This oversized version of MRM’s Daily Bite has news from SevenRooms and Toast, Menufy and LevelUp, Impossible Foods, Bosa Development and Puffer Malarkey Restaurants, GroundTruth, Melting Pot, Yelp and OpenTable.
Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at email@example.com.
SevenRooms Partners with Toast
SevenRooms, a reservation, seating and guest management platform for the hospitality industry, is partnering with Toast. Launching in partnership with Seattle-based group Ethan Stowell Restaurants (ESR), this integration will enable operators to pull data insights directly from Toast, surfacing reservation spend and historical purchase data across all properties in real time.
The cloud-based integration will seamlessly link Toast’s POS order data with SevenRooms’ robust reservation, seating and guest management system, enabling more personalized service and marketing. Progressive restaurant groups like ESR will leverage these rich guest spend and visit insights to boost revenue and turn reservations into repeat visits.
“Two years ago, we were thrilled to be one of the first Seattle restaurant groups to work with Toast,” said Michael Pagana, Director of Operations at Ethan Stowell Restaurants. “Today, we’re excited to once again be leading the charge by bring SevenRooms’ innovative technology into the market. We are always searching for cutting-edge technologies for our business, and are happy have partners that not only work together, but proactively solve the problems we’re thinking about — or haven’t thought about yet. With SevenRooms, we’re joining a community of restaurateurs who are putting the guest experience first, with reservation and marketing capabilities unmatched in the market today. The SevenRooms-Toast partnership will enable us to leverage those insights on a deeper level to meet and exceed our guests’ expectations — and deliver the exceptional experiences they expect.”
“We are excited to collaborate on this partnership with Toast, a leader in POS solutions, and ESR, pioneers of the Seattle dining scene,” said Joel Montaniel, CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms. “We are focused on helping operators create and cultivate direct relationships with their guests that make exceptional experiences possible. Our open platform enables us to deliver on this promise by integrating value-add technology partners like Toast, which help restaurateurs personalize service and marketing — and ultimately, turn data into revenue. We look forward to watching ESR grow their business exponentially through this partnership.”
“Toast is obsessed with customer success; we are excited to see our customer, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, enhance the guest experience through our partnership with SevenRooms,” said Aman Narang, President and Co-Founder of Toast. “We are thrilled to welcome SevenRooms to Toast’s best-in-class partner ecosystem, the Toast API Partner Program.”
Menufy Teams with LevelUp
Menufy, the online ordering solution provider, is partnering with LevelUp to allow restaurants to grow their order ahead sales via new channel distribution partners. With this partnership, Menufy’s restaurant clients will enjoy free distribution through LevelUp’s extended network of consumer channels, leading to an increase in orders at no additional cost.
Customers will benefit by having significantly more restaurant options to choose from when ordering from their mobile phone, according to the new partners.
LevelUp has an engaged user base of more than one million monthly active users that have come to expect convenience, speed and flexibility while interacting with restaurant chains across the country. This integration provides Menufy restaurant partners instant access to the LevelUp network, reaching millions of potential new customers across LevelUp partner apps like Chase Pay. Orders flow from those apps to Menufy and then down to the restaurant’s point-of-sale.
“We’re committed to helping restaurants adopt new and innovative ways of engaging customers in order to thrive in today’s digital age,” said Andy Lowder, head of business development at Menufy. “The free online ordering websites we provide our clients, as well as menufy.com, help them accomplish this by reaching customers where they are – online and on their mobile devices. We’re taking it a step further with our partnership with LevelUp, providing an even larger distribution channel to receive orders from.”
The exposure to new customers promises to drive higher order volume and revenue for restaurants, they said, adding that the LevelUp network will continue to grow as the company publicly announces more strategic partners in the coming months.
“Menufy’s restaurant clients now have access to millions of potential new customers throughout the LevelUp network,” said Seann Moriarty, director of strategic partnerships at LevelUp. “Through strong partnerships like this, we are also accomplishing our goal of providing the greatest number of options for consumers to choose from when interacting with and ordering from restaurants across the United States.”
