Restaurant tech

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Self-serve Beverage Brands to Know

5 Self-serve Beverage Brands to Know

by David Klemt

Neon beer mug sign

If you’re an operator who wants to leverage the popularity of self-serve beverages, these are the brands you should consider.

There are several reasons to invest in self-serve beverage solutions:

  • Reducing costs
  • Reduction in waste
  • Guest convenience
  • Guest experience
  • System customization
  • Real-time system management and reports
  • Security

Truthfully, had I been told ten years ago that guests would want to serve themselves beer, wine, and other drinks, I would have raised an eyebrow. It’s possible, sure, but I would’ve been skeptical.

Well, it turns out that I would’ve been wrong. Indeed, today’s guest seems to enjoy pouring their own drinks from self-serve systems.

From convenience to control over their experience, these platforms are proving popular with consumers. An appealing factor appears to be the ability to sample a range of beverages to discover new favorites. And, of course, they can do so without having to purchase full drinks or asking a bartender or server for a sample.

So, below are some of the brands in the self-serve beverage world that operators need to know and consider.

Operator Benefits

In terms of P&L, your bottom line will thank you for embracing self-serve solutions.

First, the popularity of these systems increases sales. Guests can sample an array of drinks easily, choose a favorite or two, and serve themselves at their convenience. Additionally, guests tend to view self-serve systems in a positive light due to perceived value.

Second, an impressive self-serve beverage wall can be a sight to behold. There are venues with 100 self-serve taps and screens, which is an impressive sight. There are also all manner of designs not dependent on a wall. One great example is the rotating self-serve beer system at the Famous Foods Center Bar inside Resort World Las Vegas.

In other words, self-serve beverage systems help concepts stand out among competitors.

Third, self-serve systems allow operators to streamline operations and reduce costs. For example, labor costs can be reduced, as can waste.

And fourth, these solutions can lead to improvements in the guest experience. Not having to wait in line and being able to engage more with front-of-house staff aids in guest perception.

iPourIt

According to the brand itself, iPourIt installed the world’s very first beer wall. Since then, the platform has worked tirelessly to improve their solutions.

One way they’ve improved involves the security and usability of their system. As you’ll see with most self-serve brands that pour alcohol, guests are locked out of these systems without RFID access.

IPourIt offers several types of RFID solutions, from bracelets to fobs. Of course, other systems use similar tech. However, iPourIt prides themselves in offering touch-free RFID access and eschewing the need to leave cards in slots when pouring.

Another benefit is that as long as the beverage isn’t meant to be poured hot or doesn’t have pulp/sediment, iPourIt can handle it.

PourMyBeer

This company is iPourIt’s main rival. When you review how they can improve an operators’s bottom line, it’s not hard to see why.

PourMyBeer claims some impressive stats:

  • 45 percent sales increase
  • 50 percent increase in profits
  • 20 percent reduction to labor costs
  • Less than three percent waste

Like other systems, PourMyBeer can help operators leverage wall space. In addition, a single PourMyBeer screen can control four taps, so a wall doesn’t haven’t to be overloaded with screens.

Impressively, this platform also boasts the most POS integrations among the self-serve systems. Obviously, this is beneficial to the vast array of operators.

Table Tap

For operators looking for both a pioneer in the self-serve space, Table Tap may be the perfect partner. In particular, the use of “underage cards” by underage guests to access non-alcohol drinks is a nice feature. So, children up to early college-age students can get in on the fun.

Standing out from other platforms, Table Tap offers wall systems and table-mounted systems. Truly, offering a self-serve wall and a number of tables with the same tech is impressive.

In fact, if I were to install both solutions I would consider the tables a self-service take on VIP seating. And, I’d charge accordingly. Just something operators may want to consider.

Another cool feature relates to Table Tap’s software. While not the most mind-blowing functionality, guests can control an operator’s sound system via the TableTab ordering platform. Better yet, if an operator charges fees to select songs on their jukebox, TabelTab adds them to guest tabs.

To learn more about Table Tap, give episode 22 of Bar Hacks a listen.

Drink Command

“We do everything self pour, and more,” proclaims the Drink Command website.

Is an operator looking for a killer self-pour wall? Done. Table-mounted taps? Check. What about a self-serve tower, self-serve mobile kegerator, or a heavy-duty, mobile, self-serve counter? Drink Command has all three.

In other words, Drink Command makes it easy for operators to get creative and implement a range of self-pour solutions. Additionally, with mobile solutions, operators who want to expand into catering, pop-ups, and special events can do so easily.

