Olo and EatStreet’s Power Delivery and Wrecked Car Coasters

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite has news from Olo and EatStreet, JUNKICHI, Love Serve Remember (LSR), ComQi, Princess Cruises and The Pipes and Taps Pub.

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

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Olo Partners with EatStreet 

Olo is teaming with EatStreet to enable integrated delivery through Olo’s Rails platform. EatStreet serves 250 markets and connecting consumers to more than 15,000 restaurants. The partnership will provide consumers and restaurant partners with a streamlined food delivery experience for smaller markets across the country.

EatStreet has integrated into Olo’s application programming interface (API) called Rails, which enables restaurants to  receive, process and execute delivery orders through delivery service providers. Rails allows restaurant operators to list menu items on third-party marketplaces, ultimately reaching more consumers. Additionally, orders placed on EatStreet are integrated into the restaurant’s POS and other existing systems through Olo Rails, decreasing time spent on logistics and increasing order accuracy through a seamless experience.

Noah Glass
Noah Glass

“EatStreet was a clear choice to partner with given their extensive reach and mastery of delivery logistics,” said Noah Glass, Founder & CEO of Olo. “Their vast network covers more than 250 cities across the U.S. in underserved markets, providing our restaurant clients with much broader coverage for delivery in many key markets. Coverage is a big part of the discussion for brands and this partnership with EatStreet helps to address that in a centralized way for our restaurant clients.”

“Olo is an innovative, forward-thinking technology player that has a real grasp on the needs of the on-demand consumer today,” said Matt Howard, CEO and co-founder of EatStreet. “We look forward to aiding their restaurant partners in providing a simplified delivery experience to customers.”

Olo empowers its restaurants to offer guests counter and curbside pickup for orders placed by phone, web, mobile web, app, Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices and more, as well as delivery through Olo Dispatch and Olo Rails. Olo integrates into 25  point-of-sale (POS) systems enabling accurate order preparation and completion while eliminating wait times and in-store tablets to ensure the best customer experience.

JUNKICHI Coming to Seattle

Plenty USA, Inc., a company focused on expanding the Japanese restaurant business in the U.S., will open JUNKICHI, a Robata Izakaya restaurant, at 224 Broadway East in Seattle in mid-April.


 The robatayaki-style izakaya features a Japanese grilling tradition in which skewers are slow-grilled over intensely hot “binchotan,” very pure high carbon charcoal, to cook food to perfection — crunchy on the outside and juicy in the center.

JUNKICHI is backed by the founders of one of Japan’s most famous robatayaki restaurants, Ginmasa, located in the gastronomic center of Ginza, Tokyo.

“I was really happy to see customers from overseas appreciating robatayaki as much as Japanese people,” General Manager Nobuyuki Yoshizawa said. “This gave me the idea to recreate a robatayaki restaurant outside of Japan.” 

JUNKICHI is an izakaya, which is a Japanese style pub where drinks are accompanied by small “tapas”-style plates of food. JUNKICHI will also feature a list of reasonably priced sake curated by a sake sommelier. An earlier version of the robot has been in use at the Santouka Ramen restaurant in University Village.

AI Robot Sota

SOTA will be placed atop tables. The AI robot was developed to be able to recognize faces, help customers, and make sure communication with the servers goes smoothly.

A camera in SOTA’s head connects images to Microsoft Azure’s FaceAPI service to allow the robot to recognize faces. Because it can remember faces, SOTA will be able to adapt to repeat customers.  Guests can also use a smartphone app to make SOTA speak. SOTA has a number of prepared lines it delivers, but it can be told to say all sorts of things via Microsoft Azure’s Text to Speech service, meaning SOTA can have guided conversations with your table in real time.

SOTA is already a fixture at a Japanese izakaya restaurant and has been featured in the Japanese media many times. The restaurant using SOTA say it gets special requests to reserve tables with the AI robot. The restaurant reports a 10% jump in sales since it started using SOTA.

Plenty USA, Inc. is opening its first authentic robatayaki izakaya in the U.S. after launching the popular Santouka Ramen chain. Robatayaki is a traditional style of izakaya restaurant. Fresh meat, fish, and vegetables are charcoal-grilled right in front of the customers and served piping hot out of the fire as it has been done in Japan for centuries.

The JUNKICHI robatayaki izakaya will also serve an original ramen dish produced by Santouka.

Evon Joins LSR

Don Evon has been named president of Love Serve Remember (LSR), the restaurant group behind plant-based restaurants Café Gratitude, Gracias Madre, and Gratitude.

