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National Restaurant Association Announces 2014 Operator Innovations Awards Finalists

Winners to be revealed at NRA Show 2014.

An independent panel of foodservice operator experts from across the industry has selected finalists for the third annual 2014 Operator Innovation Awards. The judges have selected finalists in each of five categories: Health and Nutrition, Marketing, Menu Development, Sustainability and Technology. The National Restaurant Association will announce the winners in each category along with Innovator of the Year during Destination: Celebration, gala that takes place Saturday, May 17, during the 2014 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.

The 2014 Operator Innovations Awards finalists for Health & Nutrition are:

  • UCSF Medical Center, Smart Choice Smart U – A comprehensive, technology driven wellness program that uses online platforms, mobile applications and digital signage to provide real-time nutritional information on the center's food outlets.
  • Kennesaw State University's "Farm-to-Fit" Program — This campus dining program encompasses all aspects of healthy living, from the nutritional improvement of food grown on campus farms by increasing their nutrient-density to thoughtful menu creation and preparation and programming designed to encourage healthy lifestyle choices.
  • Aramark's Healthy For Life Health & Wellness Program — Reaching more than 2.5 million college and university students, this holistic platform builds on a healthy menu with digital wellness centers, nutrition education and wellness programs that work together to support healthier lifestyles on campus.

The 2014 Operator Innovations Awards finalists for Marketing are:

  • Orange County Public Schools' OCPS Truck Of The Month (T.O.M.) — This program capitalizes on the food truck craze to increase students' daily participation in their school lunch program — partnering with a new vendor each month to develop food-truck inspired, nutritionally compliant items served off Orange County Public School's very own food truck.
  • Boston Pizza International's BP All Stars Kids & Family Engagement Program — Designed to engage kids and parents together, this program features an activity kit, branded tattoos and crayons that integrate with a 3D augmented reality mobile app, featuring interactive games that encourage playful competition and generate frequency.
  • Subway Restaurants' Project Subway — To enter the NY Fashion Week conversation, this project challenged designers to craft dresses entirely out of recyclable SUBWAY packaging, including subwrap, straws and salad bowls — wowing attendees and media on the runway while reaching a new demographic of customers.

The 2014 Operator Innovations Awards finalists for Menu Development are:

  • UNC Health Care's Restaurant Delivery Program — A new paradigm in Healthcare foodservice that provides patients at UNC's hospital with nearly 100 entrées using a 20-page menu categorized into distinct restaurant brands resulting in a significant rise in patient satisfaction scores and over $1.3 million in savings since its inception two years ago.
  • Potawatomi Bingo Casino's Menu Development Initiative — This progressive culinary philosophy uses calculated risks to push the limits of menu development and execution — going beyond sustainable, organic and underutilized local food, SOUL, to incorporate invasive species, offal and indigenous ingredients on menus throughout the property.
  • Captain D's' It's A Brand New D's: Menu Revamp — Integral to the successful transition of the brand from fast food fish to a fast-casual seafood restaurant, this menu overhaul utilizes high-end creative and signage to feature new categories, premium sides, new kid's meals and a high-quality, fresh-grilled seafood menu.

The 2014 Operator Innovations Awards finalists for Sustainability are:

  • Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts' GreenPath — This stewardship platform assigns roles, responsibilities and best practices reaching from dedicated leadership to individual associates to meet stringent standards in waste disposal, conservation, supply chain and is verified by receiving third party audits — promoting sustainability and healthy communities/people across many diverse and seasonal properties.
  • HMSHost's startsomewhere — A comprehensive sustainability program that encompasses three broad initiatives including the environment, nutrition and wellness, and community partnerships, with specific goals and guidelines for each, to touch every aspect of the business and improve corporate citizenship.
  • Chumash Casino Resort's Whole Systems Approach to Waste Management Program — This sustainability approach goes beyond locally sourced food, energy efficient kitchen systems and renewable energy. It is a comprehensive waste reduction strategy that includes recycling, repurposing and composting to decrease waste by more than 50 percent with an incremental cost reduction.

The 2014 Operator Innovations Awards finalists for Technology are:

  • Indiana University Health's Hand Hygiene - Vision Safety Solutions — This program utilizes technology to measure the frequency, duration and quality of individual hand washing against back-of-house entry/exits to ensure compliant hygiene — posting results publicly for all associates in real time.
  • Dickie Brennan Restaurants' RAIL Payment Platform — This system features digital, touch-screen check presenters that allow guests to split checks, auto-calculate tips, pay via credit card and trigger e-mail receipts all at the table for more streamlined, secure transactions that save staff time.
  • FIG & OLIVE's Guest Management System (FOGMS) — This technology integrates restaurants' point-of-sale and reservation systems to track dining/service preferences and spend/purchase history at an individual and aggregate level, yielding data that is sharable between locations for more personalized service and better-targeted marketing messages.