MRM News Bites: #RestaurantTech Partnerships and Best Restaurants on This Week’s Plate

by MRM Staff 15 Min Read

Each week, Modern Restaurant Management magazine compiles restaurant industry headlines in MRM News Bites. This week, we feature new products, restaurant technology and personnel announcements.  Send items of interest to Executive Editor Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and The Brass Tap Partner Toast

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, a family sports pub franchise with more than 220 units, and The Brass Tap, an upscale craft beer bar franchise with 35 locations nationwide, have partnered with Toast to implement its restaurant technology Point-of-Sale (POS) system at all locations nationwide. Under the umbrella of their parent company, FSC Franchise Co. LLC, the two are preparing to open over 25 locations within the next year. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s currently is in 22 states and in 2017, The Brass Tap will look to grow by 50 percent. As the brands continue to grow on a national scale, the need for a unified POS system became increasingly apparent.

“Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has been around for more than 30 years, but we’ve never had a singular POS platform,” said Joe Uhl, chief operating officer for Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and The Brass Tap. “For The Brass Tap, we needed to implement the right technology tools to support the rapid growth we’re now seeing across the country. This partnership is a major step forward for both brands. The Toast platform will enable us to improve internal processes and systems for our franchisees and offer more options for our customers to engage with our brand.”

Internally, Toast will help both brands build a standardized database, which will streamline menu maintenance, promotional updates, new menu downloads and more. Toast will also allow the corporate office to pull reports and analyze data across the system to maximize efficiencies. Customers will also benefit as servers will have handheld ordering tablets and be able to pay quickly and easily at the table. The end result will include increased order accuracy, table turnaround and have regular updates to the cloud-based system so they can stay up with the latest technology.

The new system will also offer patrons of both brands more options, including online ordering and a loyalty program. A majority of the Beef ‘O’ Brady's and The Brass Tap locations will be using the Toast platform by the end of 2017 with the rest converting in 2018.

"We're proud to be partnering with Beef ‘O’ Brady's, a family-friendly restaurant franchise with a long-standing history and The Brass Tap, an upscale craft beer bar," said Chris Comparato, chief executive officer for Toast. "We look forward to working with the teams to leverage our forward-thinking technology and customer-focused team to deliver a great experience for their guests, operators, and staff alike."

Wine n Dine Teams with Resy

Wine n Dine, the food-centric social discovery app that pinpoints restaurants and dishes around the world, has partnered with restaurant booking platform, Resy. Wine n Dine users in New York City can now make reservations through the app at some of the hottest spots around the city. This new functionality makes it easier for users to share and experience food without the need to jump from app to app to browse restaurant dishes and then reserve a table. The technology will roll out in other U.S. cities in the coming months, with plans to eventually have it available globally.

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Wine n Dine Co-founder Adam Cooper explained, "The ability to offer seamless reservation bookings through Resy's API is another way we're working to create better dining experiences for our customers. Our food community values the power in discovering the best menu items and now we're making it frictionless to select a table for their next meal."

Through the partnership, the Wine n Dine community will be able to book reservations at partner restaurants in NYC including by CHLOE, Estela, Pasquale Jones, Charlie Bird, Lilia, Sushi Seki, and Hillstone. Consumers can make and change reservations, within a seven day window.

"The team at Wine n Dine has taken a unique and potent approach to curating the world of delicious food. We're thrilled to be partnering with them to help match voracious eaters with great restaurants,"says Ben Leventhal, CEO and co-founder of Resy.

The Wine n Dine community has captured images at over 75,000 restaurants in 6,200 cities worldwide.  It also features various options including: Dish Feed (user generated images of food being shared by friends), Wanna Try (save dishes and restaurants, all stored within a user's feed), Restaurant Pages (dishes are grouped and ranked algorithmically based on popularity and quality), Explore (algorithmically generated lists of the best restaurants in real time), Search (the only dish search in the market, plus restaurants, people and lists), and an in-app Camera(with filters and unique sharing flow). Launching a beta app in 2015, the app has recommendations at more than 75,000 restaurants in 6,200 cities and raised $2.5m in funding.

