With 54-units across Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois, Miller's Ale House (www.millersalehouse.com) seeks to differentiate itself in the crowded casual dining market by offering a mix of proprietary items across the entire chain, coupled with specials menus that are unique to each location. This combination offers patrons who travel from city to city both the familiarity of favorite items, and the chance to try local cuisine. For its information technology needs, then, Miller's Ale House required strong centralized admin-istration, coupled with flexibility and unit-level customization capabilities. When it came time to seek a new POS solution, Glenn Brown, information technology director of Miller's Ale House, was also looking for a system capable of handling high-volume operations.
"Prior to seeking a new POS solution, the company used a software solution that had a lot of legacy code and features that included a lot of moving parts that were baggage," notes Brown. "The previous POS application didn't have above-store reporting or centralized management integrated into it, and when we were looking at PCI compliance it would have forced us to do another upgrade to accommodate the necessary changes." At that point the company decided to look for alternatives, and the EverServ TSR from PAR (www.partech.com) made the short list of possible solutions.
About a year and a half ago, Miller's Ale House began upgrading the POS hardware in its stores to PAR EverServ 6000 terminals and all new locations are now installed with terminals running EverServ TSR software. "We like the design of EverServ 6000 and we have been very pleased with the reliability of the terminals," notes Brown.
The POS solution provides chain operators with an integrated approach to every aspect of guest service. "It's very intuitive for the employees and it is easy to customize the screens," says Brown. "EverServ TSR makes it easy for employees to do the main functions we need from a POS, as well as things like split checks and discounts."
EverServ TSR also offers benefits for Miller's above-store executives and its IT staff. EverServ provides Miller's with access to its own data via a SQL database. The solution’s architecture is built on a single server stack that allows the company to use the same software from the store level up through the entire enterprise. "We like that it is all written in Java and platform-independent," reveals Brown. "For example, if some day we decided to push hard on using Linux, we would not be locked-in, in terms of either hardware or software."
Another benefit Brown credits to EverServ TSR's use of Java is improved memory management. "We had had issues of 'memory leaks' with other POS systems, where some small part of the code was using up a lot of memory," he explains. "If the system wasn't rebooted over a certain number of days and we didn’t do a restart of the entire system, it would crash. Because EverServ TSR is written in Java, we don't have memory management issues."
Improved Centralized Management and Reporting
The biggest plus has been the solution's centralized management, explains Brown. "EverServ TSR gives us the ability to standardize and re-use menu items and rules across the enterprise. We can now put all of the chain's employees, from all our locations, into one single set. The ability to program centrally and then push things down to the unit level has been a big win for us."
Miller's Ale House has integrated the EverServ TSR solution with its accounting system and above-store food costing programs, and in the past year worked with PAR to incorporate the QSR Automations (www.qsrautomations.com) kitchen video system. Brown has noticed an improvement in the company's ability to move information up the corporate chain of command and to make it available to those who need it. "The ability to see reports through a Web interface is good for us," says Brown. "More visibility into store-level reporting by our regional managers and the corporate offices has been a big help."
The reports themselves can be quite granular, thanks to customization work that Brown did in conjunction with PAR. "I can get per-employee information on things as specific as the cost of discounts or the menu mix," explains Brown. "The store-level managers only see the tabs and functions that they need for their role, which simplifies the interface and the business process