Restaurant Tech and Delivery in the Spotlight and L.A.’s Milk Bar Classroom

This edition of MRM’s News Bites features Olo,  eatsa, Hostme and Lightspeed, Paytronix,  New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality InstituteBar Nine, Milk Bar and Oat Foundry.

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Tiger Global Invests $18 Million in Olo 

Olo received an investment of $18 million by Tiger Global Management, LLC, a New York based investment firm. The investment was structured using common equity held by long-term Olo employees, providing an opportunity for those team members to realize a monetary benefit in acknowledgment of Olo’s  success in alignment with Tiger Global’s belief in the growth of the restaurant technology sector.

Noah Glass

“Tiger Global’s investment is a testament to our achievements to date, and offers a way for long-term team members to realize the value of their hard work to build and grow Olo,” said Noah Glass, Founder & CEO of Olo. “We are thrilled to have Tiger Global as part of our investor base and look forward to working with them as we partner to grow digital ordering and delivery for the restaurant industry.”

“We have invested heavily in the restaurant technology industry as part of our focus on e-commerce and are very impressed with the work Olo has done to help restaurant brands benefit from digital ordering adoption by acting as their digital interface and technology backbone. We believe Olo has a long runway ahead,” said Scott Shleifer, Partner, Tiger Global Management.

Olo is the on-demand interface for the restaurant industry, powering digital ordering and delivery for over 250 restaurant brands across 50,000 locations.  Today, more than 100 million consumers use Olo to order ahead and get meals delivered and more than half of the publicly traded restaurant brands engaged in digital ordering and delivery use Olo including Applebee’s, Chili’s, Chipotle, Denny’s, Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Jamba Juice, Noodles & Company, Red Robin, Shake Shack, sweetgreen, Wingstop  and more. 

eatsa Picks Up Solution

eatsa lauched the Spotlight Pickup System, which addresses operational challenges facing restaurants and retailers as consumer expectations continue to grow for fast, seamless and delightful experiences powered by digital ordering and third-party delivery services.


The Spotlight Pickup System was designed to be an engaging, easy-to-use order pickup solution that simplifies and streamlines the pickup process for customers, restaurant staff and delivery service providers, orchestrating operations with a guided and personalized experience. eatsa has selected three lighthouse project partners for initial  deployments including fast-casual, build-your-own mac & cheese restaurant, MAC’D in San Francisco; gourmet-salad-to-go restaurant, Evergreens in Seattle; and the steamed buns and rice bowl concept, Wow Bao in Chicago, coming next month.

“Third-party delivery is often the biggest growth opportunity for restaurant operators, but with the lack of organization around how to best manage customers and delivery personnel who are taking food to go, it’s frequently fraught with confusion and delays for customers and chaos for operators,” said Tim Young, CEO of eatsa. “Our Spotlight Pickup System alleviates this problem with a combination of automation and personalization as well as offering an engaging and fun way for brands to simplify the experience and guide their guests efficiently through the pickup process. We are thrilled to bring this product to restaurants to address this important challenge.”

Tim Young

The Spotlight Pickup System, an alternative to eatsa’s  Cubby Pickup System, simplifies a crucial organizational challenge facing operators: how to increase off-premise order volume while alleviating overcrowding and bottlenecks often caused by mobile ordering and third-party delivery. Upon arriving at the restaurant, each customer or delivery driver checks the digital Status Board to quickly understand the status of their order, and are then guided to their pickup ‘Spot’ where the customer’s name is clearly highlighted on the front display. 

The Spotlight Pickup System has a modular design that’s quick to install and easy to customize in order to fit into existing restaurant layouts without construction or downtime. It includes an array of automated surfaces called 'Spots,' each equipped with product sensors, a toplight for status indication and a front display for customized digital messaging. The System seamlessly integrates with ordering and order management solutions to orchestrate the handoff process, eliminating confusion, reducing errors, and providing unprecedented levels of operational and consumer data and analytics.  

The system complements eatsa’s Omnichannel Intelligent Queue Software which integrates multiple order channels – including in-store kiosk and POS, mobile, third-party delivery and web – eliminating the need for manual queue handling from multiple third-party delivery tablets, and providing optimized order management with accurate order availability times. 

“Our customers value quick and efficient service, and the Spotlight Pickup System optimizes the pickup process, reducing confusion over order status and where to go,” said Antony Bello, Co-Founder of MAC’D in San Francisco. “When considering eatsa’s technology, it was critical for us to have the ability to customize it to fit both our space needs in the restaurant and our brand standards for how we communicate with our guests. We were able to install the Spotlight Pickup System overnight and it fits seamlessly into our restaurant design. The added benefit is it’s very fun and engaging for our customers. I’ve seen many smiles as they easily find their order and are able to go about their busy day.”

