This edition of MRM News Bites features NLRB, Condado Tacos, JBF, General Mills Convenience & Foodservice, Yelp, WorkJam and Forge, HungryPanda, QikServe and FreedomPay, Tablelist, xtraCHEF, Perk Labs and blixr.
NLRB Issues Joint-Employer Ruling
The National Labor Relations Board will issue its final rule tomorrow, February 26, governing joint-employer status under the National Labor Relations Act. The final rule restores the joint-employer standard that the Board applied for several decades prior to the 2015 decision in Browning-Ferris, but with the greater precision, clarity, and detail that rulemaking allows. As a result, the final rule provides clear guidance in this significant area of the law.
To be a joint employer under the final rule, a business must possess and exercise substantial direct and immediate control over one or more essential terms and conditions of employment of another employer’s employees. The final rule defines key terms, including what are considered “essential terms and conditions of employment,” and what does, and what does not, constitute “direct and immediate control” as to each of these essential employment terms. The final rule also defines what constitutes “substantial” direct and immediate control and makes clear that control exercised on a sporadic, isolated, or de minimis basis is not “substantial.”
Evidence of indirect and/or contractually reserved control over essential employment terms may be a consideration for finding joint-employer status under the final rule, but it cannot give rise to such status without substantial direct and immediate control. Importantly, the final rule also makes clear that the routine elements of an arm’s-length contract cannot turn a contractor into a joint employer.
The joint-employer standard under the NLRA is a matter of consequence because it determines whether a business is an employer of employees directly employed by another employer altogether. If two entities are joint employers, both must bargain with the union that represents the jointly employed employees, both are potentially liable for unfair labor practices committed by the other, and both are subject to union picketing or other economic pressure if there is a labor dispute.
In announcing the final rule, NLRB Chairman John F. Ring stated, “This final rule gives our joint-employer standard the clarity, stability, and predictability that is essential to any successful labor-management relationship and vital to our national economy.” He added, “With the completion of today’s rule, employers will now have certainty in structuring their business relationships, employees will have a better understanding of their employment circumstances, and unions will have clarity regarding with whom they have a collective-bargaining relationship.”
The NLRB issued an NPRM concerning joint-employer status under the NLRA on September 13, 2018. In response to its request for public comments, the Board received and considered nearly 29,000 comments. The final rule will be effective April 27, 2020.
The National Restaurant Association released the following statement from Shannon Meade, vice president of public policy, regarding a final joint employer rule:
“Today the National Labor Relations Board enacted vital and long-overdue regulations to provide clarity and certainty for thousands of small- and family-owned businesses, especially restaurants. For five years, these independent businesses, many of which are single-unit franchises, have faced serious threats of regulatory non-compliance and legal action that have restricted capital investment and stifled growth and job creation.
“By overturning the controversial and convoluted Browning-Ferris decision, the National Labor Relations Board has enacted a clear, actionable, and predictable approach to joint employment based on a thorough and transparent rule-making process.”
Chairman Ring was joined by Board Members Marvin E. Kaplan and William J. Emanuel in issuing the new joint-employer final rule.
Condado Taco Plots Growth
Condado Tacos, top photo, partnered with The Beekman Group LLC, a private equity firm based in New York City. Condado plans to accelerate growth by bringing its build-your-own taco concept to guests across the country who are craving a convenient, relaxed hangout spot that celebrates creativity and fresh ingredients. This partnership creates opportunities for Condado to expand into new markets beyond its Midwest roots and grow in its existing communities. Condado also plans to further invest in the professional development of its team members.
“The Beekman Group’s strong track record of success, coupled with their warmth and sincerity — both in seeking to understand Condado as well as committing to what makes the concept unique — made them the obvious choice for an investment partner,” said Joe Kahn, founder and CEO of Condado. “We’re excited to see what this next phase with Beekman will bring and look forward to many years of growth and continued success.”