For a list of other benefits—including foam-free beer pours, advertising interstitials, and consumption limits—click here.

Napa Technology

Makers of the TapStation, Napa Technology promises a boost to the guest experience. In part, this is because guests don’t have to wait in long lines at the bar.

Additionally, as stated prior, today’s guest enjoys using self-serve beverage systems.

Unlike other platforms, the Napa Technology TapStation doesn’t rely on wall installations. Instead, TapStation dispensers are available in two- and four-keg systems. These stations can be placed anywhere on the floor rather than a wall.

The TapStation can serve beer, wine, kombucha, and cold-brew coffee, ensuring it’s as versatile as the systems above.

Image: Brad on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Dining Room Tech on the Rise

Dining Room Tech on the Rise

by David Klemt

Printed circuit board with gold details

After years of restaurant technology adoption moving at a glacial pace, the industry now appears to be embracing innovations at light speed.

In fact, in just two short years some in the industry think it may be time to slow down. New tech can be exciting but jumping on every “innovation” is expensive, time consuming, and inefficient.

However, slowing down doesn’t equate to hitting the pause button.

Dining room tech was a topic of discussion at the 2022 Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The two speakers agree that our industry needs to ease off the tech throttle a bit.

However, they also feel that tech innovations in the restaurant space will continue at a faster rate than they did pre-pandemic.

Session host Raymond Howard, a co-founder of Ziosk, interviewed Chris DeFrain and Hernan Mujica about dining room tech. DeFrain is a CPA at Lehigh Valley Restaurant Group, which operators 21 Red Robin franchises throughout Pennsylvania. Mujica is CIO for Texas Roadhouse.

Red Robin

Industry professionals and consumers alike should be familiar with Ziosk. After all, Red Robin has been a client with tech company since August, 2012.

Anyone who has visited a Red Robin has certainly interacted with a Ziosk terminal.

According to DeFrain, there are some interesting consumer behaviors taking place in Red Robin dining rooms. When it comes to tech, guests appear satisfied to place orders for appetizers and desserts via Ziosk terminals.

As DeFrain sees it, the guest would rather not wait for a server for ordering those types of food items. However, guests do seem to prefer ordering entrees from a server.

That’s a positive in DeFrain’s opinion, as he believes that ordering must remain the domain of servers. While he contends that the tech-based ordering process needs streamlining, DeFrain doesn’t appear interested in taking it out of servers’ hands completely.

This makes sense; the server as an integral element of the guest experience. How can a casual dining restaurant build guest loyalty and deliver a memorable guest experience without an engaging front-of-house team?

Of course, dining room tech should do more than accept orders, summon a server, and offer tableside payments. Today, data is king. Powerful platforms collect as much useful data as possible.

To that end, DeFrain appreciates that Ziosk provides data Red Robin leadership teams can share with staff. For example, a server can be shown how much they’re making in tips during their shift.

Finally, DeFrain says that guest usage of Ziosk terminals is improving feedback and comments.

Texas Roadhouse

In comparison to Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse took longer to sign on with Ziosk. In part, interestingly, this was due to the redesign of the terminal itself.

Turns out, Texas Roadhouse waited for a Ziosk terminal that took up less space and looked better on the chain’s tables.

Per Mujica (and any Texas Roadhouse guest), the in-person experience is core to the brand. Therefore, dining room tech must be an enhancement, not a detriment.

Like Red Robin, the chain has no interest in adopting tech that replaces FoH staff.

Another consideration regarding dining room tech should be important to all operators: The tech must be user friendly. According to Mujica, restaurant guests are happy to embrace tech innovations—if it’s easy to use.

So, operators must be careful and deliberate when choosing their tech stack. Generally speaking, native tech users (Gen Z) will likely be much quicker to learn how to use a particular technology than a Baby Boomer or even Gen X counterpart.

As such, operators must know their guests in order to adopt tech that enhances rather than alienates.

Another reason Texas Roadhouse chose Ziosk, per Mujica, comes down to mobile pay. In short, the chain didn’t like the mobile pay guest experience.

In terms of the future, Mujica predicts that handheld, tableside ordering is the future of dining room tech.

Takeaway

Like Mujica says, operators have now seen what tech innovations can do for them. In short, there’s no turning back.

And I agree with Mujica and DeFrain: it’s likely (and necessary) that tech development will slow a bit moving forward. Honestly, we all need room to breathe, consider the innovations available currently, and decide what works best for a particular business.

