Toast Go Debuts and Takeout Tech’s Swift Success

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features Toast, OpenTable, Boston Pizza and QSR Automations, SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions,  ZeroCater, TableSafe and The Fort, Dinova and CraftWorks, Kung Fu Tea and LevelUp, Dobla and The Connecticut Restaurant Association.

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Toast Releases Toast Go

Toast unveiled Toast Go™, a fully integrated point-of-sale handheld custom-built for restaurants. Toast Go™, designed by Toast, combines hardware, software, and payments in a beautiful device built to withstand the rigors of the restaurant industry. When paired with recent advancements made in Toast KDS, restaurants of all sizes can accelerate front and back of house productivity, improve table turn time, grow revenue, and deliver an amazing guest experience. Both Toast Go™ and Toast KDS are available now.

“Toast’s mission is to empower the restaurant community to delight their guests, do what they love, and thrive,” said Steve Fredette, president and co-founder of Toast. “With solutions like Toast Go™ and Toast KDS, we deliver affordable, cloud-based technology that restaurants of all sizes can put to work immediately to improve operations, increase revenue, and deliver an amazing guest experience.”

Toast Go™ empowers waitstaff to delight guests with:

  • Improved operations for restaurants of all sizes: Waitstaff can access details on which items are in or out of stock, ingredient information, and even suggested drink pairings. Servers can also receive a notification through the handheld when an order is fulfilled on the KDS, ensuring food is served hot and fresh.
  • Increased speed of service for fast casual restaurants: Servers no longer need to wait for a terminal to open up; orders are fired from Toast Go™ directly to the kitchen. Toast Go™ also supports line-busting when a queue stretches out the door; guests can order and pay in line.
  • Best-in-class design for the restaurant community: Toast Go™ features an ergonomic design that makes it easy to use from open to close, and, a Wifi chipset that provides superior signal strength and fast roaming for busy restaurant staff. The device also boasts a 14+ hour battery life and a generous screen size that is large enough to avoid typos, yet slim enough to slip into a back pocket.

“Our turn times decreased dramatically with Toast Go™. On Aloha, we served about 250 guests on a typical Friday night; with Toast Go™, we serve over 400 guests. That equates to an extra half million dollars in annual sales,” said Cory Neel, general manager of Odd Duck in Austin, Texas. “And with more tables come more tips: servers each take home about $7,000 in additional gratuities per year with Toast Go™, which helps us with employee retention. Our staff has peace of mind knowing they can pay their bills.”

When paired together, Toast Go™ and Toast KDS power successful restaurants through a technology platform connecting the front of house and back of house. This integration provides guests and restaurant staff with:

  • Seamless, centralized operations: With its revamped design, Toast KDS software automatically fires items based on how long it takes to cook them. For example, if a table orders two hamburgers – one rare, one well-done – the KDS will automatically fire the well-done burger first, then the rare, so both meals come out hot and at the same time. All of this information is seamlessly communicated from the server to the kitchen using Toast Go™.
  • Reduced worry with allergy-specific orders: When allergy information is entered into Toast Go, kitchen staff are immediately alerted on the KDS.
  • Enhanced communication between dining room and kitchen: To improve speed of service, kitchen staff can see how long a table has been waiting, detailed order information, and a running total of ordered menu items on Toast KDS. Toast KDS can also automatically text guests or servers when an order is ready for pickup.

“In 2018, one out of three new Toast restaurant customers opt for a handheld device,” said Lucy Wang, senior hardware product manager at Toast. “This is why we developed Toast Go™, a tool designed and purpose-built for the restaurant industry: the hardware is reliable, intuitive to use, beautifully designed, weighs under a pound, and rugged when it comes to drops and spills.”

 OpenTable’s App Redesign

OpenTable launched its redesigned app making it even easier for diners to book and discover restaurants using the app. The new home screen features two tabs, Book and Discover. The Book tab showcases restaurant options based on the diner’s location, time of day and the restaurant’s availability with a new ‘now and nearby’ map layout – ideal for the on-the-go or traveling diner looking for the perfect restaurant right now. The Discover tab offers diners personalized restaurant recommendations based on their unique dining history and preferences.

For diners looking to book now, the ‘Book’ tab allows them to see what’s nearby with a map layout, read reviews, check out photos, and see diverse dining options in neighborhoods around them.

“Today, everyone wants everything on-demand, and deciding where to dine out is no exception,” said Prasad Gune, SVP of Product, OpenTable. “We reviewed data from diner reservations and saw a dramatic rise in people looking to dine immediately. Based on this insight, we have redesigned our app experience to cater to this trend and make it fast and intuitive to discover and book the best restaurants for every dining occasion.”

