Noisiest Restaurants and Shaking and Shacking in the Bay Area

This edition of MRM’s News Bites features Omnivore, Waitr and Bite Squad, SoundPrint, Ritual, Compeat and Asurint, The Culinary Institute of America, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Revenue Management Solutions, Shake Shack, RATIONAL, S&D Coffee & Tea, SevenRooms, Foundation Food Group, Energybox, Flowers Foods, Starbucks and the Gluten Intolerance Group.

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Omnivore Secures Financing for Growth

Omnivore, a universal point-of-sale (POS) connectivity platform enabling hundreds of third-party technologies to integrate seamlessly with the diverse POS landscape, secured a Series A investment of $10 million with lead investors including The Coca-Cola Company and Performance Food Group with additional funds coming from Tampa Bay Lightning owner, Jeff Vinik. Existing follow-on investors from previous rounds also contributed. The financing will be used to accelerate current development and growth of proprietary Omnivore products.

"We clearly understand that the growth in the restaurant and hospitality industry is pinned to consumer and staff expectations of technology and how they use it, very similar to what happened with the travel, lodging, and retail industries," said Mike Wior, CEO of Omnivore. "We've enjoyed playing a role enabling innovation and integration in all restaurant technology categories such as online ordering, third party delivery, pay at the table, loyalty, and labor. We will continue to enable the industry in these areas while adding new capabilities and ensuring agility and affordability."

Omnivore will complement their universal API with two platforms; data warehousing and central menu management. Each is being designed to help unleash restaurant brands' abilities to analyze and execute at a faster pace and with less friction and expense. The Omnivore data product will address the ongoing question of "whose data is it" by enabling restaurants to access, distribute and leverage their data more efficiently. 

"PFG continues to leverage data and consumer insights to add value to our restaurant customers," said Jim Hope, PFG, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. "Our new partnership with Omnivore will enable our customers to gain better access to their data, while taking meaningful technologies to our customers that address opportunities to enhance the customer experience." 

Omnivore's new centralized menu management system was designed to benefit both restaurant operators and technology providers by addressing the increased complexity of managing dozens of digital menus across online ordering, third party delivery apps, digital menus, kiosks and the like. One of the largest benefits being the ability to smooth operational challenges that come with multiple third-party technology partners that all have digital menu dependencies. Omnivore's central menu management product will not only provide a single portal to manage all menus, it will also result in third-party orders being directly injected into POS systems. 

"As a part of 'The Coca-Cola Commitment,' we continuously seek out innovation, insights and technology that can create new value for the industry and serving future consumers," said Andy McMillin, CMO, National Foodservice & On-Premise Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. "Omnivore's universal API, centralized menu management solution, data warehousing solution and marketplace of technologies facilitates the agility to experiment, optimize challenges and execute even faster."

Waitr Takes Bite of Bite Squad

Waitr Holdings Inc. will acquire Bite Squad for an aggregate amount of approximately $321.3 million, subject to adjustments, based on the closing price of Waitr’s common stock on December 11, 2018. The purchase price consists of a combination of cash and shares of Waitr common stock.

Founded in 2012 and based in Minneapolis, Bite Squad operates a three-sided marketplace, consistent with Waitr’s business model, which connects more than 11,000 active restaurants with approximately 6,300 W-2 drivers and approximately 889,000 active diners. 

“We have followed Bite Squad’s growth and success for many years and believe their mission, business model and growth profile share many similarities to Waitr,” said Chris Meaux, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Waitr. “We believe that a small fraction of the U.S. restaurant industry’s sales are from off-premise online transactions and this is evolving rapidly. This acquisition will help us drive additional growth and provide a step function increase in scale throughout the U.S. in order to better serve that developing market.”

“We are thrilled to join forces with the Waitr team,” said Kian Salehi, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bite Squad. “I believe Chris and his team share our vision for providing hungry diners with a convenient and fast way to enjoy great food from the best local restaurants and chains.”

Bite Squad has a high growth business model, with 85 percent year-over-year gross food sales growth and 98 percent  year-over-year revenue growth in Q3 2018.

