MRM’s News Bites features Snag, Krispy Kreme and Insomnia Cookies, Gather and Yelp, LevelUp and Playfull, Dinova, Preoday and Tookan, The Palm Restaurant Group, Grubhub, DTS and SoundMachine, The 5700 Inc., Eatigo and TripAdvisor, Tropic Sri Lanka and Friend of the Sea, Live Nation and The Impossible Burger, Heston Blumenthal and Everdure and Beyond Meat.
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Snagging a New CEO
Former Upwork CEO Fabio Rosati was named Snag’s Chairman and CEO. Rosati was CEO of Elance, which later became Upwork, from 2001 to 2015. Under his leadership, Upwork became the world’s largest gig economy platform for skilled work with 14 million users in 180 countries and more than $1 billion in annual billings.
“Hourly workers constitute nearly 60 percent of the U.S. workforce, and Snag’s mission of helping people get jobs and shifts at more than 300,000 employer locations in the U.S. and Canada is a source of inspiration and pride for all of us,” Rosati said. “Since Snag’s founding, we remain focused on providing the fastest and most trusted way to match job seekers with work, and employers with the team members they need.”
“Snag’s team is creating a world where people can get hourly work and employers can find workers on demand, providing opportunities for job seekers to maximize their potential,” said Snag Board Member Habib Kairouz, Managing Partner of Rho Capital Partners, Inc. “Fabio Rosati brings to Snag a successful track record as a leader and innovator in marketplace platform businesses, particularly in the on-demand work space. I can think of no one better suited to guide the teams and the technology that will take the company to the next level of success.”
Rosati takes the helm from Peter Harrison, who had served as CEO since 2013, leading the company through a significant period of growth and change. More than five million workers are hired each year via Snag, representing approximately one out of every four restaurant, retail and hospitality hires made in the U.S.
“Under Peter’s leadership, Snag has become the undisputed leader in hourly hiring, growing the core business by over 300 percent and we are pleased that he will continue to be a trusted advisor to the board and the executive team,” Kairouz said.
“I am truly proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past five years at Snag, and I could not be more confident in this team’s ability to drive the business going forward,” Harrison said. “Fabio has been a member of the Snag board since 2017, and has a strong understanding of our company and our culture. I pass the baton to him with complete confidence in his leadership and in the company’s future.”
Snag has connected more than 60 million active job seekers with employment opportunities at 300,000 employer locations in the US and Canada.
Krispy Kreme Gets Insomnia
Krispy Kreme will acquire a majority stake in Insomnia Cookies. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Mike Tattersfield, CEO of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, commented: “At Krispy Kreme, we have an 81-year heritage of creating the most awesome doughnut experience imaginable, and today we are delighted to add Insomnia Cookies, a rapidly growing business with an innovative delivery experience and exceptional product that is beloved by consumers. While our companies will continue to operate independently, these two great brands can learn a great deal from each other as we each continue to expand and grow.”
Seth Berkowitz, founder of Insomnia Cookies, added: “Mike and I share the same ambition for our brands: To be the best at what we do and delight consumers with the highest quality sweet treat experiences. My team and I are confident that this shared vision makes Krispy Kreme the ideal partner to support Insomnia through our next phase of growth. We are thrilled to be joining the Krispy Kreme family.”
Insomnia Cookies will continue to operate as an independent, standalone company following the close of the transaction in the fourth quarter 2018 and Seth Berkowitz will continue to lead the company.
Gather Partners with Yelp
Gather launched partnership with Yelp, as part of its new program, the Gather Booking Network, connecting restaurants and event venues with the over 15 million people looking to plan events each year.
“Surprisingly, most events today are planned with phone calls, Excel grids and handwritten notes. It can be a frustrating and inefficient process for everyone: restaurants, event planners and consumers,” said Nick Miller, co-founder and CEO of Gather. In 2017, Gather customers planned and executed over 700,000 events, grossing more than $1 billion. “With the launch of our Yelp partnership, we’re bringing event management up to par with other industries, making it simple and intuitive to book, plan and execute great events.”
With more than 100 million unique visitors per month, “Yelp is a go-to destination for people looking to find great places to eat, drink and celebrate, making it the ideal partner for Gather,” said Miller. By promoting venues where planners and consumers already discover and book events, the more than 5,000 restaurants and venues that use Gather’s software will now be able to generate more leads to grow their events business.
“Gather has modernized the process of booking restaurants for large groups and events,” said Chad Richard, Senior Vice President of Business and Corporate Development at Yelp. “Adding group booking to Yelp is a perfect complement to the thousands of restaurants that can be booked with Yelp Reservations and Nowait, our remote waitlist feature.”
