This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite includes news from Madonia Bakery, Voodoo Doughnut, VersiTech, FoodFirst Global, Clean Juice and LevelUp, Toast, Andrea Correale and Chef David Burke, Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits.
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Madonia Bakery Celebrates 100 Years
Arthur Avenue’s iconic Madonia Bakery is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and with National Olive Day on Friday, June 1, the historic bakery is offering up their famous Olive Bread’s sought-after recipe.
Third generation owner Peter Madonia and his partner and head baker, Charles Lalima currently run the bakery. With family traditions passed on from one generation to the next, Peter’s father and the bakery’s bread have one key thing in common: both were literally born inside the bakery.
Besides having the bakery in his family for a century, he has a legacy of public service to the city. Peter is the Former COO of the Rockefeller Foundation and Former Chief of Staff of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He recently left the Rockefeller Foundation to go back to the bread, but Peter continues to serve his community as the Chairman of the Bronx Little Italy BID.
Peter’s grandfather, Mario Madonia, first immigrated from Sicily in the late 1890’s or early 1990’s to NYC. Mario first settled in Harlem, but made his way to the Bronx which was where many stone masons were working on the Bronx Zoo. Shortly afterwards, his grandfather started baking in “communal ovens, became an apprentice and then opened up the bakery in 1918. Ever since then, they’ve been baking Sicilian-style bread.
Peter and Charlie still offer the traditional breads that first-generation Italian-Americans were most familiar with including pane de casa, seven grain, semolina and ciabatta – but now offer an extensive line of innovative breads with jalapeño, chicola, prosciutto, provolone, cranberry raisin, white chocolate cherry and dozens of cookies, pastries, pies and more.
OLIVE CIABATTA FROM MADONIA BAKERY
Makes two loaves
- 1 cup cool water
• ½ teaspoon dry yeast (2 teaspoons if using cake yeast)
• 2 ¼ cups flour
- ¾ cup cool water
• 1 teaspoon dry yeast (2 teaspoons if using cake yeast)
• 1 to 2 cups flour (close to 1 if using bread flour, closer to 2 if using all-purpose flour)
• 1 ½ cups pitted black olives, roughly chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
To make the sponge, in a mixer fitted with a paddle or dough hook and set to medium speed, mix the sponge ingredients until totally blended. It will be a bit soupy. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let the sponge sit anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The longer it sits and ferments the better the flavor.
Put the sponge back into the mixer set to medium speed. To make the dough, add the cool water and the dry yeast. Mix for about two minutes. Little by little, add 1 to 2 cups of flour. Keep adding flour until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl. You may not need to add all the flour to reach the proper consistency. The mixing time should total about 15 minutes. You’ll end up with a soft, loose dough that is a bit sticky. Mix in the salt only at the end. If you have an instant-read-thermometer, it should read about 77° to 80° F.
Sprinkle flour on your counter or “bench”. Place the dough on the counter and sprinkle a bit more flour on top. Knead it for a minute, then gently stretch the dough out on the counter, until it forms a rectangle about the size of a sheet pan. Cut the dough into two pieces. Press the dough down gently with your fingers. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit 1 hour. Sprinkle flour on the top, punch/press dough down with your fingers, and flip it over; cover for 30 minutes more.
Preheat the oven to 475° F.
Press the dough into a rectangle and place ¾ cup olives along the long edge on the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Fold the dough like a letter) note that they’re not mixed into the dough itself). Repeat with the other piece of dough.
Place the dough seam side down and cover. Let rise again for 20 minutes.
Place on a sheet pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, possibly as long as an hour. After 35 minutes, test to see if the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. When it does, it’s ready. Remove from the oven and let the bread cool down to room temperature before slicing.
