Foodservice Equipment Reports

NRA Announces 15 Finalists For Operator Innovations Awards

Bragging rights and recognition as drivers of industrywide advancement belong to the 15 foodservice operators selected by their peers as finalists for the 2013 Operator Innovations Awards. Three finalists in each of five categories: Food Safety, Health and Nutrition, Menu Development, Sustainability and Technology will be brought to Chicago for the 2013 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show this May. The winners in each category, as well as an Innovator of the Year selected from all finalists, will be announced on May 18.

The 2013 Operator Innovations Awards finalists are:

Food Safety

  • HMSHost (Bethesda, Md.) utilizes a comprehensive food-safety approach, featuring an audit process that goes beyond evaluation to integrate consultation and training.
  • Ninety Nine Restaurants (Woburn, Mass.) has an allergy alert system that combines staff training and involvement with clear communications via ordering, display systems and tracking.
  • Potawatomi Bingo Casino (Milwaukee) has an internal education and standards program for cook chill systems.

Health & Nutrition

  • Overlook Medical Center (Summit, N.J.) rewards customers for healthier food choices through its Summit Fit Club program.
  • Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.) boasts a six-category Performance Dining program in a holistic approach to nutrition focusing on food’s positive influence.
  • United States Air Force (San Antonio) developed a Food Transformation Initiative that revolutionizes food selections, cooking methods, meal availability and merchandising to guide customers toward healthier choices.

Menu Development

  • Aramark Higher Education (Philadelphia) developed 100 new menu items from the ground up, inspired by the latest trends.
  • HMSHost (Bethesda, Md.) designed a custom online tool for the company’s 100+ airport operations that provides local operators access to hundreds of menu items.
  • Taco Bell (Irvine, Calif.) combined two well-known brands in its Doritos Locos Tacos, resulting in the most successful new product introduction in the chain’s history.


  • Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, Ga.) incorporates a comprehensive, closed-loop waste management program for its campuswide, 5,000 guest-per-day dining operation.
  • Pret a Manger (New York) worked with third-party experts to research and develop a comprehensive sustainability program that they share with the industry.
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (Oshkosh, Wis.) implemented a kitchen and dining recycling program that combines a food pulper with a dry fermentation anaerobic biodigester that produces methane gas that generates electricity for up to 10% of the campus’ needs.


  • Canteen (Charlotte, N.C.) created a self-checkout micro-market with more than 300 installations and features remote temperature monitoring, multiple payment methods, biometric thumbprint security and RFID tag product identification.
  • Mainstreet Ventures (Ann Arbor, Mich.) has an interactive tablet menu that has completely replaced paper menus at 11 restaurants.
  • Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (Lake Buena Vista, Fla.) utilizes a unique system capable of automating elements throughout the operation, including RF table locators, ordering, checkout and back-of-the-house workflow to serve more than 3,000 meals at lunch daily.

More details on the nominees, and a full list of the industry leaders who serve as judges, can be found here at the NRA’s website. And don’t forget to register for the show. Registration is half-price at $49 until this Friday, April 5, when it rises to $99. Check it out here.

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FER Industry Excellence Awards Gala

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