News Briefs

04/24/2023

Salad and Go Expands in Texas

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Salad and Go  salad and iced tea

Up and coming QSR  Salad and Go  is expanding in Texas with three new locations opening in February in the Houston markets of Katy, Richmond and League City.

The Katy store located opened February 1, the Richmond location at  is set to open February 17, and the League City store plans to open its doors on February 22. These new locations will mark the start of rapid brand expansion across the Greater Houston area.

These suburbs were strategically selected as ideal markets for Salad and Go as some of the fastest growing communities in the region. Conveniently located in some of Houston's most popular suburbs, the new locations will provide fresh, high-quality meals with quick and easy convenience at an affordable price.

As Salad and Go continues growing its national presence with a strong focus on Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nevada, the brand's expansive growth has it on a positive trajectory to provide fresh and affordable food to communities in more than 125 locations by the end of 2023. Houston is the next step in the brand's expansion across Texas with plans to open additional stores in the market throughout the new year.

Salad and Go's chef-curated menu provides guests with food for any time of the day by offering a variety of delicious and healthy items including salads, wraps, breakfast burritos and soup as well as beverages including hand-crafted lemonades, teas and cold brew coffees.

Salad and Go ensures each meal contains fresh, quality ingredients while keeping prices low by vertically integrating operations and distribution, and sourcing ingredients directly from high-quality local farmers and suppliers whenever possible. The brand's mission to make fresh, nutritious food convenient and affordable for ALL extends beyond its stores and is demonstrated in the work the brand does to donate 4,000 meals every week to those in need, as well as in partnerships with nonprofits to support and fundraise for various worthy causes.

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04/10/2023

Focus Brands Accelerates Dual Branded Locations

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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. 

 

02/22/2023

Mills James' Growth Shows 'Meetings Business is Back!'

Award-winning, concierge-level, audiovisual services provider Mills James is on a fast-track for growth. In 2022, the company’s AV for hospitality business exceeded pre-pandemic levels across all client venues, including hotels and convention centers servicing seven states and Mexico.

“In 2022 we saw corporate meetings of all sizes returning, and we couldn’t be more thrilled,” said John Watts, Mills James VP of Hospitality. “People are tired of not being able to meet face to face; they are ready to get back on the road, network with their peers, and see what they have missed over the last two-and-a-half years. While all of our meetings venues are now equipped to host hybrid events, live meetings is still what people know. It’s what they like. And it’s what has proven to be the most successful way to get messaging out to association members and corporate employees.”

According to the 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecastvirtual fatigue is real. The American Express study shows “attendees want to see each other in person. Organizations want their customers and employees to meet in person, too.” The Forecast states that the meetings and events industry is experiencing an unprecedented recovery, and all signs point to a busy 2023. Internal meetings will be the fastest growing category in 2023 across all regions, with the U.S. leading the way, followed by Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Last year, Mills James supported more than 5,500 events. Approximately 45% were groups and conventions, ranging from small meetings and virtual events to big concerts and destination weddings. The remaining 55% was spend supporting more than 3,000 weddings with sound systems, DJ services, LED dance floors, and video production services. Southasian weddings are a specialty for Mills James’ Mexico operations, a market that has been increasing at Mexican Resorts and whose AV consumption is higher than others because the event is a conjunction of rituals that lasts two to three days.

“Being able to capitalize on the exploding weddings market coming out of the pandemic helped us to exceed our year one revenue projections,” said Salvador Bernal, Mills James Vice President of Hospitality, Mexico. “Our divisional revenue generated during 2022 positioned Mills James Mexico with more than 25% market share in the resort AV space (in some of the destinations where we operate).”

Key to Mills James’ success is its service mentality. Unlike high-priced multinational AV corporations that have long held a monopoly on the market, Mills James manages every venue with a local ownership mentality. All technicians have superior listening and communication skills. They are passionate, professional, and come with years of experience in running the new, state-of-the-art, sustainable AV equipment sourced specifically for the needs of each individual facility. Mills James ensures that all inventory is dedicated to each property — not shared with other venues — to preserve the look and performance of the technology.

