Sliding into Impossible at White Castle and Teeny Soft Serve

by MRM Staff 9 Min Read

This edition of MRM's Daily Bite features SessionM and TGI Fridays,  CVT Soft Serve, The Alden, ParTech, Inc., White Castle and the Impossible Burger, The Cove, Paradise Island and Comcast Business and Dine Brands Global, Inc.

Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.MRM Daily Bite Logo

Enhancing Guest Experience at TGI Fridays

TGI Fridays selected SessionM to enhance the omnichannel Fridays experience. Orchestrating data from across all guest touchpoints, SessionM will enable TGI Fridays to build stronger relationships with friends of the restaurant through more personalized and genuine interactions.

“When TGI Fridays first launched our original loyalty program in April 2008, we were the first big player in casual dining restaurants to have a loyalty program. Now that others are catching up, we’re taking another leap forward and bringing our guest experience to a whole new level, both in and out of the restaurant,” said Stephanie Perdue, chief marketing officer at TGI Fridays. “With deep and broad expertise in building interactions that matter, SessionM is the ideal partner to work on this groundbreaking push with us.”

“With restaurants, guests are often anonymous from the time they come in, all the way up to when they pay the bill. At that point, you’ve already missed an opportunity to make a lasting impression,” said Lars Albright, co-founder and CEO of SessionM. “Starting every interaction – whether in the restaurant or on the app – with an understanding of the customer is absolutely critical. We often say that guest loyalty begins with demonstrating loyalty to the guest, and TGI Fridays wholly shares that philosophy.”

Its deal with SessionM is the latest in a string of partnerships TGI Fridays has formed to enhance the guest experience, including deals with Amazon Pay and Amazon Alexa, GM OnStar integration, and chatbots for Facebook and Twitter social sites.

CVTeeny Debuts
Four years and two trucks later, Los Angeles’ award-winning food truck, CVT Soft Serve, has outgrown its fleet and is looking to bring premium soft serve to the masses with the launch of branded machines appropriately named, CVTeeny™.
 
Through the newly formed CVT Distributors, LLC, the same ice cream that has earned CVT honors such as “Best Soft Serve in L.A.” byEaterLA and Los Angeles Magazine, and “Best Food Truck in L.A.” by LA Weekly and Los Angeles Magazine, will now be available for resale in local shops, restaurants, hotels and stadiums.  CVT will also offer delivery to local cafeterias and corporate campuses for employers looking to provide their staff with a premium dessert option without having to leave the office.
 
“When I started CVT, I knew I had a product that the people of Los Angeles would love, but I had no idea the business would expand from just one truck to a second truck to now a wholesale business in just four years”, said Joe Nicchi, owner of CVT Soft Serve. “I’m looking forward to growing this business, and thrilled to bring our ice cream to people beyond the borders of L.A.”
 
Launched in 2014 by Nicchi, a native New Yorker who has spent nearly the last two decades in L.A., CVT (which stands for Chocolate, Vanilla, Twist) gave Southern California a taste of the East Coast style of soft serve ice cream that the owner grew up enjoying.
 
“As a kid in upstate New York, I had fond memories of going out for soft serve ice cream,” said Nicchi. “I learned very early on in my first days in L.A., that the same ice cream I loved growing up was very difficult to find in my new home.”
 The Alden Debuts in Atlanta
Chef Jared Alden Hucks opened the doors of The Alden in Chamblee’s Parkview on Peachtree mixed-use development on April 10. Combining over 20 years of experience working in some of the world’s most prestigious restaurants with research gathered as a consumer and operator of local supper club Dogwood Table, Hucks cultivates a dining experience focused on seasonal ingredients, accommodating service and a sense of culinary celebration.
 
“The Alden is about nurturing our guests,” said Hucks, a native Atlantan who grew up less than five miles from the restaurant, but career took him to Australia, Thailand, Spain and Denmark. “While there is an emphasis on fine food, this is truly a neighborhood restaurant with a comfortable, casual ambiance where diners can feel at home.”
 
Hucks is serving his hometown community with healthy, seasonal American cuisine, and his dinner and brunch menus feature a modern twist on Southern classics and other culturally influenced mainstays. The Alden features 11 counter seats where diners are treated to an up close and personal view of the kitchen. A tasting menu with optional pairings is available to those who want to experience the action first-hand.
 
