Is The Future of Dining Digitization? Allset CEO Thinks So!

We are living in a world with a live and thriving “on-demand” economy.

From having the choice to watch your favorite TV shows on your own time and schedule, to ordering meals and groceries through your mobile phone or online.

Companies seem to have finally figured it out…

Time is of the essence!

People seem to be willing to pay for their precious time to avoid time-consuming, mundane tasks. And with so many efficiencies taking place in different aspects of people’s lives, consumers are getting accustomed to speedy services so they can get back to what’s most important to them.

This phenomenon has us thinking… Is the future of dining digitization?

On this episode of On Foodable Feature, we learn from Stas Matviyenko, CEO and co-founder of Allset—a San Francisco-based application that aims to help restaurants provide a more efficient dining experience to guests who are short for time.

Watch the full interview to learn how this app can help increase a restaurant operation’s bottom line, how the technology integration would look like, and costs associated with the service!

How The World's First OatMeals Cafe Has Reimagined The Use of The Traditional Grain

“I really believe that if you start your day with oatmeal you normally make better decisions throughout the rest of your day… So, this brand has a lot of legs in today’s world,” says Stephens.

On this episode of Emerging Brands, Samantha Stephens, chef and founder of OatMeals shares with Foodable the origins of her single-ingredient fast casual concept and how she built it from the ground up.

OatMeals is the world’s first oatmeal cafe located in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood in New York known for its brownstones buildings. Stephens believes her brand in very on-trend right now especially with the rise of the health movement and all the benefits and versatility that oats have to offer.

What sets this concept apart is the fact that not only it is a business concept that revolves around oats, but also the fact that it aims to evaluate the way traditional breakfast meals involving oats have been regarded for decades.

“So, it’s a build-your-own toppings bar. We’re sort of putting a non-traditional twist on old-fashioned oatmeals...,” says Stephens. “The more and more I ate oatmeal the more I realized it’s very similar to risotto or rice… You could really think about it as like a savory side dish. It’s so versatile! It sort of adapts well to any kind of topping you put on it…”

Stephens went on to explain how she experimented with the grain by adding parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, truffle oil, goat cheese, eggs, and bacon. She offers savory oatmeals as well as the traditional breakfast and sweet oatmeal offerings.

Listen to the podcast above to learn about how Samantha Stephens gained the confidence to build this business, the challenges she faces when figuring out a reasonable price point for her menu items, and how her concept aims to stay relevant in the food world in terms of trends.

To learn more about the Shark Tank-backed concept—OatMeals— check out the The Barron Report Live video interview below!

What's Next for Modern Market Now That the Chain Has Merged with Lemonade?

At the end of last month, the fast casual chain Modern Market merged with Lemonade, a healthy fast casual concept based in L.A.

Although the farm-to-table eatery has teamed up with a fellow fast casual chain, this doesn't mean Modern Market will be closing up shop.

According to Anthony Pigliacampo, Modern Market co-founder, the chain, along with Lemonade will both remain separate identities.

The Modern Market team has lofty goals of expanding and merging with Lemonade is one of the ways they plan to achieve them.

So far, there are 30 Modern Market stores. In 2017, the restaurant's revenue spiked by 27 percent. Then in 2018, five new stores opened and the chain has plans to open three more locations in Colorado this year.

But to expand it takes capital.

About a year ago, the private equity firm Butterfly Equity acquired a majority share of Modern Market.

"We talked to many private equity groups, and we got on well with the team at Butterfly. Their philosophy was like ours. They saw that food was being disrupted. We believed that in restaurants, someone was going to rise and become the best brand and help bring a higher quality food to the masses. And Butterfly had the same world view," said Pigliacampo to "Forbes."

But a year later, Modern Market made the strategic decision to merge with Lemonade.

"With Butterfly’s owning both brands, we realized if we were working together there’s a ton of efficiencies to be gained that would allow us to run certain back-end functions more efficiently. We could provide better resources to solve problems. For example, financing and accounting of two restaurant chains that provide scratch-based menu with many small vendors is a very complicated accounting issue," said Pigliacampo to "Forbes."

What else is to come for the Colorado-based eatery? Read the full interview with Pigliacampo at "Forbes" now.

We have been following Modern Market's growth since the beginning. Pigliacampo was one of the stars of Foodable Network's documentary "Fast Casual Nation: Changing the Way America Eats."

