Hospitality leaders dine out to discuss Restaurant 2022 and Beyond

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Some of the biggest movers and shakers in hospitality shared ideas on the hottest industry topics when they attended a thought leadership event hosted by NFS Technology.

Executives from restaurant groups including Dishoom, Hawksmoor, Muragame and Wahaca were among those who gathered at City Social in Tower 42 to discuss “Restaurant 2022 & Beyond”.

The summit, held over dinner, was hosted by Luis De Souza, CEO of NFS Technology, suppliers of Aloha epos software.

He said: “As we move away from the pandemic and look to the future, the idea of the evening was to bring together eminent figures in the industry from our client and supplier base to discuss topics including the changing consumer, leadership culture and operating challenges.”

The guest list included founders and chief executives of restaurant chains, as well as operations directors, chief finance officers and IT specialists.

Brand and culture

Dishoom Co-Founder Shamil Thakrar was one of a list of distinguished speakers who contributed to a lively and informative evening. He outlined how Dishoom opened 10 delivery kitchens during the pandemic to help support staff, customers and suppliers.

He said: “The pandemic really made us reflect on the way we do things. There are two parts to this: 1) we make promises to our customers, our people and our suppliers. This is our brand and reputation. And 2) we fulfil those promises.

“That gap between promises and execution, and how well you manage it, is your culture. It’s not about KPIs; culture is what we do if nobody is looking. And if you do it well, that is when you have continued success.”

Rolling out a new concept

Marugame Udon Chief Executive Keith Bird shared his company’s experiences of launching a brand – their first European restaurant – in the middle of the pandemic. The Liverpool Street branch is now open, with several more to follow soon.

Read the success story

With newly recruited managers unable to travel to Japan because of the pandemic, the company acted quickly and shipped in special equipment and an udon black belt master to do the essential training in Blackpool.

“It’s crucial to get the values and culture right – and to make sure we build a team that has a sense of fun and excitement that the customers can share,” said Keith.

European update

A further speaker was Christian Korneli of NCR, Senior Channel Leader Hospitality Europe & GM Middle East, who outlined how restaurant EPOS technology will continue to evolve to deal with changes in the market and customers.

Christian predicted that from a cashless payment perspective, Europe will move away from credit card payment and towards the Asian model using QR codes.

He also highlighted the changing behaviours of guests, who now seek more digital interactions with restaurants, and discussed pressure on costs and staffing issues. “Technology cannot solve the problem, but it can help mitigate the risks if we act as consultants and add value for our customers,” he said.

Technologies to drive Restaurant 2022 & Beyond

Luis said: “With the customer naturally at the heart of our discussions, we were also delighted to hear from Rocky Wilder-Conrad-Banks, Head of IT & Systems at Rhubarb.

“Rocky described the digital journey of today’s customers, whose behaviours have been extensively changed during the crisis. His presentation was followed by an excellent round table discussion, with great examples of ideas and best practice shared.

Luis said: “Some of the items that restaurant operators need to include on their agenda are: client expectations of a digital experience, flexibility to deal with different order modes, faster payment options and the ability to provide targeted incentives that recognise client buying patterns. It’s very much like in the retail market.”

The Restaurant 2022 and Beyond summit was such a success that it may become an annual event.

Luis said: “It’s rare to get so many major restaurant leaders together, and it was our absolute privilege to facilitate this event as the industry bounces back from the crisis.

“Our thanks to everyone who attended. We feel some incredibly useful cross-pollination of ideas was achieved, and we hope all the leaders who used some of their valuable time to attend found it useful and a good snapshot of what the industry might expect as we move into 2022 and beyond.”

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