This edition of MRM’s Daily Bite has news from SevenRooms, Tripleseat and SevenRooms, Square, ChowNow, BlueCart, Chipotle and DoorDash, Pizza Hut, Deputy as well as The Cordish Companies and Troy Aikman.
Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at email@example.com.
‘Turning a Meal Into An Experience’ Report
SevenRooms, the all-in-one reservation, seating and guest management platform for restaurants, released its “Turning a Meal Into An Experience” report, which found that personalization is crucial, with over half (51 percent) of Americans stating that a waiter/waitress simply remembering them from a previous visit would make their dining out experience more memorable.
The study, conducted online with third party research firm YouGov, uncovered not only what guests expect out of their restaurant experience, but the specific factors that make them want to return time and time again. Creating that experience for a guest is essential, with a quarter (24 percent) of Americans admitting they wouldn’t return to a restaurant if their dining experience wasn’t memorable or special.
“As diners, our expectations for restaurants are so much greater than just the food on our plates. Today’s diner expects a personalized and thoughtful experience from start to finish,” says Joel Montaniel, CEO of SevenRooms. “To stand out in an increasingly crowded dining landscape, restaurants need to understand their diner at a more personalized level and leverage this data to create a truly customized experience every time they visit. This is the key to turning more diners into regulars more often.”
From Guests to Regulars
It’s easy for restaurants to overlook the simple things, but these are the details that guests care about the most. Here’s what Americans say would make their dining experience stand out:
- One in three (35 percent) Americans say it is a complimentary glass of wine with their meal
- One in three (35 percent) Americans claim it’s being greeted by name by a host
- 50 percent of Americans say that a complimentary birthday dessert would do it
The guest’s first experience at a restaurant has a large impact on whether or not they will choose to return for another meal. In fact, one in three (33 percent) Americans wouldn’t return if they felt the waiter/waitress didn’t pay attention to their preferences.
Standing Out from the Competition
Consumers have millions of restaurants to choose from, so it is important to understand what makes them pick that one specific spot to make a reservation. Quality of food (83 percent), convenient location (52 percent), reputation (37 percent) and price discounts (30 percent) are among the top factors that help Americans decide where they take their dining business.
However, the only thing modern Americans love more than personalization is going somewhere recommended by a friend. And this is what could be the deciding factor in choosing a dining destination. Twenty-two percent of Americans have gone to a restaurant based on what the food or atmosphere looked like on social media.
Once guests determine where to dine, their next step is to make that reservation. There are a multitude of places a guest can go to book whether through an online reservation service or by directly booking on a restaurant’s website or social media channels — and each diner has a preference on how they do so. For instance, in the past year:
- 40 percent of Americans have called the restaurant directly to book a reservation
- One in four (23 percent) Americans have booked a reservation through the restaurant’s website
- 29 percent of Americans have booked a restaurant reservation in person
It’s clear that diners in the US strongly value the qualities in a restaurant that make them feel special, like being greeted by name, receiving personalized food recommendations and even social media worthy décor. Although experience at the restaurant is essential, it’s proven that the true first interaction, reservations, is where the make or break decision happens.
Tripleseat Teams with SevenRooms
In related news, Tripleseat, an event sales and management platform with more than 4,000 venues and SevenRooms announced a direct integration between the two systems. The partnership will enable restaurant front of house staff and event managers to seamlessly share reservation information and event details, helping to maximize space in the restaurant, and drive faster, more efficient sales to increase revenue.
“At SevenRooms, we believe in making it easier for our clients to do better business, faster,” said Montaniel, CEO of SevenRooms. “Our integration with Tripleseat makes it easy for our clients to run their events and private dining seamlessly. With two-way communication between our systems, this integration eliminates the risk of overbooking, creating a faster booking experience for guests, and a more automated process for the event sales and operations teams. This will enable our clients to generate more bookings, more revenue, and provide a better experience to their guests.”
“In the hospitality and events business, it is imperative to maximize the event space and the dining room,” said Jonathan Morse, CEO of Tripleseat. “Private dining is a massive growth opportunity for restaurants providing over 30 percent of the revenue, and through this integration with SevenRooms restaurants will be able to ensure that they can provide 100 percent occupancy within the four walls of the restaurant.”
“With SevenRooms and Tripleseat connected to each other, hosting events at our property has never been easier,” said Bryan Siegel, Director of Hospitality at LDV Hospitality. “The integration means that our service team isn’t left in the dark when a big party books an event or private dining room, and we’re able to ensure our guests’ experiences live up to the high standard of hospitality we hold ourselves to. Plus, the real-time syncing helps our hosts to stay in the loop when a last minute large reservation books, and can plan accordingly.”
