Choosing the Right Device for Your Food Safety System

When choosing the perfect digital checklist or digital food safety system, it’s important to know your options when it comes to the device you’ll use. You generally have two options: to buy your own device and independently download the food safety program onto it, or choose a company that offers ready-to-go, managed devices.

While most food safety systems allow you to bring your own device, you should evaluate the pros and cons of each option, especially if you plan to use the system in multiple locations.

So, how can you tell which option will work best for you? Here are some of the major points to take into consideration, so you can make an informed decision.

1. Cost

Although at first, it would seem like buying your own device might be cheaper than buying it directly from the food safety company, in reality, you’ll save more money when you choose the latter.

Tablets can cost anywhere from $300-500 each, and if you’re buying one for each of your restaurants, those costs add up quickly. On the other hand, when you choose a managed device, the cost of the tablet is often included in the setup and onboarding fee. Right off the bat, this means you’re getting more value in the upfront cost of a managed device. That one-time fee generally includes a professional and custom setup, which means you won’t have to DIY anything.

Benefit: managed

2. Setup for multi-unit restaurants

It’s safe to assume that most restaurant owners don’t have the time to sit and figure out how

to download and configure a new system, especially when more than one location needs to be setup. When you choose a managed device, the system comes ready to use right out of the box, already set up by a professional team that understands your store’s specifications and has customized the software to work specifically for you. So it doesn’t matter if you’re ordering devices for 1 store or 100 stores - there’s still not much effort on your end to get it all set up.

On the other hand, when you buy your own device, you need to set aside time and resources to ensure you’ve set up correctly. And if you need to purchase devices for multiple locations, you’ll need to repeat the setup process for each. Once you’ve completed the setup process, you’ll need even more time to figure out how to customize the system for your needs, which can lead to frustration and even worse, undetected mistakes that cause problems down the line.

Benefit: managed

3. Troubleshooting

As with every type of technology, and regardless of whether you’ll use a device of your own or a managed device, there are bound to be technical hiccups. Especially in the fast-paced environment of a kitchen, you need quick fixes and effective support.

If your device is managed by the food safety company, troubleshooting will be much easier, as the support team has access to your device and is extremely familiar with its setup. When you take setup into your own hands, there may be things you’ve done differently or incorrectly, leading to longer downtimes and confusing conversations with a support team.

Additionally, if a tablet is ever lost or stolen, a managed device can easily be shut down remotely, where your own device is fair game for hacking.

Benefit: managed

4. Changes to checklist items

Your restaurant is constantly changing, from everyday procedures to new equipment and menu items. Using a managed device makes it simple for these changes to your digital checklists and food safety checks to be made in every store at once, increasing the efficiency of each store and saving you time.

Benefit: managed

5. Technical support

When you choose a managed device through a provider, you can be sure you’re getting a device that has all of the technical specifications it needs to be compatible with the provider’s software. When you buy your own device, it’s natural to choose the lowest price point, and therefore you might buy a refurbished or lower capacity tablet, which will lead to compatibility issues down the road.

Something you should also take into account is that tablets can become obsolete very quickly. If you were to buy an older version of a tablet because it was discounted, the software you plan to use may not be supported by its hardware, leaving you with an unusable and expensive tablet.

Benefit: managed

6. Controlled use

It’s inevitable that at some point during the day, employees lose focus and become distracted by their phones and social media notifications. And when you’re a restaurant franchise with multiple locations, keeping track of this is impossible. So, supplying the employees in your store with an unmanaged device is essentially handing them another way to become distracted. They will have easy access to a web browser, any app from the app store, and social media throughout the day with no real limitations.

On the other hand, when you receive a managed device, all of these activities are locked and inaccessible to employees. The device is set up only for the food safety program and restaurant checklists, so you can ensure that’s all its being used for.

Benefit: managed

These are just a few of the differences between using a managed device vs buying your own. While using your own device might be a good option if you’re running a single location restaurant, if you intend to use your food safety system at multiple locations, we recommend using managed devices.

Weigh the pros and cons and be sure to ask the right questions so you’re comfortable you’re making the right decision for your stores and your employees.

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Important Features of a Digital Checklist

In our last post, we outlined all of the reasons you should consider using digital checklists at your restaurants if you aren’t already. To recap, the big benefits include: increased efficiency, more customizability, decreased pencil whipping and human error, and the capability for owner-operators to monitor multiple locations.

