Sweetgreen has Halted its Cashless Policy After Backlash

As more cities like Boston and Philly pass legislation prohibiting businesses from going cashless, formerly cashless stores are now being forced to change their policies.

Sweetgreen, which had a cashless policy in place, announced late last week that it would now be accepting cash.

Those opposed to cashless policies argue that these policies exclude a segment of the population without bank accounts or debit or credit cards.

"Some have also raised concerns about privacy and data security. Philadelphia and the state of New Jersey passed laws banning cashless stores last month, and New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington are considering similar bills," writes "The New York Times."

There are some exemptions to these laws, including businesses like parking garages, hotels, and rental car businesses.

Sweetgreen introduced its cashless policy in 2016 as a way to streamline the payment process for customers and employees.

But in an effort to make the transaction process faster, the fast casual salad chain "had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash," according to a statement by the restaurant.

“Ultimately, we have realized that while being cashless has advantages, today it is not the right solution to fulfill our mission,” said sweetgreen.

Amazon, which has aggressive plans to roll out up to 3,000 of cashier-less Amazon Go stores by 2021, also made the surprise decision this month to accept cash.

Check out the recent episode of The Barron Report below to learn more about this new legislation in Philly and the impact it had on Amazon Go stores before the accepting cash.

Gender Relations & Leadership: Outlook of the Future of the Food & Bev Industry

On this podcast recorded at Fodoable.io in Seattle, our host Yareli Quintana speaks with three leaders in the foodservice and beverage industry who also happen to be women. The conversation begins by each identifying some of the changes they’ve seen happen in their respected industries throughout the years.

First, you’ll hear from Zoi Antonitsas, executive chef of Little Fish, Seattle’s first modern-day craft cannery and restaurant which will be found in the heart of Pike Place Market once it opens. Chef Antonitsas has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry and says she’s been fortunate to have worked with incredible men and women up and down the West Coast.

“I’ve never really felt like I’ve ever been discriminated against as far as being a woman, with the exception of a few, I would say, financial question marks…,” says Antonitsas. “There have definitely been a couple of times where I’ve had to fight to get financial compensation for my work, where I know for a fact that some male counterparts have received more money without having to ask.”

Then, you’ll hear from Brenda Lobbato, the Northwest Region Vice President at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. She got into the beverage industry 30 years ago and has been in her current role since 2016, where she manages 26 percent of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ revenue totaling to $698M. Lobbato shares with the speakers that she’s recently seeing a lot more women getting into the beverage industry, which, for a long time, has been a “good ol’ boys network.” She’s proud to share that she’s helping spearhead a women’s group within Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

“We have this thing we call Women of  Wine... we call ourselves WOW and so we started this WOW organization from the standpoint of having concerns that affect all employees, but that women are bringing forward,” says Lobbato. “So, if that’s a mentoring program or that’s a skills program, like public speaking or financial acumen, whatever that is… it’s making those topics and resources safe to talk about.”

Throughout the podcast, you’ll also hear from Roz Edison, co-founder of Marination Ma Kai, a food truck turned into brick-and-mortar locations serving up Hawaiian-Korean fusion cuisine across Seattle. Ten years ago, Marination Ma Kai’s food truck was “the first on 10 rolling in the streets of Seattle.” That number has grown tremendously since then and now Edison and her business partner are also established entrepreneurs in the fast casual space.

“Sadly, though, I just came from a 3-day conference from my industry. It’s called the Fast Casual Executive Summit, so about 150 to 300 C-level folks from chains that range from 50 to 800 units. Almost every single panel had 100 percent white, male panelists…,” says Edison. “...I had really hoped I would run into a female CEO or a female director of operations. That, I’m not seeing in the fast-casual side of it.”

The four speakers later dive into topics like employee relations, mentorship, and hopes for the future of the industry as it pertains to women. Stay tuned to hear which direction this interesting conversation took and how each panelist feels about each topic discussed!

A Ghost Restaurant Can Maximize Efficiencies and Increase Profits

The shift that has occurred in the takeout, delivery and catering space over the last few years is nothing short of monumental and how we run restaurants is fundamentally changing as a result. On this season on The Takeout, Delivery, and Catering Show, we have covered in-depth the principles of leadership, staffing, differentiating your foodservice channels, and where to strategically invest in your off-premise program because the off-premise paradigm shift is more significant than the one saw in 2010 with fast casual.

The last major shift in the hospitality industry resulted in the creation of hundreds of fast casual brands in the mold of Chipotle and Panera Bread. One thing that we can credit to the fast casual segment is that it changed the look and model of restaurants forever with a focus on speed but also not willing to compromise on quality. Fast casual proved a model that some said was not possible and changed the landscape of the restaurant industry.

Today, off-premise driven by technology, and a generation that grew up on convenience is changing the restaurant model again, likely forever. By now, we have all heard the term ghost restaurants or virtual restaurants, and that this is the next big thing. The definition of a ghost restaurant depends on who you talk to but basically, it is defined as a restaurant that only offers delivery — no storefront. The savvy restaurants are using this model to their advantage, and more innovation around ghost restaurants is happening all the time.