Dan Evon

Since March of 2011 with the opening of Café Gratitude Larchmont, the founding leadership team has  expanded its concepts into Newport Beach and San Diego, added additional locations in Venice Beach and the Art’s District of Downtown LA and introduced Gracias Madre to the L.A. market.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Dan to the LSR family as we plan out the future of Café Gratitude, Gracias Madre, and Gratitude,” said Lisa Bonbright CEO of Love Serve Remember. “Our restaurants are so much more than a place to eat, they are truly a lifestyle and it was important that the person we brought on be able to embrace what we have created over the past seven years.  We are lucky to have Dan as part of our leadership team, someone who not only offers the highest level of operational expertise, but also understands our brand through and through.”

Cafe Gratitude Venice

Evon brings a rich history of restaurant experience and hospitality, most recently as a partner with industry leader Rich Melman, the founder of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, where Evon has, for the past 13 years, overseen some of the most successful restaurants in the country, including Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas. Evon brings  national brand development and expansion experience co-creating growing brands for Lettuce, including M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica, California; Stella Barra Pizzeria in California, Illinois and Maryland; El Segundo Sol and Stripburger in Nevada and Summerhouse Santa Monica in Illinois and Maryland. Before joining Lettuce Entertain You, Evon was a partner with Paul Fleming at Ztejas Southwestern Grill. Prior to working with Paul Fleming, he was managing partner for Bertolini’s Authentic Tratoria (Morton Restaurant Group) where he oversaw national expansion.

Gracias Madre

“I couldn’t be happier about joining the Love Serve Remember family with their amazing culture, great food and true sense of hospitality, the three key ingredients for success.  LSR is already the industry leader offering a 100% organic, plant-based menu and our goal is to provide that flavorful, healthy food across America.  The sky is the limit.”

The LSR leadership team, in tandem with Evon, have plans to expand the plant-based, organic restaurants regionally and nationally offering great food and exceptional hospitality while bringing their overall mission, ‘Love is Served,’ to communities across the country.

ComQi Acquired

ComQi, a content management software and solutions provider was acquired by Taiwan’s AU Optronics Corporation (AUO).

The acquisition, completed in March 2018, equips ComQi with a full range of digital signage hardware, software and professional services, and complements AUO’s position as a global leader in digital signage displays including advanced 4K UHD capabilities. AUO generated $11.5 billion USD in sales in 2017, primarily manufacturing flat panel LCD displays and related products for many of the world’s top electronics brands. AUO has generation 3.5 to 8.5 flat panel display production lines that produce everything from 1.1-inch to 85-inch LCDs for all types of display applications and holds more than 17,800 global patents.

ComQi will continue to operate as a separate business entity, with a primary office in Manhattan, satellite office in London, England and a large software/R&D office in the Toronto, Canada area.

“Display is a key element in digital signage projects. With ComQi now an AUO company, customers have direct access to high quality screen technology and a very competitive product portfolio,” said Stuart Armstrong, Group President of ComQi, “We think that is going to be good for the market, and good for our clients.”

“We aim to provide total digital signage solutions to customers,” added Paul SL Peng, AUO’s Chairman and CEO. “That’s why we saw the opportunity to combine with ComQi, and offer a complete hardware, software and services solution to our customers. The combination of upstream manufacturing and downstream services is really powerful.”

Ifti Ifhar

“We are very proud of the excellent customer work that has gotten us here and attracted such a global powerhouse as AUO. We complement each other,” said Ifti Ifhar, CEO of ComQi. “This greatly enhances our ability to offer full end-to-end solutions with a wider global reach. This collaboration will benefit our customers and grow ComQi sales and market share at a faster pace.”

Culinary Shore Excursion

Princess Cruises announced a new culinary shore excursion program in collaboration with the number one food lifestyle brand, Bon Appétit, offering guests the opportunity to indulge in culinary experiences inspired by their surroundings while cruising to destinations around the globe.

Through this new partnership, Princess guests will receive a deepened understanding of the destinations visited through a small group, sensory journey of authentic culinary experiences drawing from the life of locals. The shore excursion offerings will immerse explorers in local ingredients and cooking styles, as well as demonstrations and tastings from local chefs and personalities, all with the goal of providing travelers a sense of renewed wonder and an opportunity for immersive destination exploration.

“As a leader in culinary excellence at sea, we seek to offer our guests hands-on, immersive culinary journeys from the destinations we visit,” said Bruce Krumrine, vice president, global shore excursions, Princess Cruises. “From scone making in the countryside of Ireland, to crafting the perfect paella on the knotted streets of medieval Spain, these newly developed experiences are sure to bring the spirit of these destinations to life for our guests.”