Once you’ve decided to make the move to digital checklists, the next important step is choosing the best product. And no matter the exact product you ultimately choose, features like corrective action triggers, photo reporting, and easy customization are key to success. Read on for our full list of important features:

Important features of a digital checklist

1. Effortless customization

You know better than anyone that your franchise restaurants are not exact duplicates of each other. The differences in each store will require customizations in the tasks that make up a checklist. For example, if one store has one gender-neutral, family-friendly bathroom while another has 2 larger restrooms with stalls, these bathroom cleaning checklists will be made up of different tasks.

But, making these changes based on each store’s specifications shouldn’t mean any extra work for you. The right digital checklist solution should make the implementation of these changes really simple. Or better yet, choose a product offering where support is included and does this work for you, upon request.

2. Intuitive interface

Switching to digital checklists should make life easier for you and your employees. But it could actually do the opposite if the interface of the tool you choose is complicated and requires employee training time. Food Safety Magazine put it best: “Efficiency depends on a well-designed app...users [can] spend so much time managing the app that they’re not managing the checklist.”

The checklist’s interface should be familiar and convenient for employees at every level to use. Ideally, employees should be able to adjust to the software after just a day or two of using and then, actually look forward to the simplicity of the tool when completing their tasks.

In fact, the right checklist solution should be simple and convenient enough to reduce the number of employees it usually takes to complete the documentation of tasks.

3. Corrective action triggers

Through the customization process, your digital checklist provider should allow you to set standards for each task: “this task should only be marked complete if temperature reading is below 41 degrees”.

If an employee completes a task that does not match the standards you’ve set, the checklist system should have the capability to prompt a corrective action. Until the employee has gone back in to complete the corrective action and meet the original standards you’ve set for the task, the system should not mark the task as “complete”.

4. Visibility into completed tasks

Just because you can’t be at every store, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have visibility into every store. The right checklist solution will have built-in reporting tools that allow you to virtually oversee each completed task and manage your franchise remotely.

The ability to add a photo and signature to a task creates real accountability and visibility. When an employee marks a cleaning task as “complete”, the owner-operator would have the option to look into the task and review the attached photo, able to check-in and monitor the quality of the task.

5. Good reporting

Any digital checklist solution worth your time should have strong reporting capabilities. With a multi-unit restaurant franchise, you’ll need a quick and accurate way to check in on each store. You’ll need an easily accessible dashboard that shows how each store is performing and completing checklist tasks.

These reports should be practical and accessible while you’re on the go. Depending on the day, a report may need to be reviewed quickly on a phone or more in-depth at an office computer. The product should have a compatible app or online dashboard that works with your schedule and allows you to stay in touch while on the go.

And naturally, other days will be too busy to remember to check in at all. A good digital product should set up daily email reports, giving you the peace of mind that it’s there when you get around to it.

This flexible visibility will decrease the need and tendency to micromanage, saving both your’s and your employees’ time.

6. Customer support

Ideally, you’d want a digital checklist solution that’s always smooth-running and easy to use 100% of the time. But as with any technology, there’s always a chance a system can hiccup.

When and if you run into any issues, you’ll want a responsive, helpful team on your side that minimizes downtime. Make sure the platform you choose offers a serious customer support team that’s always accessible, responds quickly, and knows exactly how to solve your problems. A team that’s available from 9-5 probably won’t cut when an employee calls in at 11 PM with a time-sensitive issue.

Why Should My Restaurant Use Digital Checklists?

To some, checklists are just a paper full of tasks but when used correctly, checklists for restaurant operations can increase efficiency at both the employee and management level.

Why should my restaurant use checklists?

As an owner/operator, you know what should happen in each area of the restaurant at certain points of the day- tables should be wiped down before opening, salad dressings restocked, trash removed, the list goes on. You’ve likely organized these tasks into restaurant opening checklists, cleaning checklists, etc. But do you have visibility into when and how employees complete these tasks at each location?

The ability to ensure the completion of these tasks creates confidence in the quality, cleanliness, and caliber of customer service provided at all locations. Traditionally, restaurant checklists have been stacks of papers or a physical workbook. While these options are better than nothing, they create significant manual work both for yourself and your employees.

Enter: Digital Checklists

There are plenty of reasons a digital checklist will serve you better than any manual process. We’ve listed the most important benefits below:

1. Easy to use and increased efficiency

First, relying on a stack of papers while in a busy kitchen is not ideal. Oil spatters, water stains, etc. can affect the integrity of the reports documented on paper. Reliable data will come from tools that are rugged, and able to withstand a typical kitchen environment. Author of The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Dr. Atul Gawande, agrees that “good checklists are...easy to use even in the most difficult situations.”

Second, almost every other process in your restaurant is undoubtedly digital. Odds are, your employees don’t look forward to completing this one analog process every day. And as the workforce grows with younger employees, using a tool this demographic is already familiar with (like a tablet) will encourage efficiency and compliance.

Last, the traditional checklist requires a higher volume of manual tasks. For example, to accurately capture food temperature, employees first need to take the temperature and then manually record it on paper. Digital checklists automate and condense this process using a digital thermometer, which connects directly to the tablet’s software and automatically records the reading into the checklist.

2. Easily customizable

The features of every restaurant vary, even within the same franchise. Some locations have drive-thrus, and some have play areas, while others could have neither. Traditional checklists are one-size-fits-all. This means that a store’s checklist would include irrelevant tasks related to features and equipment the store may not even have.

A digital checklist should be customizable to fit a store’s exact needs. This way, your employees won’t need to skim through irrelevant checklist items, saving increments of time every day.

3. Decrease pencil whipping and human error

One of the major challenges of using manual checklists is the lack of transparency in the completion and quality of tasks. In order to get a full picture of completion at each location, you would need to compare and aggregate several handwritten workbooks, a process that can take a significant amount of time.

Without oversight, it can be hard to tell whether an employee actually completed the task or whether they quickly signed off without paying much attention. This is considered a pencil whip, which results in an inaccurate view of operations and puts the safety and cleanliness of your operations at risk. With a digital checklist, employees are obligated to complete tasks on time, with evidence in the form of a sign-off or photo.

4. Monitoring capability for owner-operators

It’s been established that aggregating data from several locations would take a significant amount of effort. In addition to just aggregating this data, any analysis or data mining would be equally difficult.

A digital checklist can gather data from every location into a centralized dashboard. With accurate and flexible data, it’s easy to pinpoint where food safety and cleanliness are overlooked or skipped in your operations. This capability will create a clearer understanding of operations at each location, and where optimizations may need to be made.

If your restaurants still use digital checklists, it could be time to consider the transition to a digital solution, for all of the benefits listed above. You’re sure to notice significant improvements in your operations.

When you do choose to switch to a digital solution, you need to be sure it’s the right solution. Stay tuned for our next post which will outline the most important features your digital checklist software should have.

Managing Through the COVID-19 Crisis With Digital Food Safety

State of the industry today:

It goes without saying that the foodservice industry is feeling the effect of the coronavirus. With restrictions that only allow restaurants to serve customers via takeout, pickup, drive-thru, and delivery, the industry has seen a 74.2% YoY decline of average daily revenue from the same time period in 2019, according to Toast. There has also been a 40% decline in the total number of hours worked by food service employees.

A contributing factor to this is the decline in foot traffic to fast-food restaurants. Foursquare reported that foot traffic has declined greatly in the past few weeks, and especially since March 15th, which is when many major cities announced “shelter in place” lockdown.

Full-service vs Quick-service:

The entire industry is hurting, but when we break down further by restaurant type, we notice a trend. Fast food and quick-serve restaurants are showing slightly higher revenue than full-service restaurants. This is supported by a report from Yelp that fast food-related searches have increased by 64%.

With options like takeout/pickup ordering, delivery, and drive-thrus, many restaurants were prepared to pivot to the new, but necessary serving model. Another data point from Toast shows a 56% increase in off-premises dining revenue since February 14th.

Customers need encouragement:

The CDC states “...coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently, there is no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”

Even while experts like the CDC confirm that the virus cannot be spread through food, about 47% of people still feel nervous or at risk ordering and eating purchased food.

How you can adapt:

In an effort to keep staff and food sanitary, as well as help customers feel confident in the safety of their food, many brands have publicly adapted their operations. Below are some of these best practices to consider implementing.

  • Encourage the use of mobile ordering and credit cards to reduce the use of cash. Experts have expressed concern that the virus can live for extended periods of time on surfaces, including cash. It’s easy to reduce the risk of transmission between employees and customers by discouraging the use of cash as much as possible, and even mobile ordering to avoid any exchange of credit cards.
  • Offer curbside pickup to avoid the need for customers to enter the store. By allowing customers to come in to pick up orders, you increase the chances of having them touch door handles, windows, countertops, etc. If curbside pickup is an option, it could be the safest option for your customers and employees.