The new two tab home screen improves usability and gives diners faster access to key features like maps, cuisines, restaurant information and recommendations. For diners looking to book now, the ‘Book’ tab allows them to see what’s nearby with a map layout, read reviews, check out photos, and see diverse dining options in neighborhoods around them. For diners who want to explore what is on OpenTable, the ‘Discover’ tab helps to inspire with location-specific restaurant recommendations, personalized and expert picks, and highlight collections, such as “New & Hot” and “Great for Brunch.”

For diners who want to explore what is on OpenTable, the ‘Discover’ tab helps to inspire with location-specific restaurant recommendations, personalized and expert picks, and highlight collections.

OpenTable’s app update is now available globally for all iOS users of the OpenTable app.  Android support will be launched shortly.

Boston Pizza Partners with QSR Automations

QSR Automations is partnering with Boston Pizza. Driven by the growing demand for technology that evolves with customer needs, Boston Pizza made the decision to upgrade back of house and front of house technology with QSR’s robust and reliable ConnectSmart Kitchen (CSK) and DineTime platforms. The rollout aims to be in 300 locations across Canada by the end of 2018.

“For restaurants to adapt, understanding guest expectations is key. At Boston Pizza, we are always looking for new ways to bring technology to our guests without compromising our commitment to food quality and remarkable hospitality,” said Cavin Green, vice president of business technology of Boston Pizza. “With QSR Automations’ technology, we are able to modernize both how our guests are able to interact with the Boston Pizza brand, as well as better enabling how our operators interact with their guests.”

Utilizing DineTime’s guest management platform, Boston Pizza is able to accurately and efficiently seat guests, manage their tables, waitlists and reservations and store all guest information in a digital database. Diners are able to see wait times, get on the waitlist, or make a reservation. DineTime seamlessly integrates to back of house software, ConnectSmart Kitchen, giving Boston Pizza a well-connected foundation for their operations.

“We are able to focus on operational improvements with DineTime and ConnectSmart Kitchen. Rather than going with stand-alone systems, DineTime and CSK talk to each other, allowing us to take full advantage of the software broader suite of capabilities and features,” said Green. “As well, we’re excited for how these systems will potentially be able to interact with other key platforms such as e-commerce.”

ConnectSmart Kitchen helps Boston Pizza manage a kitchen that has a menu with over 100 items by directing the flow of the kitchen with advanced routing, timing on orders, and providing dashboard reporting. “CSK is the most capable technology to handle the sheer scale and complexity of our operations.  We’re also beginning to explore and test new functionality to assist with forecasting,” continues Green. CSK offers critical production data in real-time and historical formats to help restaurants operate more efficiently and better serve guests. 

Boston Pizza is deploying TeamAssist, a digital recipe viewer, to help drive staff knowledge and training while ensuring consistency and quality of their menu items. TeamAssist manages recipes and procedures in one central location. The online portal supports easy creation and maintenance of recipes across all sites so every unit is connected automatically, reducing the need for printed recipe cards and training documents.

With the initial rollout already in over 100 locations, Boston Pizza restaurants will continue to implement the new software systems in all corporate and franchise locations.

SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions hit $3 Billion 

At the start of 2018, SYNQ3 Restaurant Solutions’ steady incline of order transactions spiked, surpassing $3 billion. It took 53 months to reach the company’s first billion dollars in transactions processed, 16 for the second, and now 6.5 for the third, SYNQ3’s CEO Steve Bigari said. To meet the growing demands, SYNQ3 expanded to a new global operations center to service the more than 7500 restaurants nationwide that now utilize the company’s off-premise, takeout-ordering and technology solutions.

Why so much rapid growth?

Time-saving, loyalty-building technology that saves the guest an average of 105 seconds on repeat orders. SYNQ3’s Rapid Reorder technology provides fast, frictionless ordering  that can be done with a few words or screen taps. The tech currently has an adoption rate of nearly 20 percent of identified guests. And, according to Bigari, some frequent users have figured out how to order their favorite meal in less than 10 seconds.

With its growing popularity, the Rapid Reorder technology was recently featured in a Xevo Inc. demonstration of its automotive commerce platform, Xevo Market, at the 2018 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. Xevo Market transforms and streamlines omni-channel mobile food ordering and pick-up, allowing customers to order and pay for goods and services, make reservations, and find locations of their favorite food, gas, and retail brands through the touchscreens of their vehicles and vehicle-brand-specific smartphone apps. Xevo Market is currently live in millions of vehicles.

