News Feature | January 22, 2018

Restaurant And Hospitality News – January 22, 2018

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


In news this week, a data breach impacts as many as 2 million customers of Jason’s Deli, while Starbucks faced down a major social media challenge that threatened to damage its good reputation.

Jason’s Deli Breach Affects Up To 2 Million Customers

Jason’s Deli has announced a data breach, stating that on December 22, 2017, credit card security personnel had identified a large quantity of payment card information that had appeared for sale on the “dark web,” at least some of which may have originated at various Jason’s Deli locations. In a statement, the company asserted, “From our initial investigation findings, criminals deployed RAM-scraping malware on a number of our point-of-sales (POS) terminals at various corporate-owned Jason’s Deli restaurants starting on June 8, 2017. During the course of the investigation, our response team contained the security breach and has also disabled the malware in all of the locations where it was discovered.”

The scope of the breach has affected as many as 2 million Jason’s Deli customers at 164 locations across 15 states including Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, according to CBS News. This is the same kind of malicious software that was employed by hackers in the 2013 Target data breach.

The Jason’s Deli breach affected customers’ payment card numbers, cardholder names, expiration dates, and service codes between June and December 2017, though the company asserted that personal identification numbers or back-of-card security codes had not been compromised in the attack. A full list of impacted locations can be found here.

“Based on the facts known to Jason’s Deli at this time, we believe that the criminals used the malware to obtain payment card information off of the POS terminals beginning on June 8, 2017,” the company said in a statement. “Our investigation has determined that approximately 2 million unique payment card numbers may have been impacted.”

Quick Action Averts Social Media Nightmare For Starbucks In Wake Of Fraudulent Tainted Food Claims

Social media has become an ever-present and often powerful tool in advertising and in fostering brand loyalty among customers. But it also has the power to destroy as well as build reputations. Just as Starbucks was gearing up for the national launch of its new Blonde Espresso, the Seattle-based coffee chain was faced with a potential social media nightmare over a hoax regarding one of its Atlanta-based locations, according to The Nation’s Restaurant News.

The crisis occurred when a woman named  Shannell Rivers, a barista at the Brookhaven, Georgia Starbucks store, posted on Facebook about how she had purposed “defiled” customer orders by “putting blood, saliva, and dog poop in white people’s food,” as The Daily Mail reported. The post quickly went viral, forcing the location to close two hours early as a result of phone threats to the store.

Starbucks quickly responded to the allegations, arguing that the post was false and that they did not even have an employee by that name on their payroll. The post in question was added to a Facebook page called “White People Vs. Black People,” and the poster claimed to have purposely defiled orders of white people at the Brookhaven location.

The incident is under investigation by the local police department, who have also added additional patrols around the Starbucks location in question.

The power in this story, however, is that it reveals that social media can make or break a reputation – regardless of the veracity of the claims – in a matter of minutes. Had Starbucks not responded so vehemently and quickly to these claims, it could have had a major PR disaster on its hands.

Crisis communications expert Brad Ritter of Los Angeles company Ritter Communications told The Nation’s Restaurant News that there are three “Cs” to managing situations like that: Control, concern and communication. He explained, companies need to communicate that they are handling the situation; express concern about the welfare of their customers; and demonstrate that they are working with the proper authorities or anyone else who can help address the problem.

The faster the response, the better. Ideally, that expression of the three ‘C’s should be immediate, Ritter said, even if it’s something as simple as “We’re aware of a potential problem, and we’re working diligently to learn more. We will share information as we get it.”

And when it comes to containment, Ritter says, the best containment strategy is to keep it limited to one form of social media. “If it starts on Twitter, you try to contain it to Twitter,” he said.

 “There are these people who have this incessant need to hit the ‘share’ button,” he said. “If you don’t throw some water on the ‘share’ button right away, you’re going to be in trouble.”