Inspirational Acquisition and Virtual Bon Appétit

This edition of MRM News Bites features Inpsire Brands and Jimmy John's,  L Catterton and Landry's, Bon Appétit and Lettuce Entertain You, MOD Pizza and Best Buddies, Ordermark and Say2eat, Chef Ann Foundation, Revention, Red Boat Fish Sauce and Novolex.

Inspire to Aquire Jimmy John's 

Inspire Brands entered into an agreement to acquire Jimmy John’s Sandwiches. Following the completion of the transaction, Inspire will be the fourth-largest restaurant company in the United States with more than $14 billion in annual system sales and more than 11,200 restaurants across 16 countries. Inspire's portfolio includes more than 8,300 Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, SONIC Drive-In and Rusty Taco locations worldwide. 

“Jimmy John’s has found the ideal home at Inspire,” Jimmy John Founder and Chairman Jimmy John Liautaud said. “Inspire’s long-term approach, culture of innovation and commitment to helping brands grow sets it apart from the rest. I couldn’t be prouder of the company we’ve built, and I can’t wait to see what Jimmy John’s is able to accomplish under Inspire’s leadership.”

“Jimmy John’s is a great fit for the Inspire family,” said Paul Brown, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Brands. “What started in 1983 as a sandwich shop in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois, has grown into a national, differentiated brand with a passionate fanbase. We are excited to welcome the Jimmy John’s brand to Inspire and look forward to working with their team and franchisees to help the company achieve its next stage of growth.”

At the close of the transaction, which is expected by the end of October, James North will serve as President of the Jimmy John’s brand, reporting to Paul Brown, and Jimmy John Liautaud will step down as Chairman and transition to an advisor to the brand. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

L Catterton Completes Acquisition of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Inc. and Sells Some Assets to Landry's

L Catterton has acquired all of the outstanding shares of Del Frisco’s for approximately $650 million. As a result of the transaction’s close, Del Frisco’s stock will cease trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. In conjunction with closing, L Catterton has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse and Del Frisco’s Grille assets to Landry’s, Inc. for an undisclosed consideration. The transaction is subject to customary approvals and closing conditions. The remaining restaurant brands – bartaco and Barcelona Wine Bar – will operate as two separate businesses with distinct strategies and leadership teams under L Catterton’s ownership.

“We are confident that the separation of the business and the sale of the steak concepts to Landry’s creates the best opportunity to unlock value in all of the Company’s restaurant brands,” said Andrew Taub, Managing Partner at L Catterton. “With more than 500 restaurants across the world, including a number of successful steak restaurants, Landry’s leadership in hospitality and dining is widely established, making them an ideal owner of Del Frisco’s steak business.”

Taub added, “We look forward to leveraging L Catterton’s deep restaurant experience and operational capabilities to help bartaco and Barcelona Wine Bar reach their full potential. We are confident that running as separate businesses, these highly experiential and unique restaurant concepts will be best positioned for growth and expansion.”

bartaco combines fresh, upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. There are 22 restaurants in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Barcelona Wine Bar is a wtapas bar inspired by the culture of Spain. Today, Barcelona Wine Bar has 17 locations in Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.,

L Catterton was advised by Credit Suisse, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Bon Appétit Curated

Bon Appétit launched Bon Appétit, Delivered, a virtual restaurant featuring dishes curated by the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, top photo by Alex Lau, Bon Appétit . The delivery-only concept is available exclusively in Chicago through Grubhub  The virtual storefront is operated by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), a multi-concept restaurant group based in Chicago.

Photo by Alex Lau, Bon Appétit

"For those times when you just don't want to cook, we're making our favorite things to eat right now available for delivery," said Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport. "From Sambal Chicken Skewers to our Garlickiest Fried Rice and so much more, these delicious meals will come fully prepared, right to your door."

The menu is available for lunch and dinner, and offers seasonal ingredients and dishes on a rotational basis. Dishes available now include: Cauliflower Bolognese, Broccoli Caesar Salad, Lemon and Garlic Roasted Chicken Thighs with Warm Honey Glazed Brussel Sprouts, Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash, and more. 

"We are thrilled to work with a partner of Bon Appétit's caliber to bring a menu that will excite our diners," said Padma Rao, vice president of special projects at Grubhub. "This concept is a great example of how LEYE and Grubhub are pursuing creative, exclusive concepts to bring more variety to diners."