“We are very excited about the increased recognition our technologies are receiving. These disruptive technologies are transforming the restaurant industry and becoming essentials for a successful restaurant operation,” Bigari said.

SYNQ3 has been servicing nearly 1,000 restaurant locations with automation solutions for the past two years. The company is currently adding one national restaurant chain to the Rapid Reorder platform every month, Bigari said. “The actual restaurant-function of our technology, taking orders, only scratches the surface of its abilities. The data we’re collecting from servicing 10,000-plus, digital, voice-engagement orders per day is incredible and will continue to provide revolutionary insights into the guest experience and restaurant offerings with time,” Bigari said.   

In April, SYNQ3 moved to the new global operations center. With several new technologies and solutions in development and deployed, the company needed to become a global operation, Bigari said. SYNQ3’s new facility breaks into three department centers: the Operations Center, Technology Center and Service Center. Operations houses the c-suite offices; the tech center houses innovations and tech servicing; and, the service center houses the ordering specialists who facilitate brand engagement and guest relations.

ZeroCater Raises $12 Million

ZeroCater has raised its Series B funding of $12 million, led by Cleveland Avenue LLC*, with participation from Romulus Capital and Struck Capital. Today, the company announces it will expand office snacks and catering to new markets in 2018, becoming the single food provider for various Fortune 500 companies throughout the United States.

By expanding nationwide and targeting the Fortune 500 with its snacks and catering offerings, ZeroCater is paving the way to become the sole food provider for companies of all sizes. This expansion, along with the launch of its office snacks product last year, situates the company to compete well in the $144 billion corporate foodservices market. By combining industry-leading technology, people and operations to give customers the food they love, ZeroCater provides a superior food experience that other foodservice providers can’t match.

“Our investment in technology enables us to execute flawlessly through data-driven operations, give companies real-time visibility into their office food programs, and gain insight from every customer to give them the food they love,” explained Arram Sabeti, founder and CEO of ZeroCater.

A recent study by Fidelity showed that, on average, millennials would be willing to take a $7,600 pay cut in exchange for a better work environment. This value shift means that employees are choosing to work for companies that build a better culture by bringing people together, often over food. A recent survey by ZeroCater showed that 88% of employees consider employer-provided catering and snacks an important benefit.

“As we continue to expand our Cleveland Avenue portfolio, we’re confident in our investment in ZeroCater because of its emerging leadership in technology, food innovation and customer service,” said Don Thompson, founder and CEO of Cleveland Avenue, a private equity and venture capital fund focused on the food industry.

ZeroCater deploys technology throughout its operations to connect with customers and vendors, enabling end-to-end control over the food experience. The company collects feedback after every meal using a variety of channels, including its dashboard, emails and physical terminals located at the client site. ZeroCater’s technology also gives its customers insight into that same employee feedback along with data on company spending, consumption and more. By enhancing its visibility, ZeroCater gives customers greater insight and control over their food programs and spending. The company’s account managers also partner closely with customers to ensure every aspect of the food program is running flawlessly. Through its technology and people, ZeroCater can provide companies the food every employee loves.

Prior to its Series B, ZeroCater reached more than $250 million in sales with only $5.6 million in outside capital. From the start, Sabeti has been incredibly strategic with funding and has remained focused on capital efficiency and building a profitable business. With this round of funding, ZeroCater will rapidly expand snacks and catering nationally in its quest to become the largest B2B food provider in the world. The company is also adding new members to its board: Justin Kan, entrepreneur and CEO of Atrium; J. Skyler Fernandes, managing director of investments at Cleveland Avenue; and Krishna K. Gupta, founder and managing partner at Romulus Capital.

The Fort Uses TableSafe

TableSafe, Inc., provider of the most secure pay-at-the-table platform, today announced that The Fort restaurant has become the first restaurant in the Denver area to provide fully encrypted security and pay-at-the-table convenience with TableSafe’s RAIL™ platform. The Fort’s dining guest can now securely control the entire payment process including reviewing their bill, splitting the check, applying the tip and processing the payment. The payment is protected by point-to-point encryption (P2PE) that renders all payment information useless to hackers and thieves.  TableSafe’s technology also removes the need for any guest’s payment information to be stored on the restaurant point-of-sale terminal. This combination of features virtually eliminates the risk of credit breach for all transactions processed by the RAIL. 

“While The Fort is dedicated to preserving and providing a truly Colorado experience, one that is reminiscent of our historic past, we also look to provide our customers with cutting-edge technologies that enhance security and the overall experience,” said Holly Arnold Kinney, The Fort’s proprietress. “TableSafe’s innovative technology puts The Fort at the forefront of securing guest information while seamlessly enhancing our upscale dining experience.”

