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Jack in the Box, ERJ Dining and Fleming's Honored for Innovation

Each year, Hospitality Technology (HT) magazine presents a select group of restaurant companies with its Breakthrough Awards. These awards honor restaurant companies for their outstanding vision and achievement in delivering technological, operational and overall excellence to guests

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 foodservice industry are recognized for their efforts. The 2010 Breakthrough Awards go to: Jack in the Box; ERJ Dining, LLC; and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar.

Hospitality Technology received nominations for nearly 20 individual restaurant companies, covering everything from point of sale innovations to back-office system integration, from workforce efficiency strategies to new guest service models. The nomination pool was comprised of corporate, franchisee and independently-owned companies from all market segments.

Winners are judged by HT editorial staff on a basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution, and forward-thinking vision, and announced at the Restaurant Executive Summit on Thursday, September 30, 2010. (The Summit is a three-day networking and educational event, scheduled September 29 — October 1, 2010 at the Grand Del Mar Resort in San Diego, Calif. that brings together technology, operations, finance and marketing executives from leading restaurant companies to share strategies and tactics for achieving operational excellence and exceeding guest expectations.)

About This Year's Winners
Jack in the Box was chosen for its innovation in brand identity management. Jack is leveraging a Web-based marketing tool kit that enables franchisees for its more than 2,200 restaurant locations to create and manage comprehensive local marketing campaigns. Franchisees can shop for and order turnkey marketing materials as well as access a wealth of best practices information to assist them in their marketing efforts. This application has significantly streamlined franchisees' marketing efforts by reducing the amount of time it takes for the delivery of custom marketing items from 6-8 weeks to a 2-3 week lead time.

ERJ Dining, LLC., a Chili's franchisee with 121 restaurants in the Midwest (and two under construction), was chosen based on the significant strides that it has achieved in both customer service and operational efficiency. ERJ is leveraging table-side touch screen devices in four of its Chicago area restaurants that enable guests to view real-time news, play games, enroll in their loyalty club, and pay-at-the-table, among other functions. By leveraging these devices, ERJ has shaved an average of three minutes off of the time it takes to turn a table. The company also reports higher per person check averages and a significant boost in its loyalty club enrollment. What's more, the pay-at-the-table capability has resulted in labor savings for ERJ by reducing the amount of time it takes for servers to settle the bill for the tables that they are assigned.

Finally, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, a fine dining restaurant company with more than 60 locations nationwide, was chosen for its innovation in workforce management. By investing in videoconference technology, and the entire infrastructure backbone that is required to support it, Fleming's has been able to reduce the cost of traveling operators and executives, while streamlining company-wide communications and strengthening training processes. The new technology will also create revenue opportunities by attracting corporate groups and private parties, along with special events hosted by the restaurant itself. In all cases, the video conferencing technology will provide guests a tool to interact with guests at other Fleming's locations.

"This year's Breakthrough Award winners are inspirational; no longer are restaurants slow to adopt technology. Rather, these winners are demonstrative of the innovation that can take place in every sector of the restaurant industry," says Abigail A. Lorden, editor-in-chief of Hospitality Technology and the architect behind the awards program. "We see corporate entities taking on better franchisee communication on a massive scale; we have franchisees now tapping technology that was just a few years ago outside the scope of the U.S. restaurant industry, and we have fine dining establishments showing us exactly how technology can go •up-scale.'"

Past Breakthrough Award Winners Include

  • 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)
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