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This podcast will share ideas from restaurant innovators on leadership, food trends, technology and how to thrive in this tough industry that we can’t get enough of.

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Latest Episodes

4

June 24, 2021 00:24:03
How Taco Bell’s social edge to convenience technology gave them an edge during the pandemic

How Taco Bell’s social edge to convenience technology gave them an edge during the pandemic

Taco Bell’s success in 2020 was tied directly to the brand’s eagerness to combine convenience technology investment with customer engagement. In this interview, vice president of global digital and omnichannel product experiences Zip Allen discusses the company’s loyalty program revamp, new store prototypes, and digital marketing rollouts in 2020 that helped them stand out. ...

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3

June 23, 2021 00:15:02
Tim McEnery on the continued diversification of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

Tim McEnery on the continued diversification of Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant

One of few full-service brands to report both sales and unit growth in 2020, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants began positioning itself as a lifestyle brand with multiple revenue streams long before the pandemic. The full-service restaurant and wine bar is also part wine maker. The brand has a wine club with more than half a million members, who have access to monthly wine dinners and group trips to travel to wine-making regions of the world. That diversification built around a loyal fan base was a driving factor for Cooper’s Hawk’s success through 2020, when the Downer’s Grove, Ill.-based chain recorded sales of $385.4 million, up 12.5%, according to Datassential’s Firefly 500 report. Founder and CEO Tim McEnery said the chain was forced to pivot during the pandemic, like most restaurants across the country. “Our operators became good at opening and closing the restaurants, so it was great for me that they were handling that aspect of the business so I could help navigate a way out of it for us,” he said. About six months into the pandemic, he said the company made some big decisions. “We were going to grab ahold of our future,” said McEnery. “We started investing in talent, technology, digital, data warehousing, really everything that would help Cooper’s Hawk live up to its potential over these next few years.” Hear McEnery look back on those decisions and how they have set the brand up for more-accelerated growth this year and beyond. ...

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2

June 22, 2021 00:30:41
Tropical Smoothie is chasing the industry titans — and it’s quickly catching up

Tropical Smoothie is chasing the industry titans — and it’s quickly catching up

Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO Charles Watson admits that his brand isn’t always at the leading edge when it comes to technology innovation. It is, however, a “darn good chaser,” he said — and that was a big reason why Tropical Smoothie closed 2020 up 11.3% in sales, according to NRN’s Top 500 report, published in partnership with Datassential. Watson spoke with NRN editor in chief Sam Oches about how Tropical Smoothie leveraged innovation and its relationships with its franchisees to defy the odds in the pandemic. ...

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1

June 21, 2021 00:24:20
Raising Cane’s finds focus leads to sales, unit growth in 2020

Raising Cane’s finds focus leads to sales, unit growth in 2020

During the 2020 pandemic year, Datassential tracked Raising Cane’s to a 12.1% growth in units and 7% growth in sales. AJ Kumaran, co-CEO of the Baton Rouge, La.-based fast-casual brand, said he expects “2021 is going to be even bigger and better” for the limited-service chicken tender concept. “We have aspirations to build about another 85 new restaurants and enter about 15 to 20 new markets in the next 12 months, which is incredible growth,” he said. “We are entering our 31st state [Wisconsin] coming up here soon in Milwaukee.” Raising Cane’s, which was founded in 1996 by co-CEO Todd Graves, has honed in on its spare menu for the past 25 years. “People call it simple. But it's not simple, it's focused,” Kumaran said. “And focus is hard. Focus is not easy.” ...

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