Man vs. Machine
Casual dining chain Olive Garden said this past April that it will roll out Ziosk tablets at its more than 800 restaurants by the end of 2015. Ruby Tuesday began testing tabletop tablets from Dallas-based Ziosk in September. The tablet and encrypted credit-card reader sits on each table and enables guests to see menu items, play games, view news and entertainment, order food and beverages and pay on demand.
As more restaurants incorporate some form of tablet technology, Ravelo says, “many will allow the guest to control their entire ordering and payment experience; many will chose to empower the server with efficiency tools; and some will completely automate the process,”
Berglund of Red Cedar Spirits thinks most restaurants will end up transitioning to tablet menu ordering. “It is much easier to customize and use, and much more portable than traditional POS computer stations and software,” he says.
Implementation is fairly smooth as well, although Greer at The Ledford House admites that “my older waitresses didn’t want any sort of computer anywhere near them, and thought the new POS tablet ordering system was an instrument of the devil when we first got it.” But now even the older staffers have embraced it, because the technology is simple to use and it makes their jobs easier, he says.
Not that he, or most operators, expect to replace staff with tablet altogether. “I will still want my servers to provide personal and exceptional service to my customers,” Geer says. “I won’t want customers to enter their orders directly into tablets themselves, but I believe tablets in the hands of our staff will continue to make restaurant operations smoother, more efficient and more enjoyable for customers.”
Maura Keller is a freelance writer based in the Minneapolis area.
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Since bar and restaurant workflows vary based on concept, size location and so on, operators have to find a point-of-sale system that meets their unique needs. Many systems offer customization options to suit an establishment’s requirements.
For example, users of the First Data’s Clover POS system can customize their experience with the Clover App Market, which has more than 100 apps. These include Homebase, which manages employee scheduling and customer age verification, which makes it easy for employees to check age requirements before selling alcohol or cigarettes.
Some apps enhance the checkout experience for customers, says Mark Schulze, head of the Clover App Market. For instance, the Fortune Cookie app adds a fortune quote to guest receipts. For bartenders, there’s Bar Tab Auths, which lets a bartender know if a credit card has enough funds without charging a specific amount.
TouchBistro, a wireless, iPad-based POS system, also offers customization for floor layouts, allowing changes to seating plans on the fly based on the configuration of the day. Its customization program also includes menu items, daily specials, tax setting, serving staff data and security setting relevant to different roles.
And with the MenuPad POS system, nearly every feature of the software can be turned on or off, or configured in multiple ways, says Chris Ravelo, vice president of operations at MenuPad. “The app configuration is controlled on our cloud-based MenuApp control panel, which is accessible from any Internet connected device.”—MK