With 15 locations in six markets across four states, Condado resonates with a broad audience through its come-as-you-are vibe and emphasis on delivering high-quality food and service. With plans for national expansion, Condado’s growth goals include adding six to eight new restaurants annually. Each location will continue to highlight the local community through the brand’s distinct and vibrant street-art decor. In 2020, Condado will open seven new locations, including entering a new market in Dayton, Ohio and adding a second location in Detroit, Michigan.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Condado Tacos in the continued mission of creating dining experiences where uniqueness is celebrated,” said Chris Artinian, Managing Director at The Beekman Group. “Joe along with the Condado team, has created an exciting brand with a differentiated experience serving up Tacos and Tequila to a broad audience in a fun upbeat atmosphere. We are looking forward to a great partnership while supporting Condado Tacos in its next phase of growth.”
BMO Capital Markets advised Condado on the transaction, while Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP provided legal counsel. The Beekman Group was represented by Akerman LLP.
JBF Announces America's Classics Winners
The James Beard Foundation named the six recipients of its 2020 America's Classics Award. The award is given to locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and are beloved regionally for quality food that reflects the character of its community. This year’s honorees join the ranks of over 100 restaurants across the country that have received the Award since the category was introduced in 1998. They will be celebrated at the annual James Beard Awards Gala on Monday, May 4, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
The 2020 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award winners are:
Lassis Inn (518 E. 27th St., Little Rock, AR; Owners: Elihue Washington Jr. and Maria Washington)
In Arkansas, ordering buffalo ribs will land you a plate of fried fish—seasoned, battered ribs cut from local big-boned buffalo fish. In Little Rock, the place to eat them is Lassis Inn. Founded by Joe and Molassis Watson in 1905, it started as a sandwich shop out of their home, with Joe later adding catfish and buffalo ribs to the menu. Lassis Inn (the name is a shorthand for Molassis) later became a meeting place for Civil Rights leaders like Daisy Bates during the ’50s and ’60s. Under current owners Elihue Washington Jr. and his wife Maria, it remains a community hub—a gathering spot where people come for buffalo ribs, cold beer, and warm conversation.
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth (730 S. Main St., Frankenmuth, MI; Owner: Dorothy Zehnder and family)
Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, a chicken-dinner behemoth positioned between Detroit and Michigan’s summer lake destination, is decidedly on the beaten path. William Zehnder, Sr. and his wife Emilie bought a former hotel in 1928. Today the restaurant — part of a complex, run by third and fourth generation family members, that includes a hotel, waterpark, and golf course — can accommodate 1,500 guests and brings in close to a million people each year. Road-trippers come for family-style meals of crisp-skinned fried chicken, dressing, mashed potatoes, liver pâté, cranberry relish, cottage cheese, and more, all replenished until worn-out diners signal they’re ready for a scoop of sherbet with a paper American flag planted alongside the maraschino cherry. Then it’s time to pose for photos with a patient mascot in a rooster suit.
Puritan Backroom (245 Hooksett Rd., Manchester, NH; Owner: Arthur Pappas, Chris Pappas and Eric Zink)
In 1906, friends Arthur Pappas and Louis Canotas left Greece in search of a sweeter life. They opened the Puritan Confectionary Company in Manchester in 1917, the first in a line of ice cream shops and restaurants throughout the city. Their children followed in their footsteps, opening the Puritan Backroom in 1974. Today this location also includes a bustling takeout business and a conference and event center. Customers still line up for Puritan ice cream, and crowd into booths for American comfort food and Greek classics. Above all, they come for chicken tenders (which the Backroom claims to have invented), along with a mudslide or two, another house specialty. This New Hampshire mainstay has become a required stop for candidates passing through on the campaign trail. In an era of division, it is a rare nonpartisan space where everyone feels welcome. Today the restaurant is run by third-generation owner Arthur Pappas, son Chris, and son-in-law Eric. Chris Pappas, who caught the political bug growing up at the restaurant, is currently a New Hampshire congressman.
