In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “The Finance Guy” chat with Wade Alle, SVP and Chief Digital Officer for Brinker International for a special Super Bowl episode where they talk about kitchen automation and the importance of a back to the basics game plan on strategy.
Brinker International a leader in casual dining restaurant companies whose brands include Chili’s Bar & Grill, Maggiano’s Little Italy as well as virtual brands. Allen says, “Let me start with if you don’t know Brinker you probably don’t know casual dining because over the course of the last forty-five plus years we’ve owned 30 different brands. But today our core brands are Chili’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy and then we launched a virtual brand called, It’s Just Wings about two years ago.”
Allen’s role with the company is SVP and chief digital officer and his focus is on the on 1.2 billion dollars off-premise business. Over the last ten years Allen has had four different positions inside of the company, today he is running all of off-premise. In 2022 Kevin Hochman became the new President and CEO and his leadership is driving the team to be hyper focused on the things that reality matter.
They talk about how Brinker is bringing the kitchen of the future to life today with kitchen automation. Allen shares that they have two new pieces of equipment including a grill that cooks proteins to perfection with a touch of a button. The second is an oven that Allen says cooks foods really fast and their steaks in 3 – 4 minutes, cooked perfectly. Brinker focuses on bringing their own innovation solutions as well as working with companies to integrate good technology.
Allen gets to throw a question to Frischling and Schatzy during their talking back segment and he asks, how much technology is too much technology in the restaurant world? Is there a limit or is all technology great technology? Schatzy’s says, “I think the key is it’s the integrations and the workflow and how does it work with everything you already have and your business so coming up with a solution for a problem is great, but every restaurant group is a little bit different. It’s not the right fit for everybody or it’s the right fit but it doesn’t work into my flow.” Frischling adds, “I think there was an explosion of tech and to Schatzy’s point and when he’s talking about integrations I think the fact is the remainder of this year and even a lot of 24 are going to be about consolidation.”
To hear more about what to expect in restaurant technology and the foodservice feud question, check out this episode of Hospitality Hangout.