Impossible Foods Launches Food Bank Program
Impossible Foods is partnering with Alameda County Community Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties to serve plant-based meat to San Francisco Bay Area residents who receive assistance from food bank meal programs. Starting this week, the Impossible Burger will be served at meal centers in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Impossible Foods has committed to provide regular deliveries of plant-based meat to these regional food banks. The meat comes from Impossible Foods’ first large-scale manufacturing plant, a 67,000-square-foot former bakery on the east side of Oakland.
“We are still ramping up and enjoy strong demand for our product from chefs and restaurateurs — but at the same time, we know that people in our hometown regions are struggling to afford food that’s delicious and nutritious,” said Jessica Appelgren, Vice President of Communication at Impossible Foods. “We wanted to launch partnerships very early in our growth curve to address food insecurity and give back to the communities where we live and work.”
One in seven Americans gets food from food banks, according to the Hunger in America study published by Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks. The rate of food insecurity is even higher in the high-cost San Francisco Bay Area, where—for instance—in Alameda County, a family of four needs to earn about $90,000 just to meet basic expenses.
Alameda County Community Food Bank, which has been at the forefront of hunger relief efforts in the Bay Area since 1985, serves 1 in 5 Alameda County residents by distributing food through a network of 200 food pantries, soup kitchens, and other community organizations, as well as direct-distribution programs including Children‘s Backpack and Mobile Pantry. This year, the Food Bank will distribute the equivalent of 28 million meals.
“High-quality sources of protein are not only the most desired food items by our clients and the agencies serving them – they’re also the least frequently donated, and increasingly some of the most expensive for us to acquire,” said Wilken Louie, associate director of food resourcing. “The food bank depends on partnerships with local food businesses to meet the needs of our community. On behalf of the agencies we work with as well, we’re extremely grateful for to be receiving regular donations from Impossible Burger to help fill this critical nutrition gap for many of our clients.”
The Impossible Burger has more protein than a conventional burger from cows, but it has a fraction of the environmental footprint and has zero cholesterol. With an emphasis on nutritious food, Second Harvest distributes more fresh produce than almost any other food bank in the country. The Food Bank works with network of 300 nonprofit partners at 905 sites and is one of the largest food banks in the nation. Second Harvest feeds more than a quarter million people in California’s Santa Clara and San Mateo counties every month.
“We have known for a long time that nutritious food—fruits, vegetables whole grains and proteins– is the foundation for a healthy, productive life,” said Barbara Gehlen, director of food sourcing and inventory at Second Harvest. “Without it, kids can’t learn at school and adults struggle to focus at work, making it harder to get ahead.”
To teach the food bank’s partners how to serve the Impossible Burger, award-winning San Francisco Bay Area chefs Chris Kronner (of KronnerBurger in Oakland) and Rocco Scordella (of Vina Enoteca in Palo Alto) conducted a fun training session in preparation for the program launch. Personnel experimented with the Impossible Burger, creating recipes ranging from meatballs to tacos.
Impossible Foods employee volunteers are encouraged to join the food bank chefs to cook and serve the burger at participating food banks throughout the year.
To learn more about the Impossible Foods’ ongoing partnership with the local food banks, watch this video (password: impossible).
Animae Will Anchor Super Prime Pacific Gate
Puffer Malarkey Restaurants’ newest restaurant, Animae will anchor the retail space at Bosa Development’s Super Prime Pacific Gate. Spearheaded by Christopher Puffer, Brian Malarkey and co-chef and partner Shayne McIntyre, the company is known for its concepts, including Herb & Wood, Herb & Eatery, Green Acre, and Farmer & The Seahorse. Animae will be a contemporary Asian American restaurant that blends cuisines from Japan to Southeast Asia with the cosmopolitan design and architecture of Hong Kong to create San Diego’s most progressive dining experience.