Oriental Mart (1506 Pike Pl., #509, Seattle, WA; Owner: Mila Apostol and Joy Apostol)
In 1971, Mila Apostol opened Oriental Mart also known as “O’Mart” in Pike Place Market to give fellow Filipino immigrants the groceries and culture they missed from back home. Eventually, Mila and her eldest daughter Leila raided their store shelves to make adobo and sinigang for farmers delivering produce to the market. Word spread to Filipino flight crews and cruise ship workers, but also to Seattle at large. Today, Mila’s daughter Joy runs the retail side of their market stall, while Leila oversees a counter in the style of the Philippines’ turo restaurants, filling her glass hot case with the fried noodles known as pancit, juicy longanisa, and long-simmered adobo. There’s always sinigang; Leila adapts the classic tamarind-sour soup to its Northwest surroundings with salmon collars procured from neighboring fish vendors.
El Taco de Mexico (714 Santa Fe Drive, Denver, CO; Owner: Sasha Zanabria)
Among Denver’s thriving Mexican food culture, El Taco de Mexico is a lodestar whose appeal cuts across lines of race, class, and age. Maria Luisa Zanabria, a native of Mexico City, arrived in the city in 1985, first opening a trailer on Santa Fe Drive in Denver’s Art District. Her business grew into a small taqueria with a bright, bumblebee-yellow exterior. The serious, focused cooks (all women) keep pace with the all-day crowds, turning out tacos (carne asada, al pastor, and lengua are among the options), enchilada, gorditas, and weekend menudo. The restaurant’s crowning glory is the pork burrito, smothered in green chile humming with earthy spice. Made extra-heaping as a breakfast burrito stuffed with egg and chorizo, it brings bleary-eyed devotees back to life.
Vera’s Backyard Bar-B-Que (2404 Southmost Blvd, Brownsville, TX; Owner: Armando Vera)
Armando “Mando” Vera and his family practice a near-lost art in South Texas: barbacoa de cabeza (barbecued cow’s head) buried underground in a brick-lined pit and smoked for up to 12 hours. The tradition stems from the region’s 19th century vaquero-cowboy culture; Vera’s father opened a restaurant serving the specialty in 1955. Barbacoa is for weekend feasts. Customers request meat by the pound or half-pound (cachete, or cheek meat, is a rich and popular cut) and then build their own tacos with tortillas, homemade garnishes, onion, and cilantro that come with each order. Brownsville is a four-hour drive from San Antonio, the closest major Texas city, but the chance to savor this disappearing border-town delicacy merits a pilgrimage.
Pillsbury Professional Online Debuts
General Mills Foodservice launched the Pillsbury Professional Online Community, a resource to help foodservice professionals bring out their inner baker and make baking easier. Leveraging the Pillsbury brand with more than 150 years of baking expertise, the website will connect users to a community of baking experts and enthusiasts nationwide to share ideas, ask questions and collaborate in a supportive online forum with others who are passionate about baking.
Pillsbury Professional is the only online community of its kind devoted to assisting foodservice professionals with challenges around baking and to helping them identify solutions that work in a foodservice environment. The digital platform will offer recipe inspiration, how-to videos, baking trend analysis and an interactive forum that allows users to submit questions and connect with baking experts and peers from across the country.
“Fresh-made baked goods are an essential and growing part of any foodservice operation, but we recognize they can also be a challenge,” said Kelley Walhof, assistant brand experience manager for General Mills Foodservice. “Pillsbury Professional is meant to be a place where our customers can come to learn, find inspiration and ask their questions about baking so they don’t have to start from scratch.”
Pillsbury, which offers an extensive line of baking mixes and ready-to-bake items, strives to help foodservice operations maximize their back-of-house labor and turn out high-quality, scratch-like baked goods. Pillsbury Professional, however, aims to do even more to support customers by giving them the opportunity to interact with baking experts and peers in a way that doesn’t currently exist in the marketplace, according to Walhof.
“We wanted to create a community different than other social platforms where foodservice professionals can come and connect with one another about baking to see what is working best, share best practices and discuss some of the common challenges they may be experiencing,” said Walhof. “We know they face substantial labor challenges, so between our products and this new connection, we hope to help ease some of those pain points.”