Celebrity Chefs Judge Meatless Monday Contest

High school students from underserved communities aspiring to become future celebrity chefs will face a challenge from the nationwide 2017 Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) Meatless Monday Recipe Contest. The challenge: create an innovative meatless noodle dish and impress the distinguished panel of judges including:

  • Cesar Gutierrez– C-CAP Alum, executive sous chef, Café Boulud NYC, a recipient of the 2013 Ment’or Institut Paul Bocuse scholarship, and a 2016-2017 Ment’or Grant Recipient–a two-month stage with established mentors from some of the country’s top restaurants. 
  • Matthew Kenney – Recognized as a pioneer in raw, plant-based cuisine, Chef Kenney is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. He has authored dozens of cookbooks and owns award-winning restaurants and culinary academies in destinations like Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Bahrain, Belfast, and Miami.
  • Maria Loi – Global ambassador of Greek gastronomy, elected by the Chef’s Club of Greece – executive chef of Loi Estiatorio, author, restaurateur, entrepreneur, member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, and philanthropist. Chef Loi is a popular television chef in Greece, the U.S.A, and the author of more than 36 cookbooks, including Ancient Dining, the official cookbook of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, and her most recent, The Greek Diet.
  • Kwame Onwuachi – Executive chef of The Shaw Bijou which recently opened in Washington, D.C. and a contestant on Bravo’s Season 13 of Top Chef.
  • Jet Tila – International culinary storyteller, Royal Thai culinary ambassador, chef/owner of Pakpao Thai in Dallas. Tila has appeared on Chopped, Cutthroat Kitchen, Iron Chef America, and The Best Thing I Ever Ate.
  • The judges will evaluate the recipe submissions based on originality, flavor, healthfulness, ease of preparation, and writing ability.
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Chef Marcus Samuelsson (second from right, co-chairman of C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) with C-CAP Los Angeles students. Chef Samuelsson serves on C-CAP’s board of directors to reach underserved youth interested in the culinary arts and hospitality.

Meatless Monday, an initiative of the nonprofit The Monday Campaigns, which provides research, recipes, educational and promotional materials to help participants live a healthier, more eco-friendly life, is giving C-CAP students another exciting opportunity to win scholarships. The national grand prize winner will receive a scholarship of $5,000, with regional winners receiving $2,000 scholarships.

“We’re thrilled to announce the stellar line-up of chefs on the panel that will judge this year’s recipe contest.  We challenge C-CAP students to convert traditional meat noodle dishes into meatless versions,” said Sid Lerner, founder of the Meatless Monday movement.

The fifth annual recipe contest offers the opportunity to both junior and senior high school students a chance to demonstrate their creative culinary talents and create an original meatless noodle recipe. With the Meatless Monday recipe contest, C-CAP is challenging high school students who aspire to be culinary leaders to develop delicious plant-based dishes.  The contest will also make the students aware of the health and environmental benefits of offering meatless dishes, one day a week.

“Through this annual contest, culinary students receive guidance from their teachers on recipe writing and development and are able to showcase their talent of creating meatless recipes,” remarked C-CAP founder Richard Grausman. “We greatly appreciate that The Monday Campaigns is providing our high school students with scholarship opportunities while promoting healthy eating habits.”

“C-CAP has an incredible system in place that, through education and training, prepares underserved youth for careers in the professional world of culinary and hospitality. The program is also a huge benefit to the growing market and chefs looking for skilled and motivated talent,” said Marcus Samuelsson, chef, restaurateur, author, Marcus Samuelsson Group, and C-CAP board co-chair.

C-CAP is the national leader providing scholarships, education, and career opportunities in the culinary arts to underserved youth. Meatless Monday is a nonprofit public health initiative founded by Sid Lerner, chairman of The Monday Campaigns, with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. The initiative is in association with the Lerner Centers for Public Health Promotion at Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities.

