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Find your sea legs: The city has approved a proposal for a floating restaurant at Charlestown Navy Yard, scheduled to open this summer.

On Friday, the Boston Planning & Development Agency announced in a press release that the agency and Mayor Marty Walsh had approved three Charlestown Navy Yard proposals for summer 2019: a pop-up community gathering space, free outdoor programming from the Navy Yard’s USS Constitution Museum, and a temporary floating restaurant operating out of a tall ship.

The Navy Yard Hospitality Group — a Charlestown-based company that also owns Pier 6 on the Charlestown waterfront, Mija Cantina in Faneuil Hall, and Reelhouse in East Boston (which is soon expanding to Quincy) — will operate the ship’s restaurant, which also will include a lighting installation connected to Shipyard Park.

While the floating restaurant is still in the very early stages of planning, Charlie Larner, president of NYHG, confirmed the launch of the concept.

A key component of Imagine Boston 2030, Walsh’s citywide initiative to improve quality of life and drive growth in Boston, is the activation of waterfront space. The accepted Charlestown proposals are slated to operate on a trial basis from May to October, at which point the success of each activation will be evaluated. In addition, a percentage of sales from each revenue-generating concept will be returned to the community through free public programming and an investment in the public open space.

“By bringing activities for people of all ages to the Navy Yard, we hope to encourage a more inclusive and equitable waterfront for Boston’s residents and visitors to enjoy,” Walsh said in a press release. “The Navy Yard is a place of national historic significance, and we are pleased with the creative proposals we received and the selections that will be moving forward this summer. We look forward to continuing to work with the community to ensure that the Navy Yard is a welcoming public space, while celebrating and respecting its history.”

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At Restaurant Tech, we not only find best-in-class technology news for restaurants –but we also help our clients make them effective. Our team of Restaurant Success Managers work with restaurants to design, develop, implement, and test marketing strategies that are all aimed at boosting sales and increasing restaurant traffic.

For the Restaurant Marketing Tips, we got some of their best ideas to share with you:

– Run a social campaign!

Tease customers via Facebook posts and with eblasts about a secret code they’ll only see if they follow you on Instagram. Post the promo code the following week and make it redeemable via your online ordering. Voila!

– Get more customers to put your app on their phone!

Have staff tell customers in line that if they show they’ve downloaded the app when they get to the front, they get a promo code valid for their first order.

– Make your pictures pop!

Use Instagram to boost your presence and build your audience. A special post on Instagram can reveal a secret discount code. Additional Instagram posts feature the Text-to-Download code and exclusive app discounts. Restaurants can use this strategy to gain followers on the most valuable social media platform. Everyone knows we eat with our eyes first! Here are some tips to take even better food photos!

– Reward loyal customers.

Send an email out to customers who have ordered 5+ times with a special “thank you” and a promo code valid towards their next online order.

– Get more people to your website in a month.

Let customers know through social media and email blasts that you are giving away a $100 gift card, and each online order that month is entered to win the contest. The more they order, the higher their odds. Announce the winner on social media at the end of the month.

– Create shareable, seasonal content.

Transform generic posts to become more engaging by including content that has a personal touch.  Have your write up useful and shareable tips/tricks and recipes for Fall meals, feature a “Fall favorite customer of the week”, and share stories of your restaurant’s journey to success with your audience. Share this with your email database, Facebook wall, and on your website. 

– Run a trendy contest.

Each week leading up to trends, invite customers to comment on your Facebook page with the costume they are wearing for Events. Pick your favorite each week to win a $20 credit towards online ordering. Bonus: if the winner posts a photo wearing their costume, you’ll give a friend of their choice $10 too (The friend must have an account online)!

– Create a Flash Sale.

Pick a specific deep pocket promotion (50% of all pizzas). Run it on a slower night to build traffic. Promote via push notifications, eblasts, and/or facebook posts. This type of campaign is great for reengaging customers who maybe haven’t reordered in a while or customers who have downloaded the apps but haven’t pulled the trigger on placing their first order. For the fall, this “flash sale” strategy could definitely be used on Cyber Monday–even more fun when paired with online ordering.

There you have it — everything you need to get started on marketing and implement advanced social strategies. If you want some feedback on your marketing strategy or a personalized marketing plan— we’re happy to help. Contact one of our experts to get started today!

