Milk Bar Sweetens the Pot and MRM on Restaurant MBA Podcast

MRM’s Daily Bite features news from Milk Bar, Applebee’s, Sterling-Rice Group, Captain D’s and Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine ourselves. 
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MRM on Restaurant MBA
Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia was honored to be invited on the Restaurant MBA podcast to discuss the worldwide restaurant industry and content marketing.
Click here to listen to the conversation.
Some of the topics we discussed include:
  • Being authentic through trial and error
  • Ways that you can market locally
  • How to really use word of mouth
  • Going more in depth & digging deep to find real value
  • Thought leadership, and why that matters
  • Talking about garbage
  • Using each social platform in a different way
  • Don’t spend your whole day on social, and finding your balance
Milk Bar Eyes Expansion  
Milk Bar, the bakery and dessert brand founded by CEO Christina Tosi, raised Series A funding from RSE Ventures to expand the reach of its desserts and snacks both online and offline.  The new funding will be used to further Milk Bar’s mission of “making life a little sweeter” and marks the brand’s first outside investment.
“For almost a decade, we’ve built the Milk Bar spirit patiently and purposefully by infusing our personality and culture into everything we create from the ground up,”said Tosi, founder and CEO of Milk Bar.  “We are excited to spread our curious and playful spirit all over the world through unexpected channels and innovative products, to empower people and remind them to take time to celebrate the everyday.  It’s all about that Milk Bar Life!”
Milk Bar City Center
The strategic investment from RSE Ventures, the venture firm co-founded by vice chairman of the Miami Dolphins,Matt Higgins, and  founder and chairman of Related Companies, Stephen Ross, will help Milk Bar meet the growing demand for its products.  This includes opening thoughtful brick-and-mortar stores in new cities, revamping its growing e-commerce and digital platform, and expanding its offerings of in-store and at-home baking experiences to drive a greater DIY baking culture across the country.  Milk Bar will also continue to expand the reach of its baking mixes, proprietary coffee and merchandise.

Milk Bar currently has twelve locations in New York, Washington, D.C, Las Vegas, and Toronto, and plans to open two more D.C. locations in late 2017, as well as a flagship location in Los Angeles in early 2018.

“Milk Bar is changing the way we think about baked goods,” said Matt Higgins, co-founder and CEO of RSE Ventures.  “As a culinary pioneer, Christina has inspired entirely new dessert categories.  Milk Bar is driving towards something even bigger – a way of life that creates connectivity and inspires play – sparked by something as simple as a cookie.  Their growth potential is limitless.”

RSE’s many investments span food, lifestyle, entertainment, sports, and technology.  Under Higgins, RSE has incubated and invested in numerous companies, the likes of which include Momofuku, Resy, VaynerMedia, &pizza, and the International Champions Cup.

Applebee’s Salutes Franchisees

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar® honored franchisees and vendors who demonstrated excellence in operational performance and leadership at the 2017 Applebee’s Fall Franchise Conference in Boca Raton, FL.

Apple American Group Chairman and CEO Greg Flynn and his team celebrate winning the Abe Gustin Franchisee of the Year Award at the 2017 Applebee’s Fall Franchise Conference in Boca Raton, Florida on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017.

“It’s always an honor to recognize those who represent this great brand exceptionally well,” said John Cywinski, president of Applebee’s. “We have some of the best franchisees in the business who define excellence in leadership and innovation. I’m proud to be part of this extraordinarily unique Applebee’s family.”

The Abe Gustin Franchisee of the Year Award: Apple American Group and Chairman and CEO, Greg Flynn
This annual award, named for the man who helped build Applebee’s into the nation’s iconic, casual dining brand, is given to a franchisee who has achieved the highest standards possible for the Applebee’s brand, restaurants and guests. Applebee’s largest franchisee, with 475 restaurants, Apple American Group has proven to be an invaluable and operational leader. The organization continues to set the bar for industry excellence not only in restaurant operations, but by the positive impact it makes in each neighborhood it serves nationwide.

The Lloyd Hill Neighbor of the Year Award: The Rose Group
This award, newly named after one of our historic leaders who fueled Applebee’s unparalleled growth and championed its unique culture, recognizes the Applebee’s franchisee that has demonstrated an infinite amount of generosity, compassion and care for their neighbors through a variety of causes, activities and initiatives. This year’s honoree was The Rose Group. The Rose Group embraces every neighborhood they serve. From hosting more than 2,100 charitable events and fulfilling more than 2,000 donation requests to serving more than 27,300 free meals to veterans and active duty military. While already an extensive list, the group’s biggest passion project came 13 years ago when they took a phone call from Liz Scott, co-founder of the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, building this into a brand-wide initiative. To date, the Rose Group has raised more than $3.6 million for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

The Bill Palmer Heart of Applebee’s Award: Doherty Enterprises
This award, named after the founder of the brand, is awarded to a single Applebee’s franchisee that has shown the greatest commitment to an individual cause or organization. The 2017 recipient of the Heart of Applebee’s award is Doherty Enterprises, in recognition for their WOW a Friend Foundation. In 2007, Doherty created the Foundation to support its internal family or team members with immediate financial assistance during times of hardship. Since 2007, their Foundation has raised more than $2.7 million and given back more than $1.6 million to Doherty employees.