100 Best Restaurants List

OpenTable unveiled the 100 Best Restaurants in America for 2016. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 10 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 24,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Showcasing long-running and new eateries, the complete list features restaurants in 30 states and the District of Columbia, and includes Oriole in Chicago, Le Coucou in New York, and Zahav in Philadelphia. New York has 13 winning restaurants, followed by California with 12 and Virginia with seven. Florida and Texas each have six winners. New Jersey and North Carolina have five honorees, and Oregon and Pennsylvania boast four apiece. Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Ohio, Washington state, and Washington, D.C., each have three winners. Connecticut Georgia, Minnesota, and Tennessee all have two standout restaurants. Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Carolina are also represented. 

Similar to last year’s list, established restaurants account for the majority of winners; however, several restaurants that opened in 2016, such as Oriole, earned spots. Fine dining and casual elegant dining establishments make up the majority of the list. Most eateries in the top 100 embrace sustainability, seasonality, and house-made ingredients, including cheese and charcuterie. While American and French cuisines are the most popular, global flavors are present on many of the menus, from regional Italian dishes to Middle Eastern specialties.

“The common thread running through this list of winning restaurants is excellence in hospitality,” says Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer. “Whether creating one-of-a-kind fine-dining experiences or serving up incredible fare in a more casual setting, this year’s honorees are consistently earning rave reviews from diners.”

The list of the 100 Best Restaurants in America is generated solely from more than 10 million verified OpenTable diner reviews collected between November 1, 2015, and October 31, 2016. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then sorted according to a score calculated from each restaurant’s average rating in the “overall” category along with that restaurant's rating relative to others in the same metropolitan area.

Originally launched in November 2008, the OpenTable Reviews program helps diners find restaurants that best fit their dining occasions.  Only diners who recently honored an OpenTable reservation are invited to submit restaurant reviews. Visitors to OpenTable can access reviews for thousands of OpenTable restaurant partners across the United States, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan and the UK.  The OpenTable Reviews program has generated more than 40 million restaurant reviews by verified diners, establishing OpenTable as one of the largest and most trusted sources for restaurant reviews.

Parliament Coffee Bar Opens at New-York Historical Society

Starr Catering Group opened its first Parliament Coffee Espresso and Coffee Bar location at the New-York Historical Society on December 5. The new flagship store will take Starr Catering Group’s food service experience into new territory by establishing its first brick-and-mortar espresso bar in Parliament Coffee with a fresh, contemporary design in a local, historic space.unknown-23

The cafe is located at the 77th Street and Central Park West entrance of the New-York Historical Society, the oldest museum in New York City and home to one of the most distinguished research libraries in the United States. The only coffee spot on Central Park West from 59th Street to 110th Street, this superb location in the heart of the Upper West Side will allow Parliament to share its unique and delicious blends directly with its sophisticated neighbors and millions of museum and park visitors from all over the city, the nation, and the world. In addition to its distinctive coffee, Parliament will serve daily house made pastries including Apple Pear Rye Muffins, Eccles Cakes, Bostock Brioche, Financiers, Bakery Style Layer Cakes, Palmiers, Cranberry Orange Scones, and a variety of “grab and go” sandwiches and salads on a seasonally rotating menu.

“Our first Parliament Coffee cafe brings to life our commitment to quality coffee and puts a central focus on the art and passion of our coffee making, distinctly different from corporate coffee shops and producers across the US,” said Guy Kellner, COO and president of Starr Catering Group. “Parliament Coffee has a more direct positive impact on local farming communities and, thanks to its direct sourcing, maintains the distinct and complementary flavors signature to the brand. We are thrilled to be able to offer this exceptional coffee to New Yorkers and tourists alike.”

