Virtual Brands with Brinker International

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Originally aired on March 30th, 2021.

MURTEC is less than a month away and it will be virtual this year, scheduled on April 13th and 14th.  You can register online right now at   This will certainly be an event that you don’t want to miss.  Normally we would be at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas for this but obviously, this year needs to be different.  I am fully confident we will be back in action in the very near future!  Once again, to register online right now, go to

This is a big episode today as we talk to TWO Rockstars from Brinker International that have made such a splash in our industry recently I can’t imagine NOT having them on this podcast!  What Brinker has been able to accomplish in the virtual brand side of the industry is truly amazing.   Both of the guests today have some great insight to share regarding a successful launch if you are considering doing this with your own organization.

Wade Allen, SVP of Innovation for Brinker International

Wade Allen is senior vice president of innovation at Brinker International, Inc. where he oversees culinary innovation, engineering, strategic growth and the development and execution of virtual brands. His team develops creative ways for Brinker and to leverage the consumer, social, economic and technological changes that are disrupting the restaurant industry for the good of Brinker’s Guests, Team Members and shareholders. 

During his tenure, Wade has held several leadership roles in technology, analytics and digital marketing, most recently as chief digital officer. He began his Brinker career in 2014 as vice president of digital Guest experience and analytics for Chili’s where he led the implementation and continued advancement of tabletop devices, My Chili’s Rewards and Chili’s mobile app and website. Prior to joining Brinker, Wade served as president of CouponFactory, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rockfish Interactive. He held positions as vice president of retail for Rockfish Interactive and as an account director/solution lead at the integrated marketing agency, RAPP, where he worked on a number of Brinker brands. 

Wade enjoys spending time with his wife and four children, reading about emerging technology, politics and history and stays active through participating in water sports, snow sports and other athletic activities. 

Wade serves on the digital innovation advisory council for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® and is an active member of his church. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University. 

Pankaj Patra, SVP and CIO for Brinker International

Pankaj Patra serves as senior vice president and chief information officer at Brinker International, Inc., where he oversees information technology and data security for Brinker and its restaurants brands. 

Pankaj is a longtime BrinkerHead and has served in multiple information technology leadership roles to help transform Brinker into a leader in restaurant technology. While his proudest moment is taking on his current role leading technology, he will always remember starting his IT days in a small closet developing software. 

Pankaj officially joined the Brinker family in 2012, but has a much longer history of about two decades working with the company through his previous roles at On the Border and Cognizant Technology Solutions. 

Pankaj and his wife have one son and the rest of his family resides in India, so he leverages technology to call them on the way to work every day. In his spare time, you can find him watching any sport – he loves them all! 

Pankaj earned his undergraduate degree from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela and went on to attain his MBA from Southern Methodist University. He is a member of the Dallas chapter of the International Food and Beverage Technology Association. 

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Next Week’s Show…

New week we are continuing with our Rockstar series with Joe Tenczar, CIO and partner in Restaurant CIO’s and also, at the same time, Chief Strategy Officer for Sonny’s BBQ.  If often wonder how he accomplishes so much and still has time to share his innovative ideas with others.  If you have ever heard him speak before you certainly don’t want to miss this upcoming episode as we dig into futurisci and alternative delivery methods.  We are going to dig into drone delivery, robots, autonomous cars and so much more.  I have never met more of a forward thinker than Joe and I am super stoked he took the time to talk to us so I can share our conversation with all of you.


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