Likewise, I agree that tech can’t be allowed to alter the service model. Technology shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for staff.

Interestingly, restaurateur David Chang addressed this very subject during a 2022 RLC conversation. In his opinion, tech won’t replace restaurant roles, it will streamline them. At most, said Chang, tech will replace small, repetitive tasks, such as the physical flipping of a burger.

In closing, when deciding on the tech stack, operators should consider the following: ease of use for guests, ease of use for staff, streamlining of operations, and cost.

In this space, tech should never be embraced simply because it’s shiny and new. Not only is that costly in terms of investment, it can cost guest loyalty and visit frequency.

Image: Vishnu Mohanan on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

Square: 2022 Threats & Opportunities

by David Klemt

Square terminal in restaurant kitchen

As all hospitality professionals know, the past nearly two years is imposing rapid change on the industry, necessitating rapid, strategic adaptation.

The key word in the above sentence isn’t “adaptation,” it’s “strategic.”

Of course, it’s hard to make strategic choices without as much information as possible.

To that end, we’ve reviewed Square‘s recently released “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition.” This is the company’s second annual Future of Restaurants report.

Square partnered with Wakefield Research, surveying 500 operators and 1,000 consumers to identify 2022 threats and opportunities.

Threat: Labor Shortage

Most operators aren’t going to want to read this prediction from Square. However, we can’t identify and adapt for opportunities if we don’t acknowledge threats.

Per Square’s report, the labor shortage may never see a correction. In other words, welcome to yet another new normal.

More than 70 percent of operators say they’re facing a labor shortage, per Square. Just over 20 percent of available positions were, at the time the survey was conducted, unfilled.

Instead, operators will likely, according to Square, need to make operational and work culture changes:

  • Improve working conditions. For example, encouraging and acting on team feedback. Another example? Modernizing scheduling.
  • Ensure workers are being mentored and not simply managed.
  • Hire, train, assign tasks, and schedule more strategically to operate with a smaller team.
  • Offering incentives that entice higher-quality candidates to work for you.

One participant quoted in the Square report claims that QR code ordering dropped their labor cost percentage by 150 percent.

Threat: Lack of Tech

As SevenRooms suggested when looking forward to 2022, technology solutions can lessen the burden of labor shortages. That leads us to another big threat: failing to embrace tech.

Some operators bristle at the word “automation.” For many, it conjures an image of robots in the kitchen and delivering food to tables.

Obviously, we’re opposed to replacing staff with any form of automation. However, we support automating tasks if that means team members are better utilized.

Why not automate inventory? Why not automate online order filling? If it improves operations and the guest experience, automation is less threatening.

According to Square’s report, 62 percent of operators think automation is appealing for managing online, delivery, and contactless orders. Ninety percent of operators say that back-of-house automation—if staff can focus on more important tasks—is a good idea.

More than 90 percent think automated inventory is an appealing solution.

It has taken a lot of time for hospitality to catch up to other industries in embracing tech. But Square reports that 36 percent of restaurants upgraded their business tech in 2021.

Of course, automation will become a threat if operators lean too heavily into it and stop paying attention to detail.

Phrased another way, be tech-savvy, not tech-reliant.

Opportunity: Omni-channel

Square see implementing an omni-channel strategy as the way forward. In fact, their general manager for Square Restaurants, Bryan Solar, said the following:

“We see the time of the dine-in only or takeout only as largely done forever.”

Going omni-channel (diversifying) in the restaurant space means making online ordering and delivery important elements within the overall business strategy. To that end, Solar posits kitchens will grow in size to better handle online orders.

Square’s survey reveals some intriguing numbers:

  • 13 percent of consumers say they’ll avoid restaurants that don’t offer online ordering.
  • Among restaurants with online ordering, those channels generate 34 percent of their revenue.
  • Over the past year, 54 percent of restaurants either added or expanded online ordering channels.
  • Online ordering is likely here to stay: 69 percent of respondents plan to offer it post-Covid-19.
  • 24 percent of operators are planning to allow guests to order alcohol from them online.

Another interesting set of numbers pertains to first- and third-party delivery. As we’ve stated several times, we much prefer operators offer first-party or direct delivery. According to Square, 49 percent of operators plan go direct delivery. More than half—62 percent—will pursue third-party delivery. That suggests that some operators will offer both.

Opportunity: Direct Ordering

When it comes to engaging online guests, operators need to control the experience. As I wrote for another publication years ago, a restaurant or bar’s website is still very important.