Complementing Hucks’ menu is a cocktail menu focusing on fresh, light, botanical-driven drinks and showcases seasonal juices, sodas, bitters, vermouth and tonics that are all made in house. Adam Fox, vice president of sales for Domaine Select Wine and Spirits and Hucks’ partner in former pop-up supper club Dogwood Table, has curated a thoughtful wine list that highlights natural wine producers from independently owned farms practicing biodynamic wine making. The beer selection centers on domestic craft producers creating old-world style beers.
 
The restaurant’s  design is rooted by its open, custom-designed kitchen that allows Hucks and his staff to communicate openly with guests and contributes to the convivial atmosphere. The intimate space also features soaring ceilings, natural materials and a palette of earth tones. Light fixtures and art installations from renowned glass blower Rob Stern provide a crisp elegance to continue the balance of earth elements found throughout the restaurant.
 PAR Introduces EverServ 600
ParTech, Inc. (PAR)  announced the latest terminal to join the industry leading EverServ® Portfolio, the EverServ® 600. With the new EverServ® 600, PAR has upgraded the look and feel of the conventional POS terminal, designed to grow with clientele and business needs. This versatile and adaptable model supports multi-chain concepts, small and local businesses, and everything in between. 
Key Features of the EverServ® 600:
  • Sophisticated, Simplistic and Sleek
    • Small footprint
    • Sleek, polished appearance
    • Contemporary design
  • Modular & Adaptive Design
    • PCAP screen
    • 3 customer display options: 2x20” line display, 9.7”, 12”
    • Providing suggested upselling, additional customization and order accuracy opportunities
    • MSR and Biometric options
    • Available with base for use on counter or panel only version
  • Multipurpose & Adaptable POS system
  • Upgraded look and feel of the conventional point of sale
  • Supports multi-chain concepts, as well as small businesses
  • Favorable and popular POS system for all market tiers and levels
"We are excited to announce the expansion of our point of sale terminal hardware portfolio as part of our commitment to a strategy around innovation in the point of sale market," said Chas Wurster, PAR’s Chief Technology Officer.  "PAR is proud of a culture that encourages and fosters continuous feedback and partnership with our customers to drive new product innovation.”
Impossible at White Castle

The Impossible Slider debuted at White Castle.

The “Impossible Slider” will be available anytime in 140 locations throughout New York, New Jersey and Chicagoland.

The plant-based burger will be topped with smoked cheddar cheese, pickles, onions and served on a signature bun. The Impossible Slider will be available individually for $1.99, and can be ordered as part of a combo meal.

The award-winning burger from Impossible Foods will provide an all-new plant-based option for White Castle’s loyal fans, who are dubbed “Cravers” for their insatiable hunger for the irresistible, snack-sized sliders. White Castle is known as the progenitor of American fast-food. The Original Slider® is still considered “the most influential burger of all time.”

“White Castle’s model has been often imitated but never duplicated -- an impressive feat in the hypercompetitive fast-food sector,” said Impossible Foods’ Founder and CEO Dr. Patrick O. Brown. “We look forward to working closely with White Castle, and together learning how to popularize plant-based meat with mainstream burger lovers.”

“Innovation has been core to everything we’ve done at White Castle since our founding in 1921,” said CEO Lisa Ingram, the fourth-generation family member to lead White Castle. “The fact that we are the first-fast-food chain to offer the Impossible Burger to our loyal customers epitomizes our history of being on the ‘bleeding edge’ of a rapidly evolving industry.”

In development since 2011, the Impossible Burger debuted in July 2016 at Chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in Manhattan. The Impossible Burger is the only plant-based burger to win a 2017 Tasty Award and a 2018 Fabi Award from the National Restaurant Association.

White Castle is by far the largest single restaurant group to serve the Impossible Burger. Beyond the fast-food chain, the Impossible Burger is available in about 1,300 restaurants nationwide, including beloved “better burger” concepts Fatburger, Umami Burger, Hopdoddy, The Counter, and B Spot, the Midwest burger restaurant owned by Chef Michael Symon.

The Impossible Burger is made from simple ingredients, including water, wheat protein, potato protein and coconut oil. One special ingredient — heme — contributes to the characteristic taste of meat and catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked.

White Castle will be testing the Impossible Slider with plans to potentially expand its offering nationwide. 

Fish by José Andrés Opens

Fish by José Andrés,  Michelin-Starred Chef José Andrés' newest fine dining eatery is open exclusively for dinner at The Cove, Paradise Island.