How it works:
At www.PillsburyProfessional.com, foodservice professionals will have access to detailed information about how to bake a wide assortment of craveable baked goods on foodservice menus, including standards of identity for each item, instructional videos and inspirational photography.
Registered users can post a question or recipe photo where others, including experts from the professional culinary team at Pillsbury, can provide comments and advice—building on each other’s expertise to provide input and help solve common baking challenges.
In addition to a searchable database for answers about products and baking questions, the site will share trending topics, menu-planning ideas, recipes and troubleshooting tips.
“We are excited to debut Pillsbury Professional, partnering with and empowering foodservice operators with baking knowledge, ideas and inspiration so they can do more of what they love,” said Walhof.
Yelp's V-Day Success
Yelp Inc. reported strong growth and momentum in its restaurant services offerings, with a record-setting Valentine's Day in which Yelp’s reservation and waitlist software helped seat nearly 250,000 diners via Yelp2, a more than 2X increase YoY. This comes on the heels of the company closing out 2019 by growing diners seated by more than 150 percent YoY and seating 3.3 million diners via Yelp in December 2019 – the company’s best month ever – as well as seating more than one million diners New Year’s week. The company is also announcing new product features for Yelp Waitlist that will make it even easier for diners to get seated at their favorite restaurants.
Yelp Reservations and Waitlist are helping to optimize restaurant operations by improving front-of-house efficiency. Yelp's restaurant technology is increasing foot traffic to restaurants, providing more accurate wait times, seating more customers during traditionally slower dining time, and driving return diners by improving the customer experience. Since acquiring NoWait in 2017, Yelp Waitlist has saved diners more than 13 billion minutes of wait time.
"Restaurants today are dealing with more competition than ever to get diners through their front door and keep operating costs low," said Devon Wright, General Manager of Yelp Restaurants Marketplaces. "This is why we're focused on building tailored packages for restaurants of all sizes to meet their individual needs, as well as developing new product features we know restaurants and consumers want. By creating even more value and convenience for both restaurants and consumers we've solidified Yelp as a one-stop-shop for restaurants to increase diner demand and retention, in addition to managing their front-of-house."
In an industry with increasing competition and narrow margins, restaurants of all sizes – from local to mid-market restaurants and national chains – have partnered with Yelp to help improve front-of-house efficiency and seat more diners.
"At Chili's, we never stop exploring how technology can enhance the guest and team member experience both in the restaurant and on-the-go," said Wade Allen, senior vice president and chief digital officer at Brinker International, Inc., owner of the Chili's® Grill & Bar brand. "Yelp Waitlist allows us to dial up the hospitality during peak hours, as well as reach new potential guests as they scroll through Yelp and immediately see if there’s no wait, or jump on our waitlist with one touch."
“Since launching Yelp Waitlist systemwide several years ago, we’ve been able to improve guest satisfaction, as well as improve our throughput, table turns and guest counts,” said Jan Barnett, chief marketing officer for Another Broken Egg Cafe, a national brand serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and hand-crafted cocktails. “Our cafes that use Yelp Waitlist tend to have higher average unit volume than our system average and many of those same cafes are seeing increases in both sales and guest counts. We’ve also successfully reallocated labor hours to better serve our guests, which improves the overall diner experience. Now instead of our guests waiting on us, we’re waiting on them much more efficiently.”
“With Yelp Waitlist we’ve been able to increase our front-of-house efficiency and add additional guests to our busy brunch queue that otherwise would not have wanted to wait for a table,” said Kevin Bethyo, managing partner at Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe, a breakfast and lunch cafe with multiple locations in Chicago. “Plus our guests are a lot happier because they can always see their place in line. A win-win from Yelp!”
According to Yelp data, diners seated through the Yelp app return to the same restaurant twice as often as other diners, and 81 percent of diners say they're more likely to come back to a restaurant with Yelp Waitlist.
