From Ovens to Ice Machines: Restaurant Technology that Can Improve Operations

Restaurant technology continues to get smaller, smarter and more social as restaurant operators look for ways to reduce the cost of real estate, have more intuitive technology on hand and strive to improve the customer experience. There have been a number of new innovations of late that stand to significantly improve the operational management of a restaurant business. Here are a few of the latest restaurant technology highlights.

Smaller, More Intuitive Restaurant Technology

From computer-regulated back-of-the house appliances, to smaller and more efficient front-of-house equipment, there is a mass of great technological adaptations and innovations available to operators. For example, some ice machines now come with technological diagnostics that will warn restaurant operators when there is a problem likely to occur. They have improvements in the program for repair and maintenance, making for less downtime. Fryers are moving toward all-digital control panels, giving operators greater control over the quality of any product that’s programmed in. Temperatures can be set precisely and food can be cooked with a specific timing. There are a number of new environmental cooling options as well. These include a 24.5 inch portable air cooler, with the same footprint as a propane-powered heater, and an evaporative cooling unit that can chill the air in a 14 foot radius down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. This unit uses about as much electricity as a household toaster.

In response to an increased demand for space-saving innovations to help restaurants expand menus, ventless countertop ovens have seen a jump in production and innovation. There are a number of different types of countertop ovens now available.Some of these ovens can convert from a one-item shuttle to a higher-volume conveyor mode at the switch of a button. Drink machines, like Coke’s Freestyle, have also gone counter-size and can now include anywhere from 35-80 drink options.

Home-Made Craft Brews Now Available for Any Restaurant

Speaking of increasing drink options, restaurant owners can also now install their own “home-brew”systems on location, in as little as a 10-by-10 space. These self-contained units are different from your typical brew-pub brewery, most significantly because they bypass many of the regulatory and environmental impact considerations that brew pubs must adhere to. Such systems cost around $57,000 and can produce 1,400 twelve-ounce servings of beer per week. You have the ability to customize the types of beer you offer, paving the way for seasonal and local favorites that are uniquely your own. The craft-brewing industry has grown significantly over the course of the last few years, and if you’re looking for a way to add unique flavor to the drinks that your restaurant provides, a home-brew craft beer unit might be the solution.

More Comprehensive Point of Sale Restaurant Technology

New point-of-sale systems are on the horizon too. Tabletop tablets, for instance, are no longer used to simply place an order. Along with being one-stop devices for employees to perform a number of tasks, they now can include interactive tiles that can really enhance guest interactions. For instance, the tablets can display and promote specials of the day, upcoming events, loyalty program details, links to external feeds and the ability to take pictures and share to social media accounts. They provide a forum for customers to conveniently place and pay for their orders as well as to leave feedback about their experiences—which they do 20% of the time in restaurants who have them installed.

Utilizing these technological adaptations and innovations can greatly enhance the customer and employee experience, as well as improve the return on investment and the overall efficiency of the restaurant. Bottom line: new technology can be a restaurant owner’s best friend, and there are plenty of innovative options available.

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