Episode Summary

Part 2 in our Best of Series explores the transformative power of data in the restaurant industry. 

Our esteemed guests explore the many dimensions of data, going beyond numbers to uncover its pivotal role in driving innovation — from the kitchen to crafting unforgettable customer experiences.

Each guest highlights how thoughtful data management can lead to more informed decisions and a better dining experience, proving that in the modern dining industry, data is as crucial as the food served.


💡 Phil Crawford, formerly CKE

💡 Josh Boshard, Savory Fund

💡 Darien Bates, Fourtop 

💡 Kelly MacPherson, Union Square Hospitality Group

💡 Meredith Sandland & Carl Orsbourn, Delivering the Digital Restaurant

Key Insights

➡️ Integrating Real-Time Data for Operational Efficiency

Phil Crawford emphasizes the critical role of integrating real-time data streams to guide operational decisions, particularly in kitchen management and supply chain logistics. By leveraging data to monitor real-time performance and predict future trends, restaurants can optimize everything from inventory management to customer wait times. Crawford’s approach streamlines operations and improves the overall customer experience by delivering more accurate service and product availability predictions.

➡️ Building a Robust API Ecosystem for Data Integration

Josh Boshard discusses the importance of a tech stack that offers a robust, flexible API foundation so you have seamless data integration across all of the tech in your restaurant. His work at Savory involves coordinating connections across multiple brands to ensure that they communicate effectively, providing a cohesive and unified data overview. This strategy enables restaurants to make informed decisions quickly and maintain a competitive edge, focusing on data ownership and strategic use of it.

➡️ The Power of Data Storytelling 

Kelly MacPherson shares why data storytelling is a transformative tool for the restaurant industry. By shifting the focus from mere data collection to interpreting and narrating data, she outlines how restaurants can uncover not just what happened, but why it happened. This approach allows brands to strategically adjust their operations and marketing efforts based on actionable insights derived from their data. MacPherson’s advocacy for data storytelling underlines its potential to not only enhance cross-functional understanding but also to drive significant operational improvements and innovative customer engagement strategies.

Episode Highlights

Advanced Data Utilization Strategies

Phil Crawford discusses the strategic integration of data sources and how optimizing them can enhance real-time operational insights and future trend predictions.

“We’re always trying to optimize the amount of data streams that we get in. So, if we can control as much as we can, whether we can see real-time dashboards into how the kitchen’s performing, it’s all about data interchange. 

– Phil Crawford

Navigating API Ecosystems in Data Strategy

Josh Boshard elaborates on the necessity of establishing a robust API ecosystem that enhances data integration across different brands within a restaurant’s portfolio. He advocates for strong partnerships and shared data access to empower centralized data management, crucial for real-time decision-making and maintaining a competitive edge.

“You have this tech stack that is pivotal to the success of a brand, and you have data lakes that are pulling from APIs into all these systems to be able to do what you need to do.”

– Josh Boshard

The Role of Data Storytelling in Decision Making

Kelly MacPherson discusses transforming data analytics into narratives that can influence business strategies significantly. She stresses the importance of not just collecting data but interpreting it in a way that tells a story, helping stakeholders understand why certain trends happen and how to react strategically.

“Starting to look at that data journey and transitioning to storytelling so that I can understand why it happened, and then more importantly, what am I gonna do about it?”

– Kelly MacPherson

The Impact of Data on Restaurant Operations

Jen Kern emphasizes the need for a holistic view of the guest experience, bridging in-store and online interactions. The fusion of AI with data analytics is poised to revolutionize kitchen operations and supply chain management by enabling predictive modeling and ensuring order accuracy.

“We’ve definitely witnessed a big shift toward data-centric management because connecting that guest journey across channels, whether the guest is in-store or purchasing on a digital channel, is crucial.”

– Jen Kern

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