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McDonald’s Corp. is testing kitchen automation and Alexa-style voice ordering at a handful of stores across the U.S. as it strives to increase speed of service while simultaneously simplifying operations for employees.

The Chicago-based chain made the announcement late Thursday afternoon after providing the Wall Street Journal an exclusive peek of new innovations described as “robot” cooks tossing chicken, fish and fries into vats of oil. McDonald’s, however, strayed from mentioning robots in its press materials.

Instead, the brand called the next-generation innovations “advanced kitchen equipment” designed to automate repetitive tasks such as cooking fries and dispensing beverages. An illustration provided by the company shows three fry baskets automating the agitation of fries in oil.

“We are exploring restaurant innovations to evolve the way food is ordered, cooked and served. We’re testing to see how these innovations can alleviate pressure on restaurant employees, making it simpler and more enjoyable to serve our customers,” the company said. “The innovations are focused on simplification, providing restaurant employees with more time to focus on the hospitality experience our customers seek.”

McDonald’s did not provide the U.S. markets where the tests are being conducted.

The brand is also jumping on the voice-ordering bandwagon, a growing movement deployed by other restaurant companies including Denny’s, Dunkin’ and Domino’s Pizza.

McDonald’s said the Alexa-style voice ordering is being tested in a few restaurants across the country. The pilot program builds on the chain’s effort to “serve food on our customers’ terms” with plans to take the efforts global, the company said.

The company’s digital evolution includes installing self-serve kiosks in hundreds of remodeled restaurants, adding delivery through Uber Eats anddrone testing in San Diego through a partnership with Uber Technologies Inc.

The drive-thru voice activation ordering is separate from the company’s artificial-intelligence-powered drive-thru menu boards being tested in 700 U.S. restaurants.  

The Wall Street Journal report highlighted the drive-thru experiment at a restaurant near the company’s Chicago headquarters. It said customers were greeted by an automated voice:“Hey there. Welcome to McDonald’s. What would you like to order?”

McDonald’s did not provide further details about the rollout of the innovations.

“As we gather more information from these tests, we’ll be sharing updates,” the company said.


McDonald’s employees test the drive-thru and kitchen innovations.

In its last earnings call in late April, McDonald’s said it is focused this year on improving restaurant operations at its 14,000 U.S. restaurants, including speed at the drive-thru.

 “We’re leveraging technology to improve and modernize the way we connect with customers,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook told investors during the April conference call. “We’re confident about the road ahead.”

Reducing bloated menus and repetitive kitchen tasks have become a priority for major brands dealing with labor challenges such as high turnover and rising wages.

McDonald’s, El Pollo Loco and Jack in the Box are among the major chains looking to streamline operations by trimming menus or testing automation.

At the National Restaurant Association show, held in Chicago in May, Mastercard and self-serve kiosk company Zivelo announced plans to partner with Sonic Drive-in to pilot AI-powered menu boards that take orders using computerized voice assistants.

Regional chains such as North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Burger Fi and Pasadena, Calif.-based CaliBurger use facial recognition for friction-less ordering through self-serve kiosks. CaliBurger’s Pasadena burger restaurant also “employs” Flippy, a burger flipping robot.

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Taco Bell’s recently announced foray into resort operation will officially open for reservations at 1 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, June 27, though the first guests can’t check in to the Taco bell Hotel and Resort in Palm Springs, California until Aug. 8, a news release said. 

Stays are available for four days, from Aug. 8 through Aug. 12, with no minimum night stay for rooms that start at $169 a night. The hotel is located at 333 East Palm Canyon Dr., where the brand will transform the existing hotel into a taco-inspired resort throughout all 70 rooms.  

Taco Bell super-fans get first dibs on the first-come, first-serve rooms and the stays are designed for adults over age 18, according to the release. The Mexican QSR chain said that “every element of the property will bring to life the Taco Bell brand and lifestyle — from guest rooms, the pool and outdoor bar, to a twist on the standard hotel amenities.”

Each day at the resort will feature a little something different, including performances by Feed the Beat artists, dive-in movies and what the brand said is its first “Freeze Lounge,” offering “frosty” drinks and a “chill lounge.” 

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This was originally published in the Mark Zuckerberg profile

On June 18, Facebook came together with 27 organizations around the world to start the non-profit Libra Association and create a new currency called Libra.

