News Briefs

  • 2/21/2024

    Focus Brands Changes Name to Go To Foods

    Go To Foods logo

    Focus Brands, the parent company of the Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Jamba, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s brands, has officially changed its name to GoTo Foods.

    This news comes on the heels of a record development year globally with more than 1,150 signed franchise agreements and 398 store openings, alongside the addition of 4.6 million new loyalty members worldwide across its portfolio of brands. 

    The rebranding, announced at the company’s biennial brand franchisee conference by Chief Executive Officer Jim Holthouser, signals the company’s continued transformation into a platform company as it embraces its brands’ reputations as go-to choices in the restaurant industry – for franchisees and customers. 

    A Name That Conveys Craveability

    “To unlock future opportunities with brand franchisees, and ultimately consumers, it has become more important than ever to have a name that conveys and powers the strength, affection, and craveability of the seven iconic brands in our portfolio today,” said Holthouser. “GoTo Foods represents a no-limits vision that is firmly rooted in reality as we embrace the power of our platform company and look to a future with endless possibilities.”

    Since assuming the role of CEO in 2020, Holthouser and the company’s executive team have been on a mission to reimagine the way GoTo Foods operated. The team has prioritized the need to simplify, streamline, and strengthen the company by breaking down silos and building enhanced, centralized systems and capabilities – evolving into a platform company that leverages the power of its portfolio.

    Ongoing and recent strategic enhancements to harmonize across brands have led to impressive performance marks – in 2023, the company reported double-digit year-over-year growth in adjusted EBITDA and loyalty acquisition. Streamlined in-house supply chain resulted in the rationalization of hundreds of SKUs across brands, paid media spend more than doubled the previous year, and consumer packaged goods licensing continued to grow – boasting the rollout of 10 new launches, driving revenue and strengthening brand awareness beyond brick-and-mortar locations. The company’s continued focus on the employee experience earned GoTo Foods its first Great Place To Work  certification, a prestigious “employer-of-choice” recognition based entirely on what employees report about their workplace experience.

    “We’re a company comprised of powerful, well-loved brands,” added Holthouser. “We’ve made strategic investments and set the foundation for a bright future ahead. Timing was right to unveil a new name that communicates a dynamic, innovative organization with positive momentum while bringing together our company and our brands and inspiring those we serve.”

  • 2/21/2024

    Caribou Coffee Selects Toast

    cappucino in a cup

    Caribou Coffee will implement Toast Enterprise Solutions across 500 initial coffeehouse locations in the United States. 

    In addition to Toast point-of-sale (POS) terminals, Caribou Coffee will use Toast Payments, Kitchen Display Systems (KDS), and Multi-Location Management.

    Expansion on the Horizon

    Caribou Coffee has made significant progress in its retail expansion plan through company-owned development as well as its previously announced franchise program. To help support the brand’s growing coffeehouse footprint, Caribou Coffee sought a modern technology partner with a robust, scalable POS solution that would be easy to use for all stakeholders including company and franchisee operators and team members. Focused on maximizing speed of service while maintaining an enhanced guest and team experience, Caribou Coffee also wanted to ensure availability of key features to support guests like the ability to modify active orders and offer flexible payment options. 

    “Caribou Coffee was founded over 30 years ago with a vision to bring personal service into the coffeehouse space. That commitment to our guest and team member experience guides us today as we announce this exciting partnership. Toast proved to be the ideal strategic technology partner for our brand as we introduce tools that will ensure we can bring our coffeehouse experience to more guests than ever before,” said Scott Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer at Caribou Coffee. “Toast took the time to understand our business and clearly demonstrate that they can support our team members and guests with their easy to use, easy to manage platform.” 

    Part of Panera Brands, Caribou Coffee has 333 company-owned, 140 non-traditional and 338 franchise locations in 11 countries.

  • 2/21/2024

    Survey Reveals Strong Interest, Intent for AI Adoption Among Restaurant Operators

    laptop displaying AI

    A promising 71.6% of restaurant operators plan to adopt AI soon, with nearly 94% acknowledging its necessity to remain competitive in the evolving landscape of food service, according to a survey by, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) -powered phone answering platform built for restaurants and hospitality partners,  announced the results of its recent survey of restaurant professionals which demonstrated that the industry has a strong interest in leveraging AI to address challenges and unlock opportunities within their businesses. The survey, which gathered insights from restaurant owners, general managers, and C-suite executives, sheds light on the industry's readiness to embrace AI technology in the face of mounting challenges such as rising costs and operational complexities.

    The survey, which targeted those 25 years of age and older in the United States, showed that a significant portion of the respondents - 54%- expressed optimism about the positive impact of AI on restaurants. Despite this optimism, less than one-third of operators currently utilize AI in their operations, indicating an untapped potential for technological integration within the industry.

    "Restaurant industry professionals are increasingly recognizing the transformative potential of AI technology and the overwhelming sentiment in favor of AI adoption underscores its importance for enhancing operational efficiency, reducing costs and providing great customer experiences," said Alex Sambvani, founder and CEO of "Running a restaurant isn't for the faint of heart. It takes guts to get up and running and a lot of business know-how to thrive. AI is the tool that can help businesses grow and it is clearly here to stay."

    Improving the Overall CX

    Nearly half of respondents (46%) believe AI can improve the overall guest experience.

    In addition, respondents acknowledged AI's potential to address various challenges faced by the restaurant industry, such as staffing issues, service quality management, and rising costs. And, as the restaurant industry navigates the complexities of a post-pandemic world, AI emerged as a potential solution to drive issues that greatly impacted this industry during the last four years– from operational efficiencies, cost controls, and competitive differentiation.

