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MONDAY MINUTE: February 13, 2023

Couch Dining made easier with Roku & why independents should be excited for the Google/Toast deal.

All these headlines and more represent our thoughts and views on the world of restaurants, technology and off premise food in our round up of the last week’s hot news stories - subscribe today to the Monday Minute and register at for more bonus content.

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Carl: Toast Partners up with Google Chowly bags a Koala and what's coming to your Roku TV soon. That's all ahead on this week's Monday Minute.

Monday Minute works like this. We're going to ask each other five questions about headlines that have caught our attention on the world of restaurants, off premise and technology that in some way link back to our book Delivering the Digital Restaurant. Are you ready? Let's go.

Meredith: All right, Carl. First question is for you, this week Google and Toast have announced a partnership and, we're big fans of Google ordering, so tell us about that.

Carl: Yeah, we're, we're always saying that the, the third parties are a great place to have your restaurant found, but we've never said it's the best place.

And I personally think that the best place is Google. We've always said the toughest thing about all this off-premise optimization is about converting customers to your first party channel from third parties. Well, what if you skip the need to convert at all? What if you could just take them first party direct from a Google search?

You know this, this week's announcement from Google and Toast is doing just that. Seamless integration from Google search maps, et cetera, across Toast ordering interfaces. Huge leap forward in my mind for restaurants utilizing the Toast POS platform and such a function as this, has existed in the past for restaurant chains: there's a partnership between the likes of Olo and Google, for example. But given Toast has such a large amount of smaller entities on their platform, you know, this is big news for the independent, Meredith. Google's partnership is important because their own functionality has improved in recent years .

You're now able to search specific dishes like Thai green curry near me, or you're able to see the star ratings in the maps results. And so they're taking restaurants pretty seriously as well. And I think the message is to restaurant owners is take your business seriously with Google My Business.

That is a really important part of setting yourself up. Make sure you keep your information up to date. 43% of all searches are location based, meaning there's a great opportunity to be found if you focus on being search engine optimized. And I think what's has been enabled through this partnership between Toast and Google is absolutely going to give the independent a leg up to getting more customers directly through their own platform.

Meredith: Yeah, that's so true. I think of my own consumer behavior. When I'm looking for a restaurant, I search on the map, like I don't even go to Google. I go to Google Maps. I don't know if that's common among everyone, but I suspect it is. When you're looking for something that's nearby, you want to know exactly where nearby.

Carl: And you're seeing it as well with regards to the connected car these days, right? The ability for you to be able to use your cars inbuilt Sat nav to be able to help you understand where to find food solutions. So I think it's very exciting and hopefully we'll see many independent restaurants be able to grow their first party presence as a result of this.

Okay, our second question. Uber has released their full year results for 2022. I know you are a big fan of going through end of year results. So what were the headlines from this?

Meredith: Yeah, so you know, it's very tricky to go through Uber's financials. They do not make it easy by any means to figure out what's going on, and in particular, on the delivery front, they're coupling together restaurant delivery with grocery delivery. And so it's not at all obvious what's happening, but there were two things of note as I was looking through. One was that growth rates have clearly slowed. Full year growth rates were much higher than Q4 growth rates. So, irrespecitve of what kind of delivery we can see that growth coming down.

And then the other thing of note was that they mentioned that 14% I think of their customer base had tried grocery delivery. And if you sort of back that out of the delivery numbers they are quoting, it leads one to believe that restaurants are flat to down. And when then you take into account the fact that so many restaurants increased price on the third party platforms over the last year.

Then that kind of makes you wonder if transactions are down down. So we'll see, I think as more information comes out. But that was my conclusion after trying to read between the lines on everything they said. Otherwise, you know, some good news. They had a good pop yesterday.

Okay. So Carl we know Chipotle made a big investment in Hyphen and now it looks like they're set to test the robotic make line. So tell us about that.

Carl: Yes, well far be it from me to pat ourselves on our back, but it was only a few short weeks ago in our 2023 predictions that we said automation in the back of house is going to be a key focus this year.

And the news feeds are pretty thread bare when it comes to drones. Right now I'm not seeing much on that front. I don't know about whether you are, but lo and behold, Chipotle spring up in the news about how they're planning to utilize their partnership investment with Hyphen as part of their Cultivate Next Fund.

This came up as part of their End of Year results call as well, and a litany of other things such as price increases, their disappointing holiday promotion season also caught my eye, but the robotic make lines clearly is something that is of particular interest.

So what is it? A conveyor belt that moves down the line for all intents and purposes, so it's, it's nothing necessarily that fancy, but when you can add the automation piece into this and you can add the ability to make the Chipotle bowls and burritos through that process, you're able to address two key parts of great off-premise optimization.

And that is speed and accuracy. They hope to be able to get more than 350 meals per hour created through this particular technology. And also because it is automated, you've got to hope that order accuracy will also be improved as well. So as you say, testing's going to begin through the first half of this year.

I'm going to be particularly eager to see how the results are. But they're also stopping some things. Meredith they're stopping virtual training, for example they're shelving that to do more shoulder to shoulder training from experienced managers, and they touched on a few staffing items in their results.