Square for Restaurants
Square, Inc. launched Square for Restaurants, a fully integrated point of sale that matches the pace, complexity, and specific needs of today’s restaurants. It’s the company’s first solution built to serve full-service restaurants, and brings the speed and ease-of-use that Square is known for to all types of larger restaurants, bars, and lounges. Square will also integrate Caviar directly into Square for Restaurants, marking the first time restaurants will have a combined first-party ordering platform and point of sale.
Square for Restaurants is cloud-based and customizable for however a restaurant is run, letting managers easily update menus and floor layouts remotely across multiple terminals and locations. New conversational ordering enables waitstaff to place orders quickly and intuitively, the way diners speak. Square for Restaurants also offers built-in employee management to enable staff time and performance tracking, tip splitting, fraud protection, and more.
“Square for Restaurants offers everything you need to run a restaurant at full-speed – with none of the distractions or pain-points you don’t want,” said Alyssa Henry, Seller Lead at Square. “Now, we can serve larger restaurant customers, as well as grow with those who have been using Square services from the start. With Square for Restaurants, we’ve created a cohesive solution to help our sellers supercharge their entire restaurant business.”
Businesses using Caviar and Square for Restaurants will also be able to see delivery and pickup orders directly within their point of sale – speeding up operations, reducing incorrect orders, eliminating the clutter of excess tablets, and giving restaurants an omnichannel view of their sales and diner base.
“Caviar’s experience working with thousands of top restaurants across the country gave us the unique insight we needed to build a one-stop point-of-sale with on-demand delivery integration,” said Gokul Rajaram, Caviar Lead at Square. “We’re excited to bring Caviar and Square together and let our restaurant partners grow their businesses through delivery in an even more effortless way.”
More than 100 restaurants and hospitality groups across the U.S. have already been using Square for Restaurants, including Bar Agricole in San Francisco, Boke Bowl in Portland, The Populist in Denver, Greca in New York City, and Philadelphia’s CookNSolo group, which has implemented Caviar integration at Rooster Soup Company.
“There’s always going to be curveballs that the restaurant life throws at you – Square for Restaurants is not one of them. It’s robust while retaining that trademark Square elegance and hassle-free service,” said Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook, co-founders of CookNSolo Restaurant Partners. “At Rooster Soup Co., partnering with Caviar has shown that delivery orders can be an important growth lever for the business, so the fact that we can have Caviar integrated right into the point-of-sale is a game-changer.”
ChowNow Integrates with Instagram
ChowNow is integrating with Instagram, allowing restaurants to accept takeout and delivery orders through the social network. Instagram’s “Start Order” button can be incorporated into restaurant profiles, allowing users to place orders directly through Instagram.
An early crop of restaurants tested the feature with unanimously positive results. With its 11,500+ followers, HomeState, a Los Angeles-based Texas taco restaurant and longtime ChowNow partner, was eager to combine the reach of Instagram with the seamless ordering experience of ChowNow.
“Core to our values at HomeState is community. We’ve cultivated an amazing, engaged group on Instagram — and we can’t wait for those loyal HomeState fans to experience an even easier, more natural way of ordering takeout,” said owner and head chef Briana Valdez. “ChowNow has already extended our dining room from four tables to the entire city of Los Angeles. Now, its partnership with Instagram will exponentially grow our community even further and spread the HomeState story to more potential diners.”
“Now more than ever, it’s important for local restaurants in our country to have a fighting chance,” said Chris Webb, ChowNow’s CEO and co-founder. “Our mission at ChowNow is to enable our restaurant partners to cultivate stronger customer relationships with the help of technology. Our relationship with Instagram expands the reach of these restaurants, allowing for more organic discovery, and ultimately empowering restaurants to better serve their customers.”
Instagram’s Start Order button is already available for all ChowNow restaurant partners. For those restaurants not working with ChowNow, click here to learn more.
BlueCart Secures Funding
BlueCart, Inc., a hospitality industry marketplace and sales enablement platform, secured $5M in Series B-1 investment from Greycroft this quarter, bringing the total amount raised by the company to $22 million. The funding comes as BlueCart is scaling at an unprecedented rate in the hospitality sector, with 27,000 new buyer accounts and 3,100 additional wholesalers joining the platform in Q1 2018 alone.
To both meet the demands of this growth, and enable further scale, BlueCart is currently developing the BlueCart Procurement Assistant, a forecasting tool that combines machine learning with predictive technologies to simultaneously increase both seller revenue and buyer satisfaction on the platform. Greycroft’s investment is a strong vote of confidence for this high priority initiative.
In addition to fresh capital, BlueCart gains two key team members with this raise: Greycroft Venture Partner and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Bo Peabody will join BlueCart’s Board of Directors, while Greycroft Partner and Co-founder Dana Settle will bring her industry knowledge and a history of successful ventures to BlueCart’s team as a Board Observer.
