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03/29/2022

Mary Melvin: The Trail Blazer Leading AI in the Drive-Thru at Checkers and Rally’s

Mary Melvin is spearheading the AI initiative that is creating a seamless drive-thru ordering experience for guests. She received the Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award at MURTEC.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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Mary Melvin Checkers Rallys Tech Expert
Mary Melvin, Director of Restaurant Technology for Checkers and Rally’s Restaurants

Mary Melvin, Director of Restaurant Technology for Checkers and Rally’s Restaurants, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at MURTEC.

Melvin, who is based in St. Louis, Mo., has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry with roles in technology support, business analytics, financial analysis and project management.  These days, she is known for driving strategic innovation to support continued growth and sustainability across the enterprise. She is spearheading the Tampa, Florida-based QSR’s use of AI in the drive-thru, including an AI-based voice assistant that is designed to create a seamless ordering experience for guests.

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“This has been such an exciting project and has significant meaning now in our current environment with labor shortages,” says Melvin. “It’s very rewarding to see the AI project fill a crucial need that is welcomed with open arms from our hardest workers – our operations teams.”

The Wide World of Automation

Melvin is bullish about automation and its potential in the restaurant space. “There’s so much being developed with autonomous technology that will provide greater accuracy and efficiency than humanly possible,” Melvin says. “It helps better predict loyalty trends and will dynamically self-correct which will change the competitive landscape as we see it now.”

Saving Time, Increasing Service

When it comes to automated technology, there’s a long runway for growth, and Melvin is looking forward to rolling out additional enhancements that will not only benefit the customer but also the employee experience.

“I love making people’s lives easier with technology,” says Melvin. “Having automated tools and information saves time and allows for more interaction with our guests.  I’m looking forward to our systems alerting managers when an employee needs a break, the temperature in the freezer is not optimal, inventory on a product is low and is automatically being added to an order.  Voice-to-text will continue to evolve and will be able to help the restaurant industry be more productive and efficient.”

Melvin has spent her career in the restaurant industry, and even in her early days was helping her coworkers to use technology efficiently. In fact, she was working in a restaurant when her career organically shifted into restaurant technology. When the restaurant received a new POS system, “I picked it up quickly and became the ‘go to’ person for help,” she explains. “This turned into being asked to join the corporate help desk where I was able to build even more knowledge as I learned new applications.  I had a degree, however, I went back to school and started taking classes to support my role which turned into a quality assurance role, onsite support for new restaurants, project leader of new restaurants, project manager and business analyst, and now to Director of Restaurant Technology."

Melvin is quick to point out that “many people have supported and lifted me up throughout my career and I accept this recognition knowing I couldn’t have gotten to this point without them.  I look forward to sharing [HT’s Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award] with my team at Checkers and Rally’s who are the heart and soul of our restaurant technology projects.”  

Melvin was one of 10 women recognized in HT’s sixth annual Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards, sponsored by Tillster, the global leader in powering online ordering and delivery solutions for restaurant brands.  The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented in recognition of no less than 15 years of service and accomplishments in the foodservice technology industry. 

HT will profile each of the winners in the coming weeks at hospitalitytech.com/TopWomen22  and in the summer issue of Hospitality Technology

About the Author

Anna Wolfe
Anna Wolfe is Hospitality Technology’s senior editor.  She has more than 15 years of experience as a B2B journalist writing about restaurants, retail and specialty food. Read More