In connection with the acquisition, Waitr entered into a debt commitment letter with Luxor Capital Group, LP, on behalf of Lugard Road Capital Master Fund, LP, and one or more of its funds and/or affiliates , pursuant to which Luxor will provide senior secured first priority term loans in the aggregate principal amount of approximately $42.1 million at the closing. The proceeds of the term loans will be used to finance a portion of the consideration for the acquisition and for general corporate purposes. Winston & Strawn LLP is serving as legal counsel and Jefferies LLC is serving as financial advisor to Waitr in connection with the acquisition. Gray, Plant, Mooty & Bennett, P.A. is serving as legal counsel and RBC Capital Markets is serving as financial advisor to Bite Squad. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of January 2019.

World's Noisiest Restaurants 

The results of a recent week-long survey of noise levels in San Francisco restaurants shows that the Northern California city is currently on par with Manhattan as having one of the noisiest restaurant scenes worldwide.

SoundPrint, a crowdsourcing app known as the "Yelp for noise," has a built-in decibel meter that allows users to measure sound levels at establishments and find quieter restaurants, bars and cafes nationwide. SoundPrint partnered with two San Francisco agencies, the Sound Speech and Hearing Clinic and the Hearing and Speech Center of Northern California, for a data collection "mapathon" where members used the app to measure and submit decibel levels in nearly 100 San Francisco restaurants. 

The sound readings taken during the week were combined with SoundPrint's existing San Franciscodatabase of more than 700 restaurants, bars and cafes, together contributing to the initial SoundPrint San Francisco "Quiet List" of restaurants, which can be accessed here and includes Alice's, Acquarello, Bobo's, Eric's and Mozzeria, among others. 

The data shows that on average, San Francisco restaurants have noise levels of 78 dBA, which is too loud for conversation; while a high number of the venues were above 80 dBA, which is a level that can endanger the hearing health of venue employees and patrons. 

"As fans of the Bay Area restaurant scene, we want to support SoundPrint because it offers diners a resource to discover quieter places," said Melissa Wilson Beer, Audiologist at Sound Speech and Hearing Clinic. "Bay Area restaurants can be quite loud, and those with hearing loss or sensory disorders may be socially excluded if there is too much noise."  

"Many people don't have a concept of healthy noise levels," said Gregory Scott, an East Bay native and founder of SoundPrint, who currently resides in NYC. "This can pose a problem when you are trying to have a conversation, and can be dangerous to one's health. Excessive noise has become a serious public health issue as 40 million American adults, nearly 24%, may have noise-induced hearing loss."

Scott was inspired to create the app after finding that existing review sites lacked accurate and objective noise level readings, making it very difficult to hear his date in most New York Cityestablishments. SoundPrint users can search for restaurants based on how quiet or loud they are, much like one uses filters to search for a restaurant on Yelp.

Ritual for Business

Ritual for Business has launched in the US. The program enables businesses to offer meal programs to employees directly through their mobile app. Employers can choose the dollar value they want to have automatically deposited to an employee’s Ritual account and how often. They can also make these credits only available during a set window each day – therefore reducing costs and eliminating any food waste. Employers can also elect to only subsidize employees’ meals if they select healthy menu items from their app.

“We have received tremendous feedback from our Canadian corporate partners around our Ritual for Business program. Based on the results in the Canadian market, we are pleased to begin offering this to U.S. employers as well,” said Ray Reddy, Co-Founder and CEO of Ritual. “With Ritual for Business, we help companies compete for talent and encourage healthy eating, making a big difference in absenteeism and productivity. We are also proud that Ritual for Business organically brings employees together to share a meal and socialize away from their desks at lunch.”

As part of the corporate program, Ritual teamed up with an expert Registered Dietitian to offer a Wellness Menu. The Wellness Menu is integrated directly into the app and employers can opt to reward their employees with bonus Ritual points every time they order an item denoted by a green leaf in the app (something Ritual does for their own employees). These points can be redeemed for dollars toward future meals. Ritual for Business also includes an after-hours dinner program that completely eliminates the need for expense reimbursement, supports entry of custom billing and expense codes, and offers built-in auditing for employers looking to cater to today's teams that increasingly work on global, round-the-clock schedules.

“I think the reason Ritual is so successful for us is because it gives our staff the ability to order what they want, when they want, rather than have a set menu catered to the office,” said Liza Haddad, Global Creative Development Manager at Spotify. “We provide Ritual credits on Monday and our staff have the flexibility to place orders throughout the week, with overages charged to personal cards, and leftover funds returned to us.”

Here’s how Ritual for Business works:

  • Employers choose a lunch budget and schedule (eg. $10, 3x a week)
  • Ritual automatically issues credits to employees for use at lunch
  • Employees order lunch using credits
  • Any overage is charged to the employee’s credit card and any leftover credits expire, reducing costs to the employer

Whether a company chooses to eat as a team or provide the flexibility for individuals to eat lunch on their own schedules, companies simply set the budget, schedule the credits, and it’s all set. The program runs on autopilot and sends a single invoice for all orders, reducing overhead and administrative duties. Corporate programs are offered at no cost to employers as there are absolutely no fees associated, a guiding principle of Ritual’s across all of their programs. There are never any fees on orders, no mark-ups on menu items, no delivery fees and no administrative fees whatsoever.

Kikkoman Teaching Kitchen Dedicated at CIA

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has dedicated The Kikkoman Teaching Kitchen at the college's Hyde Park, New York campus, honoring a more than 20-year partnership and ongoing mutual commitment to culinary education. The Kikkoman Teaching Kitchen will provide culinary students hands-on learning opportunities encompassing a variety of Asian cuisines and traditions, with the support of ongoing donations of Kikkoman's complete line of authentic Asian sauces. 

CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan and Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc. President and CEO Masanao Shimada unveil The Kikkoman Teaching Kitchen

"We are grateful to have the support of such an influential industry leader as Kikkoman," said CIA President Dr. Tim Ryan. "This partnership helps ensure that the college can continue to provide the very best education to the future leaders of our profession."

Kikkoman established its relationship with the CIA in 1997, when the college opened its first branch location in St. Helena, California. The partnership has grown to include a variety of initiatives, from serving as a member of the Japanese Studies Leadership Council to engaging in the digital collaboration "Asian for a New Generation" online learning module. In addition to product donations and a leadership gift commitment, Kikkoman was an inaugural sponsor of The Culinary Institute of America's Worlds of Flavor® International Conference & Festival. Twenty-one years later, the company proudly continues its support of the conference to bring influential chefs together in exploration of the latest culinary trends. 

"It is with great privilege we join The Culinary Institute of America in fostering culinary education that allows students to explore Asian flavor," said Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc. President and CEO, Masanao Shimada. "Kikkoman is grateful for the opportunity to help influence the next generation of industry leaders."

While The Kikkoman Teaching Kitchen will focus on Asian cuisines, the Kikkoman portfolio lends itself as a flavor and ingredient for cuisines around the world. Kikkoman Soy Sauce is the best-selling and most widely recognized brand name of soy sauce in North America, prized for its versatility as a flavor enhancer, sauce and marinade base, and table-top condiment.

Compeat and Asurint Expand Partnership 

Compeat partnered with Asurin to add a customizable background checking option to Compeat’s Hire product that enables restauranteurs to recruit, evaluate, track, hire and onboard new employees.

“Compeat is thrilled to partner with Asurint to offer our customers yet another tool to further streamline the hiring and onboarding process through a single point of contact,” states Jeff Stone, CEO of Compeat.  “We selected Asurint as our partner for background check integration due to their industry leading technology and extensive experience in the staffing industry. Their services will allow Compeat customers to feel confident that they are consistently hiring the best candidates and provide the added assurance that they are in compliance with labor laws."  

Compeat’s Hire software is a restaurant-specific, paperless platform that allows operators to recruit, evaluate, track, hire and onboard new employees. This new partnership with Asurint will add several benefits to the state-of-the-art Hire toolset: 

  • Ensures that operators comply with ever-evolving federal, state and local rules and regulations. 
  • Removes unnecessary costs by tailoring the level of background check needed for the position being filled, ensuring that you only pay for what you need. 
  • Reduces hiring time with 27 percent faster* results than traditional single county searches. 
  • Streamlines the hiring process by automatically alerting a candidate when they pass and moving them through the next steps. 

“Asurint is excited to partner with Compeat to offer background screening services,” said Gregg Gay, Co-Founder and CEO of Asurint. “The hospitality industry is notoriously fast-paced, and Asurint’s proprietary system can help Compeat’s clients cost-effectively speed up their hiring cycle, getting candidates to work faster than other background screening providers.” 

JetPay Takes Flight

NCR Corporation said Urban Eatz in Richardson, Texas, is the first NCR customer to use JetPay payment processing through their NCR point of sale (POS) software. Only days after completing the acquisition of JetPay, NCR has integrated the payment processing engine into its Aloha software platform for restaurants.

“Offering flexible and secure payment options is important for our customers,” explained David Long, owner of Urban Eatz. “With technology becoming more complex, we are pleased that we now can get everything to run transactions in our restaurants through one provider and focus on what we do best – serving our customers fresh, quality foods at exceptional value.“

NCR announced the acquisition of JetPay, a provider of payment processing services, on October 22, 2018. Following the successful completion of the acquisition, NCR integrated the cloud-based JetPay payments platform into its enterprise POS solutions, expanding its portfolio for the retail and hospitality industries.

“We’re excited to be able to offer a unique end-to-end payment solution to retail and restaurant businesses that will simplify and improve our clients’ experience,” said Paul Langenbahn, executive vice president and president of the NCR Commerce Group. “By offering an integrated payment processing solution we create value for our clients, including small- and medium-sized businesses that prefer close relationships with vendors that understand their business and can provide the solutions they need.”

Jollibee Completes Acquisition of Smashburger

Black Shamrock Partners (BSP), formerly Consumer Concept Group & Affiliates, said Jollibee Foods Corporation acquired the remaining 15 percent of Smashburger, the Denver-based “better burger” concept, bringing Jollibee full ownership of the brand.

In 2015, Smashburger entered into a strategic partnership with Jollibee Foods Corporation to sell 40 percent of the company at a $335M USD value. In February of this year, Jollibee agreed to acquire an additional 45 percent of the company for $100M USD, bringing their ownership stake to 85 percent total at that time.

Rick Schaden, BSP Co-Founder and Chairman, stated, “We could not be more pleased with the partnership we have developed with Jollibee and are thrilled to complete this transaction with a global restaurant powerhouse.  We have no doubt that with their leadership, the brand will continue to succeed and grow for years to come.”

This morning, Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) and Smashburger® announced key senior management changes reflecting the anticipated synergies between the two entities predicated on JFC's newly acquired majority interest in Smashburger® Jose "Pepot" Miñana has assumed the role of President of Smashburger®.  Mr. Miñana will oversee the daily operations of the company, collaborate on strategic and brand direction, and lead the continuous efforts to integrate Smashburger® into the JFC portfolio of companies/brands.  Mr. Miñana has held numerous senior management positions over his multi-decade tenure with JFC, most recently President of JFC North America.

Tom Ryan, Smashburger® Founder and CEO, will take on the additional title of Chief Product Development Advisor of JFC Global.  In this new capacity, Mr. Ryan will focus on strengthening taste and quality aspects across key JFC brands as well as enhancing JFC brands' relevance across global markets.  Mr. Ryan remains Smashburger® CEO, focused on brand vision, strategy, product, and public relations.

RMS Gets Creative


Revenue Management Solutions (RMS) partnered with restaurant branding agency Norton Creative to offer a one-stop shop for restaurant solutions such as brand positioning, design, menu layout and pricing.

RMS, based in Tampa, uses restaurant point-of-sale data and analytics to deliver increased profitability and enhanced brand value, while Houston-based Norton Creative brings expertise in restaurant brand strategy, positioning, concepting, interiors, menu, merchandising, social and digital media, TV and radio ads.

The two companies have worked together on multiple projects, and whether a restaurant is in need of an engaging menu or a new front-of-house guest experience, the partners help create actionable recommendations to drive growth and bottom-line profitability.

“RMS serves as the foundational science to our art,” said Norton CEO Robin Blanchette. “RMS’ combination of data-driven solutions and operational industry expertise generates unique, innovative problem-solving for restaurants. They provide essential insights for our creative work, as well as a deep understanding of observed behavior that inform and educate our design. We are excited to show clients how the combination of RMS and Norton can bring brands to life and drive profitable sales and traffic at the same time.”

As an example of how the companies would work together for a client, RMS can help a restaurant company determine which menu items are most profitable and how items trade together, while Norton can help the client define its value proposition and show that in such powerful ways as menu design, web presence, advertising and merchandising.