Stokes Architecture has designed the new Parliament Coffee location with a bright, airy aesthetic to complement New York Historical Society’s Beaux Arts edifice. Design elements include salvaged pendant lights, marble counters for the bar area, and a wooden stand-up bar. The space will seat 20. Adjacent to the coffee bar will be the newly redesigned NY History Store, New-York Historical’s museum shop offering artwork, books, and gifts celebrating 400 years of the city’s history.unspecified-3

“We are excited to serve Parliament Coffee to our museum and library visitors,” said Louise Mirrer, New York Historical Society’s president and CEO. “We are committed to offering to our public an exceptional experience, and the opening of Parliament will no doubt enhance the time they spend with us.”

Parliament Coffee’s philosophy is grounded in its commitment to sourcing 100% Arabica beans by maintaining a direct trade relationship with La Virgen Coffee Estates in Nicaragua, benefitting the farm by providing guaranteed pay for coffee before it’s produced and benefitting the roaster by offering more control over the finished product. Both roaster and farmer are committed to improving the quality of coffee and quality of life for those who grow and harvest it. Parliament Coffee’s farmer, Henry Hueck, provides housing and education for all of his workers and ensures that their families, in addition to the surrounding community, receive regular medical screenings and care. Parliament Coffee works closely with Henry by supporting surrounding farms with harvests ailing from La Roya or coffee rust, a disease that severely cripple’s coffee trees and output. 

The Parliament Coffee concept will focus heavily on the role of the barista and employ truly passionate coffee enthusiasts in the role. This and future locations will use La Marzocca coffee machines imported from Florence, allowing the baristas to create the highest quality and purest expression of coffee. All coffee beans used in Parliament Coffee are sourced from Nicaragua, Brazilia, and Sumatra. The roast of these three beans yields a dynamic and rich flavor, with notes of caramel, dark chocolate, and apricot. This complex flavor, with its smooth finish, is the signature of the brand’s drip coffee—a bright blend with notes of spice, smoke, and nuts. The Parliament Espresso, also a proprietary blend, is composed of four beans: Nicaraguan, Sumatran, Brazilian, and Costa Rican.

Parliament Coffee, in top photo, will roll out additional locations in Miami and Philadelphia in 2017.

The Game Bird to Fly Soon

In early 2017, The Stafford London in St James’s will relaunch its restaurant under the helm of recently appointed Executive Chef, James Durrant. In the finest traditions of classic British hospitality epitomized by The Stafford, The Game Bird will celebrate the very best of British cooking but with innovative, modern touches, in a relaxed atmosphere with exceptional service.

Durrant comes to The Stafford with a wealth of experience from over 20 years at Michelin-starred restaurants including Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road and Claridge’s. For five years, he was Executive Chef at Jason Atherton’s Maze and Maze Grill before relocating to Hampshire with his family in 2010 to open his own venture, The Plough Inn in Longparish, which was awarded a coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand and where his main course was chosen for the banquet on BBC2’s Great British Menu 2014.

The Game Bird’s menus will make full use of the diverse produce of Great Britain and its surrounding oceans: Clarence Court Eggs, Orkney sea scallops, Salt Marsh mutton and Lincolnshire smoked eel – to name a few. With a nod to the chef’s Cheshire upbringing, there will be a changing selection of Pies, Puddings & Stews such as Salt Marsh Mutton Lobscouse and Steak and ale steamed suet pudding, while a traditional Sunday roast will be served from a trolley with “gravy and all the trimmings." Unsurprisingly, given the restaurant’s name, British game will also feature, with dishes such as Roast grouse, bread sauce and game chips; Rhug estate fallow deer tartar, quail egg, Worcester sauce, and charcoal mayonnaise and Wood pigeon pot au feu; as well as Game pie with port and short crust pastry.

In addition, a dedicated oyster menu will showcase British Isles varieties including Jersey, Colchester, Dungarvan, Lindisfarne and West Mersea, and a bespoke trolley of the finest smoked and cured fish which will be served straight to guests’ tables, with garnishes of horseradish, cucumber and dill pickles, mustard dressing, crème fraîche, and rye bread, while luxurious Oscietra and Keta caviar will also be available. As well as the many game dishes seen on the menus, the name of the restaurant also pays playful homage to The Stafford’s famous former resident, Nancy Wake, an eccentric female spy who frequented the in-house American Bar during the Second World War and who resided at the hotel during her final years.

