This edition of MRM News Bites features the National Restaurant Association, Waitr, Revention and DoorDash,Steritech, Empire Franchise Group Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, Verve Coffee Roasters, Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery One Network Enterprises, NConnections, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises​​​​​, Rosina Food Products and PreGel America.

Restaurant Performance Index

The Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) from the National Restaurant Association was just released This report provides a look at the current state of the restaurant industry with data on restaurant sales and jobs, food costs, and the economy. 

Some key highlights include:

  •  57 percent  of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales in June 2019 compared to a year ago.
  • The economy added a net 224,000 jobs in June on a seasonally-adjusted basis, which followed a gain of just 72,000 jobs in May.
  • The restaurant industry added just 26,800 jobs during the second quarter of 2019. This was just a fraction of the average growth of more than 114,000 jobs during the previous two quarter.
  • Menu prices increased 3.1 percent  in the 12 months ending June 2019, which tied with April for the strongest menu-price growth in more than four years.

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Waitr Updates App

Waitr launched the updated Waitr restaurant food delivery app for both Android and iOS, top photo. The new app is designed to create a more personalized and engaging user experience with an efficient order flow that allow users to place orders faster than ever. 

“Smartphones are a necessity for today’s fast-moving world. Having an intuitive app is equally essential for hungry customers who want to quickly place orders from the convenience of their phones,” said Coco Pahl, product manager for Waitr. “We’ve made substantial updates and included many quality of life features that will keep users coming back to the app, ultimately driving more sales for our restaurant partners.”

The new app features: 

  • A new bottom menu bar gives users easy access to the restaurant list, search bar, profile and more.
  • Simplified group ordering allowing multiple people to order for their own individual craving.
  • The ability to add restaurants to a dedicated favorites list, right from search or the homepage.
  • Auto-population for delivery address, phone number, and credit card information at checkout by adding ‘Default Settings’ to an account.
  • New checkout flow allows users to confirm order details, select tip amount, and place orders all on the same screen.
  • Warning notifications if a user tries to place an order that is more than 300 feet away from his or her current location to help reduce the number of orders placed to incorrect delivery addresses.
  • The new ‘Order It Again’ section displays users’ most recent orders, allowing them to add their favorite food items directly to the cart with a single tap.

The updated Waitr app is free and available now from the App Store and Google Play. 

Revention Partners with DoorDash

Revention is partnering with DoorDash. This partnership will provide restaurateurs the opportunity to grow their business by offering on-demand logistics and/or streamlining existing delivery operations to accommodate for peak times, unexpected surge of orders, downtime, and service outside of standard areas.

“The combination of our industry-leading POS and mobile & online ordering solution with the integration of DoorDash uniquely positions us to provide a scalable and comprehensive solution from the order to the customer’s front door. Whether you are an independent operator or a national franchise, we are offering businesses a solution to grow more efficiently,” said Rahul Bakshi, Vice President of Products and Marketing at Revention.

“We share in Revention’s commitment to empower local businesses by providing them with on-demand access to DoorDash’s strong logistics platform,” said Casey North, DoorDash’s Vice President of Drive. “This partnership will enable us to further offer scalable, quality services that will help restaurants build their brand, engage their customer base, and increase sales outside their four walls.”

Opportunity To Go

People ages 36-51 are ordering restaurant delivery more frequently than other age groups, a new survey from Steritech, the leading provider of food safety and operational excellence assessment services in North America, has found. That statistic, and others like it, can be found in the company’s new OPPORTUNITY TO GO E-book, available today. 

To help restaurants refine their delivery experience, OPPORTUNITY TO GO includes exclusive insights from a survey of more than 1,000 diners about their delivery and carry-out experiences, including more than two dozen graphs, statistics, and quotations on frequency of use, how orders are being placed, common delivery issues, unique consumer insights, and more.  

