3 Tech Companies Revolutionizing the Restaurant Industry

Modern consumers expect restaurant operators to use and fully integrate cutting-edge technology into their business model. However, most restaurant operators in the industry find themselves unable to keep up with today’s constantly evolving tech trends.

On the latest episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron chats with three emerging companies that are handling the necessary tech shifts for operators so that the restaurant industry can focus on doing what it does best: making delicious food.

Sterling Douglass is the co-founder and CEO of Chowly, a first-of-its-kind company that helps restaurants lower the cost of labor and improve margins by fully integrating a restaurant’s third-party online orders into its point-of-sale system. Simon Bocca, the COO of Fourth, has helped his company grow into a comprehensive provider for practical restaurant and hospitality management solutions. As the founder and CEO of next-generation software platform Harri, Luke Fryer is dedicated to finding employee-facing solutions for labor-related challenges in the hospitality industry.

Douglass notes that third party delivery companies are beginning to consolidate and become more amenable to restaurants. “Third parties are moving away from the growth-at-all-cost phase. Tech companies have tried to get into the virtual kitchen space and fail—they have much more success helping restaurants and using technology. You need a marriage of both.”

“Restaurants need to differentiate themselves by making the customer experience right for that business,” says Bocca. His company, Fourth, provides data dashboards for restaurant operators so that anyone at any level in the company can examine the data, troubleshoot problems, and plan accordingly. “Everyone is fighting for the same customer.”

“All of us, regardless of age, have been incorporating these trends and behaviors into our daily lives,” says Fryer. He contends that operators need to start treating employees as consumers to help stabilize the industry-wide retention problem. “The issue is that if we’re not putting technology in front of our employees that engages them and satisfies them, then that has a direct correlation to retention. It’s the industry’s biggest challenge by far.”

Learn more about these three breakthrough companies and how restaurant operators can address today’s tech challenges in the above episode of The Barron Report. And if you would like to keep listening, check out The Barron Report on iTunes Now!

Produced by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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How Seeds&Chips Is Building A Platform For Food Innovation

Consumers are rapidly changing the focus of the restaurant and specialty food industry. With the global population expected to reach 9.8 billion over the next 30 years, Gen Y and Gen Z are investing their time, money, and energy into finding foods that are good for them and good for the planet.

New ingredients, additives, and sources of food have seen massive growth. Plant-based foods, alternative proteins, and healthy halo snacks are just a few of the key categories within the projected $5 billion plant-based market in 2020. Alternative sugars and salts, as well as an increase in fermentation and food recycling practices, are all part of a global movement to grow food more efficiently and sustainably.

On the latest episode of The Barron Report, host Paul Barron chats with Sharon Cittone, the chief content officer of Seeds&Chips, to discuss how food innovation and agtech are changing the global farming industry.

First envisioned as an event, Seeds&Chips has evolved into a company that connects innovators with global policymakers, startups, speakers, and accelerators to effect change in food culture and advance the possibilities of agtech. The company will hold a summit featuring global food visionaries first in Melbourne, Australia this September, and later in its hometown Milan in May 2020.

“Consumers are leading the way in wanting to be kind to the planet,” says Cittone. “The mission is to bring innovators around the world together to find practical solutions through collaboration and cooperation. We want to make sure there is healthy, safe, and efficient food for everyone.”

The movement will likely face some uphill battles in the years ahead. As Cittone acknowledges, “innovation is growing so rapidly, and policy is lagging behind. As much as we innovate, our global policies can’t keep up.”

Listen to the episode above to learn more about the challenges within the food innovation movement and the future of Seeds&Chips. To binge listen to the Barron Report check us out on iTunes Now!

Research by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


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How AB InBev's Sustainability Accelerator is Fostering Start-ups Solving Industry Problems

Consumers have new standards when it comes to the foodservice industry. They are educated when it comes to food sourcing, ingredients, nutrition, technology, environmental practices and more.

The big companies fostering innovation and looking to support companies that solve bigger problems in the industry continue to stay ahead of the curve, while also giving today's consumers exactly what they want.

On this episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron sits down with Maisie Devine, global director of sustainability investments & accelerator at AB InBev to learn more about how the company is nurturing start-ups with a focus on sustainability.

So how does a start-up get involved with a partner like AB InBev?

Last August, AB InBev started its search by launching a set of challenge statements, focused on topics like packaging and clean energy. Then the company started accepting applications from companies that have developed some solutions to these industry-wide problems. After receiving 660 applications, there were a lot of companies to consider.

