Ask & Answer: Technology at the Table
How has the digital revolution hit your foodservice operation?
We asked a few Restaurants Canada members how they’ve adapted to the digital revolution – and incorporated technology into their businesses. From monitoring employee use, marketing and time-saving tools, here are their answers.
“Being a summer-only establishment, I only have a four-month window to make it all work. 170 of our 249 seats are on the patio, which is quite a distance from our terminals. Over the last couple of years we have tried to experiment with different handheld POS systems, but every time we did, we couldn’t see the screens…thanks to the sunlight. Finally, we found Aloha, a new POS system. They have special handheld designed to work in full sunlight…we’ve been able to reduce our staff but increase our sales and each one of the servers now can handle more tables, which means they have an opportunity to pull in more tips. We’ve just streamlined the whole thing!”
Bradley Oke, Smackwater Jacks Tap House
When a Guest’s Phone Usage Impedes Service
“Phones are an interesting subject matter. They can be a distraction and an obstacle for our servers. Say a patron is on their phone and the restaurant is busy, the server has other tables needing their attention. “I’ll be just a minute” turns into ten minutes later, they are still on the phone and the server has yet to take the order. Fortunately, for us at Smoke ‘N Water, because of our location, Parksville, BC, phones are not nearly the distraction that I imagine they are in many restaurants in downtown Toronto or Vancouver. Phone usage can impede service for the table, and patrons at nearby tables are forced to listen to the conversation. Nevertheless, phones are here to stay – just wish I had invested in the technology 30 years ago!”
David Jones, Smoke ‘N Water
A Marketing Opportunity
“I see almost everyone, patrons, young and old, using cell phones these days – it doesn’t bother me, they are distracted, but we have an app for our restaurants for people to use on their phones. So, I try to find a way to do a little marketing of my own when I see them with their phone out.”
Steve Purtelle, Acoustic Grill
No Cell-Phones, No Problems
“Concerning staff cellphone use, since we have a casual workforce, when all my staff comes in for their shifts, I have a basket. All of their cell phones are turned off and go into the basket. Until they are on break, they don’t get their cell phone back. I keep a close eye on that – I have a zero-tolerance policy for that.”
Patricia (Pat) Spencer, Savoir Faire Catering
Strange but True
“We usually leave the etiquette of phone usage to the customer depending on the kind of restaurant we operate…We have built-in phone chargers and plugs in most of our bars now along with extra chargers behind the bar. It is a service thing…One has to be very careful in imposing your rules on a guest or you will not have that guest. Phones are a reality today and it is very common to see a couple at the table both on their phones texting. Strange but true.
The younger generation are always taking pictures and circulating images. We have a full-time social media person now that is constantly sending pictures of our food, specials, etc. Phones are a marketing opportunity and if you are not engaging the youth you will lose that market share.”
Kevin Murphy, Murphy Hospitality Group