Ritual Eats Week and Talking About EAT Club

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite includes news from Ritual and Apple Pay, DoorDash, The Vilcek Foundation, Dinova, EAT Club, The James Beard Foundation, The Summit and Delaget. 

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.MRM Daily Bite Logo

‘Ritual Eats Week’ Launches

From March 5-16, Ritual and Apple Pay are launching a first-of-its-kind national food festival called “Ritual Eats Week.” During Ritual Eats Week, thousands of restaurants across the country will offer promotions with exclusive dishes and select menu items offered at affordable prices up to 50 percent off in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. Any customer who orders with the Ritual app and pays with Apple Pay will have access to these exclusive daily deals.

The restaurant industry serves as a leading indicator of the economy, and the higher cost of restaurant lunches is turning Americans away from their lunchtime food scene. According to Ray Reddy, Co-Founder and CEO of Ritual, by collaborating with some of the most highly-acclaimed chefs and restaurants to feature exclusive daily promotions at the best price points, Ritual wants to change perceptions around lunch and help users discover new local lunchtime eats. 

Ritual helps locals discover new eats in their neighborhood, making lunchtime more convenient and social. With Ritual Eats Week, Ritual and Apple Pay are encouraging colleagues to collaborate on their orders and get out of the office to enjoy local food favorites with their teammates, without wasting time in line.

During Ritual Eats Week, thousands of restaurants across the country will be offering promotions with exclusive dishes and select menu items offered at affordable prices up to 50 percent off.

Participating restaurants include:


  • Fuku: Fuku Fingers for $3.50 (50 percent off, save $3.50)
  • Chopt:  Mexican Caesar Salad for $3.60 (50 percent off, save $3.59)
  • FIKA: Latte for $2.07 (50 percent off, save $2.06)
  • Choza Taqueria: Pollo Salad for $4.50 (50 percent off, save $4.50)


  • Proper Food: $3 off all bowls and salads
  • Illy Cafe: Small Americano for $1.00 (save $2.80)
  • Coast Poke Counter: Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl for $6.95 (save $4.55)
  • Una Mas Mexican Grill: Una Mas Burrito for $4.95 (save $4.94)
  • La Capra: Quinoa Salad for for $5.25 (save 50 percent)
  • Native Co: Smashed Avocado Toast for $4.99 (Save $2.76)


  • Chopt:  Mexican Caesar Salad for $3.60 (50 percent off, save $3.59)
  • The Protein Bar: Spicy Korean Bowl for $5.49 (50 percent off, save $5.49)
  • Devon & Blakely: Buffalo Chicken Wrap for $4.99 (save $3.00)
  • Roti: Chicken Roti Rice Plate for $5.99 (save $2.26)
  • Beefsteak: Oh My Squash for $4.99 (Save $3.80)
  • Buredo: Sofie $6.99 (Save $4.86)


  • Noon: 50 percent off any entre
  • Bon Me: Sandwich for $3.50 (50 percent off)
  • Boloco: Original Mexican Burrito or Bowl for $4.25 (50 percent off)
  • DavidsTea: Free Tea (Save $2.50)
  • Boston Common Coffee Co: House blend coffee for $1.00 (Save $2.15)
  • Pavement Coffee: 50 percent off any coffee drink
DoorDash Raises $535 Million

DoorDash raised $535 million in Series D funding led by the SoftBank Group with participation from existing investors Sequoia Capital, GIC and Wellcome Trust. This is the largest financing to date by a U.S. restaurant delivery platform. SoftBank’s Jeffrey Housenbold and GIC’s Jeremy Kranz will join Sequoia’s Alfred Linand Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr on DoorDash’s board of directors.

In just four years, DoorDash has partnered with nearly 90 percent of the top 100 U.S. restaurant brands who offer on-demand delivery. In 2017 the company added leading partners such as Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Wingstop, IHOP and Five Guys to its already robust set of national partners including The Cheesecake Factory, Jack In The Box, Buffalo Wild Wings and P.F. Chang’s. With this funding, the company plans to expand its selection advantage by building more technology for merchants, which will result in lower prices and faster delivery times for consumers.

