News Briefs

  • 12/14/2023

    Chipotle's Cultivate Next Fund Invests in Autonomous Ag Robots, Fertilizer

    Chipotle logo

    Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it is investing in Greenfield Robotics, a company founded with the vision of making regenerative farming more efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable by leveraging the latest advances in AI, robotics, and sensing technologies, and Nitricity, a company seeking to tackle greenhouse gas emissions by creating fertilizer products that are better for fields, farmers, and the environment. These minority investments are being made through Chipotle's $50 million Cultivate Next venture fund.

    Cultivate Next makes early-stage investments into strategically aligned companies that further Chipotle's mission to Cultivate a Better World and help accelerate the company's aggressive growth plans. As a people-first company, Chipotle is seeking opportunities that will elevate the human experience for its restaurant teams and suppliers as well as increase access and convenience for its guests.


    Robots for Regenerative Agriculture 

    Conventional farming destroys weeds with chemicals and soil tillage, resulting in escalating costs, soil erosion and degradation of soil, resistant weeds, and health risks for both wildlife and humans. Greenfield Robotics provides regenerative agriculture solutions without chemicals. Their fleets of autonomous robots are lightweight and cut weeds between rows of broadacre crops, day or night, reducing dependence on herbicides while supporting regenerative farming practices and reducing risk for farmers.

    With its Cultivate Next investment, Greenfield Robotics will continue its efforts to build out its fleet of autonomous agricultural robots and develop additional capabilities for forthcoming iterations of its robots, including micro-spraying, cover crop planting, and soil testing.

    "The work of Greenfield Robotics to build out a tech forward alternative to herbicides plays an important role in ensuring a more sustainable future for the agricultural industry," said Curt Garner, Chief Customer and Technology Officer, Chipotle. "We will help Greenfield Robotics scale their robotic offerings and explore how their robots can be deployed on farms within our supply chain."

    "Like Chipotle's commitment to Food with Integrity, we believe in the future of real, responsibly and sustainably raised food," said Clint Brauer, founder of Greenfield Robotics. "In partnership with Chipotle, we can continue to explore creative solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing farmers across the United States."

    New Age Fertilizer 

    Inspired by the natural occurrence of lightning breaking down nitrogen in the air and rainwater bringing it to the soil as nitrate to create natural fertilizer, Nitricity has pioneered a practice of creating artificial lightning. The company leverages air, water, and renewable energy from the artificial lightning to produce a cleaner, more sustainable, and cost-efficient fertilizer. The current process of producing, distributing, and using nitrogen fertilizer by way of the Haber-Bosch method requires a large amount of fossil fuels and emits significant amounts of carbon dioxide, contributing to 5-7% of total global GHG (greenhouse gases). Nitricity's nitrogen fertilizer has 5 to 10 times less GHG emissions due to its electrified production and field application process. Nitricity is building its production model of fertilizer on or near its end customers to limit the emissions from fertilizer distribution and application. Currently, up to 20% of fertilizer in the U.S. is imported through an expensive and complex supply chain.

    Nitricity has started field trials for their fertilizer product with Salinas Valley farmers, including Chipotle suppliers in the region. Funding from Cultivate Next will be used to scale up Nitricity's production of nitrogen, build out the company's infrastructure, and support the launch of its first commercial product within the next two years.

    "We're proud to support Nitricity's pursuit of a product innovation whose environmental benefits are complimentary to Chipotle's approach to Food With Integrity," said Jack Hartung, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Chipotle. He added, "Fertilizers have experienced steep price increases in recent years due to supply chain issues, fossil fuel price volatility, and rising distribution costs. Nitricity's fertilizer offering not only has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of the fertilizer industry, but it can be a cost-effective solution for growers in our supply chain."

    "Nitricity is committed to producing fertilizer that is optimized for farmers, not factory production or freight distribution," said Nico Pinkowski, co-founder and CEO of Nitricity. "Partnering with Chipotle will unquestionably accelerate our path toward disrupting the industry with climate-smart technology."

    Tim McAfee, a Cultivate Next Venture Collaborator and current Chipotle produce supplier noted: "I have visited the facilities of both Nitricity and Greenfield Robotics and am optimistic and enthusiastic about the impact these innovations could have on the growing community."

    What's Next for Cultivate Next? 
    Chipotle will continue to provide more updates on the Cultivate Next venture fund in 2024 and beyond. Companies interested in collaborating with Chipotle through the Cultivate Next venture fund can apply by emailing [email protected].  

