White Castle on Grubhub and Design Leaders Join Forces

Extra, Extra, read all about it. The #WednesdayWisdom is plentiful in this XXXL edition of MRM’s Daily Bite featuring Grubhub and White Castle, NELSON and FRCH Design Worldwide, Upserve, Ctrip and OpenTable, LevelUp,  Toast and SpeedETab, Newk’s and Dinova, DoorDash,  NEC, Seabourn, CapitalSpring, WKS Restaurant Group and Pennant Foods and Black Bear Diner.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

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Grubhub Feeds White Castle Crave

Grubhub and White Castle, top photo, partnered to offer delivery from Castles across the country, in markets where both brands are available. Online ordering and delivery are currently available from Grubhub at more than 75 White Castle locations, including New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Indianapolis and Detroit. Throughout January, Grubhub will bring delivery to more than 45 additional White Castle locations. 

“We’re honored to partner with the iconic White Castle brand to power delivery from Castles across the country,” said Stan Chia, chief operating officer at Grubhub. “Our orders show that sliders are clearly on the rise, and we’re thrilled to deliver more of what our nearly 10 million diners crave. Hungry White Castle customers can now enjoy their favorite menu items from the comfort of their own homes.”

“As a family-owned business for 97 years, White Castle has been dedicated to making memorable moments for our customers,” said Lisa Ingram, president and chief executive officer at White Castle and fourth generation family member. “We pioneered take-out for those wanting a favorite meal at home, launched grocery products nationwide to satisfy the coast-to-coast Crave, and today we are thrilled to partner with the wonderful team at Grubhub to bring our hot and tasty food to customers everywhere.”

NELSON and FRCH Design Worldwide Merge

Global architecture and design firm NELSON merged operations with retail and hospitality architecture and design firm FRCH Design Worldwide  to create one of the largest design concerns in the country with a focus on consumer experiences where people work, shop, dine, play, stay, live and heal.

The merging of the expertise of these two organizations will allow NELSON and FRCH to holistically service a diverse client base consisting of both long-standing relationships with Fortune 500 category leaders in multiple market segments and boutique clients. The newly combined organization has 25 offices with over 1,100 employees to provide service to their current and prospective clients in every region of the country.

The merging of the two firms will bring a new level of diversity to the combined organization, spanning industries from their traditional strongholds in corporate interiors, retail and hospitality to growing healthcare, industrial, mixed-use, government and multi-family residential practices. 

Jim Tippmann and John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr.
Jim Tippmann and John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr.

“This merger is an exciting step demonstrating our continued commitment to bring more value to our clients with thought leadership in new practice areas and market segment expertise,” said John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr., Chairman and CEO of NELSON, when describing the merger with FRCH. “FRCH’s expertise and 50 years of experience in creating award-winning retail, hospitality, restaurant, entertainment and retail mixed-use environments and innovative consumer experiences is not only complementary to our organization, but positions us to respond to the changing disruption across multiple industries.” For NELSON’s vast Global Solutions Clients, this merger adds both geographic coverage and an elevated focus on brand, experience, and creative design. “Our growth has always been about responding to our clients’ needs,” said Nelson.

Nelson and Jim Tippmann, CEO of FRCH will lead the new organization as Co-CEOs. “Merging with NELSON provides our organization and clients with a stronger regional presence offering not only relevant depth of practice area expertise, but more reach nationally to be closer to our clients so that we are there when they need us,” said Tippmann who sees the companies as a cultural fit – both founded on an entrepreneurial spirit with a focus on strengthening their client’s brand while continuing to be proactive in growing the business. In addition to his role as Co-CEO, Nelson will serve as Chair of the newly created board, and remain the majority shareholder.

FRCH Design Worldwide will immediately become ‘FRCH a NELSON Company’ and continue to serve current and future clients. Over the coming months, the leadership of both organizations will further integrate their expanded service offering to provide clients with the full benefit of this merger.

Both companies serve leading global brands within today’s evolving marketplace, including: Bank of America, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Google, Hershey’s, Cisco, Kroger, Simon, Westfield, SAP Fieldglass, Hilton Worldwide, Target, Pandora Radio, T-Mobile, Hines, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Weston, American Girl, Capital One, Subway, YUM! Brands and many more.

Upserve Platform Grows

Upserve grew its Upserve Online Ordering capabilities, adding in-demand features that make fulfilling online orders easier for restaurant owners and staff while delighting guests. These new features are designed with both the restaurant and customer in mind, streamlining online ordering  restaurant profits.