Libra’s mission is to create a simple global financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people around the world. It’s powered by blockchain technology and the plan is to launch it in 2020. You can read more about the association here: https://libra.org

Being able to use mobile money can have an important positive impact on people’s lives because you don’t have to always carry cash, which can be insecure, or pay extra fees for transfers. This is especially important for people who don’t have access to traditional banks or financial services. Right now, there are around a billion people who don’t have a bank account but do have a mobile phone.

Facebook aspire to make it easy for everyone to send and receive money just like we use their apps to instantly share messages and photos. To enable this, Facebook is also launching an independent subsidiary called Calibra that will build services that let you send, spend and save Libra — starting with a digital wallet that will be available in WhatsApp and Messenger and as a standalone app next year.

Calibra will be regulated like other payment service providers. Any information you share with Calibra will be kept separate from information you share on Facebook. From the beginning, Calibra will let you send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone at low to no cost. Over time, they hope to offer more services for people and businesses — like paying bills with the push of a button, buying coffee with the scan of a code, or riding local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass.

In addition to their efforts, many other companies will build their own services using Libra — from payment companies like Mastercard, PayPal, PayU, Stripe and Visa, to popular services like Booking, eBay, Farfetch, Lyft, Spotify and Uber, to non-profits doing important work around financial inclusion like Kiva, Mercy Corps and Women’s World Banking, to companies in the crypto space like Anchorage, Coinbase, Xapo, and Bison Trails. A number of leading Venture firms are also joining to help drive innovation on the Libra network. There’re hoping to have over 100 co-founding members of the Libra Association by the time the network launches next year.

All of this is built on block-chain technology. It’s decentralized — meaning it’s run by many different organizations instead of just one, making the system fairer overall. It’s available to anyone with an internet connection and has low fees and costs. And it’s secured by cryptography which helps keep your money safe.

This is an important part of their vision for a privacy-focused social platform — where you can interact in all the ways you’d want privately, from messaging to secure payments.

Privacy and safety will be built into every step. For example, Calibra will have a dedicated team of experts in risk management focused on preventing people from using Calibra for fraudulent purposes. They’ll provide fraud protection so if you lose your Libra coins, they’ll offer refunds. They also believe it’s important for people to have choices, so they’ll have the option to use many other third-party wallets on the Libra network.

There’s still a lot more to learn and do before Libra will be ready to officially launch. They know it’s a major undertaking and responsibility — and they’re committed to getting this right. They’ve been working with policymakers and experts in areas like financial inclusion, economics, security, privacy and blockchain, and they’ll continue listening to feedback of policymakers as they figure out the best way to move forward. They’re thankful for policymaker’s partnership, and for all the businesses, organizations, and academic institutions that are part of the Libra Association.

This is the beginning of an exciting journey and we’re looking forward to sharing more soon.

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What’s the outlook for restaurants in 2019? The National Restaurant Association’s 2019 State of the Restaurant Industry report provides the details. From sales forecasts to projections for food costs, workforce opportunities, food trends, and technology advances, you’ll get the overview here. Our State of the Industry report is available for purchase or as a complimentary download for members of the Association.

Five key trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2019:

Image Courtesy : NRA
  • A competitive business environment.
    While restaurant operators generally are optimistic about business conditions, they don’t expect a letdown in competitive pressures in 2019. In addition, rising labor costs and a complex legislative and regulatory landscape on federal, state and local levels add pressure on business performance and bottom lines.
  • Staffing is a top challenge.
    The prolonged economic expansion has led to a tighter labor market for business in many industries, but the restaurant industry also continues to be impacted by longer-term structural changes in the labor force. As a result, recruiting and retaining employees will be among the top challenges faced by restaurant operators in 2019.
  • Pent-up demand remains elevated.
    Consumer confidence is strong, their balance sheet is sound, and higher-income households represent a larger share of households than ever before. With consumers’ pent-up demand for restaurant services remaining elevated compared to historical levels, well-positioned operators can still boost traffic in a competitive environment.
  • Technology incorporation continues.
    Technology adoption will keep growing among restaurant operators in 2019, but the trends are not uniform across segments. Consumers would most like to see restaurants incorporate technology that focuses on improving customer service, making ordering and payment easier, and offering more convenient takeout and delivery options.
  • Food preferences continue their rapid evolution.
    Contemporary consumer cravings are dovetailing with emerging societal dining trends. Among the trends for 2019: a more eco-friendly perspective, greater emphasis on global flavors/cuisines, enhanced availability of healthful items and healthful children’s meals, and the exploration of new food sourcing options.
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Following I/O 2019, Google Search gained its first AR objects with 3D animals. Google ads on the web can now feature interactive 3D objects, while YouTube AR lipstick ads are another way the company is making advertising more appealing and useful.