As part of its merchant-first approach, the company plans to double-down on DoorDash Drive, the platform that enables a merchant to offer delivery to customers that have placed orders directly with the restaurant. The Drive platform has grown 1,300 percent year-over-year. 

“Our vision for DoorDash is to build the last-mile logistics layer to empower every business to thrive in the digital and convenience economy,” said DoorDash CEO and co-founder, Tony Xu. “Today’s investment by the most forward-looking firms in the world accelerates our ability to achieve this vision.”

In 2017, DoorDash more than doubled delivery volume, while growing gross profits six fold year-over-year. This fast and sustainable growth played a role in the investors’ enthusiasm for the company. DoorDash’s growth rate has accelerated further in 2018, and this year the company is expected to triple its geographic footprint from 600 to 1,600 cities and hire more than 250 people across its corporate offices.

“DoorDash’s technology advantages, exceptional management team and relentless merchant focus are reflected in their stunning growth and impressive unit economics,” said Jeffrey Housenbold, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “Food delivery is just the first chapter. Tony and team have a bold vision to create the world’s best logistics company, and we’re thrilled to partner with them to help accelerate their progress.”

“DoorDash has always stood apart from the pack in its restaurant-first approach and operational execution,” said Alfred Lin, partner at Sequoia and DoorDash board member. “We’ve been impressed by the company’s progress since their Series A, and they’ve proven that they have the team, technology and expertise to lead.”

Nominations Open for Vilcek Prizes

Applications are now open for the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in the Arts and Humanities, this year awarded in the field of culinary arts.

The Creative Promise Prizes were established in 2009 to celebrate emerging immigrant professionals who have demonstrated significant accomplishments, and to support them at crucial stages in their careers. Three foreign-born winners will each receive a $50,000 unrestricted cash prize.

“The culinary arts are a medium through which culture is preserved, elevated, merged, and enriched,” says Marica Vilcek, cofounder and vice chairman of the Vilcek Foundation. “For years, immigrants have been at the vanguard of culinary innovation, and we are pleased to recognize this rich body of contributions through the Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise.”

Eligible applicants are immigrant professionals working in the following capacities:

  • Chefs and food preparers — Chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, caterers, test kitchen chefs, bakers, and prepared food makers (craft jams, chocolates, cheeses, charcuterie, etc.)

  • Beverage professionals — Vintners, distillers, brewers, beverage program managers, bartenders, and coffee roasters

  • Food writers — Food writers, critics, publishers, and cookbook authors

Applicants must have been born outside of the United States; be 38 years of age or younger; and have at least five years of professional practice in the culinary arts. They should intend to pursue a career in the United States and must not be enrolled as full-time students.

Candidates will be asked to submit an application form, curriculum vitae, portfolio of work, press clippings, three short personal essays, and proof of immigration status (DACA recipients are welcome). Applications will be accepted from March 1 to June 11, 2018, 5PM EDT. The application and full eligibility requirements are available at Vilcek.org.

A panel of distinguished experts will evaluate each applicant’s accomplishments, including the quality and creativity of the work presented in the portfolio, clarity of personal and professional purpose, and potential to advance the field of culinary arts. The winners will be announced in February 2019 and honored at the foundation’s annual awards gala in the spring of 2019.

The Vilcek Foundation is dedicated to honoring the contributions of foreign-born artists, scientists, and scholars to American society. In addition to bestowing the Creative Promise Prizes, the foundation also awards the prestigious $100,000 Vilcek Prize. Launched in 2006, the Vilcek Prize celebrates the lifetime achievements of leading figures in biomedical science and in a wide array of the arts, including theater, dance, film, music, fashion, literature, architecture, and fine arts. The Vilcek Prizes last recognized the culinary arts in 2010. The Vilcek Prize was awarded to Spanish-born Chef José Andrés. The Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Culinary Arts was awarded to Laotian-born Chef Varin Keokitvon. Since launching the prizes, the foundation has awarded approximately $4 million in cash prizes to 105 individuals from 48 different countries, including Guatemala, Iran, Romania, China, and Russia.

