A Podcast for Restaurateurs in the QSR and Fast Casual space

Strategies for Enterprise Restaurant Leaders

Join us for a dash of innovation, a pinch of technology, a tablespoon of business strategy, and a generous measure of good humor as we discuss the business and technology issues affecting enterprise restaurant brands.

Episode spotlight

Episode 13: Women in Innovation Series: Katharine Dalton of Xenial Shares How Data and Innovation Help Restaurants Solve Pain Points

The newest member of the Xenial Analytics & Customer Engagement (ACE) team Katharine Dalton shares why and how she believes Xenial’s powerful ACE tools will drive innovation among the next generation of data-centric restaurants. Katharine talks about the people who have inspired her in her professional development, her unique view of what it means—and takes—to be an ‘analyst,’ and her optimistic outlook for diversity in the restaurant technology industry.

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How restaurant operators look at their data—and which data sets are critically important (especially coming out of a global pandemic)—are shifting. Listen as Jerry Philips of Whataburger shares where these changes have brought them as a brand with an extremely loyal fan following. Jerry shares with Katharine Dalton and Tama Looney of Xenial what the company and its leaders have learned about the importance and value of customer data, employee data, and social media in achieving customer and employee loyalty.

The newest member of the Xenial Analytics & Customer Engagement (ACE) team Katharine Dalton shares why and how she believes Xenial’s powerful ACE tools will drive innovation among the next generation of data-centric restaurants. Katharine talks about the people who have inspired her in her professional development, her unique view of what it means—and takes—to be an ‘analyst,’ and her optimistic outlook for diversity in the restaurant technology industry.

Rising labor costs and other factors are prompting restaurants to consider automating parts of their operations. Is there real ROI to be gained from these investments? Listen as Xenial President Scott Meyer and Head of Technology Chris Siefken share real-world examples and a glimpse of the automation technologies Xenial has brought to market this year, including Voice Bot ordering, Camera-Vision-Based Drive-thru Timing, AI-powered Upselling, and a Next-gen Drive-thru Controller to power it all.

Kristen Zupancic, Sr. Director, Customer Engagement Solutions for Global Payments, shares her broad experience with innovation and how she applies these experiences to deliver Global Payments’ solutions for customer engagement. These solutions are used by an expansive range of merchant types and sizes. Kristen shares her perspective on the value of diversity in the workplace, her switch from process engineering to the software industry, and tactics for inspiring her teams to focus on what’s important and constantly improve.

Many restaurant and retail businesses find it constantly challenging to build awareness in their local markets. Amy LaFrank of Edible Arrangements shares some of the things she’s learned throughout her restaurant and food marketing career, including sage advice for local store marketing.

The move to digital and the recent pandemic have dramatically accelerated changes in how guests order and pay, and restaurant operators have discovered the value of innovation when it comes to payments technologies and services. Listen as Bob Larimer of Hardee's Franchisee Boddie-Noell joins Marc Castrechini of Global Payments Integrated to discuss innovations in payments for restaurants. 

With off-premises and mobile now all but essential, restaurants have been pivoting quickly to digital ordering and payment channels. Kristen Addington, Head of Digital Solutions, talks about Whataburger’s use of agile methodologies to introduce delivery and mobile. She describes her technology career path, women in leadership who have inspired her, and shares how she leads her team to optimize the customer experience by fostering innovation and cross-team collaboration.

Menu innovation is any brand's 'secret sauce' so we were beyond excited when Alice Crowder, Vice President at Tropical Smoothie Café, agreed to give us an insider's perspective. Alice shares how a very diverse team approaches menu innovation strategically. This is part of our series 'Women in Innovation,' hosted by Tama Looney, Brand Executive for Xenial Analytics & Customer Engagement Solutions. You won’t want to miss a second of this episode.

Guests have heard a lot about what lives on the keypads and screens of ordering and payment devices not to mention what can spread through the air. Suffice to say, we’re all a little on edge about germs these days. What can brands do to reassure guests? The National Restaurant Association's OrderUp Podcast asked Tama Looney, Xenial Account Executive, to share perspectives on today’s ‘new normal’ and what she's heard from nationwide enterprise quick serve and fast casual brands.

With 97% of its sales in the drive-thru, Dutch Bros. Coffee is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fast, efficient guest service. Systems Architect Brendon Gilbert shares how the 420+ location rapidly growing brand keeps the customer-server connection strong while it evolves its operations and modernizes its technology stack.

In the midst of unprecedented challenges for dine-in restaurants worldwide prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Golden Corral Buffet + Grill franchise Platinum Corral has a new lease on success.  The company expanded its off-premises guest service options at the Jacksonville, North Carolina location by launching a drive-thru and retrofitting its store with a “To-Go Room” that services all to-go channels. Off-premises sales have far exceeded expectations, and the restaurant is now equipped to further expand its digital service channels and serve guests regardless of possible future pandemic-imposed restrictions. In this episode, we talk with Director of Marketing and IT, Mike Cox, and Platinum Corral President Billy Sewell about the pivot to off-premises, the stellar results, including blazing-fast drive-thru service times, and what it all means for the future of buffet.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Denny’s on Demand digital ordering channel went from about 12% of sales to 100% virtually overnight. Like other brands, the company quickly accelerated its off-premises service options, while planning and preparing for an eventual safe and comfortable re-opening of dining rooms. In this episode, we talk with Jason Breazeale, Director of Architecture and Innovation at Denny’s, about what the brand has done, strategically and tactically, to adjust, make sure guests and employees feel safe, and continue to provide exceptional guest experiences in a constantly changing environment. 

Fast Casual and Quick Serve restaurants are rapidly pivoting to emphasize off-premises and socially safe, low-touch/no-touch service. Tactics include enabling online ordering, takeout, curbside pickup, seating management, and touchless payments. Listen as technology and product leaders from Xenial discuss the current environment, what operators are doing to adjust, and perspectives on rebounding from this downturn.

The restaurant industry is a core staple of the world economy. It provides sustenance, joy and opportunity to so many people. We all play a part in this family of industry professionals who are constantly trying to improve the ways that we delight the everyday consumer and increasingly look to technology solutions to find ways to make it easier to do that. That’s where the Table Stakes podcast comes in.

Every episode, we offer a conversation around areas and challenges that the enterprise restaurant industry is tackling. Since we started this podcast during the incredibly difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic, you’ll see a lot of the earlier episodes discussing challenges and opportunities that have come out of that. Most of the Table Stakes episodes will feature guests from well-known enterprise restaurant brands sharing their unique perspective and experience on the topic at hand. We invite you to join us in these discussions! Thank you for checking out our podcast. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, you can reach us at tablestakes@xenial.com.  

Dutch Bros Coffee Shares Lessons in Line Busting

With 90% of its sales in the drive-thru, Dutch Bros. Coffee is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fast, efficient guest service. Systems Architect Brendon Gilbert shares how the 400+ location rapidly growing brand keeps the customer-server connection strong.

Golden Corral Franchisee Platinum Corral Reinvents the Buffet for Off-premises

In this episode we talk with Platinum Corral President Billy Sewell and Director of Marketing and IT, Mike Cox, about the launch of drive-thru, the stellar results - including blazing-fast drive-thru service times - and what it all means for the future of buffet.

Denny’s Reimagines Casual Dining in the COVID Era With Jason Breazeale

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Denny’s digital ordering channel went from about 12% of sales to 100% virtually overnight. Jason Breazeale, Director of Architecture and Innovation at Denny’s, talks about what the brand has done to continually provide exceptional guest experiences in a constantly changing environment.

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