In response to demand for transparency about the food we eat, increasing exposure into where ingredients are sourced, and allergy and dietary information being shared up front, restaurant kitchens are in the spotlight more than ever before.
This transparency into how kitchens operate brings diners closer to the back of house than ever before.
The back of house is moving to the forefront of restaurants. When every touchpoint is connected and optimized, the trickle down makes a lasting impression on the consumers at the front of house.
Check out these four examples of restaurants using kitchen technology to connect guests to their food like never before. After you read, make sure to check out Toast's kitchen display system.
1) Eventide Fenway – Sending Texts to Guests When Orders Are Fulfilled
Eventide Fenway is a fast casual concept serving award-winning New England staples to baseball fans and local professionals.
At Eventide, the guest’s phone number is taken with their order at the front counter. Using an integrated digital display system, Eventide Fenway uses this data to increase speed of service by sending guests a text as soon as their order is ready.
See it in action below.
"The order is immediately fired to the kitchen display screen for the expeditor and the hot line," says general manager John Myers. "With the KDS, the people working the line know exactly how many burger patties and fish filets they need to be prepping at any moment. The expeditor sees that too. It adds a new level of non-verbal communication."
"As each order is completed," John adds, "the expeditor taps a button on the KDS and the guest is notified via text message."
This instant and silent notification made possible by kitchen technology keeps the restaurant moving smoothly and improves the experience for guests in the dining area. Shouting table numbers from the expeditor station can be disruptive to the guests and the restaurant ambiance, but text messages are private and unobtrusive.
Supported by mobile technology, Eventide Fenway has developed a continuous service model that blends the lines between fast casual and full service delivery.
2) Casa del Barco – Ensuring Consistent Service with Kitchen Technology
With a well-optimized kitchen, guests can expect a consistent level of service whether they’re dining during afternoon hours or during the dinner rush.
Matthew Roy, Manager of Technology Operations at Casa del Barco in Richmond, Virginia, says their operations changed completely when they started to think of the kitchen as a production facility.
“There's a lot of hesitation in many parts of the higher end of the restaurant industry to think about kitchens as production facilities,” he says, “But really, that’s what it is. We need to produce a quality meal that's hot, fresh, and ready in a rapid and expedient manner.”
See Casa del Barco's kitchen efficiency in action below.
Casa del Barco’s kitchen works with an oyster bar, sushi bar, and multiple other prep stations. As chefs receive orders that require dishes to be made from more than one station, Casa del Barco allows all the dishes to come together to be served as a single order.
“With KDS, we’re able to integrate those stations with our main kitchen electronically,” Matthew explains. “Each station has their own KDS that they view. They prep the items, send them to expo, and then expo combines the entire order without ever having to walk out. By eliminating paper tickets and using kitchen display screens, we can get the chefs on the line to focus on what matters. They can focus on product quality, product consistency, and getting it all out on time together to provide a better guest experience.”
For guests at Casa del Barco, meals arrive hot and ready every time because their kitchen is optimized and operating off one source of truth. Watch Casa del Barco’s complete story.
3) Homegrown – Putting All Orders in One Place
At Homegrown, an eco-friendly fast casual group in Seattle, the efficiency of the line is essential to the success of all ten of their urban locations.
85% of Homegrown’s business is during the lunch rush, according to co-founder Brad Gillis, and mobile order-ahead is a significant chunk of that revenue.
“Online ordering is absolutely necessary if you want to compete in busy downtown locations,” Brad says. “Not only are people increasingly moving to online ordering, but the mobile experience is so important. Having an online ordering site that feels really natural and integrated on the mobile device is huge.”
See Homegrown's integrated, time-saving online ordering solution in action below.
Online orders to Homegrown are processed exactly the same as in-store orders. They are fired from the online ordering platform directly to the kitchen display screens on the line, improving efficiency, preventing mistakes, and enabling the line to operate at scale without requiring an additional person to staff the phones or ancillary tablet.
“With KDS, our employees never lose a ticket,” Brad says. “You can’t lose it - it’s right there on the computer. It helps us manage the ticket from order to expedite. Staff can see the time clock on each order, which helps prioritize which tickets need to be worked on. There are subtle clues, flashing colors, that indicate that sandwich has been on the line too long. We know we need to get that out to the customer first.”
With this holistic approach to guest-facing and kitchen technology, customers who order online from Homegrown know they will receive the same level of service as if they waited in line in-store.
4) Eastman Egg – Creating a Revolutionary App Built for Guest Needs
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it’s often eaten on the run.
Eastman Egg in Chicago, Illinois is committed to not making their customers choose between quality and efficiency. They’ve developed a custom mobile app that integrates directly with their kitchen display system, ensuring hot egg sandwiches every time.
See how it works in the video below.
“People demand beautiful mobile technology,” says co-founder Hunter Swartz. “With our app, we’re bridging the gap between the physical and the mobile world - in breakfast form. If we can create a consistently great experience for you, you won’t skip breakfast.”
Customers place their order on the Eastman Egg mobile app before arriving onsite. Using geo-location, the app only fires the order to the kitchen when the guest is within a certain range of the restaurant.
“Our customers can’t control their commute and eggs don’t sit very well,” Hunter says. “With the geo-location functionality in our app, we’re telling customers, ‘We can be adaptable to your schedule and still deliver the best product.’”
Back-of-house technology can reduce errors, increase prep times, and reduce waste. While guests may not see them, kitchen systems have a tangible impact on the customer experience.