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MRM News Bites: Shack app-ens and a Split Decision Sausage Vote on This Week’s Plate

by MRM Staff 17 Min Read

Each week, Modern Restaurant Management magazine compiles restaurant industry headlines in MRM News Bites. Send items of interest to Content Director Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

OpenTable Pilots Premium Access and Adds Global Booking

 OpenTable is piloting a new Premium Access reservations feature, which rewards frequent OpenTable diners with special access to in-demand reservations set aside by participating restaurants especially for them. The new feature allows restaurants to fill seats with frequent, high-value diners, while giving loyal OpenTable users access to some of Boston’s hottest tables using their OpenTable Dining Rewards Points. The company also has a  new functionality that will enable diners to search, discover and make reservations at restaurants across the globe in their local language through OpenTable's web and mobile properties.2_premiumaccess_iphone-13

“Frequent diners spend a lot of time and energy seeking out the hottest restaurants, and now we’ve given them a way to book with ease using their OpenTable points,” said Scott Jampol, SVP of Marketing at OpenTable. “For restaurants, Premium Access reservations empower them to allocate coveted reservations, such as those on weekends and peak times, to valuable high-frequency diners.”

To experience the new feature at participating restaurants, diners simply sign into their OpenTable account via their mobile app, choose the Boston area, look for the “Premium Access” category on the home screen and select the restaurant where they would like to dine. If the restaurant’s standard reservations are fully booked, diners with enough points will be able to view and book Premium Access reservations.  

To learn more about Premium Access reservations and view the current list of participating Boston restaurants, click here. Restaurants interested in learning more about the benefits of the new feature can visit The OpenTable Open for Business Blog.

Global Booking

The global booking functionality brings together more than 38,000 restaurants across its network globally, including renowned global dining hotspots such asBerlin, Dublin, London, Mexico City, Montreal, New York, San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto and Vancouver. Languages currently supported include English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese. The launch also brings together all of OpenTable's separate country apps into one multi-language global app. In addition to being able to discover and book restaurants around the world, diners will be able to manage their global bookings through their local OpenTable account.

Diners can now view menus, read and submit restaurant reviews and find key information, including directions for their chosen restaurant, as well as review the details of their reservation at any time, all in their local language.  This functionality will be especially pertinent to those travelling to or from destinations such as Japan, Germany, French Canada and Mexico where they will be able to experience OpenTable in their preferred language. The new functionality provides increasing opportunities for international restaurateurs on the OpenTable network. With all restaurants, appearing on all sites, in all languages, they will be discoverable to a growing audience of discerning diners. OpenTable currently seats more than 20 million diners per month across its global network.

Shack app-ens

Shake Shack® launched its first-ever mobile ordering Shack App for iOS at the Midtown East Shack, 600 3rd Ave, New York City. Guests can order a ShackBurger®, crinkle cut fries and frozen custard—all from their phone. This is a single Shack market test and no timeline has been established for future Shacks to launch the app. An Android version of the app is in development.

“The Shack App marks a new era for Shake Shack. In creating our first-ever app, we took great care to develop a mobile ordering platform that maintains the high quality our guests have come to know and love, but now just a tap away,” said Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack. “We’re meeting people where they are and giving our guests a whole new way to experience Shake Shack. We’ve got a lot to learn, and we intend to take our time listening to our guests and tweaking the app before launching it in additional markets.” 

Photo courtesy of Shake Shack. Top Photo by Evan Sung
Photo courtesy of Shake Shack. Top Photo by Evan Sung

Elevating the in-Shack guest experience led how the app was developed, resulting in shorter pick up times and convenient mobile ordering. Guests at the Midtown East Shack can now order Shake Shack when they want it and right from their phone. With the new Shack App, guests can pick their food, choose an available pickup time and it will be cooked-to-order and timed to their arrival. All pickup times are in fifteen minute increments. Check the app for availability throughout the day. More power to ya.