Celebrated for his humanitarian efforts as much as his culinary abilities, Chef Andrés' Fish menu serves to underscore The Cove's commitment to flourishing Bahamian ecology and the protection of one of the nation's most precious natural resources, the ocean.  Jose Andres' menu highlights sustainable Bahamian fishing practices and includes a signature dish of simply prepared, fried local lionfish – a species that while delicious, has been severely damaging to the coral reefs of The Bahamas.

Lionfish outlive, out-eat and out-breed all other marine species, which affects the health of the ocean. By overfishing the lionfish using a spear, so as not to damage the delicate reef systems, Chef José Andrés, a fisherman and avid diver, is committed to hunting this invasive species, so that coral reefs and the local marine life can continue to flourish. A portion of the cost of this dish will go directly to the Blue Project Foundation, the resort's non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to saving marine species and their extraordinary habitats throughout The Bahamas.  

"Anyone who knows me knows how much I love the ocean – whether it's enjoying the freshest delicacies of the local waters or going diving," said Chef Andrés. "Fish tells the story of this beautiful, mysterious thing we call the sea, through food -- and my team and I are very excited to create this new experience at The Cove. Our Bahamian team is as committed as I am to supporting sustainable fishing practices and the protection of the Bahamian coral reefs."  

Scorched Conch

Fish's open 'fire stage' features two Josper ovens, whose high temperatures are harnessed by the chefs for dishes such as Grilled Oysters, their own fiery version of Jerk Chicken and many of the menu's vegetable dishes, all cooked to a smoky perfection.  The Josper also lends a delicate caramel char to the Grilled Pineapple dessert, served with tamarind and coconut sorbet. Or guests can enjoy Chocolate Paradise, featuring spiced chocolate cream, cocoa streusel, passionfruit caramel and meringue ice cream.  Guests can choose from an array of innovative, hand-crafted cocktails including A Bird in the Hand (Plantation Pineapple Rum, Appleton Estate Rare Blend Rum, Aperol and Carpano Formula Antica Sweet Vermouth) and Apollo No. 2 (Elyx Vodka, St. Germain, Cocchi Americano Blanc Vermouth, lemon, ginger and soda).  The restaurant's extensive wine list features wines produced in regions known for the world's best seafood, throughout Europe and the United States.

The design of Fish at The Cove, by Spanish firm Capella Garcia, is meant to give guests the impression that they are diving into an underwater world – immersed in the marine life, the rocks, the sand and the flora and fauna that inhabit the ocean. Dappled with a romantic palette of cerulean, pearl and azure hues, the open layout creates a tranquil, tasteful atmosphere. The space is chic, yet comfortable, with a modern and organic design.

Large format photographic murals from Bahamas-based artist, Elena Kalis, whose graceful images immerse guests in a silent, tranquil underwater world are displayed around the dining room. The center of the dining space features a large hanging koi fish that was hand-constructed with delicate interlacing strips of wood, by Spanish designers Inocuo The Sign and LZF Lab.

"The inclusion of Chef Andrés' craftsmanship at The Cove provides an impactful opportunity to showcase the exceptional elements of The Bahamas," says Audrey Oswell, President and Managing Director of Atlantis, Paradise Island. "We are incredibly proud that we have been able to create locally-infused, ocean-linked dining experiences for our guests, in partnership with visionaries like Chef Andrés, who is not only one of the most talented Master Chefs in the world, but also an advocate for the protection and preservation of our country's natural resources."

Dine Brands Partners with Comcast

Dine Brands Global, Inc., selected Comcast to deliver a range of Managed Services, including Managed Broadband, Managed Firewall/Router, Managed Switch, Managed Wi-Fi Premium and Managed Business Continuity. These services will help improve the dining experience at more than 2,850 combined Applebee’s and IHOP locations across the United States.

“At Dine Brands, we believe that integrated technology must seamlessly support our guests’ ability to access our delicious IHOP and Applebee’s food and provide exceptional dining experiences,” said Adrian Butler, chief information officer at Dine Brands Global, Inc. “Our partnership with Comcast Business Enterprise Services to provide the robust infrastructure needed, allows us to service our brands so they can remain focused on serving our guests and providing added value for our franchisees.”

“Our Managed Enterprise Solutions suite delivers flexible, agile and scalable solutions for distributed enterprises that strengthen their ability to respond to market trends and other competitive pressures,” said Ray Hatch, Executive Director, Strategic Client Group at Comcast Business. “By understanding the ever-changing demands of this highly competitive industry and having the largest high capacity network infrastructure in the country, Comcast Business is in a unique position to provide and manage all aspects of a service deployment within the restaurant industry. This enables restaurants to focus on providing the best customer experience possible, instead of tending to their networks.”

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