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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

15 Restaurant Apps to Check Out Now

Monday, August 28th, 2017

We scoured the internet to see what apps are popular and which ones ranked high with users. From dozens of options, these 15 offer to help with all kinds of issues, including inventory management, scheduling, table management, online ordering – even help with opening a second location. Who knows? You just might find your new favorite.

 

7shifts

7shifts.com 

What it is: Scheduling app for restaurants

Provides: Management of staff from anywhere, forecasting of labor costs vs. projected sales, integrated time-clocking feature, notification when employee about to hit overtime

Promises to: Spend 80 percent less time on scheduling logistics

Best for: Any restaurant or hospitality company with multiple employees  

 

Bar and Club Stats 

barandclubstats.com

What it is: iPhone/iPad, Android ID app

Provides: ID scanner to ensure customers are in your bar or ordering drinks legally

Promises to: Help you deter underage drinking

Best for: Anyone who serves alcohol, high-volume bars and clubs  

 

BlueCart 

bluecart.com

What it is: Supplier/inventory management app

Provides: One-click ordering for all your suppliers in one step; manage inventory from your phone, check in orders when truck arrives

Promises to: Reduce time spent on ordering; decrease returned orders by 82 percent, cut food waste in half[

Best for: Any restaurant, hotel, supplier, wholesaler or distributor  

 

ChowNow 

chownow.com

What it is: Online ordering system with custom-built iPhone and Android ordering apps

ChowNow

Provides: Ability for customers to place orders directly from restaurant website, Facebook page and apps branded to your business; dashboard that shows top spenders, amount in sales and more 

Promises to: Increase number of orders and free your staff from the phones

Best for: Anyone offering to-go orders or delivery  

 

Find Me Gluten Free 

findmeglutenfree.com  

What it is: Smartphone app  

Provides: Allows diners who eat gluten-free to find restaurants that cater to their needs

Promises to: Promote your restaurant to diners who eat gluten free  

Best for: Gluten-free restaurants or those marketing gluten-free menu items  

 

Kitchen CUT

kitchencut.com

What it is: Cloud-based software and app for entire F&B operation

Provides: Supplier management, recipe costing and menu planning, allergen tracking, nutritional analysis, track your kitchen waste and more

Promises to: Give you more time for customer engagement, creativity and innovation 

Best for: Restaurants and bars  

 

Nowait 

nowait.com

What it is: Waitlist management app recently acquired by Yelp

Provides: Reservations, wait lists and seating by sending alerts to guests via smartphones

Promises to: Eliminate need for expensive pager equipment, organize waitlist and plan seating; diners can browse restaurants by wait time and add themselves onto your wait list, then receive a text when their table is ready

Best for: Restaurants looking to ditch the pagers  

 

Orderly 

getorderly.com

What it is: Invoicing and inventory app

Provides: Paperless invoicing, automated accounting and easy inventory.  

Promises to: Automate spend reports, show price trends, cut inventory time by 50 percent

Best for: Any restaurant big or small  

 

Partender 

Partender

app.partender.com

What it is: Smartphone app to quickly measure spirits at end of night  

Provides: Consumption analytics to help you spot check variances, ID your top movers and dead stock

Promises to: Inventory your bar in 15 minutes; save you up to $10,000/month

Best for: Bars; any restaurant with full ABC  

 

Restaurateur 

What it is: iPhone/iPad-based app for opening a new restaurant  

Provides: Ability to sketch out a business and financial plan, profit & loss statement; chart operating expenses and project revenue

Promises to: Provide documents to negotiate rent or prepare for banks and investors  

Best for: Those planning to open another location or a new restaurant concept  

 

Schedulefly 

What it is: Web-based employee scheduling app

Provides: Create, post and manage weekly schedules online, including coordinating time off and shift changes 

Promises to: Help you avoid costly overtime and forecast labor costs.  

Best for: Any restaurant or hospitality company with multiple employees  

 

Truckily 

truckily.com

What it is: App to manage your food truck’s digital presence

Provides: Ability to share and update food truck location via Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare; send push notifications to diners when your truck is near; schedule locations for up to a year out

Promises to: Be your social media hub

Best for: Food trucks  

 

Uncorkd 

uncorked.biz

What it is: iPad-based wine menu

Provides: Ability to keep wine, liquor, beer and cocktail menus updated in real time; information and pictures that shows customers each bottle’s origin, vintage and recommended pairings.  

Promises to: Potentially boost wine and beverage sales by 20 percent or more

Best for: Any restaurant with a beverage program  

 

When I Work 

wheniwork.com

What it is: Mobile employee scheduling app for iPhone and Android  

Provides: Ability to set up employee schedules that can be accessed or viewed by employees and managers 

Promises to: Save an average of 8 hours/week on employee scheduling and attendance, reduce employee no-shows and improve accountability by 25 percent

Best for: Any restaurant or hospitality company with multiple employees  

 

Zuppler 

zupplerworks.com

What it is: Order fulfillment platform

Zuppler

Provides: Online ordering to your existing website with menu images, upsales and social media integration

Promises to: Match your existing brand’s appearance; provide client demographics, top customers and delivery heat-map

Best for: Any restaurant looking to add online ordering  

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Turn Data Into Dollars

Monday, August 28th, 2017

By Christy Simo 

Rich Chey. Photo by Sarah Newman

Whether it’s cloud-based POS systems, mobile loyalty apps or iPad POS systems, Georgia’s restaurants are continuing to integrate technology into their business model – and taking advantage of the data collected in the process.  

One such restaurant owner who is benefiting from using more technology is Rich Chey, who operates Osteria 83 Pasta & Pizza, Dragon Bowl and two Doc Chey’s Noodle House restaurants in Atlanta along with a third Doc Chey’s in Asheville, N.C. 

For many years, his company, HomeGrown Restaurant Concepts, used a loyalty card designed much like a credit card – customers showed the card when dining and got discounts and deals, and servers swiped the cards to keep it current. A few years ago, however, the company switched to a mobile loyalty app. Now, Chey says, there’s a lot of information at his fingertips.  

“We’re able to track their spending history – how much they spend, what they like to order. It’s pretty detailed, a lot of information on our customers’ spending habits,” he says. “We use it a lot for marketing, either through text messaging or through email, and communicating with these guests.” 

Chey can also use the data to thank regular or high-spending customers with customized rewards.  

“We segment our customers based on their spending habits,” he says. For instance, the company offers a birthday reward to all of its Karma Club members, but the amount’s not the same across the board. “It really depends on what your spending habits are and what your frequency of service is, the level of your gift,” he says. “So if someone only comes in once a year or a couple times a year, their birthday reward is going to be very different than someone who comes in every week.  