The Shack App features the Shack classics including our all-natural beef burgers, flat-top dogs, chicken, frozen custard, crinkle cut fries and more.

Madison Square Park Shake Shack. Photo by William Brinson
Madison Square Park Shake Shack
Photo by William Brinson

The Shack App includes all of the mobile ordering essentials: guests can find Shacks via a location finder; pick from their favorite orders; keep track of food allergies; access nutritional information; see the latest events and promos; connect to all Shake Shack social media channels and share feedback. What’s more? At any time, guests can view the live Shack Cam at the O.G. Shack in New York City’s Madison Square Park.

Starting today, fans are invited to download the Shack App and place orders at the Midtown East Shack. The Shack App was created in collaboration with several key partners including mobile product agency Fuzz, mobile ordering platform Olo, guest engagement platform Paytronix and digital experience testing services from Applause.

Nowait Partners With Yelp

 Nowait, the first mobile network for casual-dining restaurants partnered with Yelp Inc.enabling Yelp users to enjoy the Nowait experience of viewing nearby restaurants’ wait times and “getting in line” remotely with the Yelp app. Catering to restaurants that don’t take reservations, Nowait helps them replace traditional pen-and-paper and buzzers with its front-of-house, iPad-based system.emporio-get-in-line3

“Our partnership empowers us to exponentially expand the consumer side of our network overnight, while adding immediate value for both businesses,” said Ware Sykes, CEO of Nowait, which he describes as a ‘hospitality-first’ company. “In joining forces with Yelp, we have a strategic partner who shares our passion for delighting guests with amazing experiences at their favorite restaurants, nationwide.”

As part of the partnership, Yelp will be making an $8 million strategic investment. Nowait offers thousands of casual-dining restaurants, including national chains such as Chili’s and First Watch, as well as independent hotspots such as in New York City’s Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant, P.J. Clarke’s on the Hudson, and Penelope.

“Nowait shares Yelp’s love for helping people discover the best places to eat. Our partnership expands Yelp's consumer offerings in the restaurants category,” said Chad Richard, SVP of Business & Corporate Development at Yelp. “In the coming months, the Nowait experience will be integrated into Yelp, enabling people to see current wait times at thousands of restaurants nationwide and 'get in line' remotely via the Yelp app when there is a wait”.

Since launching their guest app, Nowait has seated more than 500 million guests to date and continues to seat more than 30 million guests every month.

CIA Opens at Copia in November

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia will open in mid-November. Located in the heart of Napa's Oxbow district, CIA at Copia is the ultimate Napa Valley destination for exploring, experiencing, and enjoying the world of food and wine. 

Images from The Culinary Institute of America's Copia Campus in Napa Valley, California. The Copia property in Napa, CA. Exterior.
Images from The Culinary Institute of America's Copia Campus in Napa Valley, California. The Copia property in Napa, CA. Exterior. Photos by CIA/Phil Mansfield

"CIA at Copia is a first for The Culinary Institute of America, entirely dedicated to offering its innovative, industry-leading food and wine education and experiences to the public. It opens a window into what the CIA truly is: a visionary thought-leader and innovator in food and beverage, with world-class faculty and facilities," said Thomas Bensel, managing director of CIA's California campus. "CIA at Copia's educational programming takes our enthusiast programming to another level, for people of all ages and interests.


Public Cooking and Beverage Classes
At CIA at Copia, daily culinary demonstrations and wine tastings in the 72-seat Napa Valley Vintners Theater bring together acclaimed vintners, chefs, visiting scholars, educators, and food and wine leaders who shape the industry, for compelling and thought-provoking programs.

Classes are taught by CIA instructors and expert guest lecturers, and feature seasonally-themed recipes ideal for recreating in the home kitchen. Guests can learn to make fresh pasta or take a Chef's Class on homemade fresh cheese, or even learn to taste wine in 90 seconds. On Sundays, also known as Family Funday, CIA at Copia offers classes such as Brunch Batters, where guests of all ages learn how to make the best pancakes and waffles, or Mac & Cheese, where the classic dish is reimagined. Classes range from demonstration-style to hands-on and tickets are available online.

