Panda Express Hits Milestone and Farmers Markets Online

by MRM Staff 6 Min Read

The Monday edition of MRM's Daily Bite has news from Panda Express, Omnivore and Spreedly, the World Famous House of Mac,  Actionable Quality Assurance and The Farmers Market Federation of New York.

 Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com. 

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Panda Express Opens 200th Location 

Panda Express will open its 2,000th location in New York City on December 7. For nearly 35 years, the family-owned restaurant has continued to expand its footprint. Panda Express logoLocated in Manhattan, where Panda Express marked its East Coast expansion in 2015, the new restaurant is at Broadway and 111th Street. Since launching its first traditional New York City location two years ago, Panda Express has opened five additional New York City restaurants, with an upcoming opening in Brooklyn later this year. Traditionally a West Coast brand, Panda Express has expanded its footprint east with 55 new locations east of the Mississippi in 2017 and plans to open 20 more stores on the East Coast through the remainder of 2017. Consisting of a 1,500-square foot space, the restaurant will provide seating for up to 38 guests.

"The opening of our 2,000th location is especially exciting for us because the milestone reflects the evolution of the brand over the last 35 years, as well as the success stories of the hard-working people who have made our growth possible," said Andrew Cherng, co-founder and CEO of Panda Express. "We are fortunate for the opportunity to share our family values and beloved American Chinese menu through our 2,000 restaurants around the globe, and we look forward to celebrating even more moments of optimism through our cuisine on the East Coast and beyond."

Omnivore Integrates with Spreedly

Omnivore integrated its platform with Spreedly in a move that allows a variety of applications to securely save customer payment data, enables easier and faster transactions during future purchases and adds a new layer of convenience and flexibility to the Omnivore platform. Spreedly's integration with Omnivore provides a solution that allows applications to process recurring transactions by referencing a universal token and passing it to Omnivore's universal API. Through the partnership, an application developer now has flexibility to handle payments in both card present and card not present scenarios.

"Omnivore's new collaboration with Spreedly provides even stronger optionality and value to our customers," said Omnivore CBO Mike Coppola. "App developers are now able to offer their clients flexible, secure and simple payments solutions at an enhanced level of service. Spreedly's tokenization product powers card not present payment solutions that were previously unavailable to our restaurant customers."

"We're excited to partner with Omnivore to continue to advance possibilities in the payment space," said Spreedly CEO Justin Benson. "Through this partnership, we enable merchants to securely transact on new platforms without losing their preferred payment provider."

"The Omnivore API empowers restaurants to realize significant savings by connecting them with technology solutions many didn't know were possible," said Omnivore CEO Mike Wior. "Spreedly and Omnivore enabled side-by-side are changing the restaurant payment landscape. Restaurants can now seamlessly offer their customers a more secure card not present transaction than ever before."

World Famous House of Mac Opens in South Beach

After two years of food truck success,  the World Famous House of Mac opened its first ever free-standing restaurant in South Beach, Miami on December 2. Known for their unique spin on traditional cuisine, owner Derrick Turton, also known as “Chef Teach,"  whips up dishes such as jerk salmon pasta, fried chicken & pumpkin spice waffles, and his signature World Famous Mac & Cheese.

Chef Teach
Chef Teach

Teach attended culinary school in 1998, but began his professional career in the music industry - he managed Pitbull for more than 13 years while working alongside other hip-hop royalty such as A$AP Rocky and Yo Gotti. During his time in the music industry, Teach developed friendships with artists such as N.O.R.E. and Fat Joe in and out of the studio. Next thing you know, he often found himself cooking amazing dishes for his friends. After devouring Teach’s decadent variations of mac and cheese and discovering his unsurpassed culinary talent, friends like Bun B encouraged Teach to “take the cooking thing more seriously.” Bun B convinced Teach to prepare some of his signature dishes for his guests and observe their reactions, just to show Teach how good he really was.  

