Multi-Unit Catering Council and a ‘Titantic’ Undertaking

On the plate for MRM’s Daily Bite we have news of a new catering council focused on multi-unit operators, TripAdvisor enhancements for restaurateurs and a New Orleans coffee staple looks to grow through franchising.
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Catering Council for Multi-Unit Operators Launches

A group of restaurant industry leaders have united to create the Catering Council for Multi-Unit Restaurant Operators(‘CCMURO’), an advocacy group focused on addressing regulations, policies, technological changes and best practices in the ‘off-premise’ segment, including takeout, delivery and catering.

Founding members of the CCMURO gathered in Atlanta in June for their first official meeting, and announced plans to work together on issues of common concern as part of a broader initiative to raise the profile of the growing off-premise segment. This includes the development of a common set of operational standards and procedures related to new delivery technologies and start-ups.CCMURO-logo-2017

“This group is important because it brings together industry professionals looking for solutions that we can all benefit from in our perspective roles. It also looks at factors affecting catering and delivery from a wide-range perspective,” said Barbara Blackwell, director of catering for Bruegger’s Bagels and a member of the group’s communications committee. “I hope to gain a strong network of industry professionals built on authentic relationships and a passion for what we do as leaders.”

As its first priority, the CCMURO plans to launch a ‘Bill of Rights’ for restaurant operators working with third-party delivery providers. The Bill of Rights will outline the obligations of all parties and what operators need to consider when negotiating third-party delivery contracts. In addition, the group will work on a consumer Bill of Rights so users of restaurant delivery services know what they should expect when ordering through third-party providers.

“Having just been through this process, I can honestly say there are many operators who should consider these types of terms and standards when signing third-party contracts,” said Ed Keller, director of off-premise sales for Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, and a member of the group’s advocacy committee. “Through the development of this Bill of Rights, we hope to make the process easier for restaurant operators going through a similar process. Every operator looking into delivery will now have a uniform set of standards that they can follow.”

Other activities of the CCMURO include the development of industry research designed to track trends and sales in the off-premise space.

TripAdvisor Adds Enhancements

TripAdvisor has unveiled for restaurateurs to help them further optimize their restaurant listing. The latest enhancements include:         

  • Top 3 Reasons to Eat Here: Premium for Restaurants subscribers can now further differentiate their listing by sharing their “Top 3 Reasons to Eat Here” with prospective diners. This new feature allows owners to select and promote three attributes which set their restaurant apart – enticing new customers. For an example of the feature, click here.
  • Manage Listing Form: All registered owners can now easily edit their restaurant listing details on both desktop and mobile with a revamped Manage Listing Form tool. Quickly update information including restaurant contact details, location, hours, cuisine types and features/amenities as well as access customer support with ease.
  • Redesigned Management Center Homepage: A redesigned Management Center Homepage on desktop allows all registered owners to seamlessly view their property’s current live content, see a summary of recent reviews, monitor performance trends, and access/address important alerts.
PJ’s Coffee Plans National Expansion

PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, a New Orleans-based coffeehouse, is gearing up for a nationwide expansion, developing beyond the southeastern United States. With more than 90 national and international locations, the brand is continuing momentum by partnering with local entrepreneurs in metropolitan cities across the country.  PJ's Coffee logo

PJ’s Coffee has signed agreements and multi-unit deals in Colorado, Texas, Maryland, Virginia, and Vietnam. The first location slated to open is Pueblo, Colo. Additional target cities for expansion include Mobile, Ala.; Atlanta; Houston; Lafayette, La.; and Jackson, Miss. PJ’s Coffee is making its mark in the $100 billion a year coffee industry, anticipating 100 locations open by the end of 2017. 

“PJ’s Coffee has seen incredible success and growth in the southeastern part of the nation, so we are ramping up our development efforts on a national and international level,” said Ballard Brands President, Peter Boylan. “The business model of PJ’s Coffee has been built to be incredibly versatile and easily replicated in both traditional and non-traditional markets in order to bring the NOLA spirit to other parts of the nation.” 

PJ’s Coffee serves a wide variety of iced, frozen, hot, cold brew, and nitro-infused coffees using only the top one percent of Arabica beans, as well as organic tea and fresh breakfast pastries. PJ’s famous iced coffees are brewed daily using a special cold-drip process that protects the flavor and strength of the beans, while producing a coffee that is two thirds less acidic – a process pioneered by PJ’s Coffee founder, Phyllis Jordan.

PJ's Iced Coffee Concentrate_FINAL
PJ’s Iced Coffee Concentrate

The brand works with partners from farms in all parts of the world to identify and source the highest quality coffee. It has adopted the El Terrerito Farm in Honduras, owned by Al Lopez and supported by 26 families who work on the farm and harvest Arabica coffee plants.  Working together, PJ’s Coffee has developed programs to ensure a higher-quality of life for Honduran farmers, while minimizing its environmental footprint.

“It has always been a top priority to establish direct trade relationships to ensure we’re providing the highest quality products, and as we celebrate our 40th year, we know our farm-to-cup philosophy will be welcomed by communities and cities across the nation,” said PJ’s Coffee Roastmaster, Felton Jones. “We are always looking for entrepreneurs who have a passion for excellence in hospitality and embody the New Orleans spirit that the PJ’s Coffee brand encapsulates.”

