Jul 22, 2023 14 min read

Last Night a Slack Channel Saved My Life

Toast removes processing fee on custom orders over $10 while tipped worker wages hit an inflection point. Domino's inks a delivery partnership with Uber Eats. It only costs 10k to become a Chick-Fil-A franchisee, is it worth it?
Last Night a Slack Channel Saved My Life
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Friends of Branded!

Happy Saturday and I hope everyone had a great week!

True story – I was at my desk last night with only one responsibility left before putting this work week to bed, but I was stuck. I didn’t have a theme for the Top of the Fold section on the Hospitality Headline.

Call it writer’s block, which is a phenomenon that is best described as an overwhelming feeling of being stuck in the writing process without the ability to move forward and write anything new (and yes, the preceding statement assumes that I'm considering myself to be a writer, at least in the context of the H^2).

I combed the various news sources I often use when I’m feeling stuck for inspiration and read some awesome articles and learned quite a lot in my efforts to break my writer's block, but it didn't work.

I reviewed previous editions of the H^2 to see what themes had recently been covered as I looked for inspiration. I even re-read several of them and boy did I find some serious typos (my editor deserves to be fired for his sloppiness, but I’ve never been into masochism and besides, I both love and need this job).

I went over to LinkedIn to see what topics were filling the pages of the folks I admire and enjoy reading. I had a good time over on LinkedIn and went down a few rabbit holes, but no luck (I wonder if these folks ever get writer’s block too?).

But then, I was given a gift over the Branded Bunch Slack channel.

For those not familiar with the Branded Bunch, after overcoming a cease & desist order from the Brady Bunch Estate (I’m kidding, we never even opened the order 😊), the Branded Bunch is quite simply the CEOs of Branded’s portfolio companies.

If you need to know what a Slack channel is, please use a lifeline and call a friend (preferably under the age of 40).

During the pandemic, when Zoom was the platform of choice for both professionals and schools (please note, the value of Zoom-school for a 3-year-old isn’t very high and classes barely lasted for 26 minutes before meltdowns ensured, but I digress), we decided to host a Zoom call for all our portfolio companies.

The boxes on the screen reminded us of the Brady Bunch and the Branded Bunch was born. A Slack channel came next and it’s a safe place or maybe even a support group for Branded's portfolio companies to communicate with one another, share ideas, ask questions, post jobs, seek help, etc. Some CEOs use it often, some less so. It’s a platform that’s there for our CEOs to use as little or as often as they wish.

And like most things at Branded, if we’re doing something we love, we make a logo for it!

But back to the story and my Friday afternoon (which bled well into Friday night).

It was 4:15pm when I received a notification that someone had posted on the Branded Bunch Slack channel. The message was from Sterling Douglas, CEO and Co-Founder at Chowly, an all-in-one ordering platform for restaurants digital storefront (Sterling & Chowly deserve at least a short shoutout here, don't you think?) and it included some words that I will take ONLY as a sincere and genuine compliment that were made in my direction. The compliment gave me, right or wrong, some recognition for a motto, mantra and maybe even the tagline that I use often – “it takes a village.”

Long-time readers of the H^2 know where these words “it takes a village” come from and why they mean so much to me (and they really do). My writer’s block was broken and there's more on the words "it takes a village" below in this section.

The Slack channel message helped me think about my village. The Branded community and ecosystem that continues to grow, that supports one another and more than anything else, represents the value that Branded believes is available to all of us!

I started to reflect on my week. I thought about the time I spent connecting some portfolio companies with potential investors, sales channels, and strategic partners. I thought about the work I did specifically between and among some of our very own portfolio companies and how so many of our companies work with and support one another.

I thought about the genuine enthusiasm I had on Thursday night when I was reading a LinkedIn post by my new friend Mr. Rich Bryant who had written about the awesome integration between PourMyBeer and GoTab and how it was helping his friends at Ono Brewco.