  • Adapt the menu for takeout and drive-thru only. This will reduce back of the house stress and show customers how your store is thoughtfully adapting. Big brands and small businesses alike are tailoring their menus to modify service as needed for optimal operations while still serving customer favorites (examples from Brick and Ivy and Cracker Barrel below).
  • Use hand sanitizer only when handwashing is not available or convenient. It can actually take up to 5 minutes for hand sanitizer to break down contaminants. The FDA agrees, stating that “...hand sanitizers are not intended to replace handwashing in food production and retail settings.” Encourage employees to use hand sanitizer only when access to proper handwashing is not an option.
  • Enforce thorough handwashing. Germs can remain under fingernails, around nail polish, and under jewelry even after proper handwashing. When employees do wash their hands, try to ensure that they are removing any jewelry, and getting in and around these high-risk areas of the skin.

Most of all, customers want to hear what actions your restaurant has taken to keep the employees and food safe. Below are some examples of restaurants (Brick and Ivy, Pammy's Cambridge) that have publicly informed their customers of precautionary measures taken, to ensure that they should feel safe while ordering from the establishment.

The Squadle system promotes sanitary food processes and compliance with healthy preventative practices, especially during this time. With tools to increase communication between your stores and employees, handwashing checks, and staying on top of your regular food safety needs, Squadle can help make it all a little more manageable. You can read more about how Squadle can help your operations during COVID-19 here.

Squadle helps to promote restaurant safety during COVID-19 outbreak


When faced with a fast-spreading infectious disease, many industries are turned on their heads and forced to adapt. But perhaps no industry has to react as quickly as foodservice. Such has been the case with COVID-19.

COVID-19 has forced multiple states to place restrictions on restaurants, bars, and nightclubs and some have even instructed restaurants to discontinue dine-in service entirely, leaving drive-thru, takeout, or delivery as their only options.

As the disease forces more businesses to close every day and communities to quarantine, people will continue to rely on their local restaurants for nourishment.

The foodservice industry is no stranger to safety precautions. Activities like handwashing, taking food temperature, and cleansing surfaces are the core components of a food service employee’s routine. But in times of uncertainty like an infectious outbreak, these practices will become more important than ever.

Luckily, having digital food safety and shift management solutions like Squadle in place make it simple to implement last-minute changes to daily checks and safety precautions in order to combat these health emergencies.

Keep your staff, customers, and business safe and healthy, by implementing the following safety measures during an epidemic or viral emergency:

1. Handwashing

Handwashing is the simplest but most effective way to fend off viruses. Consider increasing handwashing checks to take place several times per hour (even if employees wear gloves while working), and be sure to have a system in place that guarantees employees will adhere. For example, the Squadle system sounds audio and visual alerts from the system tablet to ensure that strict handwashing policies are followed. Updates have been made to sound these alerts more frequently in this time of increased caution.

Take extra care for employees who are working the register and drive-thrus, as health officials have expressed concern that exchanging cash and coming in close contact with others can increase the risk of spread.

2. Managing Travel Paths

Consider making travel paths more frequent so managers can ensure that all surfaces and high-traffic areas remain sanitary. Wipe down countertops, tables, and chairs (even if dine-in service has been suspended), doorknobs (including main entrances if you are offering in-store pickup), railings, and drink dispensers. If your customers are entering the store to pick up orders, ensure that the counters where they grab straws, utensils, napkins, etc., are constantly disinfected. In fact, most stores have done away with any area where customers could self-serve, to remove the risk completely.

3. Strengthen Communication between Managers

If you don’t have a tool like Squadle’s Shift Notes, ensure that shift managers are still able to easily communicate with each other from shift to shift. Concerns that seem small and inconsequential can be the difference between a safe and sanitary restaurant vs one that is forced to close its doors. Make it easy for managers to communicate concerns like:

  • “Employee X looked under the weather this morning. I’ve been checking in every hour, but please urge them to leave if it persists during AM shift”
  • “Lunch rush began early around 10 AM; customers expressed coming in early because they feared there would be a shortage after lunch rush”
  • “Drive-thru was quiet all morning, customers seemed to prefer ordering ahead for pick-up to avoid exchange of cash/credit”
  • “Customers have been ordering in bulk and we’re now running low on X”

4. Remote Monitoring & Management

Another advantage of digital food safety for owners and operators is the ability to check-in and manage all locations remotely, especially as social distancing becomes more important during the emergency. With a digital food safety system like Squadle, owners are able to stay on top of each location and make any necessary spur-of-the-moment decisions backed by data from their actual stores.

