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Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop CIO Has a Hunger for Tech, by Peter High in CIO Insight

Peter High

07-14-2015

Excerpt from the Article:

Capriotti’s is a fast-casual restaurant chain founded in Delaware in 1976. In 2004, Ashley Morris and Jason Smylie became franchisees of the business in Las Vegas. Four years later, they would lead an investment team to take over the company. Morris was installed as CEO and Smylie as CIO. Smylie would add the role as CMO a bit later. They have more than doubled the number of restaurants and revenue in the interim between then and now.

In the process, Smylie has become incredibly influential in the CIO/CMO communities, as he has accrued roughly 25,000 Twitter followers. In this interview with CIO Insight contributor, Peter High, Smylie talks about the growth of Capriotti’s, his career path and how he has developed his personal brand online.

CIO Insight: Could you please describe Capriotti’s business, and the role of technology in the company?

Jason Smylie: Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is a fast-casual chain based in Las Vegas. We pride ourselves on having really good sandwiches that are often described as “life-changing.” Technology has three roles in our company. One: Efficiency. Making it easier and less costly to run our day-to-day business. Two: Growth. Helping drive frequency and spend among our customers. Three: Transformation. Making sure we’re relevant in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

CIO Insight: You were part of a team that acquired Capriotti’s. Can you describe how that idea occurred to you?

Jason Smylie: My best friend Ashley and I were huge fans of the food in college. We invested in a few Capriotti’s franchises after getting established in our careers. The shops were doing so well and we were so passionate about the business that we started to wonder what we were doing spending a majority of our time in our day jobs. Our initial plan was to build out a territory and be franchisees, but the founders of Capriotti’s weren’t on board for selling a large area development agreement. After a brief period of frustration, Ashley called me up after he had an epiphany, “Why not make an offer to buy the whole company?” The offer was entertained, and a month later we had the company in escrow and began feverishly raising the capital to close the deal.

CIO Insight: You are both the chief information officer and chief marketing officer of Capriotti’s. How do you divide your time between these sets of responsibilities?

Jason Smylie: There’s no clear cut division. These days most marketing projects have such overlap with IT that it just makes sense to have someone strategically overseeing both departments.

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