News Feature | November 21, 2017

Restaurant And Hospitality News – November 21, 2017

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

In news this week, Firebirds Wood Fired Grill rolls out a new restaurant prototype; while Shake Shack introduces a prototype store with no cashiers to improve efficiency.

Firebirds Unveils New Prototype Restaurant Design

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill has announced the opening of a new restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida with a twist on its iconic design.  Working in close collaboration with architectural and design firm starrdesign, the chain has created a newly revamped, open concept design that incorporates more contemporary materials.

CEO Mark Eason explained, “For our new Jacksonville location, we have gone with a different look, switching to an open concept and using more contemporary materials like lighter-colored woods, charred black brick and exposed steel. General Manager John McAnallen is looking forward to introducing the new design and our bold new menu items to the Jacksonville community and welcoming them time and time again for meals with family and friends, business luncheons, date nights or special occasions.”

With the new open concept, the entry, bar and lounge flow seamlessly into the interior dining rooms and provides a close view of the signature exhibition kitchen, wood-fired grill, and prominent brick fireplace from throughout the restaurant. Other touches include abstract artwork, floor-to-ceiling windows, wooden overhangs, and the addition of teal as a signature color.

The change is designed to keep the restaurant change vibrant, attract new customers, and keep existing guests engaged. Stephen Loftis, Firebirds vice president of marketing, told FSR Magazine, “You want to make sure you’re not lumped into the category as an old, stodgy, dark-wood type of steakhouse e- kind of your mom-and-dad’s steakhouse.”

“We’ve gotten to the point now where we want to make certain we appeal not only to a younger generation, but the next generation, without alienating our current core demographics,” Loftis explained.

The open concept helps to highlight the role of the Firebar, serving as a can’t-miss focal point for the restaurant. Loftis said, “It’s really become a neat social place where folks come and congregate. Enjoy a meal. Enjoy a cocktail and have a good time.”

New offerings on the menu include Ancho Strip Steak, Wood Grilled Jumbo Mayport Shrimp, Honey Rosemary Fried Chicken Sandwich, Honey Whiskey BBQ Burger, Chicken Fried Flounder, and the Seared Tuna Superfood Salad.

Loftis is proud of the new concept and said, “We’ve adjusted some of the sightlines. We’ve adjusted some of the orientation of the tables to really focus on the grill and what’s happening back there. We’re pretty proud of what’s transpiring there.”

And the new prototype will help the chain move forward as well. Loftis explained, “We’ll learn from this. We’ll open up here in early November and based on the feedback and based on certain key metrics, we’ll take that learning and adopt not only into new restaurants moving forward as we continue to progress and grow the brand, but, yes, also come back and retrofit existing locations.”

Shake Shack Opens First Cashless Kiosk In New York

Shake Shack is shaking up the restaurant business by introducing the first cashless kiosk in New York. According to CEO Randy Garutti, the newest digital elements allow kitchen staff to center attention on the food while front of house staff can focus on the customers. The company plans to test a number of digital and hospitality innovations, as well as other challenges such as delivery speed and packaging, in this New York location prior to rolling them out across their stores.

Garutti calls the New York location a “playground,” where the company can experiment with a variety of digital innovations to see how they work to connect with consumers. The playground is located in Astor Place, and will use digital kiosks instead of cashiers to take customer orders, and the kiosks will not accept cash. Shake Shack will be using “hospitality champs” to staff these kiosks, employees that excel at improving the customer experience. Orders are then sent directly to the kitchen and the process is proving to reduce wait time significantly. Garruti told CNBC that the company also rearranged the kitchen to “eliminate friction time,” and make the process much more efficient.

When orders are ready, diners will receive a text, which means that they do not need to hover around in the restaurant while waiting for their food.  Meyer explained that the whole new concept employs a “guest-centric strategy. We get the best people and the best hospitality. It’s not just about the hamburgers.”