“Mills James reputation is built on its ability to partner with venues and provide concierge-level services,” Watts said. “We do that through identifying and training our team to make sure we are providing true hospitality, not just service.”

The company expects its hospitality business to be on a steady incline in 2023, with revenues growing by about 30% year over year.

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02/22/2023

LG Debuts Three New ProBeam Projectors for the Commercial Market

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LG ProBeam 4k UHD projector

LG Business Solutions announced the introduction of three new high definition projectors specifically designed to satisfy the needs of schools, corporate offices, government facilities, business travelers, field sales personnel and more. These new models deliver long operational lifespan and up to 7,000 lumens of brightness for use in sun-lit environments.

According to Tom Carroll, Sales Director at LG Business Solutions, the three new projectors deliver premium performance at various price points to give technology decision makers more options when selecting a projector.

“The laser and LED projectors we launched today deliver optimized performance for all commercial and business needs,” Carroll said. “These new projectors are some of the most powerful, flexible, cost-effective display solutions available, making professional-quality AV systems accessible for schools, companies and organizations of all sizes.”

The new LG ProBeam BU70QGA is the first 4K UHD projector to feature LG’s webOS Smart Signage 6.0 Platform, a powerful platform that simplifies networked content distribution, streaming and offers advanced picture settings such as edge blending, picture-in-picture, and picture-by-picture capabilities. The ProBeam BU70QGA’s edge blending technology allows the user to easily control the luminance of the area where the projected light overlaps and enables the seamless connection of overlapping light from two or more projectors through color correction. Working with an onboard high performance SoC (System-on-Chip), the projector can execute several tasks at once and provides smooth content playback, enhancing user convenience with intuitive UI and simple app development tools. This model can also connect with LG ConnectedCare, LG’s cloud-based device management solution for LG digital signage and display devices. Additionally, the ProBeam BU70QGA with webOS Smart Signage 6.0 allows a large host of third-party webOS solution providers to add projection capabilities to their offering, expanding LG’s extensive signage ecosystem. 

The ProBeam BU70QGA delivers highly detailed images making it ideal for large or brightly lit spaces like meeting rooms, auditoriums, or lobby signage. It features 4K UHD resolution, 7000 lumens of brightness, reliable laser light, lens shift, 1.6x optical zoom, built-in wireless and an integrated camera that aids in setup and positioning. Motorized focus and zoom control make it easy for users to adjust the picture as needed, and the projector can even be used without an external audio system thanks to a pair of 5W onboard speakers. Convenient wireless screen sharing can be added through LG’s optional One:Quick Share USB transmitter and app.

 

Ideal for medium-sized environments, the LG ProBeam BF40QS is a full-featured projector that offers the superior image quality and long working life of laser projection. With 4000 lumens of brightness, WUXGA resolution, 1.6x optical zoom and horizontal and vertical lens shift, this projector is easy to install and capable of delivering great images in fully lit classrooms, boardrooms, and other spaces.

For users that need ultimate flexibility, the compact and lightweight LG PF510QC LED projector delivers convenience and functionality that make it an ideal travel companion or portable display solution. It features Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution, a 4 CH LED light source and up to 450 lumens of brightness.

 

Measuring less than 88 cubic inches in volume and weighing only three pounds, it is quick and easy to move, set up and start presenting. Auto vertical keystone correction ensures accurate projection even from imperfect angles, while AirPlay 2 and Screen Share provide simple wireless connection to mobile phones and tablets. The little projector has Bluetooth Sound with Dual Sound Out capability to connect to two audio Bluetooth devices simultaneously. It can be used to equip a field sales team or home office, as well as provide a convenient solution for traveling workers when conference rooms or large displays aren’t available.

“Professional integrators now have more options when recommending a ProBeam projector to their clients in corporate facilities, government facilities, or K-12 and higher-ed institutions,” Carroll concluded.

For more information on LG commercial projectors, click here. For high-res images, click here.