“We deliver increased margins across menu items for our clients, without negatively impacting customer buying patterns and behavior,” said Mark Kuperman, Chief Operating Officer of RMS. “While we focus on analyzing data that shows customers’ actual buying behavior, Norton has a deep knowledge of how to define and bring a brand’s unique value proposition to life. By working together, we can provide clients a powerful combination of brand evolution and profitability.”

First Bay Area Shake Shack

Bringing burgers to the Bay, Shake Shack® opened the doors to its first Bay Area location on Saturday, December 15. The Shack will be situated in Stanford Shopping Center at 180 El Camino Real, Suite #950 Palo Alto.

Stanford Doubles

The Stanford Shack will serve up all the Shake Shack classics like the ShackBurger®, Chick’n Shack® and crinkle cut fries, plus a unique selection of menu items exclusive to Palo Alto. 

Guests can enjoy the Golden State Double featuring two all-natural Angus beef patties from Richards Grassfed Beef, white cheddar cheese, McVicker Pickles bread and butter pickles, all sandwiched between a Tartine Bakery sweet potato bun. 

The Stanford Shack will also be spinning up frozen custard concretes in collaboration with local purveyors Pie DreamsDandelion Chocolate and Manresa Bread.

  • Pie Oh My – Vanilla custard with slice of Pie Dreams seasonal pie

  • Shack Attack – Chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Dandelion Chocolate dark chocolate chunks, topped with chocolate sprinkles

  • MB Malt -Vanilla custard, Manresa Bread whole wheat chocolate chip walnut cookie and fudge sauce


Guests can wash their burgers down with local brews from Fort Point Beer Company21st Amendment BreweryLagunitas Brewing Company and North Coast Brewing Co. plus Shake Shack’s exclusive Brooklyn Brewery ShackMeister® Ale. Wine lovers can enjoy a glass of Shack RedTM and Shack WhiteTM wine from the Gotham Project as well as a local wine list highlighting producers such as Broc CellarsHunt & HarvestBREA Wine Company and Robert Sinskey Vineyards. The Stanford Shack is the only location where bottles will be available for purchase.

Shake Shack is partnering with Cream Co., a curated aggregator connecting certified sustainable and regenerative ranches to the best chefs and restaurants in the Bay Area. With a mission to create a more transparent and diverse supply chain, they emphasize West Coast growers and utilize heritage and heirloom breeds. Cream Co. introduced Shake Shack to one of their longest standing relationships with Richards Grassfed Beef, a multi-generation family ranch located in California’s Eastern Sierra foothills who produce 100% AGA certified grass-fed and finished all-natural beef. Led by Carrie Richards, who is committed to holistic, regenerative farming, supporting the biodiversity of the land, climate, water and more. The cows from Richards Grassfed Beef are born and raised on the ranch, feasting on thousands of acres of lush, green, natural grass and never fed hormones or antibiotics. 

As part of Shake Shack’s mission to Stand For Something Good®, the Stanford Shack will donate 25% of proceeds from opening day, as well 5% of sales from the Pie Oh My concrete to La Cocina, a beloved San Francisco-based non-profit. La Cocina aims to cultivate low income food entrepreneurs, primarily women from immigrant communities and communities of color, as they formalize and grow their businesses by providing affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance and access to market opportunities. 

The 2,491 square-foot Shack will feature an outdoor covered patio and ample seating for guests. In keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to green architecture and eco-friendly construction, the Stanford Shack’s tabletops will be made by CounterEvolution using reclaimed bowling alley lanes; chairs will be designed by Uhuru using sustainable materials; and booths will be crafted by Staach using lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

RATIONAL Breaks Records 

RATIONAL North American Distribution Center shipped a record-breaking 10,000 RATIONAL SelfCookingCenter® combi ovens to customers across the United States and Canada.  The North American RATIONAL install base now exceeds 60,000 units, solidifying RATIONAL’s position as the market leader within this foodservice equipment category.  

Apart from being the first manufacturer in North America to cross this milestone, year-over-year shipments in 2018 show an increase of 50 percent over 2017, exceeding category growth rates.  RATIONAL combi oven market share is estimated at 45 percent in the United States and 65 percent in Canada, demonstrating clear customer preference for the RATIONAL brand. RATIONAL employs 150 people focused on the combi oven market segment in the United States and Canada. 

