SevenRooms Integrates with Google and World’s First Vegan Pizza School

This edition of MRM's News Bites features SevenRooms and Google, Jitjatjo, CORE, Alto-Shaam,  Yumpingo, Burger King and Postmates, Grubhub, Barilla, Julien Royer and Keyyes, US Foods,  Snap Kitchen, The District and the Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy.

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

SevenRooms Integrates with Google

SevenRooms, an all-in-one reservation, seating and guest management platform, today announced its integration with Google, offering dining partners the ability to take reservations directly via Google Search, Maps, and the Assistant. With this direct integration, Google now has access to any table inventory available via a SevenRooms client’s reservation widget, enabling guests to book directly from within Google Search, Maps, and the Assistant.

SevenRooms’ latest integration enables a better booking experience for guests and more filled seats for restaurants. Using this Google integration, restaurants are now able to take reservations with no cover fees, capturing guest data including email and phone number, helping them to build deeper relationships to fuel more personalized service and marketing. Additionally, using SevenRooms’ analytics tools, restaurants can track which reservations come through each marketing channel – whether that’s their own website, Instagram, Google or Facebook, among others.

“The guests of today are increasingly searching for reservations online, and the first place they search is Google,” said Joel Montaniel, CEO & Founder of SevenRooms. “With this direct integration, we are giving our restaurant partners the tools they need to capture these guests directly – without per cover fees – during their search. Using SevenRooms, our clients are able to reduce acquisition costs, boost reservations, and capture better data on their guests from the moment they book — enabling them to offer better, more personalized experiences back to their guests.”

“The SevenRooms integration with Google is already having a major impact on our business,” said Stephen Maly, Director of Hospitality at In Good Company. “With direct reservations through Google, we’re capturing our guests at the moment they search for our business and have intent to book. We not only get to own the guest data, including their email address, but we also pay no cover fees and save money in the process. It’s a win-win all around."

Jitjatjo Expands into Chicago Market

Jitjatjo said the service is expanding into the Chicago market to provide restaurants, bars, caterers, hotels, stadiums and attractions, corporate hospitality providers, event planners and other venue operators with access to experienced front-of-house and back-of-house hospitality professionals.

Since launching at the end of 2016, New York City’s restaurants, bars and venues, including Tao Group, Black Barn, Mulberry & Vine, City Bakery and Gabriel Kreuther, have used Jitjatjo to help supplement their staffing requirements. Across NYC, demand for Jitjatjo has been strong with year-over-year job postings increasing by more than 350 percent.

For clients, Jitjatjo helps operators in the hospitality industry fill staffing voids by providing access to their vetted and highly-skilled W2 workers that can arrive on location in as quickly as an hour. Jitjatjo works by analyzing bookings, and intelligently matching the best talent to the venue’s needs, based on the talent’s experience, location, skills, availability, history and ratings. Jitjatjo helps ease the arduous and time-consuming task of hiring additional staffing support by completing many of the human resources requirements, including interviews, background checks, tax forms, performance reviews, timekeeping and payroll, allowing managers to focus on their business and its customers.

For talent, Jitjatjo helps individuals boost their income by finding extra shifts that fit within the flexibility of their current schedules. Workers just need to apply once and when registered, they’ll have the ability to select their availability to work.  The service will then match workers with gigs based on their experience and preferences. Upon completion of the shift, Jitjatjo talent can get paid within hours through their debit card or can receive the funds through ACH into their bank account.

“We launched Jitjatjo in New York two years ago with the ambitious goal of innovating the staffing process by developing an easy-to-use mobile marketplace that leverages machine learning technology to intelligently match quality talent with the employers who need them,” stated Tim Chatfield, Jitjatjo Co-Founder and CEO. “After a wildly successful performance in our initial launch market, demand has been increasing exponentially and our partners have been eager for the Jitjatjo talent network to expand into other markets.”

“After owning dozens of establishments: restaurants, bars, cafes and large nightclubs, I saw first-hand the challenges that our operators experienced when trying to manage employee availability while maintaining the capabilities to appropriately service demand,” said Ron McCulloch, Jitjatjo Co-Founder and Executive Chairman. “Jitjatjo provides simple solutions to these problems to enable businesses to scale up their operations quickly with access to talented bartenders, cooks, servers, and other front-of-house and back-of-house hospitality professionals.”