“Like so many restaurant operators, we have seen a big increase in the number of pickup orders at our restaurants and perfecting operations for these new digital orders has been a challenge. We’re excited that the Spotlight Pickup System is solving this important operational challenge,” said Tom Small, Chief Operating Officer of Evergreens in Seattle. “We are looking forward to being able to clearly communicate to our customers the status of their digital order from the moment it’s placed and guide them to their pickup Spot in store without having to interact with our cashiers. We think our customers are going to love this new innovative pickup experience.”

Hostme and Lightspeed Partner

Hostme is partnering with Lightspeed POS Inc by integrating their technologies together to help restaurateurs significantly streamline their operations.

“Our partnership with Lightspeed is a win-win-win for our two companies and for our customers — restaurants and chains of all sizes that seek a more seamless reservation and table management system and a powerful, scalable, cloud-based POS,” said Hostme CEO and Co-Founder Evgeny Popov.

The Hostme app helps restaurants seat more and spend less through advanced 24/7 reservation and table management. Hostme streamlines front-of-the-house operations, eliminates costly no-shows, boosts return business, and increases staff satisfaction. It makes operations accessible via any mobile device — in nine languages.

Lightspeed delivers technology for independent businesses with big ambitions, providing point of sale, loyalty and CRM, merchant services, and e-commerce for its hospitality and retail customers. Hostme is Lightspeed’s first reservation system partner, contributing to Lightspeed’s robust array of integrations as it moves into the full-service space.

Together, Hostme and Lightspeed complement one another’s strengths by helping restaurant owners and operators tighten up their table turnarounds and get more control over revenue and cost centers.

“We both share a passion for customer success. Hostme’s waitlist management is a stellar feature with in-depth analytics,” explained Peter Dougherty, Director of Partnerships at Lightspeed. “By working together, we’re really providing technology that facilitates how restauranteurs manage their businesses.”

The Hostme and Lightspeed integration is already being adopted by restaurants such as De Witte Berg in Belgium

Get Loyal with Paytronix

 Paytronix Systems, Inc., is accepting nominations for the 2019 Paytronix Loyaltees Awards. The annual awards program highlights the most innovative guest engagement strategies from leading brands in the restaurant, convenience store, and retail industries—highlighting how companies are leveraging the Paytronix platform to deliver market-defining guest experiences.

The Paytronix Loyaltees competition is open to all current Paytronix clients. It recognizes the most effective guest engagement and loyalty programs that ultimately drive transactions and increase customer acquisition. The Loyaltees honor those who creatively deploy Paytronix solutions to manage the customer experience, from mobile engagement to point of sale—prompting targeted guest behavior and breaking new ground with relevant offers that leverage data-rich loyalty programs.

Winners share their success stories for others to learn from, with a focus on leveraging technology and data analytics to engage with customers, drive more frequent visits, and increase spend. Read the success stories profiling last year’s winners, including Peet’s Coffee, Yesway Convenience Stores, Captain D’s, and The Counter.

The 2019 Paytronix Loyaltees will accept entries in four categories:

  1. Best Loyalty Launch: Celebrating brands that have either launched their first loyalty program or revamped an existing program in 2018.
  2. Marketing Innovation: Recognizing early adopters and forward-thinking brands that are seeing results from leading the pack in adopting new technology and tactics for guest engagement and 1-1 marketing.
  3. Business Impact: Acknowledging loyalty programs and campaigns that delivered measurable business value (moved sales, drove traffic, and delivered ROI).
  4. Best Gift Card Sales Program: Recognizing brands that have developed a promotion or campaign that delivered a remarkable lift in year over year gift card sales.

“The Paytronix Loyaltees celebrate the most innovative and exciting ways that our customers are deploying loyalty and gift card programs to engage their customers, strengthen the brand experience, and uncover actionable insights in guest behavior,” said Michelle Tempesta, head of marketing with Paytronix Systems, Inc. “Together we explore new ideas around customer engagement and proven techniques for loyalty-driven, real-time marketing.”

Submit a Loyaltees nomination, learn more about the awards program, or read about prior award-winning Loyaltees campaigns and programs here.

Winners will be announced starting in March, 2018.

Cultivating the Next Generation of Chefs

New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) opened its doors welcoming twenty-one students in the Culinary Arts and the Baking & Pastry Arts certificate programs, top photo. NOCHI is a non-profit institute that brings to New Orleans an accelerated culinary and hospitality training model, which includes industry-driven curricula, hands-on experience, and strong connection to the local culinary industry, all in a fast-tracked term designed to enhance learning outcomes for students.

