Redefining ‘Dine and Dash’ and Review Hub

This edition of MRM News Bites features Toast, Yelp, Aramark, Clover and Fiserv, OpenTable, Tripadvisor, Rich Products, Taffer’s Tavern, Dinova, DeliverThat, ParTech, SpotOn and TouchBistro.

Toast Secures $400M Funding

Toast secured a $400M Series F funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, and Tiger Global Management with participation from Durable Capital Partners LP, TCV, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, G Squared, Light Street Capital, Alta Park Capital, and others.  During the course of 2019, revenue increased 109 percent as tens of thousands of new restaurants joined the Toast community.

“As a result of our tremendous growth and commitment to the restaurant industry, we have continued to see a significant amount of demand from the investor community,” said Chris Comparato, CEO at Toast. “As the clear platform leader in the restaurant space, we are excited to use this investment to extend our capabilities and drive a bigger impact for the restaurant industry.”

Toast will invest proceeds from this fundraise into its technology platform to meet the evolving needs of the restaurant industry including:

  • New products designed to both deepen restaurateurs' connections with guests and increase restaurant revenue;
  • Hardware and software investments to increase speed of service, streamline the guest experience, and reduce operational costs;
  • Capabilities to improve the restaurant employee experience, reduce employee turnover, and address the industry’s pressing labor challenges; and,
  • Financial products that provide quick and reliable access to funding to help restaurateurs grow their businesses.

“Just as the retail industry weathered disruption from e-commerce over the past two decades, restaurateurs now face shifting consumer expectations and a changing landscape of tech players who threaten to erode restaurant brands,” said Kent Bennett, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners. “Toast wants to partner with the restaurant community to level the playing field and strengthen this nearly trillion dollar industry. We’re thrilled to continue to support this incredible team in 2020 and beyond.” 

Yelp Adds Products

Yelp Inc. launched two new products designed to help businesses with multiple locations better reach and understand consumers at every phase of the purchase cycle. Yelp introduced Yelp Store Visits (YSV) to measure how online activity on Yelp drives physical store foot traffic, and launched Showcase Ads, a new video-centric format that allows national marketers to feature in-season promotions and to tell their brand story more effectively. Yelp’s new enterprise advertising products provide brands with greater control over how they promote their business on Yelp, and a more effective way to measure what resonates with their audiences. The new products have been piloted by ​Denny’s​ and other Fortune 500 brands. 


“National and multi-location brands are looking for sophisticated products to help them drive ad performance, demonstrate ROI on their campaigns, and better tell their story in an increasingly noisy digital landscape,” said Tom Foran, Yelp’s senior vice president of national sales. “Brand advertisers appreciate Yelp’s ability to help them reach high-intent consumers with relevant and effective content. These new products represent our commitment to building advertising solutions that generate real results for our brand partners. By utilizing Showcase Ads and measuring the results with Store Visits, brands are able to target their new or seasonal product offerings to a hyper-local audience and know the impact of their marketing campaigns on driving consumers into stores.” 

Ahead of the official launch, Yelp ran a successful pilot program with Denny’s, with the help of their media agency, ​Spark Foundry​. 

“We are always looking for new ways to reach our consumers and, given Yelp’s dominance in the industry, we sought a partnership to help us drive more customers to our restaurants,” said Erik Jensen, vice president of brand engagement, Denny’s. “We’ve been working with Yelp since 2015, but decided we wanted to take things to the next level when we learned about Yelp Store Visits. YSV has helped us to truly understand the impact of our ad dollars and ensure we’re leveraging the right strategy. We look forward to continuing our partnership in 2020 and uncovering even more valuable ways to attract more customers to Denny's.” 

Addressing Enterprise Advertisers’ Unique Needs 

Yelp is continuing its commitment to innovating on new advertising products for multi-location brands:

Yelp Store Visits: ​Available to multi-location advertisers, Yelp Store Visits is a first-party attribution tool that allows businesses to better understand the impact of their ads. Through opt-in location information at scale, and other signals that users provide when engaging with Yelp, clients can more easily measure the extent to which Yelp ads are driving customers into their stores. Yelp Store Visits determines the cost-per-visit attributable to Yelp advertising and enables clients to better calculate their return on ad spend. 

