- ezCater, an online catering marketplace, has acquired Monkey Group, a tech company that has developed the MONKEY cloud platform for takeout, delivery and catering, according to a press release.
- Over 60,000 restaurants and caterers use ezCater while 8,000 use MONKEY to manage off-premise business. Brands that use both platforms include Einstein Bros. Bagels, McAlister's Deli, Moe's Southwest Grill and Schlotzky's and will have new POS integrations and streamlined data between the two firms' systems.
- Monkey Group, now operating as MonkeySoft Solutions, will maintain its existing brands MONKEYMEDIA Software, The Catering Institute and Off-Premise Insights.
The catering industry is quickly becoming a growth area for many brands, including Olive Garden, Famous Dave’s, Cracker Barrel and Dine Brands. Red Robin grew its catering sales from $1 million in 2017 to $11 million in 2018 and the company expects to grow sales by at least double this year. Chuy's catering, which is now available in five markets, contributed $1.6 million to its annual revenue in 2018 compared to $400,000 in the previous year.
Platforms from ezCater and Monkey Group that offer integrations with POS, loyalty programs and back-of-house systems will only make it easier for brands to build up this segment. Other technologies are hoping to capture the hungry office crowd as well, with Ritual focusing on takeout orders. The company's Piggyback feature allows workers in the same office to combine their orders but pay separately.
A growing number of restaurant brands have also expanded their catering capabilities and are reaping the benefits of higher off-premise sales. Famous Dave's is looking into virtual kitchens to support catering and delivery, similar to Chick-fil-A, Carrabba's and Outback Steakhouse, which have been looking into off-site locations to grow catering and delivery businesses.
Having technology and easy-to-use platforms in place will be imperative for restaurants and caterers, especially with the rapid growth expected in this industry. This line of business is expected to grow annually by 5% through 2023, reaching $264 billion globally, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com. Catering to consumers makes up more than 60% of the catering market while catering for institutions makes up 37%, and continues to grow each year, according to Technomic. Catering to a corporate and office crowd is also becoming a lucrative area. In an ICA survey, more than 40% of caterers said corporate catering would be their biggest growth areas.