CORE Names New Executive Director

Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE) has named Linda Eaves its executive director. 

Eaves replaces Lauren LaViola, who joined CORE in 2011 and has served as its executive director since 2013. LaViola will transition into a role overseeing development and partnerships for CORE. 

Linda Eaves

“Linda brings a wealth of experience in nonprofit management, tourism/hospitality, development and marketing,” said Joe Smith, CORE board chair. “Linda’s passion for CORE’s mission and leadership expertise—along with Lauren’s strengths in fundraising and partnerships—will help set the stage for CORE to continue to grow and serve more families in need.”

Eaves was previously the executive director of Kansas School for Effective Learning (KANSEL), a nonprofit in Wichita, KS that provides GED test preparation and English language classes for adult learners. Her nonprofit experience also includes serving as executive director of the YWCA of Abilene, Texas. 

Her career also includes running a communications consulting firm and serving in tourism leadership roles in Tennessee and Kentucky. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.

 Alto-Shaam Celebrates a Decade of Funding Cancer Research

When Alto-Shaam’s founder, Jerry Maahs passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006, the company began planning a way to honor his memory. For the past decade, the Jerry Maahs Memorial Golf Outing has been an outlet to celebrate his life while raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Wisconsin Chapter. Through a research grant, the event has raised critical funds to support cancer research and advance treatments for the disease. 

alto

To date, the golf outing and a matching donation from Alto-Shaam have raised $775,000 and has earned a spot as the largest third-party fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the state of Wisconsin. 

“We are proud of the success of this event and the good it has accomplished,” said Steve Maahs, son of Jerry and Alto-Shaam President and Chief Operating Officer. “We hope our contribution over the years has helped take the burden of this diagnosis off others. We’ve always felt it was a fitting way to honor Jerry and we thank the many participants and volunteers who have contributed to this event’s success over the years.”

Yumpingo Adds to U.S. Team

British restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo has appointed two senior team members to spearhead U.S. operations following the company's recent debut in the states. Dan Dillon joins Yumpingo as Vice President of Operations U.S., and Adam Sternberg joins as Vice President of U.S. Sales.

Dan Dillon

Dillon brings 20+ years of restaurant industry experience having worked in numerous operations and marketing roles at TGI Friday’s, leading the culinary team and implementing innovative initiatives like Endless Appetizers that drove traffic and positive brand recognition for the iconic restaurant chain. In his new role with Yumpingo, Mr. Dillon is responsible for growing the Company in the U.S. market, and leading overall operations and marketing efforts.      

Adam Sternberg

Sternberg joins Yumpingo with extensive experience in sales and hospitality, having spent more than 31 years working in the food and beverage industry with brands such as Fourth, MGM Resorts International, Avero and others. In the role of Vice President of U.S. Sales for Yumpingo, Mr. Sternberg will lead all sales efforts to penetrate the billion-dollar U.S. restaurant industry.

“We are moving full speed ahead to deliver U.S. restaurant brands the same level of certainty of guest satisfaction at brand, store, shift, server and dish level as our UK customers,” said Gary Goodman, Founder and CEO of Yumpingo. “I am thrilled Dan and Adam have joined our founding U.S. team. They both bring a unique combination of technology and operator experience, managing the historical challenges of running restaurant brands with a lack of customer data to help drive performance, product and marketing firsthand.”

Yumpingo recently announced TGI Friday’s as its launch partner in the U.S. The company’s technology is already used by many of the UK’s largest and most innovative restaurant businesses, including Mitchells & Butlers, Jamie’s Italian, Bill’s and Wahaca. Guests complete a one minute review at the end of the experience, either on Yumpingo devices, which replace traditional check presenters, or on their own device. This allows partners access to over 7,500 live in-moment food and service reviews per location, per month giving restaurants complete certainty of how to optimize customer satisfaction across brands at location, shift, server and dish level.

Burger King on Postmates

Burger King restaurants and Postmates are now delivering nationwide.

"Having made nearly 300,000 deliveries from BURGER KING®, Postmates has proven that we can drive a meaningful lift in sales," said Dan Mosher, SVP & Merchant Lead, Postmates. "As a market leader that completes millions of deliveries per month, we are confident that we will do an incredible job serving such an iconic brand." 

To order BURGER KING®, visit Postmates.com or download Postmates on iOS or Android. Delivery fees start at $1.99; however, customers can pay zero delivery fees when they subscribe to Postmates' subscription service, Unlimited, for $7.99 per month.