This is the second delivery-only concept in which LEYE and Grubhub have partnered in the Chicago area, underscoring a shared commitment to deliver creative menus from the brands diners love. Virtual restaurants help chefs, owners and operators more nimbly capitalize on culinary trends and local preferences to receive more orders from Grubhub's leading diner network.

"We're excited to continue our partnership with Grubhub to offer some of Bon Appetit's most beloved dishes for delivery in Chicago," said R.J. Melman, president of LEYE. "We look forward to preparing these delicious recipes from one of the food world's most iconic brands in our kitchens for this new virtual restaurant."

MOD Partners with Best Buddies

MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings launched a nationwide partnership with Best Buddies International, the world’s leading organization dedicated to providing inclusive opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Through this partnership, MOD will focus on raising awareness for inclusive hiring practices, along with funds to support the Best Buddies Jobs Program.  To learn more, watch the video at top.

MOD will commit a minimum of $50,000 to Best Buddies to support the organization’s mission of inclusion – most notably the Best Buddies Jobs program which focuses on helping people with IDD find competitive, integrated employment opportunities within their communities. In turn, Best Buddies will provide development and training tools designed to support MOD store managers with hiring and developing individuals with IDD. Today, MOD has approximately 300 supported employees with IDD across its 455+ locations in the U.S. and U.K., and as they continue their expansion, are committed to strengthening their inclusive employment practice.  

“At MOD, we often say ‘talent is everywhere, but opportunity is not’. And when we learned that 81% of adults with disabilities do not have paying jobs in their communities, we knew the platform of MOD could be used to address this social issue,” said Ally Svenson, co-founder and chief purpose officer of MOD. “Great partners make us better, and Best Buddies brings incredible programs to help us be a great employer for our Squad members with IDD. Our ultimate goal is to positively impact our employees and through them, the communities we serve – creating a more inclusive place for all, and hopefully an example for other companies to follow.” 

“The MOD ethos is rooted in acceptance, opportunity and development – and we’re beyond grateful to have found a partner that shares our commitment to inclusion in the workplace,” said Anthony K. Shriver, founder, chairman and CEO of Best Buddies International. “MOD’s dedication to the Best Buddies mission of inclusion and integrated employment will help bring an even greater awareness to the infinite abilities people with intellectual and developmental disabilities possess, in addition to the resources needed to further expand our programs.”

The MOD and Best Buddies partnership will come to life in many ways:

Limited-Time Fall Seasonal Menu Offerings

  • From September 23 – November 4, 2019, or while suppliest last, the Best Buddies “No Name Cake” will donate 20 cents from every cake sold to Best Buddies International, with a minimum donation of at least $25,000. The Best Buddies “No Name Cake” is a vanilla cake with a strawberry cream icing topped with white glaze and multi-colored sprinkles, retailing for $2.47.
  • The “Jeffrey” – this seasonal pizza celebrates a very loved member of the MOD Squad. Jeffrey was one of MOD’s first employees with IDD who according to Svenson, “helped show us the positive impact of a diverse talent pool. Jeffrey has been with MOD for over six years and continues to be a solid contributor, providing great inspiration to many.” The Jeffrey pizza features an olive oil base, fresh house-roasted apple, Canadian bacon, fresh arugula, shredded mozzarella, crumbled gorgonzola, finished with a swirl of sweet balsamic fig glaze.

Regional Fundraiser Day 

  • On October 19, at more than 100 locations across the U.S., MOD will donate 20% of all sales to Best Buddies International. Find participating stores HERE.

“Our World” Poem  

  • Acclaimed poet Andrea Gibson created “Our World” for MOD, a poem that imagines an inclusive world, welcome to all. The poem is recited by several members of the MOD Squad, and can be downloaded and shared by friends and customers of MOD. Gibson writes poetry focusing on social reform, gender norms, politics and the struggles LGBTQ people face in today’s society –  and was the first poet ever to win the Women of the World Poetry Slam. 

All Pizzas Welcome Book

  • Written for MOD by Andrea Gibson and illustrated for MOD by Oscar Cauda, All Pizzas Welcome shares the unique stories of several members of the MOD Squad and the world they’re helping to create. Customers can Spread MODness by downloading and sharing this free e-book from the MOD website.

MOD Squad Support

  • MOD will leverage Best Buddies’ expertise, best-in-class training programs, and resources to ensure that the entire MOD organization is best equipped to support their Squads and customers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Materials include diversity and inclusion training, accessibility checklist, sensitivity etiquette, interviewing tips, onboarding checklists, and top 10 questions asked when hiring a person with a disability.