New partners will continue to be added to the Gather Booking Network, including top online event marketplace EVENTup, which Gather recently acquired.
Gaming for Orders
LevelUp is teaming with Playfull, an app that uses games to increase the frequency and volume of digital orders at restaurants. Playfull is the newest ordering channel through LevelUp Broadcast, a service that allows restaurant operators to reach new customers within the social and digital channels they use most, including Yelp, Amazon Alexa, and Chase Pay. LevelUp’s restaurant partners now have access to a new community of users engaged in the gamified Playfull experience.
LevelUp’s restaurant partners can receive Playfull orders directly through their point-of-sale from LevelUp Broadcast. The unique experience of playing games, earning rewards, and redeeming rewards increases customer frequency 3.6X and can result in a five- to ten-percent lift in sales.
“Partnering with Playfull allows our restaurant brands to reach a highly engaged set of consumers who have demonstrated positive impact on loyalty and sales for restaurants,” said Matt Colfax, Strategic Partnerships Lead at LevelUp. “Our goal with our Broadcast platform is to become the universal menu and ordering platform for the restaurant industry, and the addition of Playfull brings a unique channel for our restaurant brands to grow their reach and drive engagement.”
“We are very excited to partner with LevelUp to offer restaurants a new way to reach and engage consumers,” said Patrick Lu, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Playfull. “LevelUp is a true pioneer in digital loyalty and engagement, and this opportunity to connect into their Broadcast platform allows us to dramatically increase the ease and ability for restaurant brands to bring the fun of gaming rewards to their brand.”
Dinova Adds Jersey Mike’s to Marketplace
Dinova, Inc., said Jersey Mike’s Subs is the latest national brand to join its network. The addition of Jersey Mike’s means Dinova’s marketplace now exceeds 16,000 restaurant locations nationwide.
“Business diners do more than wine and dine clients – they’re also picking up sandwiches for team meetings, grabbing a bite between site visits, and getting something to eat on their way to and from the airport,” said Alison Galik, President of Dinova. “Having Jersey Mike’s as an option is a great way to give the employees in our marketplace more choices for those dining needs, too.”
Jersey Mike’s, with more than 1,500 locations open and under development nationwide, believes that making a sub sandwich and making a difference can be one and the same. Jersey Mike’s offers A Sub Above®, serving authentic fresh sliced subs on freshly baked bread – the same recipe it started with in 1956. Loyal fans often order their subs Mike’s Way® with the freshest vegetables – onions, lettuce, tomatoes – and The Juice, an exquisite zing of red wine vinegar and olive oil blended to perfection. Since 2010, the company has raised more than $34 million for local charities and distributed more than 2 million free sub sandwiches to help numerous causes.
“Through our partnership with Dinova, we look forward to welcoming business travelers and corporate diners looking for an authentic sub sandwich,” said Rich Hope, Chief Marketing Officer, Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, Inc. “Our franchise owners appreciate that these are incremental sales, and that the program provides opportunities to introduce our catering expertise to companies across the country.”
Preoday Integrates with Tookan
Preoday has integrated with US-based delivery management platform Tookan, improving delivery services with optimized routes and real-time tracking. JungleWorks has integrated Tookan’s delivery management platform with Preoday’s online and mobile ordering platform. It enables food and retail business to manage deliveries seamlessly. It also helps companies to communicate smoothly with customers and to take data-driven business decisions.
Samar Singla, Founder of Jungleworks said, “The combination of Tookan and Preoday will make food and retail businesses smarter and their customers happier. JungleWorks’ experienced team comprising of project managers, business analysts, and trainers, all backed up with dedicated support, looks forward to providing a first-class service to new adopters of these wonderful and easy-to-use solutions.”
Nick Hucker, CEO of Preoday added, “The partnership is a good fit: both companies are ‘technology first’, with teams made up of B2B technology specialists. We are both used to working with clients and partners of all sizes for the long-term; we are as comfortable working with multinationals with complex procurement procedures, as with individual takeaways.
“There is a revolution happening in the food and retail industry as technology becomes entwined with the lives of end-customers. JungleWorks and Preoday, together are leading the revolution on behalf of businesses, advising and supporting them as they adopt the technologies that will make a difference to their customers and the bottom line.”
Palm Group Names COO
The Palm Restaurant Group named Jens Baake as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Having led the operations for various high-profile restaurant concepts, including a New York Times Three Star and Michelin Star restaurant, he brings three decades of proven experience developing a guest-focused culture.