This statistic proves that statement true: Per Square, 68 percent of online guests want to order via a restaurant’s website or app, not a third-party.

More than likely, a significant portion of those guests want to know they’re supporting a restaurant and its staff directly. Hence the importance placed on ordering via the website or their own branded app.

So, operators would do well to ensure their websites feature an ordering widget. Or, they can opt to have an app built (or at least skinned) for their business.

Opportunity: Kiosks

According to Square’s survey results, 79 percent of consumers prefer ordering from kiosks over ordering from staff.

Most consumers and operators likely associate ordering kiosks with fast food restaurants. However, other categories can also benefit from these devices.

Close to half—45 percent—identified it as a preference when ordering at a casual-dining restaurant.

And fine dining isn’t immune to the convenience of tech. A little over 20 percent of consumers prefer to order via kiosk in the fine-dining space.

Overall, kiosks speak to the guest desires for convenience and safety. More than a third indicated that ordering via digital menu is appealing because they don’t have to touch a menu someone else has touched. And 37 percent like a digital option because they don’t have to wait for a server to bring them a physical menu.

Eleven percent of Square survey respondents will avoid a restaurant if they don’t offer digital menus.

Nearly half (45 percent) of restaurants are planning to offer QR code menus post-Covid-19. Another benefit of digital menus is dynamic pricing. As costs fluctuate, operators can increase or reduce prices easily without printing new menus.

Outlook

Representing a stark contrast from 2020 survey results, nearly 60 percent of operators say the survival of their restaurants is a concern in 2022.

That’s still a high number but vastly lower than how operators answered about 2021. Last year, 92 percent of operators surveyed said they were worried about survival.

According to Square’s report, operators are looking past surviving and making long-term plans. That’s a welcome sign that confidence is improving.

To review Square’s “Future of Restaurants: 2022 Edition” report in its entirety, click here.

Image: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

SevenRooms Announces Olo Partnership

by David Klemt

Cheeseburgers and French fries in takeout containers on pass

SevenRooms continues to grow and develop innovative partnerships.

The platform’s newest partnership benefits the hospitality industry, operators, and consumers.

In joining forces with Olo, SevenRooms further helps restaurants, bars, and hotels position themselves to succeed in an increasingly digital world.

The Bleeding Edge

Olo, which literally stands for “Online Ordering,” predates the iPhone.

In fact, the company launched before smartphones were more than niche devices.

Upon its inception, Olo’s service consisted mainly of sending mobile coffee orders to restaurant printers via text message.

Like SevenRooms, Olo seeks to stay ahead of the consumer behavior curve:

  • 2005: Olo launches, anticipating coffee drinkers will eagerly embrace mobile ordering.
  • 2008: The company predicts fast-casual restaurants will become faster than fast food.
  • 2012: Olo envisions the redesigning of kitchen restaurants to include pickup windows.
  • 2015: The platform sees the future for foodservice is delivery.

Now, Olo is dedicated to making sure online ordering customers benefit from the industry’s digital transformation.

The Partnership

SevenRooms ensures clients who also use Olo can capture their off-premise customers’ information. That data then creates profiles for those customers automatically.

This partnership leverages SevenRooms CRM and marketing automation integration. Operators will be able to send post-order surveys to off-premise, online ordering customers automatically.

So, operators can learn what is and isn’t working off-premise; elevate the experience of off-premise customers to increase online order frequency; convert those customers to in-person guests; encourage repeat visits; and increase profitability.

Moving forward, SevenRooms and Olo users will get to know their off-premise customers better.

“To meet the ever-evolving needs of our hospitality clients, we’ve continued to seek out strategic partners who help us provide an even more comprehensive solution to operators,” says SevenRooms CEO and founder Joel Montaniel. “Our integration with Olo delivers on our promise of offering a 360-degree platform focused on helping operators build deeper, direct relationships across on- and off-premise experiences. This partnership facilitates better operational efficiency and online data capture, ultimately helping operators optimize the profitability of their delivery and takeout business while strengthening customer relationships. We are excited to welcome Olo to our partner network, and look forward to our continued collaboration to drive better, more streamlined solutions for the industry.”

Learn more about SevenRooms here. Click here to learn more about Olo.

Image: call me hangry 🇫🇷 on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Restaurant Tech Map Illustrates Innovation

Restaurant Tech Map Illustrates Innovation

by David Klemt

TechTable - Culterra Capital Restaurant Tech Map sponsored by Back-of-House

The hospitality industry’s embracing of new technologies is experiencing rapid and welcome acceleration in less than two years.