“At the beginning of the year, shipping over 10,000 units was our goal. Today I am proud to say that we surpassed it. The North American team’s determined focus on delivering unmatched customer benefit enabled us to grow our business across all customer segments. We have a tremendous amount of momentum, and as combi technology gains greater acceptance in our market, we anticipate further growth,” said Markus Glueck, executive vice president of RATIONAL North America.    

Common in European commercial kitchens for four decades, combi technology is now gaining traction in North America where approximately 20 percent of relevant foodservice locations purchase combis, often in place of ovens.  However, with the capability to steam, blanch, poach, bake, roast, sear, fry, grill, smoke, sous-vide, overnight cook & hold, and much more, combis frequently replace several pieces of kitchen equipment. This unexpected multi-functionality combined with advanced intelligence needs to be experienced to be embraced, so RATIONAL invests heavily in live programs ranging from cooking demonstrations, to tradeshow pop-up restaurants, to culinary school seminars. 

In 2018 alone, nearly 33,000 chefs and commercial kitchen operators and more than 7,000 culinary school students, were introduced to the RATIONAL SelfCookingCenter®. The RATIONAL Culinary School Initiative prepares future chefs for the next generation of culinary excellence. RATIONAL CookingLive events introduce participants to combi technology and show how the RATIONAL SelfCookingCenter® in particular improves day-to-day kitchen operations. 

S&D Expands Partnership with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

S&D Coffee & Tea expanded its partnership with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. S&D will serve as the exclusive roaster and distributor in foodservice across all commercial and non-commercial channels.  As an industry leader for distribution and equipment in the foodservice channel, S&D is poised to help The Coffee Bean & Tea Leafâbroaden its national recognition.

In 2015, S&D and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf joined forces to serve major national franchises including Hilton Worldwide and Potbelly restaurants.  S&D will now supply all The Coffee Bean & Tea Leafâproducts for the new Choice Hotels brand, Clarion-Pointe, designed to bring together the premium elements guests desire in an affordable travel experience.

“S&D Coffee & Tea helpsour customers build successful beverage programs through tailored solutions,” said Carlos Lopez, Executive Vice President of Sales, S&D Coffee & Tea. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to strengthen our partnership with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leafâwhile also adding a highly respected brand to our already strong portfolio of coffees and teas.”

“The Coffee Bean & Tea Leafâselected S&D because of our mutual commitment to premium quality,” said JJ Smith, VP, Franchise Operations, Business Development, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leafâ.  “A strong beverage program can bolster the reputation of a foodservice operation. We are excited to expand our relationship into new channels across the US with the common goal of providing best-in-class coffee and tea to our customers and their patrons.”


SevenRooms Expands Relationship with AMEX

SevenRooms expanded its relationship with American Express to help provide UK Platinum Cardmembers with access to restaurant reservations across the globe, all within the American Express mobile app.

The SevenRooms integration into American Express’ new digital reservation service enables UK Platinum Cardmembers to quickly search and instantly book reservations at hundreds of American Express Global Dining Collection partners worldwide, and even more restaurants nationwide in the UK. This partnership builds on an existing relationship with American Express and its Platinum and Centurion Dining Concierge, whereby SevenRooms provides quick and seamless access to global reservation inventory for Platinum and Centurion Cardmembers.

“Having enjoyed collaborating with American Express for almost five years, we’re excited to expand our successful partnership through this new integration into their UK mobile app, bringing ease of booking to UK Platinum Cardmembers,” said Joel Montaniel, CEO & Founder at SevenRooms. “Through our partnership with American Express, we are driving further value for our hospitality and restaurant partners by opening a direct, mobile booking channel for American Express’ premium Cardmembers who enjoy dining at premier restaurants around the world. We look forward to the year ahead as we continue to add more restaurant inventory, and bring more value to American Express Platinum Cardmembers around the world.”

“As our Premium Cardmembers love to dine out, we are excited to expand our relationship with SevenRooms to put hundreds of Global Dining Collection restaurants, as well as thousands of other restaurants across the globe at our Cardmembers’ fingertips so they can search and book reservations for every occasion while on the go,” said Chris Cracchiolo, SVP, Global Loyalty & Benefits at American Express.

Foundation Food Group JV Launches


Prime-Pak Foods, Inc. and Victory Processing, Inc.'s joint venture will be marketed under the name Foundation Food Group™. Based in Gainesville, Georgia, Foundation Food Group™ will provide the food industry with a variety of distinct, value-added poultry products with the highest quality standards. With state-of-the-industry processing facilities and production capabilities, Foundation Food Group will support business partners with innovative and profitable menu solutions, exemplary customer support and programs that set their customers apart from the competition.                      

