Hospitality Technology Announces 2015 Restaurant Breakthrough Award Winners

Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine has named the winners of the 2015 Restaurant Breakthrough Awards.  Every year, HT presents its Breakthrough Awards to a select few foodservice companies for outstanding vision and achievement in operational and guest-facing technologies. Winning companies are chosen based on their vision and execution; consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks to ensure that companies from across the industry are recognized for their efforts. The 2015 Breakthrough Award winners and corresponding categories are: Chili’s Grill & Bar (Customer Engagement Innovator), Firehouse Subs (Enterprise Innovator) & Panera Bread (Experience Innovator).

“HT’s research shows that restaurants have increased their investment in technology this year and next, and we continue to see evidence of this industry breaking free of the ‘technology-laggard’ label,” says Abigail A. Lorden, group editor-in-chief of Hospitality Technology magazine. “This year’s group of award winners demonstrates how technology is helping restaurants improve the customer experience and create deep business insight.”

Nominations were collected in Q2 of 2015 and judged by HT editorial staff and Advisory Board on a basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution, and forward-thinking vision. The awards are announced live each year at the Restaurant Executive Summit. This invitation-only event brings together senior-level executives from high-growth restaurant companies to exchange powerful insights in customer service, digital innovation, and growth. The 2015 Summit was held October 7-9 at Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Inside the Winning Solutions: The 2015 Restaurant Breakthrough Award Winners
Chili’s Grill & Bar, winner of HT’s 2015 Restaurant Breakthrough Award for Customer Engagement Innovator, was the first restaurant brand to partner with leading table top tablet provider Ziosk. Chili’s aim was to adopt the right form of consumer facing technology that would change the interaction with guests for the better, giving guests control and a more personalized experience. Chili’s also sought a solution to gather data on restaurant operations, marketing and menu decisions. Chili’s officially launched in September 2013 and finished the roll out to the entire company system by the end of 2014 — a total of 823 locations in less than eight months — and has since rolled out to all franchise locations. The technology, featuring a 7-inch tablet and encrypted credit card reader, resides on each table and enables guests to see menu items, play games, view news and entertainment, order food and beverages and pay-on-demand. Since implementation, pay-at-the-table is the most used feature, reported at over 80%. Survey responses have increased 30-fold. “As the first casual dining restaurant brand to successfully incorporate tabletop technology in restaurants nationwide, we are now able to connect with our guests like never before,” said Wade Allen, vice president of digital innovation and customer engagement for Chili’s Grill & Bar. “This award is a testament to how Chili’s and Ziosk have revolutionized the casual dining experience as well as pushed brand perception and relevancy amongst today’s consumer.”

Firehouse Subs is the recipient of HT’s 2015 Restaurant Breakthrough Award in the category of Enterprise Innovator for the implementation of the Station Pulse business intelligence dashboard, and development of a 10-metric scorecard that measures a variety of hard and soft satisfaction metrics. The platform connects data from the point of sale system, customer experience platform, call center feedback, Yelp ratings, and weather, all by zip code. This creates a dynamic user experience for reviewing operational and sales performance in one location using the GoodData platform. Firehouse’s proprietary scorecard allows the company to measure guest satisfaction in a variety of areas, including crew hospitality, number and quality of table interactions, quality of food, and even community engagement. By ensuring operators focus on the 10 metrics of the Station Pulse Scorecard, year-over-year comparable sales have increased along with all of customer experience metrics. In the coming months, the company plans to implement menu mix, food cost, and social media metrics in the next phase of Station Pulse.

“On behalf of everyone at Firehouse Subs, we are thrilled to receive the Breakthrough Award,” said Danny Walsh, director of reporting and analytics at Firehouse Subs. “Since Station Pulse functions as an all-in-one reporting tool, providing us everything from sales metrics and guest satisfaction scores to operational data, Yelp ratings and Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation metrics, it is invaluable for evaluating restaurant performance quickly and easily. Station Pulse is our Big Data solution and allows Firehouse Subs to discover insights and improve operations, compete more effectively and build new capabilities for our business.”

Panera Bread is recognized with a new Breakthrough Award category in 2015, Experience Innovator. The award acknowledges the system-wide technology advancements of Panera 2.0. The project spans from a customer-facing kiosk and POS software, to a BOH enterprise management tool. The Panera 2.0 kiosk solution is based upon a proprietary iOS app serving as a front-end user interface. The company selected a POS platform to provide back-end commerce enterprise infrastructure. The project features integration with a variety of existing corporate solutions including: the MyPanera loyalty solution; the company’s universal eCommerce payments services; enterprise data management; and kitchen display and production systems. The resulting solution is a highly integrated experience for Panera’s guests that seamlessly fits all orders into the service and production system for a smooth customer experience.

“With Panera 2.0, we didn’t set out to be just a technology leader,” explains John Meister, SVP/CIO. “We wanted to modernize the customer journey. The many touchpoints of 2.0 allow our guests to access Panera in the way that works best for them – delivery, Rapid Pick Up, kiosk and mobile ordering. We’re proud to be recognized by Hospitality Technology for transforming the guest experience.”

Past Breakthrough Award Winners Include:

•    Truluck Restaurant Group (2014)
•    Jersey Mike’s Franchising Systems (2014)
•    Tony Roma’s (2013)
•    Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (2013)
•    Legal Sea Foods (2012)
•    Jersey Mike’s Subs (2012)
•    Domino's Pizza LLC (2011)
•    Subway Restaurants (2011)
•    Tasti D-Lite (2011)
•    Jack in the Box (2010)
•    ERJ Dining, LLC (2010)
•    Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (2010)
•    Morton's Restaurant Group (2009)
•    T.G.I. Friday's (2009)
•    Hard Rock International (2009)
•    Cara Operations (2008)
•    uWink (2008)
•    Marco's Pizza (2008)
•    Legal Sea Foods (2007)
•    Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (2007)
•    Kahala - Cold Stone Creamery (2007)
•    Jason's Deli (2006)
•    Noodles & Co (2006)
•    Buca, Inc. (2006

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds