I ♥ Mac & Cheese ♥ for Franchising and QSR Automations’ New HQ

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features The Food Corridor, Fruition Planning & Management and Purdue University Extension Services, QSR Automations, Peregrin Intelligence, LevelUp and MonkeyMedia Software, I ♥ Mac & Cheese, foodora, Sionic Mobile and FreedomPay, Heston Blumenthal, The Impossible Foods, Jones Wood Foundry  and The Shakespeare.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.MRM Daily Bite Logo

Shared Kitchen Toolkit Resources

The Food Corridor, in partnership with Fruition Planning & Management and Purdue University Extension Services, has launched a comprehensive Shared Kitchen Toolkit. Shared Kitchen Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Planning, Launching, and Managing a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen will assist organizations and businesses in developing and operating shared kitchens and food incubators.

Artisanal food sales are on the rise and the sharing economy continues to surge. The economic potential for consumer packaged foods is great, however scaling can be difficult due to high production costs and the lack of market access. Once a homegrown food startup is ready to grow, where can they turn? Enter the shared-use kitchen: a licensed commercial space that provides a pathway for food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses, without needing to invest in their own facility during a stage when capital and cash flow are a challenge. These kitchens have been spreading rapidly around the country with new and innovative models to support food entrepreneurship, economic development, and increase local food security.

The Shared Kitchen Toolkit is a free web-based resource that delivers guidance on feasibility and planning for new kitchen projects, as well as management practices for the day-to-day operations of shared-use kitchens. It also provides an overview of emerging kitchen models and highlights opportunities for kitchens to expand their community impact and enhance financial sustainability. The Toolkit is available as a 166-page downloadable PDF via The Food Corridor.

In addition to the three project partners, 16 shared-kitchen professionals and food systems experts contributed to the content. The intended audience includes those seeking to launch a shared kitchen, operators of existing facilities, food entrepreneurs seeking revenue diversification, economic development professionals, food industry consultants, and community kitchen managers seeking additional information and instruction on everything from kitchen storage to kitchen culture.

The Toolkit was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, North Central Region.

QSR Automations Breaks Ground on New Tech Campus Headquarters

QSR Automations, a provider of online and mobile restaurant software and hardware solutions, broke ground on their new technology campus and headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky on April 17.

The 51,220-square foot building is slated for completion sometime in 2019. The same day, they held a ribbon cutting ceremony for their technology manufacturing center, located adjacent to the main building. QSR Automations will use this manufacturing center to create all of their restaurant hardware.

“One of QSR Automation’s core values is change,” Amber Mullaney, QSR Automations’ Director of Marketing & Communication, told Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine. “It’s everywhere. We embrace it, examine it, and lead the charge. The groundbreaking on our new technology campus represents a big change for us. We have grown so rapidly over the past few years, and this building has been a long time coming. It will provide us the ability to come together under one roof, attract the best talent in the industry and continue helping restaurants create the ultimate dining experience with our smart restaurant management solutions!”

The campus will accommodate the firm’s anticipated growth.

Peregrin Launches
Peregrin, a platform that gives live market data and local trend powered tools to businesses, accessible entirely online launched by Peregrin Intelligence.
“While large businesses and restaurant groups use competitor intelligence and consumer analysis to increase their presence around the country, we’ve found that most independent owners and managers generally don’t know where to acquire such tools, or what to do with it that information if they do get it,” said Joseph Tarczon, Co-founder and President of Peregrin Intelligence.
Subscribers can see real-time local customer movement, get surge alerts, and discover which promotions and marketing strategies succeed in their area for their audience. 
More features, a mobile application, and even educational tools are planned in the upcoming months as this new platform grows. peregrin.io is currently offering a 30-day free trial, and $39/month after that. 
LevelUp Teams with MonkeyMedia

LevelUp, the growth engine for restaurants enhanced partnership with MonkeyMedia Software, the creators of MONKEYTM, cloud-based software platform for takeout, delivery and catering.