 

Tracking Trends

Chey’s switch from a physical loyalty card to an app tracks a larger trend in the restaurant industry. As people continue to rely on apps and smartphones to manage their lives, they’re expecting restaurants to do the same – and to interact with them that way, too.  

 “There’s this whole movement toward engagement and the dining experience. Having the guests involved in what we’re doing and the decision-making gets them more invested in what we’re doing. It helps with their brand loyalty.”  

According to Technomic, a research and marketing firm for the foodservice industry, that trend is impacting several aspects of how restaurants do business. Yes, guests think tech is important, especially at limited-service restaurants (LSRs) like the fast-casual segment and those restaurants that offer take out and delivery. At these types of places, 38 percent of respondents think technology amenities are very important – that number is even higher with the millennials (between the ages of 18 and 34), 50 percent of whom think it is very important.  

People also want to read menus on their phone, with 44 percent wanting restaurant websites to be mobile-friendly. Nearly half of 18-34 year olds also want to be able to place orders online or through their phones.  

Guest interaction with technology is not confined to quick-serve or fast-casual restaurants, however. In full-service restaurants, some 26 percent of consumers have used a tabletop tablet, with 38 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds doing so.  

“Customers ordering for themselves is going to definitely become more common,” Chey says. “All of our concepts are fast-casual at lunch, and table service in the evening. At lunch I could see having self-serving kiosks where people just order [for] themselves.”  

And while retail businesses have been mining data for years, it’s only recently that the restaurant world is getting in on the game. While several years ago there may have been only a few main players when it came to software for inventory management, seating diners or scheduling employees, now there are dozens of companies intent on helping you run your business better through technology. (See page 14 for more on some of these popular apps.)  

Many of the apps and cloud-based software, which typically run on iPads and smartphones, collect information on customer preferences – what time they came in to eat, how long they stayed, what they ordered, etc.  As more restaurants continue to incorporate the technology into their business, however, it’s led to another asset that was once overlooked – all that data that accumulates, both about your customers and your business.   

“Big data” – the big buzzword in the business world – is the huge amounts of information stored within those apps and software that can be analyzed to reveal patterns, trends and associations about human behavior and interactions. From what your customers order and how long they stayed to their drink preferences and whether they prefer to sit inside or out, it’s information that restaurant owners used to have to rely on their instincts and observations for but is now almost instantaneously at their fingertips.  

 

What That Data Can Do

So now that you have all this information, what do you do with it all? While the sheer volume of data generated can seem daunting, it is immensely helpful, especially since many of today’s cloud-based software and apps include ways to analyze the data it provides. Here’s just a few ways you can use big data to your advantage: 

Test specials and get immediate feedback. Chey often asks Karma Club members to provide feedback on menu specials.“We tend to use the feedback with the new menu items or with specials,” Chey says. “We always have our idea of what the customer will like, and sometimes we’re right on, and sometimes we’re way off. So it’s usually better to get a little feedback on that first before we actually roll it out.” 

Streamline your product inventory. No more clunky excel files and stacks of paper invoices. Today’s inventory management apps offer paperless invoicing, automated accounting and the ability to see price trends and track inventory turns. So you can determine why, exactly, your food costs went up one month to the next, or even week to week or day to day. 

Know whats up with your employees. You can get more accurate information on the number of sick days, vacation or hours works per week for each of your staff, how often they’re working at each of your locations, working opening or closing shifts, and more.   

Provide precisely tailored products or services to different types of diners. You can narrowly segment your customers based on anything from how often they eat at your restaurant to whether they order vegetarian dishes to how often they order take-out.  

“We can segment those guests based on what their frequency is or their spending levels are,” Chey says. “We can get a better idea of what our really regular guests feel about what we’re doing, as well as just the occasional visitor.”  

Create a more effective menu. Figuring out which items are big sellers and which ones aren’t – and why – used to take time to figure out at best, and was a guessing game at worst. Some apps provide information to help you price menu items more effectively, promote specials and to which group of diners, and determine which ones are too costly to keep on the menu.  

Boost employee performance and loyaltyEspecially with younger employees, managing their shifts or communicating with managers via an app makes life easier for them, too.  

“With the millennials, they’re definitely more comfortable with this kind of management tool. … They’re comfortable with the interface and the fact that we can communicate with them fairly seamlessly and as frequently as we want to,” Chey says. “It’s a really good thing. The whole excuse of ‘I didn’t know I was working today’ just goes away.” 

Some apps even can tell you how often you’re selling appetizers and dessert and which employees successfully upset more frequently than others. Not only could this help boost server performance, it can also show managers where more training may be needed.  

As restaurant owners become more comfortable with using these apps and software, many predict the industry will start to change as a result. Restaurants will eventually start customizing their offerings to suit individual guests through everything from menu offerings to server behavior. And these types of technology are not just for the big chains or big-city restaurants. In fact, according to industry research firm SMB Group, 18 percent of small and 57 percent of medium-sized businesses of all kinds are already using what it calls “business intelligence and analytics solutions.”    

For Rich Chey, who also uses 7shifts for scheduling employees and Aireus, a cloud-based POS system, it’s not only helped the bottom line, it’s allowed him to free up his time to focus on building his business, not doing the busy work.  

“We all kind of look at this administrative stuff as being necessary evils. We don’t really enjoy doing it, but we have to do them,” he says. “A lot of these tasks that aren’t making any money, you’re spending less time on those, and you can actually spend more time on tasks that either improve your customers experience or increase sales.”

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6 Steps to Creating Influence on Social Media

Friday, October 14th, 2016

By Ellen Hartman

Restaurants of all sizes – whether popular independents or large franchise systems – have long known the benefit of influencer marketing. In previous generations, this style of marketing was known as a celebrity endorsement and was either carefully crafted and paid for, or happenstance – a local or national celebrity frequented a restaurant and instantly increased the spot’s cool factor. Think Frank Sinatra at Patsy’s or, more recently, President Obama at Five Guys.

Today a celebrity can create buzz without ever setting foot in a restaurant. Through the power of social media, a tweet can have the same effect as an actual visit. Moreover, that tweeter might not be a household name. While celebrities of the past were politicians, entertainers or supermodels familiar to the masses through traditional media, today’s influencers appear on the stages of YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram, and those with the most followers reign supreme.

Though the two approaches are as different as the generation gap, they do share a common goal – adding credibility and cachet. And in today’s message-flooded world, influencer marketing goes a long way to breaking through the clutter with messages that potential customers immediately trust.

So how do restaurateurs attract celebrities of the virtual kind and their followers?