Dinova Achieves Milestone

Dinova, Inc., a business dining marketplace, is celebrating another year of positive growth with the release of its 2017 results. Significantly, Dinova reports that its annual business dining spend under management surpassed $7 billion in 2017, a milestone for the nine-year-old startup. This increase comes on the heels of a fourth quarter, in which overall spending through the company’s marketplace increased 24 percent over Q4 2016. For the year, the number of transactions in the entire Dinova marketplace increased by 22 percent compared to FY2016.

Business dining is the third largest travel and entertainment expense category for enterprise and small to medium sized businesses, and it’s the most undermanaged. Dinova companies seek to harness this expense category by participating in the program. Aptly, in Q4 2017, Dinova’s enterprise accounts saw a 17 percent increase in marketplace spend and participating restaurants saw a 6 percent increase in average check size.

While the restaurant industry at large saw little growth in the first 3 quarters of 2017 and a small uptick at the end of the year, it still wasn’t a good year overall. In contrast, Dinova partner restaurants saw increased traffic throughout the year from a 20 percent increase in marketplace spend. 

Vic Macchio

“Surpassing $7 billion in annual business dining spend influence is tremendously exciting for us,” said Vic Macchio, CEO and founder of Dinova. “In this $60 billion industry, we are confident that our marketplace – and our ability to shine a spotlight on the value of business dining – will only continue to grow.”

EAT Club Expands Service

EAT Club, a corporate food delivery company  expanded its services to New York City in time for Employee Appreciation Day on March 2. Companies who provide lunch to employees are embracing a hot new trend, recognizing its many benefits: eating lunch with colleagues offers an opportunity to network, collaborate, and enhance corporate culture, and even creates a more appealing workplace for attracting and retaining top talent.

“Offering lunch as a benefit gives companies the opportunity to attract and retain top talent, while building a stronger, more collaborative company culture,” said Rodrigo Santibáñez, founder of EAT Club. “Lunch as a benefit boosts employee morale and improves productivity. There is a clear trend among companies to offer lunch programs, and employers in strong urban centers like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and now New York, find the EAT Club service to be a great solution.”

In May, EAT Club announced that it raised $30 million, led by strategic investor Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company, to fund expansion to New York City.  “We appreciate the innovation that can come from a start-up model and have prioritized ways to adapt these key learnings to better serve our clients,” said Mark Bickford, CEO of Corporate Services, Sodexo North America. “EAT Club’s strong business model and technology platform make them a good strategic fit for us. We are excited to learn from their success, particularly in helping us enhance flexibility and agility, and ultimately increase growth in this important market.”

According to a survey that the company conducted among more than 1,000 professionals at all levels, 70 percent of respondents said that a curated, delivered lunch would make them more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.  Companies would benefit from an estimated 150 percent ROI for providing lunch; by improving employee happiness and loyalty through the service and encouraging teamwork, raising retention rates and supporting future recruitment efforts.

EAT Club’s members provide employees with the option to choose from this diverse, curated menu of food options through EAT Club’s website or mobile app.  Meals can be ordered as far as a week in advance and up to 10 a.m. local time the day of delivery, and are prepared fresh by the local culinary team before being delivered to each individual office by noon. 

EAT Club’s expansive culinary offering was created by an exclusive team of talented chefs catering to a sophisticated, global palate. Employees can choose from a variety of mouthwatering items to suit their individual preferences and palates. Items include Beef Short Rib Burrito Bowls, Tex Mex Shrimp Salad, Soba Noodle Bowls with Tuna, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and Antipasto Prosciutto Platters. Additional variety and local flavor is added to the menu with specialty items prepared by local New York Cityrestaurant partners including Just Salad and Potbelly, among others.

EAT Club has successfully delivered more than 10 million meals to employees in San Francisco and Los Angeles since its 2010 launch.  The company’s focus on logistics enables its 99.7 percent on-time delivery, while an easy to navigate platform makes administration easy. Member companies have the option to choose between a fully subsidized or a lunch money program, where employees can use money toward their lunches on a daily or weekly cadence.

“The EAT Club system makes it so easy for our employees to choose what they want to eat from a wide variety of options — even the morning of the meal,” said Karla Patterson of Udacity. “Their customer service is awesome too!”  