Besides building a loyal customer-base with healthy-focused dishes, Modern Market has been ahead of the curve when it comes to incorporating technology. Check out the blast from the past video below where Pigliacampo outlines how technology enhances the chain's operations.

Farm Burger Rolls Out New Sustainable Catfish Sandwich

Farm Burger Blue Catfish sandwich |   Sara Hanna Photography

Farm Burger Blue Catfish sandwich | Sara Hanna Photography

Not only do we have more vegetarian consumers today, but there are also more flexitarians. These are eaters that only occasionally eat meat to make less of an environmental impact.

The plant-based movement has encouraged eaters to seek more alternative proteins. With that in mind, the fast casual chain Farm Burger is one of the restaurants to recently partner with the plant-based company Impossible Foods to offer the Impossible Burger, a veggie burger that even bleeds.

But the chain is also getting more creative with its menu options and is rolling out the Chesapeake Bay Blue Catfish sandwich, a move to promote a more sustainable protein.

"Farm Burger carries the Impossible Burger in all 11 locations nationwide as a plant-based meat alternative for customers. We had been looking to incorporate seafood onto the menu for a while and wanted to craft a sandwich that would fit well with our menu and match our sustainable ethos. As we learned more about the Blue Catfish and the environmental issues associated with it, it seemed to meet all of our criteria: tasty, sustainable and thought-provoking," said Cameron Thompson, Farm Burger executive chef.

The sandwich, which was strategically launched right before Lent to cater to Fish Fridays, is topped with Farm Burger slaw and house-made pickled jalapeños. The catfish sandwich will be available at Farm Burger stores starting March 5th.

The Southern-based fast casual chain wanted to make sure the sandwich still fit in on the menu with the other items, so the chain took a culinary twist on a traditional catfish sandwich.

"Crispy catfish and slaw, to me, is a classic combination like peanut butter and jelly. The slaw is tossed in our signature FB sauce to add some Farm Burger flair to a classic pairing. We're rounding out the meal with Old Bay fries as a tribute to the Chesapeake region," said Thompson.

Read more about the new menu item at Farm Burger at "Forbes" now.

We visited Farm Burger for a past episode of Fast Casual Nation back in 2015. Watch the video below as Host Paul Barron sits down with George Frangos, owner and operator at Farm Burger to learn more about the up-and-coming brand. Prepare to drool as they showcase some of the most popular menu items.

Chipotle Tests Drive-Thru Lanes to Promote Online Ordering

Chipotle App Welcoem Screen | Shutterstock

Chipotle App Welcoem Screen | Shutterstock

Earlier this month, we reported that Chipotle was making a major investment in digital to improve the guest experience.

Online ordering sales grew by 66 percent in the last three months of 2018 and in the last quarter of 2018, the restaurant's sales grew by 6 percent.

The restaurant's recent moves to recover have prompted investors to buy the chain's stock. Chipotle's shares have increased by 35 percent over the last year.

In the same earnings call earlier in the month, Chipotle also announced that it was also testing having online only pick-up drive-thru lanes.

These lanes are intended to make it even faster for guests to get their orders by pairing the convenience of both digital ordering and drive-thru pick-up.

"Arguably, it will be the fastest way to get Chipotle — going through the Chipotlane," said Brian Niccol, Chipotle's CEO.

The push to promote online ordering certainly appeals to the chain's target demographic– millennials. Similar to Panera Bread's rapid pick-up stations, guests make their orders through their mobile phones and then pick-up the food at the drive-thru lane dedicated to strictly online orders.

However, since this limits human interaction, this is making a negative impact on the staff tips.

"Reliance on technology — in the service industry especially — typically has some kind of human toll. Last year some Starbucks baristas said mobile ordering was cutting into their tips (users typically can set their tip percentage right in the app when placing an order, but may simply choose not to for whatever reason)," writes "Forbes."

Will the chain roll the drive-thrus out to more stores? Read more about the new drive-thru lanes at “Forbes” now.

Chipotle also teased that it has more plans in the works too.

"We're definitely just getting started," said Niccol to "CNN" earlier this month. "There's still so much opportunity in front of us, and there's still a lot of work to be done."

In 2019, the chain started the year out with a bang by rolling out lifestyle bowls. These new menu items are bowls that are keto, Whole30, and paleo-friendly. On a recent episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron explains why he thinks the chain's recent introduction of its Lifestyle Bowls was a slamdunk. Watch the video below to learn more about Chipotle's latest campaign to appeal to health-conscious eaters.