Each week, Modern Restaurant Management magazine compiles restaurant industry headlines in MRM News Bites. This week, we have so much news, we had to give readers a second helping. Send items of interest to Content Director Barbara Castiglia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lemonade Plans National Brand Push
Lemonade Restaurant Group, the Los Angeles-based fast-casual restaurant company that serves seasonal California cuisine added Larry Kurzweil as President and Chief Executive Officer starting December 1. Co-founders of Lemonade, Alan Jackson and Ian Olsen, will assume the role of Chairman and Chief Culinary Officer and Chief Development Officer.
"We are thrilled to have Larry join Lemonade as President and CEO and believe it is the next step in growing Lemonade as a national brand. We selected Larry for his innate ability to shepherd strong brands to the next level of success and believe that his seasoned experience as a key executive leading best-in-category consumer-retail brands is an incredible and unique asset that will be instrumental in Lemonade's continued growth," said Jackson. "Larry's addition to Lemonade will allow the co-founders to focus on the areas of Lemonade we're most passionate about: food, culture, and guest experience."
Kurzweil served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Universal Studios Hollywood from 1999 to 2016. He oversaw the iconic Theme Park and Studio Tour, and adjacent Universal CityWalk - the first-of-its-kind outdoor entertainment complex with over 60 restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. Prior to Universal, he held a variety of key executive marketing and management positions at Darden Restaurants, Nestle Foods, and General Mills.
"The chance to join Lemonade as President and CEO at this unique and exciting moment in time is an opportunity that's incredibly well-suited for me," added Kurzweil. "Alan Jackson and his team have done an outstanding job creating and expanding Lemonade as an iconic and culturally transformative dining experience. I admire Lemonade's vision for the future of this business and am excited to be a part of its growth as it continues to evolve."
Adam Waglay and Dustin Beck, Co-Founders of Butterfly Equity which, along with KKR, holds a significant interest in Lemonade, added, "We've been thrilled to be a part of Lemonade, and the opportunity to attract someone of Larry's caliber to join forces with the Lemonade team could not be more exciting. We look forward to combining Alan's unique and compelling food offering with Larry's brand building and operational expertise to truly build this into a category-defining brand that can expand across the United States and eventually around the world."
Since the opening of its flagship location in West Hollywood in 2008, Lemonade now has 25 locations throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and more recently the San Francisco Bay Area.
Watergate Makes Culinary Headlines
The iconic Watergate Hotel in the heart of the Nation’s Capital unveiled The Backroom at Kingbird Restaurant, a fine dining concept with three and four course tasting menus starting at $75, with options to suit diners’ varied preferences, in an intimate setting. This follows the hotel’s reopening in June after undergoing a $200 million renovation. Brought to life by The Watergate Hotel’s Executive Chef Michael Santoro, who brings more than ten years of hospitality experience to the table having opened two hotels and six restaurants in six countries, the epicurean destination boasts hyper-seasonal, rotating menus inspired by modern French cuisine. Having worked in acclaimed Michelin Star restaurants including London’s The Fat Duck Duck and Mugaritz in Spain, as well as Andaz 5th Avenue in New York and D.C.’s Blue Duck Tavern, Santoro felt inspired to create a one-of-a-kind dining experience at the property befitting the world’s most discerning travelers and Washingtonian’s alike.
“The Backroom at Kingbird gives us a fantastic opportunity to channel our creative energy and showcase innovative techniques, rare ingredients and incorporate interactive presentations to exceed our guests’ expectations and delight them with each course,” said Executive Chef Michael Santoro.
The late Jean-Louis Palladin, the legendary chef of The Watergate Hotel’s namesake Jean-Louis Restaurant, served as a point of style and flavor inspiration for Santoro while developing the prix-fixe menus. In fact, there will occasionally be dishes added to the menu that pay direct homage to the culinary great. Each of the three and four course experiences, which include amuse-bouche, mignardise and petit fours, will change on a weekly basis and will be enhanced by optional wine pairings celebrating some of the world’s best-known regions. Further enhancements and supplements will be made available to guests to ensure guests can indulge in a truly extravagant, sensory dining experience.
Another key highlight to the experience provided at The Backroom at Kingbird will be tableside presentations, adding a level of theatrics to the meal, such as the Bouillabaisse with rouget, saffron scented jus and rouillee, which is presented in a vacuum pot. Filled with aromatics, the soup infuses vertically and condenses again to be poured in front of guests’ eyes. Smoke pots will also be used to dramatically bring pork bellies, lobsters, prawns and other delicacies to guests. Other signature items include John Dory, draped in caviar, quince and salsify, and Roasted Pheasant in Preparation,torte, with braised chestnuts, walnuts and huckleberry jus.