Grubhub Growth

For the third quarter, Grubhub Inc. posted revenues of $247 million, which is a 52-percent year-over-year increase from $163 million in the third quarter of 2017. Gross Food Sales grew 40 percent year-over-year to $1.2 billion, up from $867 million in the year ago period. 

"We added more organic new diners this quarter than ever before, helping drive the highest organic DAG growth we've seen in a year and a half. Better restaurant selection, a more intelligent diner platform, and more strategic marketing continue to bring more high quality diners to Grubhub," said Matt Maloney, Grubhub's founder and chief executive officer. "With solid traction in new diner acquisition over multiple quarters and increased coverage across the country from our delivery expansion, we are in prime position to invest incrementally in advertising and accelerate online ordering adoption."

Third Quarter Financial Highlights

  • Revenues: $247.2 million, a 52 percent year-over-year increase from $163.1 million in the third quarter of 2017. 
  • Net Income: $22.7 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, a 75 percent year-over-year increase from $13.0 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2017. 
  • Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA: $60.1 million, a 41 percent year-over-year increase from $42.7 million in the third quarter of 2017. 
  • Non-GAAP Net Income: $42.2 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, a 72 percent year-over-year increase from $24.5 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2017.

Third Quarter Key Business Metrics Highlights (excludes LevelUp impact in 2018)

  • Active Diners were 16.4 million, a 67 percent year-over-year increase from 9.8 million Active Diners in the third quarter of 2017. 
  • Daily Average Grubs (DAGs) were 416,000, a 37 percent year-over-year increase from 304,500 DAGs in the third quarter of 2017. 
  • Gross Food Sales were $1.2 billion, a 40 percent year-over-year increase from $867 million in the third quarter of 2017.

"We are excited to invest behind the diner and order momentum of the last several quarters.  We have significant opportunity to accelerate diner growth by broadening delivery coverage areas and increasing marketing spend," said Adam DeWitt, Grubhub's president and chief financial officer. "As a result, we are opportunistically investing an incremental $20–$30 million in marketing and delivery expansion in the fourth quarter, taking our total 2018 investment in growth to substantially more than $200 million.  The 200 total delivery markets we will launch in 2018 plus accelerated diner growth put us in a great position to capture takeout orders as they move online."

First-Ever Female Master of Pasta

Barilla found its new Master of Pasta: Carolina Diaz, 34, of Terzo Piano at the Art Institute of Chicago, USA, won the title at the seventh edition of the Pasta World Championship held in Milan on October 24-25. She is the first-ever female Master of Pasta. Competing against 17 other young chefs from all over the world, she cooked a reinvented Spaghetti al Pomodoro that won over a jury that cumulated four Michelin stars. More than 450 foodies, industry professionals, press and influencers attended the event, that conveniently occured on World Pasta Day.

Competing in the finale against Chinese chef Toby Wang, 33, from Beijing after a tough two days of intense culinary competition, she kept her tomato pasta dish simple. Diaz cleverly used every part of the tomato to make a dish that exemplified the perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. She added the stem to the sauce for an herbaceous component and used three different types of cherry tomatoes for the sauce.

“I’m truly honored, I did Italian my way,” said Caroline Diaz, American chef and winner of the 2018 Barilla Pasta World Championship. “I’m honored to be the first woman to win the Master of Pasta title, women are taking over and it’s time that our work gets recognized around the world.”

Diaz grew up in a large Mexican family outside of Chicago and learned how to balance flavors from her father’s cooking. After a few years working as a line cook, she decided to explore Italian cuisine in 2012 to eventually join the Terzo Piano team at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 as Chef di Cucina. Diaz believes in using local, organic and sustainable products to cook delicious Mediterranean dishes with a Midwestern twist.

Eighteen chefs under the age of 35 from 17 different countries and Italian cruise line Costa Cruise participated in the single-elimination tournament, now in its seventh year. Under the theme “Eat Positive,” the Championship offered a unique look into the importance of pasta in a healthy diet, from live cooking demonstrations, tastings and conferences on the role of beauty in food, wellbeing and sustainability from field to table.

“The 2018 Pasta World Championship was an amazing success”, added Raffaele Daloiso, Chief Marketing Officer at Barilla Group. “At Barilla, we want to encourage the next generation of talented chefs to express themselves through pasta and ultimately inspire food lovers across the world to eat in a positive and healthy way.”