EAT Club was founded in 2010 by Kevin Yang and Rodrigo Santibanez and inspired by Japanese bento boxes and the Dabbawala delivery system in India with a hunger to solve the office lunch problem.  Kevin and Rodrigo started EAT Club by applying technology to power a new delivery system and business model to make it easy for office managers to deliver employees a more individualized office lunch experience by ordering personalized meals at scale to suit everyone’s palate. 

JBF Lifetime Achievement Honoree

The James Beard Foundation announced Paula Wolfert, multiple James Beard Award–winning author, as the 2018 Lifetime Achievement honoree.  

Paula Wolfert

Wolfert’s career in food began in the 1950s, when on the advice of her mother, the newly married Columbia graduate took up cooking classes. She learned from and eventually worked for Dione Lucas, the first woman to have a TV cooking show, in addition to working for James Beard, himself. In 1959 she moved to Tangiers, where her love of Mediterranean and Moroccan cooking began and would be translated into nine books during her career. Her first book, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, was published in 1973 when a tagine was foreign to the majority of Americans. With 1994’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean, Wolfert highlighted delicious recipes that represented the healthful diet of the Mediterranean, an early champion of the benefits to eating the Mediterranean way. This book earned her a James Beard Award, one of five she has received, including the M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award in 1996 for a feature titled “My Old Moroccan Home” in Saveur, and the Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2008.

“I am so honored to receive the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award. This honor is especially meaningful to me because I knew Jim Beard well, and in fact, back in 1957, he gave me my first professional job in food,” said Wolfert. “I’ve spent most of my adult life exploring the cuisines of the Mediterranean, striving to find the best versions of great dishes of the region, then passing on the recipes and stories of Mediterranean women who cooked them in my various books. Over the years the James Beard Foundation has honored many of them. I view this latest honor as the keystone in the arch of my career.”

Since 2013, Paula has devoted her time and efforts as an activist for Alzheimer’s disease. Diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, an early stage of Alzheimer’s, Paula ultimately made the decision to stop teaching and writing in recent years to devote herself to Alzheimer’s activism, speaking out about the disease and raising awareness on preventive measures.

The James Beard Foundation Awards Gala will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on Monday, May 7. During the event, which is open to the public, awards for the Restaurant and Chef and Restaurant Design categories will be handed out, along with special achievement awards Humanitarian of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, Design Icon, Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America, and America’s Classics. A gala reception will immediately follow, featuring top chefs and beverage professionals from across the country.

On Friday, April 27, 2018, the James Beard Media Awards, an exclusive event honoring the nation’s top cookbook authors, culinary broadcast producers and hosts, and food journalists, will take place at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

The 2018 James Beard Foundation Awards are  hosted by Choose Chicago and the Illinois Restaurant Association and presented in association with Chicago O’Hare and Midway International Airports as well as the following partners: Premier Sponsors: All-Clad Metalcrafters, American Airlines, HMSHost, Illinois Office of Tourism, Lavazza, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water, TABASCO® Sauce, Woodford Reserve Bourbon; Supporting Sponsors: Breville®, Corporate Essentials, Hyatt, Robert Mondavi Winery, Skuna Bay Salmon, Taylor Precision Products, Valrhona, Windstar Cruises; Gala Reception Sponsors: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Ecolab, Front of the House®, Kendall College; with additional support from: Chefwear, Emmi Roth, Loacker, and VerTerra Dinnerware. 

A Summit of Options

The Summit, Cincinnati’s first Dolce hotel, is preparing to introduce an inspired and artful approach to food merging Dolce’s approach to nourishment with the skills of Cincinnati-native Kyle Goebel.

“Guests, visitors and event attendees at The Summit will find a host of unrivaled dining options, from house-made sausage and curated cocktails to locally sourced, in-season menu items,” said Bruce Flyer, general manager. “Chef Goebel – a Queen City native – joins our team at the perfect time to bring his creative passion to our eateries as we approach the hotel’s opening on April 17.”

Kyle Goebel

The Overlook Kitchen + Bar

Adjacent to the hotel’s 15,000 square-foot Rooftop Terrace, The Overlook Kitchen + Bar is named after the many hills and mounts visible from its vantage point. The multifunctional space offers an outdoor area with three fire pits, cozy conversation areas and live music, along with a warm, inviting indoor tavern space for chilly days. Guests can enjoy cocktails, local beers, outstanding wines and a menu of delicious items ranging from small bites to in-season meals, all while taking in the view and the stars from the lushly landscaped terrace.

Brew & Barrel

Just around the corner from the nine-story atrium and the Monumental Staircase in The Summit’s lobby, Brew & Barrel will provide top-tier coffee, egg sandwiches and bakery breakfast in the morning, and a relaxing place to unwind with a local craft brew and small plates in the evening. With a fireplace and a variety of comfortable seating, it’s the perfect spot for an offsite meeting with colleagues or catching up with an old friend.

Bringing the vision to life is The Summit’s newly appointed Executive Chef, Kyle A. Goebel. A native of Cincinnati’s West Side, Goebel is a Certified Chef de Cuisine and Sommelier with The Court of Master Sommeliers. He has worked nationally and internationally at distinguished restaurants in New York City, California, Italy and Florida, where he worked for 2017 James Beard Award semifinalist, Chris Ponte, in Clearwater.

Prior to working as Executive Chef at Cooper’s Hawk, he was Kitchen Supervisor and Banquet Chef at Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, where he worked under Executive Chef Todd Kelly, the American Culinary Federation’s USA Chef of the Year. Goebel played a key role on the team that helped earn Orchids at Palm Court a AAA Five-Diamond rating, a Forbes Four Star rating and ranking as an OpenTable Top 100 restaurant in the USA. He also taught at the Midwest Culinary Institute as a Chef Instructor for five years.

Goebel will bring his own passion for a personal touch to the menus at The Summit: “I want guests to feel comfortable and nurtured, yet surprised and inspired. We’re planning fresh herbs from our rooftop garden and honey from our own beehives, house-made sausages and, of course, all of the local craft beer that makes Cincinnati such an exciting destination right now.”

At the forefront of The Summit’s “Nourishment Anytime, Anywhere” philosophy are its Nourishment Hubs™. In addition to providing an array of healthful, creative and thoughtful foods across the hotel’s restaurant menus, meeting attendees at The Summit will find unexpected delight in the very non-traditional offerings for snacks and breaks at the Nourishment Hubs™. These protein-filled and vegan-friendly areas are unique to Dolce hotels. Meeting goers can select from items ranging from fresh produce and low-glycemic tidbits to fun options that spark conversation, like s’mores bars with marshmallows made from scratch.

At The Market, guests and event attendees will find a vibrant space where the focus is on fresh foods made to order from an open kitchen with an emphasis on chef and guest interaction. Daily breakfast and Sunday brunch are designed to delight hotel guests and community visitors alike, while lunch and dinner are served exclusively to event attendees who will find flexible seating and cuisine that’s influenced by a myriad of cultures.

Delaget Enhances Delaget Stats

Delaget announced enhancements to its SaaS restaurant reporting and analysis tool, Delaget Stats. The new release provides a highly-interactive data analysis experience and custom report building capabilities that help store managers, above store leaders, and home office personnel view, analyze, and visualize data across multiple restaurant systems, build customized reports and dashboards to their own criteria, and conduct ad hoc analyses from the enterprise and above-store levels down to the store detail.

Delaget Stats, restaurant reporting and analysis tool

“Many multi-unit operators struggle to get even basic, accurate measures of their business, like year-over-year sales. They get reports from their point of sale and back of house systems, and many other sources, but the data is silo-ed in multiple software systems. So, they’re manually compiling reports, which sometimes still don’t get at the information they really need,” says Delaget CEO Jason Tober. “Delaget Stats changes all that by giving them a complete, personalized view of what’s going on in their business, with the ability to roll up or drill into areas as needed.”

“Delaget customers rely on restaurant reporting to find answers to even their most complex business questions,” says Delaget VP of Product Neal Lefebrve. “It used to take them weeks or even months to create new reports or modify existing ones, and now it only takes them a few minutes. What once required IT support, can be conquered with a few clicks.”

With Delaget Stats, users can build unique reports and dashboards with simple drag-and-drop functionality. They can also create chart and graph visualizations and receive reports in their inbox via email report subscriptions.