Things like restaurants now are 90% staffed in December, so perhaps more signs of the easing labor crisis in that regard. And perhaps they're also demonstrating more success in keeping their own team happy. They had 22,000 promotions last year and 90% of their restaurant managers were recruited from within.

So that's encouraging. And I mention all of that alongside robotic make lines because I think there's this blend between how automation and staff are going to work together and perhaps improve the overall experience for guests, especially those , on-premise where, I dunno about you. I know you're a big fan of Chipotle and I, I've become more a fan over the years, but I think if I'm being hypercritical. They've dropped the ball a little bit in the on-premise space over these last few years. And I think with things like automation, with improved staffing conditions, I think we're gonna see a, a far more promising outlook for all the various different channels that Chipotle are focusing on in, in the year ahead.

So, excited about that. And I almost got through talking about Chipotle without a Chipotlane reference, but, oh, just a

Meredith: can't be done. Can't be done. Exactly. I can't wait to see Hyphen in person. So Chipotle, if you're listening, please invite me.

Carl: Absolutely. Okay. Fourth question this week is something again, which we've been talking a lot about over recent months, and that is consolidation.

And Chowly, our friends over at Chowly, announced an acquisition of Koala. Tell us about why you think this is happening. Who are Koala and why is this going to help Chowly?

Meredith: Yeah. Well, first I absolutely agree it reflects the broad environment of consolidation happening in the industry. We've gone through this hugely innovative phase where there've been lots of new companies coming out, and frankly, a lot of companies that do very similar things.

It's been just incredible the amount of innovation that has hit the restaurant industry, which is awesome, but it's also been a little overwhelming and confusing. And so now we'll start to see these things go together. Chowly of course, is a third party order aggregator, and what Koala allows them to do is offer first party ordering to their customers.

So it's your classic, "Hey, you're already buying this from us. Why don't you buy this too? Um, they also have a lot of data flowing through the third party. So conceivably they could use that to help bridge people over to first party and have one seamless order flow, from the consumer into the restaurant, which is great.

Okay. Final question. Uh, Roku, partnering with DoorDash this week first of all, for our restaurant friends out there, what is Roku? And then second of all, what's the partnership all about?

Carl: Yeah. So Roku is a, a device that you can attach to your television and get access to streaming television, much like you do with a, a Netflix account.

But this is an actual box that helps you get access to streaming television without needing that dastardly cable box. I'm excited about this one, Meredith. I think this is good. You know, we, Wendy's is the first DoorDash customer to sell interactive, click to order ads on the Roku streaming TV platform.

The actual promotion, I think is a, a $5 off a $15 spend, and it's due to kickoff in, in mid-March. This isn't live right now, but it offers very exciting potential for a, you know,

customer watching a specific show to have perhaps specific DoorDash clients published in front of that dormant guest on their couch.

So you can see why this is something to be excited about. I mean, There is a timing factor though, right? You know, when, when do you sit down to watch tv Meredith, after dinner? Do you know, do you, do you sit down to watch a bit of TV and then think what's for dinner? How do you think about this?

Meredith: Uh, yeah, it's different every day. It depends on what's happening. I mean, I think it's brilliant and frankly, for me, it's a dream come true because I don't know, 20, 25 years ago, back when I was a consultant, we were working on interactive television and the ability to place an order to come to you. And it was, how is this going to happen? What's it going to take? And now here it is. It's so exciting to see. I just love it and I can't wait to see how Wendy's does with it.

Carl: Yeah, I think you're right. I think it, 20 years ago you'd have been probably of a profile of a student or a young professional, right? So when you think about that angle, I think it really works.

Meredith: Thanks Carl

Carl: Well, you know, I was too so, the thing is, is that we have somewhat more structured lives these days. You and I, and I think when you're in that younger contingent, and when you look at what Roku have done with their research, they, they say 36% of their users are using food delivery services weekly.

So I think it skews a little bit towards that younger audience. But there's another component to this as well. There's a seamless nature to it. The fact that the profile, the address of the customer is probably already in the system. You've got the payment already in the system because people can use Roku to download movies to purchase or to rent, and so the ability to order your dinner with the same frictionless experience that you can rent or buy a movie just adds another reason as to why this makes it so much sense as a, yeah an offer. And for DoorDash, they're offering for those people that sign up an opportunity to get access to six months’ worth of DashPass so that therefore is making the seamless transition to continue using third party delivery through DoorDash that much easier as well.

So it's an exciting one. I don't know whether we're going to see customized adverts to customer profiles yet, as per what we've suggested in the past when we put our futurist hats on. But I can certainly see that happening in the future in relationships like this.

Meredith: Absolutely.

Carl: Okay. Well that is it for Monday Minute this week.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on what we've shared this week. And of course if you have any particular headlines that you'd like us to cover in Next Time's Edition, then feel free to reach out and contact us either below or on LinkedIn. But until next time, thanks for watching.

The Monday Minute is available for you to follow and subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast. Watch us on YouTube and follow us on all our social media learn channels. Thanks for listening.



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