Restaurant Leaders ID Keys to Building Intelligent Infrastructure

The first meeting of the Restaurant Leadership & Insight council, sponsored by HotSchedules, took place on April 30, 2018. Content for the initial gathering focused on two areas: intelligent infrastructure and operations. The executives agreed that restaurants having data is not the problem – it’s the accuracy of data and getting those insights into the right hands at the right time that can prove challenging.

Operators call for solutions that offer a single repository for data. As Zwayne Sealy of Mellow Mushroom notes, “without one single version of the truth, there is little accuracy and it can be difficult to make accurate predictions.”

Equally important to the reporting piece is identifying best practices to make sure the processes are in place to ensure the right people are getting the right information in a fashion that allows for timely decisions.

“We produce a lot of data as a company, so we want to make sure the right systems are in place to highlight anomalies,” Zerrick Pearson, vice president of IT, Five Guys explains. “We make sure all parts of the business are involved in that conversation so they are getting the data points they care about.”

For Five Guys this entails every department has an ambassador. Pearson highlights how this has helped the organization more efficiently identify outliers and recognize how those outliers might impact another department.

Council members discussed the varying complexities of their companies’ respective technology stacks. Many had already made strides to reduce the number of disparate systems operating in silos and equal number believe that a best practice will be to house data in its native form in a data lake which will better allow restaurants to leverage the data they need when they need it.

For Tamy Duplantis, vice president of IT for LeDuff America, trimming back-office systems down was one of her first undertakings upon joining the company. “Alignment was a big challenge as we had multiple brands running in silos and therefore we struggled with redundancy from having data everywhere,” she says. “To position our brands for growth we selected solutions that had out-of-box reporting platforms. This way we could give operators the knowledge of how they are performing and what needs to get done, helping them be more predictive.” 

Cutting down on redundancies was named as a top goal for Dave Conger, director of IT, Costa Vida. “It causes confusion internally and we want to be able to get meaningful info into our employees’ hands in an efficient way in order to maximize their time in front of customers.”

During the first meeting, council members identified several areas that will help shape future meetings. Here are a few highlights:


Online ordering & delivery integrations

“One of our biggest challenges is process optimization initiatives from systems and the integrations and standardization of those systems. We want to be able to get data fed into one centralized repository, so that to an operator it doesn’t matter where that order – or data – came from, they just know what they have to do.”  –  Maryann Byrdak, CIO, Potbelly Sandwiches



“We have replaced every system over the last 18 months and we built everything around integration, data, reporting and predictive analytics, so every technology decision was made to make sure those systems work well together and interact with each other. The biggest challenge is the impending changes in Europe with GDPR, because not all our systems are prepped for GDPR, so we will have to undo a lot of those integrations in order to be compliant.” – Austin Brinson, VP of Analytics, B.good


The need for MDM (Master Data Management)

Council members discussed with the POS being the hub of all restaurant activity, the need for tools to pull out data for reporting in an accurate way is more important than ever. “Managers make mistakes,” Steve Barrow, vice president of IT, Noon Mediterranean says. “Our data lives in multiple places. We’re doing 20% of our business online and we have limited visibility – it’s vital to make sure data is correct.”

At Le Duff they are working towards the concept of master data management for a single source of where true data that runs the business is housed. “This requires strong integrations and a platform that will push changes,” Duplantis explains. “We are trying a publish and subscribe method that’s pretty innovative.”

The next meeting of the Restaurant Leadership & Insight Council will take place on July 16, 2018.


Restaurant Leadership & Insight Council Members:

Steve Barrow, Vice President of IT, Noon Mediterranean

Austin Brinson, Vice President of Analytics, B.Good

Maryann Byrdak, CIO, Potbelly Sandwiches

Dave Conger, Director of IT, Costa Vida

Tamy Duplantis, Vice President of IT, Le Duff America

Anthony Lomelino, IT Director, Caliburger

James Park, CEO, Garbanzo Mediterranean

Zerrick Pearson, Vice President of IT, Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Zwayne Sealy, IT Director, Mellow Mushroom

Mark Uffer, Senior Technology Administrator, Burgerfi

David Cantu, Co-Founder & Chief Customer Officer, HotSchedules

Mary Hamill, VP of Sales Engineering, HotSchedules

Dorothy Creamer, Editor, Hospitality Technology magazine

Abigail Lorden, Vice President/Group Brand Director, Hospitality Technology magazine


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