Skip to main content

Hospitality Technology Announces 2016 Restaurant Breakthrough Award Winners

The 2016 Breakthrough Award winners and corresponding categories are: Outback Steakhouse (Customer Engagement Innovator) and Fun Eats and Drinks LLC, formerly Last Call Operating Companies I & II (Enterprise Innovator).
2016 breakthrough awards logo
Advertisement - article continues below

Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine announces the winners of its 2016 Restaurant Breakthrough Awards. Every year, HT presents the Breakthrough Awards to select restaurant companies for outstanding vision and achievement in operational and guest-facing technologies. Winning companies are chosen based on vision and execution; consideration is given to size, resources and individual market segment benchmarks to ensure that companies from across the industry are recognized. The 2016 Breakthrough Award winners and corresponding categories are: Outback Steakhouse (Customer Engagement Innovator) and Fun Eats and Drinks LLC, formerly Last Call Operating Companies I & II (Enterprise Innovator).

"Reducing friction has become a top business goal in both customer-facing and back-of-house strategies, and restaurants are increasingly turning towards technology to resolve pain points in service and operations," says Dorothy Creamer, editor of Hospitality Technology magazine. "This year's Breakthrough Award winners are excellent examples of how streamlining experience and procedures yields bigger picture benefits in customer and operator satisfaction."

Nominations were collected in Q3 of 2016 and judged by the HT editorial staff and its Advisory Board on the basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution and forward-thinking vision. The awards are announced live at the 2016 Restaurant Executive Summit, taking place November 7-9 at the Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. 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.

Inside the Winning Solutions

Outback Steakhouse, winner of HT's 2016 Restaurant Breakthrough Award for Customer Engagement Innovator, offers its guests a mobile app meant to address a variety of pain points occurring during the customer dining journey -- specifically those associated with planning a visit and paying the bill. The mobile app gives Outback Steakhouse's guests the ability to get on the wait list, browse location specific menus and pay at the table. It also allows guests to receive, save and apply coupons during payment, pay with credit or gift cards, split the bill, as well as sign-up, track and apply loyalty rewards.

To enable this robust mobile app, Outback Steakhouse created a cloud solution that connects all of its different in-restaurant services together, such as table management and point-of-sale.

Since the mobile app was rolled out to Outback Steakhouse customers, it has positively impacted the pace at which its customers pay their bill, making tables available faster.

"We're constantly evaluating digital solutions to enhance our guests' experience," says Donagh Herlihy, Digital & Chief Information Officer of Bloomin' Brands Inc. "The app rolls several solutions into one easy-to-use place where diners can get on the wait list prior to arriving at the restaurant and paying from their phone We also recently added the ability to earn, track and redeem rewards for our new loyalty program: Dine Rewards. These digital solutions, through the app, have helped increase customer satisfaction and made the app a success with a 4.5-star rating."

Fun Eats and Drinks LLC (FEAD), formerly Last Call Operating Companies I & II, is the recipient of HT's 2016 Restaurant Breakthrough Award in the category of Enterprise Innovator. The company which includes Champps, Fox & Hound Sports Tavern and Baileys Sports Grille, has been selected Enterprise Innovator for implementing the HappyCo platform to automate its inspection and audit process and gain real-time insight into operations across its 80 restaurant locations. The restaurant company conducts extensive inspections and audits at each restaurant location to assess quality and brand compliance for food and beverages, facility cleanliness and maintenance and staff performance. A manual, paper-based process was time consuming and inefficient and didn't provide local managers with immediate access to key information required to fix issues quickly. It also made it difficult for senior managers to compare data from multiple locations to spot key trends and broader issues.

Researching solutions, Jeff Burrus, senior vice president of supply chain and construction, discovered HappyCo, which was being used to help manage real estate companies, but at the time had not been used in the restaurant space. Burrus saw the potential and worked with HappyCo developers to create a solution that made on-site teams more productive and accurate. Now reports include scores to help managers quantify and compare conditions between locations, inspection data is aggregated for a unified view of operations, allowing remote management of inspections and staff, and the platform stores all inspection data in the cloud so that managers can easily access documentation and photos when required.

Since its implementation, district managers now collect and collate information and photos in less than half the time of prior inspections and audits. The platform has helped the company to implement a range of enhancements to its operations, from improving the way customers are greeted at the door, to enhanced communication with employees, to better cleanliness and appearance of its restaurants.

"We are pleased, honored and humbled to accept this award and to join past recipients of this award," Burrus says. "A very special thanks to Hospitality Technology for selecting us and an enormous salute to all of this year's nominees. Thank you to those who nominated us and supported our nomination."

Past Breakthrough Award Winners Include:

  • Chili's Grill & Bar (2015) 
  • Firehouse Subs (2015)
  • Panera Bread (2015)
  • 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)

About Hospitality Technology
Hospitality Technology (HT) is the only publication dedicated to covering the role of information technology in improving business performance for both hotel and restaurant operators. The Hospitality Technology editorial portfolio includes: a print publication that publishes nine times annually and reaches more than 16,000 hospitality industry executives, three networking and educational events (MURTEC, HT-NEXT and Restaurant Executive Summit), a comprehensive website, e-newsletters, web seminars, and several exclusive annual reports and studies. Visit Hospitality Technology online at Hospitality Technology is published by EnsembleIQ, headquartered in Chicago.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds