JBF Winners and the Largest Rooftop Deck in the Country

This edition of MRM’s News Bites features JBF,  DoorDash and Wyndham, OpenTable and Venga, SevenRooms and  Bookatable by Michelin, eatsa,  Tripleseat and OpenCity,  Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Offshore,  Sustainable Restaurant Group, QSR Automations and MRM ourselves. 

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

JBF Winners

Winners were announced at the James Beard Awards at Lyric Opera of Chicago. During a ceremony emceed by Emmy-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, awards were presented in the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories, as well as several special achievement awards, including Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, America’s Classics, and Humanitarian of the Year.

Industry leaders from across the country attended the highly anticipated annual ceremony where the theme was “Good Food For GoodTM”, a mantra synonymous with the James Beard Foundation’s mission.  In keeping with the theme, gala reception chefs from across the country included past James Beard Award winners and many who are involved in the Foundation’s signature impact-oriented initiatives, from Smart Catch to Women’s Leadership Programs to the Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change. Their thoughtful and delicious dishes fed the nearly 2,000 attendees at the evening’s Awards gala. VIP guests were treated to a multi-course dinner and experience in the mezzanine boxes during the Awards show prepared by chefs from the esteemed Union Square Hospitality Group.

2019 James Beard Foundation Award Winners

75 Seats and Under

Firm: Studio Writers

Project: Atomix, NYC

76 Seats and Over

Firm: Parts and Labor Design

Project: Pacific Standard Time, Chicago

Other Eating and Drinking Places

Firm: Schwartz and Architecture (S^A)

Project: El Pípila, San Francisco

Design Icon



2019 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

Best New Restaurant


Outstanding Baker

Greg Wade

Publican Quality Bread


Outstanding Bar Program

Bar Agricole

San Francisco

Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)

Ashley Christensen

Poole’s Diner

Raleigh, NC

Outstanding Pastry Chef (Presented by Lavazza)

Kelly Fields

Willa Jean

New Orleans

Outstanding Restaurant (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)



Outstanding Restaurateur (Presented by Magellan Corporation)

Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz

Boka Restaurant Group (Boka, Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and others)


Outstanding Service

Frasca Food and Wine

Boulder, CO

Outstanding Wine Program (Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery)


San Francisco

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer

Rob Tod

Allagash Brewing Company

Portland, ME

Rising Star Chef of the Year (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)

Kwame Onwuachi

Kith and Kin

Washington, D.C.

Best Chefs in America (Presented by Capital One®)

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark



Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Tom Cunanan

Bad Saint

Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Ann Kim

Young Joni


Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)

Jody Williams and Rita Sodi

Via Carota

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)

Tony Messina



Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Brady Williams



Best Chef: South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)

Vishwesh Bhatt


Oxford, MS

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Mashama Bailey

The Grey

Savannah, GA

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)

Charleen Badman


Scottsdale, AZ

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Michael Cimarusti


Los Angeles

2019 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Honorees (Presented by American Airlines)

Pho 79

Garden Grove, CA

Owners: Thọ Trần and Liễu Trần  

Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House

Huntington, WV

Owners: Jimmie Tweel Carder, Larry Tweel, and Ron Tweel

A&A Bake & Double Roti Shop

Brooklyn, NY

Owner: Noel and Geeta Brown

Sehnert's Bakery & Bieroc Café

McCook, NE

Owners: Matt and Shelly Sehnert

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse

Washington, D.C.

Owner: Paul Katinas

2019 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year

The Giving Kitchen

Non-profit organization providing emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources

2019 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award

Patrick O’Connell

Five-time James Beard Award winner, 3-star Michelin chef, author, and owner of The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA


DoorDash Partners with Wyndham, Expands in Canada

DoorDash launched a new partnership with Wyndham Rewards, powering on-property delivery service to more than 3,700 hotels across the nation and offering guests access to DoorDash’s selection of restaurants. 

DoorDash is live in 50 citiesacross Canada with food operations underway in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Red Deer, Regina, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.


Available at more than 3,700 locations and counting, the partnership brings on-demand food access to most of Wyndham’s 20 well-known hotel brands, including household names like Days Inn® by Wyndham, Super 8® by Wyndham and La Quinta® by Wyndham, among others. Hotel guests will have a host of additional benefits like $0 delivery fees*, first-time customer discounts, and more, including special perks for members of Wyndham Rewards. Among the benefits available to guests:


“We are excited to partner nationwide with Wyndham Rewards, our first partner within the hotel space,” said Matt Rotella, DoorDash’s Head of Corporate Development. “This partnership extends our continued commitment to meeting our customers wherever they are, allowing them to have the same access to great restaurants and fantastic service while traveling.”

“As champions of the everyday traveler, Wyndham is continuously looking for new and innovative ways to enrich the guest experience at our hotels,” said Eliot Hamlisch, senior vice president, Worldwide Loyalty and Partnerships at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “With its best-in-class selection of restaurants and a rapidly expanding footprint, DoorDash enables us to provide an unparalleled array of in-room dining options. It’s a huge win for hotels as well as Wyndham Rewards members.”

By partnering with Wyndham Rewards, DoorDash will now be able to bring customers high-quality food and world-class service while they’re on the go. Leading the industry in selection, DoorDash offers delivery from over 310,000 stores on the platform, partnering with ninety percent of the top 100 restaurants that offer delivery, including national favorites like The Cheesecake Factory, Wendy’s and Chipotle.


For its Winnipeg Launch, DoorDash added 300 merchants to its roster and will be exclusively working with local and national favorites including NuBurger, Underdogs, and King + Bannatyne.


The company continues to rapidly grow and between 2018 and 2019 has more than quintupled its geographic footprint expanding from 600 to over 4,000 cities across the U.S. and Canada.  DoorDash plans to follow suit for 2019 and will plan to expand its footprint in Canada, aiming to be in 100 Canadian cities by the end of 2019. DoorDash first launched in Canada in 2015 in Toronto and in fall 2018 brought its social impact program, Project DASH, to Canada in partnership with the nonprofit food recovery organization Replate. Project DASH aims to fight hunger and reduce food waste by powering deliveries of surplus food from businesses to hunger relief nonprofits. Since its launch in Canada in fall 2018,

Project DASH has helped businesses in the Toronto area donate an estimated 25,000 pounds of surplus food to people in need.


OpenTable Acquires Venga


Booking Holdings Inc.  entered into an agreement to acquire Venga, a guest management platform for restaurants and other businesses. Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., Venga's SaaS technology enables its clients to enhance and personalize the customer experience. Following the acquisition, Venga will align closely with Booking Holdings' brand OpenTable to further improve offerings for its 51,000+ restaurant partners.

"Diners increasingly expect personalized experiences, and restaurants are looking for data to better serve their guests," said Andrea Johnston, Chief Operating Officer of OpenTable. "We're eager to incorporate Venga's services directly into our GuestCenter platform and help our restaurant partners deliver superior hospitality."


"It's a natural fit," said Sam Pollaro, Cofounder and CEO of Venga. "Joining the Booking Holdings family will allow us to bring our comprehensive suite of tools – personalized service, targeted marketing, feedback management and actionable analytics – to thousands more businesses."


Venga Cofounder and Chief Evangelist Winston Lord said, "Diners crave personalization. This will revolutionize the restaurant industry and enrich the way restaurants surprise and delight their guests."


SevenRooms Partners with Bookatable

SevenRooms announced a global partnership with Bookatable by Michelin. This partnership will allow existing SevenRooms clients to benefit from the extensive web and app reach of Bookatable’s reservation marketplace, while enabling Bookatable to extend their offering of restaurant choices to all diners. This restaurant technology integration is now available to all restaurants globally.


The direct integration seamlessly connects Bookatable and SevenRooms. For the first time, restaurant operators will be able to automatically push reservation inventory onto Bookatable, with the ability to configure inside SevenRooms which time slots are made available on the reservation marketplace. Bookings are pulled directly into the SevenRooms reservation book, including all guest data — from contact information to dining preferences.


Michel Cassius, CEO at Bookatable by Michelin said “We are delighted to be partnering with SevenRooms as it further establishes Bookatable as the most globally connected platform for both restaurants and diners. This partnership provides SevenRooms’ clients the opportunity to benefit from Bookatable’s unique marketplace position, while also offering consumers even greater access to some of the best restaurants in the world. Creating memorable experiences is central to what Bookatable does, so by increasing our roster of partners we are able to continue to solidify this offering.”