Images from The Culinary Institute of America's Copia property in Napa, CA. Exterior. Main Entrance
Images from The Culinary Institute of America's Copia property in Napa, CA. Exterior. Main Entrance. Photos by CIA/Phil Mansfield


The state-of-the-art wine tasting and culinary demonstration theater was named in honor of the Napa Valley Vintners(NVV), a nonprofit trade association, which recently pledged $1 million to The Culinary Institute of America at Copia.

The restaurant will be a destination for market-based, Mediterranean-inspired, California cuisine that pairs perfectly with Napa Valley wines and craft cocktails. Modern yet timeless, the restaurant's design offers a sleek and comfortable setting, with earth tones, hints of olive green, and lighter woods. In the just-completed remodel of the original Copia building by CIA and Architectural Resources Group (ARG), the façade was extended nearly eight feet from its original location, allowing the dining room to seamlessly blend with the property's breathtaking patio, gardens, and olive grove. Inspired by those at Versailles, and reminiscent of the south of France or Northern Italy, the gardens at CIA at Copia are a source of seasonal produce for the restaurant, overseen by CIA Farm Manager Matthew Gunn.

Under the leadership of Waldy Malouf, CIA senior director of food and beverage operations, and Chef de Cuisine Chris Aken, innovation is at the heart of the restaurant. Front-of-house and back-of-house roles are blended to create a new approach to service. An array of craveable, sharable dishes is offered tableside to guests during dinner, displayed on carts and trays by the cooks who created them. Guests are encouraged to take the dishes that appeal to them, and the cook marks their selection on their menu. Guests will have a chance to see all of the savory items and desserts, plus frequent specials, and meet every cook in the kitchen in the process. The number of dishes they select is tabulated at the conclusion of their dining experience. Wines by the glass will similarly be offered on a cart that travels throughout the restaurant, and guests are invited to taste as many as six wines before selecting one (or more) to enjoy. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner daily beginning in mid-November.

The Wine Hall of Fame and atrium wine tasting experience at CIA at Copia are anticipated to debut in the spring 2017, and the Chuck Williams Culinary Arts Collection and a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen both have planned openings in late summer 2017.

Omnivore Integrated on POSitouch Platform

Omnivore, the cloud-based platform that facilitates connections to point-of-sale (POS) systems by enabling a single integration through its API, has integrated its platform with POSitouch’s POS solutions. POSitouch, in conjunction with Omnivore, enables restaurants to deploy the latest app technologies to help businesses grow and maximize customer engagements. The combined solution extends the value of the POS for POSitouch clients, who will be able to maximize service potential from delivery and online reservations to payments, loyalty programs and more. omnivore-logo1

Omnivore’s integration with POSitouch provides the restaurant industry with expanded capabilities from their POS investment. Omnivore’s API connects the POSitouch system to a growing marketplace of apps to drive better services and efficiencies. It is now easier than ever before for restaurants to integrate, test and activate different apps in POSitouch to increase customer engagements for food delivery, online reservations, tablet ordering and much more. 

This integration helps to elevate customer service for restaurants, no matter their size. By improving restaurant operations, successful brands can overcome the challenge of efficiently deploying new technology quickly. For example, with Omnivore, a multi-unit franchise with POSitouch can easily turn on multiple delivery apps to ensure customer service is being provided to different geographical locations. This provides the franchise with better customer service, improved delivery options and the potential for additional off-premise revenue streams.

POSitouch enabled with Omnivore transforms operational efficiencies within a restaurant through a variety of apps. The Omnivore Marketplace includes robust apps like tablet ordering and payment. Easily integrated with POSitouch, these apps in the Omnivore Marketplace provide solutions for restaurants to serve customers faster and more accurately resulting in better operations, positively impacting the bottom line. 