Nat Bosa, president of Bosa Development, said, “We are excited about our partnership with Puffer Malarkey Restaurants, which are so well known, especially in downtown San Diego. As the waterfront neighborhood continues to grow, Pacific Gate and Animae will provide original experiences for downtown residents and those who visit the area.”
Malarkey is an award-winning chef, cookbook author and television personality. He is a judge on Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, makes regular appearances on the Today Show and Good Morning America, and was a Top Chef finalist and winning mentor on ABC’s The Taste, which he co-hosted alongside Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre. Malarkey’s other restaurants, under the management of Hakkasan Group – a worldwide entertainment, dining, nightlife, and hospitality company, include Searsucker (San Diego, Del Mar, Austin, Las Vegas) and Herringbone (La Jolla, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Hawaii and Los Cabos).
Christopher Puffer brings his veteran expertise, larger-than-life personality and charm to every restaurant he operates and has worked alongside Chef Malarkey for the last decade, together opening the original Searsucker and Herringbone restaurants followed by Green Acre, Farmer & The Seahorse, Herb & Eatery and the nationally acclaimed, Herb & Wood, which he also designed. He provides a refined style for service, critical thinking approach to hospitality, and has a passion and dedication to educate and build the best teams in the hospitality industry.
“Animae means air, breathing, life and soul. All of these elements support one another just like the elements of the dining experience we create nightly for guests – food, drink, service and design, none outshine each other, but rather work cohesively to foster memorable experiences,” said Christopher Puffer, Partner of Puffer Malarkey Restaurants. “Inspired by travels, Animae, will bring the sophistication of Asian cuisine and design to San Diego with the approachability and excitement our venues provide.”
Pacific Gate by Bosa was designed and built by an international dream team who together are creating a landmark of historical significance, from the expertise and vision of Bosa Development, ingeniousness of New York-based architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), the sublime insights of Hirsh Bedner Associates (HBA), renowned for their interior design work in the ultra-luxury hospitality industry, and Spanish artist Jaume Plensa whose work is installed around the world, and whose public installation of Pacific Soul resides in the building’s public plaza.
GroundTruth, a global technology platform driving offline visits and sales by leveraging location as the primary source of intent, introduced GroundTruth Ads Manager, the industry’s first end-to-end self-serve platform for mobile location-based advertising. Marketers can y access GroundTruth’s platform, which sees two out of three smartphone users, to sign-up, input a credit card, and create their first campaign in a matter of minutes – no minimum spend required.
As an early adopter of Ads Manager, Derek Walls, PR & Marketing Manager at Ted’s Montana Grill said: “GroundTruth’s self-service platform gives us the opportunity to tap into sophisticated location data and targeting on our own terms. Since joining Ads Manager, we’ve seen a 10x return on ad spend and can attribute mobile ads to actual restaurant visits, the ‘holy grail’ for any marketer. Mobile advertising was essentially a new territory for the brand last year, and now we consider it to be one of the most valuable components of our 2018 plan.”
Another early adopter, Nathan Daniel, Senior VP at Conquest Digital added: “GroundTruth’s ability to track actual number of store visits from users who saw my clients’ ads is a total game changer for the automotive dealership and retail industry. Ads Manager’s simple UI, advanced targeting, flexible creative options, and robust reporting is allowing me to exceed my client’s marketing expectations while growing my agency business.”
Already tried and tested by some of the world’s biggest brands, Ads Manager grants businesses of all sizes easier access to advanced location targeting tools and resources, once complicated and out of reach for small businesses and the agencies supporting them. Ads Manager also provides a more precise and accurate level of location targeting, made possible through GroundTruth’s mapping technology, Blueprints™ and patented Location Verification algorithm, which scrubs incoming location data for accuracy.
Marketers can use Ads Manager to target locations or individuals stores rather than wasting ad resources targeting a broader five-mile radius around an address. Additionally, brands can calculate effective Cost Per Visit to optimize their ads based on observed visits to their brick-and-mortar location.