  1. Know who you are. The first step is easy. Know your product and your core customer. Any good restaurateur understands their unique offering and core customer, but who is most likely to influence them?
  1. Decide on a social media platform. To find the most likely influencers, simply apply this understanding to social media platforms. For example:
  • Instagram: Is your offering picture-worthy, and are your customers younger? Instagram is all about visually appealing content, and the platform caters to non-whites and young adults. According to the Pew Research Center’s 2015 study on mobile messaging and social media, 55 percent of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Instagram, as do 47 percent of African Americans and 38 percent of Hispanics.
  • Snapchat: Have a very youthful customer base and a fun, video-friendly story? More than 80 percent of Snapchat users are under 45 and more than 60 percent are between the ages of 13 and 34.
  • Twitter: Is your restaurant located in the city center, and does it attract a younger set of customers? Twitter is a good bet, as 30 percent of online adults under 50 use Twitter, and users are more likely to live in urban areas than suburban or rural locales.
  • YouTube: Does your restaurant feature an entertaining chef, boast an interesting location and have an older customer? YouTube has its share of vloggers that capture large followings and has a broad demographic reach, reaching millions well past 65 according to an April 2015 study by DigiDay.
  • Blogs: Blogger demographics are as unique as their blogs, but they offer multiple opportunities and advantages, including a dedicated website, loyal followers and, more than likely, a strong social media presence.
  1. Pinpoint influencers. After prioritizing the social media platform most likely used by your customer base, it’s time to start identifying thought leaders that have influence over these customers. Apps and software can help pinpoint influencers within your niche, including FollowerWonk or Klout.

Alternatively, go back to step one and start with what you already know. A simple Twitter, Google or hashtag search using your restaurant’s name may uncover online or social media influencers who already love your brand. Or, if you are frequently in your restaurant and it’s appropriate, ask your customers about their social media habits. Are there certain social media platforms they use? Influencers they follow?

Most importantly, according to CODA Concept’s Angela Stringfellow, influencers:

  • Are actively engaged through blogging, social media or other online channels
  • Have a large following of your target audience members
  • Identify with a topic that’s relevant to your brand
  • Consistently generate engagement around related posts
  • Have engaged with other companies and/or similar content
  1. Start the conversation. With a list of influencers to target, it is time to start the conversation. Remember that this isn’t just a pitch, it’s the start of a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship. So start slowly. Familiarize yourself with the person’s interests by reading their content over a reasonable span of time. Then show interest by liking, sharing and commenting on their posts.
  1. Introduce yourself. Finally, when you are familiar with the influencer’s overall approach, reach out with information about your brand, yourself and your vision of a working relationship. Remember, the influencer can offer a great service to your brand, so approach the introduction with humility and, if possible, what you might offer the influencer as part of the give and take of the relationship. Do you envision a full brand ambassador program? Can you offer free meals or other incentives?

Not all the influencers may want to engage with your brand. That’s fine. Some may be too busy or may not see it as the perfect fit you envisioned. Don’t worry, when it comes to a good influencer campaign, quality is better than quantity.

  1. Launch your campaign. With that, your influencer marketing program is ready for the final step: launch! As you move forward, it’s important to remember that this isn’t about a single tweet or post. A good influencer campaign is the result of strong relationships between your brand and your partners, and, just like all good relationships, will flourish with ongoing cultivation and care.

Ellen Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the CEO of Hartman Public Relations, a full-service public relations agency specializing in the foodservice Industry. Hartman has experience working for Coca-Cola, Concessions International, Chili’s, Huddle House, First Watch, Tropical Smoothie, Billy Sims BBQ and Uncle Maddio’s Pizza and many QSR brands including Popeyes, Church’s and Arby’s. An industry leader for more than 25 years, Hartman is active in the Women’s Foodservice Forum, Les Dames d ’Escoffier International and has served on the board Georgia State University School of Hospitality. She earned her APR accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America and is a member of PRSA’s Fellow program for senior accomplished professionals.

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Get On Board the Restaurant Technology Train

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

By Charles Marvil

In 2015, there was a 72.1 percent turnover rate. Sounds bad doesn’t it? And yet it is lower than pre-recession rates that, according to the 2015 NRA Forecast, averaged 80 percent.

Compounding the turnover issue now is the fact that the labor pool of employees is shrinking and wage increases are becoming mandated around the country. Operators are going to have to deal with these issues by increasing productivity, increasing prices, increasing the use of technology or a combination of all three.

To top it all off, a new generation has entered the workforce and is changing the rules of the game when it comes to how to recruit, train, manage and retain your employees. This young group is different because it has never been without the Internet or mobile technology.

If you want to hire the best employees for your company in today’s world, you’ll need to make a radical shift in how you interact with potential staff. Several established and new technology platforms can help the restauranteur navigate this shift and address the issue of retention.

Finding and Training Good Employees

Recruitment, or getting the word out that the operation is hiring, is typically done through a job posting site such as Craigslist, Indeed or Monster. But to keep up with the current “on demand” economy, recruiting tools like Hirewire (hirewire.com) offer an alternative.

Using Hirewire, an employer creates a profile of the job they are hiring for. The potential employee also creates a profile, which includes experience, availability, location and salary requirements. In addition to the traditional profile information, employees create a video profile of themselves that is included in their overall package.

Hirewire analyzes the two user groups, employer and potential employee, and sends a notification to the employer when there is a potential match. The employer can then contact the potential employee via text message to set up a time to meet face to face.

Founder and CEO Chau Nguyen says the video component has saved a tremendous amount of time and effort for the employer, as it gives them the ability to quickly determine whether there is a good fit based on initial communication skills. Currently the product is in beta mode and is being offered to employers for free to try. By this fall, Hirewire plans to begin offering the product using two potential pricing structures: frequency of hire (pay per hire) or, for larger employers, a subscription service.

Once the employee has been hired, the hospitality operator should provide an adequate amount of training to prepare the employee to interact with the guest. Many organizations do a good job providing this training, however, many small, independent operators are so stretched that providing training for new employees may be something along the lines of “Hi, welcome aboard. Here is your employee manual, read it when you have time. Here is Joe, follow him around today and watch what he does. You will be on the floor tomorrow as a server.”

Unbelievably this scenario is commonplace, but PeopleMatter (peoplematter.com) can help. PeopleMatter provides an operator with a way to offer training for employees that is effective and relatively easy to enforce. Since Millennials constantly access the Internet, PeopleMatter offers a number of training modules that are appropriate for the hospitality industry, and they offer the ability to create customized video training appropriate for the operation.

The platform allows for quizzes to ensure that the employee actually is retaining the needed information. All of this training is designed for desktop and mobile access, is trackable and can be put together in advance. This way, a new employee can be hired, given a link to the required training modules and be asked to complete them before reporting to work for their first day.