“Jens’ clear ability to understand businesses with specific and unique cultures impressed me,” said Bruce Bozzi, Jr., executive vice president and fourth-generation Palm family member. “Our Italian American heritage and strong connection with our guests is a very important piece of The Palm. Through his prior successes in hospitality, Jens made us feel assured that he understands that our relationships with our guests are as important as the excellence of our food, wine, and spirits. We are excited to welcome him to The Palm family.”
In addition to overseeing the operations of world-renowned restaurants, his background includes food halls, commissaries, and neighborhood bakeries, as well as large-scale food and beverage and entertainment ventures. In recent years, Baake served as COO of Meyers USA, and has previously held leadership roles at Foxwoods Resort Casino (where he supervised three different steakhouses), Ameristar Casino, Landry’s Restaurants, and Walt Disney World. In his new role, Jens will oversee the operations of all of The Palm locations.
“There are a lot of great restaurants out there,” said Baake. “However, when meeting The Palm’s owners, employees, and guests, you quickly realize that this is much more than a legendary organization – it is a large family welcoming you with open arms. I am thrilled to be part of that family now.”
After completing a culinary degree in Germany, he moved to the United States in 1989 to complete his studies in hospitality management and earned a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1995.
Grubhub has expanded its delivery capabilities to dozens of additional markets across 17 states, opening up local restaurants to new customers and providing diners with increased restaurant choice and variety.
From local favorites like The Planing Mill Artisan Pizzeria in Visalia, California and Cherry’s Jamaican Delight in Reading, Pennsylvania to larger national and regional options such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee’s, Grubhub has partnered with a range of restaurants to provide diners with the largest variety to order delivery from.
With the expansion in the second quarter, Grubhub’s delivery capabilities will now be available to restaurants in new markets, including:
- Fayetteville, AR
- Santa Barbara, CA
- Santa Rosa, CA
- Visalia, CA
- Vallejo, CA
- Cape Coral, FL
- Palm Bay–Melbourne, FL
- Pensacola, FL
- Rockford, IL
- South Bend, IN
- Lexington, KY
- Lafayette, LA
- Springfield, MA
- Portland, ME
- Lansing, MI
- Gulfport–Biloxi–Pascagoula, MS
- Reno, NV
- Salem, OR
- Harrisburg, PA
- Reading, PA
- Scranton, PA
- York & Hanover, PA
- Beaumont–Port Arthur, TX
- Brownsville–Harlingen, TX
- McAllen–Edinburg–Mission, TX
- Ogden, UT
- Provo, UT
- Spokane, WA
“Expanding our delivery capabilities throughout the U.S. is incredibly important and an effort we continue to make significant progress on,” stated Stan Chia, chief operating officer, Grubhub. “A key priority is empowering our local restaurant partners with more opportunities to reach new audiences, and with every market we launch, we’re able to connect even more diners with the widest selection of choice.”
DTS Teams with SoundMachine
DTS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xperi Corporation is partpartnership between DTS® Play-Fi® and SoundMachine’s subscription-based service. The partnership gives business owners the ability to play commercial background music in their stores, restaurants, hotels, spas, or other locations through DTS Play-Fi-enabled products. Commercial users will receive a free 30-day trial through the DTS Play-Fi app.
“We are excited to be partnering with SoundMachine to offer commercial DTS Play-Fi customers a licensing solution for playing music in their business locations,” said Dannie Lau, general manager, DTS Play-Fi, at Xperi. “With hundreds of DTS Play-Fi products to outfit their space, combined with SoundMachine’s full-featured service and the ability to control everything through the DTS Play-Fi app, creating the perfect sound environment for a business has never been easier.”
“We are always looking to ease the lives of our business customers, and the partnership with DTS is a big step in that direction,” said Matteo Luppi, CEO of SoundMachine. “By having our platform included in the DTS Play-Fi ecosystem, we are able to cater to those small and large businesses that are looking to use their preferred hardware line while being legally protected in a commercial environment.”
Vegandale Brewery Nears Open Date
Get ready to experience the first brewery of its kind to offer an unapologetic stance on veganism, alongside quality craft brews and great eatsLocated at the intersection of Queen and Brock in Parkdale, Vegandale Brewery is offering Torontonians the chance to get their daily dose of morality, straight from the tap.
Partnering with one of the founders of Mill Street Brewery, Michael Duggan, to produce the in-house beers, these carefully crafted small-batch brews will take on an ethical twist in an effort to promote veganism to the masses. Guests will enjoy options like Principled Pilsner, See the Light Lager, The Sour Truth, and Morally Superior IPA.
