Wayback in Casablanca and Firebirds on OpenTable

MRM’s Daily Bite for Tuesday features Wayback Burgers,  HotSchedules, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and OpenTable, The St. Regis Mexico City and Dons Bogam Black.
Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com. 

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Wayback Opens in Morocco 

Wayback Burgers opened its newest store in Casablanca, Morocco on November 6.  This is Wayback Burgers’ first location in Morocco and in areas surrounding Maarif.

Wayback Morocco

The newest Wayback Burgers store is owned by Youssef Elmrani and Moutie Benhamza and is located at 10 Bis Rue Ibn Yala Al Ifrani, Maarif, Casablanca.   Both business management and marketing graduates, Youssef (who worked five years as a travel agent) and Moutie (who worked seven years as a marketing manager), bought the rights to develop 8 Wayback Burgers restaurants in Morocco.

The business partners expect to have three stores operating in the west region by the end of 2019 and plan to open 2-3 more annually in the coming years.   Each of the stores, including this one, will open with Wayback Burgers’ brand-new look – an exciting new “classic cool” in-store design that expands upon the “Wayback Way” and appeals to all generations.

Youssef said Wayback Burgers was the perfect fit for his first entrepreneurial journey because he loves the company’s culture and community first values.

“After researching our local food and beverage industry, we found most customers love burgers, so choosing Wayback Burgers was an easy decision,” said Youssef.  “We know for a fact that most competitors use frozen beef patties, so we knew we’d be introducing something with a serious competitive advantage in Wayback Burgers.   We know we’ll be serving the best burgers in Morocco and we’re excited to get started!”

Wayback Burgers Director of International Development, Jason Murawski, said the company’s fast casual burger concept is a perfect fit for Casablanca and surrounding Moroccan communities.

“We are thrilled Youssef and Moutie are opening our first Moroccan Wayback Burgers location in Casablanca” said Murawski.  “After working tirelessly to build their resumes and reputations, Youssef and Moutie both possesses the perfect skill set to run a successful Wayback Burgers location.   Plus, they are deeply committed to their community and support countless local organizations.   We expect Youssef and Moutie to continue to flourish as Wayback Burgers owners/area developers and we look forward to helping them develop new locations throughout Casablanca, Morocco.”

HotSchedules Solves Problems

HotSchedules® released enhanced features that address new predictive scheduling regulations enacted in major cities across the country. The features – available with HotSchedules’ new cloud-based intelligent back office platform, Clarifi™ – address the unique scheduling challenges with configurable labor rules, manager alerts to potential compliance violations, shift transaction reporting and continuous electronic documentation. Current and future HotSchedules customers affected by the predictive scheduling regulations are able to turn on and use the predictive scheduling features today. 

“Predictive Scheduling legislation has been a key compliance concern impacting many full-service and limited service restaurants – especially multi-unit franchise owners and their corporate franchisors. We developed new predictive scheduling features so that operators, HR teams and finance teams can get in front of and manage the regulations and avoid potential penalties,” said David Cantu, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Officer at HotSchedules. “It’s also important that we provide scheduling and mobile communication tools for hourly employees, so that they can achieve flexibility and work-life balance while still fulfilling the needs of the business.”

The release of HotSchedules’ new predictive scheduling features is part of a larger effort to address compliance challenges restaurateurs face. Earlier this year, the company released its new Time & Attendance Module as well as schedule configurations for employees who are minors. The release also closely coincides with New York City’s enforcement of its Fair Work Week legislation, which begins November 26, 2017. Predictive scheduling laws have already been enacted in Seattle and San Francisco with the state of Oregon slated to go into effect in July 2018.

Although the specifics of the regulations vary from state, city and municipality, the predictive scheduling movement aims to minimize scheduling practices that can make it difficult for hourly employees to plan their personal lives around their work hours. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47 percent of part-time hourly workers ages 26-32 receive a week or less of advance notice for their schedule. Hourly employees and predictive scheduling activists have cited difficulty managing school schedules, childcare, transportation and earnings when they have little-to-no control over their schedules. 

“The launch of the new predictive scheduling features is another powerful example of the ways the Clarifi™ platform can help busy restaurant managers make better decisions around compliance and give hourly employees mobile tools to manage their schedules,” said Mike Arenth, Chief Executive Officer at HotSchedules. “By combining scheduling and time and attendance data with configurable labor rules, mobile alerts, shift transaction reporting and continuous electronic documentation, our labor management and compliance tools can help minimize risk and help reduce the cost of penalties or class-action lawsuits.”

Firebirds Partners with OpenTable

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill has partnered with OpenTable to make reservations more accessible for all of its 43 locations across the United States

“We are excited and honored to team up with Firebirds, which was just awarded the No. 2 spot on Nation’s Restaurant News’ Next 20 list, as it continues to rapidly expand,” said Scott Jampol, OpenTable Senior Vice President of Marketing. “In addition to providing Firebirds’ guests with the convenience of booking online, we’re looking forward to helping Firebirds grow their business through the power of the OpenTable diner network. Our diners are always looking to discover new restaurants and amazing experiences at places like Firebirds.” 

For guests new to OpenTable, finding a table is easy. They can either visit the web page of their local Firebirds or FirebirdsRestaurants.com and reserve their table there, or they can find Firebirds on OpenTable.com and its app using the search box or through app categories such as Artisanal Cocktails, Gluten-Free Options and Business Bites. 

“Firebirds has consistently been recognized for its above-and-beyond hospitality. Guests can expect even more personalized service with our OpenTable partnership,” said Firebirds CEO Mark Eason. “Whatever their occasion and whenever they need a table, this straightforward, streamlined and integrated technology allows guests to reserve a table in a matter of minutes with the push of a button.”