Voodoo Doughnut Celebrates 15
Voodoo Doughnut celebrates its 15-year anniversary and the birth of the original Bacon Maple Bar on May 30. The first location opened in downtown Portland, Oregon in 2003 at 8 p.m. What started out as the little-doughnut-shop-that-could is now a cult phenomenon with fans across the globe. Voodoo Doughnut is the brainchild of old friends and entertainment-minded Portlanders Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon. The shop conjured unforgettable classics like the Bacon Maple Bar, the Memphis Mafia and the Portland Cream.
Within a month of opening, Voodoo Doughnut received its first mention in the national press. Cat Daddy and Tres were fast on their way to becoming the new faces of a revitalized, food-obsessed Portland and of a revolutionized doughnut industry.
“We’ve broken the mold of the traditional doughnut shop, which was sort of our intent. But we didn’t realize that it would literally spread throughout the industry. On the first day, we made 12 Bacon Maple Bars. We forced them out the door on customers who confusingly went along with the push from the crazy doughnut guys. We continued at a dozen a day until it just got out of hand. The press showed up, celebrities started showing up. The Bacon Maple Bar had arrived!” Says Voodoo Doughnut co-founder, Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson,
Voodoo Doughnut now boasts of seven and a half locations: three and a half in Oregon, one each in Denver, Austin, Universal Studios City Walk, Hollywood and now at Universal Studios Resort in Orlando. is the confectionary iconoclast and foodie-culture provocateur doughnut shop that conjured unforgettable classics like the Bacon Maple Bar, the Memphis Mafia, and the Portland Cream. Founded in 2003 by Cat Daddy & Tres, Voodoo Doughnut is home to an expanding cadre of all-types; weirdos, artists & musicians galore. These doughnuteers are instrumental in carrying out the company’s mission: making unforgettable and innovative treats, while creating essential jobs and a fun place to work.
VersiTouch to VersiTech
VersiTouch, Inc. is changing its corporate name to VersiTech, LLC. The name change reflects the company’s commitment to technical innovation and its expanding suite of products offered. VersiTech, LLC is investing heavily in modern features while maintaining the quality, service, and reliability of its legacy point of sale systems.
VersiTech, LLC owner Tyler Young said, “I am honored and privileged to add cutting-edge features to one of the most robust and feature rich point of sale systems throughout the 2000s. We have a talented team of innovators that have years of experience in restaurants which allows us, as a company, to fill holes before businesses realize they need to be filled.”
VersiTouch, Inc. longtime affiliate Tyler Young purchased the Point of Sale software in 2017 from Jonathan Bauder. Bauder said, “this was a strategic change in ownership which allowed for a heavy investment to increase the VersiTouch suite of products.”
This also allowed for the implementation of plans to together launch VersiTech, LLC. Young and Bauder have rebranded the company and hired Eric Noel, who originally developed what would become the VersiTouch POS suite in 1992, as lead developer. The newly branded company offers a wide range of restaurant hardware and software products to enhance management capabilities and customer experience. The product suite includes: VersiPOS, the company’s acclaimed point of sale system; VersiEats, online ordering for efficient grab- and-go service; VersiPay, synchronized payment processing; VersiMobile, a table side mobile system that seamlessly integrates with VersiPOS via tablets; VersiSites, an easy to use website builder; and VersiWiFi, a public WiFi hotspot for customers that gathers basic customer demographic information. Several other products are currently in development and will be released later this year.
“Tyler is an innovator and the ideas are endless, with this team we are going to make dynamic additions to the VersiTouch system, and I am happy to be a part of this launch,” said Bauder. “VersiTech is going to bring you the next evolution of the POS System. With over 145 million transactions run through VersiTouch each year of its almost 25 years of operation, we have learned a lot about what restaurant owners and their staff need in a point of sale and beyond.”