Perspective franchisees can expect an investment between $166,400 and $440,000 for traditional and non-traditional units. The operating model and menu is adaptable to any environment with different options including kiosks and free-standing locations with a drive-thru, ranging from a few hundred square feet up to 2200 square feet. P

Founded in 1978 by Phyllis Jordan, the coffeehouse was acquired by Ballard Brands in 2008 which was spearheaded by brothers Paul, Scott and Steve Ballard.  PJ’s Coffee is projected to have 100 locations open by the end of 2017.  

Spectrio Debuts Overhead Music Service

Spectrio, an end-to-end technology-enabled company that provides audio and video marketing solutions, launched an overhead music (OHM) service with access to more than one million fully-licensed songs and the ability to insert custom messages for a  personalized in-restaurant audio experience. While Spectrio has 25,000 clients using its OHM solution, this new service gives restaurant owners the ability to target patrons and drive buying behavior. Sixty-six percent of customers say in-store messaging influences their purchasing decisions, but until now, restaurants have lacked the ability to control their overhead music and messaging in one seamless solution.

Spectrio’s custom music and messaging solution is specifically designed to work independently of a restaurant’s in-store network, which eliminates any competition for bandwidth. It also allows the retailer to easily track ROI against the playlists created to determine the most successful combinations for future marketing efforts.

For restaurant chains with numerous locations in need of a custom solution, Spectrio’s team of location-based marketing consultants can analyze the restaurant’s diners, their buying behavior throughout the day, as well as the restaurant’s competitors. Based on the findings, Spectrio’s programming team can then create custom-designed playlists of fully-licensed music and allow the restaurant owner to insert highly customized messaging through an online dashboard, to target patrons at specific times of the day, days of the week, in certain restaurants, regions and more – much like a radio station creates dayparts to target different listeners. National messaging can be played across a portfolio of restaurants, or specific specials can promote a discount in one location only – all controlled from an easy to use dashboard. All clients also have the ability to exclude particular genres, songs, albums or even artists that might not fit the diner’s profile or the restaurant’s brand. The Spectrio solution also ensures competitor advertising will never be heard.

“Spectrio’s unique music and messaging solution is truly revolutionary for our customers in that they have complete control to create a custom in-restaurant marketing experience,” said Aaron Kleinhandler – CEO, Spectrio. “If a 200-location restaurant chain is serving a regional micro-brew in only a handful of stores, with a few mouse clicks they can create the perfect genre of music to match their location and customers and add custom messages to promote that product for only those locations. We believe this new service, in combination with our extensive national footprint, cements our position as a leading provider of overhead music solutions.”

Verdient Foods Launches
(Left to right) Premier Brad Wall, James Cameron, Suzy Amis Cameron, Greg Yuel, Olivia Yuel Photo Credit – Chad Reynold, Golden Media

Oscar-winning film director and Canadian native James Cameron and his wife Suzy Amis Cameron announced today the formation of Verdient Foods Inc. On September 18, Verdient Foods opened new pulse food processing facility in Vanscoy, Saskatchewan, near the province’s largest city Saskatoon. Once fully operational, the 160,000 metric-ton facility will become the largest organic pea protein fractionation facility in North America.

The province of Saskatchewan, with some of the healthiest soil in the world, has a lengthy history of fostering elite agricultural businesses and educational institutions that are at the forefront of plant-based protein solutions. The Camerons have entered into a four-year research contract with the non-profit Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre (“Food Centre”) and its president, Daniel Prefontaine, to develop value-added organic food products that will be produced by Canadian and global companies using ingredients from their Verdient Foods plant.

The Camerons are dedicated to working with Saskatchewan farmers in a mentorship program to provide a profitable structure to keep younger generations of Canadian farmers engaged in organic farming. James Cameron said, “We are working with Saskatchewan farmers through the Verdient Foods processing facility and the Food Centre to integrate food production with new value-added products.”

Added Suzy Amis Cameron: “For years, we’ve been on a mission to help the world eat healthy food grown by farmers who have chosen to farm organically. Jim and I are thrilled to work with Saskatchewan experts at the Food Centre, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Whitecap Dakota First Nation; all of whom have long been supporters of the mission to bring healthy food to all.”

“We want to welcome James and Suzy Amis Cameron to Saskatchewan, and express our deepest gratitude for their investment in Verdient Foods and their partnerships with the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre, the Whitecap Dakota First Nation and its First Nation leader, Chief Darcy Bear,” Premier Wall said. “Saskatchewan agriculture is feeding the world while creating jobs and opportunity at home. The Camerons’ decision to move forward with this project in Saskatchewan is a tribute to the province’s grain producers, our growing food processing industry, and our world leading research community.”

Continuing with their efforts to align with Saskatchewan farmers, researchers and business leaders, the Camerons are partnering in Verdient Foods Inc. with Greg and Olivia Yuel, of PIC Investment Group Inc. (PIC). Greg and Olivia’s dedication to Saskatchewan and their strong family values make them ideal investment partners. “PIC Investment Group Inc. is a family office located in Saskatchewan with operating companies and equity investments in many sectors,” Greg Yuel said. “Our long term perspective matches our partner in this opportunity perfectly. Verdient Foods validates the 20 year effort of Saskatchewan’s blueprint for growth by adding value to our commodities. PIC is delighted to be a part of this future coming to reality.”