Other findings from the E-book, available along with others in a summary infographic, include:

  •  More than 7 out of 10 survey takers used restaurant delivery services in the six months prior to the survey
  • 50.4 percent of delivery users are regular users, ordering delivery more than four times
  •  The three most common problems experienced with delivery include: order accuracy, issues with packaging, and delivery driver issues
  • 57 percent  of those who experienced an order problem called the restaurant to get a resolution

  To download the full E-book,  click here.

Franchise Leaders Merge

Franchise leaders Dennis McKinley of Detroit Equities and Greg George of Rising Phoenix Group officially closed a deal to form Empire Franchise Group.

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In this agreement, they will acquire 100 percent of Franchise Genies to create one of the Southeast’s largest franchise development companies. Rising Phoenix will invest in current Detroit Equities brands and together they will develop corporately own brands and will also seek to strategically acquire performing brands that have under five units.

The deal will bring a total of 12 brands under their management umbrella. All are expected to close by the end of August.

Food & Beverage Franchises under Franchise Genies include:

  • Roll On In Sushi Burritos & Bowls – Roll On In Sushi Burritos & Bowls offers a menu that explores the edge of multi-cultural boundaries, bringing sushi burritos, sushi tacos, sushi bowls and even sushi donuts to a whole new level.
  • Buzzed Bull Creamery – Buzzed Bull Creamery harnesses the power of liquid nitrogen to bring you and your family fresh, premium ice creams and milkshakes while offering a one-of-a-kind-experience. They hand-craft each ice cream and milkshake to provide a fully customized option. For adults, they specialize in alcohol-infused ice cream & milkshakes.
  • Mr. Bagel Meister – Mr. Bagel Meister is a well-known neighborhood bagel, breakfast and lunch hot spot. They serve their valued guests freshly baked bagels, breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches, coffee and much more. Their locations have a classic design and fun atmosphere that is sure to bring back memories of the good old days when life was simple.
  • Barry’s Cheesesteaks – At Barry’s Cheesesteaks, they focus on making a real Cheesesteak, just like they have done in Philly. They try to share a lot of love and good food in their community.
  • Burrito Shak – The goal of Burrito Shak was simple. With a family; children ages one and three, founder, David Longo noticed a need for a restaurant that served up quality ingredients with flavorful chef inspired recipes in a quick dining atmosphere. He wanted to keep the menu tasty, yet affordable for all to enjoy.
  • Thumbs Up Diner – Thumbs Up Diner has been an Atlanta institution for over a decade. Their headquarter location is in downtown Atlanta adjacent to the Martin Luther King, Jr. historic district while their other locations service clients throughout the Atlanta metro area. They continue to set the standard for breakfast and beyond everywhere they go.
  • Peño Grill – At Peño Grill, their award winning food starts with the freshest ingredients utilizing their founder, Jamal’s, family recipes to bring you flavors you have never tasted before. The music, excitement, and food come together to form an intoxicating experience that is sure to put a smile on your face.

“The Franchise Industry is constantly evolving,” said George. “With Dennis and I bringing our resources and experience together, the Franchise Genies brand will serve as a one stop shop and source for everything related to franchising.”

“The future brings opportunity, added McKinley. “Today we are deciding to be a part of the future.”

Rock Bottom Takes Home Prizes

 Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, a CraftWorks Holdings brand,  local Brewmasters won medals at the Los Angeles International Beer Competition and at the U.S. Beer Championships in Oxford, Ohio. Both events are professional brewing contests with over 7,000 beer entries. In addition, the brewing team has won several regional awards across the country.

Dan Anderson, head brewer at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in La Jolla Beach, Calif., won two silver medals in the American-Belgo-Style Ale and English-Style Summer Ale categories for Epic Joyride WIPA and the San Diego Sunset Blonde, respectively, at the Los Angeles competition.

Thomas Mercado, head brewer at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Nashville, Tenn., won a gold medal in the Chili Beer category for his Jalapeño Lager at the LA International Beer competition. Mercado also won a bronze medal for the “Scotchy Scotch Ale” at the U.S. Open Beer Championships.

