Thunder Bun Debuts, Dine Equity Moves and the Scent of IoT

The top five specials on today’s plate include a new venture from a veteran NYC hospitality family, changes ahead at Dine Equity, a technology platform for small businesses and smart business scenting. Send news items of interest to Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine’s Barbara Castiglia at

Thunder Bun Debuts on August 15

Jonathan and Andrew Schnipper, who started out with Hale & Hearty Soups and now operate the Schnippers restaurants in New York City, are expanding their brand by opening Thunder Bun on August 15 at 1 New York Plaza. (Water Street between Broad and Whitehall next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.)

Taking cues from customer and friend feedback as well as their own personal palates, the brothers plan to offer their most popular menu burger and crispy chicken dishes, but pair them with innovative toppings and seasonal sides such as Mexican corn, roasted sweet potatoes, spicy charred broccoli in addition to waffle fries to provide guests with a customized experience.

According to Andrew Schnipper, the new venture is a true labor of love and features no gimmicks, just the food you want, made the right way. They’ve made Thunder Bun simple to enjoy so guests can get what they really want. Everything is priced the same so there’s no need to decide what is the splurge item.

Dine Equity Plans for Change

In recent days, DineEquity has made a number of moves including announcing closures and naming Stephen P. Joyce as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, effective September 12. Revised expectations for Applebee’s closures to range between approximately 105 and 135 restaurants, compared to previous expectations for closures of approximately 40 to 60 restaurants. Revised expectations for IHOP closures to range between 20 and 25 restaurants, compared to previous expectation for the closure of approximately 18 restaurants.

The expected closures will be based on several criteria, including franchisee profitability, operational results and meeting our brand quality standards. 

IHOP’s domestic system-wide comparable same restaurant sales decreased 2.1 percent for the first six months of fiscal 2017, while Applebee’s domestic system-wide comparable same-restaurant sales decreased 7.0 percent for the same timeframe.

The company revised expectations for IHOP franchisees and its area licensee to develop between 80 and 95 restaurants globally, the majority of which are expected to be domestic openings.  This compares to previous expectations for development of 75 to 90 restaurants globally. The company expects Applebee’s franchisees to develop between 20 and 30 new restaurants globally, the majority of which are expected to be international openings. 

“We are investing in the empowerment of our brands by improving overall franchisee financial health, closing underperforming restaurants and enhancing the supply chain,” said Richard J. Dahl, Chairman and interim Chief Executive Officer of DineEquity, Inc. “We are focusing on operations and elevating the guest experience, whether in our restaurants or off-premise.  We believe 2017 will be a transitional year for Applebee’s and we are making the necessary investments for overall long-term brand health and expect to see improvement over the next year.”

Caroline W. Nahas, lead Director of DineEquity, Inc., said Joyce was the best fit to lead the company.

“Steve has a long and proven track record of successfully leading global consumer franchised businesses,” she said. “Throughout his three decades of senior leadership in the hospitality and restaurant industries, Steve has accumulated a wealth of experience in franchising, marketing, operations, finance and development. These skills ideally position him to execute upon and enhance our turnaround initiative for Applebee’s and our growth plans for IHOP.”  

Stephen Joyce

“Over the last five years, I have seen DineEquity, Applebee’s and IHOP experience both incredible success and challenging periods, like the one we are in today,” added Joyce. “During my time as a director, I’ve come to understand many of the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities before us. I guess you could say I’m coming into this eyes wide open and what I see is a future filled with tremendous possibilities. With a talented management team, a committed franchisee base, and a strong group of shareholders, I look forward working to stabilize performance at Applebee’s and identify new pathways to growth for IHOP. I am committed to creating increased shareholder value at DineEquity and financial success for our franchisees and team members. I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead this Company and its iconic brands into their next chapter.”

Based in Glendale, California, DineEquity, Inc. through its subsidiaries, franchises restaurants under the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP brands. There are currently more than 3,700 restaurants combined in 19 countries and approximately 400 franchisees.

Smart Business Scenting 

Prolitec Inc., which specializes in commercial ambient scenting services, is introducing the world’s first environmental scenting system employing smart Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The new ScenXus system uses Prolitec’s IoT platform and the Cloud to monitor and control performance quality of Prolitec ambient scenting services.   

ScenXus Smart Business Scenting

Prolitec’s ambient scenting services are currently used in retail stores, commercial buildings, hotels, airports, hospitals, assisted living communities, and other public spaces and designed to:

  • enhance the environment
  • improve the customer experience
  • sell a product, or
  • remediate an odor.