The current situation is likely to change every day, and it can feel overwhelming to keep up with all of the updates and news. As long as your restaurant is open for business during these times, staff should be supported with the knowledge and assistance they need to keep the environment safe and healthy.

Squadle welcomes 35+ year McDonald’s veteran, Donna Thornton

Squadle, the industry leader in digital food safety and shift management solutions for Quick Service Restaurants, welcomes McDonald’s operations veteran, Donna Thornton, to the team to drive expansion into the brand.

Donna Thorton, Account Executive, Squadle

Thornton, former Operations Manager with 35+ years experience with McDonald’s, joins Squadle to help with expansion into the brand. Thornton’s experience includes running operations for owner-operator restaurant groups and training for corporate. Most recently, she was the Operations Manager for 14 restaurants for Century Management until Fred Tillman’s retirement.

When asked why she made the transition to work in technology, Thornton replied,

“While I was an operations manager, I oversaw the implementation of a number of new technologies in our stores. This is when I realized technology is the path to improving operations.”

Thornton chose to join the Squadle team because of their focus on serving McDonald’s owner-operators.

“I evaluated a number of options when I was working as an operations manager and was impressed by Squadle being the only out of the box solution. It’s because they worked shoulder to shoulder with owner operators to create the most useful product possible.”

With Squadle's scalable operations platform, multi-unit restaurant owner-operators can improve operations with Digital Food Safety, Shift Management, and Equipment Maintenance solutions. Squadle is the industry’s only digital solution that is customized to the McDonald’s brand and is ready out of the box. After implementing Squadle, owner-operators have reported seeing improvements in compliance and accountability as well as labor hour savings.

To learn more about Squadle’s solutions, schedule a demo below.

Squadle Raises $3M to Fuel Nationwide Expansion with Franchisees of McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Brands


CAMBRIDGE, MA, July 25, 2018 -- Squadle, Inc., a next generation AI operations platform, secured $3M in funding to expand operations as it brings modern, digital, data-driven solutions to the largest multi-unit brands in the nation. The company will use the capital to grow their team and augment their products with industry-first machine vision capabilities.

Squadle Genius is an AI/Machine Vision add-on to Checklists that uses in-store cameras to detect issues. The system has been in use over the last year by customers participating in a closed beta.

Squadle Genius is an AI/Machine Vision add-on to Checklists that uses in-store cameras to detect issues. The system has been in use over the last year by customers participating in a closed beta.

“This funding allows us to scale rapidly while continuing to offer the best vendor support in the industry,” said Le Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Squadle. “And with capital in hand, we are gearing up to introduce cutting-edge AI technologies that we believe will shape the industry over the next few years.”

Squadle’s new machine vision product is being launched after a year of stealth development. The technology, called Squadle Genius, uses in-store camera feeds to detect store quality and consistency issues, such as empty display cases, marketing material placement, leftover food on tables, or overflowing trash cans.

  • Checklists on a Tablet Improves Consistency and Profitability
    Squadle’s flagship Checklists solution puts operating procedures on a tablet and digitizes the thousands of paper logs used by operators every day. Paper logs are error-prone and hard to use for employee follow-up. Tablet based Checklists improves employee engagement, task completion and saves hours of follow up time for store and district managers resulting in more consistent and profitable operations.
  • Patented Wireless Sensors Automate Food Safety Compliance
    Squadle’s wireless 24/7 temperature sensors and patented Zero-Touch™ handheld probe help operators automate time-consuming food safety temperature checks, saving time and increasing compliance.
  • Alerts and Big Data Analytics Empower Managers and Owners
    Real-time Alerts tell managers when important tasks have been missed so they can address issues before they become a problem. Big Data Analytics gives managers and owners x-ray vision into trends and best practices at their stores. Real time reports, daily emails, and operations benchmarks help managers and owners make better operating decisions every day.

The $3M funding round is led by a private family fund. Companyon Ventures and Walnut Ventures also participated in the round.

“We were thoroughly impressed with Squadle’s ability to solve genuine pain points in the hospitality industry and we are thrilled to support them as they continue to grow,” said Michael Inwald, current fund manager for Squadle’s lead investor and former multi-unit restaurant owner and operator. “We believe that the future of restaurant technology will be driven by a continued need for greater operational efficiency in the field combined with thoughtful integration of data-driven intelligence. Squadle has shown both the capability and commitment to tackling those challenges and we can’t wait to see their new solutions improve the experience for brands and their customers.”