I was so excited by Mr. Bryant’s enthusiasm, that I responded with a GIF of a happy dance and offered to raise the bar (so to speak) if restaurants and bars would share integrations that involved MORE than 2 of Branded’s portfolio companies. Please note, that challenge is NOT remotely limited to LinkedIn, and I will send Branded's signature swag to any restaurant operators who show me integrations with 3, 4 or more of Branded’s portfolio companies that are supporting them!

Below please find the GIF I shared for just 2 integrations (imagine what I’ll do for 3 or more)!

I thought about the lunch meeting I had with two Branded LPs, one who I had never met in person until this week and the strong synergies and areas of cooperation that so clearly exist between Branded’s venture platform and their P/E platform (that is also heavily involved in the hospitality industry). Our discussion over lunch was all about our respective networks and the opportunities to both create and capture value together by bringing our respective ecosystems together (and the events we could throw and the hospitality we could share and enjoy together). We didn’t talk about capital, we talked about our networks and the value we could create by aligning our interests.

I thought about the Kentucky Water I enjoyed on Monday night with one of Branded’s newest strategic partners down at our restaurant, Isabelle's. The adult libation of choice came from one of our very own partners, Mr. David Nichols, and his Kings County Distillery. In the category of TMI (as if that’s really such a thing with me), I had 3-generations of Nichols at B Works on Friday afternoon, had the opportunity to speak with all of them, and yes, Schatz and I are both now restocked with some of the finest straight bourbon imaginable.

Schatz had dinner earlier this week with a banker to the stars of our industry which I had to miss b/c parental duties called! (I told my wife that I’d never post a photo of our daughter, but I’ll make an exception just this once and yes, this photo is from Tuesday night).

Branded and this bank (let's call them Statebank) have shared so many contacts, exchanged ideas and participated in each other’s respective events. The amount of white-space that exists between Branded’s early-stage business and this banks IPO and large-scale business is ginormous and yet, we continue to create value together.

We recorded two Hospitality Hangout podcasts this week. We had several board calls. I had lunch on Wednesday with another Branded LP who runs a most value-added and operator-centric technology company that I can't wait to work with and had the opportunity to meet his nephew, who will now be spending time with us at B Works.

I’m barely even scratching the surface of this week and if I went through the list of all the folks we spoke and met with, it would look like the roster of speakers at one of Winsight’s RLC conferences!

This was an incredibly full, productive, and fun week and it was the “village” comment from Mr. Douglas that made me reflect, think about and value all of it.

I don’t believe the hospitality industry has any exclusivity when it comes to having a strong and supportive community in the business world. For example, I read this week that the NFL owners unanimously welcomed a new group to their community. It's my understanding that the new group is comprised of some pretty good guys. 😊  

Regardless of the lack of exclusivity, I do think our hospitality community is pretty awesome.

Capital will be plentiful at times and scarce at others. We saw a spike in inflation and we’re seeing (thankfully) it come back down. The regulatory environment will be kinder at times and less so at others. My own preference, as a free-markets person, is for us to sort stuff out for ourselves as often as possible.

Case and point, Toast on Wednesday decided to remove the other processing fee on custom orders over $10 from the new version of its digital ordering suite b/c of the backlash. They clearly reacted to the push-back from their customers and to be fair to Toast, their stock price dropped over $2bn in value AFTER removing the fee, so there’s still work to do on this issue (as I’m sure Toast’s stakeholders will have their own strong opinions here).

My point, market conditions will fluctuate as market conditions do and much of that, is out of our control and certainly above my paygrade. I borrowed a line years ago that I don't remember who to attribute to, that says “sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield.” The important thing is to know which one you are in any given situation.

What doesn’t change and will only get stronger, is the community you have around you, if you’re fortunate enough to make sure you give, contribute, and foster it. Communities are strongest when its participants commit to it, and they do that by committing to one another.

