The better the question. The better the answer. The better the world works.

How an integrated digital platform innovated the restaurant experience

José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup and EY implemented a first-in-class technology solution to create better outcomes for guests and for business.

Think food group server guest profile
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The better the question

How could a tech platform reimagine the service you deliver?

José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup wanted to transform how guests and employees interact at their restaurants at every possible touchpoint.

José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup is the company behind renowned culinary innovator and humanitarian José Andrés’ restaurants, food products, and multimedia ventures. It has a portfolio of over 35 restaurants around the world, from fast casual eateries to small plates restaurants to two Michelin starred meccas, and has built a strong reputation for extraordinarily innovative culinary experiences.  The company’s mission, like José’s himself, is to quite simply change the world through the power of food.

In 2019, José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup embarked on another ambitious mission — to transform the entire restaurant experience for its guests, employees and operators. To accomplish this, the company worked with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) to help build a game-changing, cloud-based, integrated technology solution to create better guest experiences, as well as better business outcomes.

The restaurant industry as a whole has invariably lagged behind other sectors in terms of technology innovation and infrastructure. Back-end and front-end systems don’t talk to each other, resulting in inefficiencies in spend, duplication of effort and frustration for employees and guests. EY Americas Digital Strategy and Transformation Co-leader Fran Exley explains, “José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup was looking to disrupt their industry by changing their customer experience and that of their own teams.  They explored every off-the-shelf solution, and many ‘customized’ options, and didn’t find what they needed … so they made the decision to create their own, with EY’s help.”

José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup was looking to disrupt their industry by changing their customer experience and that of their own teams. They explored every off-the-shelf solution, and many ‘customized’ options, and didn’t find what they needed … so they made the decision to create their own, with EY’s help.
Think food group chef kitchen data operations
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The better the answer

A system built with guest experience in mind

A smarter platform. A smarter workforce. Enhanced guest experiences.

EY and José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup implemented an industry-first, cloud-based platform to take their restaurants into the future.

Guest profiles for personalized service

In order to ensure every returning guest feels at home in their restaurants, José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup needed to equip their team members with more knowledge about the people they’re serving.

EY and José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup designed and developed robust guest profiles that combine customer data with previous and ongoing in-restaurant experiences into one platform. This system integrates all customer behaviors and preferences across José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup venues, as well as in ecommerce, event attendance, and online ordering. Equipped with this knowledge, José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup team members are able to tailor guest experiences based on preferences in seating, food and beverage, allergies and other specialized requests. Outside of the restaurants, guests receive personalized invitations and offerings based on their preferences, as well as recognition for their loyalty.  Commented José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup Chief Brand Officer Michael Doneff, “As our restaurant portfolio diversifies and expands, especially globally, this kind of centralized information and cross-platform synergy will allow us to truly serve and speak to our guests as the individuals they are, engaging around exactly what’s meaningful to them.”

Think Food Group data platform real-time service

“As our restaurant portfolio diversifies and expands, especially globally, this kind of centralized information and cross-platform synergy will allow us to truly serve and speak to our guests as the individuals they are, engaging around exactly what’s meaningful to them.”

Michael Doneff
José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup
Chief Brand Officer

A single platform powering real-time business decisions

Typically, a restaurant often relies on multiple vendors and disparate technologies to operate its business, and unfortunately these systems don’t always speak to each other. This fragmented approach to technology causes friction for the business and for guests. For example, when a reservations platform is not connected to the point-of-sale (POS) system, a guest’s information cannot be shared, which creates a barrier for personal service. On the management side, when the POS system is disconnected from a Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, the operations must be tracked manually – adding complexity, as well as time and energy, for José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup staff.

Vendor integration

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Total integrations in one cloud-based platform.

EY helped José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup to integrate over 18 different vendors, including POS, ERP, and reservations into one cloud-based platform. Using Microsoft Dynamics and Power BI, the team ensured automated functionalities between each entity, meaning that these systems communicate with each other seamlessly. Not only that, EY’s Exley noted, “The new architecture and cloud-based platform was built in a way to scale and support José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup’s entire, growing restaurant portfolio.”

The result? Efficient ordering experiences for guests. Automated communication between servers and chefs. Real-time insights and analytics for operations. Personalized, meaningful engagement driven by marketing.

Data-driven connectivity enables seamless operations

EY also helped implement a new reporting platform that provides José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup with a detailed and holistic view of the business. This performance dashboard centralizes data across all platforms and departments – everyone from marketing to finance to ops to HR – putting real-time, accurate data at the team’s fingertips to drive informed, in-the-moment decisions.  This saves valuable time, boosts productivity and allows for smarter implementation of better strategies.

Think food group customers restaurant transformed
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The better the world works

The entire restaurant experience, transformed

Transforming the guest and employee experience through the power of people, technology and innovation.

As José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup CEO Kimberly Grant framed it, “Think back to life before Uber, the iPhone and life before CLEAR and Global Entry. They've changed your life, they've streamlined it, and now that you have them you would never go back … that's the type of technological solutions we're trying to introduce to our business.”

Think back to life before Uber, the iPhone and life before CLEAR and Global Entry. They've changed your life, they've streamlined it, and now that you have them you would never go back … that's the type of technological solutions we're trying to introduce to our business.
Kimberly Grant
José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup CEO

By approaching innovation from the standpoint of experience, José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup and EY created a solution that raised the bar for the future of delighting guests, empowering employees and harnessing data to run a smarter, insights-driven business.

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