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Morton's, T.G.I. Friday's and Hard Rock Cafe Named 2009 Breakthrough Award Winners

For the past five years, Hospitality Technology has been honoring restaurant companies for their outstanding achievement in increasing business growth and innovation within the last year. The 2009 Breakthrough Awards, presented at the Restaurant Executive Summit, (insert date location) continues this tradition by recognizing winners in the categories of Excellence in Business Efficiency, Excellence in Customer Engagements, and Technology Innovation.

Awards were presented to Morton's Restaurant Group in the area of Excellence in Business Efficiency, T.G.I. Friday's in the area of Excellence in Customer Engagement; and Hard Rock Cafe in the area of Technology Innovation.

"For five years, Hospitality Technology has presented Breakthrough Awards to restaurant operators that are champions of innovation and ingenuity," says Abigail A. Lorden, editor in chief of Hospitality Technology. "Despite an economic climate that has challenged their resources, this year's pool of nominees was tremendously inspiring. The accomplishments of these three winning companies, in particular, offer a great example of what can be accomplished through creative thought and dedicated people."

Excellence in Business Efficiency
The award for Excellence in Business Efficiency is presented to the company that has leveraged a specific technology or strategy beyond standard practice to become significantly more efficient. Morton's Restaurant Group was awarded the 2009 Breakthrough Award in this category in recognition of a comprehensive, web-enabled platform in their back-office management that makes accounts payable available in real time, with instant synchronization to the corporate office. Additionally, Morton's is using electronic records for invoicing, and has brought significant automation and control to its food and wine inventories. These and other back-office efficiencies were gained through technology solutions from Compeat Restaurant Management Systems. On hand to accept the award was Ron DiNella, Senior VP and CFO for Morton's. DiNella was also a speaker at the Restaurant Executive Summit on the topic of capital preservation and growth strategies.

Excellence in Customer Engagement
The award for Excellence in Customer Engagement is presented to the company that has launched concerted efforts surrounding guest satisfaction, guest loyalty, and brand reputation. T.G.I. Friday's was awarded the 2009 Breakthrough Award in this category for its recently-revamped guest-recognition program, "Give Me More Stripes." The email-based technology platform enables Friday's to interact in ways that are more targeted and relevant then ever before, while offering perks such as a 'jump the line pass,' first look at new items, and more. After only one year, the program has more than 1.5 million member and is still growing. On hand to accept the award was Don Viette, VP of IT and CIO for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide, parent company to T.G.I. Friday's. Friday's worked with MICROS to leverage its loyalty and customer relationship management POS module, iCare, to drill down into guest data for the creation of target email and mobile marketing campaigns.

Technology Innovation
The award for Technology Innovation is presented to the company that has leveraged technology beyond standard practice to foster unique collaborations that break ground in IT innovation. Hard Rock Cafe was awarded the 2009 Breakthrough Award in this category in recognition of the interactive, touch-enabled technologies in their restaurants that work to build brand strength and customer engagement. Hard Rock worked with multiple technology vendors, including Obscura Digital, Coleman Technologies, Microsoft, Vertigo, and Technomedia Solutions, along with media and design consulting firm Duncan/Channon, to launch a series of innovations, including an entire touch-sensitive "Rock Wall" located in the cafe lobby area. On hand to accept the award was Joe Tenczar, VP of technology and CIO for Hard Rock International. Tenczar also served as a roundtable workshop moderator at the Summit on the topic of next-gen restaurant IT.

Morton's Restaurant Group, T.G.I Friday's, and Hard Rock Cafe join the list of previous Breakthough Award winners that include: uWink, Cara Operations Ltd, Marco's Pizza, Legal Sea Foods, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Kahala — Cold Stone Creamery, Noodles & Co. and Buca, Inc.
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