Fairway Files for Bankruptcy

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As of Monday (but predicted long before), Fairway Market has officially filed for bankruptcy after losing $300 million in five years and accumulating $267 million in debt. According to a statement released by the company, they have a plan underway to restructure debt while keeping all 15 stores in operation and continuing to pay wages, benefits and other obligations.

Fairway CEO Jack Murphy is publicly optimistic, stressing that the bankruptcy deal is the grocery chain’s best opportunity to continue operating and survive the recent turmoil more or less intact. Indeed, the news that all stores will remain open comes as some surprise, since initial reports predicted that at least the poorer performing branches would be forced to close.

To read more, click here.

The New Tech Changing the Guest Experience

In 2015, the foodservice industry saw some major technological changes—the introduction of EMV processing, Apple Pay and NFC adoption, and the continued rise of mobile POS terminals. But how can operators use this new tech to improve the guest experience? That’s what we will be discussing in this month’s Enterprise Insight.

Applying what’s new and hot in tech to your enterprise operations can be a double-edged sword. Thus, we advise our partners to focus on using new systems for the following key experiences: Loyalty, Mobile Ordering, and the Point of Sale.

 

Loyalty

 Tech-based loyalty programs are the best to engage repeat guests for two reasons: they provide insight and opportunity.

Systems like Square and LevelUp provide guest-specific metrics that a traditional punch card cannot. With these tech-based programs, operators can monitor, when your repeat guests are coming, what they’re purchasing, and how often.

This, then, allows you to more-personally and uniquely reward your best guests. Rather just the tenth cup free, you can reward birthdays, new guests, or stalled guests. This information and opportunity need to be handled appropriately, though; be wary of spending too much or not delivering.

It’s important to be mindful of perception, as well. Starbucks has been in hot water recently for the changes to their loyalty program. Originally, the coffee chain had been rewarding repeat guests with points, which were then redeemed for a product of the guests’ choice. However, when Starbucks changed the system to be based on dollar values rather than visits, guests were outraged. With a close look, though, the economics of the program actually benefit the most frequent guests—but the message wasn’t received as such.

Lastly, be mindful of your costs as you consider your strategy. We always run the numbers at different adoption rates to determine the good and potentially bad impact any program will have on your bottom line.

 

Mobile Ordering and Delivery

While Americans are dining out more than ever, at lunch they’re bringing that lunch in—or never even leaving. Mobile Ordering is imperative for your operation because it allows guests to place orders with security and comfort; they know that the order was received without anything lost in translation and, with the right technology in place, without even opening their wallets.

Seamless and Grub Hub are the industry titans, but newer start-ups like ChowNow, Brandibble, Olo, and OpenDining are bridging the gap between guest and enterprise: these services integrate directly with restaurants’ websites and apps to create a truly ‘seamless’ experience.

Within high-density areas, the rise of food delivery has evolved a segment of the restaurant industry to new extremes. Mobile Ordering connects diners and operators with a collection of middle-men: the IT team and the delivery team. Now, though, operators are developing their own ordering and delivery platforms with kitchens for a virtual restaurant—no seats, no servers, just delivery drivers and a website. In New York, Maple has seen huge growth and spawned a growing list of similar concepts.

 

Point of Sale

EMV, Apple Pay and NFC payments are important changes in the industry because they massively change the point-of-sale experience. While EMV actually increases friction—guests are using new equipment that increases the processing time—Apple Pay and NFC actually eliminate this, as well as traditional card swipes. And as with mobile ordering, these systems keep the credit card on file—guests never have to take out their wallet.

Similarly, start-ups like CheckMate are eliminating final step in the service cycle: dropping the bill. CheckMate is designed to make life for the service staff easier by allowing guests to pay for their bill from their phone. Via integrations with the existing POS, CheckMate allows restaurants to drop a “virtual bill,” which guests split, tip, and pay.

As with any new system you implement, you should carefully research, plan, and forecast the necessary components and implications. While these systems are all great individually, they don’t always communicate; for example, LevelUp and Square will not work together. Seamless won’t integrate directly with your point of sale. There are some systems, though, like Toast POS that offer a full suite of add-ons to create a complete ecosystem. And again, at TaraPaige, we ensure that the options we proceed with are the right fit financially, operationally, and experientially.

Retail Spotlight – Syndicated

657fa7862b12c5f91c449a4d83f058c5Their Success… Scrolling through the website for Syndicated, Brooklyn’s latest movie theater/restaurant mash-up, you might notice some curious contrasts. For example, there are the menus – half loaded tater tots/burgers/popcorn, half chatham mussels/smoked lamb ribs/fiddlehead ferns? Or click on their Instagram account, a mix of mouthwatering food photography and film stills that range from the artistic to the (literally) cartoonish. But move on to the calendar of movies and events for the clearest indication that Syndicated has embraced contrast to the fullest.

Syndicated’s monthly calendar is a grab bag of movies both classic and new. Each night features one or two films with up to 4 showtimes; some films run for a few nights, others are screened as one-offs or for special events. During the first week in May, each night is devoted to a single sci-fi flick, be it Mars Attacks or The Fifth Element. In mid April, the Coen Brothers had a week, as did Hitchcock later in the month. Sometimes an obvious theme ties together an entire week, other times guests may not even notice a connection, like the road-trip-week bookended by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Dumb and Dumber.