“SevenRooms’ partnership with Bookatable further delivers on our promise to open up as many direct booking channels as possible for restaurant operators, giving them, the resources they need to own their guest relationships and deliver on highly personalized service and marketing,” said Joel Montaniel, CEO of SevenRooms. “We are excited to introduce Bookatable by Michelin to our network, driving significant value to our current customers, who now have direct access to an expanded pool of high-value, reservation-seeking guests while utilizing our best-in-class reservation management system.”

eatsa Appoints Adam Brotman as CEO

eatsa appointed Adam Brotman Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Tim Young, former CEO and eatsa co-founder, will continue to lead product innovation and technology development for the company in the role of Chief Technology Officer.

Brotman joins eatsa following his most recent role as co-CEO, President and Chief Experience Officer at J.Crew, where he was responsible for launching their first-ever loyalty program. Prior to that, he spent a decade in various leadership roles at Starbucks, where he served as Executive Vice President of Global Retail Operations as well as Chief Digital Officer. A long-time technology innovator, Mr. Brotman was CEO and co-founder at PlayNetwork, a provider of digital music and video services for restaurants and retailers worldwide, prior to his time with Starbucks. 

“Adam brings an enormous amount of technology and restaurant industry expertise, with a deep understanding of how technology can truly transform operations and enable best-in-class customer engagement,” said Jon Shulkin, Executive Chairman of eatsa. “As eatsa continues to evolve and grow, Adam is the perfect fit to lead us on the path to becoming the definitive technology solution for the increasingly digitally driven restaurant industry. We are thrilled to welcome him to the eatsa team.”

 Brotman’s  industry expertise across the restaurant and retail technology industry will be a significant asset to eatsa as it continues to build out its ordering and loyalty offerings. During his time at Starbucks, Mr. Brotman was integral in developing and driving much of the company’s best-in-class digital platforms, such as loyalty, mobile apps, mobile payment, mobile ordering, customer-data driven personalized marketing, promoted and social media strategies, digital partnerships, and more. In addition, after being CDO for Starbucks, Brotman was responsible for store operations at the company, covering such areas as order fulfillment operations, deployment, store technology operations, labor scheduling, and more. Mr. Brotman holds a JD from the University of Washington School of Law, and a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

“I am excited to join the team at eatsa,” commented Mr. Brotman. “I know first-hand how important it is as an operator to be able to enhance and extend customer relationships using digital tools. And we have a vision at eatsa for creating a mobile, loyalty and personalization cloud platform that will be incredibly unique and valuable. I have been impressed with the forward-thinking innovation from eatsa to date, and we will build on that as we create a world-class platform to fundamentally change the ability for all restaurants and retailers to be able to engage with their customers.”

Tripleseat Integrates with OpenCity

Tripleseat has integrated with OpenCity which will enable the company to provide instant communication between customers and event teams, seamlessly capture private event leads, eliminate risks of double booking and ultimately drive more revenue for their clients. 

“At Tripleseat, we’re constantly trying to find ways to make our customers’ lives easier and looking for the best partners along the way,” said Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat. “One of the biggest challenges in the hospitality industry is instant communication between patrons and staff. Partnering with a great CRM platform like OpenCity, will help us solve that issue. We look forward to working together to offer our customers a pleasant and efficient experience.” 

“We’re thrilled to be working with a partner like Tripleseat. We live in a very fast-paced world. Today’s customers want instant gratification, they don’t have time to wait on the phone or use email to get answers. OpenCity’s innovative technology, coupled with Tripleseat’s market-leading event management platform, will allow customers to automatically book private events, capture leads, and manage inquiries. We’re proud to be at the forefront of innovation for the hospitality industry. This is truly a game-changer,” stated OpenCity’s CEO, Nick Belsito.

Southern Glazer's Launches Proof

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits is launching Proof™, a B2B eCommerce experience for its customers. Available at www.SGProof.com, the digital platform gives Southern Glazer’s customers the convenience and control of 24/7 online ordering and account management. Customers can search Southern Glazer’s extensive portfolio of brands, reorder favorites, and browse and discover exciting new products from anywhere and on any device. 

