TouchBistro Teams with WePay and Tuition-Free Hospitality Academy Launches

This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite features TouchBistro, Ordermark, Kitchen United, Taco Mac, Verifone and Paysafe, starrdesign, Bridg, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and Last Word Hospitality.

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TouchBistro Partners with WePay

TouchBistro s introducing TouchBistro Payments powered by WePay, a Chase company to deliver two time-saving innovations restaurant owners need: instant payment processing and a new, integrated mobile payment device that allows customers to easily pay at the table as they choose – tap, chip, and traditional magnetic strip.

“With TouchBistro Payments powered by WePay, our restaurants will onboard instantly, so they can start taking payments the moment they unbox TouchBistro,” said Alex Barrotti, founder and CEO of TouchBistro. “Both restaurant owners and customers will experience easier payment processing with the new mobile EMV compliant payment device for digital, credit and debit card transactions.”

Barrotti told MRM magazine how this move is advantageous for restaurants. 

“Historically, when a restaurant wants to start using TouchBistro, it has to be adjudicated by a payment processor to begin accepting credit card payments. This could take as long as two weeks. Then the payment devices are shipped to the restaurant directly from the payment processor, separate from the TouchBistro hardware, and has to be configured by the restaurant when it arrives. Generally, the restaurant would need to use two separate devices, an iPad to take orders and do other POS functions, and a payment terminal for payment receipts and processing.

With TouchBistro Payments, the restaurant receives instantaneous approval to accept credit card payments. This is a big deal since 90 percent of payments made at restaurants are on credit cards. Also, we ship the payment device with the rest of the TouchBistro hardware all in one box, already configured. The payment device attaches to the iPad that is running TouchBistro, so wait staff need to use only a single device for order and payment processing. This makes the entire solution (POS and payment processing) much simpler and faster to install and use.”

He added that, if a restaurant is already utilizing a payment processor, they may continue to do so. TouchBistro integrates with six other major payment processing services.

“TouchBistro shares our mission to take the pain out of payments for business owners, and we’re super excited to help make life easier for restaurants and their guests every day,” said Bill Clerico, co-founder and CEO of WePay. “And with the scale of Chase behind us, TouchBistro Payments has amazing potential for long-term growth.”

Through the WePay relationship, TouchBistro will gain a promotional platform to market its restaurant point-of-sale solution on and other channels. Chase has more than 5,000 branches and four million small business clients including thousands of restaurants, breweries, and others in the food service industry.

This partnership also makes it easier for restaurants who bank with Chase to instantly integrate with TouchBistro and benefit from the intuitive POS functionality and rich features TouchBistro offers, according to Barrotti.

Built specifically for the foodservice industry, TouchBistro helps restaurateurs run a better business by enabling them to make more money, deliver a great guest experience, and take the guesswork out of making business decisions. The provider of iPad POS software has helped more than 12,000 restaurants improve their business operations.

Barrotti  added that this helps restaurants be more responsive to their guests.

“With TouchBistro Payments and the new mobile payment device, payments can be taken from patrons right at their table – whether swipe, chip card or tap. This means their credit cards don’t have to leave their sight and the entire payment process is faster, resulting in better security and reduced patron frustration with waiting to finish paying their bills when they are ready to depart.”

In 2016 WePay introduced a mobile POS for omnichannel payments. This WePay solution is the foundation of TouchBistro Payments, which – along with the new payment terminal – will launch this spring. 