Products like Notify Me, Predictive Wait Times and Connect propelled Yelp’s diner seated growth and set the stage for a promising 2020. Today, the company is announcing new features for Yelp Waitlist, including:
Waitlist Search Support for Party Size: This new search filter creates an option for users to indicate their party size in their initial waitlist restaurant search. This provides users with even more accurate wait times to help them make a decision about the best restaurant for them.
Large Party Waitlist: This new option gives users the ability to add tables of more than six to the online waitlist at participating restaurants. This solves a large pain point for both restaurants and diners by ensuring that party sizes are accurately being added to the online Waitlist.
Notify Me on Android and Web Platforms: Notify Me allows diners to schedule a reminder to join the Yelp Waitlist based on when they want to sit down to eat. After indicating when and where they’d like to eat, a push notification or SMS will be sent to the diner when it’s the best time to hop on the online waitlist to get seated at their desired eating time. Restaurants have found that this new feature helps spread out the influx of customers that would normally arrive at peak and popular dining times. Yelp has seen strong user engagement for Notify Me on iOS, sending nearly 250,000 “time to join the waitlist” requested notifications since December 2019. Today, the company is announcing the release of the feature across Android and web platforms.
All of these new features are rolled into a new Yelp Waitlist user experience that provides more information about diners’ place in line and their next steps to get seated. The new design also includes an option to indicate a preferred seating location — such as bar, booth, or window — when joining the online waitlist at their favorite restaurants.
WorkJam Acquires Forge
WorkJam acquired Forge.This is WorkJam’s second acquisition of an innovative provider of Digital Workplace technology in the last 18 months as the company continues its accelerating momentum as the leading digital workplace for frontline employees.
Through the acquisition, WorkJam is deepening its investment in thought leadership in open shift marketplaces, flexible scheduling for employees, and schedule self-service for frontline workers and managers. By providing frontline employees and their managers a consolidated, centralized digital workplace platform, WorkJam’s customers, a group of some of the most successful companies in the world with household brand recognition, achieve breakthrough productivity and cost savings from increased shift coverage, retention, labor utilization and optimized task execution.
Stacey Ferreira, CEO and co-founder of Forge, will join WorkJam as Director of Digital Workplace. A seasoned author, speaker, and entrepreneur in talent sharing technology, Ferreira brings a profound level of insight into how companies can empower their frontline employees with flexible scheduling and mobile resources in a single platform. Prior to founding Forge, Ferreira founded MySocialCloud, a password storage and SSO technology that was acquired by Reputation.com in 2013. She has also been recognized on Forbes 30 Under 30, co-authored best-selling book 2 Billion Under 20, and spoken at a number of prestigious events including TEDx, Singularity University, Inc. Women’s Summit, among others.
“Forge’s vision surrounding the future of work and employee autonomy aligns with our longstanding value of delivering productivity gains, cost savings and improved customer experience for employers while enabling frontline employees with the tools that foster engagement with their work,” says Steven Kramer, CEO, president, and co-founder of WorkJam. “Together, WorkJam and Forge will continue to transform how companies are managing and engaging their frontline workforce.”
“We’re thrilled to join the WorkJam family and further advance the company’s mission of unleashing the potential of the frontline workforce,” says Ferreira. “We’re especially drawn to WorkJam’s customer-centric culture and passion for improving the lives of hourly employees. It’s evident WorkJam is solving the same workforce challenges that we are, and joining forces was a natural fit.”
HungryPanda Secures Backing
HungryPanda announced $20 million in funding led by Laurel Bowden from 83North and Antoine Nussanbaum from Felix Capital. The investment will be used to accelerate the growth of its team, build technology innovation and most importantly accelerate its global expansion, with a strong focus on the US market.
Founded in the UK in 2017, the company now operates in 31 cities across the UK, North America, ANZ and Europe. It employs over 300 people. As the global leader in this specialist marketplace, HungryPanda is the only business of its type with substantial presence across three continents.
This new investment will allow the business to pursue ambitious plans to reach an annual run rate of $200 million by May 2020. HungryPanda plans to launch in 18 cities in the US in 2020.