Swirl is Google’s “first immersive display format” for the mobile web. Available to advertisers through Display & Video 360, inline ads are fully interactive — as noted by a “swipe to rotate” prompt — and provide a small initial preview. Tapping will expand the advertisement to your entire screen, with Google touting an example where users can “expand to show additional layered content.”

To help brands create high-quality, realistic models for these 3D Google ads, Google’s Poly tool has a new editor. It allows for more “editorial control” over models, including new ways to change animation settings, customize backgrounds, and add realistic reflections. Advertisers with existing 3D assets can create a Swirl ad unit through Google Web Designer.

In addition to 3D Google ads, another new interactive ad format is AR Beauty Try-On. Available in YouTube, viewers can “try on makeup while following along with YouTube creators.” M·A·C Cosmetics ran the first YouTube AR lipstick ad campaign, with initial testing showing 30% of viewers interacting with the augmented reality experience for over 80 seconds.

Thanks to machine learning and AR technology, it offers realistic, virtual product samples that work on a full range of skin tones. Currently in alpha, AR Beauty Try-On is available through FameBit by YouTube, Google’s in-house branded content platform.

YouTube is also responding to the popularity of livestreams among brands by letting advertisers run clips from livestreams right in a display ad. The Google Web Designer features a new template to create an ad with content from an existing YouTube livestream.

With the live stream format people will be able to interact with the video using familiar YouTube player controls. People can preview your live stream, watch full screen, and exit when they’re done, giving them full control over how they interact with your content.

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OpenTable has announced what it is calling an industry-first partnership. The partner is restaurant management platform Upserve. By joining forces, the two companies are seeking to enable real-time, two-way data flow between OpenTable’s GuestCenter operating system and Upserve’s POS system.

Connecting guest preferences, reservation information, and point-of-sale data means restaurateurs can match individual checks to reservations, which allows servers to see what guests ordered during past visits and customize service on the fly.

Connecting the dots between guest, reservation, and check data is a big priority at OpenTable. To date, the company has established integrations with 10 different POS systems, and thousands of restaurants are matching millions of individual checks to reservations every month.

According to OpenTable, the new partnership will help teams prepare better for shifts and anticipate guests’ needs. Hosts can see a guest’s spend and visit history as soon as they pull up a reservation, and servers can find guest dining preferences right in the POS. Checks may be created automatically when a guest arrives at the host stand, streamlining process and communication among staff.

The company is also looking at more ways to create efficiencies on the floor, like putting check data to work in GuestCenter to improve turn times. The goal is to drive a smoother, faster-turning front of house by using information from the POS to automate processes like check creation or course status.

OpenTable has been making waves in the restaurant technology space. Just last month, for example, as reported here, Booking Holdings, the parent company of OpenTable, announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Venga, a guest management platform for restaurants and other businesses. Venga’s cloud technology enables its restaurant customers to enhance and personalize the guest experience. And in April, as reported here, OpenTable announced a partnership with Gather, a leading events platform for the hospitality industry to make finding and booking an event a more seamless experience.

OpenTable, which launched its operations in 1999, offering reservations at a limited selection of restaurants in San Francisco, is the largest provider of online restaurant reservations. The company reportedly has more than 51,000 restaurants globally using its software to seat over 120 million diners monthly.

OpenTable has grown quickly through acquisitions and partnerships such as this latest one, with UpServe, which should further fuel the company’s rapid ascent.

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American Express recently announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Resy, the digital restaurant reservation booking and management platform. The acquisition will build on the growing suite of digital-first benefits and services from American Express that extend beyond traditional rewards and points, to provide Card Members with access and experiences across travel and lodging, airport lounges, exclusive events, and dining.

