Restaurant Development & Design

MAR-APR 2018.

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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3 0 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 8 Consultant's Take internet drop wiring," he says. Aside from determining the entire IT infrastructure before any construc- tion begins, Schumaker will make room for future additions and upgrades. "Some consultants shy away from overbuilding because they don't want a client to come back with issues about the budget, so sometimes I will specify planned future equipment and put it in the drawings grayed out, noting where all the infrastructure will need to hap- pen," he says. One major challenge designers and developers are facing is how few consultants are providing technology services. "As consultants, understand- ing these various technologies is so important to bring into our practice as we continue to grow and learn and be a part of the development as much as we are a part of using the technology," Schumaker says. "We should be part of figuring how all this is going to help improve peoples' lives and improve business productivity." + One Operator's IT Experience Jeremy Shearer, owner of PRESS Bistro in Johnstown, Pa., knew he needed an upgraded technology platform to improve his operations. Shearer had to do research on his own to first find the platform he preferred and then work closely with that company to tailor the system to his needs. He ended up partnering with two software companies that enabled him to equip servers with handheld tablets that send orders directly to the kitchen. "We wanted our servers to be able to use the system quickly and easily and get orders in as efficiently as possible," says Shearer. "Data was another primary focus — we wanted more than just sales data to be able to glean information to make better decisions about what we're putting on our plates and how we're staffing our crew." Shearer, like many operators, prefers cloud-based systems — not just because of the efficiencies and reporting aspects but also because of the price. "We might have spent $12,000 or $15,000 on a new, traditional POS system, but now we're buying a couple iPads and some peripheral equipment rather than a host of stands, printers and other hardware," he says. Shearer worked with the technology providers to determine infrastructure and Wi-Fi needs based on layout, square footage and volume, which is high at PRESS. "Having strong IT support was something that was very important to us in determining which platform to use," he says. "When we wanted to add a new ticket printer to the cold line, we just called our providers, and they put it where we needed, as opposed to me having to take the time to figure everything out myself." An automatic reporting option emails data directly to managers so they can make on-the-fly decisions. "Our front-of-the-house managers can see the top sales, biggest tables, who their customers are and what they ordered, how long tickets took, what the gratuity was for the servers, and where servers might have lagged in sales, such as apps or desserts," Shearer says. Back- of-the-house reporting shows who clocked in and out at what time, estimated labor costs and other information. Through the system, Shearer can also learn more about his loyal custom- ers — if they aren't coming in and how to get them to come back, for example — and make decisions about menus and new items by looking at sales and performance. Shearer estimates he's saved at least 20 hours or more a month not having to handle all this himself — not to mention the six- or seven-min- ute-plus ticket lag time that's no more, thanks to the handheld server tablets. The new system has also taken a lot of pressure off the busy cocktail bar. Shearer encourages understanding the flow of service and the learn- ing curve of staff. In PRESS's case, the younger staff took to the handheld tablets easily and the system has helped increase sales by prompting the servers to ask about upsells like appetizers or an extra lobster tail to go with the steak. "It's not just about designing kitchens anymore. It's about designing a facility that meets all of the needs of the operator, including technology needs. Our job is to do the footwork and let our client decide."

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