Nine years ago, veteran restaurateur Rich Shellene ditched his management gig at a corporate restaurant chain and founded Rich’s Burgers-N-Grub in Salt Lake City. With the goal of offering “insanely good” burgers, the restaurant’s 32 handcrafted selections are prepared with fresh, quality ingredients on artisan buns made from scratch. Located in the busy downtown area, the restaurant does a bustling lunch business, serving up to 200 meals between noon and 1:30 daily.
Utah ranks as the best-performing state in the country for job growth and economic performance and Salt Lake City maintains one of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. That’s great for job seekers, but not so great for small independent restaurants looking for talent. “Staffing is a huge issue here,” cited owner Rich Shellene. “We’ve seen an influx of big chains offering higher pay and better benefits.” He calls keeping up with growth “a nightmare” that leaves independents with the least qualified and least motivated employees.
New restaurant competition is also fierce. “Sadly, fast food independents with cafeteria lines are changing the game in downtown Salt Lake,” said Shellene. “They charge less, operate on lower margins and their food is ready to go. They’re teaching patrons that average food is OK and that all food should be drive-thru-fast no matter where you go."
With the restaurant’s old cash register system, staff was hand writing orders and running them to the kitchen order wheel. As many as five kitchen employees could touch the same ticket, often missing modifiers like no onions or no mayo, causing errors and waste. “When food goes to the table and gets sent back, I lose cash, I throw out food and I’ve inconvenienced a customer. I can’t afford to do that,” noted Shellene.
The Need For Speed
“When your customer is walking several blocks to lunch, they can’t afford to wait 15 minutes for food. We have a line out the door every day so my goal was a 6-minute ticket from order placement to delivery of food to the table.” He knew he needed to step up the pace—and the productivity—in the kitchen. This meant that any new system had to be considerably faster than hand writing order tickets and easy for high-turnover employees to use. “I met with a dozen POS companies and told them exactly what I wanted in a new system. Either I’d never hear back or they’d say they couldn’t do it.”
When Shellene met Jim Ngo, CEO at point-of-sale software company Cirra Systems, he knew he was on the right path. Ngo introduced the cloud-based Tavlo RMS application, which could be tailored to meet the restaurant’s unique workflow while simplifying employee training and menu updates. Integrated e-commerce functionality and online ordering options also were big draws for Shellene.
Cirra Systems had just certified Epson’s new line of kitchen display systems (KDS) with built-in printers, and Ngo felt they were an ideal fit for Rich’s Burgers. “We designed Tavlo POS with efficiency in mind,” noted Ngo. “The Epson OmniLink Direct- Connect KDS solution is a great investment—it’s a small cost that pays off immediately. It was built for restaurants that need a reliable controller and printer in one device, and the printer serves as a backup if the display goes down. OmniLink provides our QSRs with great flexibility and aligns perfectly with our business model.”
From Kitchen Confusion to Confidence
The new system at Rich’s Burgers-N-Grub went live in April, 2016. The Tavlo application was set up so that orders go straight from the POS to the kitchen. As the last order for a table is entered at the POS, the push of a button sends the ticket to the OmniLink Direct-Connect U220-i kitchen printer, where it prints the ticket and displays all orders for that table on-screen, with modifiers clearly visible. Line cooks are laser-focused on the display, pressing the bump bar to move completed orders off screen. The printed ticket goes to the cold station, then to an expediter table where staff assembles food baskets and runs food to the tables.
Shellene cites tremendous efficiencies since adoption of the new technology. “The second that ticket hits the monitor, we’re putting the toppings on those burgers. When baskets are ready, we place the printed chit on the first plate for each table. We don’t have to walk over to the monitor, which cuts chaotic foot traffic in the kitchen. We’ve reduced errors, improved order accuracy and cut food waste—all white cutting our prep time dramatically. And, our new employees are up and running in no time. This is the first system I’ve ever seen that is so simple to use that anybody can do it.”
Shellene sees the OmniLink Direct-Connect KDS solution as far more beneficial than a traditional kitchen display system because of the dual ability to print a paper ticket and display the order onscreen. “Our staff absolutely loves it,” commented Shellene, “and the greatest thing is our increased efficiency and productivity— and an amazing reduction in kitchen confusion! Instead of four guys passing a ticket back and forth, they are now glued to that screen. At night when it’s slow, a one-man crew can work all kitchen stations alone, just by using the display.”
“In the best kitchens, people are working, not talking. The more you can do to eliminate talking between cooks, runners and cashiers, the more efficiently you will operate,” noted Shellene. “With our new POS and kitchen display system, I never have to explain tickets. I send them and then I move to my next customer’s order. There are no more questions.”
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