FoodFirst Global Debuts
American restaurateur Bradley D. Blum and Brazilian-based investment firm GP Investments, Ltd. launched FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc.™. With the intention to be a progressive, relevant, diverse and highly successful restaurant company for the 21st century, FoodFirst Global Restaurants has acquired its first brands, Brio Tuscan Grille™ (Brio) and Bravo Cucina Italiana™ (Bravo) in a transaction which closed on May 24,
The all-new board of directors includes Brad Blum as Chairman and CEO with Antonio Bonchristiano, GP Investments CEO, serving as Vice-Chairman. In addition, it was announced that leading restaurant executive Bob Mock will join the FoodFirst Global Restaurants leadership team and again partner with Blum, serving as Chief Operations Officer. Diane Reed will stay on as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary.
“This inspired partnership that has created FoodFirst Global Restaurants represents an entrepreneurial endeavor with all parties contributing significant capital and professional skill,” said Blum. “As a private company, the board of directors can take a long-term view and allow the leadership team to focus on developing superior restaurant brands that serve superior food with a superior guest experience. We will set up our diverse employee teams for success, starting with the critical importance of having superior restaurant general managers who are well trained leaders. We believe that focus will create a virtuous cycle that will quickly result in superior profitability. GP Investments is the perfect partner to develop this unique, differentiated company. The opportunities for growth and expansion are significant.”
“We will do this by relentlessly focusing on the quality of the food, improving the menu, sharpening the operations, remodeling the restaurants and delivering a highly differentiated guest experience,” said Blum. “We took the company private, so we could invest in the company. That begins with our almost 10,000 employees who represent the face of the Brio and Bravo brands. By being a private company, this has enabled the liquidity crisis to be solved with much lower debt on the balance sheet and significant investment capital added to profitably grow the business.”
GP Investments has deep experience in the restaurant industry with brands including Fogo De Chao where the firm enacted a highly profitable turnaround and successfully expanded the chain into the U.S. GP Investments is the lead investor in LEON Naturally Fast Food, a progressive restaurant company headquartered in London that is quickly expanding throughout the UK and northern Europe, and will soon be introduced into the United States.
“Brad has a proven track record with multiple restaurant companies. That is why we are making this investment. His diverse teams drive profitability by creating a great culture, focusing on the food, achieving operations excellence, consistently offering an enjoyable guest experience and providing strong brand communication,” said Antonio Bonchristiano. “As owner-partners, we place our confidence in his leadership and that of his team. We expect a long, profitable relationship.”
“We thank outgoing CEO Brian O’Malley for his leadership in helping to orchestrate a smooth transition as the company went private. We also thank co-founders Rick Doody and Chris Doody for having created a legacy that they now leave in our care. We have great respect for the work that has been done to build these valuable brands.”
FoodFirst Global Restaurants will be grounded within a philosophy Blum created which is referenced as Good Food for the Planet™. The five defining pillars are to consistently provide food that is:
- Exceptionally GOOD tasting
- Remarkably GOOD for you
- You feel GOOD afterwards
- A GOOD everyday value
- GOOD for the environment
Clean Juice Teams with LevelUp
Clean Juice launched a new app complete with a loyalty program, fresh menu and an easily navigable home screen. Clean Juice partnered with LevelUp to design the new digital experience, which allows guests to browse the menu, customize drinks and order ahead, pay, earn loyalty points and redeem rewards.
“Our new app fully represents Clean Juice’s fast-growing, health-centric and innovative brand,” said Coby Kraft, vice president of marketing at Clean Juice. “LevelUp has been an exceptional partner in crafting a custom digital experience, and they continue to innovate on new ways to engage our guests. With this new app, we are now able to reward customers for their loyalty and turn new visitors into lifelong fans, which will only further our rapid growth.”
In celebration of the launch, Clean Juice is offering its users $10 for the first $100 spent via the app.
Clean Juice worked with LevelUp to develop their loyalty program from the ground up. As guests purchase their favorite juices, smoothies, bowls, and bites via the app, they earn progress towards green, black, gold, or platinum status. Each status level comes with lifestyle rewards tailored to their customers, including a free one-day cleanse, a gift card to Clean Juice, Stubhub, or various hotels, and free fitness classes.