The Tuohy Family Baking & Pastry Lab Photo by Randy P. Schmidt

The intensive 100-day program blends fundamental knowledge and technical skills in cooking and baking, as well as courses in product knowledge, health and safety practices, restaurant planning and career development. Over the five-month term, students will receive the critical foundation to become professional cooks or bakers and gain essential skills to be successful in their career paths.

NOCHI is grounded in furthering the city’s legacy of hospitality and contributing to its ongoing evolution by offering the certificate program for a fraction of the cost of competitors at $14,775. Additionally, approximately half of the inaugural class received tuition assistance from NOCHI supporters, including Coca-Cola, Entergy, Sysco, the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation, and collective giving from the Ella Brennan Scholarship Fund.

Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Lab Photo by Randy P. Schmidt

“We are thrilled to open New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute and to welcome a bright group of aspiring chefs and bakers, as well as locals and visitors,” said NOCHI Executive Director Carol Markowitz. “New Orleans is at the forefront of the culinary and hospitality industry and we’re excited to introduce our inaugural professional training programs and enthusiast courses right in the heart of the city.” 

NOCHI will take an engaging, hands-on approach to culinary education, offering enthusiast courses for home cooks, food and wine enthusiasts, and anyone wanting to better his or her skills in the kitchen. Courses will range in topics, including knife skills, seasoning fundamentals, Afro-Caribbean cuisine, and traditional New Orleans Creole cuisine and gumbo. Beginning January 10, NOCHI will offer its first enthusiast course in the fundamentals of cheese

At more than 90,000 sq. ft. and five stories, NOCHI provides a setting where everyone can enjoy New Orleans-style food and hospitality. Students and guests can showcase their talents in teaching kitchens, a beverage lab, lecture classrooms, computer lab, and even at the on-site restaurant, NOCHI Café by Gracious. NOCHI is located at 725 Howard Avenue.

Milk Bar Classroom

This year Milk Bar laid down roots in Los Angeles with the opening of their first L.A. outpost and now West Coast flagship. In true Milk Bar fashion, Chef and Founder Christina Tosi wanted the design of their newest and biggest location to “color outside the lines” of any other Milk Bar that they’ve opened before.

milk bar

To set their new Melrose Avenue location apart from the rest, Tosi and her team developed Milk Bar’s first LA-based Milk Bar Classroom, an experience center that operates as an educational test kitchen to host baking classes and experiment with new recipes for customers to taste. When developing the design of the new classroom, the team knew that they wanted to incorporate a non-digital sign that would serve as an interactive menu for classes and events. After some research, they decided that an old-school Split Flap Display from Oat Foundry would be the icing on the cake. 

milk bar

“From the start, we knew that the Milk Bar Classroom would serve as a multi-functional space that would allow us to host a range of events, so it was essential that we find a sign that would not only bring a unique and personalized element to the space, but would also be easy for the staff to manage and change on a daily basis,” said Milk Bar Director of Creative, Ursula Viglietta. “Since a digital display isn’t on-brand for us, the Split Flap display was the perfect option, giving us the flexibility to bring something new to the menu every day, without coordinating appointments to get new things printed.”

The Milk Bar design team worked directly with Oat Foundry to create a three row by thirty-two column Split Flap display to serve as the ad hoc menu in their Milk Bar Classroom. Since the display is fully customizable, Milk Bar asked Oat Foundry to incorporate their brand’s pink color into select flaps, to give their display a unique custom touch. Now sitting on the wall of their Milk Bar Classroom, the Split Flap display rotates a number of fun on-brand Milk Bar sayings, like “I seriously love you,” flashes a “Class is in Session” message once class is ready to commence and allows the staff to update class steps on the fly.


With the space constantly changing from a classroom to an experiential kitchen and even an event space, it was essential that the staff be able to easily process and manage any changes that needed to be made to the display. Using any device on site, the Milk Bar team can easily plug in a message or a new menu to the web app and instantly send it to the display or schedule it to occur at a certain time.

“Oat Foundry Marketing Manager Jeff Nowak came out to help us with the initial set-up and give us a lesson on the Oat Foundry Web App,” said Viglietta. “Because the system is so intuitive, we were able to easily manage and control the process on our own, after a quick 15-minute lesson.”

Not only does the Oat Foundry Split Flap display blend in seamlessly with the design of Milk Bar’s sweet new home on Melrose Avenue, but it has improved daily staff functions and really helped to make a statement in their brand-new Milk Bar Classroom.

“It’s so fun to see how everyone reacts the first time that they see it change,” Viglietta added. “It really has created a special moment in our newest and biggest flagship location.”