The RAIL payment device, housed inside a patented leather folio, provides an intuitive interface that allows the guest to complete their payment in an average time of less than 90 seconds. Afterwards, the RAIL allows the guest to provide real-time feedback on their experience, enabling the restaurant to gain valuable insights into their food and service.

“The Fort may be known for its ‘New Foods of the Old West,’ but it also understands the value of providing customers with modern technology and advanced payment security,” said Frank Kerr, Chief Sales Officer of TableSafe.  “With fraud and payment information theft increasing in full-service restaurants, merchants are often left with the feeling they’re still in the Wild West era. TableSafe provides a trusted payment platform that ensures peace of mind for both the guest and the restaurant.”

TableSafe technology was designed to  allows restaurants to increase efficiency throughout the restaurant. On average, restaurants can turn tables eight minutes faster and improve back-of-house operations by saving five minutes in reconciling receipts, eight minutes closing out server shifts and 45 minutes in office labor validating tips. 

CraftWorks Joins Dinova 

CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc. has joined Dinova’s business dining marketplace.

CraftWorks operates brewery and craft beer-focused casual dining restaurants with brands including Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurants, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Big River Grille & Brewing Works, Chophouse & Brewery, Bluewater Grille, A1A Ale Works, Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grill, Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery, and Sing Sing. The 65 CraftWorks locations in the Dinova marketplace are well positioned to meet a variety of business dining needs, according to Dinova

“Dinova is one of our most strategic affiliate partners, given it reaches millions of corporate card holders who are known to have higher check averages given the high index of business entertaining,” says Jaime A. Vasquez, Vice President of Marketing and Group Sales. “Dinova’s network of blue chip Fortune 500 companies provides us an additional channel to help drive our Group Sales business for corporate events.”

”Craftworks has been a pioneer in craft brewery, propelling the trend that is so prevalent today,” said Vic Macchio Founder, Executive Chairman, and Chief Strategy Officer at Dinova “Their inclusion in our marketplace fits perfectly with the rise of the millennial workforce growing throughout corporate America, and offers yet another ideal option for the Dinova diners of today and tomorrow.” 

Dinova continues to add new and exciting restaurant concepts to its more than 14,000 locations nationwide.

Kung Fu Tea Teams with LevelUp

In celebration of National Bubble Tea Day this week, Kung Fu Tea today announced they will soon launch an updated app complete with a revamped loyalty program, social sharing capabilities, and a revamped navigation to put the best of Kung Fu Tea right in the palm of your hand. The 150-location bubble tea brand has been working with LevelUp, the growth engine for restaurants, to design the new loyalty structure and digital experience, which will allow guests to earn loyalty points, pay, redeem rewards, share on social, browse the menu and more.

“Our upgraded app fully represents the fearless personality of the Kung Fu Tea brand,” said Mai Shi, marketing and public relations lead at Kung Fu Tea. “LevelUp has been an exceptional partner in crafting a custom digital experience, and they continue to innovate new ways to engage our guests. With this app redesign, we are now able to take advantage of our guests’ knack for social sharing and loyalty to turn visitors into lifelong fans.”

Kung Fu Tea worked with LevelUp to remodel their loyalty program from a visit-based rewards structure to one that focuses more directly on purchase behavior, and allows customers to earn more rewards faster. Guests now earn a “bubble” for every $2 spent at a Kung Fu Tea store; these bubbles add up to free drinks and other enticing rewards. Customers who previously earned loyalty progress will see their points appear automatically within the updated program.

The updated app also features an integration with Popdeem, a social loyalty platform that rewards users for sharing photos of their Kung Fu Tea visits and favorite drinks on the networks they use most. Kung Fu Tea’s social audience contributes to the virality of their app; in fact, their Refer-A-Friend program yields 12x more app registrants than the industry average.

“Kung Fu Tea has seen impressive growth since the launch of their app in 2016. It’s been so exciting to work alongside them and gather insights about their ever-growing customer base through our data and analytics tools,” said Allyson Klineman, director of agency services at LevelUp. “We analyzed millions of data points to tailor a new loyalty program and digital engagement suite to better reflect their guests’ desires and needs.”

Malaysian Pastry Team Wins Asian Pastry Cup 2018

Young top chef Otto Tay and his Malaysian team mates of pastry chefs won the prestigious Asian Pastry Cup 2018, the largest “live” pastry competition in Asia.

The winning showpieces by team Malaysia during the Asian Pastry Cup 2018.