Showcase Ads: ​Showcase Ads gives national and multi-location regional businesses an effective way to promote their special or limited-time offers to high-intent consumers on Yelp. Showcase Ads are also available with video capabilities. 

Mittleman Promoted at Aramark

Aramark named Carl Mittleman Chief Operating Officer, International succeeding Brent Franks, who leaves Aramark after a successful 7-year tenure. Mittleman, who has been with the Company for 25 years, most recently served as President, Sports & Entertainment. Alison Birdwell, a sports and hospitality industry veteran, has been promoted to President, Sports & Entertainment.

Carl Mittleman

Mittleman joined Aramark as a college intern and held positions of increased responsibility in sales and operations in Aramark Germany, Leisure and Sports & Entertainment. He moved through the ranks of General Manager, District Manager and Regional Vice President, and for the last 5 years has led Sports & Entertainment as President.

“Carl has a history of building strong and enduring partnerships with clients and developing a leadership team that has led the business to a position of prominence in the industry,” said John Zillmer, Aramark Chief Executive Officer. “I am confident that under Carl’s leadership, the International business will create additional opportunities to drive strong performance with a focus on innovation and hospitality.”

Mittleman was recognized by Sports Business Journal’s list of “Forty Under 40,” and was recently named to the VenuesNow inaugural list of “Industry All-Stars.” He serves on the Board of Directors for The Cholula Food Company, Spurs Sports and Entertainment and is Chairman of the Board of the TEAM Coalition (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management). He is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and earned his MBA from the Daniels College of Business at University of Denver.

Birdwell joined Aramark in 2002 as a General Manager and advanced through the ranks in Sports & Entertainment, holding multiple District Manager and Regional Vice President roles. She led several high-profile client events, including numerous Super Bowls, MLB World Series and NCAA Final Four Championships.

“Alison has been instrumental in the growth and expansion of the Sports & Entertainment business,” said Marc Bruno, Aramark’s Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Food & Facilities. “She is an excellent leader who motivates her teams to deliver superior results for our clients and customers.”

Prior to joining Aramark, Birdwell held leadership roles with Hilton, Marriott and Wyndham Hotels. She serves on the board of Boston University’s School of Hospitality. She has a degree in hospitality management from Boston University and earned her MBA from the University of Miami.

Scan to Pay

 Scan to Pay, a first-of-its-kind feature is now available with the Clover® platform from Fiserv, Inc.,. Developed to expedite the payments experience in response to consumers’ increasing expectations for speed and convenience, Scan to Pay helps eliminate inefficiencies within the traditional full-service restaurant payment process by allowing a guest to pay a bill and tip within seconds using their iPhone and Apple Pay. 

“As a high-volume restaurant, we wanted a more efficient way for our guests to pay,” said Josh Molina, owner of Makers & Finders in Las Vegas. “Since we began using Scan to Pay with Clover Dining, we have been able to offer a more seamless payment experience to our guests, turning more tables while giving guests a ‘wow’ experience as they pay for their meal.”

With Scan to Pay, guests use their iPhone camera to scan a Clover-generated QR code at the bottom of their receipt to pay their restaurant bill with Apple Pay. This saves time for both the guest and the server by eliminating the need for the guest to give their credit card to the server and for the server to take the card to the point of sale, process the transaction, and return for a signature. Not only is Apple Pay quick and convenient for both the guest and restaurant, it is also secure as a customer must authorize every transaction with Face ID or Touch ID on their iPhone.

Servers know the guest has paid because the bill shows as paid instantly on all the restaurant’s devices. Additionally, guests have access to their restaurant bill on their phone, and if the restaurant is using Clover Feedback, guests can share their comments with the restaurant owner through direct message.

Scan to Pay is particularly beneficial in high-volume, full-service restaurants and in locations where guests may have time constraints, such as airport restaurants or venues that serve pre-theater guests, because it facilitates a quick and secure payment experience while enhancing efficiency. The use of Scan to Pay can reduce the time needed to turn a table, which can allow staff to serve more guests per shift and create opportunities to increase revenue and tips.

