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Restaurant Business names industry’s outstanding social media and tech innovators

Arby’s, Whataburger, Waffle House and Buffalo Wild Wings are among the winners of the first-ever Restaurant Business/FSTEC Awards for social-media and technology innovation.

Taco Bell was chosen as having the best app, and Shake Shack was the winner in the category of Most Tantalizing Food Porn.

Other categories include Best Single Social Media Post (won by Chipotle Mexican Grill), Most Surprising Use of Social Media (Domino’s), Best Social Media Event (Buffalo Wild Wings) and Best Tech Project & Project Team (Waffle House.)

Three chains were named the outstanding tech innovators in their respective market segments. Panera Bread Co. won the Tech Accelerator award in limited service, Buffalo Wild Wings was selected for the honor in full-service and HMSHost, the giant concessionaire, was named the winner in a nontraditional category, which included onsite-foodservice operators and hotels.

One of the three will be named the Tech Accelerator of the Year at FSTEC, the industry’s major technology conference. This year’s event is scheduled for September 27-29 in Washington, D.C.

Overall, 28 winners in 12 categories were chosen by the editors of Restaurant Business and their collaborators. Officials of the National Restaurant Association’s Marketing Executives Group helped to pick the standouts in the four social media categories. Rob Grimes, president of the Constrata consulting group and chairman of FSTEC, weighed in on the eight technology-innovation awards.

For all the awards, digital posts and programs of the past year were reviewed from nearly 200 of the top national, regional and emerging chains.

The categories and first-place finishers were:

The Tech Accelerator of the Year, chosen from among the three segment-specific Tech Accelerator winners, will be announced during a special session of FSTEC.

“Technology and the astute use of social media have become as much a part of the restaurant industry as menus and tables,” said Restaurant Business Editor Kelly Killian. “Our awards salute the operations that have used those tools most effectively and raised the bar for the business.

“The selections were tough to make and hotly debated internally, but we’re very proud of our selections. We congratulate all of our winners.”

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