The restaurant will undergo an extensive redesign that shows off the original seventeenth century features of the building, clean lines of marble and glass, and the natural hues of leather and traditional wood paneling will be complimented by a palette of brightly colored velvets.

Speaking of the opening, Durrant said: “I am excited to be returning the Capital with the opportunity to redevelop the culinary offering within one of London’s most iconic luxury hotels. The Game Bird will offer classic British dishes with contemporary touches that I believe will perfectly complement the history of the property.”

Stuart Procter, General Manager of The Stafford, commented: “The Stafford represents the height of informal luxury and exceptional service, qualities that will provide the perfect backdrop for The Game Bird. James and the upcoming launch of The Game Bird signal an exciting new chapter for the hotel, and we are all so excited to share the experience with our clients.”

The Game Bird at The Stafford will take its place alongside the hotel’s existing private dining rooms, 380-year-old working wine cellars, and the award-winning American Bar, with Durrant working together with Bar Manager Benoit Provost, and Master Sommelier Gino Nardella, to elevate and perfect the culinary offering at the hotel. The restaurant will open in early 2017, with further details to be announced in due course.

Ventless Hood Line Grows

HoodMart, Inc., the leading factory direct manufacturer of vented and ventless commercial kitchen exhaust hoods expanded its ventless exhaust hood product line to include 3’ and 4’ models. The new models complement the Company’s existing 2’ ventless hood. As with all of the Company’s exhaust hoods, the new 3’ and 4’ ventless hoods are manufactured in the U.S. gi_88549_4ft-ventless-hood

Ventless exhaust hoods provide greater flexibility in application than traditional venting hood systems as there is no need for venting ductwork. The hoods are exclusively used with electrical appliances, and can accommodate both open fryers and pressure fryers. These types of hoods are primarily used in situations where cost, ease of installation and portability are a customer’s focus. Example applications include, kitchen expansion, single-cooking appliance kitchens and architecturally challenging structures, where the building construction does not allow for vents. Ventless hoods ideal for food trucks, convenience stores and fuel stations.

The Company believes that its ventless hoods are unique in the market due to their use of a triple-filter design, which is proven to be less expansive and easier to maintain as it only requires a charcoal filter replacement twice per year. In addition, the Company believes its patented technology allows these hoods to absorb more of the cooking odor versus the current available technology. HoodMart’s ventless exhaust hoods are constructed with durable and polished 18-gauge stainless steel. Base units include removable sides for ease in cleaning. The Company’s ventless exhaust hoods are equipped with a fully integrated Ansul-R wet chemical fire suppression system. Each system also includes a color-coded, lighted alert system to ensure that the system is running safely and efficiently. Interlocking start is a standard feature and does not allow the fryer or hood to operate independently.

Judy Thomas, National Sales Manager for HoodMart, commented, “we are very excited to announce that our new 3’ and 4’ ventless hoods are available. These products are highly portable, efficient and perfect for smaller kitchens, such as those found in the fast-growing food truck industry.” Added Ms. Thomas, “Like all of our products, we pride ourselves on delivering first class equipment at factory direct prices with the highest levels of service.”

Taking it Personnely

FRCH Design Worldwide added a new member to the international architectural design firm’s roster. With offices in Cincinnati, New York City, and Los Angeles, FRCH has more than doubled its workforce in recent years - growing from 116 employees in 2010, to a current roster of over 240 employees today and looking to hire additional architects and designers in the 2016 year.nikki-trakasii5

Nikki Trakas has joined the Department Stores studio in FRCH’s New York Office as  Studio Administrator. Trakas was previously a freelancer for FRCH, helping with the day-to-day support as well as additional support for the department stores studio, which is based in Cincinnati, OH.