Now, brands that operate on MONKEYTM can offer mobile ordering for takeout, delivery, and catering to their guests through LevelUp Broadcast, an extensive partner network of digital channels. This strategic integration will provide MonkeyMedia Software’s network of more than 8,000 restaurants with access to an ever-increasing population of mobile users who order ahead for takeout, delivery and catering on popular mobile channels like Yelp, Chase Pay, and others, to help capture new customers and increase digital order sales. Fazoli’s, Boar’s Head Cafe, La Boulanger and Mama Fu’s are some of the early adopters of this partnership offering.

“Tapping in to the growing mobile consumer set is imperative for restaurants today to grow their business,” said Seann Moriarty, Director of Strategic Partnerships at LevelUp. “Working with MonkeyMedia Software is mutually beneficial for our restaurant partners, enabling them to access millions more potential customers.”

Restaurants that use MONKEYTM can now automatically receive mobile orders for takeout, delivery, and catering from any of LevelUp’s digital channel partners. Mobile order-ahead users will have more dining options within the apps that are already connected to the LevelUp network, including any of MonkeyMedia Software’s locations.

“There is more opportunity for off-premise business than ever before. And now, via our MONKEY Connect platform, we’ve developed the tools to integrate our technologies to create a seamless transaction process so that restaurant operators can concentrate on what they love doing…. Feeding their customers where they Live, Work & Play,” said Mo Asgari, President at MonkeyMedia Software. “We look forward to exciting possibilities for restaurant operators who take advantage of this offering.”

Joshua Churnick, Director of Marketing at Mama Fu’s, says: “Online ordering is becoming increasingly fragmented across channels and consumers demand that online ordering be easy, accessible and convenient. Having LevelUp and MonkeyMedia Software join forces gives our guests the experience they want and gives us the opportunity to reach larger audiences. It’s a true win-win.”

I ♥ Mac & Cheese Opens First Franchise

I ♥ Mac & Cheese, top photo, a fast-casual concept specializing in customizable, made-to-order macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and salads, has announced it has awarded its first Area Development Agreement for the state of Oklahoma. This agreement is the first for the chain, which already has operational venues in South Florida.

The agreement, which includes the development of five I ♥ Mac & Cheese’s in the Oklahoma City area, was awarded to Genevieve “Genny” Prieto. The first restaurant opened in Yukon, OK, on April 16.

“We are thrilled Genny has chosen to expand the I ♥ Mac & Cheese presence in Oklahoma City. We know these new restaurants will satisfy a growing consumer demand in the local communities,” said Stephen Giordanella, CEO and chairman. Genny has solid business experience and has proven to be a successful franchisee with her time at Domino’s.

The first I ♥ Mac & Cheese location opened in 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. Additional South Florida corporate-owned locations include Parkland, Pembroke Pines and Coral Springs. Boca Raton, FL, and Jupiter, FL, are slated to open in May 2018.

The company launched its franchising program nationwide in quarter four 2017. Additional franchises are slated to open in Fall 2018 in Bayside, Queens, NY, and Long Island, NY, and in Davie, FL.

The family-friendly restaurants take traditional gourmet dishes and turn them into specialty macaroni and cheese creations, such as Cuban pulled pork mac and cheese, buffalo chicken mac and cheese, and Philly cheese steak mac and cheese.

“The creativeness of our mac and cheese creations are only limited by our customer’s imaginations as they build their own specialty combinations,” said Giordanella. All macaroni and cheese dishes can be created as grilled cheese sandwiches as well. There is also a kids’ menu, as well as salads and dessert.

