‘ItzFun’ and Ear-Friendly Restaurants

The #WednesdayWisdom edition of MRM’s Daily Bite has news from Lend an Ear, EnterWorks, VenueLytics, Big Star Wrigleyville and MagicCube with ID TECH.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

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Lend an Ear Introduces Certification Program for Ear-Friendly Restaurants

Lend an Ear, a Seattle-based organization committed to creating an ear-friendly world one community at a time, launched an ear-friendly certification program, aimed at helping consumers better select establishments to frequent based on noise levels. The launch coincides with the announcement that San Francisco-based Mozzeria, a pizzeria whose owners Melody and Russ Stein are deaf,  is the first establishment to be recognized with the ear-friendly certification.

As part of the certification process, restaurants and other public spaces can be certified based on their willingness to adhere to ear-friendly practices which can be a willingness to turn down ambient music, reseating guests to a quiet area, or applying noise reduction materials to the facility. Once certified, the business is listed in a national database and displays an “ear-friendly” placard in the place of business. The purpose of certification is to help individuals seeking locations with noise levels that suit their needs.

“We are thrilled to announce Mozzeria as the first establishment to be certified as ear-friendly and are looking forward to offering more restaurants and establishments the ability to achieve this certification,” said Dr. Kelly Tremblay, founder and CEO of Lend an Ear. “Noise in restaurants is a huge a challenge for so many people, as noise level impacts the customer experience.”

To be certified as ear friendly, restaurants must offer one or more of the following:

1) Have staff and/or management willing to turn down music volume upon request, look at patrons while speaking, and/or offer private rooms or tables away from noise sources.

2) Have been identified by Lend an Ear’s iHEARu app users as ear-friendly and displays signage. The iHEARu app is Lend an Ear’s conduit for noise data collection.

3) Offer an environment in which noise reduction efforts such as acoustical tiles, sound isolation, table placements, use of absorbent materials, are in place.

The recently launched iHEARu mobile app collects noise decibel data. The app was founded by renowned neuroscientist, audiologist, and advocate Dr. Kelly Tremblay. The iHEARu mobile app uses crowd-sourcing to help individuals find locations with noise levels that suit your needs. Whether seeking a quiet eatery or lively bar with loud music, the iHEARu GPS will help you find it. By combining decibel data gathered from smartphone users in real-life environments, iHEARu provides the data to change the world…one ear-friendly place at a time.

Why create an ear-friendly movement?

Creating an ear-friendly environment is not only good for people; it can be good for business, according to Lend an Ear. According to a 2015 Zagat Survey, 24 percent of respondents said noise was their number one complaint when dining out. In fact, noise level has become such a growing concern that it is now included by restaurant critics as part of their restaurant coverage report.


  • More than 20 percent  of the U.S. population (48M) have some hearing loss
  • Approximately one in three people older than 65 have disabling hearing loss.
  • According to a 2010 census, this means that over 13.6 percent of San Francisco’s population is suffering with disabling hearing loss!
  • With over 17M visitors to the San Francisco area, that means over 3.5M will come to the city as hearing-challenged visitors.

The iHEARu app can be downloaded for FREE via the App Store or Google Play.

EnterWorks Reveals Precision Eating Tool

EnterWorks unveiled its Precision Eating™ solution. The trademarked, multi-domain solution is designed to match consumer preferences in food consumption to the precise nutrient and related elements of the food and beverage offerings of sellers, whether the consumer is online, in-store, or dining in.

Precision Eating specifically addresses the challenges many consumers face today as they sort through food labels and advertisements, including:

  • Is the offering compliant with my preferred diet plan? 
  • Is it free from allergens that I or my child need to avoid?
  • Can I know in advance whether compliant food and beverage offerings are available at my preferred store or restaurant?
Rick Chavie

“The interest in a Precision Eating type platform has grown rapidly over the past two years,” said Rick Chavie, EnterWorks CEO. “Restauranteurs, retailers, and everyday consumers all want the ability to match individual preferences to products, and do it precisely. With our multi-domain MDM, we can generate asset-driven assortments that are location-specific and filterable by brand or product interest.”

