Oxford Orders Debuts and A Nice Pear on Tap

MRM’s Daily Bite has news about Oxford Orders, Fourth, ChowNow, Waitr and Genuine Pizza.

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

MRM Daily Bite Logo

Oxford Orders Launches

Oxford Orders, a city first food and retail ordering network, launched for the residents and businesses of Oxford. The online and mobile based platform is the first in a series of local marketplace solutions intended to promote regional industry by bringing restaurants and businesses together under a single e-commerce platform. Unlike aggregators that focus solely on food order and delivery (such as Deliveroo, UberEats, or Just Eat), Oxford Orders provides a platform for all businesses that can benefit from pre-ordering, for example local florists, bakeries or even, butchers.

Powered by Preoday and managed by ForPOS, the platform forms part of a wider campaign, based on the ‘locavore’ movement, which aims to give power back to local companies and help them forge closer relationships with their customers.

“We consumers are all hardwired to prefer local businesses,” said consumer psychology expert Patrick Fagan, an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths. “In psychology, this is known as the proximity principle – we like people (and by extension, businesses) which are physically close by. It’s why we tend to make friends with our dorm-mates at university. We prefer nearby businesses for three reasons: ease, familiarity and similarity. Humans crave convenience, local businesses are easier to get to, theoretically they deliver quicker, and because they are seen frequently, they remain front-of-mind. The reason we trust things we find familiar is because our brains process them more easily; one study found that western participants prefer Chinese ideographs they have seen before, even if they don’t remember having seen them. Finally, we can’t help being drawn to those similar to us, it’s why we are more likely to lend somebody change if they are dressed similarly. The people of Oxford will gravitate towards platform like Oxford Orders that give to local businesses because they perceive them to be in line with their own attitudes and values.”

We prefer nearby businesses for three reasons: ease, familiarity and similarity.

With over 400 restaurants in Oxford alone, alongside hundreds of other companies, the potential benefit for the local community is tremendous. The platform can be accessed via oxfordorders.co.uk and an accompanying mobile app is available from the Apple App store or Google Play. The app has a built-in GPS that can determine which businesses are near the user’s location.

“We want to provide a genuine alternative for local businesses to aggregators such as Just Eat,” said Andrew White, CEO of Preoday  These national aggregators charge huge commission rates to the companies they partner with. These fees have the potential to push venues out of business, especially if commissions continue to rise. We are looking to connect local businesses with local residents, champion regional enterprise and help companies prosper. Oxford Orders will help local businesses take their first independent step with digital orders and, as they gain confidence, Preoday will be there to help them go even further. Although we are starting in Oxford, this local network concept is of great interest to other towns too.”

Roger Foran, owner of ForPOS added:  “So many people order their food and goods online, but they don’t need an Amazon, Just Eat or Deliveroo to do this. Most people’s favourite restaurants and stores are only a few miles away from their home, so a national aggregator is redundant to them. By using Oxford Orders, they’ll be helping their favourite businesses retain the money they spend, so the companies can continue to serve them well into the future.”

1855 Wine Bar Bistro is one of the first venues to sign up to Oxford Orders. Steve Plast, General Manager, comments: “The Oxford Orders offering naturally appealed to our business. The potential return on investment outweighs any of the alternatives, how could we not sign up? Lack of commission fees aside, a venue like ours has to appeal to a wide range of customers, and we know that an increasing number of people are using digital, mobile technologies to navigate and simplify their lives. Being on Oxford Orders puts us at the centre of the trend; when that audience turns to their mobile to arrange afternoon drinks or an evening out, we will be there, able to meet their needs.”

Map Chalmers, Marketing Manager at The Old Tom also features on the platform: “A business like ours relies on local residents. With large chain restaurants cornering customer markets on a national scale, smaller, independent venues need to work extra hard to build the strong relationships that allow them to survive. Good customer service is essential, we know that if a person has a bad experience with a local venue, they won’t go back. Oxford Orders will provide a way to enhance customer service and appeal to those that want to order digitally, thereby solidifying our position in the community.”

Fourth Expands Sales  Team

Fourth added Adam Sternberg as vice president for North American sales and Saverio Ferraro and Clint Dabelgott as U.S. sales directors. The new hires reflect a strategic expansion of Fourth’s U.S. sales force.

In their new roles, Sternberg, Ferraro and Dabelgott will support Fourth’s accelerated investment in its purchase-to-pay, inventory management, menu engineering, HR, labor productivity and payroll solutions for clients in the U.S. market.

“As we expand our company’s footprint into the U.S., we are making investments in strong talent with deep industry and market expertise, as well as a proven record in sales and client service,” said James England, SVP of Strategic Partnerships for Fourth. “Adam, Savvi and Clint are integral to this greater vision, and we look forward to their leadership in growing our U.S. presence and building relationships.”

Sternberg brings to Fourth more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, most previously with MGM Resorts International and Avero. Sternberg will lead Fourth’s North American sales operations and report to England.

Ferraro, based in Chicago, joins Fourth from the NCR Corporation while Dallas-based Dabelgott previously managed key enterprise accounts for HotSchedules.