“As restaurants look for new ways to adapt to consumer trends and offer quality dining experiences, Scan to Pay puts the power of when to pay and leave into the hands of the restaurant guest, creating a better dining experience and reducing extra tasks for servers,” said John Beatty, co-founder of Clover. “Scan to Pay represents another step forward for Clover as we continue to build out our core technology capabilities and provide additional solutions that can help merchants grow their businesses and delight their guests.”

Hot Table Access

OpenTable is giving U.S. diners exclusive access to hot tables with the launch of Premium Access – a new loyalty perk available for frequent OpenTable diners, top photo. OpenTable Dining Points can be used to unlock hard-to-get reservations at popular restaurants during prime dining times – a feature that nearly three quarters (68 percent) of diners expressed interest in, according to an internal surve​y. Beginning November 2019, Premium Access reservations were exclusively rolled out for Capital One cardholders and continues to be available to them. 

“As we look for ways to enhance our OpenTable Rewards program, we want to ensure we’re giving diners what they want, and getting into the best restaurants at prime dining times topped the list,” said Joseph Essas, Chief Technology Officer, OpenTable “We’re excited to reward frequent diners with the ability to book highly sought after reservations with less lead time.”

Premium Access is available across the US in 20 cities with more than 200+ participating restaurants. Examples of participating restaurants include:​ ​Amen Street Fish + Raw Bar​ ​(Charleston),​ ​Vivere​ and Jeong​ (Chicago), ​State Bird Provisions​ (San Francisco)​ ​Crown Shy​ (New York) and​ ​Rioja​ (Denver). The rollout of Premium Access comes just in time for those looking to book a great last-minute table, ensuring both planners and procrastinators alike can grab reservations at the hottest spots this Valentine’s Day. 

“Being a part of OpenTable Premium Access program gives the opportunity for the valued patrons of Capital One and OpenTable to experience award-winning Blue Duck Tavern,” said Joseph Cerione, General Manager of​ ​Blue Duck Tavern​. 

Review Hub Debuts

Tripadvisor today launched Review Hub, a new interactive portal that allows restaurant owners to view consumer reviews of their business and quickly respond to them all from one convenient dashboard, whether the review was shared on Tripadvisor, TheFork, Google, Facebook, Yelp, or other major review sites.


“Few restaurant owners have time to log into each of the various restaurant sites one-by-one to respond to their diners’ reviews, so we’re excited to give them one tool to manage these reviews in less time,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, senior vice president of Restaurants, Tripadvisor. “Review Hub is the latest example of Tripadvisor’s efforts to make online restaurant marketing and management a breeze for busy owners.”

Review Hub displays a snapshot of ratings and reviews from multiple platforms, and lets owners click through to explore their unique review trends in more depth — so restaurateurs can see what’s working and where they can further improve their customer experience, with a complete range of reviews from multiple sites. 

There, they can quickly respond to each review with a thoughtful management response, thank their guests for their feedback and share their side of the story. The management response they share is then automatically posted on the site or app where the review was originally submitted by the diner, making online reputation management easier and less time consuming.

Review Hub is a subscription-based product available to all restaurant owners, operators and digital marketing teams, and can be subscribed to on a monthly or annual basis, and is now available in all markets where Tripadvisor operates.

Research shows that over 90 percent of diners say restaurant reviews matter when choosing a place to eat, showing how important it is to pay attention to what customers are saying online. Online reviews not only show the experiences of past customers, but also allows owners to show the best of a business to potential future customers looking for a place to eat.

The IPSOS Mori Study, which polled over 23,000 diners worldwide, also showed that six out of ten (63%) respondents said they would be more likely to book if the owner responds to the majority of reviews. And when a restaurant owner leaves personalized responses to reviews, over three-quarters (77%) of respondents said they were more likely to book as a result.

Rich Products Makes Acquisitions

Rich Products expanded its product portfolio with three acquisitions: Rizzuto Foods, a Pacific northwest-based leader in pizza dough innovation; Morey’s Seafood International, a major seafood industry player based in Plymouth, MN; and two manufacturing plants from TreeHouse Foods, a leading manufacturer and distributor of private label breads, rolls and cakes. 