Michelin-starred chefs Lorenzo Cogo, Viviana Varese, Luigi Taglienti and Holger Stromberg as well as US food photographer and influencer Brittany Wright formed the jury. Chef Davide Oldani, Barilla brand ambassador and one of the most fascinating thinkers in the Italian food world, joined as well for the last challenge. John Dickie, best-seller author and professor, and Francesca Romana Barberini, author and personality, acted as masters of ceremony. Kitchen Theory Co-Founder Jozef Youssef, Swedish TV presenter and ex-model Filippa Lagerbäck and basil farming trailblazer Giuseppe Bonati joined the event as speakers.

The event was made possible thanks to the participation of ten exceptional partners and leaders in their own categories: Pentole Agnelli (professional cookware), Smeg (home appliances), Lavazza (coffee), Acqua Plose (gourmet water), METRO Italia (quality and innovative services for Food and Hospitality sector), Costa Cruises (cruises), LAGO (design and furniture), Zanussi Professional (professional kitchens), Bragard (professional clothing) and Aperol Spritz (spirits).

Ingredients for Success

Sarment Holding Limited entered into an agreement with Chef Julien Royer in a collaboration with its digital platform Keyyes. The two-starred Michelin chef and owner of Odette, is now working together with Keyyes' Gourmet marketplace to offer its community a chance to purchase the exact ingredients he uses in his restaurant's kitchen.

As a result of this partnership, users will now be able to purchase Chef Royer's personal selections and ingredients, including Kaviari Kristal Caviar labelled specially for Odette and the Eva Aguilera olive oil that he uses in his dishes, among many small-batched artisanal products.

This is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between a top chef and a luxury marketplace to allow consumers a chance to stock their kitchen larders direct from the shopping basket of a highly-rated professional chef.

Said Chef Royer: "I am very excited to be part of Keyyes' digital ecosystem. It allows me to do something never done before in the industry. Instead of interacting with guests only when they come to the restaurant, I am now connected to a much broader audience and I can become an integral part of their daily lives. I spend a lot of time researching and curating the finest products for Odette's cuisine and this joint effort with Keyyes allows consumers to have all of that knowledge and quality in their own kitchen at home."

Keyyes just unveiled the Gourmet category of its marketplace during the third quarter of 2018 with Chef Julien Royer as one of its major brand ambassadors to curate its products.

US Foods Scholars Program Expands

The US Foods Scholars program has expanded into five new cities: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Denver; New York City; and Raleigh, North Carolina. The program was created to inspire culinary students to reach their full potential and help address the skilled labor shortage facing the restaurant industry, which is forecasted to have 1.7 million new positions by 20251.

US Foods Scholars awards financial support and professional development opportunities to students who have demonstrated outstanding potential and achievement in the culinary arts and require additional resources to take the next step of their journey. In each new market, US Foods Scholars will award two students annually a two-year scholarship of up to $20,000 each to support costs related to their continued culinary education.

“As a partner to independent restaurants across the country, we know how challenging it is for our customers to find qualified employees,” said Debra Ceffalio, vice president of corporate communications, US Foods. “We’re proud to expand our US Foods Scholars program into Atlanta, Austin, Denver, New York City and Raleigh. These five cities all have growing and thriving culinary scenes, and with this initiative, US Foods aims to support the next generation of culinary talent, and help meet the demands of an ever-expanding industry.”

The company launched US Foods Scholars in Chicago and Arizona in 2017 and is partnering with the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) and the American Culinary Federation (ACF) to expand the program to five new markets in 2018. New partner schools include:

  • Atlanta: International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Atlanta
  • Austin, Texas: Austin Community College
  • Denver: Johnson & Wales University
  • New York City: Eligible high schools seniors participating in the C-CAP program
  • Raleigh, North Carolina: Wake Technical College

To learn more about the US Foods Scholars program or to apply if eligible, visit usfoods.com/scholars.

The District Debuts

The District, the chef-driven dining area at The Shops at Willow Bend, in Plano, Texas, began serving hungry guests the weekend of October 12, top photo.