Peabody has not only invested in successful startups that sold to Disney and Getty, but is also co-owner of Mezze Restaurant Group, and a board member of Boqueria Restaurant Group. He joins current Board of Director member David Barber, co-founder of New York’s renowned Blue Hill restaurant, in contributing significant, hospitality-focused operational expertise to BlueCart’s leadership.
“As an industry insiders, we have front row seats to the digital revolution occurring in the hospitality industry,” Peabody said. “We have seen several vertically focused solutions come and go, but BlueCart’s presence has continued to grow by addressing the broader problems of Food Service venues.”
Settle not only adds years of experience with high-growth startups, but also brings much needed new perspective to BlueCart’s previously all male board. Gender balance and diversity have been a focal point for BlueCart, which pledged in 2016 (here) to make a balanced workforce a core value of the company.
“We have to be a little picky about who we decide to bring on as investors at this stage,” says BlueCart CEO Konstantin Zvereff, “But Bo and Dana’s mix of expertise and experience match our goals as a company perfectly, and we are so excited to bring the Greycroft team into the BlueCart family.”
Chipotle Sees 667-Percent Increase in Delivery
According to results shared by Chipotle Mexican Grill and DoorDash, Chipotle has seen a 667 percent increase in weekly delivery orders since the launch of their new national delivery partnership.
“Chipotle is dedicated to increasing the accessibility of our real food, made with real ingredients, regardless of where our customers are or how they like to order,” said Curt Garner, chief digital and information officer at Chipotle. “The DoorDash partnership makes delivery available from more than 1,500 Chipotle restaurants across the country – our largest delivery partnership to date – so enjoying Chipotle’s food is now even easier and more convenient.”
“We hit the ground running during our first week as Chipotle’s largest on-demand partner, and we’re just getting started,” said Christopher Payne, chief operating officer at DoorDash. “DoorDash looks forward to building on our momentum as we continue to expand operations with Chipotle across the U.S. and Canada.”
As customers become more mobile and on-the-go, Chipotle is working to provide them with the same food and intuitive, quick experience they get when ordering in the restaurant. Most Chipotle restaurants now have a second make-line, which is dedicated to fulfilling online and digital orders. The second make-line is separate from the customer-facing line, thereby enabling digital orders with no disruption to in-store customer orders and boosting speeds for all orders. In fact, last week Chipotle had record high digital orders with no impact to the in-store customer experience.
A few highlights of Chipotle’s partnership to date with DoorDash include:
- The average DoorDash delivery time – from order to drop-off – was 34 minutes
- Chicago, Dallas and Denver saw the most delivery orders
- The most frequently ordered items nationwide were burrito bowls, burritos, and chips and guacamole
Pizza Hut Expands Beer Delivery
Pizza Hut’s category-first beer delivery pilot program is expanding to nearly 100 stores across Arizona and California in May.
Pizza Hut is expanding its beer delivery pilot program in the U.S. as part of its larger commitment to providing unique and seamless delivery experiences to its customers. The beer will be delivered in a custom cooler designed to deliver the beverages cold, so customers can enjoy them right away alongside oven-hot pizzas.
“Pizza Hut has and always will be focused on serving customers a great pizza experience. And nothing complements an oven-hot pizza like an ice-cold beer,” said Zipporah Allen, CMO, Pizza Hut. “In addition to our extensive delivery network, many Pizza Hut restaurants are already licensed to serve and distribute beer, without third party services, additional fees, or extended wait times. Expanding the pilot program is a natural way for Pizza Hut to get our customers the perfect pizza and beer combo they’re craving, delivered right to their doors.”
With the purchase of select six-packs of beer, free delivery will be available in participating Arizona markets. In partnership with MillerCoors, the delivery fee will be waived for customers who include a six-pack of Coors Light, Blue Moon, or Miller High Life in any Pizza Hut order online. Qualifying orders must meet delivery minimum requirements and be placed through PizzaHut.com, or the Pizza Hut Mobile App for iPhone and Android.
“Offering beer delivery has enabled us to provide a service to our customers that others cannot, which has proven to be successful during the first few months of the pilot,” said Mark Peterson, owner of HOT Pizza, a Pizza Hut franchisee in Arizona. “As a Pizza Hut franchisee I’m always looking for ways to innovate my business, and beer delivery is a great way for us to deliver an even better experience for our customers.”
In Arizona, Pizza Hut now offers beer delivery at participating restaurants in Phoenix, Tucson, Glendale, Prescott, Winslow, and more. In California, beer delivery is currently available at participating restaurants in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Barbara and Santa Clara, among others; and rolling out soon to additional locations, including Anaheim, Fresno, Huntington Beach and Redding this month.