Essentially, according to Chavie, it is all about applying a filter to provide precisely relevant and easily consumable content. “Whether you are a consumer that has a medically-prescribed diet, favors a vegan / low carb diet, must avoid nuts, is lactose / gluten intolerant, or is concerned with ethical sourced or non-GMO food, Precision Eating can help.”

EnterWorks’ Precision Eating solution leverages the company’s B2B2C strategy that brings together growers, brands, distributors, food service, retailers, and restaurants to collaborate on content. “No single entity has all the information that a consumer wants because goods are grown, packaged, sold, and prepared for consumption in a variety of ways,” Chavie added. “Now, the EnterWorks Enable MDM and PIM platform can effectively capture, store and forward necessary content prior to delivering to the consumer at the point of research or purchase.”

The EnterWorks Enable platform provides the ability to synthesize a single view of precise food and beverage content based on agile integration and syndication frameworks. These capabilities open up the potential for a broader application of product content from a variety of sources including: consumer User Generated Content (UGC), brand manufacturers, product content networks, GDSN data pools providers such as 1WorldSync, nutritional content providers such as Label Insight and data prepared for initiatives such as SmartLabelTM coordinated by the GMA and FMI.  The solution enables a personalized preference lens to sort food and beverage choices through a variety of commerce or informational touchpoints that allows the user to filter views based on nutrients, formulas, calories, recipes, menus, meal kits, medical requirements or taste preferences.  It can also be conveyed in the form of Storeytelling, the EnterWorks solution for leveraging Virtual and Augmented reality along with shoppable planograms that reflect the real-time, in-store experience but with immediate access to rich and detailed product content.

VenueLytics Makes ‘ItzFun’

VenueLytics launched “ItzFun” consumer solution via Mobile App, Web & Desktop.  ItzFun is a real-time personalized digital concierge service for consumers with premium mobile services like VIP bottle and table reservations, food and beverage orders, guest list, party packages, fast pass, events & ticketing, deals and even private event booking.

“ItzFun Web & Mobile App currently has over 75,000 venues and thousands of active users. Venues can claim their page and/or list their business for free and choose to offer premium services across multiple channels,” said Baskar Manivannan, co-founder and CEO of VenueLytics.

Consumers using ItzFun digital concierge services can:

  • Discover venues by category: restaurants, casinos, bars, clubs, lounges, resorts, golf, stadiums, karaoke, wineries and bowling alleys
  • Get real-time information about venues, like crowd population, gender ratio, bottle/table and private event booking availability.
  • Use mobile order and pay at participating venues.
  • “Skip the line” to avoid waiting at featured and supported venues
  • Get updates about games, tournaments, and leagues at venues like casino and bowling
  • Gain access to real-time deals and offers (e.g. $2 shots for ladies until 10pm)
  • Get up-to-the-minute news on upcoming events including performing artists
  • Track lost and found
  • Arrange for valet parking, ride sharing, cab services, and locate my car feature
  • Have real-time interaction with venues, promoters, hosts and artists
  • See visuals on VIP bottle/table service floor maps and private halls before booking
  • Crowd source your experience at the venue
  • Invite and share with friends
Big Star Wrigleyville Coming This Spring

Big Star Wrigleyville, the bourbon and beer-focused, taco-slinging, honky-tonk hangout, will open doors at 3640 N Clark St.  in time for the Cubs’ home opener in early April.  Executive Chef/Partner Paul Kahan and Chef de Cuisine Julie Warpinski draw inspiration from authentic Mexican street food, utilizing fresh ingredients and handmade tortillas. The extensive bourbon program boasts 20 exclusive House Barrel selections straight from the heart of Kentucky. Located within Hotel Zachary, a four-star hotel development by the Ricketts family, the two-story, 9,000 square foot restaurant and bar features an expansive patio and serves as an homage to the gas station bars found around Bakersfield, California.

 True to its summer patio-party roots, Big Star Wrigleyville carries on the tradition of al fresco dining, boasting an expansive 87-seat patio that overlooks the city’s iconic ballpark. Inside, Big Star regulars should feel right at home surrounded by decor reminiscent of the original Wicker Park location with restaurant and bar seating for 383 guests. The second floor is available for hosting private and semi-private events, and both levels feature fully retractable siding for that quintessential Big Star outdoor dining experience. 