Heading the new alliance will be two executive leaders who bring extensive experience in their chosen fields, and who share a keen vision for the success of Foundation Food Group™. Industry veteran Jerry Wilson was brought on in August, 2018 as CEO for Foundation Food Group™. Jerry is a seasoned business development professional with 38 years in the poultry business. 

Leading the financial side of the business will be CFO Kathy S. Ford. Like Wilson, Ford most recently comes from Albertville Quality Foods, where she helped built the company's financial and administrative team.  She brings a strong record of accomplishment in the areas of financial reporting and forecasting, HR, business development, compliance and contract management, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Western Kentucky University.

"With the combined capabilities and respective skilled workforces of Prime-Pak and Victory, Foundation Food Group™ will excel with incredible synergies along with opportunities for tremendous production cost efficiencies," says Wilson.  "Together with the rest of our talented management team, Kathy and I look forward to growing Foundation Food Group™ to its fullest potential."

Energybox Releases New Software

Energybox issued  latest release of their new software. The new flexible platform tracks equipment and facilities across multiple locations in real-time. It focuses on improving efficiency for businesses with real-time equipment monitoring, increases efficiency by reducing day-to-day operational frictions, and enables consistency and quality across all platforms with real-time critical alerts and diagnostics sent directly to an email or text.

“At Energybox, we are always investing in our research and development with a key goal to allow our multi-unit enterprise customers to simplify their businesses by automating their operations and processes,” said Tony Carrella, co-founder and president of Energybox. “Many of our customers have multiple locations, across the globe. With the new software, we are able to provide a highly flexible platform that enables our customers to easily add features and functionalities that are tailored to their specific needs. This enhanced level of flexibility ensures that Energybox will help our customers grow and adapt to dynamic and changing business conditions.”

Along with an integrated data system, the software allows users to easily interface with existing software tools and applications. The new system provides the following four automated solutions:

●       Operational Monitoring: Wireless sensors accurately monitor temperatures and door access across all equipment. Set custom thresholds and parameters with tiered notifications.

●       Equipment Tracking Sensors: Sensors connect with existing circuit breakers to live track equipment and optimize energy costs, while ensuring seamless operations

●       Dispenser Monitoring: Reduce risk of credit card skimming and fraud with real-time notifications of dispenser door activity. 

●       Food Monitoring: Monitor the conditions that help ensure food safety, including temperature, humidity and equipment performance. 

Flowers Foods Acquires Canyon Bakehouse

Flowers Foods, Inc. completed its acquisition of Canyon Bakehouse LLC, a privately held, gluten-free baking company based in Johnstown, Colorado. Canyon Bakehouse will operate as an independent subsidiary of Flowers Foods. 

"We welcome the Canyon Bakehouse team to Flowers and are excited to work with them to bring their innovative gluten-free bakery products to more consumers," said Allen Shiver, Flowers' president and chief executive officer. "This acquisition fits with Flowers' strategy to grow in product adjacencies and gives us the opportunity to gain share in the growing gluten-free segment. The Canyon Bakehousebrand is the fastest-growing gluten-free bread loaf brand in the U.S., and we believe we can help accelerate that growth using our fresh distribution network and retail partnerships." 

Canyon Bakehouse was founded by Josh and Christi Skow and Ed Miknevicius in 2009, after Christi was diagnosed with celiac disease. Josh will continue to lead the business as president and Christi will serve as brand ambassador. 

Flowers Foods, Inc. is one of the largest producers of fresh packaged bakery foods in the United States with 2017 sales of $3.9 billion. Flowers operates bakeries across the country that produce a wide range of bakery products. Among the company's top brands are Nature's Own, Wonder, Dave's Killer Bread, and Tastykake. Learn more at

Starbucks Roastery Debuts

 Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York opened December 14. Located in the Meatpacking District at 61 9th Avenue (on the corner of 9thAvenue and 15th Street), the New York location marks Starbucks fourth Roastery and second location in the U.S. The immersive coffee experience – across nearly 23,000 square feet of retail space – celebrates the heritage of roasting and the craft of coffee. The sights and sounds of coffee’s journey from bean to cup are reflected at every turn in the thoughtfully designed environment. The New York Roastery joins locations in Seattle, Shanghai and Milan with future openings coming to Tokyo and Chicago in 2019.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in New York City. (Photo by Matt Glac, Starbucks)

