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Awards luncheon honors Cheesecake Factory, Subway, others for tech initiatives

Awards luncheon honors Cheesecake Factory, Subway, others for tech initiatives


ATLANTA For rolling out gift card technology to approximately 22,000 North American restaurants, Subway was among the honorees at the 2007 FS/TEC Awards Luncheon here Oct. 12.

The annual luncheon is held in conjunction with the International Foodservice Technology Exposition, or FS/TEC.

"This [project] is really a shining example of teamwork," Marina O'Rourke, director of retail technology for Subway parent Doctor's Associates Inc., said when she was presented with the FS/TEC Team Excellence Award. She accepted on behalf of the chain's franchisees and her team at Subway headquarters in Milford, Conn., and praised development partners Value Pay LLC, a franchisee-owned transaction management company, and vendor Chockstone Inc.

Edmund Reeh, The Cheesecake Factory Inc.'s manager of operations technology, and Rob West, vice president of technology services and restaurant systems, accepted the FS/TEC Project Excellence award for their company's Web-based scheduling and communications platform supported by HotSchedules Workforce Solutions. The Calabasas Hills, Calif.-based chain also was feted for the "virtual rollout" of that scheduling system, which saw 30,000 employees and 900 managers trained with the help of unit-level "heroes" personnel and distance-learning technology — but "without a single plane ticket," Reeh said.

The FS/TEC Distinguished Career Achievement Award went to Chick-fil-A vice president of information technology, or IT, Jonathan "Jon" Bridges.

Bridges credited the company's technology successes to his IT team; boss and chief financial officer James "Buck" McCabe; the company's owners, the Cathy family; and supportive industry peers. He cited as valued vendors Oracle, PAR and Radiant Systems. (See related story on "Chick-Fil-A's Bridges: A distinguished career noted at FS/TEC") 

Nation's Restaurant News Technology Innovation Awards were given to Scottsdale Healthcare of Scottsdale, Ariz., operator of regional hospital and medical research facilities; Hooters of America Inc. of Atlanta, operator and franchisor of the Hooters chain; and Jack in the Box Inc. of San Diego, parent of 2,107-unit Jack in the Box and 371-unit Qdoba Mexican Grill.

Scottsdale Healthcare was recognized, among other reasons, for its new "digital dining" system that permits patients to order foods keyed to their specific dietary needs at their convenience using in-room TVs and remote controls. The company's director of hospitality services Betty Ann Stephenson said technology suppliers Computrition Inc. and Skylight Healthcare Systems played critical roles in developing the system.

Hooters was tagged an innovator for creating ITWERCS, a proprietary, "enterprise-enabled" POS system and back-office application for use in the company's 123 corporate-owned restaurants. The system, which was built using Microsoft Visual Studio and Smart Client technologies, among others, uploads unit-level transaction data to headquarters in real time and features a kitchen display system with ticket tracking. Accepting the award was Chris Duncan, Hooters' vice president, and Wes Marco, director of information services. They thanked handheld-payment-terminal vendor Ingenico and touch screen maker Posiflex.

Jack in the Box's award reflected the chain's tradition of embracing technology, as well as recent endeavors, including an extended 30-store test of customer self-service ordering kiosks and the upgrade at all company stores to wireless, digital headsets and enhanced speakers for drive-thru operations. Division vice president of systems development Michael Verdesca accepted the award on behalf of his company, thanking order confirmation board maker Delphi Display Systems, kiosk specialist EMN8 Inc., payment and gift card company First Data, contactless payment terminal maker VIVOtech and POS supplier XPIENT Solutions.

The Best of Show exhibitor's award went to Panasonic; and Best First-Time Exhibitor honors were given to NetPOS/WhenToManage Restaurant Solutions.

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