Big Star Wrigleyville

“We are proud to play a small but beneficial role in this development with our new business partners, the Ricketts family,” said partner Donnie Madia Gianfrancisco. “We are also very excited to be part of the renaissance of such a historic, incredible area of the city and the new dining community there. Big Star has always been a neighborhood spot with an emphasis on honest food and drinks made with the freshest ingredients. Big Star Wrigleyville will be an extension of the same sensibilities and spirit.”

Guests can expect the same Big Star favorites they’ve grown to know and love, like made from scratch guacamole or the Queso Fundido, a melted Chihuahua cheese dip featuring house-made chorizo and fresh rajas poblano peppers. The food menu is complemented by margaritas made with fresh lime juice, an expansive single barrel whiskey catalog, and of course, an array of cheap and delicious beer. For those who prefer their tacos on the go, a Big Star Wrigleyville taco take-out window will open later this summer.

“For me, the beauty of the food at Big Star is rooted in its simplicity,” said Executive Chef/Partner Paul Kahan. “Our focus is on serving as many guests as we can while still sourcing the freshest ingredients possible – from our hand-made tortillas to the hundreds of limes we fresh squeeze daily for our margaritas. Traditionally, Wrigleyville has been a hot dogs and wings haven, and we’re excited to bring Big Star’s take on Mexican street food to the neighborhood.”

Big Star Wrigleyville

Bringing the spirited soul of Wicker Park to Wrigleyville’s buzzing sports-centric neighborhood, Big Star Wrigleyville will evoke the same unassuming vibes as its original location. The taqueria’s eclectic soundtrack will range from classic country to 70s rock & roll, spun by a musically inclined bar staff. To carry on Big Star’s legacy of fostering Chicago’s local artists and musicians, Big Star Wrigleyville will also double as a performance space, showcasing live music periodically throughout the year including new projects from Big Star Recording Co., founded in 2016 which launched its first LP “Bucking The Tiger” by Quarter Mile Thunder in September 2017.

Unlike its Wicker Park counterpart, Big Star Wrigleyville will feature eight retractable TV screens for prime-time game watching (purists needn’t fear, the TVs will be tucked away on non-game days). In order for the classic Big Star experience to translate authentically to the new space, all food and beverage pricing will stay consistent with the original location, on game days and non-game days alike.

“We’re trying to bring the Wicker Park soul over here to Wrigleyville. The tacos, the music, all the whiskey bottles, the $3 Lone Stars and the shot of the day – we’re bringing everything with us,” says Partner Terry Alexander. “We want to build another neighborhood taqueria that’s as fun and lively in the middle of January as it is during a Cubs-Dodgers series.”


MagicCube and ID TECH are partnering to bring to market an out-of-the-box solution for secure card acceptance using PIN-on-Glass. MagicCube and ID TECH are integrating their technologies with a new offering that will turn any locale or device into a POS, which will lower card acceptance costs for businesses, increase payment volume for banks and ensure payment security for consumers.

“By partnering with ID TECH, we are able to provide the market with the next generation of POS solutions that don’t require a separate device to enter your financial PIN. With PIN-on-Glass, merchants now have a fully downloadable, upgradeable, subscription-based solution that can turn any mobile phone or tablet device into a POS,” said Sam Shawki, CEO and Co-Founder at MagicCube. “PIN-on-Glass is an innovation that will create huge opportunities by reducing cost and complexity of POS ownership, raising card acceptance rates and lowering acceptance risk.”

“Advancing the global digitization of payments requires stronger security and greater accessibility than many hardware-based POS systems can provide,” said Justin Ning, VP of Product Management at ID TECH. “MagicCube’s PIN-on-Glass technology, together with our PIN-on-Glass payment readers allows us to deliver a seamless, easy-to-deploy and affordable payment acceptance with the same security found in hardware-based technology.”

This partnership is a timely one. Last week, the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) announced a new PCI Security Standard for software-based PIN entry on commercial off-the-shelf devices (COTS), such as smartphones and tablets.