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We asked operators about their perspectives on 2020, and the impact on equipment-and-supplies purchases in the coming year. Here’s what they said:
ERLING WU-BOWER, Chef and Co-Owner, Pacific Standard Time and The Laurel Room, Chicago
“Looking at the country as a whole and rumors of recession— it’s nerve-wracking.”
TOP PROJECTS FOR 2020
“Noise has been our No. 1 critique. Adding soundproofing is expensive, but that will be one of the first things on the docket in the second quarter.” Also, POS. “The one thing customers pinpoint as the restaurant tradition they like least is giving up control of their credit card when they hand it over to their server. So many people have mentioned that recently. We’re trying to make that transaction more customer-friendly, possibly by using smartphone payment options, or similar.”
ANDREW ALLEN, Foodservice Director, Otterbein SeniorLife, Lebanon, Ohio
“Our goal in 2020 will be to work on enhancing our healthcare dining programs. Long term, we hope to add demonstration cooking for healthcare clients as well.”
Renovations to healthcare facility dining areas.
DAVID PANELLA, V.P. of Global Development, The Johnny Rockets Group, Wilbraham, Mass.
“We’ve been testing equipment and procedures to keep our delivery-ordered shakes cold and burgers hot.”
KEY RECENT UPDATES
“We’ve also been working on our Extreme Shake production: The Sterling five-spindle mixers have been moved to a front counter spot, and we brought in a new Nelson ice cream freezer that has doubled capacity.”
UNITS PLANNED IN 2020
4 to 6 domestic; 30+ international
JULIE MEDDLES, Director, Nutrition Services, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio
“Our goal is to maintain appeal, value and convenience, especially across all our retail platforms.”
Planning for future ambulatory care sites and an 840-bed patient tower building slated to open in 2025, upgrading POS systems and adding “at your convenience” food lockers to serve the growing mobile ordering and pickup market. Also, to save FTEs, looking at new options in robotics to bolster those already in use for moving supplies, collecting trash and soiled trays.
JEREMY T. CORRELL SMITH, V.P. of Design, Construction, Facilities, Torchy’s Tacos, Austin, Texas
“Our goal is to open 100 new restaurants over the next five years.”
To better serve takeout and delivery, “We’ve added a separate entrance, POS and a heated shelving unit to hold to-go orders.” Back-of-house changes include a smaller, more efficient kitchen, plus new equipment such as self-filtering fryers and extra hot wells. The biggest upgrade has been the debut of a tortilla press, along with a dough mixer and a thermostatically controlled tortilla griddle.
BOB VALENTI, Associate V.P. of Auxiliary Services, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J.
“We are in the middle of some major facilities upgrades [including planning a new student center and dining facility together with Gourmet Dining/Compass Group]. These changes, combined with our location 10 miles from New York City, will go a long way toward student recruitment, retention and satisfaction.”
Efficiency, energy use, ease of use and maintenance, flexibility and budget. “Most recently, we’ve been working with Gourmet Dining to stay ahead of the mobile ordering curve.”
The quick-service chain is testing dark kitchens, drive-thru only sites and “smaller, more efficient prototypes."
Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers opened its 400th location in December 2020.
Sequoia Capital China, Tencent Holdings and Eastern Bell Capital participated in a new fundraising round.