In comparison to the restaurant technology map by TechTable and Better Food Ventures from 2019, there are two entirely new categories: Shared / Ghost Kitchens, and Food Safety / Quality.

More than a dozen platforms on the 2021 map from TechTable and Culterra Capital (sponsored by Back-of-House) now fall into those two categories.

Changing Landscape

It’s a sign of current industry trends and what will matter to guests moving forward that ghost kitchens and food safety are emerging as separate tech segments.

Obviously, the pandemic didn’t create the ghost kitchen category. However, it did fuel a meteoric rise in delivery and takeout. In turn, ghost kitchens are more prevalent than ever.

After all, a former Uber executive Travis Kalanick owns CloudKitchens and Applebee’s is testing a ghost kitchen pilot program.

What was once the domain of murky, unpermitted virtual brands is now its own successful business model.

However, today’s guest isn’t concerned solely with convenience. In general, guests now take their health and safety more seriously since the pandemic

Tech platforms that can ensure the food guests are consuming is safe will ease some concerns.

Increase in Platforms

Again, in comparison to just two years ago, the acceleration in new tech for the industry is astounding. It’s also long overdue.

As a whole, the hospitality industry has been surprisingly slow to take on new tech. Although, it’s fair to say that there wasn’t much new to adopt until somewhat recently.

Now that there’s more to try out, operators seem keen to embrace tech that can help them streamline operations; improve inventory monitoring and ordering; hire employees and manage teams; engage with and market to customers intelligently; and much more.

Even better, the above map doesn’t include all of the available platforms. That’s excellent news as it means operators have an increasing number of choices to help improve their business in every category of operation.

For example, Barventory isn’t listed within the Purchasing / Inventory / Ordering segment. The platform makes taking inventory, gaining a real-time inventory snapshot, and efficient ordering a breeze. Barventory also features the world’s first live keg scale.

It’s challenging to find positives from the past 14 to 15 months. However, one good thing may be the leaps in technology our industry is experiencing.

If they continue, these innovations may make it easier for operators and their employees to recover.

A concept’s tech stack is crucial to operations and will only grow more important moving forward. Whether opting for a full KRG Hospitality package or the Momentum program, we can help operators make informed tech selections.

Map by TechTable and Culterra Capital, sponsored by Back-of-House

Featured image: Pepper by SoftBank Robotics (photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash)

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

McDonald’s Facing Privacy Lawsuit

McDonald’s Facing Privacy Lawsuit

by David Klemt

Statue of McDonald's mascot Ronald McDonald waving

A McDonald’s customer in Illinois, a state with some of the strictest privacy laws in America, is suing the fast food giant.

The largest fast food chain in the world is testing artificial intelligence in select drive-thrus throughout the Prairie State.

In theory, the technology will become a valuable operational element and enhance the guest journey.

However, one plaintiff in Illinois says McDonald’s is violating the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).

AI-powered Drive-Thrus

Two years ago, McDonald’s made two significant technology company acquisitions.

In March of 2019, the fast food company purchased Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million. Six months later, McDonald’s acquired Apprente.

The former acquisition brought “decision tech” to the QSR, using its digital billboards and ordering kiosks to make recommendations to guests depending on preferences, item popularity, and time of day.

The latter purchase is intended to bring automated voice ordering to McDonald’s drive-thrus through artificial intelligence.

Per CNBC, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski says AI is delivering an 85-percent order accuracy rate in its test stores. Currently, AI is taking 80 percent of the orders at ten Illinois McDonald’s locations.

Clearly, McDonald’s is investing in tech the company believes will enhance and speed up the guest drive-thru experience.

Lawsuit

Shannon Carpenter’s class-action lawsuit alleges that McDonald’s “violated BIPA because it failed to obtain proper consent prior to collecting and disseminating Plaintiff’s and the other class members’ voiceprint biometrics who interacted with its AI voice assistant at its Illinois locations.”

Carpenter filed the lawsuit after visiting a McDonald’s location last year in Lombardi, Illinois. The location is one of ten test stores.

The complaint also says, “McDonald’s AI voice assistant goes beyond real-time voiceprint analysis and recognition and also incorporates “machine-learning routines” that utilize voiceprint recognition in combination with license plate scanning technology to identify unique customers regardless of which location they visit and present them certain menu items based on their past
visits.”