The PeopleMatter platform is very robust. In addition to the training module (LEARN), it includes modules for hiring (HIRE), scheduling (SCHEDULE) and data analytics (PERFORM). The PeopleMatter platform is extremely customizable and is well-suited for larger independent operations or multi-unit operators of typically five or more units.

Solving Scheduling Hassles

Scheduling has always been a hassle for any hospitality operator. In the “old days,” schedules were frequently created using an Excel spreadsheet and a request book that was usually hidden in the manager’s office.

Schedules were done at the last minute because the manager was too busy dealing with every other issue that arises in the restaurant. The schedule may have been posted or emailed the day before the next weekly schedule started, creating anxiety for many employees as well as the management team. Often when a group of employees all wanted the same day off, such as a major holiday, it created sen more problems.

Several technology platforms help relieve the stress of scheduling and provide improved lines of communication between employees, including ShiftNote (shiftnote.com) and HotSchedules (hotschedules.com).

Both allow the manager to create a schedule online then distribute it either via email or a text notification. Employees are able to make schedule requests electronically, although the manager must still approve the request. A manager can also restrict the number of employee requests for certain days, such as a major holiday, and the employees can search ahead and know this in advance.

In addition, swapping a shift with another employee can be done electronically, taking this responsibility out of the manager’s hands and putting it in the hands of the employees. Because there is an electronic record of the transaction, there cannot be a “he said, she said” situation if an employee does not show up for a scheduled shift.

These software programs interface with various POS systems and allow for clock-in enforcement. If an employee is scheduled for 9 a.m., the software will allow the employee to sign in up to 9:05 a.m. (or whatever window the manager establishes). After that time, the employee must get manager approval before clocking in.

In addition, scheduling software uses sales and guest count data to help predict future sales data, thereby providing proposed staffing level based on historic data. By comparing scheduled labor dollars with actual labor dollars, the manager can control labor costs more effectively.

One additional component that both ShiftNote and HotSchedules incorporate is the concept of a manager’s log book. Not surprisingly, both put the manager’s log book online, which allows for remote access by managers, owners or the corporate office. The log book is useful for tracking shift notes, employee issues, repair needs, accidents, inventory and much more. This type of technology is effective for improving company communication levels.

The hospitality industry is first and foremost a people-to-people business. No amount of technology will completely remove this element from the business. However, as wage rates increase and the labor pool shrinks, operators are forced to come up with solutions that will allow their employees to do their jobs more effectively and easily.

The next generation of worker is in the pipeline and completely comfortable with technology. Millennials are looking for an employer who shares this ideal, and when they find this fit, they are able to step into the gap and provide employers with quality work.

Today’s operators cannot expect to communicate in the same way they have communicated previously. Pen and paper is out, email is out, text and short video is in. By considering the capabilities of software platforms like Hirewire, PeopleMatter, ShiftNote and HotSchedules, hospitality operators will be able to attract, train, manage and retain the next generation of hospitality employees and leaders. It’s time to catch this technology train before it pulls away from the station.

 

Charles Marvil has more than 35 years of experience in the hospitality industry, including hotels, restaurant management and POS technology. He is currently a full-time instructor in the Michael A. Leven School of Culinary Sustainability and Hospitality at Kennesaw State University. 

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Restaurant Technology to the Rescue

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

By Kevin Hogencamp

Penny pinching in the restaurant business is one thing. Freeing up 10 hours of your manager’s time each week to focus on what matters most – the food, menu and customers – is another.

That’s what Chris Smith says a Georgia technology firm’s app for ordering, invoicing and inventory is doing for the Savannah business he co-owns, Zunzi’s TakeOut & Catering, which serves sandwiches, salads and more with Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch influences.

Orderly Snap appSmith says the Orderly app (www.getorderly.com) enables Zunzi’s to manage food costs, remove data entry from the restaurant’s daily duties and operate virtually without paper.

In short, the app produces a more efficient operation and a stealthier bottom line, he says.

“We’re pushing more customers through the line because my manager is able to be more productive with this time,” Smith says.

While most restaurant chains and franchises have automated, proprietary processes that increase efficiencies, many independent operations have been left behind by technology.

That’s why Mark Haidet says he helped launch Orderly through his company, Siftit Inc.

“I was frustrated with our manual processes and lack of information for running the business,” says Haidet, who is also co-owner of the Atlanta-area Takorea eateries.

Haidet says that when he asked his operating partner “why we were so bad at the back-of-house processes,” he was told that’s the way it is in most restaurants.

That didn’t sit well with Haidet, whose business management career is heavy in the information technology arena.

So he assembled some fellow restaurateurs to help him better understand the pain points and – over the past three years – has steadily developed simple, flexible technology solutions with Orderly.

For Smith, taking inventory no longer involves clipboards and spreadsheets; rather, he and other Orderly customers simply snap a photo of invoices with their smartphone or tablet. The technology and the people behind it do the rest, including integrating suppliers’ data, and restaurant bean-counters can access every invoice online and produce detailed spending reports

Orderly customers can get acquainted with the invoicing service by using a free app – and then upgrade to premium services. Later this year, Orderly will release a plate-costing module that will provide real-time cost-effectiveness data by menu item, giving restaurants control of their profitability.

Haidet says the way he looks at it, embracing technology takes away the way need for restaurant operators to have an MBA.

“We make all those processes paperless, painless and online,” he says.

After initially focusing on the Atlanta market, Orderly now has customers nationwide. Haidet says Orderly has doubled its business in the past year and now processes more than $10 million a month in customer orders and invoices for more than 1,500 restaurants.

“We will continue to evolve and be driven by our customers’ needs combined with our experience in process and technology design,” he says.

Smith says that his experience as a Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisee helped him appreciate the importance of putting systems in place at Zunzi’s. So he knew from Day 1 that the Orderly product – which does not have an upfront fee and costs $100 to $250 per month depending on the customer’s choice of available modules – was a sure thing.

Smith says Orderly’s value to Zunzi’s will increase exponentially when he expands the concept to other locations.

“The chaotic, frenetic pace in a restaurant is too much and too important for the manager to have to worry about data entry,” he says.

The National Restaurant Association says that its yet-to-be-released 2016 survey shows that while most restaurant operators agree that innovation can help their business, many don’t embrace new technology because of the cost and perceived complications involved.

For restaurants that other equipped to embrace technology, it’s a matter of which app or software to implement.

And getting started.

Turn Tables Faster and Reduce Identity Theft

Tavernpointe restaurant’s Patrick Reels says that until recently, he discouraged large groups from splitting the check individually.

It was time-consuming for the servers and, thus, a burden on other customers.