“Proof™ is one more way Southern Glazer’s is responding to the changing marketplace, meeting the evolving needs of our customers, and giving our suppliers new ways to grow their businesses,” said Wayne E. Chaplin, CEO, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “With this innovative new offering, we will be able to further strengthen customer relationships and become even better brand builders for our suppliers.”

Serving as a virtual beverage expert for customers, SGProof.com features product ratings and reviews from Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, and Whisky Advocate, customized product recommendations, food pairings, and more. Customers can also be confident that they will always receive the same pricing whether they order online, over the phone, or in person through their sales consultant. SGProof.com is currently available to customers in Indiana, Kentucky, and Washington, and will be available to customers in  Florida, Oregon, and South Carolina on May 20. Additional markets will be rolling out throughout 2019. 

“SGProof.com enables our suppliers to showcase thousands of products, while giving our customers the ability to use smart search technology to find offerings perfectly suited for their businesses,” added Carlos Vigil, Vice President, Commercial Effectiveness, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “We are truly setting the bar for a modern digital experience in the beverage industry.” 

In addition to benefits for suppliers and customers, Proof™ empowers Southern Glazer’s sales teams to focus on what they do best – consultative selling and spending more time exposing customers to new brands and insights that help them grow their businesses. Specifically, Southern Glazer’s has deployed a new Proof™ customer relationship management platform for its sales team that will give these front-line heroes valuable information to help them grow customers’ business.  Additionally, Proof™ contains a platform for the Southern Glazer’s customer advocacy team to enhance the customer experience. These new tools and teams leverage advanced data analytics and insights so Southern Glazer’s can respond faster and deliver better results for both customers and suppliers. 

“This initiative reinforces our longstanding tradition of service and innovation, while enhancing the value proposition we bring to our customers and suppliers,” said John Wittig, Chief Transformation Officer, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. “SGProof.com complements the service we provide to our customers through the most highly-trained and knowledgeable salesforce in the industry, with access to our world-class portfolio of brands just a few clicks away."

Offshore Up on the Roof


{repare for brand new views of Chicago’s magnificent skyline with the official opening of Offshore, the nation’s largest rooftop built for Chicago and its locals atop one of the city’s most iconic buildings, Navy Pier, this May. Offshore, a 36,000 sq. ft. all-seasons/all-weather venue will offer Chicagoans a full-service luminous bar and world-class kitchen, terraces, seven cozy fire pits, an entertainment and gaming area, and multiple large social gathering spaces. Sure to be one of the city’s and the country’s hottest destinations, this sexy and sophisticated space sits on the third floor atop Navy Pier’s Festival Hall at 1000 East Grand, and offers panoramic, unmatched views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline. 



Culinary direction for Offshore will be led by Executive Chef Michael Shrader, a protégé of Jeremiah Tower. Michael also served as Executive Chef for The N9NE Group, and was the Founder and Executive Chef at Urban Union Chicago. At Offshore, he will focus on seasonal, modern American cuisine with global influences served as small, shareable plates. Special on-site catering menus will also be available. Clay Livingston, formerly Partner and General Manager of Red Herring Lounge and Kitchen in Louisville, will develop and curate the beverage program seasonally, with playful house made craft cocktails, wine, champagne, and strong local craft beer options to choose from. Signature, Instagrammable drinks include a lychee-style cocktail, a fruit-forward cocktail served in a bag, and much more.



As guests enter Offshore, they are greeted with a wall of cascading, colorful propellers that are flanked by two slate metal vintage series pool tables on either side. Floating globe lights dot the way through the corridor to the 16-foot-tall, 8,500 square foot indoor space. As guests continue in, they will be wowed by a sprawling 100 foot, 60-stool bar. Curvy, white finishes with brass and iron-like metals line the space, with deep blue and warm yellow accents throughout. The indoor area, available for private buy-outs of many sizes, features custom brass whistle-shaped light fixtures, captain chairs, and oversized “playpens” made of a mashup of geometric cushions specifically designed for socializing. A barrel-vaulted roof and an operable glass enclosure conceals the entire indoor space, and fully retracts allowing the lakeside breeze in, regardless of day or month. Guests are welcomed onto the Terrace with a selection of soft seating on the far Northeast corner of the Pier, providing them with a completely unique perspective of the city skyline not found anywhere else.