“We are extremely excited to work with such a talented and diverse group of sales leaders who bring with them exceptional field expertise as well as regional insights. This structure and talent in place provides further support for Fourth’s U.S. expansion, notably in the restaurant sector,” added England.

A Nice Pear

A new craft beer will soon arrive on tap with a name usually associated with  food delivery. Waitr has partnered with Crying Eagle Brewing Company to create a new beer, A Nice Pear.

The new libation is a Saison brewed with organic pear juice and fermented with Northern French Saison yeast. The beer is then dry-hopped with Bramling Cross hops to add additional orchard-fruit notes. Considered an excellent choice for pairing with food, this style was chosen for the originality of having a food-related item in the beer, thereby tying in Waitr’s business. Pear was chosen because it has a floral sweetness and the color reflects the green found in the Waitr logo. The name is a play on words for a Nice Pair/Pear (of Companies/Fruit).

The collaboration was Bayou-born, as both companies were founded in Lake Charles, with the initial idea ironically taking shape over “a couple of beers” at an event where Eric Avery, President of Crying Eagle Brewing, and Chris Meaux, founder and CEO of Waitr, were in attendance.

“As we talked, we agreed it was a cool idea,” said Avery. “Rarely if ever has a brewery collaborated with a technology company to create a unique style for the market.”

“We’re really excited to see Waitr’s A Nice Pear in our partner restaurants,” said Meaux. “Waitr is committed to fueling the success of its restaurant partners and that means doing things that drive business into their restaurants. This is an example of creativity helping our local restaurant industry.”

Limited distribution for the beer is Louisiana in restaurants in Lake Charles, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Among the participating restaurants are Walk-Ons Bistreaux & Bar, Pour, 121 Artisan Bistro, and Prime.

ChowNow Secures Funding

ChowNow secured a $20 million Series B led by growth equity firm Catalyst Investors. The company recently surpassed 8,000 restaurant clients using its software to serve partners’ takeout and delivery customers directly through their own websites and white-labeled, native mobile apps. With the investment, Catalyst partner Tyler Newton joined ChowNow’s Board of Directors.

“ChowNow empowers restaurants to own their customer relationships by offering access via their own websites or native mobile apps. ChowNow offers a high ROI to its customers, has a large greenfield market opportunity and is benefitting from the shift in consumer preference toward digital ordering,” said Newton. “We believe they provide a superior and more affordable solution for restaurants tired of paying ever-increasing commissions to online ordering marketplaces.”

ChowNow is on pace to help its restaurant clients process $400 million in orders from 3.8 million customers over the next year. 

“Our goal is to provide restaurants with the tools to compete in an increasingly technical world. We help them get online quickly and easily so they can maintain direct relationships with their diners. Restaurateurs focus on the quality of their food and service, we arm them with the tools needed to compete,” said ChowNow co-founder and CEO Chris Webb. “We believe Catalyst Investors’ experience growing SaaS companies makes them the ideal partner to help us expand our customer base and services.”

The round brings ChowNow’s total investment to $40 million, and includes prior investment from Upfront Ventures.

Harry’s Pizzeria® Re-Brands as Genuine Pizza

Harry’s Holdings, LLC secured a $2.5MM investment from the Florida Opportunity Fund to support the expansion of the Genuine Pizza concept, James Beard Award winner Michael Schwartz’s casual pizzeria (formerly known as Harry’s Pizzeria). The company will unveil the evolved concept’s first location at the Aventura Mall in November, featuring new restaurant design, branding and signage, while maintaining the current menu. Existing Harry’s Pizzeria locations will stay as Harry’s, but will eventually transition to the new brand name and design.

“The new Genuine Pizza brand is not just a nod to Chef Schwartz’s flagship Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, but also a much more appropriate articulation of our pizzeria’s mission and approach. Our use of the word Genuine is meant to portray a sincere and honest approach. Whether it is our ingredients, recipes and execution, flavor combinations or our hospitality, we strive to be Genuine in everything we do,” said Harry’s Holdings CEO Sunil Bhatt. “We are thrilled at the reception our new pizzerias in Miami’s Design District, Coconut Grove and Downtown Dadeland have received, and with the support of the Florida Opportunity Fund, we have a great opportunity to open many new Genuine Pizza locations over the next several years. For many of us, pizza is our favorite food and it is an honor and a privilege to share our interpretation more widely.”

The Florida Opportunity Fund investment will back Genuine Pizza’s rollout to 18 locations over the next few years, including Aventura (November), Atlanta (December), Cleveland and Miami Beach (2018), and Sunrise (2019).

“We are excited to work with a world-class management team to bring the Genuine Pizza experience to more people in Florida and around the country,” said Jennifer Dunham, a Partner with Florida First Partners, investment advisor to the Florida Opportunity Fund.

The new restaurant interior by Miami-based craft and construction firm McKenzie features light woods and simple accents like custom yellow and grey Cuban tile, orange chairs, and the yellow-tiled Marra Forni oven. The environment invites guests to experience the attention to detail first hand, at a pizza bar fronting the open kitchen and a glass-faced dough room at the entrance where the recipe is mixed, kneaded and proofed daily. The new logo design incorporates the word Genuine in script typeface with an ear of wheat at the end, to emphasize a main ingredient in the daily handmade dough.