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06/01/2021

Top Women in Restaurant Technology Lifetime Achievement Award Winner: Johanna Miner

In 2020, Johanna Miner was instrumental in Fazoli’s strategic shift to drive-thru.
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.  

a woman smiling for the camera
Johanna Miner, IT Manager for Fazoli's System Management received the Top Women in Restaurant Technology - Lifetime Achievement Award at MURTEC.

Lifetime Achievement
Johanna Miner, IT Manager for Fazoli’s System Management

In 2020, Johanna Miner was instrumental in Fazoli’s strategic shift to drive-thru. In less than seven days, she implemented drive-thru tablets and launched curbside. After utilizing drive-thru timers and adjusting oven temps and airflow, all without compromising on quality, the brand saw record low drive-thru service times.

Miner also managed and led the launch of Fazoli’s virtual brands: Wingville, partnership with Wow Bow and the brand’s newest virtual concept, Macaroniville. All these initiatives allowed the brand to continue providing outstanding customer service and added to the brand’s overall success.

Miner enjoys working with franchisees to help them adapt to the ever-changing technology environment. “I know big changes like that aren’t easy for anyone, so I put myself in their shoes,” says Miner. “Getting franchisees involved in the process while watching them embrace change and figure out ways to contribute to it is my absolute favorite part.”

a car parked in front of a Fazoli's drive-thru
In 2020, Johanna Miner was instrumental in Fazoli’s strategic shift to drive-thru.

Miner says she did not plan on pursuing a career in restaurant technology. “My initial path was more along the business management and finance lines,” she says.

While working in her first restaurant role with Outback Steakhouse, she was an area trainer and administrator and was then promoted to area computer tech. She went on to work in the corporate offices in Tampa, leading other computer techs across the U.S. “I enjoyed that position because it allowed me the opportunity to be a conduit for the various departments (IT, Training, Operations, HR, Legal, Finance, and the Executive teams).”

Miner is passionate about improving operations. “Automation and integrations are always items that pique my interest, as it aids the restaurant teams with day-to-day efficiencies,” Miner explains.” Whether through the POS terminals or above-store systems such as online ordering, back office reporting and third-party delivery, programming the various systems to allow for maximum ease of use is my passion. For every manual step we can take off of the operators’ plates, it opens up more time for them to spend with our guests and build the grassroots relationships in our neighborhoods that are paramount to our success.”

When it comes to restaurant technology, Miner is optimistic about AI’s impact. “I believe that the AI trends, and self-service capabilities are going to be huge for the industry and our brand. With the heavy throughput of our drive-thru channel, at least in the initial steps of our AI plans, it allows our team members to focus on order accuracy, which grows brand loyalty for the future. Self-service kiosks in our company restaurants have been widely adopted by our guests, especially in the COVID-19 environment and we are looking forward to the same adoption rate in our franchise locations.”

Miner is gung-ho about creatively using existing technology to accomplish additional operational efficiencies. At its corporate stores, it uses kiosks to help automate employee health screenings, for example.

Contactless payments are an on-going initiative.  “We have worked over the last couple of years with the installation of EMV-capable credit card devices, and now moving toward promoting contactless payment at our registers,” Miner explains. 

The Future of Restaurant Technology

“We have made large steps in the off-premise dining segment with online ordering and third-party delivery. Through vendor partnerships, we are able to provide ordering on our white-label ordering site, for delivery with third party companies. During the height of COVID-19, having these options available, while not something we were initially looking at, became a priority. We turned our focus on those previously smaller revenue channels and looked at how we could utilize them to the fullest. We have also ventured into the Dark/Virtual Kitchen arena. From partnering with other known virtual kitchen brands, to internally developing our own ghost kitchen concepts, this new arm of the business allows us to expand into cuisine outside of the fast-casual Italian segment, reach a different customer base, and grow our overall sales.

“As we look to the future, we have already launched one new virtual brand using direct integrations between our POS, online ordering platform, and third-party delivery company, back through those channels into our POS and back-office financial reporting systems.”

Reflecting on her career, Miner is most proud of two of her accomplishments to date.  

Within days of 9/11, the Outback Steakhouse team organized groups of employees to travel to Manhattan and work to feed the rescue teams and assist with clean-up. “Our teams volunteered 24-hours a day in shifts over the course of a couple of weeks, explains Miner. “Being able to provide service with a great group of people in a time where everyone across the nation wanted to help was something that we were all extremely proud of.

“Second, I would have to say the impact that our team was able to make throughout 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when the restaurant industry was struggling, and worried about how it would pull through, we were able to pull together. We gathered to strategize as an organization and not only maintain sales, but to put steps in place that would ensure the safety of our teams and guests. We wound up building sales to record-setting levels.”

About the Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards

Winners were chosen by Hospitality Technology magazine and members of its Research Advisory Board. Winners will be profiled in the Summer 2021 issue of Hospitality Technology magazine and throughout June and July in digital profiles on www.hospitalitytech.comThe winners were announced and honored during a virtual awards program on April 14 at the 26th annual MURTEC (Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference), which was streamed online.