“Continuing our tradition of bringing world class POS solutions to our current and future clients, we are proud to partner with Omnivore,” said Win Platt, chief operating officer of POSitouch. “This joint solution provides incremental value to venues along with the best of app technologies available on the market. The Omnivore solution extends our POS platform with additional functionality that will enhance ROI as well as provide accessibility to apps that give businesses a competitive advantage.” 

“We are thrilled to collaborate with POSitouch to help activate the most innovative apps to extend the value they bring to their restaurant customers,” said Mike Coppola, chief business officer of Omnivore. “With Omnivore enabled, restaurants gain access to turn on applications like delivery, reservations, payment, loyalty, and gifting at a single integration point. Our partnership opens the POSitouch solution to numerous opportunities for businesses to drive customer engagements and increase revenue potential.”

Partnering on Payment Solutions

U.S. Bancorp subsidiary Elavon and California-based Poynt today announced a partnership to offer one of the most advanced payment devices available to small to mid-sized businesses in the U.S., featuring the latest in payment acceptance technology, pre-installed security features and a broad range of mobile capabilities

“I’m thrilled to announce our strategic partnership with Elavon, a global leader in payments,” said Poynt founder and CEO Osama Bedier. “Poynt has advanced the payment terminal by giving it the intelligence of a smartphone. Connected to Elavon’s advanced processing services, businesses get unparalleled technology access to help them grow.”

The payment device offers a solution for businesses in need of mobile capabilities such as:

  • Multi-payment acceptance – Accepts the latest payment methods, including chip and magnetic stripe cards as well as mobile payments such as Apple Pay and Android Pay
  • Dual-touch screens – Enable businesses and their customers to easily interact through checkout
  • Enhanced mobility and connectivity – Includes Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth, a built-in printer and optional 3G so businesses can take payments anywhere
  • Powerful security – All terminals sold through Elavon come equipped with Elavon’s Safe-T technology to ensure maximum security, including EMV, encryption, tokenization and PCI protection

The mobile terminal is currently available for small to mid-sized businesses. Additional features – including an app store for inventory management and other items – will be available in the near future.

Wally Mlynarski, Elavon’s head of global product and innovation, said, “Our partnership with Poynt is making sophisticated, mobile payment options typically offered at larger retailers a reality for our customers, like growing restaurant chains. With an added benefit of layered security technology, we are able to help businesses build trust among their customers.”

 Michael Mina Concept Finds Permanent Home

Pizza & Burger by Michael Mina, the  summer pop-up that took over Michael Mina 74 in June, will now have a permanent home at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. The concept was inspired by Mina’s own backyard kitchen.

“We are thrilled to see how much our guests and visitors have embraced the Pizza & Burger pop-up concept,” says Philip Goldfarb, President and COO of Fontainebleau Miami Beach. “We are truly grateful to be continuing our partnership with Chef Michael Mina and are excited he has created a concept unlike anything else at Fontainebleau. We are delighted to make Pizza & Burger a permanent fixture here and welcome it to our award-winning line up of successful restaurants.”

Salumi Pizza
Salumi Pizza

The restaurant will be one of two Michael Mina concepts located in the hotel.

“Pizza & Burger has quickly become a place where families and friends, locals and visitors alike, come together for a good time and great food and drink in a relaxed environment, we are excited to watch it thrive in such an iconic Miami Beach property,” says Chef Michael Mina.

Brunch Burger Photo by Kevin J. McCullough
Brunch Burger
Photo by Kevin J. McCullough

 Tables are adorned with games, a lively atmosphere and upbeat music, making guests feel like they are at a casual backyard bash with a menu to match the vibe. Newly appointed Chef de Cuisine, Timothy Elmore brings a fresh approach to Pizza & Burger’s kitchen. Helming from Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak at Turnberry Isle Resort, the chef brings passion and 10 years of restaurant experience to Pizza & Burger’s menu of made from scratch, farm-fresh, multi-ingredient pizzas, burgers and large plates. Diners can also design their own salads from a checklist of fresh ingredients and choose from an array of crave-able snacks.