Most recently, at the Illinois Beer Festival Competition, brewer Erik Pizer from Orland Park, Ill. won a silver medal in the Kolsch category and bronze in the Weissbier category. Lain Wilson from Warrenville, Ill. won silver in the Weissbier category. Overall, Rock Bottom’s teams have won close to 20 medals this year alone.

“We are so proud of all of our brewers and their relentless passion to brew the best beer possible and we’re overjoyed by the medals awarded to all our fantastic teams,” said Rock Bottom Division President Marc Buehler. “It’s extremely difficult to win these types of awards due to the explosion of breweries entering the industry and the restrictions on the number of submissions allowed; therefore, we really treasure these incredible wins.”

Verve Grows in L.A.

Verve Coffee Roasters opened Verve Roastery Del Sur at 500 Mateo Street. The 7,000 square-foot cafe, roastery and restaurant in the heart of Los Angeles’ Arts District will be open to the public this Friday, August 23.  This location marks Verve’s fourth cafe in Los Angeles and 14th location overall, with cafes in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Japan.

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 “Our new first-of-its-kind roastery experience in the Arts District will give coffee and food lovers the chance to look behind the curtain at the next wave of craft coffee,” said Colby Barr, Co-Founder of Verve Coffee Roasters. “This space showcases our continued innovation and growth as a brand, while establishing a home for our team and community in Los Angeles. It is a combination of a roastery, test kitchen, beverage innovation center, training lab and event space, while still upholding what we live and breathe everyday – coffee.”

The primary goal of the new Verve roastery is to create small-batch, made-to-order coffee for the entire Southern California market. To celebrate the opening of Roastery Del Sur, Verve has created a unique Mateo Blend, inspired by LA culture, which will be available at all Verve cafes in LA. To further enhance the coffee experience, the space will feature a craft coffee bar with hand-mixed coffee-centric drinks as well as 18 taps for draft beverages. Some of the standout coffee-style items from Verve’s non-alcoholic bar program include:

Verve Roastery Del Sur features a full menu and grab-and-go options led by chef Mario Tolentino, formerly of ‘Curio Bar SF’ and ‘The Market.’ Tolentino is a “Chopped Champions” winner and has worked in Michelin rated restaurants; he is assuming the role of Verve’s first Executive Chef, kicking-off Verve’s elevated food experience to match the existing high-quality coffee program. The 110-seat restaurant will offer an entirely new, seasonal and sustainable menu, with rotating specials and top-quality bread and pastry offerings from Superba and Erin McKenna.

Verve selected prominent Los Angeles-based partners to bring the dynamic roastery to life, including architecture firm Design, Bitchesto design the light-filled, multi-use space and patio, as well as training and cupping labs for coffee lot selection and quality control. Terremoto LA, known for its work with The Getty and Palihouse Santa Monica, was commissioned to bring the outdoors in, as interior plant-life is one of the brand’s signature aesthetics. The space will also showcase a custom macramé art installation by Bay Area artist Windy Chien. Finally, Young Jerks, a Brooklyn-based creative studio taking the graphic design world by storm, created multiple large-scale art pieces for the roastery as part of their ongoing partnership with Verve.

“Since our start over a decade ago, we have focused on spreading the Verve mentality – a union of California spirit, imagination and love of life – to coffee lovers everywhere,” said Mike Eyre, Verve CEO. “We are thrilled to take the next step in our growth by opening a second roastery, which provides a greater platform to integrate our passion for design, community and craft coffee experimentation.”

Mimi’s Expands Services

Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery continues its brand transformation by announcing a new catering menu and online experience at MimisCatering.com, through an expanded partnership with MonkeySoft Solutions™, Inc. (MSI), an ezCater company. This update comes shortly after the beloved Mimi’s brand refreshed its name and image in July.