Ray Burke

“As we enter our 75th year, we remain as committed as ever to driving value for our customers,” said Ray Burke, president and chief operating officer, Rich Products’ U.S. Canada Region. “Expanding our product portfolio, adding greater capacity and fueling innovation are key pieces of our strategic acquisition efforts. These moves strengthen our position as a total solutions provider in today’s rapidly evolving marketplace.”
Furthering Rich’s reach and offerings in both the bakery and dessert categories are two manufacturing plants the company will acquire from TreeHouse Foods. Located in Lodi, CA, and Fridley, MN, these facilities specialize in baked artisan breads and rolls, as well as fully finished cakes for in-store retail bakeries and foodservice.

These two manufacturing plants allow Rich’s to provide its customers with greater in-demand product options and add industry reputable brands like Cottage Bakery to its product portfolio. Enhancing Rich’s dessert and bakery business units, the acquisitions also align with Rich’s long-term plans for growth.

More than 400 associates across the two plants join Rich’s as part of this acquisition. The transaction is expected to close in April.  
Rich’s amplifies its more than 40-year legacy in the pizza business with the acquisition of Rizzuto Foods. Based in Spokane, WA, Rizzuto is best known for high-quality pizza and flatbread products, along with gluten-free and cauliflower crusts. The strategic addition of Rizzuto Foods positions Rich’s for continued growth, greater capacity, increased innovation and long-term success in the category. 

Like Rich’s, Rizzuto has been family-owned for more than 60 years. What started in 1957 as Joe’s Drive In Pizza has grown into a large multi-faceted business. Since becoming Rizzuto’s in 1991, the company has produced more than one billion pizza crusts.

Rich’s is expanding its current seafood footprint with the acquisition of Morey’s Seafood International, a leading seafood industry player based in Plymouth, MN, that also has family-owned roots. Founded in 1937 by Ed Morey, Morey’s has become a Minnesota icon and a legacy brand in the seafood category. With a state-of-the-art processing center in Motley and a distribution facility in Plymouth, MN, Morey’s offers a full line of high quality, authentic fish and seafood products.

Rich’s SeaPak brand is America’s top selling retail brand in the frozen specialty seafood category. The company’s investment in Morey’s will grow Rich’s seafood business, allowing Rich’s to expand its impact and deliver even more options for customers.

Financial terms of each transaction were not disclosed.

Taffer's Tavern Design Team Selected

Taffer’s Tavern, the  restaurant concept created by Jon Taffer, selected Duncan Miller Ullmann (DMU) to design the inaugural location set to open the Atlanta area in the coming months. Since the Bar Rescue star launched his own full-service restaurant concept in 2019, Taffer’s Tavern has already caught the attention of experienced restaurant and bar franchisees across the nation and around the world. DMU’s design for the first franchise location will set the tone for the tavern’s aesthetic and serve as a prototype for future Taffer’s Tavern restaurants.


“We have created a new, unique restaurant concept and brand from the ground up, and knew we needed to work with an industry-leading design firm to bring it to life,” said Taffer. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with DMU CEO and Design Principal Kimberley Miller in the past and feel the team has a clear understanding of my vision. I am confident they will create a space that our Taffer’s Tavern guests will enjoy”

 Known for its fundamental commitment to innovative and timeless design, the firm’s project portfolio ranges from casinos and resorts to boutique and urban hotels, as well as nightclubs and restaurants. DMU offers full-service operations in the United States and India, and executes projects spanning from the United States to the Caribbean, UAE and Asia, which aligns well with the anticipated international growth plans for Taffer’s Tavern.

Renderings and design details are in progress as the first Taffer’s Tavern location readies to open this spring in the Atlanta metro area. DMU is focusing Taffer’s Tavern design inspiration on creating communal areas throughout the space and layering a thoughtful selection of finishes to create atmosphere, such as warm hues, lighting accents and metal millwork.