About Squadle

Squadle is a next generation AI operations platform that is redefining and enhancing multi-unit restaurant operations in the digital age. The company provides easy-to-use, cutting edge solutions to their restaurant partners, with nationwide deployments with multi-unit franchisees of McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Brands, and other Fortune 500 chains. Founded by MIT, Boston College and Johns Hopkins alumni, the company has offices in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington DC. Visit Squadle at for more information.

Media Contact: Mira Woods 617-513-7020 [email protected]
© 2018 Squadle, Inc., Patents Issued

Squadle's CEO, Le Zhang, moderates Food Tech thought leader panel 10/26

Thought Leader Panel at VenCafe: What's the Future of Food Tech?

Squadle's CEO, Le Zhang, moderates Future of Food Tech panel Oct 26 6:45 - 7:45 PM Venture Cafe at One Broadway 5th Floor, Cambridge

What's the Future of Food Tech?

Technology has profoundly changed what we eat, and how and where we get our food over the past 25 years. What will Food Tech look like 25 years from now? What do the disruptors on the front lines see unfolding in areas such as Biotech on farms, sensing IoT, Novel farming, alternative proteins, food marketplaces and food commerce? Find out from the entrepreneurs who are creating that future, now.

Moderator Le Zhang CEO Squadle

Panelists Eric Schultz - former CEO and Chairman of Sensitech, author of Food Foolish

Stefania Mallett - CEO & Co-Founder, ezCater

John Pepper - CEO & Co-Founder,, Boloco

Brad McNamara - CEO & Co-Founder, Freight Farms

David Potere - CEO & Co-Founder, TellusLabs

When October 26 6:45 - 7:45 PM

Where Venture Cafe, One Broadway 5th floor, Cambridge MA

Register Venture Cafe

Squadle CEO, Le Zhang is a Rising Young Tech Star in Boston Magazine article


Bright Young Things

From rocket science to the way we buy our booze, Boston’s rising tech stars are reinventing the city—and the world. What will the future look like? Just ask these wunderkinds, all 35 or under. Kyle Alspach

Boston Magazine | October 2017

~ The Disruptors ~

Le Zhang
28, Squadle

Le Zhang launched his tech career while still in high school, landing his first software development job at State Street at the ripe old age of 16. “I got to figure out how these big corporations operate,” he says, “but they were way too slow for the kinds of things I wanted to work on.” Fittingly, Zhang’s Kendall Square startup, Squadle, is all about capitalizing on the corporate world’s reluctance to adopt change, offering sensors and automation to digitize operations for two of the last industries that still rely on paper records: retail and restaurants. Customers so far include Dunkin’ Donuts, Sonic, and Chick-fil-A, and that’s just the beginning, Zhang says: “In five years, I can see every multi-unit retail store using our system.”

To see all the other Rising Stars in Boston Tech,

see Bright Young Things in Boston Magazine, by Kyle Alspach

Squadle Is Using the Internet of Things to Help Prevent Food Safety Incidents

Squadle Is Using the Internet of Things to Help Prevent Food Safety Incidents

Source: BostInno, by Dylan Martin

The last thing a restaurant ever wants is a food safety incident.

As demonstrated by the multiple E. coli and norovirus outbreaks that happened at Chipotle’s restaurants in 2015, it can damage a company’s reputation and its bottom line. More importantly, it’s just not cool to get people sick.

Chicken & Rice Guys, the Boston-based restaurant chain, got a taste of that in April when an E. coli outbreak prompted the company to temporarily shutter three locations and its fleet of food trucks as the city of Boston opened an investigation. About two weeks later, Chicken & Rice Guys was cleared to reopen, and CEO Ian So said at the time that he had hired an outside food consultant to improve its food safety practices.

One of the other ways Chicken & Rice Guys has improved is through Squadle, a Cambridge-based startup that is helping the chain digitize its practices. Most recently, the chain started using the company’s wireless temperature management system for its coolers and Squadle’s digital checklist software to automate the compliance process.

“In today’s complex food chain where food can come from different regions, different suppliers and distributors, technology is a logical step to be able to manage that complexity,” So told BostInno in an email.

Chicken & Rice Guys had already been a customer of Squadle, which aims to digitize many of a restaurant chain’s back-of-house operations, including all the daily paperwork that has to be done on things like employee shifts, amount of cash in the bank and temperature logs. One of the ways Squadle digitizes these processes is through Internet-connected sensors (à la the Internet of Things), including foot traffic trackers, wireless cameras, and the wireless temperature system Chicken & Rice Guys now uses.

Le Zhang, Squadle’s founder and CEO. Photo via LinkedIn.