Most of the movies listed on the calendar are screened in Syndicated’s single screening room, which comes equipped with a table for every two seats and a low-tech but easy ordering system. Theater-specific menus (think nachos, flavored popcorn and ice-cream sandwiches) are hung on clipboards at the tables, and guests can circle their orders. A server collects them and quietly brings the food around during the film, dropping the check shortly before it ends. Movie theaters have been making the majority of their money on concessions for decades, so it only makes sense to elevate that concession list and integrate the food and film experiences completely.

Outside the theater is the main bar/restaurant, a huge room with lofty ceilings and an art-deco aesthetic. There is a central bar with (almost) 360 degree seating, and generously-spaced tables along the edges of the room. Two large projectors on the far wall allow Syndicated to run additional programming (with closed captioning, of course) for guests who might not want to commit to a full movie, but still want the experience of dinner, drinks and a show. Sports bars may have been the first to figure out that guests will stay longer (and order more) if they can watch something while they do, but Syndicated is doing the same with the Oscars, presidential debates, and favorite TV show finales.

The thesis of this project is perhaps best summed up by their occasional “Hi / Low” movie pairings: two movies chosen because they express some underlying theme from very different rungs of the cultural ladder. (In May, for example, that means the dark and intense Shame alongside American Pie) “Hi/Low” is the best expression of what Syndicated aims to be – a  place you can eat great food that’s also junk food, catch up on classic film history or binge watch current tv, and have an extravagant date night that’s still just a casual dinner and a movie. Because sometimes a good night out looks like foreign films and a Spanish red, sometimes it looks like Bill & Ted’s Excellent adventure and a Narraganset, and sometimes it looks like all the above.

Take aways… Syndicated comfortably embraces contrast between the highbrow and the low, filling multiple needs in a playful way that keeps guests surprised and engaged.

 

7/26: The Four Seasons Auctions Off Its Entire Iconic Interior

fourseasons5.0.jpgDetails were released yesterday about the much-anticipated auction of the furniture and smallwares formerly used at the Four Seasons Park Avenue, and there are certainly more than a few New Yorkers out there already reaching for their pocketbooks.

The auction will be held by Wright Auctions, a Chicago-based company specializing in mid-century design. It will take place on-site on July 26th. The restaurant has long been iconic for it’s interior design and aesthetic; in fact, the architectural fittings and detailing have been landmarked (and as such are among the only items not available for sale). According to Richard Wright, founder and president of Wright Auctions, “[we] have always held a particular focus on modern architecture and design, and this interior so perfectly captures the modern spirit in heroic and elegant fashion.”

There will soon be a catalogue available of the full auction list, but New York collectors can already look forward to the Grill Room’s famous banquettes, the custom tulip tables, and bespoke small wares ranging from wine coolers to pots and pans.

To read more, click here.

 

Chobani CEO Offers Full Time Employees an Unprecedented Bonus

On Tuesday Morning, 2,000 full time Chobani employees received the surprise of a lifetime: shares worth 10% of the company, a bonus which could mean up to a million dollars for some employees when the company is sold or goes public. According to CEO Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant who founded Chobani in 2005, the goal is to pass along the wealth he could not have accumulated without the help of his employees.

The distribution of shares was based on tenure, with the employees who had been with Chobani longest receiving the largest distribution. Since Chobani’s current valuation, as estimated by TPG capital, is $3 – $5 billion, the average value of each employee’s distribution is $150,000. The shares come directly from Mr. Ulukaya, who is still the majority stakeholder. If employees leave or retire before Chobani is bought or goes public, they can hold onto the shares or sell them back to the company.

The move has obviously already generated a lot of press, particularly as it touches on the hot button topic of the wealth gap in America, much discussed this election cycle. Mr. Ulukaya himself has not made the connection explicit – focusing instead on his appreciation for his employees, and their crucial role in bringing the company where it is today.

To read more, click here.

Street Vendors Protest Limited Number of Permits

13087313_10153582577593519_8831297411753637903_n.0.jpgThere are few things more closely associated with New York City than the smell of roasted peanuts and the ubiquitous carts selling shwarma, hot dogs, or decidedly-not-cold-brew iced coffee. There are around 20,000 street vendors in NYC, but the city only hands out 5,000 permits a year for a cost of $300 each – meaning many sellers are operating illegally or renting permits at much higher rates. On Tuesday, hundreds of vendors gathered at city hall to protest the cap on permits, originally issued in the 80’s in an effort to clean up the city streets. According to the protestors, that cap is no longer necessary, and puts a huge hurdle in the way of those who just want to legally work.

Some argue that the cap is still necessary, as the health department already struggles to keep up with monitoring the number of vendors with permits. Others view the vendors as “unsanitary and unsightly,” and worry that more permits will create dangerous street congestion and sanitation issues. Arguably, the increased revenue from adding more permits could help offset the added costs of inspections and enforcement, but the problem is a sticky one.

To read more, click here.

Grand Banks Boat Returns Next Tuesday

1451064622024.jpegFew things say warm weather is coming like outdoor dining. Or, even better, outdoor dining by the water. Or, if you really want to up the ante, dining on the water. Of course, the options for the latter are limited, but next Tuesday Grand Banks will return to Tribeca’s pier 25 with not just drinks but their full food menu as well.

Grand Banks is a seasonal restaurant located on a historic fishing schooner. They opened in 2014 to quick success, with lines occasionally extending down the pier to grab a seat for lobster rolls, fried oysters and the full bar menu. This year they are accepting reservations, so anyone headed out for an adventurous first-date meal need not worry to much about being stranded on the pier. There’s also a selection of new dishes, including friend Montauk blowfish tails and pan roasted oysters with bacon and ramps.

Click here for more information, or to make a reservation.

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