“We designed the Roastery as the pinnacle experience around all-things-coffee, and there is nothing else like it in the world. With premium coffees, teas, mixology and the iconic Milanese Princi Bakery, it serves as a Starbucks brand amplifier and a platform for future innovation,” said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks ceo. “Beverages such as Draft Nitro, Cold Foam and the recent launch of Juniper Latte all began at the Roastery and have since been introduced to Starbucks locations around the world. It is the ultimate Starbucks Experience and an unforgettable way to connect with our customers.”

Starbucks has a long history in New York. In 1994, Starbucks chairman emeritus, Howard Schultz, who was born and raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn, opened the first Starbucks store in the city on Broadway and 87th Street on the Upper West Side. Nearly 25 years later, there are 350 Starbucks stores across the five boroughs in the city where Starbucks employs approximately 5,000 partners (employees). The Roastery employs nearly 300 people, including roasters, baristas, commessas and mixologists.

“Like most people I first experienced Starbucks as a customer, where I would go to my store at 195 Broadway in the Financial District in New York City and order a tall latte which was the perfect way to start my day,” said Reserve Roastery New York managing director Raul Adorno. “I look forward to welcoming my fellow New Yorkers and visitors from all around the world when we open the Roastery on Friday. You will be amazed.”

At its core, Starbucks Reserve Roastery New York is a working coffee roastery, where every day Starbucks Master Roasters, who have trained for years in the craft of coffee roasting, will be small-batch roasting Starbucks rarest single-origin coffees and blends called Starbucks Reserve. Those coffees then get served fresh at the Roastery or shipped to select Starbucks stores around the world. That functional purpose, as well as the history of industry and manufacturing in the meatpacking district, is reflected in the design of the space.

“New York is a hub to the world,” said Liz Muller, chief design officer of Starbucks. “It’s an unbelievable place with such history. The meatpacking district has a fantastic history of industry, and the neighborhood has an electric energy; it is alive. We’ve designed a space where the excitement and dynamic activity of the neighborhood is mirrored in the Roastery. We want our customers to come in and feel very inspired.”

83 Products Secure Gluten Intolerance Group’s GFCO Certification 

The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), the industry leader in the certification of gluten-free products and food services, certified 83 products in October and November through its Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) program—bringing the total number of products certified this year to more than 2,000. Fourteen brands over the two month period achieved certification for products ranging from cheese, tea, tofu, cakes, breads and more, satisfying consumer demand for trusted gluten-free products.

With tens of thousands of products certified around the world, GFCO is the largest and fastest growing gluten-free certification organization in North America. Due to its high standards and stringent review process, GFCO certification is an internationally recognized symbol of trust among gluten-free consumers. The following products were certified by GFCO in October and November:

  • A’Mond—three products certified, including A’Mond Cheddar Cheese and A’Mond Smokehouse BBQ
  • Big Easy Bucha—34 products certified, including Apple Pie Kombucha and Cajun Kick Kombucha
  • Bunny James—Organic Carrot Fries Sea Salt certified
  • Chafinity— four products certified, including Gyokuro Tea Leaves and Premium Matcha
  • eco eggs Brand—eco eggs single with Organic candy certified
  • Freedom Bar—eight products certified, including Freedom Bar Apple Cinnamon and Freedom Bar Peanut Butter
  • Jacobo’s—two products certified, including Low-Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese
  • La Fabrique Essentielle—10 products certified, including Brownies and Mousse Fromage Framboise
  • Maud Borup Brand—Organic Strawberry Cotton Candy certified
  • OATLY—three products certified, including OATLY Oatmilk Barista and OATLY Oatmilk Chocolate
  • Outrageous Baking—10 products certified, including chocolate zucchini bread and orange cranberry
  • Ricco—two products certified, including Whole-Milk Low-Moisture Mozzarella Cheese
  • SOL Cuisine—three  products certified, including Extra Firm Tofu and Firm Tofu
  • Supreme Cuisine —Boneless Braised Beef Short Ribs Gluten Free – Dry Cut certified