Le Zhang, founder and CEO of Squadle, said one of the main factors that lead to food safety incidents is the lack of a good system for tracking the temperatures in coolers and other food storage equipment. With Squadle’s wireless temperature sensor, it can track the temperature of a cooler around the clock and provide alerts when the temperature falls out of a certain range because, for instance, someone forgot to close the cooler door. Beyond ensuring that food is safe to eat, it also helps with loss prevention, Zhang said.

Squadle also has a handheld temperature sensor that speeds up the process of checking a food’s temperature while it’s being prepared. When the sensor is measuring a food’s temperature, it sends the information to Squadle’s software on a tablet and then says whether or not it’s within the right range. If it isn’t, the software then provides the restaurant employee with a corrective action for them to take.

Zhang said these things, plus Squadle’s other products, are all meant to help maximize a restaurant’s revenue and minimize its costs. Those things can’t be done, he said if you’re not using a system like Squadle’s to collect data on all of a restaurant’s processes, which then gives managers the information they need to make operational changes.

“Without data, you’re making blind decisions,” he said.

Squadle has 14 employees, and it has raised about $1.2 million from investors to date. Other customers include Sonic, Chick-fil-A and Hyatt.

Caption: Chicken & Rice Guys' Bedford Street location in Boston. Photo by Dylan Martin.

Dylan Martin

Tech writer for BostInno since 2015. Always looking for the real story behind the headlines. Have a tip about something our readers should know? Send me an email at [email protected] I'm also available to talk on encrypted messaging apps.

Squadle expands to Canada to accelerate digital transformation of multi-unit restaurants

Expansion supports customer plans to deploy the Squadle automation platform in stores across North America

Squadle, Inc.

Jul 26, 2017, 13:59 ET

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Squadle, Inc., an innovative restaurant automation platform, announced today that it will now cover the Canadian stores of multi-unit restaurant chains. The move extends Squadle's solutions to the Canadian market and supports the international expansion plans of Squadle's multi-unit customers.

"We are proud to expand our solution to retail units across Canada," said Le Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Squadle. "Canadian franchisees can now realize the same productivity gains that our customers' US stores are experiencing."

Squadle has selected Canada's largest wireless communications provider to supply secure, reliable connectivity across Canada to transmit data from customer stores to the Squadle Data Cloud.

Squadle's suite of back-of-house solutions helps franchisees improve profitability by using data to improve operations.

  • Checklists on a Tablet Improves Consistency and Profitability
    Squadle's flagship Checklists solution puts operating procedures on a tablet and digitizes the thousands of paper logs used by operators every day. Paper logs are error-prone and hard to use for employee follow-up. Tablet-based Checklists improves employee engagement, task completion and saves hours of follow-up time for store and district managers resulting in more consistent and profitable operations.
  • Wireless Sensors Automate Food Safety Compliance
    Squadle's wireless 24/7 temperature sensors and patented Zero-Touch™ handheld probe help operators automate time-consuming food safety temperature checks, saving time and increasing compliance.
  • Alerts and Big Data Analytics Empower Managers and Owners
    Real-time Alerts tell managers when important tasks have been missed so they can address issues before they become a problems. Big Data Analytics gives managers and owners x-ray vision into trends and best practices at their stores. Real-time reports, daily emails, and operations benchmarks help managers and owners make better operating decisions every day.

International Expansion Plans

"Squadle's expansion to Canada is the first in our effort to support our customers' international expansion plans," said Steven Ladd, Chief Strategy Officer, Squadle.

For a demo, case studies or more information, visit Squadle in Canada.

About Squadle

Founded in 2013, Squadle's smart, connected operations platform helps multi-units increase profits, reduce risk, and make better decisions using tablets, sensors, and data. Squadle is backed by 500 Startups, Bolt, Accomplice and Walnut Ventures.

© 2017 Squadle, Inc., Patent Issued

Name: Lucinda Linde
Phone: 1-617-870-4522
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE Squadle, Inc.

Chicken & Rice Guys to Digitize Key Food Safety Best Practices in All Stores


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicken & Rice Guys (CNRG) reopened all of their brick-and-mortar locations after being cleared by the Boston Public Health Committee. The company previously closed each of their locations in caution after several cases of E.coli were allegedly traced to CNRG Allston location in late March. CNRG has now deployed Squadle Checklists and Temperature Management solutions as part of implementing comprehensive food safety best practices.