St Regis Mexico City’s New Culinary Experience

The St. Regis Mexico City launched a new and renovated culinary experience at its signature Diana Restaurant. Diana’s new menu by Chef de Cuisine Fernando Sanchez, offers 100 percent Mexican pairings with its wine list.

Chef Fernando Sanchez

Inspired by the techniques, ingredients and unique flavors of Central Mexico, the new menu offers interpretations of classic dishes  utilizing the freshest local products available.  The new carte du jour highlights the country’s culinary legacy and the richness of Mexican wines.

“Mexican cuisine is inspiring travelers to discover our fascinating country. The new Diana menu presents classic recipes with a contemporary approach and locally sourced ingredients, which highlight the rich flavors, aromas and textures of our cuisine,” said Chef Sanchez.  “They are daring dishes meant to surprise our guests.  In my kitchen, I make an effort to celebrate the source of the ingredients by supporting the local producers, as they are a fundamental part of the creative process and the final dish.”

Located on the third floor of the hotel, the gastronomic experience will consist of bone marrow sopes, jicama aguachile, octopus chimole, suadero raviolis, and beef cheek barbacoa.  The sweets selection includes anise cookies, rompope pudding with morelianas ice cream, capirotada (Mexican bread pudding featuring layered nuts), and the traditional cocada (coconut candy).

Focused on promoting the growth of the wine culture in Mexico, Diana’s renovation includes a spectacular wine cellar filled with labels produced 100 percent in Mexico.  The labels represent seven different states of the country and highlight Baja California, Coahuila and Chihuahua, the most important wine regions in Mexico. Mexican wines create an ideal pairing with Mexican cuisine. By offering very exclusive and premier wine labels, Diana presents a new wine experience for travelers seeking a rich local experience.

“The renewed concept of Diana remains faithful to the culinary roots of the country and to the Mexican wineries,” said Joel Martin, director of food and beverage.  “Without a doubt, Fernando Sánchez surprises us with every dish by reinterpreting classic recipes, while incorporating his signature touch that distinguishes him as a unique culinary talent.”

Capable of hosting 100 patrons, Diana offers a variety of different environments and experiences.  The terrace, with a new and seductive design, allows gastronomic lovers to enjoy beautiful sunsets with views of Chapultepec Castle, the Angel of Independence and La Diana Cazadora.  In the cozy and warm interior main hall, patrons can admire the new wine cellar and experience unique pairings presented by Sommelier Oscar Nicanor.

Sánchez began his culinary career at prestigious restaurants such as: Au Pied de Cochon at the Hotel Presidente Intercontinental in 2009” Las Pitahayas at Sheraton Los Cabos, a restaurant awarded the “Five Star Diamond” award in 2011; and Reforma 500 at the Four Seasons Hotel in 2012. In 2013, he undertook a trip to La Provence, in the south of France, where he worked under the direction of the famous Chef Jany Gleize, owner of the hotel and restaurant La Bonne Etape, part of the Relais & Chateaux chain, awarded two Michelin stars. After returning to Mexico in 2014, he joined The St. Regis Mexico City to collaborate with Chef Olivier Deboise at J&G Grill México, an event that invariably marked a milestone in his career. He is now finishing his MBA in Food and Beverage Management at Sor Juana’s Cloister. Since September 2016, she is Head Chef of Diana & Terrace at The St. Regis Mexico City, where his current challenge, is the reopening and positioning of the restaurant Diana.

Dons Bogam Black Opens in Midtown

Dons Bogam Black, a new concept from the owner of popular New York Korean BBQ outpost, Dons Bogam is now open. K-Town expands to 5th Avenue at 30th Street and blends the exquisite tastes of authentic Korean cuisine in a modern and chic setting at this second midtown spot. Their signature Washugyu (a crossbreed of Wagyu and Black Angus) and prime beef is prepared tableside on the latest high-tech roving carts that eliminate smoke while searing in flavor. 

Photo courtesy of Dons Bogam Black

The namesake black color theme is dominant throughout the space. Dons Bogam Black’s custom-designed 4,000 square foot space seats 200 and features an impressive 40-foot-long video wall with stunning rotating seasonal imagery of Korea, laser cut steel movable divider screens, custom made decorative elements and lighting from Korea that set the tone for the fun, energetic vibe making it a place like no other in Koreatown. Leading the Dons Bogam Black team is Executive Chef Chef Yurum Nam who spearheads the group’s kitchen operations and Jae Jung (formerly of Masa) is the General Manager at Dons Bogam Black. 

In addition to authentic Korean BBQ of chicken, fish, vegetables, cheese, pork and prime or Washugyu beef, the menu features appetizers – fried/steamed dumplings, shumai, japchae, various jeon (pancakes); and a full array of authentic Korean specialty entrees including: noodles, gui, stews, dolsot bibimbap and bibimbap. All BBQ dishes are prepared tableside on Don Bogam Black’s special high-tech smokeless carts (Daewoo) with meat temperatures checked with special instant read thermometers.

Photo courtesy of Dons Bogam Black

Executive Chef Yurum Nam is a distinguished and award-winning chef and recipient of the Bronze Award at the Germany International Culinary Competition (IKA) in Germany with a menu with Korean tastes and ingredients using French cooking methods. In 2004, he received the Bronze Award at the MLA Black Box Culinary Competition. In 2004, he also won the Gold Award in hot dishes and Silver Award in cold dishes at the Seoul International Culinary Competition in Seoul, Korea. In 2004, he won the Bronze Award from the National Skills Competition in Kyounggi Do, Korea.

Chef Nam graduated from the Korea Tourism School in which he earned a degree in Hotel Cuisine. By 2012, he completed his associate’s degree in culinary arts and his bachelor of professional studies degree in culinary arts management from The Culinary Institute of America.