Channel differentiation and maximizing efficiencies are key to generating profits with your off-premise channels. Assuming your restaurant is already built and a major renovation may be too costly, so how can you do it? Kitchen Podular, partner of Monkey Group, is an innovative company that builds customized modular kitchen solutions. These kitchen solutions can include a make-line for food preparation and a service window to divert off-premise orders away from the retail wait area, aka your very own ghost restaurant. Mike Manion, CEO of Kitchen Podular, joins Erle Dardick and Valerie Killifer to talk about the restaurants of the future and how they will operate.

Show Notes

15:26 - What does it mean to isolate production lines?
20:54 - How can existing restaurants use Kitchen Podular to fulfill the 5 pillars?
27:35 - The old restaurant model is getting turned on its head.

OO:46 - The supply chain is the key to keep up with market demand.
03:59 - Mike Manion, CEO of Kitchen Podular, welcome to the show!
09:41 - How will ghost kitchens or ghost restaurants impact off-premise operations?

 

This episode brought to you by:

 

How Sweetgreen is Becoming the Next Fast Casual Unicorn

On this episode of the Barron Report Live, host Paul Barron discusses which wing-focused restaurant brand is taking on pizza for the next Super Bowl, the fire sale of Diageo’s liquor brands, and how Sweetgreen becoming the next food unicorn in the fast casual industry.

Wings Take on Pizza in Super Bowl Challenge
At :35 - Paul discusses the growth of the popular takeout brand, Wingstop. The chicken-wing fast casual chain has seen a 15.5 percent increase in annual growth last quarter, with systemwide same-store sales also growing by 6.3 percent, and its net income jumping 33.8 percent.

The increase in store count to 1,215 global locations, is pretty major move compared to growth in the fast casual segment is slowing down overall. Additionally, the company’s strategy and lack of direct competition are leading them to take over the takeout industry over pizza.

Diageo to Sell Off 19 of Its Brands
At 5:00 - Paul discusses Diageo’s, the world’s largest spirits producer, decision to sell 19 of its lower-end spirits brands to Sazerac for $550 million. The strategy appears to allow Diageo to focus on its premium labels.

This decision will allow the company to take on the trending craft spirits market. Paul has seen firsthand when filming the Foodable show “Across the Bar,” just how often mixologists have opted for a more unique craft cocktail brand.

Sweetgreen to Become the Next Fast Casual Unicorn?
At 6:31 - Paul discusses the biggest news of the week — how salad chain Sweetgreen is quickly becoming the next fast casual market leader.

Foodable identified early on that this concept would be a breakout brand in the fast casual market. With Sweetgreen’s HQ move to Los Angeles in 2016 to join other tech-focused restaurants that are raising money in private rounds at valuations of $1 billion or more, they are here to stay. “CNBC” recently reported that Sweetgreen is nearing a $200 million investment with Fidelity Investments.

The key to Sweetgreen’s success like other fast casual stars is to have a unique,  Xactor. For the salad chain, it’s all about lifestyle. Showcased in previous events like the Sweetlife festival, Sweetgreen is able to connect with their consumers celebrating passion and purpose.

Another brand that has been able to achieve this in the past is Chipotle, controlling the burrito business with ambiance, food, and environment compared to Baja Fresh.

In recent news revolving Chipotle, hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has sold another large chunk of its Chipotle Mexican Grill investment. The affiliated entities have reportedly sold a total of 118,307 shares of the fast casual chain for a total of $55.8 million.

Watch the live podcast above to learn Paul’s predictions for the fast casual market and what he believes to be next for these two stars, what other factors are playing into Wingstop’s impressive acceleration and its edge in takeout, and to find out which brands are being sold to Sazerac.

 
 

How Pei Wei’s Clean-Label Initiative is Pushing Menu Transparency in the Restaurant Industry

Pei Wei first opened their doors in 2000, arising from the culinary experts at P.F. Chang’s. The restaurant serves authentic, Asian-inspired dishes and prides itself on not compromising freshness for speed of service.

The fast casual chain has recently submitted a Citizen Petition under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, requesting that the FDA Commissioner amend an existing provision to require restaurants to affirmatively substantiate their nutritional claims by disclosing the recipe or formula for their standard menu items.

This follows Pei Wei’s introduction of the Wei it Forward clean-label initiative that exemplifies the chain’s strong belief that food should be made with fresh, wholesome ingredients while empowering consumers to make smarter choices.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Paul Barron is joined by Chief Marketing Officer of Pei Wei, Brandon Solano, to discuss Pei Wei’s clean-label initiative and supply chain challenges that go along with it.

Listen to this episode of The Barron Report for more insights on how Pei Wei is communicating its initiative via social media and the future for the rest of the industry.

SHOW NOTES

  • 13:12 - This is Now the Table Stakes

  • 16:14 - The Tipping Point for the Rest of the Industry

  • 18:07 - Is the Supply Chain Moving in this Direction?

  • 24:07 - Pei Wei Tiger’s Social Media Communicating in an Authentic Way

  • 1:14 - How Brandon Solano became Chief Marketing Officer of Top Fast Casual Chain

  • 3:43 - Why Pei Wei Petitioned the FDA on Menu Transparency

  • 6:04 - 18-Month Timeline For Consumer Visibility

  • 8:04 - Becoming a Thought Leader in Clean Label