Del Taco debuted its new Fresh Flex Drive-Thru Only location in Albuquerque, N.M. The location’s small footprint spans just 1,200 square feet.
“Our Fresh Flex design offers a modern, sleek look that is aligned with our Del Taco ® Better Mex brand promise – better quality, better value,” said Tim Linderman, Chief Development Officer. “This design allows us to reduce the overall footprint of the building which creates more real estate flexibility and the potential to reduce total buildout costs which will allow us to further accelerate the growth of our brand.”
In addition to the drive-thru lane, the new design features a walk-up window for ordering and pick-up. Also, to increase drive-thru efficiency, it provides pick-up lockers for orders placed via the Del Taco mobile app and third-party delivery service providers, allowing guests and delivery drivers to skip the line.
The Del Taco Fresh Flex store designs feature a “Menu of Venues” ranging from the drive-thru-only model to free standing, end cap and conversion locations, giving Del Taco franchisees maximum flexibility and options.
Brandon Coleman III Promoted to CEO of TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays said that Brandon Coleman III has been named Chief Executive Officer after an extensive search among internal and external candidates.
Coleman joined the company in October 2022 where he led the domestic corporate and franchise stores as well as the TGI Fridays brand as US President and Chief Marketing Officer. Previously, Coleman had a highly successful career in the restaurant industry, serving as Senior Vice President and CMO of Dave & Busters, various leadership roles at Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, and as Chief Marketing Officer of Romano's Macaroni Grill as well as serving as CEO and Management Consultant for Brava Partners, a consulting group focused on branding and business strategy. In 2013, he was named one of Ad Age's 40 Under 40.
Coleman will lead TGI Fridays into a transformative next phase revitalizing the brand to position it as a growing market leader in the rapidly evolving food and hospitality industry. This entails accelerating the company's evolution as an experiential hospitality and entertainment destination by offering bold new offerings across key dayparts as well as an expansion of restaurant locations, domestically and internationally.
Leaning Into Creative Offerings
TGI Fridays and Coleman launched, in restaurant and off premise, Krispy Rice, a sushi offering, developed in partnership with food technology company C3.He also recently led the brand through its biggest menu change since the 1990's with the launch of its Grilled & Sauced platform.
Most recently, under his leadership, TGI Fridays expanded its presence at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport with a location that is on track to have an annual revenue of $14MM.
TGI Fridays operates and franchises over 650 restaurants across 52 countries.
Allseated Raises $20 Million to Further Fuel its Rapid Growth
Allseated has announced $20 million funding – including capital from Level Structured Capital (an affiliate of Level Equity), and existing investors, Magma Ventures, Vestech Partners, NYFF, and WGG, to further scale its space visualization and collaboration platform.
The new funding will enable the fast-scaling business to propel its global expansion and continue to pioneer the international hospitality and event industries with innovative resources and product development.
Alongside the funding, Allseated is spinning out its Metaverse division. This includes a brand-new entity with a dedicated mission: to pioneer immersive experiences, such as virtual events and corporate environments, within an emerging market landscape.
Space, time, and flow
The global event industries have been completely transformed by the pandemic and the rise of remote communication and working with prospects, clients and partners. This includes the strategies employed by venues for selling and promoting their spaces. While “static” digital twins are a de facto standard in real estate, their use in hospitality and events require significantly more value to support the needs of venues and event planners. Allseated’s virtual space and event planning technology is built upon real-time data analysis, predictive insights, and advanced simulations. Users can eliminate guesswork and usher in a new era of precision, innovation, accessibility, design, analysis, and collaboration with multiple stakeholders, all in one platform.
Allseated pioneered the transformation of digital spaces into collaborative working environments, providing real-time capabilities to bring a first-of-its-kind solution to the hospitality industry. Allseated provides an immersive virtual space that extends beyond the boundaries of its three-dimensional coordinates, creating an experience that encapsulates space, time, and dynamic flows to immerse users and customers in a rich 3D experience.
"Allseated has always been about bringing cutting-edge innovation to the hospitality market, enabling our customers to be more effective and close a lot more business, faster. The new funding will help us to continue expanding our product line from floor planning to a full collaborative space visualization platform. It will enable us to continue to grow rapidly and partner with some of the best brands in hospitality, supercharging and differentiating their business." Yaron Lipshitz, Allseated CEO, said.
San Francisco based Nfluence Partners served as financial advisor and Fenwick and West as Legal counsel.