Speaking of community, the following "shoutout" section is quickly earning a place in the Top of the Fold section and if the feedback continues to be strong, the “shoutouts” won’t be going anywhere.

The value and benefits of participating in this event are tremendous and thanks to Winsight and our corporate partners, we’re able to provide these 20 turnkey booths at the largest tradeshow of its kind and present an incredible platform to connect with influential decision-makers and top-level restaurant executives actively seeking new technologies.

We only have a few booths available, so if you or someone you know is interested in participating in the Branded Innovation Alley, please e-mail the Branded MARCOM team at marketing@brandedstrategic.com

  • The Doner kebabs are coming, the Doner kebabs are coming!

I made a comment last week about the “ocean of sameness” that sometimes plagues our industry or exhausts our guests (by the way, am I allowed to put my own words from last week's H^2 in quotes this week…asking for a friend).

Maybe I was just teasing the arrival of German Doner Kebab in NYC by friends of Branded, the crew from GDKUSA Inc.!

German Doner Kebab (“GDK”) will be opening next week at 1001 6th Avenue starting on Monday, July 24th. I will be there!

At Branded, we celebrate our industry and the people in it. More than anything else, we celebrate our friends and partners and that includes this crew that’s bringing the Doner kebabs to NYC.

And finally, yes, finally….

  • Better With Pepsi!

This final shoutout belongs to our friends and now partners at PepsiCo (just in case the photo made you think this might have been some sort of nostalgic shoutout to one of my all-time favorite Super Bowl ads)!

It’s with nothing less than tremendous pride that I get to announce the newest sponsor of Branded’s Hospitality Hangout - PepsiCo!

When I sign off on EVERY edition of the Hospitality Headline, I include the words, “it takes a village.” That is not a throwaway line whatsoever (as you've now learned above) and in fact is quite near & dear to my heart (it’s what my mom said in her toast at my younger brother’s wedding about what it takes to raise a son).

The team at PepsiCo has been supporting, helping and a great friend to Branded for quite a while now and their advancing this relationship to now becoming a sponsor of our podcast is something truly special.

Readers of the Hospitality Headline know that I believe, like the laws of gravity, the need for oxygen, and that the role that food & beverages play in our lives is permanent.

PepsiCo believes that the food industry is an ever-going industry as long as humans are alive. As a result, PepsiCo’s investments in the development of the industry keep the organization at the forefront and is a key to long-term success.

The entire Branded Team is thrilled, and we can’t wait to get to work on the podcast with our friends at PepsiCo!

As always, it takes a village (and I think Branded's village just got a little better thanks to our friends from Pepsi)!

Register for the 2023 DRA Restaurant Marketing Summit 

By registering for this virtual summit you’ll learn everything you need to know to become a master of social media, loyalty, guest feedback, email marketing, reputation management, birthday marketing and SO MUCH MORE!

Get In Now


Answer also revealed at the end of the newsletter


Changing Its Stance, Domino’s Inks Delivery Partnership With Uber Eats

The largest pizza chain aims to generate a billion dollars in new sales by listing its menus on Uber's app. Read More


Learn how the Hospitality Industry advisors from CohnReznick can put you at the forefront of advanced financial, operational, and risk management strategies.

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Unraveling the World of Franchising Part I: It only costs 10k to become a Chick-Fil-A Franchisee, is it worth it?

We've all been there. We've walked into one of our favorite fast food joints only to find ourselves thinking, "Wow, the one by my house is so much better!" Although they serve the same food and share the same logo, the experience varies greatly. Welcome to the intriguing world of franchising, where diversity reigns. So why is this system so convoluted? Does the perfect formula to franchising exist? Read More

Robert Irvine Foundation

Supports and strengthens the physical and mental well-being of our service members, veterans, first responders, and their families.

Donate Now


Tipped Worker Wages Hit Inflection Point Across America

Throughout the US, hospitality workers are attempting to make historic changes on tipped wages. As the country continues to recover from the pandemic, is now finally the time?  Read More

Restaurant Industry Movers in the Market

Data as of 7/21/2023


🍽 "DON'T MISS THIS!!!" ...