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“Our goal at Mimi’s is to create effortless experiences that allow our guests to celebrate life around food, friends and family,” said Tiffany McClain, head of marketing for Mimi’s Bistro & Bakery. “To achieve this goal, it was necessary to partner with the best-in-catering technology, and we chose MONKEY™ to propel our digital ecosystem engine with a forward-focused vision.”

Alongside this digital evolution, the Mimi’s innovation team developed menu options with ease of ordering in mind: small, medium and large sizes are portioned for groups of 10, 20 or 30. Packaging has been redesigned and optimized with transportability in mind and the new menu provides affordable options, making it possible to host a group of 10 for less than $10 per person.

A highlight of the new menu includes:

  • Pastries & Fruit platters with your selection of croissants or Mimi’s famous muffins
  • Breakfast Croissant Tray with three flavors including Egg White, Mozzarella and Avocado, Ham & Cheddar, as well as Bacon & Cheddar
  • Brunch Feast includes Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Sausage and Roasted Potatoes
  • Sandwiches, Soups & Salads Assortments: A mix and match menu to create your own experience
  • Entrées & Pastas: Enjoy classics like Mimi’s Turkey Dinner, French Pot Roast, Creamy Chicken Pasta, French-Creole Pasta and Chicken Pesto Pasta
  • Desserts: Indulge in Mimi’s Sweet Pastry Basket and Cookie Tray

“MonkeySoft Solutions is committed to helping brands build scalable off-premise programs that grow their business,” said Mo Asgari, president of MonkeySoft Solutions. “We’re excited to help Mimi’s continue to put their guests first and provide a great experience in their new off-premises program.” 

Orders can be placed up to 24 hours before the desired pickup time or up to 30 days in advance. Restaurants now have the discretion of delivering larger orders, but arrangements must be made ahead of time via direct contact with the Bistro. For more information, including the complete menu, please visit www.MimisCatering.com

One Network Updates RTVN

One Network Enterprises announced the availability of the latest version of its Real Time Value Network™ (RTVN™) powered by NEO intelligent agents for the Restaurant & Food Service industry. This release continues to enhance the real-time business network that brings unprecedented resiliency, efficiency, and shared business benefits for the entire network of restaurants and food service companies and their rich ecosystem of suppliers, distributors, and logistics providers.

“For the Restaurant & Food Service industry, driving forecast accuracy from sixty or seventy percent into the nineties is a big deal, and our platform makes it possible,” said Greg Brady, CEO of One Network Enterprises. “One Network runs the whole process autonomously with the aid of its AI-enabled NEO agents. This means that restaurants can dramatically improve service levels and deliver the freshest product for the best possible customer experience – while at the same time cutting inventories in half, reducing waste, and lowering supply chain expenses, like the huge cost of expediting. Plus, there’s a real revenue bounce as stockouts disappear. It’s a recipe for success – and a true competitive advantage.”

One new functionality is NEO, One Network’s proprietary intelligent agent technology, that makes autonomous supply chain management possible for each location and its trading network. For example, a leading global restaurant enterprise with over 1,000 restaurants in two dozen countries significantly improved location-level and supplier forecasts and order accuracy, especially during Limited Time Offerings (LTOs). The perpetual inventory capability, powered by NEO, automatically keeps count of stock on-hand for all current products and raw materials. This is vital for computing replenishment needs, so that inventory levels across millions of product-restaurant combinations can be monitored, refined, and replenished.

NConnections Launches CoGoBuzz

 NConnections debuted  CoGoBuzz™, an integrated mobile marketing platform designed to drive direct customer engagement and provide loyalty solutions for independent restaurants, cafes, bars and franchise concepts. Created by NConnections CEO and founder Stephen Gould, the CoGoBuzz™ product line further elevates the company’s ongoing offering, which currently connects with 50,000 guests on a daily basis in the hospitality space and expands those connections through WiFi, text and digital displays to develop a deeper and more engaging connection with the venue’s customers.  These enriched connections encourage customers to dramatically increase their social media engagement rate and express their brand loyalty.

