LA: Though the Séance Lounge at Muriel’s retains the spirit of a man who lost the estate in a card game, the contemporary Creole cuisine is anything but haunted.
  • The Olde Pink House RestaurantSavannah, GA: Delve into the heart of Savannah at this restaurant that sits inside the Planters Inn hotel, an 18th century mansion said to be occupied by several Southern spirits.
  • One if by Land, Two if By Sea – New York, NY: This cozy restaurant is the former carriage house of Aaron Burr who famously ended Alexander Hamilton’s life. To this day, it’s purportedly haunted by him and his daughter – in addition to twenty different ghosts from varying time periods.  
  • The Pirate’s HouseSavannah, GA: One of the oldest and reportedly one of the most haunted buildings in all of Savannah, The Pirate’s House diners and staff have reported shadow figures and ghostly apparitions over the years. Its maze of secret underground tunnels that lead to the Savannah river add to its undeniable mystery and intrigue. 
  • Restaurant 1833Monterey, CA:  This historic spot – now serving farm-to-table American fare – bears the unmistakable mark of the former homeowner, Mr. Stokes – an English sailor who tricked the town of Monterey into thinking he was a doctor, only for his victims to realize much too late that he was a fraud!
  • Riccardo EnotecaChicago, IL: Riccardo Enoteca stands near the site of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre orchestrated by Al Capone. It could just be the waft of tempting Italian dishes but dog owners have reported strange behavior from their four-legged friends as they pass by. 
  • River RoastChicago, IL: With the river outside infamous for deadly shipwrecks, this waterside restaurant boasts a fine Halloween display – complete with slow-drip towers, used to craft unique cold brew cocktails.
  • Stone’s Public HouseAshland, MA: If you feel like somebody’s watching you, it’s probably just the painting of Captain John Stone, the builder and businessman behind the restaurant, that adorns the fireplace. Those who stand near it or gaze into its eyes get an eerie feeling that they’re not alone.
  • Turner’s SeafoodSalem, MA: Turner’s Seafood is said to reside upon the apple orchard built by the first woman who perished in the infamous Salem witch trials. Locals believe her spirit still lingers in this historic landmark.
  • White Horse TavernNewport, RI: Shades of colonial America still stride the “Oldest Bar in America.” Diners can revel in the restaurant’s storied past and reports of paranormal activity – including the sounds of a small girl heard crying on the second floor.