I know that statement is in a significant portion of the emails I send to you but it's genuine. I'm not going to share it with you if I didn't think it was worth your attention.

And this time I'm 200% serious.

Register right now for the 2023 DRA Restaurant Marketing Summit!

The FREE online event is happening online July 26th and 27th and its hosted by yours truly along with the Digital Restaurant Association.

I've gotten a chance to preview the content and its truly, truly awesome.

This is a screen shot from a presentation directly from Google called "5 Tactics to Make your Google Business Profile Stand Out and Grow your Customers."

Want to come up higher in local search? Google will literally show you how

That's reason enough to register but there are a whole lot of other great presentations as well.

This is a small preview of what is included in your registration:

- "3 Massively Effective Ways To Increase Revenue Without Spending A DIME On Marketing!" with Ryan Gromfin, the Restaurant Boss

- "Create eye-catching restaurant TikToks & Reels... without showing your face!" with Court Allam

- "3 Steps to Increase Profits through the Guest Experience" - with Zack Oates

- "The Anatomy of a Review Response: using AI & HI to create personalized responses to guest feedback" - with Avi Goren

Register right now for the 2023 DRA Restaurant Marketing Summit!

Don't Miss Out >> https://www.restaurantsgrow.com/summit

Plus we we have 6 incredible restaurants hosting a 2 hour Q&A restaurant marketing session. YOU CAN ASK ANYTHING! Whatever it is that you are trying to figure out with your social media, digital ads, email, SMS, local search, etc ... get your question answered.

Registration for the Summit is FREE, gets you access to all sessions on July 26 and 27, AND you'll get a FREE membership in the Digital Restaurant Association.

It's going to be INCREDIBLE ... and Im 200% serious!

Register Now! >> https://www.restaurantsgrow.com/summit

Whether you are an independent restaurant owner, seasoned enterprise marketer or a restaurant marketing agency, there will be something for you that will help you to up level.


*I help restaurants to build guest marketing programs.

*I help hospitality tech companies with lead generation and content marketing.

Need help? reach out: rev@brandedstrategic.net

Rev Ciancio

Branded Strategic, Head of Revenue Marketing



Hospitality Hangout

featuring Ben Knorr, Director of Partnerships & Joe Monastero, Chief Operating Officer at TRA

Texas Eats Revolutionizing the Restaurant Scene Nationwide | Season 9, Vol. 13 – The Hospitality Hangout Podcast


Hospitality Tech and F&B Innovation IN THE NEWS:

We love to highlight Food Service & Hospitality news, especially when it’s Partners & Friends making it!

And in other News…please see some of the stories that caught our attention and that we’re paying attention to. This week was loaded with headlines and news!!


The largest Pizza chain in the U.S. is Domino’s Pizza Inc. with a revenue of $4.53 billion in 2022.


🔍 Got Questions? We've Got Answers! 🌟

Satisfy your thirst for knowledge? Look no further! It's time to dive into our brand-new segment: "Ask The Headline"! 🎉

📅 We'll be answering YOUR questions every week. And here's the best part: you can choose to stay anonymous or receive a fabulous shout-out when we feature your question!

That’s it for today!

See you next week, (about the) same bat-time, same bat-channel.

It takes a village!

Jimmy Frisch & Julia Suchocki
Branded Hospitality Ventures
jimmy@brandedstrategic.com & js@brandedstrategic.com
235 Park Ave South, 4th Fl | New York, NY 10003

Branded Hospitality Ventures ("Branded") is an investment and advisory platform at the intersection of food service, technology, innovation and capital. As experienced hospitality owners and operators, Branded brings value to its portfolio companies through investment, strategic counsel, and its deep industry expertise and connections.

Learn more about Branded here: Branded At-A-Glance July 2023

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