“We developed CoGoBuzz™ with the primary objective of fueling mobile guest engagement, while providing business owners with a user-friendly platform and customer focused services that can be customized to their individual concept and tailored to their sales and marketing goals – no matter how big or small their organization,” said Gould. “Our solution helps businesses better understand their guests and creates personal and highly targeted multidimensional marketing communications in fresh, innovative ways.” 

With CoGoBuzz™, everything a business owner needs is located in one simple box, which plugs directly into an existing internet connection without any security concerns or IT professional assistance. Under this service, a dedicated team of IT professionals is available to provide customer support as part of each package. Once connected, CoGoBuzz™ instantly downloads the business’ settings from the highly secured cloud. On average, a business can be up and running in 60 seconds or less. 

Developed to provide unique marketing tools to franchise and independent brands in a multitude of industries, CoGoBuzz™ turns guests into brand advocates increasing typical venue social activities utilizing social media and mobile marketing. The solution is built as an open platform and therefore can be a complete ecosystem running independently or easily integrated with any existing marketing programs and services. Whether a local venue or a large-scale business, CoGoBuzz™ is an innovative customer engagement tool for hospitality, food & beverage businesses, main streets and more.

Steve McGann, owner of Charlie & Jake’s Brewery and Grille located in Melbourne, Florida had the following to say regarding their experience with CoGoBuzz™:

“This is amazing, within weeks of installing CoGoBuzz™ our social media activity started growing. I knew that social media was important, but it was something my staff did on the side. By installing CoGoBuzz™, our regular customers who had been coming in for years, suddenly started following us because CoGoBuzz™ made it easier. The numbers went through the roof. What was even more amazing, just like the team at CoGoBuzz™ told me, those numbers led to one positive impact after another, more positive reviews, more customer posts and mentions on Facebook and Instagram, and much more participation in our events. With the flexibility of CoGoBuzz™, my staff still does the social media, but the impact of their work is one hundred times what it used to be.”

Whole30 Delivered

Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), a multi-concept restaurant group, and Grubhub are partnering to offer Whole30 Delivered, Whole30’s first-ever branded restaurant. This delivery-only restaurant concept from Whole30, the 30-day dietary reset chosen by millions for stunning, life-changing results, is operated by LEYE and provides diners across Chicago access to prepared, Whole30-compliant meals for delivery exclusively on Grubhub, making it easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

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The culinary team at LEYE worked directly with Whole30 to create a menu for the virtual restaurant that keeps with the lifestyle brand’s commitment to real, whole, unprocessed foods. The menu is available to order for lunch and dinner – and will rotate seasonally to showcase the freshest ingredients. Menu items include: Thai Chicken-Coconut-Curry Soup, Melissa’s Buffalo Chicken Salad, “Spaghetti and Meatballs” made with spaghetti squash and chicken meatballs, Roasted Chicken Tikka Masala, and more. Visit whole30delivered.com for the full menu of dishes that are available starting today for delivery through Grubhub.

“We are thrilled to be working with two great organizations, Whole30 and Grubhub, in putting together, what we think is a very different delivery-only concept,” said R.J. Melman, president of LEYE. “We think Whole30 is a great step forward for delivery-only kitchens.”

Delivery-only concepts let culinary teams offer a creative menu that diners may not be able to find in a brick and mortar location. This flexibility allows LEYE to turn Whole30’s popular lifestyle into delicious meals delivered exclusively by Grubhub. Grubhub has long supported virtual restaurants on its platform, helping restaurants more nimbly capitalize on culinary trends and local preferences to receive more orders from Grubhub’s over 20 million diners.

“While we love teaching participants how to cook Whole30 meals at home, it’s a game-changer to have accessible, compliant, fast options for busy days,” said Melissa Urban, co-founder and CEO of Whole30. “As a single mom and CEO, I’m already imagining how Whole30 Delivered could save the day with delicious, hearty meals when meetings run late or I’m traveling a lot.”