“It’s exciting to support a fast-growing brand like Clean Juice and help them get the most of their all-new digital engagement program. Now they can create personalized experiences and drive deep connections with their customers,” said Emma Beckerle, director of client services at LevelUp. “We look forward to leveraging data-driven insights to keep their customer experience personalized, even as the brand continues to grow by leaps and bounds.”
Toast’s New Teamings
Toast announces its partnership with Jamba Juice and another with Solink.
Jamba Juice selected Toast for its cloud-based, mobile, and centralized point-of-sale platform. Toast’s Android architecture will provide a reliable technology infrastructure that supports seamless, frequent upgrades — with the latest functionality — for all Jamba Juice employees and franchisees. Moreover, Jamba Juice will be able to leverage Toast’s flexible, powerful Toast API platform to fit their needs as they integrate third-party applications.
“We are moving to Toast because our team members and franchisees require an agile, mobile, cloud-based technology in order to better serve our guests,” said Jyoti Lynch, CIO at Jamba Juice. “We also needed a restaurant technology platform that could keep up with our need for real-time data and analytics. Toast is always secure, updated, and online, so we can deliver top-notch guest experiences and better support our business without ever being interrupted by our point-of-sale.”
Jamba Juice plans to deploy Toast Go™ to streamline the ordering experience for both guests and team members. Released earlier this month, Toast Go is a fully integrated point-of-sale handheld device custom-built for restaurants. When faced with long lines, Jamba Juice team members can utilize Toast Go to increase throughput and reduce order wait time.
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome Jamba Juice to the Toast community here at the National Restaurant Association show,” said Aman Narang, president and co-founder at Toast. “As guest expectations evolve, restaurants of all sizes are turning to Toast as the platform of choice to improve operations, increase revenue, and deliver an amazing guest experience.”
Together, Toast and Solink will provide deep insight into restaurants’ security and operations. Toast transactions will synchronize with users’ existing video camera systems, instantly aligning data with video in real-time through Solink’s user-friendly mobile app.
“We benefit from the Solink and Toast integration, not just for security, but for store operations as well. Solink’s daily digest emails are great because they’re delivered to the heads of each department, so everyone has the same consistent intel,” said Pete Stamm, IT manager, &pizza.
The Solink smart hub and Toast integration provides restaurants with:
- Security notifications: Event notifications automatically alert users to suspicious activity; motion alert captures unusual action, allowing users to review only crucial video; and, sharing features enable users to send clips and data to authorities and insurance companies.
- Loss prevention tools: Search parameters spotlight staff, transaction types, and menu inputs; dashboard data matches flawlessly with video, allowing users to view specific moments and transactions.
- Operations management: Discovery dashboard shows sales, wait times, order amounts, and customer service interactions; time tracking integrates with Toast and/or survey results to determine if compliance caused a failure; and, 90 day standard video recording allows users to review high-traffic points and determine solutions.
“We’re very excited to announce this partnership with Toast,” said Pierre Hage, VP of marketing at Solink. “Toast’s ease of use and innovation pair perfectly with Solink’s vision for the ‘smart restaurant ecosystem.’ And our vision becomes a reality through great partnerships like this.”
New Catering Team in Town
Andrea Correale, President and Founder of Elegant Affairs, and celebrity Chef David Burke, of Tavern 62 and Woodpecker, among many other acclaimed restaurants, announced their exclusive catering collaboration, David, a full-service catering company for weddings, corporate gatherings, and social events. The famous culinary duo, who have been friends for decades, will bring their signature gastronomic styles and expertise to create bespoke catering packages and curate events In New York City, the Hamptons and New Jersey, with plans to expand operations in the coming months.