  • 1/1/2024

    PizzaForno to Open 20 Automated Pizza Locations Across Mexico

    pizzaforno mexico

    PizzaForno, North America's automated pizzeria that bakes pizza in less than three minutes, announced its expansion into Mexico.

    The first location opened in Mexico City last month.

    This expansion comes after PizzaForno launched in Canada in 2018 and expanded into the United States in 2021.

    PizzaForno' expansion comes as other brands are adding to automated vending machines. At MURTEC 2023, Dan Mesches, CEO of Sprinkles, shared how the cupcake brand diviersified its revenue stream by adding its popular cupcake vending machine.  

    Behind the opening and expansion are Master Licensees Salomon Bialostozky and Jacko Duayhe. After this opening, the duo plans to open 20 more locations in the Mexico City area throughout 2024.

    "We're bringing delicious pizzas to Mexico, an underserved market, where customers are looking for fast, flavorful, hot meal options that they can access at any time of the day," said Jason Lowder, Chief Marketing Officer of PizzaForno. "As we continue to see excitement for our innovative brand, we look forward to continuing to grow our footprint across the globe."

    The pizza vending machine explosion continues, with plans to expand south of the border with over 100 units in the coming years. The growth begins with this location in Mexico City, but PizzaForno plans to grow into Los Cabos, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Monterrey, Puebla, Guadalajara and more.

    PizzaForno is growing rapidly and plans to have 25,000 operating units by 2028. The brand prioritizes providing their services in places that would benefit greatly from PizzaForno's cutting-edge technology and have begun expanding into campuses and other unconventional locations. Accessible 24/7 at the tap of a digital screen, this revolutionary concept in North America, offers an array of pizza selection hand made with top-quality ingredients.

  • 1/1/2024

    Redberry Restaurants Promotes Two Leaders


    Redberry Restaurants announces two strategic leadership appointments: Kiran Benet was promoted to Chief People Officer (CPO), and Scott Lewis was promoted to Burger King Brand President, effective immediately.

    Redberry owns and operates 170-plus restaurants under the Burger King  and Taco Bell brand banners. More than 300 new locations are in development.

    This exponential growth has prompted the creation of the new roles of Chief People Officer and Burger King Brand President to drive further development of the brands and invest in the people that are integral to Redberry's continued growth and success.

    Kiran Benet

    Kiran Benet, newly appointed CPO, brings over two decades of expertise in transforming cultures and building corporate infrastructure. Over the past decade at Redberry, Kiran has been instrumental in establishing and shaping the organizational culture while constructing a robust infrastructure to support the company's rapid growth and expansion, fostering a supportive people culture.

    Scott Lewis  

    A tenured QSR industry leader, Scott has almost three decades of industry experience. He joined Redberry as Vice President, Burger King Operations in 2022. In his time at Redberry, Scott has executed the company's vision and mission with passion, with a keen eye on developing people and a culture where Redberry's Burger King team is providing amazing results.

    Lewis will lead Redberry's biggest Brand portfolio and continue to amplify the company's long-term growth strategy.  

    Redberry's mission and accelerated growth trajectory are made possible by its partnership with City Capital Ventures. For more information, visit

  • 1/1/2024

    Glory to Purchase Cloud-Based POS Provider

    handshake partnership

    Glory Global Solutions (International) Ltd  announces plans to acquire 100% of the issued share capital of Flooid, a provider of cloud-based unified commerce software to the retail industry, from Inflexion Private Equity Partners. 

    Headquartered in Coventry, UK, with operations in the USA, Flooid focusses on helping retailers deliver seamless experiences across all customer touchpoints with a powerful cloud-native, hardware-agnostic, unified commerce platform. Driving traditional point of sale, self-checkout, mobile POS, self-order and pay kiosks and convertible lane from a single platform, Flooid’s software handles pricing, payment, receipts, taxation, promotions, coupons, orders, deliveries, and more, regardless of store format or segment.

    Recognized by industry analyst IDC as a “Major Player”1., Flooid has existing clients across Europe, North America and South Africa including M&S, John Lewis Partnership, Walgreens, Hudson News, Pick’n’Pay and Woolworths.

    Speaking about the acquisition Akihiro Harada, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Glory Global Solutions said, “The acquisition of Flooid will be a significant strategic step for Glory. Their core value proposition for retailers around enhancing operational efficiency, reducing cost, delivering a seamless customer experience and having a positive environmental effect are in lock-step with those of Glory’s existing solutions. The addition of Flooid will build not just on our present retail solutions portfolio, it will expand our annuity revenue streams driven by their software as a service business model.”