Ordermark Secures Funding
Ordermark secured $3.1 million in capital for its Series Seed Financing round, in order to continue rapid growth as an online ordering management platform for restaurants. The round was led by Los Angeles based TenOneTen Ventures with participation by Act One Ventures, Mucker Capital, and others.
Recently celebrating its first birthday helps restaurant brands nationwide to simplify online ordering by sending orders from multiple online ordering services to a single printer. Ordermark’s growth has been driven by increased adoption of online ordering by consumers and restaurants. Customers include Canter’s Deli, Yogurtland, Waba Grill, Johnny Rockets, and Sonic. Over the last year, Ordermark has grown its staff to 30 located in Santa Monica, Denver, and New York. Building on this momentum, Ordermark will use the additional financing to continue expanding its nationwide reach, accelerate product growth, and invest in additional support resources.
“Ordermark’s mission is to help restaurant owners and operators to embrace online ordering and effortlessly use multiple online ordering services without disrupting operations,” said Alex Canter, CEO of Ordermark. “This capital enables us to expand quickly and strategically into new markets, innovate faster, and deliver on our vision nationwide.”
“We have long believed in the power of data to transform business operations,” added David Waxman, Managing Partner of TenOneTen Ventures. “It’s clear that online ordering represents the biggest opportunity for restaurants since the emergence of quick-serve restaurants. In important ways, Ordermark is powering this transformation in restaurant operations, and we are thrilled to now be their partner as they continue to scale.”
“Alex Canter lives and breathes the restaurant business. He devised a solution to a problem he personally experienced, and recognized that the problem stretches far beyond his own deli,” said Michael Silton, Managing Director of Act One Ventures. “Alex and Michael (Jacobs) have assembled the right team to help the entire industry take advantage of online ordering. At Act One we look for founders who use their real-life insight as the basis of their big, bold vision – that’s why we are so thrilled to support Ordermark.”
“We’re very excited to join the Ordermark team in helping restaurants take full advantage of online ordering across all platforms,” noted William Hsu, Managing Director of Mucker Capital. “Ordermark has proven that they have the right technology, vision, and restaurant experience to help restaurants everywhere. We’re committed to helping the team become the dominant player in this market.”
 Sandland Joins Kitchen United

Meredith Sandland joined culinary on demand startup Kitchen United as Chief Operating Officer. Sandland most recently served as Chief Development Officer for Taco Bell, a division of Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) with 7,000 locations and $10 billion in system sales. In this role, she added more than $1 billion in sales to the system through the addition of 1,000 restaurants in just four years. Sandland will be responsible for driving revenue and overseeing Kitchen United’s business strategy, operations and national rollout plan.

Meredith Sandland

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome Meredith to Kitchen United’s leadership team. She embodies the strong business instincts, deep knowledge of the industry, extensive leadership and passion that will drive our mission forward,” said Kitchen United CEO Jim Collins. “We have ambitious goals for 2018, and the addition of Meredith will enable us to help restaurant operators and independent food professionals expand their footprint and integrate seamlessly with delivery operations by using our turnkey back of house infrastructure.”

Sandland joins former McDonald’s executive Atul Sood and celebrated restaurateur and SBE Entertainment leader Massimo Noja De Marco, who will serve as Kitchen United’s Chief Business Officer and Chief Culinary Officer, respectively. Sood will spearhead administrative, financial, and operations management. De Marco will drive all aspects of food development for Kitchen United’s culinary partners. Kitchen United is led by Chief Executive Officer Jim Collins, founder, owner and operator of Town Kitchen and Grill in Montrose, CA, a 100-seat new American restaurant that recently made the list of 10 best new American restaurants in Los Angeles.

“I am thrilled to join Kitchen United at this pivotal time in the evolving restaurant industry landscape,” said Kitchen United Chief Operating Officer Meredith Sandland. “I have tremendous respect for Kitchen United’s powerful mission to help restaurants thrive with off-premise dining and will focus on delivering value for our existing partners, attracting new ones and growing our brand.”

Kitchen United was spun out of Cali Group, the holding company behind Miso Robotics’ burger-flipping robot, Flippy, and the first application of facial recognition technology in U.S. restaurants that allows consumers to pay with just their faces, who invested in both rounds of the company’s financing. Last month, Kitchen United introduced its new center of culinary imagination and excellence with the opening of its first facility in Pasadena, Calif. The 12,000 sq. ft. fully equipped kitchen space leverages technology, including integrated point of sale software, back of house automation, and efficient order interfaces that combine inbounds from various delivery platforms, to enable new levels of efficiency for food businesses. The facility will be used by regional and national food and restaurant brands to produce fresh food solely for the purpose of takeout, catering and delivery.