Then after his father’s passing in 2013, Teach felt an immense urge to do something meaningful with his life, inspiring him to take his friends’ advice, circle back to his culinary roots, and buil his legacy as “Chef Teach.” In honor of his beloved father, Teach designed a caricature of his father’s face, which is now the renowned World Famous Mac and Cheese logo.

Located in the in the heart of South Beach at 1216 Washington Ave in Miami Beach, World Famous House of Mac is an up-beat restaurant designed with rich, rustic wood treatments and oversized leather banquets, giving the space a relaxed speakeasy vibe with vintage, industrial flair. 

Actionable Data Collection

Beginning with back-of-house (BOH) complaint tracking in May 2017, Actionable Quality Assurance (AQA) helped rolled out comprehensive data collection automation whereby Church's Chicken® nearly 1,600 restaurants can systematically and intuitively report product complaints, thus centralizing communication between QA, distribution centers, and suppliers. The AQA system includes an intuitive dashboard that allows Church's QA team to quickly monitor and identify trends in quality issues as they occur, resulting in improved consistency across the brand.

Food safety SaaS reduces labor hours and modernizes quality data collection

Beginning with back-of-house (BOH) complaint tracking in May 2017, AQA rolled out comprehensive data collection automation whereby Church's nearly 1,600 restaurants can systematically and intuitively report product complaints, thus centralizing communication between QA, distribution centers, and suppliers. The AQA system includes an intuitive dashboard that allows Church's QA team to quickly monitor and identify trends in quality issues as they occur, resulting in improved consistency across the brand.

"Our team wanted to reduce the extensive labor hours spent doing administrative data input and data management for our company, our restaurants, distribution centers and our suppliers," states Lonita Barron, Senior Director of Quality Assurance at Church's Chicken. "We also were seeking a software company that was committed to our timelines to implement, and dedicated to our success. We wanted a system that was customizable and able to grow with our needs.  The AQA team performed beyond our expectations, and has always been willing to do more."

With the initial BOH implementation accomplished in under eight weeks, AQA then rolled out a specification tracking system that allows Church's to streamline specification development and manage changes to specs, making any changes visible to all teams and ensure the latest specification standard is always available.

In addition, supplier production data is now automated and the AQA software automation system trends non-compliant products, alerting Church's Chicken QA department in real time when a product is out of specification before it makes it to the restaurant.

"The mission of AQA is simple," states Eric Graves, Founder and CEO "to empower the restaurant industry with the only software solution that allows restaurants to control and prevent food safety events before they happen, rather than managing the problem after it occurs. We're thrilled with the results Church's Chicken is experiencing and energized knowing Church's is now on the leading edge of food safety and quality control for their industry."

Online Farmers Market App

The Farmers Market Federation of New York is bringing its farmers markets online in an effort to increase access to local food across the state.

This winter, the Federation is launching the FreshFoodNY app, a virtual farmers market where New York buyers can purchase local food from the state's farmers, fishermen and artisans. Through the app, buyers can discover new purveyors, pre-order seasonally-available products and then select from convenient pickup locations, including farmers markets.

The Federation has partnered with Rhode Island-based food technology company Crave Food Systems to build and promote this first unifying local food brand and online marketplace. 

"Our markets are losing customer base because consumers are looking for more convenient means of food shopping," said Diane Eggert, executive director of the Federation. "The FreshFoodNY app will help our markets overcome the downward trend we're seeing in customer participation by connecting farmers and consumers online to make buying local easier." 

The technology is designed to benefit New York's purveyors and consumers. By making local food accessible online, the app will increase business for purveyors and draw consumers into farmers markets to pick up their pre-ordered groceries.

"We're incredibly excited for this opportunity to empower the Farmers Market Federation of New York with this technology and for the positive impact it will make for the farmers, fishermen and artisans of the great state of New York," Matt Tortora, co-founder and CEO of Crave Food Systems said. "The convenience the FreshFoodNY app offers will make it possible for more consumers to support their farmers and will also finally give those producers eCommerce capabilities."

The FreshFoodNY app is slated to become available for consumer download in early 2018.  For more information, eaters can visit ny.sourcewhatsgood.com.

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