Deputy Releases AI-Auto Scheduling
Deputy released Artificial Intelligence-powered Auto-Scheduling to enable businesses with hourly workers to quickly and easily create, optimize and fill legally compliant schedules across industries such as restaurants, fast food, healthcare, staffing and franchises. Available now in the Deputy App, Auto-Scheduling uses AI to build the ideal schedule based on data analytics from multiple demand signals likes sales, foot traffic numbers, table reservations, and more. The feature optimizes demand forecast and creates a custom labor recipe that puts the best person in place for every shift, based on scheduling rules customized to businesses priorities.
“There’s too much complexity and too little time to consider everything that goes into creating a workforce’s schedule, including labor laws, predictive scheduling laws and employee scheduling conflicts, not to mention time and cost optimizations for each shift,” said Ashik Ahmed, CEO and Co-Founder, Deputy. “This results in suboptimal schedules that cost businesses time and money while creating significant compliance risk, which can result in hefty fees. In an age of ever-changing regulations, on a local, national and global level, Auto-Scheduling returns control to manager’s fingertips.”
Deputy Auto-Scheduling removes scheduling obstacles to empower businesses and franchises to stay in line with complex scheduling laws while making life easier for both managers, traditionally in charge of creating complex schedules, and their hourly workers. Capabilities include:
One-Click Scheduling – Save time, money and energy while creating the best schedule for your business and employees.
Auto-Fill – Once you add rules based on your company’s regulations, Auto-Scheduling allows for custom shift structures that accommodate preferred shift length, start times and more. With the ability to copy and learn from previous schedules, Auto-Fill creates a new schedule with the click of a button.
Accurate Labor Forecasting – Set priorities, like lowest cost, shift equality or matching past preferences, and Auto-Scheduling will fill your schedule with the best team to match your business needs.
Compliance – Violations of wage and hour laws are one of the largest risks employers face. Create optimized, legally compliant schedules every time to stay in step with changing regulations without worry.
Troy Aikman’s First Restaurant Concept
Troy Aikman unveiled details for Troy’s, his first restaurant and entertainment concept which will open within Texas Live! in the Arlington Entertainment District.
Plans for the venue were shared by Aikman as part of an exclusive first look at the construction progress of Texas Live!, the $250 million world-class dining, entertainment and hospitality district being developed in partnership between the Texas Rangers, The Cordish Companies and the City of Arlington. Troy’s, which will debut with the project late this summer, will join the likes of Arlington Backyard, Live! Arena, Rangers Republic, the country’s flagship PBR Country Bar, Revolver Brewing and Lockhart Smokehouse in anchoring Texas Live!.
Designed by internationally-acclaimed Jeffrey Beers International, the space will flow from a refined rustic interior inspired from some of the best beer halls in Texas and the country to an expansive, lush outdoor patio space centered around a beautiful Live Oak tree. An indoor/outdoor stage in the middle will welcome live music seven days a week featuring a variety of local and regional acts. Additionally, Troy’s will feature a major LED display for a premier sports viewing experience.
“The opportunity to be a part of a world-class development in the heart of America’s Capital of Sports and Entertainment is incredibly exciting for me,” stated Troy Aikman. “We are working to create the perfect blend of dining and socializing that I hope people will love for years to come.”
Guests will enjoy an elevated menu at Troy’s based upon Aikman’s personal favorites including gourmet burgers with bold flavors and specialty margaritas made from the freshest ingredients. The menu will showcase several healthy lunch and dinner options, shareable sides, a selection of craft cocktails and a curated collection of wine and beer.
“We could not be more honored that Troy Aikman decided to open his first restaurant at Texas Live!,” stated Reed Cordish, Principal of The Cordish Companies. “His plans for the concept are outstanding and we know that it will be a wonderful addition to Texas Live! and Arlington Entertainment District.”
“Every new announcement for Texas Live! is adding something special to the district,” stated Rob Matwick, Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Texas Rangers. “Troy’s will be an iconic addition and will quickly become a favorite for local residents and out of town guests.”
Texas Live! will feature 200,000 square feet of best-in-class local, regional and national dining and entertainment and a 5,000-capacity outdoor event pavilion. Additionally, the project will debut the country’s flagship Live! by Loews hotel with 35,000 square feet of meeting/convention space in 2019. Texas Live! is bringing more than 3,000 new jobs to the City of Arlington and Tarrant County, including 2,000 new construction jobs and 1,025 new permanent jobs. The project will open late this summer between the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Park and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX and will sit directly adjacent to the Rangers’ new Globe Life Field when it opens in 2020.