“Analysts expect online ordering to fuel a 79 percent increase in the U.S. food home delivery market over the next five years, creating a huge opportunity for restaurants to increase revenue without adding seats,” said Angus Davis, CEO and Founder of Upserve. “Now more than ever, restaurants need strong online ordering tools to transform this insatiable consumer demand into a profitable bonanza for the bottom line.”

The update  is available immediately to all restaurants using Upserve Online Ordering, and is the first major update since Upserve first launched Online Ordering three months ago.

“It’s so efficient and saves us so much time,” said Kenn Pluard, owner of Kenji’s Ramen & Grill in Vancouver, WA. “Five minutes saved that we don’t have to take an order by phone, plus five minutes we don’t have to spend taking payment.”

The new features in this release of Upserve Online Ordering include:

  • Embed online ordering on restaurant websites: In addition to a dedicated ordering site, restaurant owners can now embed Upserve Online Ordering widgets directly inside their own websites, providing a seamless customer experience.
  • Integrated loyalty program: Restaurants can seamlessly enroll customers into their Upserve Loyalty program with every online order.
  • Increase average order size: Restaurants can nudge loyalty program members to add to their order when they’re close to earning a reward, increasing average order size.
  • Create online ordering guest lists for targeted marketing: Using Upserve’s popular Guest Book, restaurants can compare spending behavior of Online Ordering Customers with other customer segments, and export information for targeted marketing.
  • Place online orders with social login: Restaurant customers can use their Facebook or Google login without having to create a new account to place an order
  • Take online orders days in advance: Restaurant customers can now order up to seven days ahead, and restaurants can send “Your order is ready” notifications by email or text. This feature is particularly useful in attracting lucrative office catering orders.
  • Precise delivery zone selection: Restaurants can select their precise delivery zone by selecting an area on a Google map.
  • On the fly alerts: Restaurants can customize alert notifications when online orders arrive, freeing staff from pinning in just to check on the online orders queue. This feature will be available with Breadcrumb Point of Sale version 2.15.1, later this month.
Ctrip and OpenTable Partner

 Ctrip Gourmet List formed a partnership with OpenTable that will allow Ctrip mobile app users to book tens of thousands of restaurants across North America. A premier OpenTable partner, Ctrip is also the first OpenTable partner in the Mainland Chinese market.  

Ctrip Gourmet List was introduced in 2016 to provide travelers with easy-to-access food and restaurant recommendations and convenient on-line table booking in major cities around the world. Currently, Gourmet List covers approximately 15,000 restaurants in 120 popular destinations both in Chinaand around the world. Ctrip Gourmet List has seen triple-digit growth since its launch and continues to rapidly expand the number of restaurants and destinations on its platform.  

OpenTable seats more than 24 million diners per month via online reservations across more than 43,000 restaurants around the globe. Available in six languages, OpenTable has bookable restaurants in more than 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States. In the third quarter of 2017, 57 percent of OpenTable’s global seated diners originated on a mobile device.

North America is an increasingly popular destination for Chinese travelers. According to Ctrip’s data, Chinese visitors to North America in 2017 spent on average 16,000 RMB per person. Both the US and Canada were included on Ctrip’s 2017 Top 20 Popular Country list, with three US cities in the top ten for long-haul trips, and Canada seeing over 60 percent growth year-on-year.   

Mr. Kimi Liu, CEO of Ctrip Gourmet List, said, “Ctrip’s partnership with OpenTable is more about just food – the table brings together local culture, communities, lifestyle and travel. This partnership will improve the quality of Ctrip’s travel services and help to provide the growing number of Chinese outbound tourists with a richer and more efficient one-stop travel experience.”

“We’re very excited that Ctrip users travelling to North America now have an easy way to discover and book the perfect table whether they’re looking for a last minute reservation near their hotel or seeking a world class fine dining experience,” said Scott Jampol, SVP of Marketing, OpenTable.

LevelUp Launches Broadcast Service

LevelUp launched a new Broadcast service designed to empower restaurant brands to reach massive audiences of new consumers by allowing them to browse live menus, order ahead and pay directly from within a network of the world’s most popular and highly trafficked digital channels including Facebook, Messenger, Yelp, Foursquare, Amazon Alexa, Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Android Pay, and more.

