NRA announces third annual Operator Innovation Award winners

May 20, 2014

The National Restaurant Association has announced the winners of the third annual Operator Innovation Awards, selected by an independent panel of judges in the following categories: Health & Nutrition, Marketing, Menu Development, Sustainability, and Technology.

In addition to winning the Health & Nutrition category, the University of California San Francisco Medical Center was named Innovator of the Year for its Smart Choice Smart U program. According to a news release, the digital-based wellness plan utilizes online platforms, mobile applications, and digital signage to provide real-time nutritional information on the center’s food outlets, which can be balanced with a personal activity component driven by partnerships with MyFitnessPal and Fitbit.

The other 2014 Operator Innovations Awards winners are:

Menu Development

UNC Healthcare: Restaurant Delivery Program:The program provides patients at UNC’s hospital with nearly 100 entrées using 20-page menu categorized into restaurant brands—resulting in a significant rise in patient satisfaction scores and more than $1.3 million in savings since its inception two years ago. The Restaurant Delivery Program is the first hospital to use Su Vide techniques including Su Vide chicken, hamburgers and salmon. In their first year, the program saved UNC more than $500,000 in labor and $400,000 in costs, employee morale was up, patient’s attitudes were upbeat and costs were down, the release said.


Orange County Public Schools: OCPS Truck of the Month (T.O.M.):The program reflects their effort to implement current trends in the restaurant and foodservice industry into an educational setting that kids can relate to and understand. This program leverages food trucks to increase students’ daily participation in their school lunch program—partnering with a new vendor each month to develop items that are food truck inspired, nutritionally compliant and served off Orange County Public School’s very own food truck.


Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts: GreenPath:This stewardship assigns roles, responsibilities and best practices reaching from dedicated leadership to individual associates to meet standards in waste disposal, conservation, supply chain and is verified by receiving third party audits—promoting sustainability and healthy communities and people, the release said.  


Dickie Brennan’s Restaurants: RAIL Payment Platform: The multi-concept restaurant group joined forces with application technology group RAIL to create a pay-at-the-table program for all their concepts. IT Director Derek Nettles worked with the RAIL team to create the exclusive system, which integrates the restaurants’ point-of-sale and reservation systems to track dining and service preferences for guests. Diners are able to pay their bill right at the table, without which yields data that is sharable between locations for more personalized service and better-targeted marketing messages.






Topics: National Restaurant Association, Operations Management

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