“Location technology is incredibly valuable for marketers. It allows you to reach people based on their active behaviors, such as a store visit, versus a ‘like’ or search online that may never result in an action,” said Sunil Kumar, COO, GroundTruth. “With GroundTruth Ads Manager, we’re able to remove the barrier of entry to its benefits, and answer a very big demand among smaller and larger companies with exploratory budgets to plan via a self-service platform.”
The Melting Pot Evolution
The Melting Pot® Restaurants, Inc. revealed design elements for the evolution of the legacy brand. Opening in Red Bank, New Jersey, late spring, The Melting Pot will introduce guests to the first reimagined restaurant concept and expanded menu offerings in the history of the 43-year-old brand.
Long-standing Melting Pot franchisee veterans, Brian Neel, Jeff Nichols, and Barry Berkowitz, a native of Red Bank, have joined together to bring the next generation Melting Pot to the Jersey Shore with a new, craveable, enhanced, and innovative food and bar menu that can be enjoyed for brunch, lunch, happy hour, dinner, or on the go.
“My partners and I are excited to have The Melting Pot return to Red Bank this spring,” said Brian Neel, franchisee and operating partner of The Melting Pot of Red Bank. “We are equally enthusiastic to rollout the evolution of the Melting Pot concept to the Red Bank community and the country.”
The reimagined concept will deliver an open design layout that invites guests to enjoy the restaurant across a much broader range of bar, dining and celebration occasions. Experiences will greet guests the moment they walk into the restaurant, including an expanded retail area and open show kitchen, featuring cheese and chocolate courses.
“We have created multiple dining areas to provide guests their choice of atmosphere,” said Mike Lester, president of The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc. “While we will continue to have a dining area for the traditional Melting Pot interactive experience, the overall environment will have a fun and eclectic variety of casual dining and social bar personalities that will give our guests the option to dine how and when they like.”
The new design will be modern, with bright accents and local touches. Warm and timeless natural materials found throughout the restaurant, such as wood, marble, and fire, will create a rich ambiance for guests as they enjoy the new menu options.
In addition to the prominent cheese and chocolate open kitchen that will feature hand-dipped take-home treats, the refreshed concept will highlight a craft cocktail-focused bar design with new shared specialty cocktail options. Guests will also be able to choose to sit in a dining area dedicated to a new wine tasting experience, including wine flights.
“While we will continue to offer guests the interactive dining experiences they have loved through the years, we have created all new experiences for guests to enjoy in an engaging and inviting atmosphere,” said Lester.
The Melting Pot has more than 115 restaurants in 34 U.S. states, Canada, and Mexico and has more than 18 international locations in development. The concept is known for offering an assortment of flavorful fondue cooking styles and a variety of unique entrées served with signature dipping sauces. The menu features a variety of à la carte selections, highlighting customizable options that invite guests to enjoy one, two, three, or more courses as they select any combination of individually-priced cheese fondues, salads, entrées and chocolate fondues.
The Economy According to Yelp
Yelp Inc. released the second edition of the Yelp Local Economic Outlook, a program to rank U.S. metro areas by the pace of local-business population growth to reveal the health of urban economies around the country.
In an effort to look more closely at the health of the restaurant industry, Yelp also analyzed review ratings, an indicator of consumer sentiment, for independent and chain restaurants in the 50 cities included in the Outlook. Findings of Yelp’s restaurant industry analysis point to a major shift in consumer perception of restaurants. Largely fueled by celebrity chef-owner obsession in popular media and increased consumer confidence in non-chain restaurants because of review platforms like Yelp, there has been a tremendous rise in independent restaurants over the last five years.
Alternatively, fast-food chain restaurants have seen a notable decrease in average ratings over the last five years, by about one-third of a star, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars — equivalent to a loss of about 16 percent of their average rating. Fast-casual chain restaurants have also experienced a decline in ratings, by about one-tenth of a rating point on average between 2012 and 2017.
While chain restaurants across the country encounter increasingly choosy diners, independent fast-food and fast-casual restaurants have seen a continued increase in average ratings, improving by 7 percent in the last five years. Ratings for casual-dining chain restaurants held up better, unchanged on average, though they lagged behind their independent competitors, which gained a quarter of a rating point between 2012 and 2017.