By leveraging Broadcast, restaurants are able to effectively and efficiently “broadcast” out their menu, and targeted rewards and campaigns, to LevelUp’s growing network of digital and social partners, as well as update any menu changes in real-time cross-platform, to reach target new customers within the channels they already use most.

“Today’s highly mobile consumer is increasingly turning to their favorite social and digital channels for everything they do – from keeping up with friends to searching for directions, to browsing nearby restaurant options,” said Seth Priebatsch, founder and CEO, LevelUp. “LevelUp Broadcast enables consumers to discover nearby restaurants, browse the menu, place an order, pay and collect rewards, all directly within the channels where they already live, work and play, and at the very moment when they are actively seeking lunch or dinner options. And because customers spend up to 50 percent more on digital orders than on orders placed in-restaurant or by phone, restaurants that use Broadcast are not only capturing new guests, but also high ticket sales.”

“At Mama Fu’s, we are thrilled to be working with LevelUp as we build our digital presence and give guests new ordering options,” said Joshua Churnick, Director of Marketing, Mama Fu’s. “Having the added visibility on so many digital channels is a no-brainer for our customer acquisition strategy.”

“We are excited to partner with LevelUp and share Togo’s great sandwiches with millions of new customers,” said Anna Neros, SVP Marketing, Togo’s. “As Togo’s expands throughout the West Coast, LevelUp Broadcast has the reach and capabilities to help us build sales with more order ahead guests who spend more and come back more often.”

LevelUp provides guest engagement solutions, ordering and loyalty for over 50,000 restaurant locations across more than 200 national and regional brands and over 10,000,000 guests.

Toast Partners with SpeedETab

Toast  announced a partnership with SpeedETab designed to empower restaurateurs with enterprise-level order ahead technology that works seamlessly with Toast.

“In our Toast Restaurant Technology in 2017 Report, we found that only 22 percent of restaurants offer a mobile pay or custom app payment option for guests, despite the fact that 58 percent of diners will nearly always use the option when it’s available. Toast and SpeedETab want to change that,” said Aman Narang, president and co-founder of Toast. “We are thrilled to welcome SpeedETab to Toast’s best-in-class partner ecosystem, the Toast API Partner Program, which makes restaurant operations simpler.”

SpeedETab provides businesses with a robust, cloud-based platform focused on increasing in-store revenue and enhancing the guest experience through mobile. Platform features include:

  • White Label App Solutions: beautifully branded, native mobile apps built on top of the trusted SpeedETab platform boast mobile ordering, mobile payment, and loyalty functionalities among other powerful features
  • The SpeedETab User Network: welcomes hundreds of thousands of users to discover and explore nearby merchants
  • Powerful Engagement and Marketing Tools: the SpeedETab Insights platform empowers brands to better understand their business and engage with customers through segmented push notification and email campaigns
  • Robust API Support: SpeedETab’s Developer API Program equips brands with mobile ordering
  • Flexible Delivery Modes: arms restaurateurs with tools to customize delivery requirements

“We’re excited to partner with Toast to offer an incredibly frictionless order ahead experience for restaurants across the U.S.,” said Adam Garfield, CEO and co-founder of SpeedETab. “We want to make it easy for every merchant to offer mobile ordering and mobile payments to their customers without the headaches of additional hardware and intensive capital – our integration with Toast allows for exactly that experience.”

Newk’s on Dinova Marketplace

 Newk’s Eatery has joined Dinova’s xclusive business dining marketplace.

“Dinova enables Newk’s Eatery to grow its relationship with expense account diners, which is especially important in a traffic-challenged environment,” said Stewart Slocum, CMO of the 120-restaurant Newk’s Eatery brand. “Partnership with Dinova grows not only dine-in traffic with business diners but also catering, to go, gift card and gifting business lines.”

“What a great kick-off to 2018 with the addition of Newk’s Eatery to the Dinova marketplace,” said Vic Macchio, CEO and founder of Dinova. “Whether you’re on the go, catering or eating in, our marketplace has the perfect restaurant option for business diners across the nation.”

With the start of the new year, Dinova continues to add increasingly diverse restaurant concepts to its more than 14,000 locations nationwide. The addition of Newk’s Eatery and its 120 locations is just one indicator of the substantial growth Dinova will achieve in 2018, Macchio noted.