In short, the plaintiff is alleging that McDonald’s is violating Illinois’ BIPA law by:

  • collecting biometric information (voiceprints in this case specifically) without consent;
  • not making the company’s data retention policies public;
  • failing to declare how long customer biometric data will be stored; and
  • not starting how the company intends to use the collected biometric data.

So far, McDonald’s has not released a statement addressing Carpenter’s lawsuit.

Customer Data

How much is one’s privacy worth? The price of a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder combo?

Guest data and user privacy is a hot-button topic. For example, Apple made big news this year with the rollout of iOS 14.5 and its accompanying privacy features.

Carpenter’s lawsuit against McDonald’s carries implications for how businesses can collect and use guest data.

However, it also highlights an element of operating a restaurant in our tech-driven world.

It has been suggested by some business experts that the adage “cash is king” should be replaced by “data is king.” And yes, customer/guest data is incredibly valuable.

But so is reassuring guests that their data is safe with a given business. Operators, therefore, should be transparent about what guest data they’re collecting and what they intend to do with it.

And, as the McDonald’s lawsuit makes abundantly clear, there are laws governing the collection and handling of guest data. Operators should ensure that they and their partners are handling guest data legally, ethically, and responsibly.

Image: Vijaya narasimha from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Self-ordering Kiosks Gaining Ground

Self-ordering Kiosks Gaining Ground

by David Klemt

Ordering kiosks and the convenience they offer have become more commonplace, even before the pandemic plunged its claws into the world.

In addition to the convenience factor, self-ordering kiosks provide guests with a contactless option that keeps them and front-of-house workers safer than ordering face to face.

Proliferation

This technology was on its way from trend to operational mainstay long before Covid-19 savaged the planet and tore through the hospitality industry.

The presence of ordering kiosks at the National Restaurant Association Show reportedly tripled from 2017 to 2018. Quick-service, fast-casual restaurants and limited-service were earlier adopters of self-ordering tech.

It took just a couple of years for McDonald’s, as an example, to outfit thousands of locations with such kiosks.

For several months, industry pros and experts have been saying there clearly defined types of guests with which operators will have to contend post-pandemic:

  • Those who will comfortably return to restaurants and bars, treating them as they did pre-pandemic.
  • Those who will return to in-person restaurant and bar visits cautiously.
  • Those who won’t return to in-person dining until they have been vaccinated and are confident others have been as well.

One can see how self-ordering kiosks appeal to cautious guests, along with those who will use them but take their order to-go.

Types of Kiosks

Anecdotal evidence suggests there are three types or styles of kiosks that are most prevalent: terminals, tablets and tabletop systems.

Ease of function and integration has made tablet-based systems popular.

Toast and TouchBistro are two of the most popular restaurant POS systems on the market, and both offer kiosk functionality. Toast is Android-based, TouchBistro is iOS-based.

Some operators choose to mount their tablet-based kiosks on countertops, some create ordering locations with tablets affixed to stands.

There are also kiosk terminals that are similar in size to ATMs, not based on tablets, and Windows-based.

ADA Compliance

Similar to how it’s important for operators to consider their guests and comfort levels with new (or newer) tech, consideration must be paid to ADA compliance when choosing kiosks.

No guest should feel alienated, excluded, forgotten about, or valued less than other guests. Counter- and table-top ordering devices should be easily accessible by all guests, as should tablet-based systems mounted to free-standing pedestals.

Operators who choose larger ordering terminals must appraise such systems on their ADA compliance. Last week, the Kiosk Manufacturers Association posted a 14-point ADA compliance checklist that end users can use to assess whatever kiosk is under consideration.

Kiosk Manufacturers Association ADA checklist

Image: Kiosk Manufacturers Association

One can read through the checklist in its entirety here, which includes such considerations as:

  • Depth, clearance, maneuvering and protruding objects.
  • Assistive considerations like Braille and tactile guidance.
  • Assistive technologies such as speech-output enabled display screens.
  • The Big Seven: Captions, contrast, audio, focus, target size, errors and labels

Self-ordering tech and kiosks will continue to evolve and become part of everyday operations for several foodservice business categories. While they may not become commonplace in the fine-dining space, they’re likely to dominate QSRs and fast-casual, and gain more traction in casual and family dining.

Not every restaurant, bar or hotel will benefit from this self-ordering kiosks. Operators who want to implement this tech must consider initial investment, POS integration, hardware, guest comfort, and ADA compliance.

Image: Christiann Koepke on Unsplash

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