Building an I ♥ Mac & Cheese franchise requires no need for a hood system in most municipalities, no need for grease traps in most municipalities and no need for gas lines since all of the equipment utilized in the restaurant is electric. I ♥ Mac & Cheese requires a low investment — $175,000 to $271,000 — and range in size from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet. Shopping malls, sports venues, areas close to colleges and universities, and high-traffic pedestrian areas are ideal locations.

foodora Commits to Sustainability

This Earth Day foodora is protecting the pale blue dot by connecting consumers with sustainable options. Beginning April 22, foodora will begin rolling out a national sustainability program focusing on three core issues, complementing the company’s commitment to zero emission delivery via bicycle, earth-friendly service. Through food transparency, recyclable packaging, and a dedication to reducing waste, foodora will empower consumers to practice sustainability through their food delivery.

“The team at foodora has always felt a responsibility to the planet and that’s why our riders reduce their carbon footprint by delivering on bicycles where possible,” said David Albert, Managing Director, foodora Canada. “This year, just in time for Earth Day, we’re taking more steps forward in sustainability, cutting waste and partnering with restaurants that align with our dedication to the environment.”

According to a 2016 Label Insight Food Revolution Study, more than 70 per cent of consumers consider whether they have access to the full list of ingredient information when making food purchase decisions. foodora is taking steps to increase food transparency on its platform so that consumers can make informed decisions when ordering. The company is rolling out a new menu feature that will specify the ingredients in each dish on a restaurant partner’s menu, and will highlight menu items that contain local or ethically sourced ingredients to help educate customers on options they can choose to support sustainable food sources through the foodora platform.

foodora will also give customers the option to ‘Opt-In’ or ‘Opt-Out’ of cutlery from 20 participating restaurant partners across Canada including Lola Rosa, Enoteca Monza Pizzeria Moderna, Fresh on Crawford, FARM’R, Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Fable Diner and Tractor Foods. This feature will help to ensure foodora and its customers can take ownership over waste reduction. The delivery service is currently working towards a goal of reducing plastic usage by 30 per cent across the entire platform in 2018 and is aiming to roll this initiative out across all restaurant partners by the end of the year. 

This year foodora will work closely with industry leaders and its more than 2,500 partner restaurants across Canada to tackle packaging challenges. Currently foodora is testing cardboard and cutlery products made from Crystallised Polylactic Acid (CPLA), a biodegradable material made from cornstarch, and the company is aiming to provide environmentally friendly packaging to all its partners at a reasonable cost before the end of 2018.

Sionic Mobile and FreedomPay Align with TRANSACT

Sionic Mobile and FreedomPay have entered into a strategic alliance agreement to deliver an enhanced mobile payments and rewards experience, helping merchants quickly and securely connect and engage with millions of consumers through in-vehicle dashboards and preferred mobile apps.

“Commerce goes beyond simply processing a payment, but rather is about enabling a richer consumer experience,” said Bhavik Shah, Director, Business Development, FreedomPay. “Like FreedomPay, Sionic Mobile is focused on helping merchants engage mobile consumers by providing an exceptional user experience. Together, we’ll provide a seamless payment ecosystem for merchant operations, as well as a secure payment experience for app users.”

FreedomPay’s Advanced Commerce Platform will directly integrate with Sionic Mobile’s award-winning ION Commerce Engine® (ICE) through a cloud-connected interface, for speedy and secure mobile transactions. The synthesis, by means of FreedomPay’s middleware, the FreeWay Commerce Connect (FCC), will facilitate a simplified point of sale integration of Sionic Mobile’s proprietary 3-digit code for mobile checkouts at merchants in the Mobile Rewards Marketplace®.  Additionally, FreedomPay’s clients will gain access and visibility to mobile consumers in the Marketplace, where they’ll be able to accept mobile payments,deliver offers, perks, and rewards to those consumers, and accept their loyalty currency as cash at the point of sale.

Bob Burroughs, EVP of Product at Sionic Mobile, explained, “FreedomPay is recognized within the industry for its commitment to providing secure commerce technology that is designed to enhance the customer experience and streamline the payments process. Integrating our connected commerce platform enables FreedomPay to take this commitment to the next level, providing its clients direct access to millions of loyal consumers, boosting in-store traffic and driving incremental new sales.”

