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06/09/2021

Top Women in Restaurant Technology Innovator: Robyn Kesler, Sr. Director of IT at Tupelo Honey Café

Kesler has orchestrated several impactful objectives in 2020 including and most notable a 2-week pivot to launch takeout and curbside.
Anna Wolfe
Senior Editor - Restaurants
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Hospitality Technology’s Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards, now in their fifth year, recognize women who are making their mark in a male-dominated industry. In the coming weeks we will be profiling each of the 10 honorees in-depth on hospitalitytech.com/topwomen21.  

At Tupelo Honey Café,  Sr. Director of IT Robyn Kesler has orchestrated several impactful objectives in 2020 including and most notable a 2-week pivot to launch takeout and curbside.

“We have since realized that as opposed to the 3% takeout business that we generated pre-COVID, we have the capacity to earn 30% in the post-COVID environment,” Kesler explained. Kesler also added contactless payment to Tupelo Honey Café’s platform; this was originally a safety measure that improved turn times by 10%. And she led an entire back-office system replacement that improved cost of goods by nearly 2%.

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Robyn Kesler's coworkers say she’s “a visionary in the IT space and a rare leader that understands technology, but relates technology to the human experience."

Kesler’s coworkers say she’s “a visionary in the IT space and a rare leader that understands technology, but relates technology to the human experience. She is an exceptional project leader and gets results. She does all often without much accolade or acknowledgement, but it’s a vital part of our company's success.”

Kesler said, “I feel so honored to be nominated and win this award. It is so reassuring and comforting to be nominated for an award like this from your peers and colleagues, it shows you’re doing something right.”

Kesler said, “I feel so honored to be nominated and win this award. It is so reassuring and comforting to be nominated for an award like this from your peers and colleagues, it shows you’re doing something right.”

VIDEO:  Watch Robyn Kesler accept the Top Women in Restaurant Technology Innovator award.  (30 seconds.)

She is very proud to be a woman in an industry that is dominated by men. “Overall, I am thankful for all of my professional experiences because every challenge prepared me for the next role and keeps me on my toes every day I go to work – and I love every second of it,” Kesler said. 

About 10 years ago she joined Tupelo Honey Café’s team as a financial analyst. “After a few months of being on the team, we recognized there was a large gap in the systems and IT capacity and support, and I had experiences with this area, so I slid very easily into owning all the systems and IT infrastructure,” she recalled.

Kesler enjoys working in the restaurant industry. “I love working for a company that lifts people up, either through what’s on the menu, participating in unique activities, or having an amazing team that is also passionate about what you’re doing,” she said. “Also – there is NEVER a dull moment in this industry. With so many changes in innovations and industry drivers, there is always a problem to solve, a process to figure out, or a printer that needs to be fixed.”

Kesler is passionate about harnessing the power of technology to improve people’s lives and work environment. ”In every company I work for, I want every team member to know they can call IT support and get a positive, familiar, efficient, and smart problem solver that knows how to handle every situation with a smile. Technology isn’t going to go away, and there are a lot of people that are not comfortable with it, so I want me and my team to be able to be that bridge for those who need it,” Kesler said.

After the year required restaurants of all sizes to step up their tech game, Kesler sees “the industry headed for a lot more collaboration and forward-thinking technology that is affordable and makes subtle but impactful changes ... To change how customers interact and think about a dining out experiences is extremely impactful.

“This past year has permitted the industry to take a step back, think about how we can set up systems in a smart and effective way and demand that our needs and requirements are being met by vendors and partners,” Kessler added “... What we’re implementing has to work and improve the experience for those who matter the most – the people who love the food you’re putting on the plate.”