Sausages Split the Vote

In what may be the most controversial breakfast election in recent memory, the contentious battle between sausage links and patties has ended with a split decision.

According to a national survey by Bob Evans®, links won the day as America’s #1 breakfast sausage. In the state-by-state results, 30 states (mainly on the coasts) chose links as the best breakfast sausage versus only 18 states (in the Midwest and South) picking patties. Battleground states, Florida and North Carolina, illustrating again how they earned the moniker, were split 50/50 between the two contenders.

In the end, links were the clear winner among both genders, all generations, and Democrats and Republicans alike. Libertarians, forging their own path as usual, were the only group to prefer patties.

Other results include: 

  1. There is a bit of a gender gap. A clear majority of women chose links (59% vs 41%), but the difference is much less among men (52% vs 48%).
  2. Links are the sausage choice for Millennials and Gen X, but only slightly edge out patties among Baby Boomers and Greatest Generation (59% and 57% vs. 51% and 52%).
  3. Democrats prefer links by a slightly higher margin than Republicans (57% and 53%, respectively) while Libertarians strongly preferred patties (62%).

However, controversy remains as Patties were the clear winner in the popular vote, with voters online choosing the Farm Boy® favorite over the linked variety. With a 2,000 vote lead, patties seemingly are the winner in the hearts and minds of online sausage lovers. sse-infographic_450

The division is unsurprising, given that sales within Bob Evans Farms restaurants of sausage patties nearly double those of links (2.1million vs. 1.2 million lbs./yr.). Coincidentally, linked sausage takes the edge over patties in nationwide sales of Bob Evans Grocery Products (9.5 million vs. 9.4 million lbs./yr.). Given the split, it is obvious the debate over the better sausage will continue at breakfast tables across the country for years to come.

As a way to forge a path forward and build consensus after this contentious election, Bob Evans is offering a coupon so every customer can get a free side of sausage starting on Wednesday, October 19, at any Bob Evans restaurant. Bob Evans wants to encourage sausage link and patty lovers to experience something new and think outside their typical meat. The coupon, which is valid through the January inauguration, can be found here.

“Links carried the day in the Sausage Selection Election nationally this year but that can always change. By 2020, we might see a swing toward patties,” said John Fisher, President of Bob Evans Restaurants. “Bob Evans is about sausage, be it links, patties, or even turkey. We know that America loves sausage of all kinds. That love can build bridges and create a more unified country.”

Bringing Home the Bacon

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery recently celebrated International Bacon Day in a big way. On Saturday, Sept. 3, bacon fanatics flocked to the popular early morning eatery to indulge in the all-time favorite breakfast side dish as the country recognized the popular food holiday. Since opening in 2006, Snooze has been celebrating Bacon Day in a deliciously giving way by lending a hand to the communities they serve.BACONDAY2016-Wh

The breakfast eatery featured a hearty bacon menu for the holiday including: bacon pancakes, a bacon benedict and a bacon bloody Mary, the Boss Hog. True to its mission, Snooze donated 10 percent of sales from all locations to Slow Food USA, an organization that aims to inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair for all, along with their local chapters. By the end of the day, Snooze raised $15,108 for the organization.

Boss Hog
Boss Hog

"Slow Food is delighted to partner with a business like Snooze that aligns culturally and celebrates shared values. The Bacon Day collaboration will support the national Slow Food movement as well as local programming in support of good, clean and fair food,” said Krista Roberts, Director, Slow Food Denver and Richard McCarthy, Executive Director, Slow Food USA. 

Young Chef Award

Mitch Lienhard of the United States won the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 in Milan with his signature dish, roasted duck with spiced orange and yam.

A jury of seven internationally-celebrated chefs – David Higgs, Carlo Cracco, Gaggan Anand, Elena Arzak, Mauro Colagreco, Wylie Dufresne and Roberta Sudbrack, known as the "Seven Sages" – selected the winning dish based on five Golden Rules: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty and message. 