The Backroom at Kingbird is separated from Kingbird Restaurant by custom red banquettes by Italian furniture company Moroso. Furthermore, the space is outfitted with The Watergate Chairs, designed exclusively for the hotel by acclaimed designer Ron Arad Architects to underscore the curvature of the building’s original architecture.
“By introducing The Backroom at Kingbird, we’ve completed our on-site culinary offerings and are confident that we now have something to curb any guest craving – whether it be a bar snack, a casual meal at Kingbird, room service or a multi-course tasting menu,” said Santoro.
The Backroom at Kingbird has capacity to seat 60 guests during dinner service.
New Magnolia Reflect Italian Art and Food
Rome wasn't built in a day, nor was Grand hotel via Veneto; in fact it took eight years to restore the two 18th century buildings that comprise the hotel which opened in 2009 (on the 2,672nd birthday of Rome) on the street made famous by “La Dolce Vita.”Now seven years later, the five-star luxury hotel in the heart of Rome, has renovated and reopened its Magnolia restaurant under the guidance of Michelin-star Chef Franco Madama.
As guests enter Magnolia directly off of via Sicilia, a facade of black marble waterfalls and Murano glass chandeliers lead to a gorgeous outdoor patio paved with traditional Roman Sanpietrino stones, which provides an al fresco dining experience. The completely renovated interior now glows with warm ochre and copper red hues reflecting nicely off of the new parquet and Roman travertine flooring.
The new Magnolia reflects the love for art, which is pervasive throughout Grand hotel via Veneto - from the hotel’s lobby featuring original works by Carrà, Dali, de Chirico, Guttuso, Marini, Picasso, and Schifano, among others, to the guest rooms’ photography collection of local sights by a famous writer-photographer. These stunning works are now complemented by Chef Madama’s famous “paintings,” the bright, colorful gastronomic expressions which garnered him a Michelin star in 2014.
Chef Madama creates unique dishes rooted in traditional Italian cooking that blend flavors and colors to arouse diners’ deep emotions thereby creating a truly extra-ordinary culinary experience. Dishes such as Homemade smoked Sockeye salmon, scampi crudités, pearls of mango and gold, Tortello Racing with Ricotta, tomato and Reggiano Parmesan cheese, Beef ribeye, grape’s idea and ginger foam stimulate the senses, giving guests pause to appreciate the artistic value of the plate before descending on the rich palate-pleasing flavors.
To Chef Madama, cuisine and art convey the same concept, “When we visit an exhibition of paintings, the artistic expression is digested by each of us in a different way: after the first impact, which is exclusively visual, each person then assesses and absorbs art in a different way. Like music, that by means of the ears goes right through the human soul, my cuisine captivates at a higher level, beyond the purely aesthetic one. So I create, together with my kitchen brigade, real genuine plates (20x20, 30x30, 40x60) that depict my idea of art.”
Third Coast Debuts at Texas Medical Center
Gensler, the global design firm, completed the newly opened Third Coast, a redesigned and rebranded restaurant located in the heart of the Texas Medical Center. Gensler designed the space to cater to health care professionals and the local community for lunch and happy hour, while serving as a fine dining and event space on evenings and weekends.
“There is a constant play between formality and hospitality, both appropriate for a space that responds to the medical neighborhood and serves as a place to relax, dine and have conversations about earth-shattering new discoveries,” said Lisa Pope-Westerman, Principal and Design Director at Gensler. “Having previously designed the neighboring office spaces for Texas Medical Center executives, our goal was to carry the elevated, sophisticated look throughout the new restaurant concept while amplifying the transitional hospitality feel.”
Third Coast is open for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner and features a main dining room, centralized bar and banquet room, private dining rooms, and a covered terrace that can be used for dining or event space. The main dining area is designed to be completely flexible with banquette seating that can be broken down and taken away for large events. The balcony and indoor/outdoor fireplace provides the ultimate dining experience during cooler months. Third Coast is owned by the Texas Medical Center, which partners with H Town Restaurant Group to operate the restaurant.Technology elements in the space include a multi-screen display for presentations above the indoor fireplace, as well as TV monitors inset above the bar, which can be listened to using headphones provided at the bar. Each private dining and banquet room is equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities. The ceiling’s LED lighting is also color changing to provide a more customized feel for a variety of events.
Jitjatjo Temporary Staffing App Launches
Jitjatjo, the on-demand platform that provides instant, intelligently matched temporary staffing, is creating time saving staffing solutions for businesses and talent in the hospitality sector, is excited to announce the public launch of its mobile applications. Every day, managers and owners throughout the food and beverage sector are in need of more flexible resourcing to align with fluctuations in demand, no-shows, and call-outs. In less than 30 seconds, Jitjatjo’s technology platform can fill staffing voids with vetted and highly skilled workers that arrive on location in as quickly as an hour. Additionally, the app removes the burden of human resources requirements, including interviews, background checks, tax forms, performance reviews, timekeeping, and payroll. Jitjatjo saves time, allowing managers to focus on their customers and their business, by eliminating arduous manual processes for hospitality operators.
