Hospitality Technology magazine has awarded its annual Breakthrough Awards to Domino's Pizza LLC, Subway Restaurants and Tasti D-Lite. The award honors foodservice companies for achievement in delivering technological excellence to the operation and guest experience.

Breakthrough Awards were presented in two categories: Enterprise Innovator and Customer Engagement Innovator. Winners were judged by HT editorial staff on a basis of innovation, thought leadership, execution and forward-thinking vision, and announced at the Restaurant Executive Summit Sept. 15 in Chicago.

Domino's Pizza LLC was chosen as an Enterprise Innovator for its development of Domino's Live, an open-source, enterprise 2.0 solution that has helped to enhance employee collaboration across more than 4,800 locations.

The system, which is a combination of Domino's custom code and open-source technology, provides a content repository of training materials and enables employees to share tips and best practices with their peers.

"The spark for this idea came from someone recognizing a very real need in our company and coming up with a solution using very low-cost tools," said Chris McGlothlin, Domino's chief information officer. "Using open source technology with our own coding, we turned a top-down information mechanism into a system-wide collaborative tool. Team members are not only sharing best practices, they're addressing problems and concerns, and helping each other solve problems."

Since the implementation of this system, "how-to" calls to the company's help desk have dropped almost 75 percent.

Subway Restaurants was chosen as an Enterprise Innovator for its development of a proprietary point-of-sale (POS) system, as well as the infrastructure needed to improve restaurant operations across the 100-percent internationally franchised organization.

Dubbed the SubwayPOS project, it draws upon Microsoft's suite of development tools, including .NET, SQL and Silverlight. Much of the product architecture is built to support the idea of maintaining mission-critical functionality locally within the restaurant, while moving more multi-unit or non-mission-critical functionality into the cloud. Prior to its formal rollout, hundreds of restaurants in multiple countries installed prototypes of the software. This provided valuable insights in identifying future features of the software.

"This project is about using technology to help our franchisees to build sales, build profits, and build stores," said Thys Van Hout, CTO for Subway. "Rather than take a POS system built for someone else, we took the last two years to gain the input from hundreds of franchisees to help us build SubwayPOS to meet their specific needs."

The 63-unit frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite was chosen as a Customer Engagement Innovator for its TastiRewards Customer Loyalty Program.

The program, which links guests' social networking activity to the POS, began with the deployment of standardized POS systems and a global customer database that enabled the earning and redemption of the points-based system. Vendors involved in the project include: pcAmerica, Mercury Payment Systems and Snap for Business. Ninety percent of Tasti's franchise locations have installed the solution, and adoption rates continue to increase with 1 in 5 customers enabling connections to one or more social media account.

Visibility into the social graph of those enabling network postings provides Tasti D-Lite with the ability to engage and enable greater connections with its core customers. An estimated 660,000 online social impressions were generated by the platform during the initial deployment period in 2010.

Hospitality Technology also recognized the following restaurant companies as 2011 Breakthrough Awards Honorable Mentions:

  • Sbarro, Enterprise Innovator Honorable Mention for a 450-location overhaul of point-of-sale hardware that has resulted in an increase of order accuracy and speed of service.
  • Aramark: Named an Enterprise Innovator Honorable Mention for the development of a digital signage network that was installed in more the 200 locations, all with varying needs;
  • Scotty's Brewhouse: Named a Customer Engagement Innovator Honorable Mention for the creation of a four-pronged social strategy that has helped to eliminate the need for secret shoppers.
  • Elephant Bar Restaurants: Named a Customer Engagement Innovator Honorable Mention for its e-gifting and social referral distribution campaigns that helped to drive store traffic and increase its Facebook fan base.
  • Victoria Gastro Pub: Named a Customer Engagement Innovator Honorable Mention for an application that allows guests to view its 60-page libations menu on roaming iPads, rate offerings that they have previously tried, and access their loyalty club accounts.

Read more about systems and technology initiatives.

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