Ordermark Integrates with Say2eat

Ordermark has integrated a wide range of new ordering options for its growing base of restaurant clients and their customers with new mobile messaging and social media capabilities. Through an innovative partnership with Say2eat, Ordermark partner restaurants can now accept mobile delivery orders from customers who use many popular and widely used messaging and social media platforms including Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Instagram, and more social media and messaging channels.


Say2eat is a “white label” ordering platform, with its technology invisible to Ordermark restaurant customers across all leading messaging and social media platforms and devices.
The customer simply use their daily used messaging/social app and commands its order to the restaurant. Through the speed, simplicity and flexibility of this new option for instant ordering, Ordermark makes each order more reliable, customizable, and ensures that it gets to the restaurant’s kitchen just as the customer wanted it.  

“Ordermark was created to help restaurants maximize revenue in the mobile delivery era.  We are very pleased to offer a host of new ordering platforms for our restaurant customers thanks to integrating Say2eat technology into our turnkey restaurant technology platforms and solutions. Now getting an order for delivery is as easy as sending a text or other mobile message.” said Alex Canter, Ordermark CEO and co-founder. “By partnering with Say2eat, Ordermark can now help bring restaurants that much closer to its current and prospective new customers wherever they are, while making the delivery order process much more efficient, easy and fun.”

”Ordermark streamlines operations for restaurants, while Say2eat is increasing restaurant’s mobile sales by meeting their guests wherever they are…that’s where the magic happens,” said Li-ran Navon, Say2eat CEO. “It’s incredibly innovative technology from both companies, and this partnership allows restaurants to remove obstacles to online discovery and ordering from their menu.”

Real School Food Challenge

Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) said 12 chefs across the U.S. are helping bring awareness to the need for school food reform through the Real School Food Challenge: National Restaurant Edition this October. First launched in 2016, the Real School Food Challenge enlists the support of healthy food advocates to show it is possible to create delicious, nutritious food that is scalable for school kitchens.

CAF invited chefs around the country to create meals that follow USDA healthy meal guidelines and have a food cost around $1.25, the average budget for a school lunch in the U.S. As part of this first-ever national Challenge, all of the participating chefs will serve their recipes on their restaurant menu throughout the month of October, with a portion of proceeds donated to CAF. Corporate sponsors RATIONAL USASprouts Farmers MarketOrganic ValleyTundra Restaurant SupplySterling Rice Group and Elevation Foodservice Reps will match the proceeds from each restaurant to help maximize the impact of the Challenge.

Every day, 30 million children eat school lunch. With only $1.25 to spend per student meal, it becomes challenging for schools to serve real, healthy food that meets USDA guidelines. CAF works to provide school communities with the tools, training, resources, and funding that enables them to serve scratch-cooked food using whole ingredients. While celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the organization has reached more than 10,000 schools and 3 million kids with their healthy school programming.

"Chefs are getting a lot of attention these days, and it's so inspiring to see how they are using that notoriety to give back," said Mara Fleishman, CAF CEO. "Showing America what is capable in school food will bring attention to the work so many of us are doing with school districts, helping them serve healthier, less processed meals."

CAF has secured participation from chefs who share a vision for better food for children, including:

  • Chef Daniel Asher | River & Woods, Boulder 
  • Chef Hosea Rosenberg | Santo, Boulder 
  • Chef Alon Shaya | Safta, Denver 
  • Chef Charleen Badman | FnB, Scottsdale, Ariz. 
  • Chef Stephen Williams | Bouquet Restaurant, Ohio Valley 
  • Chef Leonard Hollander | Arbor, Chicago 
  • Chef Erik Bruner Yang | &pizza, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, NYC, Boston, Philly, Miami locations 
  • Chef Toni Elkhouri | Cedar's Café, Melbourne, Fla. 
  • Chef Gayle Pirie | Foreign Cinema, San Francisco 
  • Chef Mihoko Obunai | Hosted by Brush, Atlanta 
  • Chef Brandon Rosen | Hosted by CWC The Restaurant, Cincinnati, OH 
  • Chef Nathanial Zimet | Boucherie, New Orleans

"I'm so excited to help figure out how to give all kids in the U.S. the nutritious lunches they deserve," shared Chef Shaya. "In addition to calling awareness to how we can improve school lunches, it's also an exhilarating challenge for chefs to create delicious and nutritious meals on a low budget."