"We are enthusiastic to implement new digital food safety practices at all our restaurants," said CNRG co-founder Ian So. "We want to provide the most delicious meals to our fans and ensure our food is prepared with superb quality."

CNRG addressed the issue head-on by engaging in food safety meetings and proactively tightening up food safety procedures. Additionally, CNRG properly disposed their prepared foods in entirety and professionally deep-cleaned and tested all facilities to prevent further incidents. This included supplier reviews, employee training, an external auditing process and automating best practices in temperature management.

One key to food safety best practice is automating temperature checks to control biological hazards in food preparation. Wireless sensors automatically take temperatures of coolers, 24/7. Workers use Squadle's ZeroTouch™ probe to digitally log temperatures during food preparation to ensure all items stay in the food safety zone. Squadle's system alerts employees when to track handheld temperatures and signals when cooler temperatures go out of the food safety range, for example during a power outage.

CNRG also implements Squadle Checklists to automate compliance in food safety procedures. Unautomated restaurants typically have approximately 60% compliance over all their procedures. Digitized checklists have been shown to boost the average compliance to over 90%.

"Squadle is proud to be a part of CNRG's multi-pronged food safety program that will help ensure they serve only the best, safest food possible," said Le Zhang, CEO of Squadle.

For information, visit

About Squadle
Founded in 2013, Squadle's smart, connected operations platform helps multi-units increase profits, reduce risk, and make better decisions using tablets, sensors, and data. Squadle is backed by 500 Startups, Bolt, Accomplice and Walnut Ventures.

© 2017 Squadle, Inc. Patent Issued.

Name: Lucinda Linde
Phone: 1-617-870-4522
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE Squadle, Inc.

Related Links

Squadle Gives Big Chains a Path to Automation

Sometimes, a startup’s solution appears so beneficial that it attracts the biggest players in an industry. That's exactly how Squadle attracted the likes of Chick-Fil-A, Hyatt and Sonic.

Read More

Squadle's operations platform replaces unreliable paper logs and automates manual processes.

Can an IoT platform generate joy?

Here’s one manager’s reaction to using the Patented Zero-Touch ™ probe in her operations:

“It’s the best record-keeping we have ever done and the most accountability we have ever had.” Top 50 franchise manager.

Squadle announces patented Zero-Touch™ handheld IoT devices


CAMBRIDGE, MA, January 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/-- Squadle, a pioneer in automating multi-unit restaurant operations, announces the issuance of Patent 9,534,938 covering automated handheld measurement devices and algorithms. The first product to implement this technology is the Zero-Touch™ temperature probe, which will soon be available through select hardware partners. The handheld technology joins other “Internet of Things” sensors in Squadle’s back-of-house automation platform.

Squadle’s Zero-Touch™ temperature probe enables food service workers to take food and equipment temperatures 83% faster than with a manual thermometer. Workers save on average 1 hour a day while multi-unit owners receive peace of mind through up-to-the minute food safety compliance. Squadle customers experience up to 10% higher per store profits by saving employees’ and managers’ time and reducing food spoilage. For case studies or more information,

“The average fast food restaurant is run with expensive manual processes that are tracked on unreliable paper logs. Our operations platform replaces paper logs and automates manual processes.” said Le Zhang, founder and CEO, Squadle. “Squadle’s IoT platform is a flexible, scalable and reliable way to simplify our customers’ processes.”

Squadle started with an easy-to-use Checklists tablet that replaces paper logs. Franchise owners and managers saw that task completion rose when tablet checklists replaced paper checklists. They also received real-time accountability, operations benchmarks and best practice metrics. Building off of Checklists, Squadle launched its sensor platform and analytics which are revolutionizing multi-unit operations.

Squadle’s innovations with automated probes, checklists and actionable analytics are one part of Squadle’s ambitious product roadmap. Partners are integrating smart hardware, database, connectivity and analytics to make Squadle the go-to platform to automate multi-unit operations. The goal: to help operators deliver the product and service consistency that drives store revenue and profitability.

“The IoT space is littered with thousands of automation products that are a pain to make sense of.” said Le. “Our platform provides an easy, curated, and extremely customizable method to implement automation without disrupting operations.”

For information, visit


Founded in 2013, Squadle’s smart, connected operations platform helps multi-units increase profits, reduce risk, and make better decisions using tablets, sensors, and data. Squadle is backed by 500 Startups, Bolt, Accomplice and Walnut Ventures.

© 2017 Squadle, Inc. Patent Issued.


Name: Lucinda Linde
Phone: 1-617-870-4522

Email: [email protected]