S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 Winner Mitch Lienhard with Mentor Chef Dominique Crenn (CNW Group/S. Pellegrino)
S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 Winner Mitch Lienhard with Mentor Chef Dominique Crenn.

Lienhard was among 20 finalists from across the globe, united by a common appreciation for fine cuisine. Lienhard was supported by The World's Best Female Chef 2016 and mentor, Dominique Crenn, who helped develop his signature dish in the months leading up to the competition.

Canadian finalist, Sean MacDonald (Calgary, AB) represented Canada with his signature dish Duck and Carrot, which honoured his Grandpa's favourite foods. MacDonald was mentored by Relais and Châteaux Grand Chef Normand Laprise in preparation for the Grand Finale. For MacDonald, the S.Pellegrino Young Chef competition has been the beginning of much more: "This opportunity has opened many new doors for me and I am excited to see where it takes me. It is very motivating and inspiring to be working around some of the culinary greats. Not placing first stoked the fire in me, I can't wait to push harder."

Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana – n°1 on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list in 2016 – continued the celebrations with a Gala dinner that hosted today's top culinary talents with those of the future. Two new honours were presented at the Gala, including the "Acqua Panna Contemporary Tradition Award," celebrating the dish best displaying traditional elements in a contemporary way and the "Inspiring Message Award by S.Pellegrino," chosen by the public on Finedininglovers.com based on the most inspirational storytelling and message.

Winners at the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 include: 

  • S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016: Mitch Lienhard from the United States
  • Acqua Panna Contemporary Tradition AwardAlessandro Salvatore Raspisarda from Italy
  • Inspiring Message Award by S.PellegrinoDaniel Nates from Mexico
Online Auction Set for October 24

At the direction of the bankruptcy estate, Tiger Capital Group’s Commercial & Industrial Division will conduct an online auction on October 24 for cooking, food preparation, dining, support and other equipment –some as new as 2016 –from 11 restaurant locations owned by Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp.  in the Chicago and Dallas markets.

This sale represents a rare buying opportunity for restaurateurs, commissaries, grocers, municipal kitchens and other retail or wholesale kitchen operators.

Ovens, mixers, refrigeration, dining tables, chairs, and other assets are being offered for sale on an individual basis; complete turnkey bids for fully loaded restaurants will also be considered.  The assets from the 11 restaurants have been consolidated into six of the chain’s locations in the Chicago and Dallas areas.

Online bidding will commence October 19 at www.SoldTiger.com and will close in rapid succession, live auction style, on October 24, beginning at 10:30 a.m. (CT). Assets will be available for inspection on October 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (CT), at three Texas locations: Arlington, Irving, and Addison; and three in Illinois: Aurora, Lombard, and Waukegan.

“This sale represents a rare buying opportunity for restaurateurs, commissaries, grocers, municipal kitchens and other retail or wholesale kitchen operators,” said John Coelho, Senior VP of Tiger’s Commercial & Industrial division.

Available cooking equipment includes ovens, jacketed soup kettles, and microwave ovens. Food preparation equipment up for sale includes mixers, metro racks, soup warmers, steam tables, coffee makers, and a frozen yogurt machines. Support equipment up for bid includes ice makers, refrigerators, freezers, walk-ins, exhaust hoods, dishwashers, prep tables, sinks, and a salad bars. Bidders can also purchase dining tables and chairs, and more.

Garden Fresh Restaurant Intermediate Holding, LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on October 3, 2016, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware. For a full catalog of the items offered and details on how to schedule a site visit and bid,  click here.

Taking it Personnely

Norma Probst has been named the new director of marketing at Main Street Hospitality Group.

Norma Probst
Norma Probst

“Norma’s marketing expertise and knowledge of Berkshire County, honed over two decades, will be instrumental in our continued success and growth,“ said Sarah Eustis, CEO of Main Street Hospitality Group.  “This strategic addition deepens our executive bench, strengthens Main Street’s position as a leading regional management company and reinforces the company’s commitment to preservation, innovation, and the communities we serve.”

