News Briefs

  • 1/9/2023

    Focus Brands Accelerates Dual Branded Locations

    Foucs Brand dual branded Jamba Juice and Auntie Annes

    Focus Brands says dual branding is the future of QSR, and the parent company of Auntie Anne’s®, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s, is leading the charge. Today, the Focus Brands portfolio boasts 175-plus open dual branded units with at least 65 more in various stages of development across the country. 

    Drive-Thru Convenience

    The Focus Brands portfolio brands have signed agreements to open more than 50 dual and tri-brand locations in the coming year, many of which include drive-thrus for added convenience as interest in dual branded franchise opportunities continues to surge.

    Flexible Store Formats

    Focus Brands is among the brands introducing new store formats, including Krystal, Jack-in-the-Box and Panera Bread, which opened its Panera To Go, solely offering Rapid Pick-Up and Delivery shelves where guests and delivery drivers can easily pick up orders.  

    Focus Brands has long pioneered the concept of dual branding, predominately in malls and non-traditional locations with Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon. Now, the company’s portfolio brands have found new opportunities with streetside dual branded units, which is paving the way for immense franchise growth. 

    “Dual branding is the future of our brands, especially on the specialty side of the business,” said Brian Krause, Chief Development Officer at Focus Brands. “There will always be a place in malls, but there is an immense amount of growth opportunity in streetside venues, and, by dual branding, there is more opportunity for enhanced revenue.”

    The company invested heavily in consumer research to identify how to create combinations of its iconic brands to resonate with consumers and meet them where they want to be met.

    Focus Brands has identified four dual-brand concepts:

    • Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon
    • Auntie Anne’s/Cinnabon/Carvel
    • Auntie Anne’s/Jamba
    • Cinnabon/Carvel – Cinnabon Swirl. 

    While key consumer benefits vary by dual-brand combination, one consistent benefit has been convenience. Having these brands together in one location makes them far more accessible than they are individually. This convenience also creates opportunity for franchisees, as co-branding leads to an expansive menu that drives enhanced unit-level volume. 


  • 1/14/2023

    Walk-On's Sports Bistreaux Invests in Tech Transformation

    Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux is making its largest technological investment in brand history.

    Walk-On’s is implementing a systemwide aggregator to consolidate third party orders, partnering with Lunchbox to upgrade its online ordering platform and guest loyalty program, and introducing a partnership with Toast to level up its POS management system.

    71% say the ability to integrate with other systems is driving their POS purchase decisions, according to HT’s2 2023 POS Software Trends Report.

    Walk-On’s new loyalty program and app, designed by Lunchbox, are scheduled to launch in the first half of 2023 with an improved interface and back-end integration that will create a more seamless user experience for guests and operators alike. 

    Continuing with marked enhancements to the guest experience, Walk-On’s is also partnering with BOWEN to modernize the brand’s website presence and streamline the online ordering experience. 

    In addition to the upgraded Toast POS system, Walk-On’s is installing Toast Kitchen Display System, and rolling out Toast Go 2 mobile handheld POS devices for tableside and curbside use at current and future locations. 

    Walk-On’s will implement a phased rollout across all current locations throughout 2023 and begin immediate implementation at all new restaurants in their development pipeline. 

  • 1/30/2023

    Waverly Labs Launches Interpretation App Called Forum

    Forum logo

    Waverly Labs, pioneers of smart translation solutions, is expanding its mission to break down language barriers with the launch of Forum, a mobile and web-based app that helps unlimited numbers of people communicate with ease. Designed for use in lecturers, auditoriums, and theaters, as well as in-person and/or remote meetings (working alongside platforms such as Zoom, Google Chat, and Microsoft Teams), it facilitates communication in 20 languages and 42 dialects.

    Forum is extremely easy to download and use and allows users to either host or attend a session.  Once a session is created, participants can join by simply scanning a QR code or entering a meeting code generated by the host. They then select which language they want to receive, and Forum provides text and audio translation direct to their device.  At the end of the session, users have the option to receive a full transcript of the conversations.

    Forum is a highly flexible platform that facilitates one-to-many, one-to-one, and many-to-many communications. It is suitable for a host of use cases, across multiple verticals and debuts with various tiered plans to suit all needs. 

    Multi-lingual Meetings  

    A number of companies have partnered with Waverly Labs to trial Forum to streamline meetings.  The Japanese company Uniqlo uses Forum for in-person meetings within its New York office. In this use case, the host acts like a lecturer, communicating in their native tongue with participants dialing into their meetings and receiving translations on their devices while in the room together. Participants can follow along on text or audio using any earphones that can connect to their device.

    With employees all over the globe, French powerhouse Chanel leverage Forum for international multi-person, multi-lingual meetings. Used alongside Google Chat, Forum is a great second-screen solution, allowing users to participate in video calls while receiving translations on their devices or web browsers.  