DoorDash Expands

DoorDash launched in the Kansas City area and Tuscon areas. In Kansas City, they are delivering from more than 1,500 restaurants. DoorDash currently operates in more than 600 cities across the country, and Kansas City marks its 52nd major metropolitan market, DoorDash is now available in Downtown Kansas City, Midtown, Overland Park, and on January 17 the company will expand delivery to Independence, Blue Springs, Platte County, and Clay County. DoorDash will be available in the Tucson area, including University, Midvale Park, Rita Ranch, Sunnyside, Flowing Wells, and Oro Valley.

Customers in the Kansas City area can order DoorDash between the hours of 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. from a selection of local favorites, including:

  • RA Sushi
  • Bravo! Cucina
  • Brio Tuscan Grille

DoorDash’s national partnerships with P.F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory will also extend to the area.

To celebrate the debut of DoorDash in Kansas City, customers can use promo code DASHKC for $5 off orders and enjoy $.99 delivery for the first two weeks.

“This market has been a priority for some time now, and we are thrilled to finally be able to offer Kansas City residents door-to-door delivery from their favorite restaurants,” said Tony Xu, CEO and co-founder of DoorDash.

Customers in Tuscon can order DoorDash between the hours of 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. from a selection of local favorites, including:

  • Sauce
  • Pita Jungle
  • Baggin’s Gourmet Sandwiches
  • Tucson Tamale Company
  • Azian Restaurant Sushi & Korean BBQ

DoorDash’s national partnerships with P.F. Chang’s, Red Robin, and Buffalo Wild Wings will also extend to the Tucson area.

“We’ve received great support from our manger and the DoorDash team. We had a very smooth set up and the training with managers was great. DoorDash’s support team really stands out – when you have a question the team gives you an immediate response,” said Bassel Osmani, co-founder of Pita Jungle.

To celebrate the debut of DoorDash in Tucson, customer’s first delivery will be free. Also, customers can get $7 off their first order of $15 or more using code TUCSONLAUNCH, and for the first month, all deliveries will be $1.99 or less.

“We love our Arizona community and have been wanting to expand. Today, we are excited to be able to offer DoorDash’s services to even more customers in the Arizona area,” said Tony Xu, CEO and co-founder of DoorDash.

NEC Goes Immersive

NEC Corporation of America (NEC) will feature an immersive retail experience that incorporates NEC’s retail technologies, including point-of-sale (POS) hardware, software, biometrics, artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and digital signage solutions at NRF 2018 | Retail’s Big Show in New York City, Jan. 14 – 16.

“NEC is a leading innovator in delivering retail technologies and solutions from the point of sale to the back office and beyond,” said Matt Worley, Vice President of NEC Retail Solutions. “We firmly believe that leveraging data and analytics the same way online retailers have for years – and putting useful information in the hands of salespeople so they can provide a more personalized customer experience – is vital to the future of brick-and-mortar retail.”

In a prime example of NEC’s retail innovation, CaliBurger, a part of Cali Group’s restaurant operating division, will be in the NEC booth demonstrating its AI-enabled self-ordering kiosks using NEC facial recognition technology. 

“NEC’s world-renowned face recognition technology is a key component of our strategy to reduce the friction associated with loyalty program registration and use,” said John Miller, Chairman and CEO of Cali Group. “It’s also a key stepping stone toward replacing credit card swipes with face-based payments, which is our goal for 2018.”

NEC will showcase several other retail solutions including:

  • Digital signage that is customer aware – Through object recognition, shelves detect when a shopper picks up an item and direct the signage to display personalized information, such as more product information, available options, or upsell ads.
  • Facial payment – Using facial recognition, the solution identifies the shopper as a part of the loyalty program – enabling the customer to pay with a glance at the camera.
  • Video analytics to tailor the in-store experience – Video analytics enable retailers to capture shopper analytics to optimize store flow and improve product placement.
  • Robust retail portfolio and Omni-channel solutions – Highly adaptive, configurable POS hardware and software solutions, along with an Omni-channel platform that offers real-time direct fulfillment which enables retailers with a mobile POS retail solution
All Aboard for The Grill by Thomas Keller

The Seabourn line has included a new signature restaurant, The Grill by Thomas Keller and the new mindful living program created by Dr. Andrew Weil.

The Grill by Thomas Keller

The programs were launched following a recent dry dock period for Seabourn Sojourn, which also included a variety of detailed updates throughout the ship. Many of the public areas received new carpet and design touches.

