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2012 Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference
John Laporte
Vice President of Information Technology
El Pollo Loco

A Restaurant Industry IT veteran of more than 25 years, Laporte has worked with and led IT teams at many familiar brands. Starting at CKE (Carls’s Jr) where he worked closely with the IT team to implement such technologies ATM/Debit, POS Touch screens and kitchen display systems, and ultimately rolling out new POS.

At Del Taco, he created the specifications and managed the development of all POS custom applications along with in-house developed labor scheduling and Inventory applications. He standardized the Restaurant system platform, preparing the company for aggressive growth. At Coco’s and Carrows, he lead the 275 unit chain’s IT team efforts as they broke away from Denny’s and built their new infrastructure from the ground up (Catalina Restaurant Group) which included: ERP, Back office and POS implementations done in compressed timeframes.

At Grill Concepts (Daily Grill and The Grill on the Alley), he made the move into the Upscale Casual and Fine Dine space and worked closely to develop a growth strategy for them. Standardizing support, building scalable systems and implementing a comprehensive BI platform were among his achievements.

In his current position at El Pollo Loco he has been tasked with leading the IT Team and honing their focus to be closely aligned with the business as the company gets back to basics, prepares for system wide remodels and embarks on aggressive growth.

Laporte’s philosophy about IT is that it should never be a solution looking for a problem. Business requirements are extremely important. It is always so tempting to just implement some new technology but it is important to the brand and culture of the organization to put in extra effort up front and craft the solution so that it looks and feels correct for the company.

He is also an advocate of outsourcing IT and purchasing software off-the-shelf when possible. This is best way to run lean and have the depth of resources at the same time. This also allows resources to be throttled back to minimum levels between projects and to scale up when needed. Creating key mutually beneficial relationships with strategic vendor partners is the best way to stay on top of technology curves, deliver great service and save money through labor and logistical efficiencies.