Now, Reels uses splitting checks as a selling point at the Midtown Atlanta restaurant, which opened at the corner of Spring and Peachtree streets last summer.

“Before, when people would get bold enough to ask, ‘Can you separate our 70 checks, and I’d say, ‘Uh, no,’” he says.

Awkward.

“Until this app came out.”

Split ApplicationThe app is Split (www.payandsplit.com), an Atlanta company’s innovation that aims to reduce the time and friction associated with serving large groups by enabling diners to view, pay and split their checks directly from their phones.

Reels says the free app is a godsend at Tavernpointe, which does a huge chunk of its business in its spacious private dining room.

“The customer simply tells the server they are paying with Split, and the tab magically appears on their phone; from there, they can pay their share with the app,” Reels says. “They don’t even have to see their server again – because, you know, when you’re ready to go, you’re ready to go.”

The tab can be split among diners or by menu item, and customers can share the bill with friends by tagging them. The app integrates directly into your POS and does not require extra hardware. Transactions are handled behind Split’s PCI-compliant gateway, eliminating the risk of identity theft when customers hand off their cards.

“It’s really like the greatest thing ever in this business,” Reels says, noting that customers without the app can pay their bill the old-fashioned way.

“I wish this had come out a long time ago. All of us in the restaurant industry would have made a lot more money,” he says.

Split CEO and co-founder Jimmy Patel says restaurants whose customers use the app are turning tables up to 15 minutes faster because diners don’t have to wait on servers, and servers don’t have to wait on credit cards to process.

Patel says the app is a much more robust all-in-one-mobile solution than originally intended. For example, customers are able to privately rate their experience, and restaurants, in turn, can directly market to customers with the app.

“The point of payment isn’t the end of a diners’ experience, but the beginning of their continual engagement with the restaurant,” Patel says.

Also, Split customers can view menus, order takeout and pay in advance through the app.

Patel says the enhanced customer experiences are paying off at the cash register for Split’s restaurant partners. On average, Split customers’ tab amounts are at least 10 percent higher, and their tips are 4 percent higher, he says.

Split is the first app from The Ampersand Group, a mobile development company that specializes in productivity tools for the restaurant and hospitality industry. The 1-year-old company, which charges a monthly fee to participating restaurants along with a cut of transaction fees for take-out orders, recently expanded beyond Atlanta.

Earlier this year, Split was awarded with the title of FinTech Innovation of the Year Award by the Technology Association of Georgia.

“We will continue to improve and innovate upon the platform we have already built while adding additional services to help our restaurant partners deliver the best guest experiences in the business,” Patel says.

Launch That Cooking Class or Pop-up Dinner

Atlanta’s Robert Neidlinger has been in technology sales for 20 years. But he’s a lifetime foodie at heart who seeks out opportunities for social dining experiences and to enhance his kitchen skills sans culinary school.

Often, that hasn’t been so easy.

“In Atlanta, there were always great cooking classes and wine tours and other food-and-beverage events out there, but the information was not in one place, so they were hard to find,” he says.

Not, anymore.

Last year, Neidlinger launched CulinaryLocal (www.culinarylocal.com), a ticketing platform and marketplace for Atlanta-area restaurants, businesses and organizations that host food and beverage events. His company profits from charging a percentage for each ticket sold.

CulinaryLocal’s 100-plus partners include Pine Street Market, The Cook’s Warehouse, Bellina Alimentari, Symposium Wines and others who host cooking classes, popup dinners, wine-and-chocolate pairings, walking food tours and other events. CulinaryLocal donates 60 percent of its service fees for nonprofit fundraising events to The Giving Kitchen, an emergency assistance nonprofit for restaurant workers facing hardship.

“What we’ve developed is a beautiful showcase of their events online, along with a platform to help them sell more tickets,” Neidlinger says.

CulinaryLocal not only posts events on its website, it advocates for them by assigning “ambassadors” to write articles and promote the events on social media.

“Food is very visual art and needs to be showcased rather than treated just like everything else,” Neidlinger says. “We’ve quickly become experts in event marketing, so we’re constantly working with our partners on how to promote their events to get the most traction.”

Pine Street Market Chef Rusty Bowers credits Neidlinger and CulinaryLocal for boosting attendance at his Atlanta business’s whole hog, sausage-making and cured meat classes – while strengthening the Atlanta food-and-beverage scene.

“He’s a great promoter for us all, and he’s getting us in front of people who’d never heard about our company and our shop,” Bowers says.

Because CulinaryLocal is exclusively a platform for authentic culinary experiences and not simply a promotional avenue for restaurants, some event submissions are rejected.

“We vet everything that comes through,” Neidlinger says.

Prevent Inventory Loss

One week. That’s how long it took for Josh Carden to conclude that paying $100 a month to have White Columns Country Club’s refrigeration units’ temperatures continually monitored is an outright bargain.

A walk-in cooler quit working on a Sunday night, and the Milton country club’s food and beverage operation is closed on Mondays.

A text alert sent to Carden from Atlanta technology company VeriSolutions (www.verisolutions.co) saved more than $5,000 in food from spoiling.

“We made a call and got it repaired right away. Tuesday would have been too late” to save the food, says Carden, the Milton country club’s executive chef.

Founded in 2015, Atlanta-based VeriSolutions offers mobile applications that, in addition to directly saving customers’ money by preventing losses, ensures compliance with safety protocols in the restaurant, hospitality and healthcare industries.

“We were focused on building a solution that enables people to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to monitoring their refrigeration devices,” says VeriSolutions founder and CEO Michael Crocker.

VeriSolutions’ integrated software platform communicates with a network of sensors and runs on cellular data networks, so no internet connection is necessary to keep customers constantly plugged in their refrigeration units’ temperatures. There’s no installation costs or upcharges – just a standard monthly fee.

Carden says he impresses White Columns’ health inspector by showing her daily reports providing temperature readings every 30 minutes from each of the country club’s 11 refrigeration units. Along with receiving immediate notifications when the temperatures vary from his 33-to-42-degree threshold, Carden is emailed a customized summary report at 6 a.m. daily.

“The first time I showed her the report, she said, ‘That’s spectacular. I love your commitment,’” Carden says.

Crocker, whose background primarily is in the medical image software business, says VeriSolutions has plans to expand its monitoring services to employee handwashing.

The company’s foundation, he says, is to develop and provide cost-effective solutions that improve efficiency and safety compliance.

“I don’t think we’re revolutionary,” Crocker says. “We’re evolutionary.”

Enhance Your Guests’ Experience

Retail Data Systems, the mega-provider of point-of sale (POS) hardware and software, also has new technologybased solutions for restaurants.