“The Grill by Thomas Keller and Spa & Wellness with Dr. Andrew Weil are the latest in our long tradition of offering the finest guest experiences in luxury travel,” said Seabourn President Richard Meadows, noting that both offerings are now available fleetwide. “The outstanding partnerships we have with Chef Keller and Dr. Weil are now complete, with the next iteration to come on Seabourn Ovation when it launches next spring.”

Created via partnership with Seabourn in 2015, The Grill by Thomas Keller is reminiscent of the classic American restaurant from the 50’s and 60’s. The Grill is a unique culinary concept for Chef Keller, exclusive to Seabourn, focusing on updated versions of iconic dishes. Guests will be treated to table-side preparations of Caesar salad and ice cream sundaes as well as a range of other favorites like premium steaks, whole roasted chicken, and Lobster Thermidor, presented à la carte. The timeless menu draws on the freshest products from artisan purveyors. A unique cocktail program and premium wine list of domestic and old world labels complement the menu. Design by Adam Tihany further enhances the experience with distinctive spaces enlivened with intimate, elegant, warmly masculine settings.

The Grill by Thomas Keller will be featured on Seabourn Ovation at the ship’s launch in May 2018.

WKS Acquires Pennant Foods

CapitalSpring provided financing support to WKS Restaurant Group for its acquisition of Pennant Foods, an operator of 52 Wendy’s restaurants in Southern California. This acquisition of Pennant Foods, from funds managed by Brockway Moran & Partners, is the third WKS transaction in which CapitalSpring has served as a financing partner.

In addition to CapitalSpring, the company’s existing senior lenders, led by Wintrust Franchise Finance, served as co-lenders on the deal. Wintrust Franchise Finance is a division of Lake Forest Bank & Trust Company, N.A., a Wintrust Community Bank.

“We are very excited to work with the WKS team again and to support their initial acquisition in the Wendy’s system,” said Tee Isenhour, Principal at CapitalSpring. “WKS has a long history of growth and operational excellence across multiple concepts and geographies, and we look forward to future opportunities together across their brand portfolio.”

“CapitalSpring brought a unique financing solution to the table that was tailor-made for this acquisition,” said Roland Spongberg, CEO of WKS. “We have enjoyed a relationship with the firm since 2011, and their consistent ability to leverage creative financing solutions to meet the needs of our business and our acquisitions makes them a trusted and reliable partner. We look forward to working with CapitalSpring to continue expanding the WKS portfolio and bring great brands to even more communities.”

Founded in 1987, WKS operates more than 180 franchise restaurant locations including Wendy’s, El Pollo Loco, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Denny’s, Corner Bakery Cafe, and Blaze Pizza. The Company is currently the nation’s largest El Pollo Loco franchisee, the largest Krispy Kreme Doughnuts franchisee, and a top five Denny’s franchisee, making WKS one of the leading family-owned quick service restaurant (QSR) and fast-casual operators in the country.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP served as legal advisor to WKS in connection with the transaction. CapitalSpring was represented by Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

Black Bear Diner Inks Development Agreement

Black Bear Diner signed a multi-unit development agreement with its existing franchise partners, Karan Gogri and Sanjiv Patel of National Restaurant Inc. This new agreement will bring an additional 19 units over a six-year period to both new and existing markets.

The agreement will bring new Black Bear Diner locations to the San Diego and Marin areas of California, as well as expand upon the brand’s upcoming entrance into Texas. The team will bring the brand to Austin and San Antonio, Texas for the first time, executing on the brand’s vision to expand eastward over the next several years. Gogri and his family currently own two Black Bear Diner locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.

“Karan and Sanjiv have been very strong partners to Black Bear Diner and their commitment, enthusiasm and proven ability to execute make them exceptional partners to grow the brand in these new and existing markets,” said Bruce Dean, co-founder and CEO of Black Bear Diner. “As we execute upon our plans to expand eastward, we will continue to seek out well qualified, committed multi-unit franchise partners who share our core beliefs and values.”

Gogri added: “As the son of restaurant franchise owners, I have grown up in this industry and have long valued the opportunities that come from identifying the right brand to partner with. Sanjiv and I have found this in Black Bear Diner, a brand that serves up exceptional food and strong values, and as a result has provided tremendous opportunity for us, along with several of our classmates from U.C. Santa Barbara who are now devoting their professional lives to growing this great brand as a part of our franchise group.”

Gogri and his college classmates will be instrumental in driving the day to day operations under this new development agreement. In 2018, the group is expecting to open one location in Marin County and two in San Diego, California.