Bertucci’s chief executive, Brian Wright, isn’t about to let the fast-casual chains eat his lunch.
Wright and his Northborough-based corporate team have engineered a promotion that is being rolled out in all of the chain’s 81 restaurants by early next year. With the Express Lunch promotion, servers promise they’ll deliver every order within 15 minutes. If not, the entire check — excluding alcohol — is on the company.
The goal is to meet the deadline, of course. But one crew deliberately botched it this month at a Pennsylvania restaurant, just to gauge the reaction at a table of three men. Wright says they acted as if they’d they won the lottery.
Streamlining the menu is also crucial. Wright became CEO last year at the company, which is owned by the private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, following a four-year stint as chief operating officer at the fast-casual giant Au Bon Pain.
Soon after arriving, Wright hired Rosario Del Nero, one of the chefs who worked with Bertucci’s founder, Joey Crugnale, back in the 1980s. This time around, Del Nero helped simplify the chain’s menu, chucking dishes like jambalaya that didn’t quite fit. Wright estimates that his team culled the menu size by at least 30 percent.
The Express Lunch promotion should arrive in Boston-area restaurants by December, Wright says.
“You can have this Italian experience with fresh food and still get back to work on time,” Wright says. “You can see the Paneras of the world, who have done a phenomenal job in how they get people in and out. I think we can start to give them a run for their money.”
Bailed out by Apple
Does Dunkin’ run on Apple?
The computer company’s ubiquitous iPhones sure came in handy last week during an analyst call held by Dunkin’ Brands chief executive Nigel Travis and his leadership team.
The power went out on Canton’s Royall Street, where the Dunkin’ headquarters is located, just minutes after the call started. But the executives barely missed a beat. Travis hopped onto an iPhone owned by Stacey Caravella, senior director for investor relations at the company.
Travis and other top execs, including David Hoffmann, Sherill Kaplan, and Chris Fuqua, then dove into a wide-ranging discourse. The topics included the testing of a simplified menu in the Providence market, a plan to invest $100 million in the Dunkin’ Donuts US business, and rumors that “Donuts” could soon be dropped from the Dunkin’ Donuts name. On that last point, Travis says no decision has been made on the name yet.
But a new store in Quincy, the chain’s original hometown, will be among those places testing the Dunkin’-only name.
Not surprisingly, they didn’t mention JAB Holding Co., the European conglomerate that’s rumored to be interested in buying Dunkin’ Brands.
But Travis did talk about the impact that recent storms had on Dunkin’ and Baskin-Robbins locations in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. After an analyst complimented him on the way he rebounded from that day’s power outage, Travis said, “Hurricanes have taught us to be flexible. So, I think that’s learning from the quarter.”
Hearing the call
Massachusetts Eye and Ear has hired an executive from a commercial audio development company to head its audiology department. Bose Corp.’s Kevin Franck will soon take over as director of audiology.
It may seem like an unlikely move. But Bose, known for its home audio systems and headphones, has a team dedicated to developing hearing tools.
Franck previously served as head of marketing for the division, Bose Hear Emerging Business.
At Mass. Eye and Ear, Franck will lead the audiology department amid its push to work on clinical and research programs in hearing.
Alongside his role as director of audiology, Franck will serve on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School Department of Otolaryngology, which focuses on the conditions of the ear, nose, and throat.
In a news release, Franck said that he was excited to lead the department “to a better sounding future for all.”
A $4 million thank-you
Jeff Leiden has risen through a long and varied medical career to become CEO of one of the country’s biggest biotechnology firms, making him one of Boston’s most prominent executives.
The Vertex Pharmaceuticals chief attributes much of his success to the years in the 1980s that he spent at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he was an intern, resident, and cardiology fellow. There, he learned firsthand the value of what he calls the “physician-scientist” — essentially, as he describes it, a doctor who sees patients in the morning and then works in the lab on treatments for a particular disease in the afternoon.
Now, he’s hoping to pay back the Brigham for that formative time:
He’s making a $4 million donation to endow a new professorship at the hospital and Harvard Medical School to help foster a new generation of physician-scientists.
The position will be called the Jeffrey M. and Lisa L. Leiden Family Professorship in Translational Medicine, and the Brigham has already started recruiting for the job. The goal is to have someone in place by next summer.
The new endowment will pay for the new professor’s salary, as well as related research work.
“We will recruit for a rock star, someone who is mid-career, who has got a terrific trajectory and already has a record of making scientific contributions,” says Betsy Nabel, Brigham Health’s president.
Nabel and Leiden go way back: They started their careers at the Brigham together and have remained friends since. Leiden also chairs the hospital’s scientific advisory board.
“This is ultimately my way of saying thank you to the Brigham,” Leiden says of his donation. “They made me who I am.”
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