Tuesday , May 28, 2024

As Dining Heats up, Toast And Qu Aim at Increasingly Larger Restaurant Operators

Restaurants are roaring again, and now the companies that enable digital payments for them are setting their sites on the biggest chains. Two major players, Toast Inc. and Qu POS Inc., separately announced early Thursday initiatives aimed at bolstering their positions with regional and national restaurateurs.

The moves come as the two firms face stiff competition from big-name payments rivals, including Block Inc.’s Square for Restaurants, Shift4 Payments Inc., Oracle Micros, and Fiserv Inc.’s Clover. It also comes as the companies seek to move into technology that relies on payment processing but also moves well beyond it.

Boston-based Toast introduced its Restaurant Management Suite, a set of tools and integrations aimed at supporting big chains with data and easing management of scores of locations. “The size and diversity of our customer base give Toast unique insights into what operational excellence and top-notch performance look like across the industry,” noted Steve Fredette, Toast’s president and co-founder, in a statement.

The company’s clients, which collectively manage more than 100,000 locations, include brands like Caribou Coffee, Papa Gino’s & D’Angelo, Bar Louie, Nothing Bundt Cakes.

The management suite includes what Toast calls advanced analytics, which embraces support for multi-location reporting and what Toast calls a “benchmarking tool,” which it says is coming soon. The tool will rely at least in part on artificial intelligence technology to allow restauranteurs to compare sales with comparable menu items at other chains using Toast technology.

Among the suite’s services is also a set of security technologies, including point-to-point encryption for Toast’s pay-at-table devices, the company says.

In a similar vein, Bethesda, Md.-based Qu said Jack in the Box has adopted the payments company’s commerce platform for its entire chain, as well as for its Del Taco restaurants. The initiative, Qu says, is meant to support a goal at Jack in the Box to convert 20% of orders to digital formats by 2026. Jack in the Box operates some 2,200 restaurants in 21 states, while Del Taco‘s locations number 600 in 16 states.

The commerce platform will support drive-through as well as in-store orders and includes Notify, an app that incorporates restaurant data and machine learning to produce demand forecasts for store managers, Qu says.

The signing of Jack in the Box and Del Taco, the company says, represents the culmination of a goal it set five years ago to support large quick-service restaurant chains operating multiple brands.

Qu was known as Gusto until the company rebranded in September 2018. Jack in the Box acquired Del Taco in March 2022. In January 2023, Del Taco adopted a voice-ordering system for its drive-through operations from Presto Automation Inc., but by early this year the chain had discontinued the technology.

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