    “Forum is a powerful AI tool that enables hosts and audiences to stay connected with live transcription, translation, and interpretation for booked events. For hotels and event planners, the service is an excellent feature and complement when marketing their event spaces to clients,” says Andrew Ochoa, Waverly Founder & CEO.

    Bilingual Broadway 

    “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” – Well, now Forum is back on Broadway! The Perfect Crime, the longest-running play on Broadway, relies on Forum to enhance the experience it can provide its international visitors.  Audience members have the option to join a session during the play and hear translations on their devices connected to headphones.  

    Leveraged In Lectures

    Forum is also a powerful tool for lectures, speaker presentations, and events. In this one-to-many use case, a speaker starts as a session that audience members can join. Translations in their chosen language are received directly on their device as text and audio.  A session can be “broadcast” in multiple languages simultaneously.

    "We are on a mission to bridge global communications by building a world without language barriers. Forum is an exciting addition to our portfolio and ideally placed to help achieve this goal," said Andrew Ochoa, Founder, and CEO of Waverly Labs. "Forum leverages our core translation technology that uses the latest speech recognition and machine translations in a compelling and easy-to-use app without the need for any hardware or equipment.”

    Forum has free and tiered feature plans. It is always free for people to download, join sessions, and  listen and stream translations (text) on their devices. Hosting sessions and sending communications for translation requires a plan.  Plans vary based on the number of participants and languages they can support, the number of minutes of translation available per month, the number of sessions that can be hosted per month, and the ability to unlock additional features such as vocabulary preferences. Free, Personal, Professional, and Premium plans are available, ranging from $0 to $34.99 per month. Customized “Team Plans” are also available to individual companies to best suit their needs.

    Forum joins the Waverly Labs portfolio of translation solutions that includes SUBTITLES, a two-sided customer service counter display facilitating safe in-person interactions, and the AMBASSADOR INTERPRETER, the over-the-ear device providing near-simultaneous audio and text translations. Its fast, fluid and fluent translations are highly accurate and made possible thanks to its patented translation technology that combines the latest speech recognition and machine translation.

    Its core technology captures speech, processes it in the cloud, and delivers translations to various devices and solutions optimized for different use cases. It is so fast and accurate it can handle ongoing fluid conversations with people in a natural and unimpaired way. Highly sophisticated, it can translate conversations with multiple users, receiving different language translations simultaneously. 

    Waverly Labs offers audio and text translations in over 20 languages and 42 dialects, including English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Greek, Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Polish, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Cantonese, Hebrew, Thai, Vietnamese and Dutch.

    Forum is currently available as an IOS and web-based app, with an Android version launching at the end of Q1. Its additional advanced features include:

    • Versatile speech recognition and transmission options
      • Hold-to-Talk: Hold the mic button to capture your voice and release it to translate.
      • Pause-to-Translate: Simply talk and following a 2- second pause in speaking, translations will be completed without the need to hold any mics or press any buttons.
      • Live Translation: In this mode, Forum translates as you speak in real-time. 
    • Vocabulary Preferences: Providing great control over terminology and decency. 
      • Profanity filter: Provides the option to block any words or phrases not wanted in a chat.
      • Custom Terms and Definitions: Add uncommon terms that are regularly used, such as names, acronyms, expressions, and slang, to personalize and increase the accuracy of your experience.
    • Transcripts:  Past conversations are available as transcripts. You can see the messages displayed in all the participants' languages during the session.
    • Host Controls: The HOST speaker has complete control to mute the audience and lock the session so no other participant joins during the speech.
  • 1/30/2023

    AtlasIED Launches New Atmosphere Digital Audio Control and Processing Hardware and Major New Software Update at ISE 2023

    atlas IED logo

    AtlasIED, a global electronics manufacturer of audio, mass communications, and sound masking solutions, announced several new products for AtlasIED’s Atmosphere audio processing and control platform, including two combined signal processor and amplification products, the Atmosphere AZMP4 (4-zone) and AZMP8 (8-zone), and the Atmosphere X-ZPS, an advanced multi-zone paging station accessory. Additionally, AtlasIED is now offering Atmosphere 3.0, a major software update for the Atmosphere platform.

    Engineered with automation, artificial intelligence, and touchless control, Atmosphere combines digital audio processors, amplifiers, graphical user interfaces, programming software, and controls to set a new operational and performance standard for digital audio systems. Designed to be simple to install and easy to operate, the platform offers the modularity, scalability, and quality performance required to support the audio needs of a wide range of commercial applications, including restaurants, bars, hotels, school campuses, houses of worship, and retail establishments.