Prolitec has more than 127,000 appliance installations in 83 countries touching an estimated 37 million people each day. The company will start installing ScenXus in selected client locations in early September.

“ScenXus is a game-changer in commercial ambient scenting,” said Richard Weening, Prolitec CEO. “The ability to monitor scenting performance and instantly adjust appliances affords us and our clients an unprecedented level of flexibility and control over a high-impact medium of communication – scent.”

Today, commercial  scenting appliances are installed and adjusted by on-site technicians who assess performance and make machine adjustments. Prolitec’s ScenXus monitors scenting performance by location so a customer care agent in the network center can make whatever adjustments are needed in real time.    

Prolitec’s scenting services are certified compliant with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), State of California Proposition 65 restrictions, the American Congress of Governmental and Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), and the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).

“Using scent in the air of public spaces requires exacting standards; it must be done with 24/7 precision,” Weening said.  “A year or two from now we will look back and ask, ‘how did we ever manage public-space scenting without something like ScenXus?’”        

The Internet of Things uses the internet, sensors, and standardized messaging protocols to gather and exchange information remotely. While only the highest-need devices are smart today, the global consulting firm Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be 26 billion connected devices.    

Miguel’s Jr. Opens in Huntington Beach

Miguel’s Jr. will open doors in Huntington Beach, CA in late August 2017. The homestyle California Mexican cuisine destination, located in the Newland Shopping Center near the intersection of Beach Boulevard and Adams Avenue, spanning 3000 sq. ft. and offering  drive-thru as well as counter service, will mark the brand’s 17th location in Southern California.

Miguel’s Jr. Huntington Beach

“This is an exciting time for Miguel’s Jr. as the brand continues expansion in the Orange County market,” said Steve Rezner, Miguel’s Jr. Director of Marketing, “Miguel’s Jr. has been very well received in the OC and we look forward to welcoming the Huntington Beach community to our restaurant to enjoy our homestyle Mexican cuisine made from family recipes unique to Miguel’s Jr.”  

Embracing the Huntington Beach community, Miguel’s Jr. has commissioned original murals by Southern California artist, Dave Avanzino, to embellish the restaurant’s exterior. In line with other Miguel’s Jr. location murals, the Huntington Beach original murals will feature the Huntington Beach Pier and the iconic Newland House, the namesake of the center. Following the recent rollout of breakfast to all Miguel’s Jr. locations, the Huntington Beach Miguel’s Jr. will offer seven breakfast burritos and a variety of breakfast pates. 

Founded in Corona, CA in 1975 by Mike and Mary Vasquez,  the chain is expanding to key markets in Southern California.

New Small Business Tool

Because service-industry businesses are experiencing the highest turnover levels in history, some with more than 100 percent staff turnover, recruiting employees and keeping them engaged can be a never-ending challenge and tremendous drain for small businesses. Snagajob released its new recruiting, scheduling and communication tool for small businesses to help combat the problem. The comprehensive technology platform was designed to help business owners and operators in the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries by streamlining administrative duties on a single platform, from managing shifts to removing complicated workflows and difficult user experiences. 

Snagajob’s Workforce Management Platform
“Running a small business presents so many unique challenges, like staffing people you trust, finding the time to keep them engaged and managing your labor costs,” said Megan Overton, Head of Small Business Product Management at Snagajob. “Small business owners and managers need tools that will increase efficiency and save time. Our new solution gives employers a better way to actively communicate, manage and recruit for their business by identifying and resolving potential staffing challenges before they have the chance to impact the business.” 
Snagajob found that most small business owners who use manual spreadsheets spend around 10 hours a week on scheduling related activities. With the company’s new workforce platform, employers can easily post a job to Snagajob’s network of 80 million+ hourly job seekers as soon as they notice a gap in their schedule. Workers can then communicate with each other via team messaging, swap shifts and receive manager approval in minutes. The scheduling function is available at no charge for sole proprietors looking to staff and manage their businesses for additional growth. 
Snagajob’s Workforce Management Platform
“I love that when I post a job, I don’t have to wait long for applications from people who are a great fit for my team,” said Kathy Hester, owner of BakeHouse, LLC in Las Cruces, New Mexico. “The new scheduling feature is incredibly helpful, making it easier for everyone to stay up to date with our schedule. A lot of the students on my staff like the ability to trade shifts on their phone; I like that shifts are updated without disrupting my business. Plus, the team messaging keeps us all connected when it’s most important. Snagajob puts the tools I need as small business owner in one place. What’s better than that?”
 To learn more about the new Workforce Management Platform, register for Snagajob’s next product demo webinar,  click here.