Trakas earned her undergrad degree in labor studies from City University of New York at Queens College. She then continued her education by earning a masters degree in Urban Affairs. In the past, she has worked in various companies as their administrative assistant, including:  Broadway Cardiopulmonary, P.C., Dr. Mary Grigoratos, DDS, Kid Krazy Preschool & Criterion Group LLC.  


Sage Restaurant Group (SRG), the Denver-based restaurant group announced several promotions and new hires as the company expands its corporate team and continues to grow nationally.New hires for Sage Restaurant Group include Todd Shepard as Corporate Divisional Vice President of Operations, and Daniel Russo as General Manager of Urban Farmer Philadelphia. The executive team is thrilled to welcome Shepard to their growing office, where he brings more than 20 years of restaurant industry experience, having overseen several successful restaurant operations including Morton’s The Steakhouse. His role will encompass leading and developing property food and beverage programs as well as overseeing in-room dining and catering operations for a portfolio of SRG restaurants. In Philadelphia, Daniel Russo brings a wealth of managerial experience to SRG’s third and most recent location of the popular farm-to-table steakhouse, with a history of working at revered restaurants including Chef Stephanie Izard’s Girl & the Goat in Chicago.

TODD SHEPARD - SAGE
Todd Shepard
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Luis San Martin
KACHINA
Jeff Bolton

SRG also announced two promotions within the Kachina Southwestern Grill concept. Luis San Martin has been promoted to General Manager at the soon-to-open Denver location, and Jeff Bolton to Executive Chef.

“SRG’s mission is to create independent restaurants that offer exceptional food and beverage experiences, and an integral part of that process involves attracting and hiring the most talented individuals in the industry,” says Co-Founder Peter Karpinski. “These recent promotions and new hires realize our vision and exemplify that ongoing commitment to achieve our mission.”

The promotions and new hires come along with brand expansion for SRG. In early 2017, the group will duplicate two of its core brands – downtown Denver will see the fourth location of the group’s popular seasonal steakhouse, Urban Farmer, as well as the second location of Kachina Southwestern Grill. The highly anticipated restaurants will both be built in to Sage Hospitality’s Dairy Block project located in the LoDo neighborhood.


OpenTable announced that Scott Day has joined the company as Senior Vice President People and Culture and will be responsible for leading and scaling OpenTable's people strategy around the globe.  

"Taking companies to the next level starts with its people," said Christa Quarles, Chief Executive Officer of OpenTable.  "Scott's great experience at leading tech companies – including Airbnb, PayPal and StubHub – will help enrich and nurture OpenTable's innovative culture and attract the best talent as we expand our business. His sophisticated approach to performance management – which was honed at Capital One, the company famous for setting the foundation for Google's HR practices – is inspiring and will deepen a high performing ethos at OpenTable." 

Scott Day
Scott Day

"I'm thrilled to be joining a company whose product I have long relied on and associate with creating great memories and experiences," said Scott Day, Senior Vice President of People and Culture at OpenTable. "OpenTable has a remarkable, affiliative culture rooted in candor, respect and fun. It is a great time to be joining, as the company is moving into an exciting phase of product and geographical expansion which will require a performance mindset, fast learning, and lots of teamwork. OpenTable employees have an opportunity to see the direct impact of their efforts as we improve the global dining experience for diners and the service experience for restaurants."

Prior to OpenTable, Scott was Head of Talent Strategy & Operations at Airbnb where he led the company's global HR business partner and HR operations functions during a period of rapid expansion. Before Airbnb, Scott served as a senior HR business partner leading teams in support of several high growth consumer internet companies including PayPal, StubHub and Yahoo. In each of these roles his primary focus was creating and implementing customized people strategies to support the growth of these dynamic, market defining technology businesses.

Earlier in his career, Scott spent two years as an executive recruiter at Morgan Samuels Company and 11 years in operational and HR roles, including running training and contact center operations, at Capital One. He started his career in the United States Marine Corps as an Aviation Logistics officer, ending his five years of service as a Captain.

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