The application was created by hospitality veteran Ron McCulloch, who found that a common pain point for him during his time in the industry was the recurring turnover and last minute staff no-shows. Finding someone to fill those spots quickly proved to be a difficult, almost impossible task, with traditional temp agencies lacking the talent and timeliness necessary for the industry.
“Today marks the launch of our innovative product for hospitality operators, one we are confident will become an amazing utility for the industry,” said Jitjatjo Chairman McCulloch. “We’re proud to be helping the thousands of restaurants, bars, hotels and venues often in dire need of last minute help, and also providing employment opportunities to the 4.8 percent of New York City residents who face unemployment. With the fast growing gig economy, Jitjatjo sees the opportunity to provide the industry with a mobile application to source perfectly matched temporary staff in seconds.”
When a restaurant, bar, or venue requests assistance through the app, Jitjatjo handles the entire process, from hiring through to payroll. With a 24/7 supply of trusted, pre-vetted, and experienced staff on hand, businesses can have additional staff on premise, within one hour’s notice. In beta, the application was opened to a select group of clients including The Breslin, Tao Group, Paige Hospitality, NY Catering, and Interface NYC. The Breslin, Tao Group, Paige Hospitality Group, Black Barn, Crystal Plaza Group, Delaney Restaurant Group, NY Catering, Interface NYC and New York City Ballet.
“Jitjatjo is really cool,” said Interface NYC Proprietor Anthony Briatico. “We are constantly adapting to staffing issues. Jitjatjo has become our go-to solution because of its unparalleled customer service and punctual, professional, well-groomed servers. Plus, Jitjatjo saves us significant time by handling all of the human resources from interviews to payroll. I love it and would recommend it to anyone in the industry.”
Additionally, the app has been available to a select group of talent. Just like Uber, these individuals are free to turn the app on and off whenever they would like to pick up a shift. Upon completion of the shift, they can choose the instant payment option and of course, update their availability to get another job if they so choose.
“Jitjatjo makes it incredibly simple to set availability as well as keep an active log of both past and future gigs including all of my payment records,” said server Alicia Espinal. “No staffing company I’ve worked with has been able to effectively organize these elements seamlessly, or in an app at all. Jitjatjo is definitely the future in terms of ease and accountability for employers and employees alike. Plus, with instant pay, I get my money as soon as I clock out.”
Paperless and Painless
Despite the emerging new avenues of purchasing and selling products online that have emerged recently over the past few years, unfortunately the food and restaurant industry is still dependent on the archaic and inefficient methods of ordering, purchasing and accounting.
By connecting restaurants with its suppliers using technology, Zeffu allows restaurateurs to digitize their entire purchasing process and allows them to take complete control of all the purchasing that is happening at the restaurant, thereby making the entire process paperless and painless.
With Zeffu, the restaurant would first need to create the purchasing list and map out the vendors from whom it purchases, which is a one-time set up process only. After that, from Requisition (Requests) filed by kitchen to Order Approval by an Approver to Order Processing and Accounting, Zeffu digitizes the entire process. When the order is approved, Zeffu sends an automated SMS and email (of requirement summary) to the registered vendor. Such automation in the purchasing process was designed to help savings, clears communication errors and bring more efficient operations. Zeffu allows restaurateurs to control costs, increase employee productivity, and provides complete reporting around pricing, invoices, and order history.
Velocity Adds Dinex Group
Velocity, the discovery and instant booking platform for premium dining experiences, has added the Dinex Group, the Restaurant Group of Chef Daniel Boulud which includes his New York restaurants: Boulud Sud, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, Daniel, DBGB and Cafe Boulud to its platform.
Solidifying its spot as a leader in the culinary world, Velocity provides diners with better access to prime time reservations at the best restaurant experiences around the world, with over 90 Michelin-starred venues on the platform, now including Chef Daniel Boulud’s collection of New York City venues. Undecided on which Boulud restaurant to visit first? Chat with your friends via Velocity’s new iMessage capabilities.
Ctuit Software Adds Nutrition Module
Ctuit Software has added a Nutrition Module designed to help restaurants ensure compliance with FDA nutrition reporting requirement.
The FDA’s current labeling requirements include posting calories on menus and menu boards as well as providing other nutrient information in writing when operating in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. This directive is intended to help people make more informed dietary choices, since Americans eat and drink approximately one-third of their daily calories away from home. Ctuit’s Nutrition Module links to the most current USDA database to give users the ability to track nutritional details of ingredients and recipes to ensure compliance.
Texas de Brazil Raises Funds for St. Jude's
Texas de Brazil hosted a charity luncheon to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at their Dallas restaurant on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 12:30 p.m. The proceeds from the event will support St Jude in its life-saving mission: Finding cures. Saving children®.