    Diane Palmquist, CEO of Flooid commented. “Joining Glory will be an exciting step in our journey to reach more retailers with our unified commerce platform. Becoming part of a large global ecosystem extends the reach of our solutions into new markets and Glory brings us new solutions to offer those retailers.”

    The acquisition is subject to the approval of Flooid's shareholders and the conclusion of the share purchase agreement.

    Glory provides the retail, QSR, financial, cash center and gaming industries with confidence that their cash is protected and always working to help build a stronger business.  

  • 1/1/2024

    Nathan’s Famous Virtual Restaurants Awards Franklin Junction Global Exclusivity

    Nathans Famous hot dogs burgers

    Host Kitchen  creator, Franklin Junction, marks the third anniversary of their relationship with Nathan's Famous by landing exclusive license rights for all future virtual restaurants worldwide. The deal also includes rights to Nathan’s Famous sister brands, Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips and Wings of New York. 

    The partnership has already expanded the iconic Nathan's Famous brand to more than 150 new locations in the United States and Europe. Franklin Junction's ability to translate the iconic American restaurant's beloved full menu to scale, all while ensuring quality and consistency, has enabled Nathan's Famous to preserve its reputation as the world's premier hot dog brand and serve "The Flavor of New York" to generations to come.

    “As stewards of our brand partners, we invest heavily in the proprietary technologies behind our Host Kitchen  platform which can accurately qualify, train, and market the operators to deliver the product and service of virtual restaurants to the highest standards for years to come,” said Franklin Junction CEO & Co-Founder, Rishi Nigam. “We are honored to grow our relationship with Nathan’s Famous to our international markets in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.”

    “Over the past few years, we’ve been able to grow and expand our Nathan’s Famous virtual kitchen network worldwide. That growth and expansion largely has to do with us working with Franklin Junction, a proven leader in the food delivery business using their vision, innovation, and technology to help the category expand exponentially worldwide,” said Phil McCann, Vice President of Marketing at Nathan’s Famous. “Importantly, Franklin Junction’s Operations teams have worked closely with us to ensure our world-famous menu items are delivered to our guests hot, delicious, and at their convenience.”

    Franklin Junction's Host Kitchen  experts have successfully interpreted Nathan's Famous signature hot dogs and a variety of menu items into dozens of locations worldwide, without losing the quality, freshness, and authenticity of their signature New York flavors. Order Nathan's Famous powered by Franklin Junction on major delivery platforms in each market.

  • 12/20/2023

    Sage Hospitality Group Releases 2023 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, Demonstrating Commitment to Purpose-led Initiatives

    logo, company name

    Today, Sage Hospitality Group proudly unveiled its 2023 Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Report, a testament to the company's unwavering dedication to sustainability, ethical business practices, and responsible corporate citizenship. Access the full report here.

    As a privately owned and operated company, Sage's decision to voluntarily produce and share this comprehensive ESG Report underscores its commitment to transparency and purpose. The document outlines Sage's strategy, goals, and achievements to date, marking a pivotal step in aligning the company's operations with the highest standards of corporate responsibility and social impact.

    "We believe that by integrating environmental, social and governance principles into our daily operations, we not only contribute to the betterment of society and the environment but also fortify the long-term success and resilience of our hotels and restaurants," commented Daniel del Olmo, president of hotels and restaurants for Sage Hospitality Group. "The support of our partners and our associates in championing these initiatives is essential as we collectively strive to make a positive impact on the world. Together, we can build a sustainable and responsible future for our company and the communities we serve."

    In the environmental domain, Sage is fervently dedicated to minimizing its ecological footprint through the adoption of sustainable practices, energy efficiency enhancements, waste reduction, and responsible sourcing. The company's commitment to social responsibility extends beyond organizational boundaries, encompassing initiatives that prioritize employee well-being, foster diversity and inclusion, and contribute to local communities. In the governance realm, Sage is committed to transparency and ethical business practices at all levels of the organization.

    Sage Hospitality Group invites stakeholders and the public to review the full 2023 Environmental, Social and Governance Report and looks forward to receiving feedback on their ongoing ESG efforts. To learn more about Sage Hospitality Group and its companies, as well as its growing portfolio of hotels and restaurants, visit

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