02/22/2023

Subway to Add EV Charging Oasis Parks

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subway with EVs

Subway and GenZ EV Solutions, a provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions, are partnering on an EV Charging Oasis of the Future.

Through the partnership, the brands envision a more seamless experience for EV drivers with the installation of Subway Oasis charging parks at select locations—charging canopies with multiple ports, picnic tables, Wi-Fi, restrooms, green space and even playgrounds. As part of a multi-year plan to rollout the Subway Oasis, smaller-format, fast EV charging stations will be piloted at select, new or newly remodeled restaurants across the U.S., starting in 2023.

GenZ EV Solutions works with RED E Charging, an EV charging network, to provide proprietary software, with immense uptime and reliability, as well as operating expertise for the EV charging stations and Subway Oasis.

Both initiatives are designed to offer added convenience for on-the-go guests, while doing good for the planet and generating incremental revenue for franchisees. Guests may also benefit from dedicated Subway promotions, available only while utilizing an EV charging station.

"We're constantly exploring new ways to innovate and exceed our guests' expectations for a high-quality, convenient experience," said Mike Kappitt, Chief Operating and Insights Officer of Subway. "Our partnership with GenZ EV Solutions is a win for our guests, our franchisees and our planet, creating a dedicated space for drivers to charge their vehicle while enjoying their favorite Subway sandwich."

Driving Customer Convenience

Other restaurants are seizing the opportunity to add EV chargers to drive customer loyalty, Taco Bell franchisee Diversified Restaurant Group (DRG), opened ultra-fast charging stations at a South San Francisco Taco Bell.

Select Tim Hortons in Canada have added TurnOnGreen's Level 3 EV chargers.  Here in the US, Starbucks is also making a move into EV charging.  According to MotorTrend, Volvo plans to install up to 60 Volvo-branded DC fast chargers powered by ChargePoint in at least 15 Starbucks locations, covering  a 1,350-mile route from the Denver area to Starbucks headquarters in Seattle.  

As drivers increasingly shift to electric vehicles, Subway is well positioned to offer a quick, reliable charge to EV motorists and contribute to a national network of charging stations. In addition to equipping communities with critical infrastructure, Subway will help bring a sustainable solution to market, ultimately improving local neighborhoods across the country.

"Equitable access to charging is essential to the adoption of EVs in the future and Subway's scale will play an important role in democratizing charging infrastructure for millions of Americans," said Jose Valls, CEO of GenZ EV Solutions. "By coupling our technology and know-how with Red E Charging's strategic site selection and Subway's network of restaurants across the U.S., we are continuing to make key strides in building the EV infrastructure of tomorrow."

(PRNewsfoto/Subway Restaurants)

02/22/2023

SWIPEBY Unveils AI Text-to-Photo Feature for Online Ordering

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Swipeby ai photo tool

SWIPEBY's new feature, SWIPEBY Snapshot,  incorporates Open AI and Stability AI text-to-photo models and technology to help restaurants make online menus more user-friendly and increase ordering rates.

No Photos, No Problem

SWIPEBY recognized that 80% of its clients do not have photos for the majority of their online menu items. Owners simply cannot afford to have photos taken each time they change or add a menu item. In support of its mission to solve problems for independent business owners, SWIPEBY developed Snapshot to help clients reduce food waste, save money on expensive photography and streamline the ordering process for their customers.

"We integrate AI into our system. Snapshot uses the menu that is already uploaded or synced through their POS (such as Toast), allowing our clients to generate images with one press of a button," said Carl Turner, SWIPEBY’s CEO and founder.

Integrations with other systems are driving POS purchase decisions for 86% of restaurants, according to HT's 2023 POS Software Trends Report

With Open AI and Stability AI technology integrated into SWIPEBY's solution, restaurant owners simply use their menu’s item description and headline, and the SWIPEBY platform quickly generates an image. Each image is unique, realistic and allows customers to easily visualize what they're ordering. The images can also be downloaded for use on a restaurant’s website, direct mail, social media, printed menus and other marketing materials.