“The US is strategically important to us and it will be our primary focus in 2020,” said Eric Liu, CEO of HungryPanda. “We bring global experience and expertise in this market, which has already made us the leader in a number of cities in the US, including New York where our order volume is almost four times more than the closest competitor.”
HungryPanda’s online ordering platform provides a tailored user experience to overseas Chinese users to help them overcome cultural and language barriers. It also enables Asian restaurants to connect with the right customers and provide an efficient delivery service.
HungryPanda joins 83North’s food delivery investment portfolio, which also includes well-known international brands such as Just Eat and Wolt. Felix Capital also has existing investments in food delivery success stories including Deliveroo and Frichti.
“This is an exciting time for this specialist market. People are demanding authentic cuisine and a tailored experience that fits with their cultural background. HungryPanda is the best team out there with vision, drive and most importantly effective execution to serve this market,” said David Buttress, independent non-executive board director of HungryPanda and former CEO of Just Eat.
“We are delighted to secure the backing of 83North and Felix Capital to bring our unique service to more people in more places,” explained Eric Liu. “Their unrivalled industry investment experience, coupled with our ability to focus on the precise needs of our customers and launch in each new city within a two-week window, means we are in an ideal position to significantly scale the business to meet the huge levels of demand created by Chinese cuisine.”
Tableists' Fast Pass
Tablelist unveiled Fast Pass as the newest feature of TablelistPro, Tablelist’s signature nightlife venue management software. Fast Pass enables guests to purchase and pay for cover fees, event tickets and table service upon arrival at a nightlife venue directly from their phones, using Apple Pay, Google Pay or Web Pay in just two clicks. No hardware is required; venues simply need to have the TablelistPro app.
Not only does Fast Pass streamline the guest experience, but venue owners also benefit from boosted sales, increased efficiency and the ability to collect customer data.
“One key gap in the nightlife market is the ability to gather reliable customer data, particularly for walk-up customers, who constitute 72 percent of nightlife venues’ customer base,” said Kyla Moore, Tablelist CEO. “Fast Pass enables venue owners to better understand their clientele and adapt to improve the customer experience, ultimately driving more sales.”
For customers, the only requirement is a digital wallet. After a customer uses FastPass, TablelistPro syncs all transactional data, allowing bar and club owners to offer even more personalized experiences.
“To be competitive in the nightlife industry, venues need to anticipate customer needs, including lightning-fast transactions and ways to avoid waiting in long lines, which can quickly sour their evening,” said Gabriel Levy, co-founder, owner and operator of New York City’s Rumpus Room. “Fast Pass helps us provide the most efficient access to our venue in order to meet our guests’ expectations of a simple night out.”
QikServe Teams with FreedomPay
QikServe signed a reseller agreement with FreedomPay, Together, the companies offer a tightly integrated payment solution for hospitality operators, combining QikServe’s enterprise digital self-service platform with the FreedomPay Commerce Platform.
The reseller agreement supports market expansion for both companies across North America and Europe. Restaurants around the world use QikServe’s self-service platform to offer guests a range of digital ways to order and pay, while the FreedomPay Commerce Platform offers unparalleled payment flexibility and optionality for enterprises.
The two companies are broadening their relationship having already worked successfully together on several projects, including a kiosk ordering system at airport fast food outlets across the United States for airport dining leader HMSHost.
“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with QikServe and look forward to jointly building our global presence,” said Tom Durovsik, Founder & CEO of FreedomPay. “By joining the FreedomPay Commerce Platform, QikServe will be able to offer their customers a personalized seamless, smart experience at checkout.”
QikServe’s Pay at Table solution allows guests to pay quickly and easily using their mobile device. Web-based and with no app to download, guests simply scan a QR code or tap an NFC tag on the table to link to the payment merchant safely and securely.
A key feature of the FreedomPay platform is its analytical tokenization technology, which enables data from an individual’s sales journey to be tracked invisibly, with no friction, and without compromising sensitive cardholder details. This means customer interactions can be seamlessly collected from instore and digital sales channels to build a detailed view of the customer, which is ideal for delivering effective loyalty programs and personalization initiatives.
