Happy New Year, Toast subscribers! As you're making your New Year's resolutions or fine-tuning your restaurant goals, you should also take a moment to reflect on your accomplishments in 2015.
At Toast, we had a great year; we signed our 1,000th customer in August, we moved to a new headquarters steps away from Fenway Park in Boston, and we hired over 100 new Toasters. In the New Year, we're looking forward to building out the product even more and continuing to focus on customer success.
Speaking of... Enough about us! Our customers, or partners, are who propel us forward to new innovations every day. Many of them have been featured in restaurant news publications nationwide for their crazy good food, service, or restaurant management best practices in 2015. We feature them on our Twitter and Facebook accounts throughout the year, but want to celebrate them on the Toast blog as well.
Unfortunately, in the interest of time, we couldn't include every Toast customer in the news this year. If I missed any notable features, please comment below and I will add them to the list. Now, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are 25+ Toast customers who made headlines in 2015:
1. Paris Creperie Tries Open-Book Management
Paris Creperie in Brookline, MA was recently featured in The Boston Globe for their new management style: "open-book" management. All financial books are "open" to the entire staff, so everyone is accountable and involved in suggestions to save money and increase sales. Net operating margins soared from 5.5% in 2014 to 18-20% in 2015 after switching to this management style. We wrote about this new trend on the Toast blog this year as well. www.pariscreperie.com
2. Sugar Factory Gives Grown-Ups Their Sugar Fix
Sugar Factory, which has restaurants in NYC, Chicago, Miami, and Orlando, was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal for their innovative restaurant theme: feeding adults decadent, sugary candy from an upscale dinner and dessert menu. A favorite celebrity hot spot for the likes of Kim Kardashian and Rupert Grint, the 30+ page menu features gummi bear fondue, candy-inspired cocktails, and a King Kong sundae, which comes with 24 scoops of ice cream and sparklers on top. www.sugarfactory.com
3. Miller's Near and Far Reviewed for Terroir, Nostalgia
Miller's Near and Far in New York City was given a favorable review by Eater's Burger Time columnist Nick Solares. The review focused heavily on nostalgia and "terroir," the concept that something tastes like where it came from. Miller's wanted to create a "familiar and elevated version of the fast food burger," and to that end, "went bigger and better." According to Solares, it lives up to its name: a triumph over geography, yet rooted in American traditions. www.millersnearandfar.com
4. Several Toast Customers Featured in Zagat's 30 Under 30 Belly Wine Bar, Mei Mei Boston, Blackbird Doughnuts, Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Lilac Hedge Farm Featured in 30 Under 30
Zagat's 30 Under 30 Rock Stars Redefining the Restaurant Industry in Boston featured many chefs, owners, and bartenders from Toast restaurants. Notable features were Belly Wine Bar, Mei Mei, Blackbird Doughnuts, Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Lilac Hedge Farm, Shepard's, and Naco Taco.
5. Costa Vida Mexican Grill Recognized As Industry Leader in Fresh Casual
Costa Vida Mexican Grill, with many locations across the West and Midwest, was recently recognized as an industry leader in the fresh casual segment. Inc. Magazine listed Costa Vida in their list of 5000 of the fastest-growing private companies in America, and Franchise Times listed Costa Vida in their Top 200+ list of U.S.-based franchise companies by year-end global sales. In the press release linked above, they speak more about the franchising decision and redefining Mexican cuisine. www.costavida.net
6. The Reading Fighting Phils Open Eastern League Playoffs
You might not know this, but one of our customers is a stadium! Over 40 Toast terminals cover the stadium, as we help run concessions where the Reading Fighting Phils play in Pennsylvania. This year, the Phils opened the Eastern League playoffs for the first time since 2012, after finishing the regular season with an 80-61 record.
7. Juliana's Pizza Named #1 Pizza Place in the U.S.
TripAdvisor listed the Top 10 Pizza Restaurants in the U.S., and Juliana's Pizza in New York City snagged the #1 spot. TripAdvisor looked at quantity and quality of reviews to decide which restaurants would make the cut, and in order to qualify, the restaurant needed to have the majority of its reviews be about pizza, a minimum of 500 reviews, and at least 10% of them had to state the exact phrase "best pizza." www.julianaspizza.com
8. Blackbird Doughnuts, Crescent Ridge, and Rancatore's Featured in Eater
Boston Eater featured the coolest new Boston ice cream shops over the summer, and included Toast customers Blackbird Doughnuts, Crescent Ridge Farm, and Rancatore's in their list, which also includes an interactive map. Each restaurant had to be about a year old or younger.
9. The Line Stretched Out the Door When Glazed and Confused Bakery Opened
When Glazed and Confused opened in Lansing, Michigan, there was a line out the door as early as 7:30 a.m. for their donuts and bakery items. With unique offerings such as maple bacon donuts, long john donuts, and turtle cake donuts, the bakery opened to a great start in downtown Lansing. www.glazedandconfusedbakery.net
10. Jadis Named a Chic Spot to Sip Rose in NYC
Jadis, a cozy wine bar in New York City's Lower East Side, was named one of the top places to have rose in New York by Harper's Bazaar. Reporter Kristen Batement called it "one of New York's best-kept secrets" and praised their mushroom truffle risotto puffs, and cauliflower and endives salad as well.