"We were really looking for a little bit later stage companies. That were product ready and that we could implement our resources and our scale to fuel growth for those companies," says Devine.

One of the fun companies Ab InBev select is the Belgium-based concept called Do Eat, which has made compostable and edible packaging from beer and potato waste.

Listen to the episode above to learn more about this unique accelerator program and how these companies are changing the food system for the better.

Why are CBD Edibles Being Pulled Off Restaurants in Some Parts of the Country?

Across various parts of the country, health department officials are asking restaurants to voluntarily pull CBD-infused foods and drinks off menus.

The latest local and regional governments that have reportedly taken steps against CBD are New York City, California, Texas, and Ohio banning the substance from restaurants and retail stores.

For example, according to the New York City’s official government website, beginning July 1, New York City restaurants that don’t comply with the CBD ban voluntarily could be embargoed of their CBD products by the health department... and by October 1, officials “will begin issuing violations to restaurants and retailers for offering CBD-laced foods and drinks. Violations may be subject to fines as well as violation points that count toward the establishment’s letter grade.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, which derives from cannabis, doesn’t cause the psychoactive effects for the lack of enough THC—the compound that gives people the “high” sensation.

In fact, CBD proponents claim the substance is mainly used for its therapeutic benefits helping people relax, ease pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even depression.

Despite the fact that not many studies have been done on cannabidiol in human trials, as pointed out by a recent New York Times article, we are seeing an immense amount of CBD products being sold across the country, with Walgreens as the latest retailer to announce plans to sell creams, patches, and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in select states.

So, why is it being pulled out of the restaurant space, specifically?

Although, the farm bill that was passed in December 2018 legalized industrial hemp in the U.S., this only means industrial hemp was removed from the controlled substance category. Anything that is put in foods and drinks has to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and, as of right now, CBD is not determined safe or effective for other health conditions aside from being an active ingredient in an approved drug that treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

The FDA regulations are something different and there’s a huge push from lawmakers to change this.

Since there is no federal law specifically addressing CBD-laced edibles, some states, like Colorado and Maine, have already attempted to clarify the status of the substance by passing laws allowing the addition of CBD to food, as reported by Reuters. California and Texas have introduced bi-partisan legislation to do the same, as reported by the Associated Press.

Last week, the FDA slated the first public hearing to take place May 31 to discuss how to regulate CBD food and beverage products.

In the meantime, here at Foodable, we are tracking the latest in this arena:

In a podcast episode of Chef AF, Chef Brandon Foster shares with us a personal anecdote about how CBD has positively affected a local farmer to The point where this person wanted to dedicate the rest of his available land to grow hemp for the CBD industry.

In an On Foodable Feature episode, our host Layla Harrison breaks down for our audience some of the CBD-infused products that have stood out from the rest.

And in a Barron Report podcast episode, we learned about Azuca— a company offering CBD and THC products ranging from edibles to sweet syrups.

We expect to continue hearing about ‘Culinary Cannabis’ and its impact on the restaurant business and society as a whole. so, stay tuned for more interesting content!

Uber Eats Rolls Out New Fees Prior to Suspected IPO

Third-party delivery services emerged as a much-needed solution for restaurant operators. These services have made it easier for brands to offer delivery to consumers that are starting to expect this convenience.

But as more operators use these services, the more the fees increase and these fees cut into profits. Uber Eats, for example, takes a 30 percent cut, plus the platform also collects a $4.99+ delivery fee from the customer.

But operators aren't the only ones investing in these delivery apps. Now that Uber Eats has established a loyal customer base, the company is rolling out a new fee structure.

Instead of just a booking fee, this fee will be divided into two fees a service fee and delivery fee. The delivery fee will vary based on the restaurant and the service fee will be 15 percent of the order. On orders of $10 or less, there will now be a small order fee.

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"Since Uber Eats doesn’t keep a comparison of its old booking fees up on the app, customers are understandably confused about whether prices have gone up or not," writes "The Verge."

However, it's definitely a move by Uber to increase profits.

“We’ve seen a number of changes to the fee structure on Uber Eats over the past year which tells me they’re experimenting and trying to figure out the best way to get profitable on this service," said Harry Campbell, a former Uber driver and author of "The Rideshare Guy" blog.

Uber Eats is expected to IPO in April, so it's not surprising that the company is looking to maximize profits. The food delivery service is the largest growing sector in Uber's portfolio.

Want to learn more about these new fees and the impact they will have on the restaurant industry? Host Paul Barron is breaking them down in the latest episode of The Barron Report above.