“We are really excited to help Lettuce Entertain You bring its compelling new Whole30 concept to life. Lettuce has been at the forefront of innovative food concepts for decades, and our close partnership provides great food and unique offerings to diners,” said Adam DeWitt, president and CFO of Grubhub. “It’s Grubhub’s goal to give diners the industry’s widest variety of food choices. Whole30 Delivered adds an exclusive option to our marketplace for healthy and delicious meals.”

New Toppings are Here

Rosina Food Products launched its all-new Signature Pizza Toppings line, now available for foodservice operators looking to add versatile, authentic flavor to their menus.

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“Our team worked hard to create a line of toppings that not only delivers homemade flavor, but also meets the needs of operators that are either more traditional in their technique, or choose to follow an on-trend cooking style,” said Chris Tirone, Vice President of Marketing, International and Customer Engagement, at Rosina Food Products. 

Andrea Corigliano, Rosina Food Products Marketing Manager, adds “The versatility of the product makes it a great addition to not only pizza, but other menu items like chili, calzones and omelets that can help operators expand their offerings any time of the day.” 

The Rosina Signature Pizza Toppings line includes eight different options including Small Chunky Sweet Italian Sausage, Traditional Beef Mini Meatballs and Spicy Sliced Italian Sausage that are frozen fresh for ease and convenience, and achieve optimal moisture levels in oven temperatures up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The random appearance of the beef and Italian sausage accomplishes a handcrafted look while the fresh flavor notes including garlic, fennel and bell pepper result in a product that customers will appreciate.

All toppings are freshly cooked, frozen and packaged in 2/5 lb. to 3/4 lb. pack sizes that include four to 18 pieces per ounce depending on the product. T

Autumn Flavors are Here

For dessertpreneurs  eager to create fall dessert menus from a recipe of sweet, spicy, and traditional fall favorites, PreGel America is shining a spotlight on some of its cool autumn flavors for the upcoming cooler season. 

Sprint Line  
PreGel’s Sprint line is a collection of Cold Process complete powdered mixes that offer the quick and easy preparation of artisanal gelato, sorbetto, or soft serve frozen desserts.

305402 PreGel Pumpkin Spice Sprint – Spiced to perfection with a lush combination of clove, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, create America’s favorite fall flavor Pumpkin Spice with this instant powdered product for creating gelato.

305512 PreGel Spiced Apple Cider Sprint – This instant flavored powdered mix duplicates the invigorating burst of undeniable flavor produced by the pure, unfiltered essence of freshly pressed apple cider enhanced with the dominant tastes of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.

305022 PreGel Salted Caramel Sprint – An instant flavored powdered mix that recreates the popular combination of sweet caramel with the perfect pinch of salt. 

Variegates  

These thick pastes are ready-to-eat, with the majority of flavor options containing pieces of the actual ingredient in the mix. The diverse variegates can be folded into gelato and ice cream, or used as toppings or flavorful fillings for pastry.

12802 PreGel Apple Pie Arabeschi® – Sans the golden, flaky crust, this apple pie Filling and Topping teases the senses with the aromatic blend of fresh baked apples and a medley of complimentary spices that add a taste of nostalgia. 

17206 PreGel Caramelllatte Arabeschi (Caramel & Milk) – This indulgent Topping and Filling is reminiscent of authentic dulce de leche. Luscious in texture and captivating in taste, this blend of caramel and milk is perfect for drizzling and incorporating into any dessert. 

reMix  

The PreGel reMix collection of unique flavor blends combines two different PreGel Sprint flavors to make a brand new flavor solution in the form of gelato, ice cream, or soft serve.

316012 PreGel Pumpkin Spice Latte Sprint Kit – A kit featuring two of fall’s most popular flavors: the Pumpkin Spice Sprint and PreGel Coffee Sprint. Mix and match to create Pumpkin Spice Latte or enjoy each flavor separately.

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