Among them is software that enables staff members to use a tablet to take tableside orders, manage customer seating, set up reservations and text customers when it’s time to be seated. Integrated into the restaurant’s POS system, the mobile solution aims to enhance the guest experienceand increase speed of service, says Garry Easterling, sales manager for Atlanta-based RDS Southeast.

“It’s becoming high in demand at table-service restaurants,” he says. RDS also recently rolled out a restaurant solution that, among other attributes, displays videos of menu items on kitchen monitors. This technology shows kitchen staffers “what dishes should look like before they are plated and served to the customer,” Easterling said.

Postec, a 29-year-old Roswell-based provider of POS solutions for the hospitality, retail and grocery industries, also took a major technology step forward this year by adding Toast, an all-in-one mobile POS and restaurant management system to its portfolio.

Unlike with on-premise POS systems, Toast’s software updates are performed over the web and at no charge to customers. Also, Postec’s customers can manage online ordering, gift cards, loyalty programs and inventory over the web.

Alan Wright, Postec’s vice president of sales, says Toast’s applications provide an affordable, functional and serviceable cloud-based solution for Postec’s customers.

“Until very recently, the tradeoff between cloud-based solutions and reliability was too great for most professional operators to absorb,” he says.

Now, when it comes to what technology can do for restaurants, the future is wide open

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Preventing Cyber Intrusions

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Data breaches can happen to anyone, from large multi-location restaurants to mom-and-pop spots, so protect yourself with these tips

By Ellen Hartman

The idea that cyber-thieves would target a Dairy Queen probably seemed laughable once. But that’s just what happened in 2014 when a malware called Backoff infected 395 Dairy Queen stores nationwide, along with more than 1,000 other businesses, including P.F. Chang’s and Jimmy John’s locations. Hackers exploited a weakness in point-of-sale remote access tools to steal customer credit cardholder data.

When a breach like the ones attributed to Backoff happen, the ramifications go beyond the immediate financial impact to profits. Affected restaurants also face the risk of losing customer trust. Stores in Georgia, for example, are required by law to immediately inform consumers about breaches, defined as “the unauthorized acquisition of electronic data that compromises the security, confidentiality or integrity of personal information.”

Chick-fil-A recently faced such a situation. In December 2014, reports that the Georgia-based chain might be the common connection for a data breach impacting almost 9,000 debit and credit users surfaced. Chick-fil-A issued a statement in response promising that guests would not be liable for any fraudulent charges and that Chick-fil-A would provide for free identity protection services, including credit services, to affected customers. In the end, however, Chick-fil-A’s investigation revealed no evidence it was compromised, and the chain issued another statement saying it had “no reason to believe that any customer’s payment information was stolen or at risk of being stolen from Chick-fil-A.”

Incidents like those are why the issue of how to protect consumer data has become an area of great interest to lawmakers and lobbyists on the state and national level. And with good reason. Credit card fraud cost U.S. consumers and businesses more than $6 billion in 2014.

“We are seeing several bills on the hill intended to direct merchants on how to prevent and handle credit card breaches,” says Laura Knapp Chadwick, director of commerce and entrepreneurship at the National Restaurant Association (NRA). “As an industry, we want to have a voice and show that we’re doing what we need to do to protect our customers’ data.”

To that end, the NRA is developing a set of new foodservice-specific resources. Those will debut in October of this year. In the meantime, we talked to Chadwick about the ways restaurateurs can prevent and respond to breaches.

Two-Step Prevention

  1. Become PCI compliant. The first line of defense against would-be hackers is making sure your payment operations are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant. There are 12 requirements, ranging from installing and maintaining a firewall to restricting physical access to customer credit card data.

“The process can be time- and capital-intensive, but the likelihood that you’re going to be breached decreases significantly,” Chadwick says. “And if you aren’t compliant and there is a breach, the credit companies could fine you out of existence.”

  1. Invest in enterprise security. PCI compliance covers the processing of payments. But restaurants store data for up to 90 days in case of customer disputes. Hackers know this.

The good news is that such attacks are now preventable.

“The widely published ‘best practices’ are effective,” Chadwick says. “And the good news is there are experts who can help.”

Enterprise security best practices include:

  • Application Whitelisting. Create a list of applications authorized to run to protect your computers and networks from harmful software.
  • Application/Operation Systems Patching. Track, download and apply security updates to your computers on a regular basis.
  • Restrict Administrative Privileges. Limit administrative rights to only those who need them, then ask them to limit high-risk activities such as browsing or e-mailing from third-party accounts.

Implementing and optimizing these practices protects your hardware and network from infection by preventing malware from exploiting weaknesses. Think of it in terms of your home. Whitelisting is an invitation to enter. Patches are the locks that keep unwanted intruders out and administrators hold the keys.

A Strong Response

Industry best practices for handling a breach are also effective, Chadwick says. She suggests restaurateurs familiarize themselves with resources like the Weil’s “Security Breach Notification Laws Data Privacy Survey 2014,” which outlines a plan of action should a breach occur.

Weil suggests the following:

  1. Secure Your System. Prevent further data loss by working with cyber-security experts to isolate any malware and fix any breaches.
  2. Analyze the Breach. Work to understand what type of information was comprised, the risk to consumers, who needs to be notified and who is responsible for related costs.
  3. Implement a Communications Plan. Prepare to relay information to the public and regulatory bodies in a consistent and strategic manner.
  4. Understand Your Liability and Rights. Speak with legal counsel to determine if civil suits are a possibility.

Chadwick urges operators to be as vigilant about prevention and advocacy as they are with food safety in their stores. “It’s about continuous education and monitoring,” she says. “You wouldn’t check the temperature on your refrigerator once then forget about it. Same thing with your network.”

Ellen Hartman, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the CEO of Hartman Public Relations, a full-service public relations agency specializing in the foodservice Industry. Hartman has experience working for Coca-Cola, Concessions International, Chili’s, Huddle House, Frist Watch, Fresh To Order, Billy Sims BBQ and Uncle Maddio’s and many QSR brands including Popeyes, Church’s and Arby’s. An industry leader for more than 25 years, Hartman is active in the Women’s Foodservice Forum and Les Dames d ’Escoffier International and has served on the board of the Georgia State University School of Hospitality. She earned her APR accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America and is a member of PRSA’s Fellow program for senior accomplished professionals.

 

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Ready to Book Your Ticket for Dinner?

Saturday, August 1st, 2015

By Charles Charles MarvilMarvil

High-end restaurants often face the dilemma of “no-shows” and have used several creative ways of preventing this from happening. Unfortunately, the methods used, requiring the guest to provide a credit card number in advance, calling the reservation the day before to confirm and emailing a confirmation have not prevented the customer from changing his or her mind at the last moment.