“We’re excited to be working in partnership with FreedomPay, which gives us the ability to provide their excellent payment gateway service directly to our customers, aligning with our strategy to develop Payments as a Service (PaaS) specifically for hospitality” said Daniel Rodgers, founder of QikServe. “FreedomPay’s leadership in tokenization technology is very well-suited to restaurant brands that want to make the shift to truly seamless customer centric loyalty programs.”
Extra Features for xtraCHEF
xtraCHEF released a recipe management and plate costing feature. This new feature is tightly integrated with xtraCHEF’s automated invoice processing technology, allowing chefs and management to factor ingredient price fluctuations into real-time recipe margins.
“Knowing how price fluctuations impact profitability at the plate cost level is key for today’s restaurant operators,” said Bhavik Patel, Co-founder and CTO of xtraCHEF. “By leveraging our industry-leading data recognition and extraction technology, our customers will not only be able to track price trends by item and category, but they can now see how those trends affect margins at a recipe level without the manual upkeep and intervention required by most other systems.”
By simply uploading or snapping a photo of vendor invoices using xtraCHEF’s cloud-based, mobile-friendly invoice processing app, customers build a catalog of products from which they can build prep recipes and recipes. Users can easily drag and drop products into recipes and subsequently publish and share across locations – all in an intuitive, user-friendly interface. xtraCHEF offers flexible configurations to calculate Unit of Measurement (UOM) conversions, yields and density and gives users the option to include labor costs in order to get the most accurate reflection of the prime costs related to a dish.
“Controlling food costs is always top of mind, especially in large operations like ours,” said Dan Catinella, Director of Business Operations for Crown Shy, a renowned restaurant by the team at J2K located in Manhattan’s Financial District. “xtraCHEF’s recipe costing tool allows us to look at our true costs in a way we have never been able to before. It not only allows us to control costs and waste much more easily and effectively, but it allows us to be proactive with menu engineering and purchasing.”
Recipe management and plate costing is the first major feature enhancement of 2020 and complements xtraCHEF’s existing back of house tools that include Inventory Management, Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) Management, AP Automation and Purchase and Order Management.
“Delivering value is one of our core values at xtraCHEF,” said Andy Schwartz, Co-founder and CEO of xtraCHEF. “In our research and conversations with customers and partners, we recognized that restaurants need modern, cost-effective solutions to accurately cost their recipes on a continual and consistent basis. We’re excited to bring this value to market.”
Glance Becomes Perk
Glance Technologies Inc. is changing its name from Glance Technologies Inc. to Perk Labs Inc. The operating company, Glance Pay Inc., is changing its name to Perk Hero Software Inc. and is launching a new mobile payment and loyalty rewards platform, branded as Perk Hero. The company will announce the finalization of the corporate name changes in future communications as well as the date that trading will commence under the new name, symbol and CUSIP number. In addition to the upcoming name and symbol changes, the company will launch new websites and social channels.
This name change reflects the company’s shift in strategy to move further into the customer loyalty app market and to craft a new identity that resonates with the largest mobile app adopters and consumer spending groups: Gen Z and Millennials.
“The Perk Hero brand more squarely targets Gen Z and Millennials,” said Glance’s CEO Jonathan Hoyles. “Our research shows that Gen Z and Millennials are the most active users of mobile payments. They’re the most engaged and adept app user demographic for this type of application, which isn’t a huge surprise given they’re a generation of digital natives for whom smartphone use is second nature.”
“Businesses recognize the need to evolve with this demographic if they want to win them over as loyal customers. Glance, too, is pivoting to reflect this new focus by launching a more Gen Z and Millennial-friendly brand.”