“While the design aspects may vary from location to location due to factors like square footage and building character, this first unit in the Atlanta area will have the brand DNA that we will replicate throughout the franchise,” said Taffer. “The design elements at this location will serve as a prototype for current and future franchisees.”

Together with Fransmart, Taffer is seeking experienced franchisees to continue bringing the Taffer’s Tavern concept to the 50 largest media markets throughout North America.

Dinvova's Outlook

Dinova Inc., the authority in business dining, today announced ­its 2019 marketplace results and outlook for 2020. Last year, Dinova increased revenues, achieved greater diversity in its customer base and attracted new talent. These and other significant growth milestones have resulted in record performance metrics across all categories and has set the tone for what is sure to be an even more successful 2020 with higher profits.

“By harnessing the power of data, Dinova plays a pivotal role in bringing forth key insights and strategies that help our US corporate customers rein in the $100B spent annually and redirect their spend to qualified restaurants,” says Alison Galik, CEO of Dinova. “Reflecting back on what we’ve achieved over the past ten years, we owe our successes to our hardworking employees, loyal client base and massive restaurant network. Looking toward the next decade, we couldn’t be more excited!”

Dinova accomplished the following in 2019:

  • Launched Catering Portal and Dine Assist Products
  • Made new Executive appointments: In addition to Alison Galik’s expanded role of CEO, Dinova appointed Verome M. Johnston to Chief Financial Officer and John Leen as Chief Revenue Officer
  • Published joint research on business traveler satisfaction with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) 
  • Grew program volume – the amount of spend across the network – by 27% in 2019 (versus 2018)
  • Expanded the number of transactions processed by nearly 25%
  • Added over 5,000 new restaurant locations to the network, bringing the total count to over 21,000
  • Managed over $8.2 billion of restaurant spending across its enterprise, government agency and SMB clients

“We have continued to see strong, aggressive growth based on Dinova’s ability to deliver new incremental business customers to restaurants on weekdays that repeat with higher frequency and have much larger check sizes than the industry averages for consumer diners,” stated John Leen, Chief Revenue Officer at Dinova. “Dinova is thrilled to be the only organization that focuses solely on being the outsourced extension of any brand’s B2B strategy. The fact that it is pay for performance is a no-brainer for restaurants looking to get a slice of this $100B sub-set of the restaurant industry.”

DeliverThat Launches in Boston

DeliverThat launched its restaurant catering delivery service in the Boston area, marking the company’s 42nd metro location throughout the United States and Canada, and solidifying its place as the leading logistics firm for restaurant catering delivery. Boston also is DeliverThat’s first new market launch of 2020.

“Boston will be a great market for us and we came here based on requests from several nationally based restaurant partners,” said John Zinno, DeliverThat’s co-founder and chief people officer. “Boston was one of the last major cities on our targeted growth list and we are already seeing the potential here. Getting one of the biggest cities in the country under our belt is a huge piece of our long-term strategy.”

DeliverThat corporate was asked to launch in Boston based on requests from national chains Qdoba Mexican Eats and Bertucci’s, along with several regional brands, and is open to working with new restaurant concepts there looking for help with catering delivery. 

“Our goal is to build on our operator partnerships by going into cities based on their requests for help while continuing to develop and foster new operator partnerships,” Zinno said. “Catering is now such an obvious piece of the operational puzzle for restaurants and we want to help both new and existing clients deliver the best service possible for their catering clients. Our drivers are well educated on individual brand standards, and we work diligently with them to ensure they know, understand and can deliver on each brand’s promise.”

DeliverThat was founded In 2013 by Zinno and company CEO Aaron Hoffman as a delivery service for college students. The two started the company out of their Ohio University dorm room with a simple Tweet and $60. In 2019, revenue topped $3 million and is projected to exceed that number in 2020. The next few cities on its growth roster include San Diego, Toronto and San Francisco.

“Once we have the next few cities up and running, our focus will turn to secondary markets as we grow and expand, and where we’re hearing our partners need our help. No one should have to turn down a restaurant catering order because they don’t have a delivery driver,” Zinno said. “As we’ve grown, it’s been a pleasure to see our client partners grow along with us and take advantage of what we have to offer and we look forward to what this year has in store.”