Burke and Correale plan to expand David Burke Off-Premise Catering to become the fastest growing off-premise residential and corporate caterers in New York City. The team will specialize in weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate events, and social gatherings. In addition, their partnership has a stronghold in the corporate entertaining arena – from small-scale meetings to large scale events and galas, political fundraisers, and media events.
Lazy Dog To Open New Locations
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar plans to open four new locations later this year: the Chicago suburb of Vernon Hills, Illinois; Fresno and Newark, California; and Arlington, Texas.
“The community response to our restaurants has been overwhelmingly positive and heart-warming to see,” said Chris Simms, founder and CEO of Lazy Dog. “Guests have shown us that they have a hearty appetite for Lazy Dog’s handcrafted food and friendly small-town hospitality.”
The new Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar in the Chicago area will be in the new Mellody Farm mixed-use retail center at 1111 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Vernon Hills, IL.
The new Fresno restaurant will be open in the Villagio Shopping Center at 7965 N. Blackstone Ave., and the Newark restaurant will be located just outside the NewPark Mall at 3100 Newpark Mall, Fresno, California.
The new Arlington, TX restaurant will be in the Arlington Highlands shopping center at 241 E. Interstate 20 Highway.
Each restaurant will hire about 200 employees. All four locations are expected to open before the end of this year. The new restaurants will showcase a more than 8,000 square-foot interior, in addition to sizable dog-friendly patios complete with outdoor fire pits and lounge areas.
Southern Glazer’s Invests in Employee Education
Education and training never stop at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the largest North American wine and spirits distribution company. The company continues to make investments in internal employee education programs, including the additions of Italian Wine Professional, French Wine Scholar, and Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Level 2 in Spirits, as well as the soon-to-be launched Introduction to Sake course. With the increased focus on education, Southern Glazer’s salesforce has gained more than 2,000 new certifications over the past two years.
“Our mission is to have the best educated salesforce on earth,” commented Eric Hemer, Senior VP and Director of Wine Education. “It is one of the things that sets us apart from and gives us an advantage over our competitors, and allows us to better serve the needs of both our supplier partners and our customers.”
The program starts with online introductory courses in wine, sake and spirits offered on Southern Glazer’s University (SGU), the Company’s online learning and development portal. Then, training continues with both online and classroom instruction in pursuit of educational certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS) and the Society of Wine Educators (SWE), as well as advanced focused education and certifications. Southern Glazer’s is also developing advanced courses in specific wine categories such as Champagne, Burgundy, Italy and Spain, that will be offered on SGU in the near future. And, as certain wine and spirits categories gain in importance, the program adds more emphasis on specific educational content – two recent examples are rosé (especially French) and Prosecco
“The courses offered on SGU are open to all employees, while some are prioritized towards sales employees,” commented Mel Dick, Senior Vice President of Southern Glazer’s and President of its Wine Division. “While our salesforce has a special responsibility to know about our products, we want everyone that works at Southern Glazer’s to learn as much as possible about the brands we sell.”
Training doesn’t stop with employees. The company is investing in expanding its program to its national customer base, working with its digital team to create a platform to deliver educational content specifically for Southern Glazer’s customers. It has more certified wine experts than any other North American wine and spirits distributor. Its employees have successfully completed more than 5,000 wine, sake and spirits education programs, from introductory to master-level achievements. These include:
- 1 Master of Wine
- 12 WSET Certified Educators
- 16 WSET Level 3 Wine
- 16 WSET Level 3 Sake
- 2,685 WSET Level 2 Wine & Spirits
- 516 WSET Level 2 Spirits
- 227 WSET Level 1 Sake
- 1,600 Court of Master Sommeliers Level 1
- 121 CMS Certified Sommeliers;
- 21 CMS Advanced Sommeliers;
- 16 Master Sommeliers
- Over 600 Certified Specialists of Wine
- 16 Certified Wine Educators
- 3 Certified Spirits Educators
- 117 Certified Specialists of Spirits
- 112 Italian Wine Professionals