Research shows that:
• Gen Z will account for 40 percent of global consumers in 2020 (McKinsey & Company)
• Millennials are three times more likely to be excited about new mobile apps and features than older users. (ComScore)
• More than 2 out of 3 millennials say they’re always looking for new apps and wish they could do more with the apps they already have. (ComScore)
• 66 percent of millennial digital media time is using smartphone apps. (ComScore)
“The 18-34 year old demographic is absolutely comfortable with paying via smartphones,” said Hoyles. “For this tech-savvy generation, paying for a coffee using a pay-and-go method or buying an item with one click of a button has become the norm. They are driving the digital-driven payments landscape by demanding features and benefits that keep them engaged. Our goal is to leapfrog current mobile payment offerings in the market.”
Perk Hero will launch at a handful of select locations before being more broadly rolled out to the rest of the existing Glance Pay network of merchants and users. The Glance Pay app will remain available for a period of time so that Glance Pay users have time to redeem their in-app rewards before migrating over to Perk Hero.
Perk Hero will continue to pursue in-dining restaurants and will expand to new verticals including Quick Serve Restaurants (QSRs), coffee shops, pubs, bars and clubs, hotels, sporting events, concerts and other events, grocery, spas, salons and barber shops, and professional services.
Perk Hero will also offer a ‘Perk Hero for Businesses’ white-label enterprise solution to chains, that can be branded and customized under their respective names.
“We believe there is a tremendous market opportunity for our offering,” said Hoyles. “The global mobile payment market was worth US$ 881 billion in 20181 and the key market drivers remain strong.”
The key market drivers for the growth in mobile payments ⎯ beyond convenience and ease of use to pay for products from mobile phones ⎯ is that they can be easily integrated with card-free loyalty programs, and valuable data can be acquired such as how often customers shop, dine, what they buy, and how they respond to incentives. Merchants can use this data to better market to customers based on their shopping behaviour, patterns and preferences.
blixr Goes Live
Social exploration app blixr goes live in the UK – with the aim of bringing relationships back into the real world and disrupting the way people connect. The app is designed to help users explore new experiences and restaurants – whilst also connecting with others for friendship or romance. Users can take their new connection offline in three easy steps; connect, chat and then choose from a lean, handpicked list of activities – perfect for arranging a meet-up or date.
Through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), uniquely personalised experiences and food options are suggested for each user and also for each of their matches. As such blixr takes the pressure off deciding what to do when meeting someone new. There is an additional set of unique features – which do not exist in other apps – to help users connect better.
Users express themselves through an interactive profile that focuses on shared interests as opposed to aesthetics. Profiles clearly state what the user is looking for in terms of friends, dates and experiences. Simply select TeamUp to find like-minded friends or DateUp to begin searching for romance.. All matches made by the app expire after ten days unless a date is setup – combating the long-term predatory techniques used by catfishers and thus creating a healthier online environment. The app will speed up the connection process and avoid users being trapped in a ‘digital pen-pal’ scenario – which reduces the anxiety and stress factors.
Nomin Bayaraa, blixr co-founder, commented on the launch: “My friends and I have expressed concerns with stalkers and catfishers on other apps. It is for this reason blixr uses several security and privacy protocols to address and avoid these issues. These enhanced measures include manual photo verification, comprehensive controls over personal information and a unique name display option for added privacy.”
Venues have already signed up – including bars, restaurants, speakeasies, escape rooms and immersive theatre experiences to name a few. blixr will transform the way merchants and entertainment providers work with mobile apps. Through blixr, partners can host, market and manage their own listings to attract new customers who will be taken directly to their own sites to make bookings.
Nomin concludes: “Our happiness is determined by the quality of our relationships. In today’s hectic lifestyle these are becoming more superficial – fuelled by the desire for perfection and the fact that many people curate ‘the perfect life’ on their social feeds. I firmly believe that Generation Z is the most connected amongst us – yet many of them feel emotionally disconnected on a meaningful level. The very nature of online dating and digital technologies mean that people do not build solid connections in the real world anymore. Instead, we accumulate likes and followers without enjoying the real-life experiences that bring us together as the social species we are. blixr addresses this issue in a quick, fun and convenient way – we bridge the void between making online and offline connections. We make connecting easier and solve the first-world problem of decision fatigue!”