Kitchen United also provides kitchen space that can be rented by the hour to food truck operators and catering firms in need of licensed preparation space, as well as by entrepreneurs seeking to develop new food products or restaurant concepts. 

Taco Mac Changes Hands

Taco Mac is changing hands from Dallas-based private equity owners CIC Partners to a team of independent investors and experienced restaurateurs led by Atlanta resident and long-time Taco Mac guest Harold Martin, Jr, who will lead the company as CEO. The company headquarters will remain in Atlanta, where Taco Mac was founded in 1979.

The new ownership team is comprised of Martin and three of his partners from Fresh Hospitality, a group consisting of chefs, investors, entrepreneurs and franchisees working to help restaurant concepts succeed long-term. The four partners – Martin, Michael Bodnar, John Michael Bodnar and Mike Tidwell – are investing their own money in Taco Mac because they believe in the brand’s Atlanta heritage and reputation for serving great local craft beers and award-winning wings in a warm, welcoming environment. 

“We are long-term owners who understand and enjoy the unique legacy of Taco Mac as an enduring restaurant that offers quality food, family fun, sports viewing and craft beer education. We respect and value this brand not only as investors, but as fellow guests ourselves. Our commitment is to be true to Taco Mac’s roots by serving families the best wings and craft beer in the city in a sports-focused casual dining environment,” Martin says. 

A graduate of Morehouse College, Martin has lived in Atlanta since 1998. He dines frequently at Taco Mac with his wife and two children. Martin will work closely with Michael Bodnar, who brings 45 years of experience running public and private companies. As longtime guests and experienced restaurateurs, Taco Mac’s new owners are well positioned to work closely with employees and loyal guests to patiently make decisions that are in the best interest of the beloved brand.  

As for immediate efforts, Martin and his co-owners will spend the first few months of their ownership on a listening tour, gaining valuable feedback from loyal guests and employees to continue to improve the Taco Mac experience in each neighborhood while maintaining the restaurant’s successful calendar of special events and promotions. The team also plans to continue investing in the  Brewniversity program, which rewards loyal guests as their beer knowledge expands.

“Customer engagement is something we are aiming to enhance because we want guests to truly identify with their neighborhood Taco Mac,” he said “We will work with staff to ensure that the quality of the dining experience remains consistent across the board while retaining the unique character of each neighborhood restaurant.”

The principals of Arlington Capital Advisors acted as the exclusive financial advisors to Taco Mac on the transaction.

Verifone and Paysafe Team Up

Verifone and Paysafe announced an agreement for Paysafe to be the first adopter in the independent sales organization (ISO) space to deploy Verifone Connect with Carbon and Engage devices to its network of quick service restaurants (QSRs) and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) across the United States.

It is estimated that there are more than 240 thousand QSRs and 5.5 million small businesses in the U.S. With Verifone Connect, merchants can start, run and grow their businesses with secure and adaptable, end-to-end solutions that not only enables the acceptance of payments but allow businesses to increase consumer engagement and drive efficiency. Paired with any of Verifone’s Carbon or Engage devices, Connect empowers merchants to better manage their businesses with next-generation software and services. Key features include payment services, estate management, business solutions with merchant and consumer-facing apps, and new device purchasing.

“The needs of the merchants we serve have become more and more complex as payment and business solution needs sometimes outgrow the capability of a standalone terminal,” said Todd Linden, CEO of Payment Processing, North America at Paysafe. “We’re excited to partner with Verifone to market Verifone Connect with both their Engage and Carbon devices in the U.S. Through this partnership, we can leverage powerful, reliable and secure capabilities to provide SMBs, who represent a significant and fast-growing market sector, with the next-generation of payment solutions and services, powered by Paysafe’s market-leading payment network.”

