Peer POS Review

By William Atkinson | March 10, 2008

Are you in the market for a new point of sale system? A sneak peek at Hospitality Technology's 10th annual Restaurant Technology Study tells us that one in five restaurant operators will look to replace their POS system within the next 12 to 24 months, with a keen eye to systems that can offer accounting and financial solutions, labor management, and business intelligence capabilities.

If you're among the 20-plus percent about to embark on a POS shopping trip, take a look at what these restaurant operators have to say about their recent upgrades in HT's POS Peer Review. And watch for the complete Restaurant Technology Study in the April issue of HT.

Peer Review 1: Feature Rich
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurants (Portland, OR) has found success with the latest offering from Squirrel Systems (www.squirrelsystems.com). "We have been using Squirrel for a number of years, and it has been a good fit for us," reports Thomas Yee, manager of information technology. "We like the functionality of the data, which feeds some of our back office systems, including payroll."

Currently, McCormick & Schmick's utilizes the SquirrelOne POS, which can run on Squirrel's own Workstation 8 platform, as well as other platforms, including IBM SurePOS (www.ibm.com) and Posiflex Jiva series (www.posiflexusa.com). McCormick & Schmick's utilizes the Workstation 8 platform for its SquirrelOne POS. "The system integrates the card swipe for the security of the server or manager, along with the ability to ring up orders and settle checks using a magstripe credit card reader," Yee states.

"Another thing we like about the latest Squirrel POS technology is that the screens are larger, which gives us some expansion capability, since our menu changes every day for lunch and dinner," he states. "This is a nice item to have, since so many items go on and off screen every day."

Yee expects to continue to use Squirrel. "We continue to use their latest releases and upgrades to better benefit our restaurant operations," he notes.

Peer Review 2: Small in one
The Jiggershop Ice Cream Parlor (Mt. Gretna, PA), made the dramatic switch from paper and pencil to the latest in POS technology. The Jiggershop now uses NCR EasyPoint Advantage POS kiosk hardware (www.ncr.com). It is an all-in-one technology platform that features placement flexibility, in that it can fit virtually anywhere in any environment. It weighs only 11 pounds, measures three inches in depth, and has a bright, industrial-grade display.

"Most of the vendors we contacted promised the same things in terms of power and features," states Drew Allwein, general manager of The Jiggershop. "For us, though, it came down to a space issue, because we are very tight for space." The Jiggershop is an historic restaurant that has been around since 1895, and it only has so much room available. "I don't think we're alone with that problem," he states. "A lot of restaurants, especially established ones, have all of their space accounted for." So, according to Allwein, if a vendor says, "Set the machine on the counter," that doesn't mean much to him. "I don't have any extra counter space," he explains.

Until the restaurant adopted the NCR EasyPoint, servers had been using paper and pencil to figure customers' receipts. "We needed a machine that would do everything we needed, but would do it in a small space," he states. He found a lot of small machines, but the keypads were so small that servers couldn't use the keys, and the screens were so small that servers couldn't see them.

NCR EasyPoint solved this problem. The technology was programmed for the restaurant by NCR RealPartner Wirehead Business Technologies (www.wireheadz.com). "They were able to turn the screen on its side and create a vertical presentation," states Allwein. "For us, that was immensely important."

Size doesn't compromise performance, though. "We like the speed," he continues. "We have up to 16 servers, each of them independently figuring customers' checks. The machine works so fast that they can calculate all of the bills at the same time."

Peer Review 3: PC-Free
Kahala Corporation (Scottsdale, Ariz.), franchisor of a dozen quick service restaurant chains, including Cold Stone Creamery, and Blimpie, is testing the Panasonic (www.panasonic.com) Stingray JS-950WS workstation. Kahala is implementing a new strategy with the system, which involves removing the back office PC.

Richard Vale, in-store technology architect for Kahala, commends the JS-950WS for its "flat out power" in being able to handle this new strategy. "The previous one had a smaller processor, and it could not run back office software," he notes.

Kahala has been a Panasonic user for quite some time and just installed its second 950WS unit. "One reason we selected them again is because they handle both the hardware and software," Vale reports. "We had quite a few stores that already had older Panasonic equipment, and it had always proven to be convenient and reliable."

In the future, Kahala will be looking at new hardware applications for scanning and line busting - using a wireless or handheld terminal to take orders from customers while they are still in line. "We are also looking at changing the technology on the gift card to use less software, making it more of an on-line solution, going through the Panasonic POS," Vale adds.

Panasonic's JS-950WS workstation offers open architecture that allows it to run on almost any operating system and software. Its modular design allows for easy hardware customization and upgrades. A high-speed processor (up to 2 gigs of on-board RAM) provides enough power to run robust applications. The unit also offers a built-in full-screen LCD display for promotions and improved order confirmation and accuracy, and user-replaceable components, such as the LCD display and hard drive.

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