Whistle Britches is open for lunch and dinner, while Mexican Bar Company has begun dinner service. Lunch service will begin on October 31. Knife will open for dinner on Friday, October 26, with Terra Mediterranean to begin serving customers later this month. The much-anticipated District is the latest step in the $125 million reinvention of The Shops at Willow Bend into a multi-use urban core, joining the grand opening of Crayola Experience at the project earlier this year and the 2017 debut of Plano Children's Theater.

"We at Starwood Retail had a vision for Willow Bend, and knew it was the perfect location to bring these chef-driven restaurants, plus additions like an Equinox fitness center, an Upscale movie theatre, a Class-A Office building, Ascension Annex, Acai and Alchemy and more, all of which will be complete by next year," said Jeff Zeigler, COO of Starwood Retail at the ceremony. "However, this evening is not only a celebration of The District, but an opportunity to recognize and give back to an outstanding local organization, The Junior League of Collin County."

"Plano is a city on the go – we move quickly, but we also like to slow down and appreciate a delicious meal with friends and family. These restaurants represent some of the best food you can get in North Texas," said Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere at the gala.

Snap Kitchen's Eco-Friendly Packaging

Snap Kitchen launched its efforts towards an even more sustainable business model with an all-market rollout of compostable eco-friendly packaging. The new packaging will launch in 35 locations across Austin, Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia. The organization made the ecological decision to shift towards utilizing plant-based packaging as a step in reducing their environmental impact, thus proving to their consumers their commitment to global sustainability. 

By making the switch from the current recyclable plastic trays to the new packaging, they reduce their use of plastic by 500,000 pounds annually. This coupled with the organization's commitment to donating all unsold food to local charities in each market showcases their brand value in giving back to the greater good, whether in the local community or through environmentally-friendly practices.

"We believe in clean eating for a cleaner earth and make every meal from scratch daily," said Dale Easdon, CEO of Snap Kitchen. "Since inception, our commitment to locally-sourced products, responsibly-sourced meats and ingredients containing zero additives or GMOs has been paramount. We're thrilled to round out our commitment to our customers by offering an eco-friendly container to remain a sustainable and eco-conscious company."

Snap Kitchen has partnered on the initiative with World Centric, a social and environmentally conscious manufacturer of compostable products that donates 25% of its profits to global grassroots social and environmental programs. 

The organization's movement towards utilizing an eco-friendly packaging creates a global impact and provides benefits for its consumers who are conscious about their carbon footprint. With the energy that it previously took to create one petroleum plastic tray, five new compostable trays can be produced. Additionally, the change to compostable trays will reduce Snap Kitchen's carbon emissions from packaging manufacturing by 66 percent. The packaging will be microwave and oven safe and each dish will be equipped with proper heating instructions on their packaging label. The one-time use containers can be easily discarded in a compost bin or included in a conventional garbage canister as they contribute zero toxicity to the environment.

World's First Vegan Pizza School

Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy launched the world’s first vegan pizza school. Expanding the course offering beyond savory traditional dishes, international cuisine, pastry, cheese and baking, the academy has opened its doors to teach the world’s most popular food: pizza.

pizza school

“This is the next chapter in our growing success of mainstreaming Vegan food,” stated Stephanie Prather, Founder of Vegan Gastronomy Culinary Academy. “We are taking our expertise in flavor and textures, and merging it together with low cost and healthier approaches to enabling vegan pizza to be a tasty mainstream alternative in a changing food landscape.”

The Vegan Pizza School courses are taught either in person at the academy in Mallorca Island Spain in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea or online via the popular interactive system the academy has developed.

“We found that our ability to make vegan dishes as good as or better than conventional dishes was a sign we needed to launch our Vegan Pizza School”, stated Jessica McKenzie, General Manager of Vegan Gastronomy. “We have all both trained and have been professionally trained in all the components of what makes a great pizza and so we are bringing those altogether to teach the world.”

The initial Vegan Pizza Course takes students back to ancient techniques and experience the traditions of the Neapolitans, and then moves on to learn about the migration of Italians to modern day New York and how pizza evolved. The course than moves you through how the Chicago style thick crust pizza came about and then students experience from a Californian the modernist and artisanal approaches that evolved in California. And then finally students are immersed in cultural adaptations of Pizza from around the world that satisfy pizza lovers of all kinds.

The academy will train home cooks and aspiring pizza chefs, professional Pizzaiolos wanting to expand their portfolio, as well as cooking school instructors and professional hospitality/hotel cooks and chefs.

Courses begin in March of 2019 and the academy is accepting enrollment applications now.