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To many, the presentation seemed like a practical joke. But earlier this month, Jonathan Kaplan, the businessman who helped create the Flip camera, took the stage of the D9 conference and announced his latest venture: a fast-casual, tech-heavy grilled-cheese concept called The Melt.
After all, Kaplan spearheaded the creation of the Flip, the handy device that simplified video recording by minimizing everything. In March 2009, Cisco Systems purchased Pure Digital Technologies, Flip’s parent company, for $590 million. Kaplan’s expertise resides in the tech world, where proprietary goods like the Flip excite investors, consumers, and venture capitalists; in the restaurant arena, grilled cheese can’t be trademarked. Kaplan, however, is convinced The Melt will not only survive but thrive when he opens the first five units this fall.
“I’m an entrepreneur at heart, whether in the technology industry, the restaurant industry, or any other industry in which I see an opportunity,” Kaplan says. At the D9 conference, held at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Kaplan called The Melt a “next-generation fast-casual restaurant.” And predictably the restaurant boasts a hearty infusion of technology. “We’re using innovative technology to reinvent the fast-casual restaurant experience for the better,” Kaplan says.
The Melt will leverage technology in all areas of the business, including the ordering process, and will lean on location-based mobile technology. Guests will be able to remotely order from their computers and mobile phones and pick orders up at any Melt location. When a customer places an order, they will receive a QR code that can be scanned at any restaurant location, which enables customers to pay through their phone, skip the line, and enjoy their hot sandwich within minutes. “[We] will continue to deliver consistently delicious and affordable food using technology to save guests time and aggravation,” Kaplan says.
“Grilled cheese makes people happy,” Kaplan says. “What better way to create unique and memorable dining experiences than offering the ultimate comfort food with a modern sensibility?”