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NRN editors discuss restaurants’ marketing initiatives and Toast removing its controversial fee

Plus hear from Brian Sullivan, VP of culinary for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Brews


This week on the Extra Serving podcast, a product of Nation’s Restaurant News, NRN editors Holly Petre, Sam Oches, Leigh Anne Zinsmeister and Alicia Kelso spoke about the latest trend in restaurants.

A few years ago, we were talking about Sweetgreen and Wingstop — both brands that viewed themselves as tech companies first and restaurant companies second. Now, there’s a new trend across restaurants as they become more marketing companies that sell food, rather than restaurants with good marketing teams. Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald’s and Taco Bell have all been named by Rolling Stone among the top 20 marketers across the country and across industries. So, what earned them this title, and how are restaurants acting like marketing companies?

Also, technology vendor Toast, which unveiled an extremely controversial fee last month, has walked back that policy. The fee was 99 cents on any orders of $10 or more, and the fee was charged straight to the customer rather than to the restaurant. Restaurants had no option to take the fee on themselves, and thought it would deter customers from buying from them. The fee has now been removed from Toast’s system. What does it mean that the company is listening to its customers, and what does it hold for the future of the tech company?

This week’s interview is Brian Sullivan, VP of culinary for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers & Brews.


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