The Operator of the Year Award: Dan Krebsbach, Apple American Group
This award recognizes an operator who is passionate about what they do at Applebee’s, and goes above and beyond every day to ensure their restaurants and management teams exceed guest expectations. This year’s recipient, Dan Krebsbach, SVP of operations of Apple American Group has embedded a culture of high standards and accountability. Committed to providing guests with an outstanding experience each and every day, he has championed building strong teams and sustaining exceptional talent.

The International Franchisee of the Year Award: Internacional 999, Mexico
This award recognizes the international franchisee that has consistently raised the Applebee’s brand on an international level. For the first time, this honor was awarded to a franchisee for the second time, and consecutively. Internacional 999, Mexico was recognized for their dedication to talent development, menu testing, community support and overall business excellence.

The Vendor of the Year Award: Custom Culinary
Every year this honor is awarded to the vendor that made the greatest contribution to the Applebee’s system. This year, Custom Culinary was recognized as Applebee’s Vendor of the Year. Having been a longstanding supplier to the Applebee’s system with a proven record of innovation, professionalism and support. They consistently provide Applebee’s culinary with industry-best research and develop outstanding products.

Distributor of the Year Award: Gordon Food Service
This year’s Distributor of the Year Award winner is Gordon Food Service. This distributor demonstrated a truly remarkable performance to ensure continuity of supply to restaurants impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Top Culinary Trends

Sterling-Rice Group (SRG) identified its annual top culinary trends that will stand out on menus, expand onto grocery shelves, and attract consumer interest across the U.S. in the year ahead.

SRG’s 2018 Cutting-Edge Culinary Trends were compiled by SRG’s Culinary Team, led by Culinary Director Liz Moskow.  The report is the culmination of a year-long examination of the global foodscape, based on international scouting trips, in-depth primary research, and input from SRG’s Culinary Council, a team of more than 175 chefs, restaurateurs, and food experts from around the world.

“Some culinary trends may rise and fall within the same calendar year, yet many of the most relevant trends follow longer arcs, manifesting in connected, yet new, innovations along the way,” said Liz Moskow, SRG Culinary Director. “This year, we wanted to highlight the ‘trendjectories’ taken by the trends that allow them to maintain relevance and stay front and center in the minds of consumers.”

Look for these culinary trends to expand and grow next year as they move from cutting edge to mainstream:

  • Coffee + Spice is Everything Nice: Say goodbye to café lattes and hello to the flavor and functional benefits that herbs and spices add; think chai-style coffee or coffee layered with flavors of cinnamon, orange zest and clove.
  • U-mami Makes Breakfast: Diners are beginning to embrace jianbing, a traditional Chinese street-food breakfast crepe brushed with umami-rich hoisin and chili sauce; layered with egg, pickled veggies, and herbs, and sometimes customized with sausage or bacon.
  • Moringa is the Thinga!  Consumers just can’t get enough of the green, which is why we predict that moringa–a superfood derived from the dried leaves of the “tree of life”–will be the “thinga” in 2018 and beyond. With more protein, fiber, calcium and vitamins than matcha, watch for moringa to become the next matcha or golden milk.
  • Slow Dough: The frenzy for fermentation continues as artisan bakers and makers of pinsa-–an ancient Roman style of pizza that uses a flour blend with longer fermentation periods to make the bread easier to digest-–will spur a revolution in the way crusts are crafted.
  • Trendy Tea and The Chickpea: Burmese cuisine, a blend of Chinese, Laotian, Indian, and Thai flavors, has the staying power to appeal to a variety of different palates, and we predict it will be pushing front and center in 2018.
  • The Objectification of Food: Instagram has made food evermore about styling than substance. Next year the Culinary Institute of America will start offering classes on how to take “Insta-ready” photos of food. Full-on art installations and “foodzeums” are being created specifically to engage visually with food through the lens of a phone. Heading into 2018, we will continue to see visual food experiences created with the explicit purpose of getting the perfect photo opp.

For a complete look at cutting-edge Culinary Trends 2017, click here.  

Captain D’s Celebrates 100th Milestone in Georgia
Captain D’s said the opening of its newest franchised location in Hartwell, Georgia marks the brand’s 100threstaurant in the state. It also signifies Captain D’s  growth in the region, with an additional restaurant in Acworth currently in development.
The Hartwell restaurant is owned by long-time Captain D’s franchisees Jim and Valerie McClure of VJM Seafood Inc., who joined the company in 2004 after operating their family farm for more than two decades, and have since become leading multi-unit operators. The pair opened their first Captain D’s in their hometown of Dahlonega, Georgia, and over the past decade have continued to expand throughout Northeast Georgia and North Carolina, with the new Hartwell location marking their seventh Captain D’s franchise.
“Having joined Captain D’s more than 10 years ago, we’ve witnessed firsthand the company’s unwavering commitment to investing in its people, product and processes, which has helped transform the brand into a leading fast casual concept,” said Jim McClure. “Our continued expansion within our territory is a true testament to the confidence we have in the brand, and we’re proud to be a part of the company’s explosive growth in the Southeast. We look forward to welcoming the Hartwell community to our new restaurant and introducing them to the one-of-a-kind Captain D’s experience.”
Captain D’s  has agreements signed this year to open an additional 25 new restaurants in states across the country including Florida, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Virginia. Nearly 70 percent of all restaurants have been reimaged to the brand’s new coastal design, with another 50 locations to be remodeled by the end of this year.
With 527 restaurants in 21 states, Captain D’s is the fast-casual seafood leader and number one seafood franchise in America ranked by average unit volume. The company is currently seeking single- and multi-unit operators to join in the brand’s rapid expansion