With their impressive showpieces of chocolate and sugar, desserts and chocolate pastry, the team beat eleven other participating countries and made it to the big finals at the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie 2019 in Lyon. The team is sponsored by Dutch chocolate decorations producer Dobla. The Asian Pastry Cup 2018 took place during the international food and hospitality tradeshow Food&HotelAsia (FHA) in Singapore. Team China, also sponsored by Dobla, ended fourth in the competition and therefore will also be invited to participate in the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie 2018. 

Together with other top teams from within Asia, renowned Team Malaysia was designated to prepare and present a chocolate showpiece, a sugar showpiece, 18 plated desserts and two chocolate pastries in under eight hours. They impressed the panel of experienced judges and the enthusiastic audience with the beauty of their pastry creations, resulting in becoming the winner of the contest. Eric Kakebeen, President at Dobla Asia, “Otto’s creative spirit has always been prominently visible within the product development of Dobla Asia’s decorations. By winning the cup, his strength has once again been proved and we are incredibly proud of him and his team. They worked hard to accomplish this challenge with astounding showpieces as a result. We are confident they will be frontrunners at the Coupe du Monde in Lyon once again. More than ever, our Asian customers look forward to upcoming workhops and demos by our award winning chef.”

Otto Tay (left) pastry chef of Dobla Asia and his team members.

By winning the Asian Pastry Cup, Team Malaysia made it to the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie in Lyon in January 2019. During this worldwide food and hospitality event, 23 teams with professional pastry chefs hailing from four continents compete to become the world’s pastry champion.

Team Connecticut Wins First-Ever National ProStart Invitational® Title

The Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA) reports that Wilbur Cross High School took first place at the National ProStart Invitational® Restaurant Management Competition in Providence, Rhode Island. The team, consisting of Janaisha Taylor, Kayla Rose, Brenda Lituma, Denaysia Gumbs and Eva Perez each won $5,000 scholarships from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and Coca-Cola®, plus an additional $1,000 scholarship from the Burger King McLamore Foundation. In addition, the winners have more than $100,000 in college and university-specific scholarships available to them, should they choose to attend any of the sponsoring schools.

The five students from New Haven, Conn. won the Restaurant Management competition, which consisted of 46 teams from around the country. The young ladies created their own restaurant idea called “N2ICE LAB” and presented it to a panel of world-class judges from the restaurant industry. The N2ICE LAB concept is a woman owned business that uses food science to create unique, non-dairy frozen desserts using liquid nitrogen, while also creating awareness and opportunity for women in the STEM fields.

Team Connecticut

“This is an incredible victory for these young ladies and for their program director, Chef Nathaniel Bradshaw,” said Scott Dolch, Executive Director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association and the Connecticut Hospitality Educational Foundation. “I’m so proud of the extraordinary effort displayed by the students, faculty and mentors in winning this award, which is the first-ever ProStart National Championship for the state of Connecticut.”

The National ProStart Invitational is the country’s premier competition for high school students who are studying culinary arts and restaurant management. Each year, the top 400 ProStart students from around the country put their knowledge and skills to the test in front of industry leaders, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) Trustees, state restaurant association executives, and top culinary and arts universities.

“These girls are so dedicated to this team and their concept,” said Chef Bradshaw. “They believed they could win and worked every day to make it happen. I am thankful for the support team we created at Wilbur Cross, our mentors at Union League Cafe, our sponsors and the Connecticut Restaurant Association. This experience is something I will never forget, and I know this event will change the lives of our students for the better.”

Chef Bradshaw, who is making his fifth trip to the National ProStart Invitational as an educator, went on to say, “A competition like this helps the students learn to overcome adversity. They have had amazing triumphs and defeats through this entire process. The lessons learned translate to all areas of their lives. The ProStart Program and the National ProStart Student Invitational opens their eyes to a whole new world beyond New Haven and I am proud of their hard work and dedication to this competition. They inspire me to help them become the best they can be.” 

In addition to the support of the staff at Wilbur Cross High School, the team was mentored by Chef Jean-Pierre Vuillermet, Robin Vuillermet and Cheri McKenzie of Union League Café in New Haven. Also, their journey to the national finals would not have been possible without the sponsorship support from the Subway® restaurant chain, Gateway Community College, Falvey Linen, the Engine Room/Oyster Club, Sardilli’s, Plan B, DORO, Union League Cafe, Cary Gagnon Network Dunkin Donuts, Max Restaurant Group, Wood-n-Tap, the Mill Restaurant Group, Millwright’s, Joey Garlic’s, Grant’s Restaurant, Bella Bella Gourmet Foods and Connecticut Distributors.