Everdure by Heston Blumenthal

Heston Blumenthal unveiled for the first time in North America a new range of barbeque grills aptly called, Everdure by Heston Blumenthal. The new collection includes three charcoal barbeques and two gas barbeques, ensuring there is a professional-grade grill for home chefs of all levels.


Everdure by Heston Blumenthal

Working closely with designers and engineers, Heston created a collection of grills that defies common expectation. As a result, Everdure by Heston Blumenthal brings the techniques and methods of indoor cooking, outdoors.

“We have encapsulated some of the techniques developed over my 20 years in the kitchen and together with Everdure’s knowledge of outdoor dining have put those techniques into a range of barbeque grills that will completely transform outdoor cooking,” said Blumenthal. “As a 3 Michelin star chef, if I was to start a new genre of 3 Michelin star barbeques that’s what this range would be – and that’s what this range is.”

Everdure by Heston Blumenthal is a range of grills that celebrates the technology and the science of cooking in an approachable, user-friendly way. njoys barbeque cooking to put on a commanding performance.

 Impossible in Hong Kong

The Impossible Foods is launching its plant-based meat in Hong Kong at some of the city’s top restaurants: Little Bao, Happy Paradise, and Beef & Liberty.

Started in 2011 by Stanford biochemistry professor and former pediatrician Dr. Patrick O. Brown, Impossible Foods makes meat, fish and dairy directly from plants — with a much smaller environmental footprint than those from animals. The company uses modern science and technology to create wholesome food, restore natural ecosystems and sustainably feed a growing global population.

Ranked one of the world’s top culinary hotspots by Conde Nast Traveler, Hong Kong is the first place outside of the United States to feature the Impossible Burger, which cooks, smells and tastes like ground beef from cows but is made entirely from plants.

The Impossible Burger is served in more than 1,400 outlets in the United States — from award-winning restaurants to mom-and-pop diners to the nation’s original fast-food chain, White Castle. The vast majority of these restaurants serve the Impossible Burger on a bun with traditional condiments and sides. Starting tomorrow in Hong Kong, diners will be able to try the product as a traditional burger — and as the central filling of savory street food.

“We’re humbled to launch with spectacular chefs in one of the world’s most dynamic restaurant hotspots,” said Brown, CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods. “We’re confident that Hong KongAsia’s crossroads of ideas and influences, both modern and traditional — will be home to the most innovative Impossible recipes yet.”

Chef May Chow, named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2017 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards, heads Little Bao and Happy Paradise — 21st century takes on traditional Cantonese diners.

Chef May Chow with both Impossible builds

Chow is a Toronto native who trained and worked in Bangkok, Los Angeles and Boston. She gained fame in Hong Kong’s renowned street food markets and helped to transform Hong Kong into a foodie destination. Chow has also represented Hong Kong at food festivals such as “Omnivore” in Paris and Shanghai.

At Little Bao, Chow and her team will serve the “Impossible Bao,” a traditional sandwich made with Impossible meat, black pepper teriyaki sauce, salted lemon kombu salad, and fermented tofu sauce, between two house-made steamed buns — on menu for 118 HK$. The “Impossible XinJiang Hot Pocket” — another popular Chinese street snack — will debut at Happy Paradise, served with pickled daikon and XinJiang spices, for 88 HK$.

“Hong Kongers demand to be on the bleeding edge of global culinary trends,” Chow said. “The Impossible Burger is delicious, versatile and perfectly timed to take this city’s world-class restaurant scene by storm.”

Another award-winning chef in Hong Kong, Uwe Opocensky earned his culinary reputation working in restaurants such as Spain’s El Bulli, voted the best restaurant in the world. He recently spent a decade as Executive Chef at Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental — considered one of the city’s finest establishments — overseeing 10 restaurants and bars and collecting Michelin Stars in three of the venues.