When this happens in a high-end restaurant with few seats and high average checks, the effect can be damaging to the restaurant’s revenue and overall profitability. Taking a cue from the airline industry, Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, Next and The Aviary in Chicago, has created a ticketing system, Tock Software, (www.tocktix.com), that allows the customer to pre-purchase a number of seats and prix-fixe meals, thereby eliminating the economic impact of a no-show. Much like an airline, if you miss your flight/meal, you will need to rebook your ticket/dinner.

That this system benefits the restaurant is without question, however, according to Kokonas, there are also benefits to the customer, primarily transparency. In the traditional reservation booking model, a customer calls a restaurant and is frequently told, “No, I am sorry we cannot accommodate your party of 4 at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night.”

The frustration level is significant for both the customer and the restaurateur who would like to accommodate more guests, but cannot. With the adoption of the Tock software, however, all available times and table sizes are outlined clearly on the web, and a guest can choose what available time is most suitable. Frustration is reduced, and the reservation is booked much more efficiently, with no back and forth calls or emails.

The Tock website notes that operators will enjoy the benefit of “big data.”

“There is a big difference between parsing data — how many people ordered this menu item vs. that, red wine vs cocktails, etc. — and offering up actionable data,” Kokonas says. “Check average IMO is a worthless statistic, and yet pretty much every restaurant tracks that. Here’s why: Restaurant ABC has a check average of $45pp. By changing their menu around, they now average $55pp. Looks like improvement. It’s even the case that they’ve kept the same number of customers, so revenue has gone up. However, the labor to produce the new menu has changed a great deal, and while they are only open an hour later per night (people are staying longer) the staff is also getting in earlier in the day. So at the end of the month, your POS data looks great, yet your EBITDA is lower.

“Tock tracks five points of time: arrival, seated, first food, last food, egress,” Kokonas adds. “Then we compare that over time to optimize the revenue per seat minute. This may mean, as it did at Aviary, that we should seat more three-course tastings between 6 and 7 and not even start a la carte until 7:15. Very counterintuitive, but [it] had a huge improvement in revenue per seat minute. It’s about yield management, not solely increase in revenue. And of course, the reduction in no-shows, on time arrivals, etc. is improved significantly by booking with Tock.”

Tock software works well with high-end reservation-only restaurants as well as being adaptable to less high-end, more traditional restaurants, and, in the case of The Aviary, bars.

So how does the system interface with POS systems, and how is a “deposit ticket” credited in bars?

“It’s very simple,” Kokonax says. “We issue a report via Tock crediting each deposit ticket to a check. When the server has the final a la carte bill, they simply indicate in the POS which deposit type was made and it subtracts that amount from the bill and notes it.”

The software isn’t just for high-end, reservation-only restaurants.

“Tock makes sense for all restaurants that take reservations because it is web-based, has a super clean and modern interface, is hardware agnostic and saves a great deal of money vis a vis competing systems,” he says. “More importantly it allows a restaurant to create ‘experiences’ rather than reservations, so they can easily create and market items like a chefs’ tasting menu, kitchen table, private dining or special events, and co-mingle those simply with ordinary zero-cost reservations.”

What also sets Tock apart from other, similar options is its ability to sync across restaurants within a restaurant group, not just for individual locations.

“We had cases where a great Next customer who had been in 20+ times arrives at Alinea, and the systems we had in place would not share information,” he says. “So we’ve now built Tock by restaurant group, not only restaurant. That was a huge step for us, and I believe it will solve that problem. Ultimately we want to know if a great customer comes into one of our places regardless of whether that’s in Chicago or eventually NYC or Singapore.”

Tock software is being deployed in restaurants in Chicago, San Francisco, Arizona, New York and soon in Yountville at The French Laundry. Kokonas says there are two restaurants in Atlanta that will begin using the software this summer.

The software is priced at $695/month/restaurant and is hardware neutral. Statistics provided by Tock software show that software users reduce no-show percentages from approximately 12-14 percent down to 1-3 percent, indicating that the ROI is significant in most cases. Additional data analysis and menu implementation, as shown above, also provides an additional ROI.

The question now is whether this system of booking a table, like booking an airline reservation, will catch on.

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Pouring On Innovations – Stats and Novo Cucina

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

By Helen K. Kelley

While restaurant owners are always seeking out ways to increase efficiencies and improve the bottom line, they are also continuously working to enhance the customer’s experience and satisfaction. New and evolving technologies are providing restaurant owners and managers with innovative ways to achieve these goals.

Tapping Into Potential

Legacy Restaurant Partners - Jeff Sime

Jeff Sime

One area where technology has helped make the diner’s experience more positive and improved the restaurant’s bottom line is in beverages. There are several self-serving beer and wine dispensers on the market that can help make the diner’s experience more enjoyable, track what beers and wines are popular and how much is consumed, and enhance the waitstaff’s ability to serve customers well.

STATS Food + Drinks in downtown Atlanta serves a lot of beer. Located in the heart of the city’s tourism district – which includes the Georgia Aquarium, the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights and more – and a short walk from the Phillips Arena and Georgia Dome, it welcomes lots of tourists and sports fans alike.

The restaurant features five bars, 70 high-definition TVs and nearly 16,000 square feet of restaurant and private event space. It also features table-top beer dispensers built into nearly a dozen of its tables.

Seven years ago, the restaurant was the first in the U.S. to install TapTable units, which feature two kegs and taps through which diners may self-pour their own beers without ever leaving their seat. After a contained hood fire caused the restaurant to close for repairs last fall, the restaurant’s team decided to upgrade their beer systems to the TableTender beer dispensing system (www.thetabletap.com).

TableTender is a long-draw glycol-cooled beer system with taps located on the tables. The kegs are remotely located inside a cooler. and the beer lines are run out to the tables, hidden in the floor, through walls or in the ceiling of the establishment. Glycol, a liquid chemical that can maintain relatively low temperatures, is circulated throughout the entire piping network to ensure the beer is ice cold once it is poured into the glass.

TableTender monitors the amount of beer poured to provide accurate and user-friendly reporting. Each table has its own display, featuring the quantity of ounces that have been poured from the tap, and records real-time information. Flow meters and valves, designed specifically for beer, allow the system to control and record the flow. The dispense information is also transmitted to the TableTender software, which allows management to view dispense data and run reports.

The TableTender beer dispensing system has increased both pouring efficiency and guest satisfaction at STATS Food + Drinks, according to Jeff Sime, vice president of operations for Legacy Restaurant Partners, which operates STATS and multiple other restaurants in the Atlanta area.

“We upgraded to the TableTender system so that we could monitor and enhance the beer service at our tap tables at Stats,” he says. “There are two separate taps available at each table – one dispenses a common domestic brand of beer and the other dispenses a craft brand. Guests can choose to sit at a table that has a beer they prefer or would like to try.”