Founded in 2014, Resy offers a table management, CRM and booking technology suite for restaurants, with a consumer-facing restaurant reservation app and website to elevate and enhance dining experiences worldwide. Resy currently works with approximately 4,000 restaurants in 154 U.S. cities and 10 countries, seating more than 2.6 million diners a week. The acquisition is expected to be completed in summer 2019 and builds on a number of recent acquisitions made by American Express in the dining, travel and lifestyle space that are part of the company’s strategy to become an essential part of Card Members’ and merchants’ digital lives.

“Resy was created to both connect people who love dining out with new, notable and hard to get into restaurants across the globe, as well as help restaurants’ businesses grow and thrive. Similarly, American Express has strong relationships with premium dining partners and restaurants across the globe, and provides our Card Members with access to incredible dining experiences through our exclusive benefits and programs,” said Chris Cracchiolo, Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty and Benefits, American Express. “We look forward to working with the Resy team to continue to grow the Resy digital platform, and develop new ways to further connect our Card Members and restaurant partners through unique access and experiences.”

Resy has built important relationships across the restaurant industry, with the mission of powering the world’s best restaurants using technology to imagine the future of hospitality. Focused primarily in the U.S. but with locations in the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia, Resy offers restaurants sophisticated reservation management solutions at affordable pricing that are designed to help restaurants optimize tables and increase revenue, while at the same time providing consumers with a seamless booking experience with the top restaurants across the globe.

In line with this news, American Express is working with recently acquired companies—personal travel assistant app Mezi, UK dining reservation platform Cake Technologies, airport lounge discovery and booking platform LoungeBuddy, and Japanese premium restaurant reservation platform Pocket Concierge, to develop a suite of new digital capabilities that will provide unique digital services, experiences, and access for American Express customers.

After the acquisition, the Resy brand and digital platform will continue to be led and operated by its co-founder and CEO, Ben Leventhal. Resy’s co-founder and CTO, Michael Montero, will also remain in place. Additionally, existing Resy reservation booking and management services and capabilities will continue to be offered.

Image Courtesy : Resy Platform

Resy is a hospitality technology company, built for and powered by restaurant lovers. We connect the world’s most sought-after restaurants with the best guests around the globe. Resy offers superior reservation management software and a consumer-facing restaurant reservation app to elevate and enhance dining experiences worldwide. Resy works with approximately 4,000 restaurants in 154 U.S. cities and 10 countries, seating over 2.6 million diners a week. Resy boasts an industry-low, global no-show rate of approximately 2%.

Consumers can book and manage reservations on Resy.com and on the app from a carefully curated selection of the world’s most distinguished restaurants, including n/naka in Los Angeles and Lilia in New York City. Users now have even better access to restaurants thanks to an enhanced Notify waitlist system, which sends alerts when hard-to- get reservations become available. The app is free and available for download on both iOS and Android.

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Popular social video app TikTok has been growing high and is currently setting out to concentrate on monetization and advertising, per a report by Tech Crunch.

The company already generates some revenue from in-app purchases, regarding $9 million in May, that may be a 500% year-over-year rate.

The app, that relies in national capital and in hand by Byte Dance, has been additionally centered on growth than revenue, and it hasn’t been wanting to place up a paywall for a few options as a result of it doesn’t need to jeopardize that growth.

The company is very centered on Bharat, wherever it’s two hundred million users, a hundred and twenty million of whom are active. TikTok is that the most downloaded app within the country, a distinction it took from Facebook in Q1 of this year. Still, Indian users solely compose regarding half a % of all the company’s in-app purchases, that is around $45,000.

Now, the corporate desires to urge additional advertisers. It recently signed on brands like dope, Myntra, Shopclues and Shaadi.com, among others.

The app doesn’t charge for filters or video effects, however users can buy TikTok coins to shop for gifts for different streamers. Users in China have spent $5.9 million of all of the $9 million in-app purchases, that makes up regarding 65%.

In the US, each iOS and robot users spent regarding $2 million, that is around 22% of gross sales.

May was an enormous month for the corporate, in terms of installs. Regarding 56 million folks put in the app that month, that is a rise of 27% from the previous one. Despite the massive numbers, installs were truly down 21% from a high in Gregorian calendar month of 7.8 million, though a brief ban in Bharat could have contributed to it.

Since its origin, the corporate is around 1.2 billion installations, however that doesn’t mean they’re all active users. The corporate last summer same it had regarding five hundred million folks actively victimization the app each month.

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