The Great Gloom: Employees Are Unhappier Than Ever, According to Employee Happiness Index by BambooHR
BambooHR®, the leading cloud-hosted software for the strategic evolution of human resources, launches today its first-ever Employee Happiness Index, a quarterly benchmark report that analyzes eNPS or employee satisfaction results from 57,000+ global workers across eight key industries.
The first report shows eNPS scores have declined steadily, despite both highs and lows since 2020. In fact, since June 2020, the average eNPS has decreased by 16%. When looking at just the last year, overall eNPS fell 11% from June 2022 to June 2023, deteriorating at a rate nearly 15x faster than the previous two years combined—showing employee happiness is worse now than during Covid. It’s possible the end of the Great Resignation is signaling a Great Gloom, as options for better jobs dwindle, remote work sputters, and record inflation chokes pay.
The report also measures how employee satisfaction changes month over month. While 2020’s dramatic swings were an outlier, the continuing downward trend of employee dissatisfaction has seen less and less volatility over time, showing how entrenched the Great Gloom is becoming.
“The new norm of ‘unprecedented times’ is causing enormous stress,” Brad Rencher, BambooHR CEO stated. “Today’s complex problems will require leaders to be proactive, adaptive, and data-informed to beat back the Great Gloom. To succeed in a rapidly evolving world, businesses will need to prioritize employee experience in real, meaningful ways like never before. Anything less than a holistic approach to developing the mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing of each employee, in addition to their skills, will fall short.”
The Happiest and Unhappiest Workers
Sadly, the unhappiest industries are two of society’s most critical and most impacted by the pandemic: healthcare and education. Healthcare employee happiness has dropped 32% in the last three years (June 2020 to June 2023), but half of that drop occurred in just 2023 (a 16% decrease from June 2022 to June 2023.) From June 2022 to June 2023, education’s happiness fell 5%, 2x faster than the previous two years.
Both nonprofit and travel & hospitality happiness are slightly increasing this year as they continue to rebound from the pandemic, despite still ranking low on happiness overall. Restaurant, food, & beverage’s average eNPS has fallen 31% since June 2020, with little signs of recovery, having dropped 8% alone since June of last year.
Tech sector eNPS scores have dropped off a cliff, declining about 3.5x faster than previous years, and average tech employee happiness scores have declined 14% from June of last year to June of 2023. With a less dramatic decline but higher volatility, finance’s eroding happiness is tied to similar factors as tech: shrinking VC capital, bank closures, massive layoffs, and return-to-office mandates.
The happiest industry is construction, as deep backlogs of work and high residential demand have created coveted job stability and increased wages. The construction industry’s average eNPS of 49 for 2023 has remained steady.
As multiple studies have shown, revenue and employee engagement are inextricably linked, with disengaged employees costing the global economy upwards of $8.8 trillion by Gallup, meaning gloomy employees could have stormy economic repercussions.
“HR is often viewed solely as a tactical administrative function without any meaningful metrics,” Anita Grantham, head of HR, explained. “However, any leadership team that is only tracking sales and marketing performance is being irresponsible and overlooking their largest cost center: their people. eNPS is one of many tools businesses need to track their organization’s health and catch problems quickly and thoughtfully. When margins shrink, it’s easy to get reactionary, but playing the long game and taking care of your employees is always good business.”
The new report, “In 2023, Employees are Unhappier Than Ever. Why?” contains the full details of the Q2 2023 Employee Happiness Index, complete with charts and industry-specific breakdowns for construction, tech, finance, nonprofit, food & beverage, travel & hospitality, education, and healthcare.
All source data is from BambooHR’s eNPS platform gathered between January 2020 and June 2023, and includes more than 1,600 companies, tracking over 57,000 unique employees’ responses from small and medium-sized organizations within the US and internationally. The data analyzed includes more than 1.4 billion self-reported eNPS scores since January 2020.
Dog Hausannounced that food industry veteran and CEO of Kitchen United Michael Montagano has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, effective September. Montagano joins the award-winning brand after serving on its Board of Directors for the past three years and as a commercial partner since 2018.
A New Role
The CEO role is new to Dog Haus. The company has been led since its 2010 inception by founding partners and longtime friends Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and André Vener. Montagano will report to the three partners, who will continue in their respective roles.
“We believe Dog Haus is positioned for exponential growth and, as such, we recognize the need to bolster our leadership team with a seasoned executive who can guide this brand, and our franchise partners, into the future – and Michael checks all the boxes,” said Vener. “Michael’s expertise in growing franchises, expanding virtual brands and delivery, and implementing new technologies and marketing strategies is exactly what we need as we capitalize on our momentum in the marketplace.”