Vegandale Brewery is the first all vegan brewery to offer patrons a 100-percent vegan food menu. With over 100 seats in the restaurant, they’ll be dishing out the very best in saucy and cheesy comfort food that’ll pair best with a nice cold one to wash it all down.
“We’re ready to show Toronto that our strong brews match our strong convictions,” says Hellenic Vincent De Paul, Owner of The 5700 Inc. “And with four additional vegan storefronts launching this summer under the Vegandale brand, we have lots of reasons to toast to the end of animal exploitation.”
The 5700 Inc. is a growing hospitality and events company, powered by veganism. The company owns and operates the international Vegandale Food Drink Festivals, as well as Toronto’s popular Vegandale neighbourhood, which is currently home to three vegan brands (Doomie’s Toronto, The Imperative & Mythology) and will expand to a collaboration of seven storefronts by the end of 2018.
Eatigo Wins TripAdvisor Funding
Eatigo, the leading restaurant reservation platform in Southeast Asia, has received a follow-on investment from its existing strategic investor, TripAdvisor, bringing its total raise across all its investors to date to over US$25M. The pre series C investment for Eatigo comes as TripAdvisor’s restaurants business unit and its subsidiary, TheFork, look to help expand Eatigo’s presence and services across the Asia Pacific region.
On the heels of an entry into Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and India in 2017, Eatigo will use the funds to launch in several more markets and extend its product offering. Over the past year, the company has grown rapidly to claim a leading position in every market it operates in.
“Eatigo is excited to continue its strong relationship and collaboration with TripAdvisor. These new funds will be integral in allowing Eatigo to consolidate and extend the reach of our leadership and expertise in helping customers reserve the perfect table,” said Eatigo’s CEO and Co-founder Michael Cluzel.
“As we look to further our presence in the Asia Pacific region, we believe our latest strategic investment in Eatigo will continue to support a great business and strong management team,” said Bertrand Jelensperger, senior vice president of TripAdvisor Restaurants and founder of TheFork. “TripAdvisor’s continued partnership with Eatigo will help us both better serve millions of diners and restaurant owners who are increasingly turning to online channels.”
Sri Lanka’s main tuna processor Tropic Sri Lanka was awarded by Friend of the Sea for its commitment towards the conservation of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean.
The Negombo-based company has recently launched an innovative project named “FCP@SEA” in collaboration with the Sri Lanka government and the private sector. The initiative aims to improve recruitment rates through assisted reproductive technology, thereby allowing a second generation of yellowfin tuna to return back to the ocean.
With a mission to increase the recruitment rates of yellowfin tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean, a team of experts from Tropic Sri Lanka engage in the viable extraction of eggs and sperm from commercially caught tuna carcasses and implement assisted fertilization at sea.
Sashini Fernando, Chief Sustainability Officer, explains: “We are now in the start-up phase of the project. We are carrying out age analysis on the catch and assessing sexual maturity at associated depths, studying the adjustment of fishing gear at various depths and training crews of nominated fishing vessels to maximize the effectiveness of harvesting viable reproductive organs of the fish caught.”
After the fertilization and primary maturation phase of the larvae, reaching approximately 2cm, the fingerlings would be released into the ocean to specific locations targeting suitable habitat with consideration of water quality parameters such as chlorophyll concentration, currents and temperature appropriate for their maturation.
Considering each spawning of yellowfin tuna releases about 8 to 10 million eggs per year, FCP@SEA has set the ambitious goal to contribute to the reproduction of 20 million individuals by 2020.
Tropic Sri Lanka’s attempt is not unique in its genre. In 2007, the Japanese government started a reproduction project of Bluefin tuna to support the increasing demand of sashimi. What differs is that assisted reproductive technology is applied to farming due to geo-morphological constraints, while in the case of Sri Lanka the same technique is conducted out of sea making of FCP@SEA a pioneering project.
“Our first contact with Tropic Sri Lanka dates back to 2010 when they first obtained Friend of the Sea certification for yellowfin, bigeye and swordfish tuna. With this award we acknowledge the great steps the company has taken in order to reach higher standards for environmental sustainability following Sri Lanka’s fish export ban to Europe in 2014,”comments Paolo Bray, Founder and Director of Friend of the Sea. “We really hope Tropic Sri Lanka and the national government will succeed with this innovative project in order to be replicated in other parts of the world.”
Live Nation Adds Impossible
For the 2018 summer concert season, Live Nation has introduced the Impossible Burger to 37 owned and operated amphitheaters in the U.S. making this the first time the plant-based burger has been offered in a concert space. As part of our ongoing commitment to enhance the fan experience at all Live Nation venues, this partnership is an important first step toward curating a more climate-friendly menu while providing fans with options that fit a variety diet and lifestyles.