Research suggests that there is increasing demand by SMBs for semi-integrated, cloud-based POS systems versus traditional standalone terminals that just accept payment. In today’s payment and commerce ecosystem, acquirers, processors, ISOs and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) are all competing to provide merchants of all sizes with smarter payment technology and solutions that are easy to install and support, EMV-certified, and secure. In all, it is essential to keep up with the future of retail with POS innovations and the variety of payment technologies and supporting services merchants require.

“As SMBs need more options and agile solutions to manage and grow their business, we are simplifying not just their payment needs but working with Paysafe to consolidate critical business apps such as customer and employee management and support into one solution,” said Joe Mach, president of Verifone North America. “This partnership signals a new era in merchant POS availability and we’re delighted that we can leverage Paysafe’s extensive merchant base and network. Our POS solutions are designed for fast-paced QSR and retail environments where security, speed, portability and mobility are critical foundations for success while accommodating the experiences consumers are coming to expect no matter the merchant’s size.”

For Paysafe, the partnership supports its ongoing investment strategy in North America where it has identified significant growth opportunities. The news follows Paysafe’s acquisition last year of Merchants’ Choice Payment Solutions (“MCPS”), a payment processor based in Texas which has a significant footprint in the U.S. with a large network of merchant customers and ISO partners.

starrdesign Completes Pronto by Giada

Restaurant and retail design firm starrdesign has completed the design work for Pronto by Giada, opened at Caesars Palace Las Vegas by Giada De Laurentiis. This is first fast casual location and her second restaurant in Las Vegas, joined by  GIADA at The Cromwell. Pronto by Giada marks a shift by Caesars Palace, and other casinos and resorts, to offer celebrity chef-driven fast casual restaurants to meet changing consumer dining habits.

Pronto By Giada

Project manager for Pronto by Giada was starrdesign’s Jeffrey Cangro while lead interior designer on the project was Ashlee Jones, who was recently named one of design:retail’s 40 under 40. They took inspiration from De Laurentiis’ international travels and her own home-inspired décor.

“One of the key objectives identified early in the process was the need to create a more intuitive guest journey, with a focus on unrushed convenience,” Cangro said. “Creating a balance between the chef-driven nature of hospitality and the need for throughput was a challenge, but the end result was a success. We believe Pronto by Giada will be a dining destination that the patrons of Caesars Palace will come to know and love.”

Starrdesign was selected for the project because of their expertise in developing fast casual restaurant concepts as well as their retail knowledge and experience. For Pronto by Giada, interior design features include custom, hand-painted tiles, marble and quartz accents and countertops, and butcher-block tables. Grays and creamy whites also are featured prominently throughout with splashes of bright red, yellow and orange adding vibrant pops of color. Guests can choose from a variety of seating options, from the main dining area to an indoor ‘patio’ reflective of an outdoor Italian café.

“The idea for Pronto by Giada was to create a café that felt really light and airy, and to do something that was distinctly different from anything else in Caesars Palace,” Jones said. “It was a fun and interesting project to work on, and the pieces all came together to create something unique to Caesars Palace and to Giada.”

starrdesign was established in 2007 by design chief Steve Starr and is based out of Charlotte, N.C.

Bridg Adds Chief Data Officer

Bridg appointed Erik Brue as the company’s chief data officer. Brue brings more than 10 years of data experience to Bridg and will report directly to Amit Jain, founder and chief executive officer.

Erik Brue

In his role, Brue will be responsible for data development efforts with a focus on bringing greater insights to Bridg’s partners and clients and building new business development partnerships.

“We’re excited to welcome Erik to the Bridg team,” said Amit Jain. “His extensive experience in strategic development of emerging data will strengthen our ability to provide meaningful insights to our customers. This will in turn benefit our customers’ businesses through more precise and impactful marketing campaigns.”

Prior to Bridg, Brue oversaw the strategic development of partnerships, platforms and emerging/alternative data assets as vice president strategy, business development and emerging data at Experian.

“I’m proud to join Bridg and be part of a company that is at the forefront of impacting a $80 billion restaurant industry, built in brick and mortar, that is working to play catch up to an economy dominated by ecommerce and other digital solutions,” said Brue. “Bridg is equipped with unparalleled and unique access to deep data science to track and increase real marketing ROI, and I look forward to working with the team to continue to grow our offerings and ultimately help restaurant brands gain market share.”

He will be based at Bridg’s offices in Los Angeles.

Encouraging ProStart

In an exclusive video series, celebrity chefs Guy Fieri and Carla Hall offer words of wisdom to 140,000 high school students enrolled in ProStart, a leading national career and technical education program that teaches high school students culinary arts and restaurant management skills and fundamentals. The series begins airing on ProStart’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

“Every industry wishes they had a program like ProStart,” said Fieri, culinary rock star and host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games. “It’s the opportunity to learn about food, not just for the career aspect but for the life aspect… It is absolutely quintessential.”

“To all of our ProStart students, I know you’re getting ready for competition. I’m sure that you’re prepared and you’re ready to go,” said Hall, past Top Chef competitor and cohost of The Chew. “Stay within yourself, breathe, stick with the plan – because I know about competition – and you’ll do very well. So good luck!”

The tips will come in handy, as the students’ state competitions are well underway with a chance to win and go to the National ProStart Invitational (NPSI18) in Providence, Rhode Island, April 27 – 29. In Providence, top teams representing all 50 states, including schools in Guam and Germany, will compete for top honors and more than $200,000 in scholarships, in addition to scholarships from top culinary and hospitality schools across the country.

To learn more about ProStart, the state competitions and the National ProStart Invitational, click here.

Last Word Academy Launches

Los Angeles-based Last Word Hospitality (LWH) launched Last Word Academy, a tuition-free education program focused on improving leadership within the hospitality industry. The program addresses the open-ended challenges of managing a hospitality operation, encouraging attendees to form their own creative solutions to problems in a collaborative team environment.

Last Word Academy

Born from industry vets and LWH partners Adam Weisblatt’s and Holly Fox’s desire to create a comfortable environment for hospitality workers to share their challenges, attend management-level training, and connect with potential employers, Last Word Academy is committed to advancing hospitality by investing in its most important asset – people.

Each class is led by Weisblatt or Fox, alongside special guests. Classes will be offered three days per month, and each topic will have two 14-seat sessions. Encouraging conversation and interaction through a series of discussion topics and case studies, the 90-minute classes will be conducted around a conference table, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session

“It is often difficult to determine a clear path of advancement in the hospitality industry.  Inexperienced managers and owners often finding themselves in sink or swim situations, with little or no support, and we want to change this,” stated Weisblatt, who first started working in restaurants at the age of 16. “We believe that hospitality has the potential to grow at an exponential level, and we want to help the next generation continue to push forward.”

Last Word Academy

“Our goal is to teach attendees about the topics they think are off-limits for them to know about because it is not directly in their job description,” added Fox, who was a Zagat 30 Under 30 in 2016 and has worked in the hospitality industry for over 10 years. “We want to empower people. Everyone from busboys to line cooks to bartenders should feel like they can climb up the ladder and master the ins and outs of the hospitality world.”

Having recently completed beta testing and their first round of classes, Last Word Academy is now taking applications for their March and April sessions. Interested attendees can learn more about upcoming topics or apply for a spot on the Last Word Hospitality website.

Forthcoming subjects include:


Financials: Learn What all the Numbers Mean. Hint: No Math is Involved

Emphasis: Understanding a Profit & Loss Statement, Translating Financials to Operations, and Effecting the Bottom Line

March 6: session one 11 a.m. | session two 2 p.m.


Operations: Be the Dependable Professional

Emphasis: Creating a Managerial “Mis en Place,” The Importance of Recruiting & Training, and Maintenance is a Virtue

April 2: session one 11 a.m. | session two 2 p.m.


Concept & Menu Development: Matching Passion with Strategy

Emphasis: Concept and Strategy Development, Building Cohesive Brands, Programming, and Being Honest with Yourself

April 3: session one 11 a.m. | session two 2 p.m.