Guests can choose from a selection of curated tours developed in partnership with Bon Appétit, hand selected to best demonstrate the brand’s focus of “where food and culture meet.”

“There is a clear connection between the love of travel and experiencing food found in cultures around the world,” said Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appétit. “Collaborating with a destination leader like Princess Cruises, we’re able to bring the passion of culinary inspired journeys to guests we might not otherwise reach.” 

Guests will be able to choose from 30 excursions beginning in 2018. Highlights include:

Bon Appétit Exclusive Tours

Taste of the North – Kristiansand, Norway

Classic Norwegian flavors are made modern by the head chef at Hotel Norge. Savor Norway’s history with moose steak, traditional cookies and regional wine. Then, nourish the moment over a shared lunch with fellow travelers on a tour that visits local stops of note.

Scones from Scratch – Dublin, Ireland

On this excursion, guests will journey to Ireland’s charming countryside for a cozy afternoon of scone making. Participants will learn to prepare these delicate golden treats from Catherine Fulivio*, the acclaimed chef and proprietor of Ballyknocken Cookery School, House and Restaurant. Following the lesson, guests can enjoy their creations amid the charm of a Victorian farmhouse and end the day strolling its sprawling gardens.

Bon Appétit Recommended Tours

Classic Copenhagen – Copenhagen, Denmark

Wind the way through Copenhagen’s reveled sights and flavors in a scenic afternoon adventure. Guests will fuel their appetites at Ferry Café with Smørrebrød, a classic, open-faced sandwich, then sightsee historic Danish palaces and castles. Stepping aboard a modern canal boat, travelers will get a chance to experience 500-year-old step-gabled homes from a new perspective, and end the day with new thrills during a visit to Tivoli Gardens, a famous theme park bursting with color.

Pacific Northwest Pairings – Astoria, Oregon

Savor a pairing the Pacific Northwest has made famous at the locally-loved restaurant, Baked Alaska. Famed for his dishes and storytelling, Chef Chris Holen will gather guests in an open kitchen where they will learn how to bring creativity to seafood dishes while sipping local wines and journeying into Astoria’s past and present.

From Mate to Malbec – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Visit Argentina’s stunning urban hub of Buenos Aires to learn the timeless tradition of empanada making. Once comfortable in the kitchen, participants will taste classic dishes like grilled provoleta cheese, sliced chorizo and steak accompanied by a glass of local Malbec wine. The excursion culminates with the opportunity for guests to make their own mate and dessert, ending the day on a sweet note.

Juneau Foodie Walking Tour – Juneau, Alaska

Travelers to the Great Land will explore their way through Juneau’s most renowned flavors during a walking tour to some of the town’s best restaurants. From award-winning crab bisque, famous fish tacos and smoked pork to tasting local Alaska beer and wine, guests will venture through the Gold Rush town on a culinary journey and stroll through downtown Juneau.

The Perfect Paella – Valencia, Spain

Soak in Valencia’s iconic sights like historic landmarks, green spaces and cathedrals, followed by a savory meal featuring one of its most iconic dishes: paella. Guided by a local chef, guests will study the preparation that brings this saffron-seasoned rice dish to plate.

Roots of Russia – St. Petersburg, Russia

Indulge in a lesson in Russia’s past by making the classic staple of meat pies called “pelmini” at a local restaurant. Participants will pair their creation with 80-proof vodka, a storied spirit that has evolved over 500 years of history.

A Sobering Message

St. Patrick’s Day partiers are coming face-to-face with a sobering message this weekend at The Pipes and Taps Pub. In partnership with arrive alive DRIVE SOBER, an organization that aims to save lives by preventing impaired driving, Pipes and Taps will replace their regular coasters with ones made from real car wrecks.

“This coaster used to be a car. That car never made it home”

These award-winning, “Wrecked Car Coasters” were a viral sensation last year and sparked conversations around the world and across media platforms to encourage partiers to plan ahead and get home safe. To encourage that conversation again, Arrive Alive will be sharing double the amount of coasters as last year.

The coasters were made using a high-impact hydraulic-press to help shape the pieces of car into coasters. Then, the message was laser-etched onto the coasters: “This coaster used to be a car. That car never made it home.”

“Impaired driving remains one of the leading criminal causes of death in Canada,” says Michael Stewart, Program Director at Arrive Alive. “These coasters are made from cars that never made it home and are an excellent reminder to people, that there are consequences to driving drunk. We encourage everyone celebrating today to have a designated driver, take transit or download The Ride App for a safe ride home.”