Probst joins the Main Street Hospitality Group marketing team with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and sales in Berkshire County. Most recently, she served as director of marketing and sales at the 105-room Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort where she was responsible for overseeing all marketing, digital and sales initiatives, including website optimization, social media integrations and partner relationships. While there, she created and managed the strategic plan and marketing budget to increase revenue across all resort sectors that included rooms, spa, golf, and food and beverage.

Prior to the Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort, Probst managed the sales department at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires as the director of sales and led various teams at American Express as a manager, director and later consultant.  She has served on a number of industry and regional tourism association boards over the years, such as the New England Inns & Resorts Association, Historic Hotels of America, and Berkshires Visitor Bureau.

Probst joins Main Street Hospitality Vice President of Marketing and Communications Janet Eason on marketing and communications efforts for the properties in the company’s portfolio.  Main Street Hospitality Group manages Hotel on North in Pittsfield, MA, The Porches Inn at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA, The Williams Inn in Williamstown, MA, and owns and operates The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA.


John Q. Hammons Hotels & Resorts (JQH) added Hana Colvin as executive chef of the Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville Hotel & Spa in Alabama.  Colvin will oversee the food and beverage team at the 295-suite hotel connected via skybridge to the Von Braun Center. She will supervise the debut of this TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame hotel’s The R. restaurant on October 20.

Executive Chef Hana Colvin
Executive Chef Hana Colvin

“Executive Chef Colvin is adding real Southern essence to our hotel’s new culinary offering. Her farming heritage rings true with her inspired style for bringing to life the natural flavors of fresh, high-quality food ingredients,” said Sandi Snead, general manager of JQH’s Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville Hotel & Spa. “With our ideal location in beautiful downtown Huntsville, we are also excited to offer the delicious dishes of our new restaurant, The R., al fresco with Big Spring Park canal views.”

Colvin grew up on a farm, where her family harvested many of the fresh ingredients for cooking their favorite dishes. Later she moved to her nanny’s horse farm, where she learned more about real Southern cooking at the apron strings of her first culinary mentor. Most recently, she served as executive chef of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Decatur Riverfront in Alabama, where she oversaw the restaurant, kitchen and banquet events of the rebranded hotel. Her additional experiences with Hilton properties include her role as executive chef at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Murfreesboro in Tennessee and as sous chef at the Hilton Knoxville Airport (Alcoa) in Tennessee. Executive Chef Colvin is a Certified ServSafe® Food Protection Manager and also trained in kosher cooking. She attended Chattanooga State Community College and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is active in the communities in which she works, including collaborating with local youth organizations to demonstrate green space gardening and healthy eating habits/cooking.

Executive Chef Colvin said, “JQH is well known for exemplary food and beverage standards nationwide. I’m looking forward to sharing my deep-rooted culinary style of farm to table, love for creating scrumptious desserts, and belief in teamwork cultivation as we showcase cuisine with a Southern flair, including tasty catfish and a beautiful New York Strip. I’m also eager to get our hotel garden started for picking fresh herbs.”

The R. restaurant will be located in the dining space occupied by Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville Hotel & Spa. JQH provides food and beverage operations to the company’s 35 hotels nationwide, including extensive meeting space. Colvin and her team will be able to tap into the wealth of knowledge and resources of an award-winning hospitality industry leader, including tools such as online banquet menus and sustainable protocols, such as a Styrofoam ban as a company.

Judy Ryals, president and CEO, Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said, “The relocation of the Ruth’s Chris Steak House to another location in downtown Huntsville allows the Embassy Suites by Hilton Huntsville Hotel & Spa to offer their own culinary specialties to guests, banquet attendees and local residents alike. The addition of more outstanding dining options is exciting, and we anticipate each restaurant will do very well.”

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