Orders are placed and regulated through a tabletop iPad system that shows guests exactly how much they’re drinking, down to the ounce. With its regulating and reporting features, TableTender ensures that management has the necessary controls on the system to promote responsible drinking.

The benefits for the restaurant are threefold – it keeps waitstaff from having to constantly bring refills, which then allows them to better attend to their guest’s other needs, and every drop is paid for by the customers, including any pour off. Plus, managers are able to track trends in customer preferences, comparing sales of different beers as well as determining which tap tables have the highest sales.

If a particular beer isn’t selling well, management can change out that keg for a different beer. Tabs are run at a main portal and later, the information is taken from that portal and run through the restaurant’s POS system to generate the customers’ bills. Sime says the system’s tracking capability is probably its most important feature.

“TableTender provides an inventory reconciliation function that tracks every ounce of beer that’s being dispensed through the draft lines at each table,” he says. “It eliminates the possibility of human error, such as overpouring a glass or accidentally filling a glass with the wrong beer and having to discard it,” he says. “We know exactly how many ounces have been consumed, and the customer is billed for every ounce that he or she pours from the tap.”

As for the guests, they experience the convenience of immediately pouring a glass of their chosen beer, without having to wait for a server. Plus, they don’t have to leave their table. In turn, this self-serve capability creates a more efficient system for servers.

“The server doesn’t have to take the order, go to the bar, wait for the bartender to fill the order and then return to the table,” Sime says. “Servers are able to spend more quality time with the guests, ensuring that they’re being hosted appropriately, and attend to their other duties more efficiently.”

When asked if there were any challenges in implementing TableTender, Sime says there have been only a few small difficulties, such as the need to change out kegs of beer more frequently for larger parties.

“The efficiencies far outweigh any of the smaller issues we’ve encountered with the technology,” he says. “Making the upgrade to the TableTender technology was a great decision.”

Uncorking Opportunity

riccardo ullio

Riccardo Ullio

Novo Cucina, the new restaurant concept by Atlanta chef Ricardo Ullio, features an innovative way to both serve wine and save on the bottom line.

Using the Enomatic wine system, the restaurant’s wines are held unoxidized and at the perfect temperature, extending freshness and preserving them for up to four weeks after opening. This gives restaurants the freedom to expand their wine list or even offer tasting menus without worrying about wasting a whole bottle of wine when it’s ordered by the glass.

When a diner orders a glass of wine, the system dispenses the liquid directly from the bottle using inert gas preservation, preserving the flavors and characteristics of the wine for more than three weeks as if the bottle had just been opened. Waitstaff can input the exact amount of wine to be poured each time. This allows guests at Novo Cucina to sample its wine offerings before deciding on a glass.

The system helps regulate portion control, allowing the restaurant to virtually eliminate waste due to overpouring or mistakes in selection. And, it also self-cleans the pouring spouts after each pour to ensure maximum hygiene.

“We offer a refreshing list of boutique wines at our wine bar,” Ullio says. “The Enomatic ensures that our guests can sample whatever they desire and then enjoy a perfect glass of wine, every time.”

Ullio and partner Mike di Paolo also implemented a unique card system that allows patrons an easy way to explore the restaurant’s many offerings.

The restaurant features a “greatest hits” of menu items from Ullio’s other intown Atlanta restaurants, Sotto Sotto and Fritti. It also has a unique way for diners to pay for their meals.

“The card, which is the size of a credit card, can be used for your tab from the moment you walk into the restaurant,” Ullio says. “Whether you order something from our wine bar or gelato counter, enjoy cocktails or coffee, or place an order from your table, each transaction is recorded on the card for the duration of your visit. Then, you simply pay on your way out.”

Di Paolo engineered the card system, which has created an unprecedented level of convenience for customers. In addition to keeping track of customers’ tabs, the cards provide an easy way to create separate checks for individual customers or divided parties.

“The card removes the worry of transferring items among customers,” Ullio says. “With individual cards, customers don’t have the hassle of dividing up the check at the end of their meal – and they only pay once.”

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New Fresh To Order App Now Available

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Fresh2OrderFresh To Order (f2o) now offers a new mobile app, where guests can pay for their meals and earn rewards through their cell phones. The Fresh To Order App is now available through the Apple App Store and Google Play for iOS (iPhone) and Android platforms. The Fresh To Order App will integrate with Apple Passbook (Apple’s mobile wallet) and Google Wallet beginning in October. Fresh To Order will accept NFC (Near Field Communication) payments through the app starting in 2015.

The app also offers a loyalty program and exclusive rewards. For a limited time, guests can get a $3 credit at sign-up and earn an additional $2 credit by referring a friend. Guests will also receive $10 credit on their next meal when they have $100 in purchases.

“Fresh To Order continues to innovate our menu, service model and now its digital platform by introducing a mobile app which helps us maintain leadership in the “fast-fine” niche,” said Pierre Panos, CEO of Fresh To Order. “Whether they’re looking for the closest location, want to preview our latest menu options or use their phones for payment, we’re providing our guests with a rich digital experience in the palm of their hand.”

With the new app, guests will be able to quickly browse the selection of cooked-to-order panini sandwiches, salads and chef-inspired entrees, including grilled salmon and brown sugar roasted pork loin.

Mobile apps continue to be a growing part of the restaurant experience. According to FastCasual.com, 32 percent of Millennials look at restaurant menus online via a smart phone. With a spending power of $1.3 trillion, it becomes a business imperative that restaurants offer a variety of relevant ways for them to access their favorite restaurants.

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Retail Data Systems Deploys End-to-End Encryption and Tokenization on the NCR Aloha POS

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Retail Data Systems, a NCR Aloha POS provider, recently deployed TransArmor, an end-to-end encryption, tokenization security solution, in production for the first time.

Utilizing a tamper proof connected terminal encryption device integrated through the Aloha POS, which collaborates with vault decryption technology at First Data, TransArmor makes the data of no use to fraudsters and hackers from the time of swipe, or EMV chip read, through authorization, and token issuance. Since the data is never exposed in the clear, reformatted and scraped from memory, or stored at the merchant, there is nothing to steal. This particularly deters the remote access breach attempts from organized crime groups across the globe.

“Retail Data Systems collaborated with NCR Corporation and First Data Corporation to deploy a solution that removes card data from the customer environment while at the same time reducing merchant liability, and further lowering PCI reporting effort requirements while introducing token technology that can increase sales and loyalty,” says Jeff Barrett, General Manager of Retail Data Systems Payment Services Division.

For more information, visit rdspos.com.

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