11. Soulfire BBQ Was Named One of the Top 8 Greatest BBQ Restaurants in New England
Phantom Gourmet listed Soulfire BBQ in Allston, MA as one of the greatest barbecue restaurants in New England. The video praises their speedy counter-service and their "soul" - the dining room displays blues and jazz singers, and brings a sense of nostalgia to your tasty barbecue meal. www.soulfirebbq.com
12. Piquant Hye Park's Rosana Rivera Was Named Hospitality Business Woman of the Year
Chef and owner of Piquant Hyde Park in Tampa, Florida Rosana Rivera was named the top hospitality businesswoman of the year by Tampa Bay Business Journal. Rivera established catering and personal chef business Piquant in 2006, and partnered with Chef Richard Castro to launch a full-service restaurant and patisserie in 2013. www.piquanthydepark.com
13. The Nugget Spot's Originator was Maxim's Sandwich of the Week
The Nugget Spot in New York City was featured in Maxim's Sandwich of the Week. More specifically, their Originator sandwich was featured. This sandwich includes chicken nuggets, carrots, cole slaw, pickles, and "Shhh sauce," all on a toasted roll. The article includes a short interview with chef and owner Jason Hairston. www.thenuggetspot.com
14. Jimmy Liang, President of The Fuji Group, Shares His Journey
The Fuji Group, which includes nine restaurants and counting, was featured in Propel. Mark interviewed Jimmy Liang, President and founder of the JP Fuji Group, and asked him questions about his top career tips for those in the restaurant industry as well as questions such as "Why do you love making food?" and "Have you ever wanted to give up?" www.jpfujigroup.com
15. Beach Hut Deli Owner Speaks About Sandwich Deli Concept
With 35+ locations, Beach Hut Deli is expanding fast across the West. In Morgan Hill Life, owner Debbie Quarles was interviewed about the family-friendly Beach Hut Deli concept, as well as about their decision to expand to Morgan Hill. "We say we build our sandwiches, we don't just slap the meat on and wrap them real quick," said Quarles. www.beachhutdeli.com
16. The Cecil and Minton's Chef Shares Favorite Recipes in Bloomberg
The Cecil in Harlem, New York, was featured in Bloomberg Business in How to Entertain in Perfect Style, by Five Top New York Chefs. The Cecil has a refined jazz-club vibe and is overseen by chef/restaurateur Alexander Smalls and Joseph "JJ" Johnson, James Beard-nominated Executive Chef. For easy, never-fail recipes, Johnson recommended roasted pork shoulder, pumpkin salad, rice, and beans. www.thececilharlem.com
17. Bite Restaurant Is Featured For Constantly Experimenting
Lisa Artorga-Watel, owner of Bite Restaurant, and Damien Watel, Lisa's husband and consultant, were interviewed in San Antonio Express-News about "solving the restaurant-owner puzzle." They answered questions about the restaurant concept, which is artsy and funky, the riskiness of opening a restaurant, and their constant menu experiments. www.biterestaurantsa.com
18. Black Forest Brooklyn Joins the Cause Against Shaming Public Breastfeeding
Black Forest Brooklyn, a beer garden and restaurant in New York famous for its German beer and sausages, made the headlines for posting signs in their window welcoming mothers to breastfeed at the bar. "Breastfeeding is Welcome Here," the sign reads. Owner Tobias Holler said, "It just made sense." Public breastfeeding is legal in New York, but public shaming is still rampant; Black Forest Brooklyn is one of many other family-friendly establishments joining the cause. www.blackforestbrooklyn.com
19. The Holy Donut Named One of Best Donut Shops in America
The Holy Donut in Portland, Maine, was named one of the 21 best donut shops in America by Thrillist. Famous for their maple glazed or old fashioned plan donuts, The Holy Donut uses Maine potatoes, a "totally magical ingredient" according to Leigh Kellis. Their cooking and baking process was featured on Phantom Gourmet as well. www.theholydonut.com
20. Arturo's Ristorante Featured on Phantom Gourmet
21. Wiener Circle Dresses Up for Halloween as McDowell's
Wiener Circle, the famous "rude" hot dog restaurant, made headlines for literally dressing up for Halloween this year. Manager Scott Brooker orchestrated a transformation from Wiener's Circle to McDowell's, the fictional restaurant from the 1988 film "Coming to America." Signs were replaced, fictional menus were mounted, and there was even an "Employ of the Month" flier depicting Louie Anderson. Everyone even wore the checkered McDowell's uniform. With a McDonald's across the street, they certainly made a splash on the scene. www.wienercircle.net
22. Artichoke Basille's Pizza Featured in Pizza Masters on the Cooking Channel
23. Cibo Matto Recognized as Among The Very Best Places to Eat
Cibo Matto in Mansfield, Massachusetts was recognized as a best place to eat on Phantom Gourmet. Owner Peter Kuplast and manager Mollee Greco share their comfortable restaurant, with a big dining room, open kitchen, lively lounge, outdoor patio, and unique bar concept. www.cibomattocaffe.com
24. Kemp's Upper Tap Opens With New Approach, In New Building
Kemp's Upper Tap in Lexington, Illinois opened a new restaurant in a new building this summer. Owner Jon Kemp said, "The beast was getting bigger than the building, and we decided it was time to make the jump." Within 20 minutes of the bar opening, the bar stools were full, and the crowd was spilling out to the tables. The new building more than doubles the old bar seating and now also features a 42-seat beer garden and several craft beers on tap. @KempsUpperTap
Smallman Galley, a food court and restaurant incubator in Pittsburgh, PA, opened this winter and was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Four emerging chefs will oversee their own kitchens in this galley, building their skills and using the resources they will need to know in order to run their own restaurants in the future. www.smallmangalley.org
26. Several Toast Customers Open in Boston Public Market
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