At Carmel Café & Wine Bar in Sarasota, Florida, mobile point of sale technology is literally “on the menu.” At this innovative new modern Mediterranean (“Mod Med”) establishment, guests can order, modify, and pay for their dining selections with a unique iPad mobile point of sale (POS) application called MenuPad. MenuPad is a mobile POS system designed to operate with existing POS systems, making the system easy to incorporate into a restaurant’s operations. At Carmel Café & Wine Bar, the MenuPad application communicates with back-of-house computers from Micros.
The Point of Sale News was recently fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit Carmel and experience interactive dining in person. On a recent Sunday at brunch time, we tested out the mobile POS system and ordered some tasty treats. MenuPad is from Australian firm NetStart, and Carmel Café & Wine Bar has incorporated the software from the start, allowing the small chain of restaurants to work with the mobile POS company to customize the system to its specific needs. Our experience with the MenuPad system was impressive; the software was both simple to use and easy to understand.
The server’s traditional role of order-taker is replaced with technology when a mobile POS menu is implemented. However, the still server plays a crucial role in introducing guests to the iPad itself and the software it is running. Our server walked us through the various options and functions within the mobile POS application and explained everything in terms even a techno-phobe could understand. Ordering was seamless, and when it was time to pay, we were settled up and out the door with only a few taps and swipes. No more being late to the theatre because of a server “in the weeds” splitting credit cards 5 ways!
Carmel Café & Wine Bar founding partner Chris Sullivan, who also co-founded Outback Steakhouse, had nothing but great things to say about the mobile POS operations offered by the application: “MenuPad cuts operator costs, increases customer satisfaction, and improves productivity.” It is clear that for restaurant concepts integrating mobile POS, everyone wins.
We spoke with kitchen staff, servers, and management at the Sarasota location, and all parties agreed that the system cuts down on errors and congestion in the kitchen. From the guest perspective, mobile POS ordering allows the customer to control the timing of the meal and gives a greater sense of control of the dining experience. Whether you are in a hurry and need to eat and run or want to enjoy a leisurely dining experience, with mobile POS ordering on a tableside tablet the power to time your dining experience is now quite literally at your fingertips.
One crucial feature of mobile POS tablet menus is the flexibility they afford management and kitchen staff who need to make last-minute menu adjustments due to price changes or item availability issues. No more 86-ing an item in one POS station and then having it still show up in others. Gone are the days of havoc wreaking price differences between paper menus and POS terminals. Carmel co-founder Chris Sullivan believes his restaurants are ahead of the technology curve: “In today’s tough economic climate, operators need new tools to survive and succeed. This technology has the potential to contribute to the success of any restaurant operator. It is interactive, empowering, and engaging.”
Of course, there are people for whom iPads are still totally foreign. Yes, it’s true: those people still exist. And for them, Carmel Café offers a paper menu alternative to its slick, standard mobile POS terminals. Even kids will find something to entertain them while mom and dad enjoy interesting wine pairings and innovative small plate options; each iPad at Carmel Café is equipped with an app to check the latest scores as well as a few games to keep those technology-obsessed youngsters engaged.
Carmel’s concept is an excellent example of the way that restaurants can integrate exciting mobile POS technology into not only their day-to-day operations but also the very identity of the concept. Looking around the dining room, other guests were clearly enjoying the interactive experience of manipulating the mobile menu and customizing their creative cuisine options. Clearly, mobile POS is the wave of the feasting future. Our experience with this particular mobile POS application left us excited about the possibilities and eager to see further innovative ways in which this technology can benefit not only the hospitality industry, but also healthcare, retail, spas and salons, and much more.