    “The introduction of these new hardware products and the latest software represent another important milestone and highlights the continued innovation of the Atmosphere platform,” said Tom Lureman, director of product management at AtlasIED. “The Atmosphere platform has transformed the way our customers integrate audio into a variety of environments, like hospitality. These latest products bring even more capabilities and value to support their clients’ needs.” 

    Audio Processing and Amplification in one product: AZMP4 and AZMP8  

    Building upon the foundation of the Atmosphere AZM series of signal processors, the new Atmosphere AZMP4 (4-zone) and AZMP8 (8-zone) add built-in premium amplification to help customers consolidate products in an audio rack and streamline system integration.

    The AZMP4 is powered by a single 600W 4-channel amplifier module while the AZMP8 provides 1200W of total power. Any AZMP4 or AZMP8 individual channel can be software configured to provide different wattages. For example, if a restaurant has several zones but one has more speakers, an installer can use the AZMP to divide the power to better suit a zone with more or less speakers.

    New Multi-zone paging station accessory  

    AtlasIED also announces the Atmosphere X-ZPS, an advanced multi-zone paging station accessory natively compatible with AtliasIED AZM and AZMP processors. Like all Atmosphere accessories, the X-ZPS is plug-and-play using CAT5e cable and daisy-chainable with other accessories up to 1,000 feet. With a 4.3-inch touchscreen display for easy Zone, Group, or All Call paging using the included premium gooseneck microphone, it can also be configured as a full Atmosphere system controller with access to features including zone volume, source select, message recall, scene select, and bell schedule.  

    Atmosphere 3.0

    AtlasIED also launched its latest major software update for the Atmosphere platform, Atmosphere 3.0. Available for AtlasIED AZM audio processors and the new AZMP combination audio processors with built-in amplifiers, the Atmosphere 3.0 update builds upon the embedded intelligence for the system, now allowing for continuous monitoring and supervision of system health and performance. A new Self-Test feature measures system performance over time and provides notifications of any degradation of loudspeaker load. Additionally, Atmosphere 3.0, introduces sound masking as another feature of this powerful platform. Used in corporate, healthcare/ clinical, and other settings, sound masking helps cover speech for enhanced speech privacy and reduce distracting office noise for increased focus and productivity. 

  • 1/30/2023

    PPDS Debuts Energy Efficient Digital Signage Series

    PPDS Philips Tableaux digital signage in a restaurant

    PPDS, the exclusive global provider of Philips professional displays and solutions, is excited to announce the launch of a new game-changing and industry-advancing range of full size and full colour ‘zero power’ Philips Tableaux advanced colour ePaper (ACeP) signage displays. Each is capable of delivering 24/7 vivid content, while running entirely unplugged and without using a single kilowatt of electricity.

    Unveiled on Philips booth (3P600) in Barcelona, these ground-breaking Philips Tableaux displays from PPDS mark the introduction of a brand new product category into its ever-evolving portfolio of professional displays, (including digital signage, interactive displays, direct view LED and professional TVs).

    Part of a relentless focus and deepening commitment to bringing high impact, highly sustainable and more eco-friendly solutions to market, the new Tableaux displays from PPDS are the world’s first 60,000 colour (including blue) ePaper signage solutions launched by a leading display manufacturer. Designed to deliver an array of exciting new opportunities – including cost and energy savings – for customers operating in a variety of verticals, with hospitality being key.

    Stretching the boundaries of possibility

    Available in 25” 16:9, and 28” 32:9 stretched variants at launch, Philips Tableaux displays are an ideal energy saving solution for businesses across the sectors looking to digitise their paper-based signage delivering messaging such as store opening hours, timetables, and menus, or promotions and offers, or for those looking to swap out their current digital models (where features may far exceed day-to-day requirements, adding unnecessary running costs) with colourful, power-free, easily updatable Android SoC displays.

    Perfect for any environment, including in spaces with limited or no access to power sources, the Tableaux range will show content without even being plugged in or using power at all. Light enough to be moved around easily when required, the displays only require connection to an electricity source when content is being updated, and immediately revert to zero power upon completion. Content updates can be managed manually, or entirely remotely using PPDS’ in-house or third-party professional display control and management platforms. The Philips Tableaux Series will also soon be compatible with the evolutionary PPDS Wave cloud-based fleet management platform, designed and built exclusively for Philips professional displays.

    No plug, no problem

    PPDS has already received significant interest and orders from around the world, including for customers in the retail, corporate, hospitality, food and beverage, public spaces, transportation and healthcare sectors, following a global pre-launch at its Global Access: Future Tech showcase ahead of ISE.

    Further Philips Tableaux display sizes will be added in the coming months, with customers invited to learn more and to experience for themselves the current and future plans from PPDS on Philips stand 3P600 during ISE 2023.