The Real School Food Challenge: National Restaurant Edition will kick-off on Tuesday, Oct. 1. Each chef's recipe will be added to their menu as part of a fundraiser to support CAF's ongoing efforts to make real change to the food our children eat at school. Five chef's recipes will be selected for their creativity, scalability, and presentation, and those finalists will be invited  to travel to Brooklyn, N.Y. to compete at StarChefs International Congress on Monday, Oct. 28, sponsored by RATIONAL USA. The Real School Food Challenge competitors will take over the food carts during the Congress Cocktail Party from 6 to 8 p.m. and CAF staff, a jury of school food operators, and local media will select the winning dish.

Revention Adds Tablet POS

Revention debuted Revention Tablet POS, which is designed to maximize revenue by processing orders quicker, busting long lines, and equipping restaurant servers to work more efficiently so they can spend more time providing a great customer experience. The Tablet POS seamlessly integrates with Revention POS systems to provide centralized and comprehensive data and visibility related to their other integrated services such as mobile & online ordering, loyalty program, reporting and management. In addition, it provides secure and flexible payment processing via chip cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, gift cards and much more.

ReventionTablet POS

"We are pleased to offer innovative tablet POS technology so our clients can experience less downtime, optimal mobility, and increased profitability," said Rahul Bakshi, Vice President of Product & Marketing at Revention. "We have always strived to deliver technology solutions that address the needs and concerns of our clients, and we are excited by the opportunity to answer the call for mobility regardless of internet connectivity."

Red Boat Salt Debuts

Red Boat Fish Sauce has teamed up with Chef Stuart Brioza, renowned chef and co-owner of State Bird Provisions and The Progress in San Francisco to develop a specialty rub using Red Boat Salt, which is infused with their famous fish sauce. This collaboration will kick off Red Boat’s Community Salt Series, which is a new line of chef-driven salt rubs that donates 10 percent of proceeds to a philanthropic organization of each featured chef’s choosing. 

“It’s very exciting to be partnering with our growing chef community to create a new line of products for Red Boat,” shares Diep Tran, Head R&D Chef at Red Boat Fish Sauce. “With collaborations like these, we hope to raise awareness for deserving non-profits and local initiatives across the country as well as inspire at-home-cooks to explore bold, new flavors from Red Boat.”

The first specialty salt rub released is Chef Stuart Brioza’s Spiced Garum Salt. With notes of citrus zest, fennel, coriander and Red Boat Salt’s, Brioza’s Spiced Garum Salt is poised to be the perfect seasoning for vegetables, seafood, and poultry.

“When Red Boat approached me to be a part of their new salt rub series I was excited to create a delicious way to bring State Bird Provisions and The Progress into home kitchens,” adds Brioza. “What makes this collaboration even more special is that I get to raise funds and awareness for Zero FoodPrint, which is a non-profit organization committed to fighting climate change.”

Red Boat’s next salt rub collaboration will be with Bryant & Kim Ng of Cassia in Santa Monica, CA, which is set to debut in November 2019.  S

Fresh & Crispy Clamshells

Novolex™ introduced EcoCraft® Fresh & Crispy™ clamshell containers, a new line of clamshell containers that keep fried foods warm and crunchy.

The new containers offer a unique system for high-performance ventilation to keep fried foods crunchy and warm. They are constructed with Eco-Flute® micro-flute corrugation for superior rigidity and crush strength to maintain food integrity during transport and delivery. 

"EcoCraft Fresh & Crispy containers solve a problem that has long troubled restaurants and caterers: how to keep fried foods warm and crispy until they're delivered," said Adrianne Tipton, Senior Vice President of Innovation at Novolex. "These containers even keep french fries crispy, warm and tasty. That's a real innovation in food delivery."

Testing shows EcoCraft Fresh & Crispy containers consistently outperform competing packaging, with significantly less temperature loss while better maintaining crispiness.

"We designed these containers so fried food arrives at your door tasting just as delicious as it does at the restaurant," said Rick Brown, Vice President of Foodservice Sales.

EcoCraft Fresh & Crispy containers are designed for restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, caterers and delivery services. The containers, which feature a secure latch lock to keep them closed during deliveries, come in two different sizes: 5.5 x 5 x 2.88 inches and 6.28 x 5 x 2.25 inches. Custom print is available. The container's middle layer uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, providing a sturdy, lightweight package. The whole container is made with a minimum of 33 percent post-consumer recycled content.