In August, Texas de Brazil's domestic locations implemented a campaign allowing guests the opportunity to donate money directly at the bottom of their check and online. This campaign, along with Texas de Brazil's own contribution of $25,000, earned more than $100,000 for the hospital.
"St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases," stated Salim Asrawi, Chief Operating Officer of Texas de Brazil. "Thanks to its many individual contributors, families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food, because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Texas de Brazil is honored to support this cause."
Coloring and Cocktails
To add a bit of levity to the election of all elections, W Hotels is launching “ALL THE PRESIDENT’S COCKTAILS” – a spirited coloring book that celebrates past presidential drinking habits with 12 pages of presidents and their favorite cocktails. From Washington’s Whiskey Old Fashioned to FDR’s Gin Martini to Honest Abe’s Cucumber Stiletto Mocktail, each page includes a fantastical illustration to color and a cocktail recipe to mix.
“ALL THE PRESIDENT’S COCKTAILS” features our past leaders in unexpected settings, with corresponding tales of their drinking habits of yore to help ease our national anxiety leading up to the election:
- George Washington (illustrated as a hipster in a modern day small batch distillery): Whiskey Old Fashioned
- John Adams (seen socializing at a fancy bar): Madeira Port Sangria
- Thomas Jefferson (brunching on the Potomac): Wine Spritzer
- Andrew Jackson (looking bitter about being replaced on the $20 bill): Whiskey Sour
- Abraham Lincoln (also known as ‘Sober Abe’, taking a well-deserved moment of relaxation at the spa): Cucumber Stiletto Mocktail
- Rutherford B. Hayes (spiking the White House punch when his wife, ‘Lemonade Lucy’ who was a staunch prohibitionist, wasn’t looking): Rum Lemonade Punch
- William McKinley (relaxing in a giant cocktail glass): McKinley’s Delight
- Teddy Roosevelt (sitting with a teddy bear enjoying a horse race): Mint Julep
- FDR (seen with his sleeves rolled up, revealing tattoos, shaking a martini behind a bar): Gin Martini
- JFK (lounging on a sailboat): Daiquiri
Illustrated by Lindsay Mound, “All The President’s Cocktails” is available exclusively to guests who book the EWOW Suite, the brand’s take on the Presidential Suite, at any of the 24 W Hotels throughout the United States from October 28 until Election Day.
Comfort Food Election
In a new nationwide survey from Noodles & Company, Americans overwhelmingly agreed (85 percent) – regardless of political party affiliation – that curling up with a bowl of their favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese, brings them a greater sense of security this election season than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump becoming the next President of the United States. Hearing the voice of the people, Noodles & Company is offering the limited time return of three of its most popular mac and cheese dishes from its globally inspired World Kitchen, Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese, Bacon Mac & Cheeseburger and BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese.
In addition to mac and cheese winning bipartisan approval, the survey also found that nearly half of Americans (45 percent) say they’ll “dine with her” and would rather share a bowl of mac and cheese with Hillary Clinton than any other presidential candidate this year. And, while traditional mac and cheese reigns supreme, 22 million Americans favor a spicier variety, such as with hot sauce, with 17 million claiming that a more savory addition, such as beef, wins their vote.
The returning favorites feature a grown up twist on the Company’s signature Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. Noodles & Company invites all Americans to hop off the fence and into a chair at their nearest restaurant and try:
- Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese: This spicy take on Noodles & Company’s signature dish starts with Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, then adds parmesan chicken, Frank’s RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce, parmesan cheese and green onions.
- Bacon Mac & Cheeseburger: A savory spin on the classic, this standout dish includes crumbled, oven-roasted meatballs; crispy, naturally-raised bacon; Roma tomatoes and green onions.
- BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese: Creamy, traditional mac gets a smoky-sweet takeover complements of tender, slow-braised, naturally-raised pork; crispy jalapeños and a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce.
“The people have spoken – all 216 million Americans who consider mac and cheese their most beloved comfort food – and we hear them, loud and clear,” said Jonathan Tress, vice president of marketing for Noodles & Company. “That’s why Noodles & Company is giving our guests from sea to shining sea exactly what they want this fall with the return of their all-time favorite mac and cheese dishes of election cycles past. There’s been a lot of talk about this being the year of the ‘change’ candidate, but when it comes to mac and cheese, there’s no changing a winning recipe; our three returning dishes are all grown up and sure to provide delicious comfort to all.”
Noodles & Company is looking to further unite this great country over its love for the ultimate comfort food by inviting voters of all ages to cast their ballot for America’s favorite mac and cheese at www.noodles.com/adultmac. Those who vote in the second most hotly contested showdown of the year will be rewarded with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon good for any of the globally-inspired offerings at Noodles & Company on their next visit between now and Wednesday, Nov. 16.