    The survey results underscore the need for tailored AI solutions that address the unique challenges faced by restaurant operators, while also providing guidance for overcoming barriers to adoption.

    "As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, the integration of AI is a crucial and pivotal point of this progression. With a significant number of operators signaling their intention to incorporate this transformative technology, we are excited for the future of the hospitality industry," added Sambvani. "Embracing AI signifies a shift towards customer-centricity, where innovative solutions can cater to each and every customer – from automated interactions, seamless reservations, instant inquiries, and beyond – all converging to place the customer firmly at the heart of the restaurant experience."'s "AI in the Restaurant Industry; How Businesses Are Embracing AI Technology" is available here.

  • 2/21/2024

    Cloudbeds Partners with Amadeus iHotelier

    merger handshake deal

    Cloudbeds a provider of hospitality management software, announced a strategic partnership with Amadeus, a  provider of advanced technology solutions for the travel industry.

    This collaboration marks a significant milestone for both companies, bringing together Cloudbeds’ award-winning hospitality platform and Amadeus iHotelier's cutting-edge technology to enhance distribution capabilities for hotels worldwide.

    Key highlights of the partnership include:

    • Seamless Integration: The integration of Cloudbeds' robust property management system (PMS) with Amadeus iHotelier's state-of-the-art central reservation system (CRS) will provide hoteliers with a seamless and efficient solution to manage reservations, streamline operations, and maximize revenue.
    • Enhanced Distribution Channels: The partnership will expand the reach of hotels by leveraging Amadeus' extensive global distribution network, allowing properties using Cloudbeds to connect with a broader audience and attract more bookings.


    Adam Harris, CEO of Cloudbeds, said, “Our mission has always been to empower hoteliers with seamless solutions designed to drive more revenue and better guest experiences. This partnership with Amadeus iHotelier brings unparalleled value to our customers to help them succeed in today’s competitive market.”

    Javier Campo, VP of Partnerships, said, “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Cloudbeds to elevate the hotelier’s experience. Our seamless integration between Cloudbeds and Amadeus iHotelier will add value to the customer’s process in managing and processing bookings. Our shared commitment to excellence makes us excited about the journey ahead. Here’s to a successful collaboration.”


  • 2/21/2024

    HotelPORT Partners with Yext to Streamline Content Verification Services

    a close up of a light blue umbrella

    HotelPORT is thrilled to announce its partnership with Yext, ta digital presence platform that powers the knowledge behind every customer engagement.

    Through this partnership, HotelPORT will integrate Yext’s platform into its proprietary PropertyVIEW® Content Monitor to enhance the accuracy and completeness of hotel information across local directories and more. This integration will allow hoteliers, restaurants and spas to easily manage their digital presence and deliver a consistent, accurate and engaging experience to customers anywhere in the digital world.

    "Our partnership with Yext is a game-changer for the hospitality industry. Yext’s leading platform is a valuable addition to our Content Verification Services offering and will help our clients better monitor the vast digital landscape where their customers are interacting with their brand,” said Fred Bean, Founder and CEO of HotelPORT. “We know that the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of a property's content across third party channels is critical for success and teaming up with Yext enables us to provide our clients with a comprehensive solution that ensures their verified property information is accurate and updated across the most important digital platforms.”

    With the Yext integration, PropertyVIEW becomes a superpowered source of truth and hospitality verified content platform for the management, monitoring, syndication and control of hotel, restaurant and spa information across a broad array of third-party channels. Yext’s comprehensive coverage ensures potential guests access accurate information no matter where they search, leading to increased bookings, revenue growth and higher guest satisfaction.

    "HotelPORT collaborates with many of the world's most renowned hospitality brands, and now, through our partnership, these brands have access to Yext’s leading platform for multi-location brands. This integration will enable them to distinguish their digital presence and better serve their guests," said Yvette Martinez-Rea, Executive Vice President Corporate Development and Operations at Yext. "By integrating with HotelPORT’s PropertyVIEW®, Yext’s platform empowers hospitality businesses to reach and engage their customers to ultimately increase bookings and foster seamless guest experiences.”

  • 2/20/2024

    Lazeez Shawarma Selects Revel POS


    Lazeez Shawarma, a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant chain, will implement the Revel POS platform at 225 locations across Canada.

    "As we enter a period of rapid expansion, we needed a cloud POS platform like Revel that could help us easily scale our operations," said Sahib Rana, co-founder and director of franchise operations at Lazeez Shawarma. "The Revel platform also provides the software and hardware flexibility required to deliver an exceptional guest experience."

    Lazeez Shawarma will also take advantage of the Revel kitchen display system (KDS) that eliminates the waste, cost and hassle of paper tickets. The Revel KDS automatically displays orders from all channels as they come into the POS, which increases speed of service while also improving order accuracy.

    Lazeez Shawarma will also utilize Revel Advantage International, Revel’s integrated in-house payment processing solution, to provide a complete POS and payments offering. Revel Advantage International is powered by Adyen, the financial technology platform of choice for many of the world’s leading companies.

    "Revel looks forward to partnering with Lazeez Shawarma as they execute on their exciting growth plans," said Chris Lybeer, chief strategy officer at Revel Systems. "The Revel POS platform is a proven solution for rapid scalability, and its order management system will enable Lazeez to drive increased revenue and profits by optimizing disparate ordering channels."

    The Revel customer display system (CDS) will enable Lazeez to improve the guest experience by allowing them to review order information in real-time, ensuring transaction accuracy. The CDS can also save and store multiple designs to easily put in front of the customer, including recurring promotions, holiday specials, and general messaging.

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