ParTech's Got Bite

ParTech, Inc. (PAR) forged a new partnership with Bite. Bite offers customers of PAR’s new Kiosk ordering platform the opportunity to synchronize orders in real-time and transfer orders directly to Brink POS, allowing PAR Kiosk customers the ability to provide their guests with a fast and personalized experience.

Since Bite software is powered by an artificial intelligence (AI) recommendation engine, Bite can make suggestions to a guest’s order based on elements ranging from individual guest preferences, to time of day, and past orders, providing for better order accuracy and increase in order size.

"We at Bite are thrilled to be working with the Brink POS team to further our mission of Elevating Hospitality Everywhere,” said Brandon Barton, CEO, Bite. “In partnership with Brink and its network of top restaurant brands, we’re looking forward to delivering a seamless integration to promote increased guest satisfaction, a stronger business, and a healthier bottom line."

“PAR is pleased to bring Bite into the Brink integration ecosystem,” said Stephen Lee, Director of Strategic Partnerships, ParTech, Inc. “There are a lot of synergies between our two brands and we're excited to jointly bring to market an unparalleled self-service offering that has now become so important for today’s restaurants to drive efficiency and sales growth.”

SpotOn Debuts Advisory Board

SpotOn Transact, Inc. formed a Restaurant Advisory Board. Founding members consist of highly-respected restaurant owners, investors and entrepreneurs whose businesses will be using SpotOn’s solutions and whose experience and input will play an instrumental role as the company develops cutting-edge point-of-sale (POS) and marketing solutions uniquely suited for the fast-paced restaurant industry. 

Founding members of the SpotOn Restaurant Advisory Board include Michael Mina, Brent Bolthouse, Matt Bronfeld, Matthew Kenney, Adam Snyder, Ray Villaman and Kevin Youkilis. The Restaurant Advisory Board will be fundamental in spreading the word about SpotOn Restaurant and continuing to build upon the SpotOn brand. 

“SpotOn is the first software and payments company I’ve worked with that, regardless of size or scale, puts their clients first and is always actively looking for ways to improve,” said Michael Mina, award-winning chef and restaurateur. “When I was approached about joining the Advisory Board, I jumped at the chance because I recognized I could contribute to the company’s mission of building best-in-class solutions to improve the businesses of restaurant owners nationwide.” 

“Our Advisory Board members are some of the most seasoned and respected restaurateurs in the country — and their restaurants reflect their constant push to improve,” said RJ Horsley, President of SpotOn. “SpotOn is listening to restaurant operators’ needs and challenges, and we’re responding by creating technology that our clients need and want. This ensures that they’re empowered with the right tools to operate more efficiently and can achieve their business strategies.”  

SpotOn is headquartered in San Francisco with expanding product, technology and operations teams in Chicago, Detroit, Denver and Mexico City. The company currently has more than 850 employees and has raised over $80 million. In 2019, 2,500 restaurants joined the SpotOn family, and the company anticipates to more than triple that number in 2020. 

TouchBistro on TV

For the third straight season of FOX’s  restaurant makeover series, GORDON RAMSAY’S 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK, TouchBistro was selected as the point of sale (POS) by series host and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The series, which airs Tuesdays (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX, features Ramsay transforming restaurants on the brink of closing their doors by reigniting the passions of the owners and staff, and breathing new life into their menus, ambiance and operations through the introduction of new tools and technology. 

Over the past three seasons, TouchBistro’s point-of-sale solution has been deployed at 14 restaurants featured in the show. “The system is so user-friendly and I, for one, am a big fan,” said Ramsay. “It provides an amazing infrastructure for guiding new and existing businesses. TouchBistro’s technology is absolutely transforming how to run restaurants today.” 

 More than 25,000 restaurants in over 100 countries have trusted TouchBistro to help power their businesses operations. 

“​TouchBistro​ is hands down the best restaurant POS out there,” noted Ramsay, in posts he shared across his ​social networks​. “Sending a big thank you to the incredible team at TouchBistro for helping me transform restaurants on 24 HOURS TO HELL AND BACK for three seasons.”