Architectural parasols run the length of the 20,000 square foot Terrace, along with communal tables lined with clusters of globe lighting positioned in netting floating overhead. The space also offers high top tables for patrons to mingle and enjoy a cocktail. Seven fire pits are spread throughout. A highlight of the deck is a 450 square-foot planter with lush greenery shaped like Chicago’s “Y” symbol, a nod to the Chicago river. On the Southeast end of the terrace, a stage for live entertainment overlooks the city’s skyline. Two private lawns with sail shade canopies will act as a destination for group gaming, social gatherings, bridal parties, weddings, and much more.


Barone Joins SRG Board


‘Sustainable Restaurant Group announced the addition of Christine Barone, CEO of True Food Kitchen, to the company’s Board of Directors. 


SRG started in 2008 with the launch of Bamboo Sushi, the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant. In 2016 the company added QuickFish, a sustainable quick service restaurant. With a national expansion of its Bamboo Sushi concept underway thanks to significant funding from a leading investment firm, SRG welcomes Barone’s knowledge and expertise as it embarks into its next chapter.


"We are thrilled to welcome Christine Barone, a fellow advocate of sustainable and mindful business practices, to our board,” said Kristofor Lofgren, Founder and CEO of Sustainable Restaurant Group. “Sustainable Restaurant Group and True Food Kitchen both share such a deep commitment to inspiring change and enriching the communities we live in. Christine is an incredibly accomplished leader with invaluable insights that will help us accelerate our ongoing growth, just as she has with True Food Kitchen."


Earlier in her career, Barone served as the Senior Vice President of Food at Starbucks where she led the roll-out and launch of La Boulange Bakery offerings to over 12,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada. Christine joined True Food Kitchen as CEO in August 2016, where she has since grown the business from 12 restaurants in 2016 to 27 today in 12 states.  Prior to that, she spent years leading multiple teams as a management consultant at Bain & Company, where she advised leaders of retail and consumer business on strategy, marketing, organization and operations. Much like SRG’s Founder and CEO, Kristofor Lofgren, who launched his career as an environmental lawyer and investor, Barone began her career as an investment banker, a departure from the food industry, but also a role that lends its financial experience to different areas of leadership, such as her work with Bain, Starbucks, and now True Food Kitchen.


“Sustainable Restaurant Group’s passion for building brands rooted in conscious hospitality is impressive,” said Barone.  “I’m thrilled to join the SRG Board of Directors and help advance their mission and commitment to defining the future of hospitality through healthy, sustainable change and community enrichment – all values that align with those of True Food Kitchen.” 

Now serving on SRG’s Board of Directors, Barone will lend her passion and expertise to Lofgren’s team as SRG gains momentum in its own expansion. SRG will add to its current portfolio of nine restaurant locations across Portland, Oregon and Denver, Colorado with three new locations in the San Francisco Bay Area this year. SRG’s Bay Area expansion will kick off in September with its opening of Bamboo Sushi within San Ramon’s City Center Bishop Ranch, a newly opened 300,000-square-foot shopping, dining and entertainment destination. Subsequent locations, including one in San Jose’s Westfield Valley Fair shopping center, as well as a flagship in downtown San Francisco, will follow. Over the next two years, SRG will continue its expansion of Bamboo Sushi to new markets to meet the demand of consumers seeking an authentic, premium sushi experience rooted in a strong dedication to sustainability.


 Award-Winning Blog

QSR Automations, announced that its company blog has been named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award in Web Writing/Content category for the 17th Annual American Business Awards® The American Business Awards are the U.S.A.’s premier business awards program. All organizations operating in the U.S.A. are eligible to submit nominations — public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small.

More than 3,800 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Startup of the Year, Executive of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year, Live Event of the Year, and App of the Year, among others. QSR Automations was nominated in the Web Awards category for specialty companies.

“Judges have selected our blog as a Gold Award winner and we are truly honored,” stated QSR Automations’ Marketing & Communications Director Amber Mullaney. “This award strengthens our team’s ongoing commitment to keep our audience of hospitality managers and executives well informed with content that speaks to their market, which is in a constant state of change.” Mullaney also shared comments from one of the judges which centered on the well-designed aspect of the blog and gave another judges’ written perspective: “Very well done. Excellent layout and content strategy mix.”

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) was honored to author a recent post for the QSR Blog on the subject of Mindfulness