Dog Haus’ suite of virtual concepts – known as The Absolute Brands – include the award-winning Bad-Ass Breakfast Burritos and Bad Mutha Clucka, which now drive an incremental 20% of system-wide sales for the company. Off-premise sales, which now account for nearly half of company revenues, are another key strategic focus for the brand.
“Over the past several years working with Dog Haus, I’ve seen first-hand impressive store growth, world-class menu innovation and diversification, and soaring off-premise demand,” said Montagano. “This is an exciting time for the brand, and I’m eager to work with the partners to continue the initiatives underway to enhance our technology, expand our brands, and maximize our online and in-store strategy, all in an effort to add meaningful value for our franchisees and guests.”
Throughout his 20-year career in the restaurant industry, Montagano has worked in a variety of strategic commercial contexts with many restaurant brands – from national partners such as Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, WingStop, Cinnabon and Jersey Mike’s to hyper-growth brands like Portillo’s, Dave’s Hot Chicken, Hawaiian Bros and the Halal Guys. He brings with him a proven track record of driving growth, strategic partnerships, cutting-edge technology, institutional investment and operational excellence, along with expertise in online ordering and delivery. He has grown Kitchen United to more than 150 kitchens across the country – powering both major suburban and urban trade areas – while securing key partnerships with, and institutional funding from, Restaurant Brands International (RBI), grocery giant Kroger, Alimentation Couche-Tard (the owner of Circle K convenience stores), Google Ventures, Fidelity Investments, HAVI, RXR, Simon Property Group, DivcoWest and Rich’s Food Products.
Prior to his time leading various food-tech and restaurant companies through growth, financings and acquisitions, Montagano practiced M&A and corporate finance law for one of the country’s largest law firms, working primarily on private equity transactions.
Conversenow Teams Up with ChatGPT And Bard to Release Next-Generation AI Ordering Assistants
ConverseNow, a voice AI technology platform for restaurants, announced a groundbreaking release of its newest generation of virtual ordering assistants, set to impact millions of guests and thousands of restaurant owners and staff. Refined using generative AI from both OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google's Bard, the latest version of ConverseNow's own proprietary software takes conversational AI to unprecedented levels in the restaurant world with more natural, free-flowing conversations and exemplary order accuracy.
By integrating generative AI with its own technology, ConverseNow has equipped its AI engineers with valuable tools to supercharge its patented and award-winning software. ChatGPT and Bard's enhancements allow ConverseNow's voice AI to self-learn at even faster rates, as well as predict limitless conversation flows with guests using deep learning techniques and massive data sets. This process allows ConverseNow's virtual assistants to 'think like a person' when anticipating how to respond to guest dialogue. The technology can now easily handle complex conversational elements that people typically take for granted when talking to each other but were previously challenging to program into AI.
"This is the future of restaurants. In this union of hospitality and technology, we've leveraged generative AI to create the ideal virtual assistant. (S)he recognizes and fixes problems before they take place, personalizes the guest experience, supports store staff, and drives order counts to unprecedented levels," said Vinay Shukla, ConverseNow Co-Founder, and CEO. "We're already processing more information than any restaurant voice AI platform out there, and our newest generation of virtual assistants has further widened the performance gap by evolving at breakneck speed."
The powerful upgrade solidifies ConverseNow as the frontrunner of voice automation within the restaurant industry. Natural, consistent communication and precise order-taking are top priorities for both guests and restaurant operators. ConverseNow's new generation of ordering assistants addresses these requirements head-on, further enabling restaurant guests and operators alike to adopt voice AI as the default method for drive-thru and phone order-taking.
Generative AI has made an impact on many industries already, but the integration of generative AI into restaurants is set to be one of the largest use cases for this technology in consumers' daily lives. Virtual ordering assistants are serving millions of customers, supporting hundreds of thousands of staff, and reshaping operations for owners across the country.
"With our platform serving more than one million guests every month, ConverseNow has the unique advantage of possessing domain-specific and up-to-date proprietary data. The access to this data allows us to continuously augment and improve these proprietary LLMs [large language models] and deliver an even stronger guest experience, thereby creating an upward spiral of continuous improvement," said Rahul Aggarwal, ConverseNow Co-Founder, COO and Chief Product Officer.
The latest version of voice AI is now rolling out across the country to nearly 2,000 stores across 46 states.