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09/21/2021

RTN Co-Founder Details How Restaurants are Reinventing

In a Forbes article, RTN Co-Founder Angela Diffly shares three restaurant reinvention stories.
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My latest Forbes article focuses on how restaurants have reinvented themselves in a way that’s redefining what it means to be a restaurant. Below you’ll find complementary insights from operators, providing a deeper dive into how they’re shaking things up. 

Dunkin’s Drive-Thru

Parent to Arby’s, Dunkin’, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s, Rusty Taco and Sonic Drive-in, with roughly 32,000 units worldwide, Inspire Brands is a true industry powerhouse. Senior VP, Restaurant Technology and RTN Board member Gagan Sinha is hyper-focused on hyper-personalizing your next drive-thru experience. What will it look like? Imagine speeding through a loyalty-app lane, where you’re recognized by name, greeted with special offers and presented your personal loyalty points. “Dunkin' and Arby’s are leading the charge within the Inspire portfolio. We benefit from one brand leading the innovation so our other brands don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We plan to have 200 Dunkin and around 50 Arby’s piloting the next generation of drive-thru by the end of the year,” Sinha revealed.  It’s never been a better time to be a VIP. Inspire is showing America how fast you can really run (or drive-thru) on Dunkin’. 

 

Wow Bao’s Dark Horse

Wow Bao saw an opportunity back in 2020 to create dark kitchens, whereby any restaurant can serve its product out the back door via third-party delivery. Geoff Alexander, President and CEO of Wow Bao explained, “The reason we call them dark kitchens is because we are allowing operators to take a part of their restaurant that is ‘dark’, underutilized space - and help turn the lights/ energy back on; to fully brighten up the space. We created a menu that allows for a 40% flow through to the bottom line, so on $100k in sales ($2,000 a week) an operator can make close to $40,000 in profit annually. That pays rent, it keeps the lights on, it pays managers. We have some partner locations that do over $6k a week, so you can understand what their annual sales / run rate is and their 40%." In just 16 months, the brand has launched more than 400 kitchens across the U.S. As evidenced by this example, going dark promises a brighter future for many restaurants. Read more about Wow Bao's dark kitchens here.  

[Restaurants Lean Into New Models, New Revenue Streams]

 

Brinker's Virtual Brands

Brinker International, home to Chili’s and Maggiano’s, is making some bold moves in the virtual brand space. The company just launched Maggiano's Italian Classics after massive success from It’s Just Wings (both virtual brands).

[Read: Brinker's New Brand Delivers]

“Many restaurants are afraid to reinvent themselves or challenge the status quo,” said Wade Allen, SVP, Head of Innovation at Brinker. “I have learned that you have to be brave, take risks, and be confident. Failure will happen, but so will success.”The company anticipates Maggiano's Italian Classics to generate sales of over $100 million, while It's Just Wings surpassed a target of $150 million in annualized sales, hitting $170 million in U.S. sales since launch. Being bold is paying off for Brinker. 

To read the full article in Forbes, click here.