    Martijn van der Woude, VP Global Marketing and Business Development at PPDS commented: There are very many instances where digital signage is used only display still images, which may change only once a day, and sometimes even less. For these, you do not need a solution that offers a refresh rate of, for example 60fps, or to invest in a technology that far exceeds the capabilities required to achieve the desired impact. With the Philips Tableaux Series from PPDS, businesses can achieve their aims and ambitions at a fraction of the running cost, bringing immediate savings for themselves and for the environment.

    “Sustainability is a top priority for many businesses. In a survey taken during our Global Access:Future Tech event, 68% of end customers said that it is business critical and 59% of Sis said the same. At PPDS, we feel it is our duty to lead the industry with this challenge, bringing products that deliver on energy and environmental savings, without compromising customers’ digital display objectives.”

    PPDS’ commitment to sustainability has been cultivated over many years, and the company continues to embed this aspect as a key pillar in its strategy and future plans. Accelerating the topic of power savings into 2023 to address spiralling energy costs and to support businesses in achieving their sustainability and environmental goals and ambitions – including those set by local governments around the world – PPDS is taking a leadership role in developing technology to significantly reduce power consumption, carbon footprint, and resources used, without compromising the quality of performance for which Philips professional displays are known.

    Franck Racape, VP Global Commercial at PPDS added: “At PPDS our mindset is to listen to the market and lead from the front in delivering the solutions customers need, when they need them. Sustainability and energy consumption are both becoming an increasing part of the conversation and this is something we have focused heavily on in the past 12 to 18 months.

    “Today, here at ISE 2023, the latest examples of that strategy are on display, and we’re delighted to be the first leading display manufacturer in the global market to introduce these full sized, full colour Tableaux displays. These provide incredible opportunities, allowing businesses to digitise their business communications and messaging in ways they never thought possible. The Tableaux Series is the perfect, complementary solution to our wider range of incredible Philips professional displays, providing customers with a full portfolio of choice and opportunity to fit their everyday – and extraordinary – needs.

    Martijn van der Woude concluded: “We have already been overwhelmed by the interest of our Tableaux displays ahead of ISE 2023. This display is a game changer for our customers and the wider AV industry…presenting results that speak for themselves. We look forward to welcoming you to our booth 3P600 in Barcelona so you can see and experience them for yourselves.”

  • 1/30/2023

    Mountainside Retreat Getting a Timesaving ‘Lift’ with New Accounting Solution

    Mountain Lodge Telluride

    Business at the Mountain Lodge Telluride is simply sensational, especially since the slope-side sanctuary built for adventure seekers transitioned its back-office accounting solution to PVNG by Aptech. With business on a steady incline, the property needed an accounting system that streamlined data entry – especially when it comes to uploading payroll for its large seasonal workforce. PVNG gave Mountain Lodge Telluride the lift it was looking for.

    “One of the biggest benefits of PVNG is the ability to upload journal entries,” said Huascar (Rick) Gomez, chief financial officer, Mountain Lodge Telluride. “This comes in handy for the large income journal and payroll. Before, we were not set up to receive a direct file from Paylocity for the payroll entries. That meant we had to go into the General Ledger and enter each line item one at a time for each employee. However, with PVNG, we can export this information into a .CSV file which then uploads into PVNG so no line-by-line items have to be keyed in. This is a huge time savings, and it also removes the possibility for human error. Now in busy season, efficiency is key, and that’s exactly what we get with PVNG.”

    PVNG is a game-changer in the world of hotel accounting. It features Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, General Ledger, Statistics, Financials, and Bank Reconciliation modules, along with web browser navigation to upload the hotel data remotely. PVNG also contains OCR invoice processing, a myriad of payment options, drill-down capabilities in financial statements and reports, and the ability to handle single or multi-property accounting. It can also be deployed as a hosted service.

    Mountain Lodge Telluride delivers an authentic Western alpine experience, with guests choosing between hotel-like lodge rooms and one-, two-, and three-room suites, and condominiums or luxury log cabins with ski-in/ski-out accommodations. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, ski rental at onsite with Christy Sports, ski lockers and storage, electric car charging stations, multilingual staff, outdoor heated pool & hot tubs, fitness center and steam room, The View restaurant, meeting and event facilities, concierge services and more.

    “We are delighted that Mountain Lodge Telluride is having such a tremendous experience with PVNG,” said Cam Troutman, Aptech vice president. “Seasonal operations like Mountain Lodge Telluride need to be able to rely on their accounting solution to ensure all financials – such as payroll, invoice entries, revenue reports, and account inquiries – are being processed quickly and correctly and without downtime. PVNG streamlines common daily procedures and makes them user-intuitive, allowing operators to accomplish daily accounting requirements with a minimum number of steps. Plus, our hospitality-specific formulas, like RevPAR, Occupancy,

    and ADR, can be accessed with greater flexibility and drill down – something Aptech customers need and appreciate as travelers and profits return.”

    For more information on PVNG by Aptech, visit

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