The offering is a continuation of Live Nation’s dedication to responsible food sourcing. Since 2014, Live Nation has sourced only humanely raised meats and locally grown produce for our amphitheaters. Live Nation has also implemented venue-wide compost programs as a way to reduce emissions and is committed to reducing waste at our owned and operated amphitheaters through an aggressive in-venue approach and is aiming to achieve Zero Waste in 20 of our owned & operated venues by 2020.
Heston Blumenthal Goes Grilling
Six Michelin starred chef, Heston Blumenthal, has launched a new product within his range of Everdure by Heston Blumenthal grills. Four thousand years in the making, the 4K combines yesterday’s wisdom with tomorrow’s innovation.
Following the successful launch of his award-winning line of grills with Australian company, Everdure, in Australia, Germany, the UK and US, the proprietor to five critically acclaimed restaurants in the UK, including The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, has released a new product within the range, the 4K, which will be available in the U.S. at the end of 2018.
Inspired by the 4,000-year tradition of Kamado-style and man-made ceramic clay cooking, the 4K was developed with the appreciation of age-old technique and combined with the intelligence of modern design and technology.
“The 4K really is the ultimate cooking solution for the outdoors, combining yesterday’s wisdom with tomorrow’s innovation. Its technology and cooking range is peerless. A fantastic cooking revolution for the outdoors. I’m always proud of the Everdure by Heston Blumenthal team and what they produce, but this has set a new bar,” said Heston Blumenthal.
Armed with ambient and integrated probes to control both meat and air temperatures and linked with Bluetooth connectivity, the 4K not only cooks your meal but tells you how to prepare it. Home cooks around the world can experience the same level of culinary mastery as Chef Blumenthal with step-by-step guidance from their grill. From temperature control and suggested charcoal management to recipe guidance, the 4K enables any cook to succeed.
Beyond Meat Debuts Research and Development Center
Beyond Meat opened the doors of their new 26,000 square foot research and development center at the company’s headquarters. The new facility, which houses nearly 100 employees, is the new home to Beyond Meat’s Manhattan Beach Project, which is designed to bring together the world’s best scientists, engineers, food technologists, chefs and managers in service of a single goal: perfectly build meat directly from plants.
Seven-times the size of its existing facility, the Innovation Center supports the company’s Rapid & Relentless Innovation initiative, the goal of which is to continuously iterate the company’s products until they are indistinguishable from their animal protein equivalent.
“The use of science and technology to build meat directly from plants, coupled with a commitment to all natural and non-GMO ingredients, is the core of our company. At Beyond Meat, we strive to understand meat at new levels, and then rebuild it using amino acids, lipids and minerals from plants. What the animal has done throughout history—organize plant material in the form of muscle or meat—we believe we can do more efficiently to the benefit of human health, the environment and animal welfare,” said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat CEO and Founder. “The path to the perfect build of meat from plants is both long and steep, but with every iteration we are getting closer and closer. I am so pleased to join our special group of scientists, engineers, chefs and managers in announcing the opening of our new state-of-the-art innovation center.”
The new facility is designed to support the company’s highly iterative and rapid style of innovation, one designed to deliver improvements to the marketplace on an annual basis. It is broken into eight distinct labs and footprints, with an emphasis on consumer engagement and learnings. “The new home to the Manhattan Beach Project allows us to reimagine the use of existing technologies for a better understanding of the complexity of meat,” said Dr. Dariush Ajami, VP of Research & Development at Beyond Meat. “The Innovation Center gives us a leg up as we apply this knowledge in our efforts to perfectly build meat directly from plant materials, using only natural ingredients and without genetic modification.”
The new facility also features a test kitchen that will be used to host chefs and culinary experts. The kitchen will offer a gourmet-style space where chefs can experiment and test Beyond Meat products and new innovations like Beyond Breakfast Sausage, which was recently previewed at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.
The continued growth of the Manhattan Beach Project will create close to 50 new jobs over the next year. As part of its recruiting efforts, Beyond Meat is working with universities and research centers in the U.S. and abroad to identify the best and brightest scientists and engineers in their respective fields.
Recent new investors include DeAndre Hopkins, one of the NFL’s top-ranking wide receivers, who attended today’s ribbon cutting of the new facility to share his passion for Beyond Meat and making plant-based foods more widely accessible. “Beyond Meat’s products are a gamechanger and I’m honored to be here today as we mark this important milestone in the company’s history,” commented Hopkins. He joins a growing list of professional athletes that recognize the power of plant-based protein and are backing Beyond Meat including Tony Gonzales.