Chef Uwe Opocensky with both Impossible items

He left the hotel in 2016 to join Beef & Liberty as Group Executive Chef, now lauded as Hong Kong and Shanghai’s best hamburger, and is also chef at his own restaurant Uwe. The seven restaurant group is a modern homage to 18th century “beefsteak clubs,” reincarnated for modern tastes with a focus on natural ingredients and sustainable operations. Popular with both natives and expats, Beef & Liberty uses only hormone- and antibiotic-free beef from the Scottish Highlands — ground in-house — and also purifies and carbonates its own drinking water to reduce the amount of water imported (and glass bottles wasted) into Hong Kong.

Beef & Liberty will serve the “Impossible Thai Burger,” with chilli, coriander, mint, basil, spring onion, soya mayonnaise, crispy shallots and garlic, for 135 HK$. The restaurant group will also feature “Impossible Chili Cheese Fries,” with chili, cheddar cheese, spring onion and sour cream over their “Liberty” fries, for 62 HK$.

“We are obsessed, in a good way, with burgers and doing what we can for the environment. We love the way that the Impossible Burger has created new excitement in the global burger scene and opportunities to be more sustainable,” said Beef & Liberty’s Executive Chef, Uwe Opocensky. “We’re positive that our guests are going to love the Impossible and feel good about eating it at the same time.”

Starting today, the Impossible will be available in Hong Kong on a limited and exclusive basis through Classic Fine Foods. The group specialises in sourcing, importation, storage, marketing and distribution, and has been operating throughout Asiaand Europe since 2001.

Royal Wedding Breakfast Galas

In a unique marketing effort, to feed the excitement associated with the year’s most anticipated nuptials, two British restaurants in New York City – Jones Wood Foundry on the Upper East Side and Midtown Manhattan’s The Shakespeare – will present Royal Wedding Watching Breakfast Galas on Saturday morning May 19.  Attending romantics, Anglophiles and British Royal Family fans will watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live on large screens strategically situated throughout the restaurants, while savoring a regal breakfast inspired by some of the couple’s favorite foods, as well as by traditional English and American morning meal traditions.  The likes of:  a selection of homemade baked goods including Scones, Lemon & Poppy Seed Muffin and Banana Bread (as a nod to Harry’s passion for the yellow fruit);  Chicken & Waffle, the pair’s famous engagement roast chicken with maple syrup and Belgian waffle; Kedgeree, smoked Finnan haddie, turmeric and saffron rice Pilaf, curry sauce, hard boiled egg and Eggs Benedict Royal, smoked Scottish salmon, spinach, Hollandaise sauce, bubble and squeak.

Of course, wedding cake – lemon elderflower with buttercream icing à la Harry and Meghan’s choice – will be on the menu and there will be a toast to the newlyweds with Chapel Down, the leading English sparkling wine that, reportedly, will likely be poured at the couple’s evening wedding reception hosted by Prince Charles. (According to various media, the prince served the Kent, England based winery’s sparking rosé at the party he threw for Prince William and Kate Middleton the night of their 2011 wedding.)

Upon arrival, celebrants will be greeted with a mimosa and a house made sausage roll, the British savory staple that will be bestowed on the 2,640 members of the public invited onto the grounds of Windsor Castle for the wedding.  While hats for ladies will not be required at the Royal Wedding Watching Breakfast Galas, as is the case at the actual ceremony, they are encouraged; those wearing particularly intriguing headgear will be rewarded. And all guests will leave with mementos of these very memorable occasions, including a commemorative program.

“We did a similar event at Jones Wood Foundry for William and Kate’s wedding, which was a tremendous success,” recalls Jason Hicks, the restaurants’ chef / owner while noting The Shakespeare was not yet open at the time. “Since an American is marrying into the Royal Family this time, we think there will be even more interest in this wedding.  In fact, we’ve already sold one room at The Shakespeare for a private watching celebration!”