During her more than 30 years in the restaurant technology industry – half of those at QSR Automations–Klein has amassed incomparable knowledge in understanding and troubleshooting kitchen display, front-of-house, and the associated hardware and networking platforms needed to run them.
But what truly sets Klein apart is her natural ability to nurture relationships and foster talent, which has made her an effective leader in QSR Automations’ Support Services Team. During her long tenure at QSR Automations, Klein has built one of the industry’s strongest and most effective support teams. In fact, under Klein’s guidance, the team has received a 99 percent satisfaction rate from customers in 2021, and last year handled more than 16,000 inbound and outbound calls, which earned them a bronze award for Excellence in Customer Service from the 2022 Stevie Awards.
This was the third bronze Stevie award for the team, as last fall, Klein accepted two additional bronze awards from the Stevie Women in Business Awards on behalf of QSR Automations–one for excellence in customer service, and the other for growth. QSR Automations was selected for these honors from more than 1,500 nominations from around the world.
“Just as our technology is the heart of a restaurant kitchen, our people are truly the heart of this business,” said Angela Leet, CEO of QSR Automations. “My colleagues are passionate about innovation both in and out of the office, and it’s immensely gratifying to see them recognized for these achievements.”
QSR Automations, headquartered in Louisville, Ky., with offices in the United Kingdom, is a global industry leader in kitchen automation and guest management services.
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 locatedopened 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.
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.
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:
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.
Olo, an open SaaS platform for restaurants, has partnered with DeliverThat, a provider of catering delivery.
DeliverThat joined Olo's Dispatch network as a delivery service provider (DSP). Dispatch is Olo's direct delivery solution that automatically connects direct orders from a restaurant's mobile app or website with third-party DSPs for last-mile delivery. This partnership provides an elevated, catering-specific delivery experience designed to boost loyalty and revenue for the two companies' joint customers.
DeliverThat is primarily fulfilling catering delivery orders for Olo brands via the brand's mobile app and website and is providing coverage in all 50 states.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to Offer Starlink High-Speed Internet On Board Fleet
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., a global cruise company which operates the Norwegian Cruise Line (“NCL”), Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, announced its plan to improve connectivity for guests and crew at sea by offering SpaceX’s Starlink high-speed internet on its ships. Using advanced low earth orbit satellites, Starlink delivers industry leading broadband internet connectivity which will improve the capacity, speed and reliability of internet on board. The Company is currently testing Starlink, beginning with Norwegian Breakaway, with the intent to rollout this game-changing technology across its entire world class fleet in a phased manner.
“We are thrilled to offer Starlink on board our ships to improve internet connectivity at sea. This initiative is a testament to our continuous quest to find new and innovative ways to enhance the experience for both guests and crew while sailing on our award-winning brands,” said Harry Sommer, president and CEO-elect of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “Ensuring that this technology meets our high standards of excellence for our guests is incredibly important to us, which is why we are introducing this cutting-edge technology across our fleet in a phased manner. Once deployed, guests and crew will have a faster and more reliable method to stay connected with friends and family including by sharing in real-time the incredible memories they create while at sea.”
If trials are successful, the Company is targeting to equip 7 additional vessels with Starlink by year-end, including all three of the Company’s exciting new additions this year, Oceania Cruises’ Vista, Norwegian Viva and Regent’s Seven Seas Grandeur. A comprehensive rollout plan is under development and details regarding timeline and availability on specific ships will be communicated once finalized. In addition to enhancing the guest and crew experience, the extra bandwidth will also allow for more flexibility for onboard services and improve the ship-to-shore connection for operational needs.
In response to the growing demand for pickup service, PDQ Restaurants implemented Flybuy technology brand-wide to streamline operations and provide customers with an exceptional experience.
The Flybuy platform is fully integrated with Olo Ordering, Rails, and Dispatch, and provides PDQ staff with full visibility into guests and delivery drivers ETA, journey, and arrivals in real-time as they approach the restaurant, ensuring that staff can prioritize, prepare and hand-off orders quickly and efficiently.
PDQ optimizes its Olo Dispatch and Rails delivery service provider (DSP) operations with Flybuy, providing PDQ staff with full visibility of incoming delivery drivers, providing a fast and efficient order handoff regardless if the order was placed on a third party marketplace or their own direct channels. Reducing delivery driver wait times has been a top priority for PDQ, as they want to provide end customers with a hot, fresh meal, as if they were dining in the restaurant.
In addition to Olo integrations, PDQ has integrated Flybuy technology with the My PDQ Mobile App, delivering a completely frictionless experience to guests, no matter how they choose to dine. The streamlined operation provides clear instructions to guests, allowing them to communicate with the restaurant and enjoy fast service. This creates a loyal customer base that returns to PDQ again and again.
Flybuy is a game-changer for PDQ team members, providing them with a powerful tool to prioritize order preparation based on exact arrival times and manage dine-in, takeout, and delivery orders. The Flybuy dashboard offers staff members location updates, ETAs, and arrival notifications for incoming customers and delivery drivers, ensuring that orders are prepared quickly and efficiently. Additionally, team members are provided with information about the pickup method (in-store, curbside, drive-thru), the customer’s name and vehicle information, tags for easily forgotten items like “drinks” and “shakes,” and any special items that require additional prep time. With this information, team members can have the orders ready and waiting for an immediate handoff, providing a hot and fresh meal to guests.
"We are thrilled to partner with Flybuy, whose innovative platform has brought our off-premise business to the next level,” said Ken Bott, Head of Digital for PDQ. "Their technology enables us to manage our orders efficiently, reduce wait times, ensure food freshness, and ultimately provide our guests with an exceptional experience that leads to increased customer satisfaction."