With 142 million rich, local reviews as of Q3 2017, Yelp is putting its massive data stores to work identifying the parts of the country and types of business with the highest rate of growth. The Yelp data science team is continually working to identify the best measure of local economic health. For this quarter, Yelp highlights the rate of change in the number of businesses in a city, neighborhood, or business category as a way to equally weight business closures — a sign of economic challenges — and business openings, a sign of business investment and dynamism.
“Entrepreneurs are investing in opening businesses throughout the southeast and southwest, buoyed by booming populations and economies,” Yelp data science editor Carl Bialik said. “The engine of local economies is local business, and a growing business population is a strong sign of economic health.”
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Charleston, S.C., topped the list in business growth. In recent years, the Charleston region’s economy has been growing much faster than the national average. Construction, driven by rapid population growth and a housing boom, is a main driver of this growth. Meanwhile, San Jose, Calif., had the lowest rate of change in number of local businesses, reflecting the tough business climate — sky-high rents and resulting pressure on wages — in and around Silicon Valley.
Yelp’s goal in publishing this Outlook is to help policymakers, researchers and business owners better understanding local economies in which they operate. Yelp’s full Local Economic Outlook report can be downloaded here.
OpenTable’s 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America
As we approach the year’s biggest holiday for dining out with loved ones, OpenTable unveiled the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2018. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 12 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 26,000 restaurants in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
Highlighting winners in cities both large and small, the complete list showcases a diverse group of restaurants in 32 states and includes standouts, such as The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA, River Cafe in Brooklyn, NY and Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, CA. North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia are tied at the top of the list, each boasting eight winning restaurants, followed by Florida with seven, New Jersey and Texas with six, New York, Tennessee and Washington with five and Oklahoma with four. Alabama, California, Colorado, Maryland, Pennsylvania and South Carolina all claim three winnerswhile Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon and Rhode Island each have two.
Proving that the right atmosphere can help set the mood, this list features an assortment of intimate restaurants located on charming properties that provide the perfect backdrop for the occasion. While American flavors dominate in terms of cuisine at these romantic hot-spots – steakhouses, French and Italian fares are also popular.
“Valentine’s Day is all about sharing food with loved ones. Whether enjoyed with a significant other, a friend, or with family, a delicious meal accompanied by elegant ambiance and superb service is the perfect way to celebrate,” said Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer. “Be it February 14thor any time you want to connect with someone in your life, this year’s winning restaurants have created the ideal spots for intimate dining experiences.”
The list is generated solely from more than 12 million verified OpenTable diner reviews collected between December 1, 2016 and November 30, 2017. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of reviews for which “romantic” was selected as a special feature.
Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2018 according to OpenTable diners. The complete list may also be viewed at: https://www.opentable.com/m/100-most-romantic-restaurants-2018/
100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America for 2018
Altius – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Ariana – Bend, Oregon
Arrowleaf Bistro – Winthrop, Washington
Babette’s Cafe – Atlanta, Georgia
BakerStreet – Fort Wayne, Indiana
Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Baxter’s Lakeside Grille – Lake Ozark, Missouri
Benvenuti’s – Norman, Oklahoma
The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard – Canton, Ohio
Bistro L’Hermitage – Woodbridge, Virginia
Bistro San Martin – Arlington, Washington
Black Cat – Boulder, Colorado
Bob’s Steak & Chop House* – Multiple Locations
Bolete Restaurant – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Bookbinder’s Seafood and Steakhouse – Richmond, Virginia
Bouchard Restaurant and Inn – Newport, Rhode Island
Café Monarch – Scottsdale, Arizona
Cafe Provence – Prairie Village, Kansas
Caprice Bistro – Wilmington, North Carolina
Carlo & Johnny – Cincinnati, Ohio
Chandlers Steakhouse – Boise, Idaho
Charleston – Baltimore, Maryland
Charleston Grill – Charleston, South Carolina
Chez Francois – Vermilion – Vermilion, Ohio
Christopher’s World Grille – Bryan, Texas
Circa 1886 – Charleston, South Carolina
Claire’s at the Depot – Warrenton, Virginia
Collage Restaurant – St. Augustine, Florida
Connors Steak & Seafood – Huntsville – Huntsville, Alabama
Donatello – Tampa, Florida
El Gaucho – Tacoma – Tacoma, Washington
Enzo’s on the Lake – Longwood, Florida
Erling Jensen The Restaurant – Memphis, Tennessee
Erminia Ristorante – New York, New York
The Fig Tree Restaurant – Charlotte, North Carolina
Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar – Memphis – Memphis, Tennessee
Folk’s Folly Prime Steak House – Memphis, Tennessee
Four Winds Steakhouse – Wills Point, Texas
Franklinville Inn – Franklinville, New Jersey
Frog Hollow Tavern – Augusta, Georgia
The Gamekeeper – Boone, North Carolina
Geronimo – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Gracie’s – Providence, Rhode Island
The Grill – The Ritz-Carlton, Naples – Naples, Florida
Hanover Street Chophouse – Manchester, New Hampshire
Harvest Beat – Seattle, Washington
Hugo’s Cellar – Four Queens – Las Vegas, Nevada
The Inn at Little Washington – Washington, Virginia
The Ivy Inn Restaurant – Charlottesville, Virginia
Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse – Louisville – Louisville, Kentucky
Katherine’s Steakhouse – Mesquite, Nevada
L’Auberge Chez Francois – Great Falls, Virginia
La Fable – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Latitudes on Sunset Key – Key West, Florida
Le Vallauris – Palm Springs, California
Le Yaca – Williamsburg, Virginia
Lemaire at The Jefferson Hotel – Richmond, Virginia
Lewnes’ SteakHouse – Annapolis, Maryland
Mahogany Prime* – Multiple Locations
The Melting Pot* – Multiple Locations
Mizuna – Denver, Colorado
Mucca Osteria – Portland, Oregon
Nineteen61 – Lakeland, Florida
Nocturne – Denver, Colorado
The Ocean House Restaurant – Cape Cod – Dennis Port, Massachusetts
Orchids at Palm Court – Cincinnati, Ohio
Over The Moon Cafe – Tacoma, Washington
Oyster Loft – Pismo Beach, California
Paseo Grill – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Pellana – Peabody, Massachusetts
Peninsula Grill – Charleston, South Carolina
Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille – Birmingham – Birmingham, Alabama
Peter Shields Inn – Cape May, New Jersey
Pier W – Cleveland, Ohio
The Precinct – Cincinnati, Ohio
The Prime Rib – Baltimore (The Original) – Baltimore, Maryland
Red Prime Steak – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The Refectory Restaurant & Bistro – Columbus, Ohio
Restaurant L – Cincinnati, Ohio
Restaurant Lorena’s – Maplewood, New Jersey
Ristorante Lombardo – Buffalo, New York
River Cafe – Brooklyn, New York
Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar – Galveston, Texas
Russell’s Steaks, Chops, and More – Buffalo, New York
Ryan’s Restaurant – Winston-Salem, North Carolina
The Saddle River Inn – Saddle River, New Jersey
Saint Jacques French Cuisine – Raleigh, North Carolina
Scalini Fedeli – Chatham Chatham, New Jersey
Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern – Raleigh, North Carolina
Signature, Inspired by Chef Andrew Weissman – San Antonio, Texas
Southern Social – Germantown, Tennessee
St. John’s Restaurant – Chattanooga, Tennessee
Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch – Santa Barbara, California
The Tailor and the Cook – Utica, New York
Tony’s – St. Louis – St. Louis, Missouri
Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House – Austin Arboretum – Austin, Texas
The Victor Cafe – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vintage Year – Montgomery, Alabama
Washington Inn – Cape May, New Jersey
Webb Custom Kitchen – Gastonia, North Carolina