Kona Grill first opened its doors in 1998 in Scottsdale, Arizona, welcoming guests to enjoy its global menu of contemporary favorites, award–winning sushi and specialty cocktails in an upscale casual atmosphere. Growth plans have positioned Kona Grill as one of the fastest growing restaurant companies in the United States, with annual revenues of approximately $143M. The company owns and operates 45 locations, in the United States and Puerto Rico, and employs more than 3,000 people.
Recently, the IT team at Kona Grill, led by Glen Holroyd, director of information technology, found itself in a transitional period. The company wanted to move from a traditional data center model, with many employees using VPN to transfer files, to a cloud-based environment.
“Our VPN was becoming very difficult to manage, we had file storage at the data center, and we definitely didn’t want to continue to maintain a data center at Kona Grill. The overall hosting of applications and managing a data center was becoming outdated, and we needed to sort out the best way forward to embrace the cloud, while still having a versatile and secure file storage solution,” Holroyd explains.
Restaurant general managers were spending a lot of time scanning and downloading reports, and then individually emailing these files to the home office. These files contained sensitive data and managers struggled to find the most secure way to send reports. Employees used FTP services and other workarounds for file transfer and storage such as thumb drives and Dropbox, but these temporary solutions were adding additional costs and weren't standardized. As Kona Grill prioritizes international expansion, the training, design and development teams had an especially pressing need for a more efficient file sharing solution. Employees were also losing data and information if their hard drives failed and could not be restored, and information needed to be organized to better collaborate across all locations.
“Essentially, we needed to look at how we did business. To open new restaurant locations, we access training materials, and large files such as architectural and CAD drawings. Restaurant general managers work with our POS systems and upload daily reports to the home office. We needed these development, design and training files to have an intuitive filing system, with fast access to large files, as well as determine an efficient way for our general managers to spend less time on reports and more time ensuring our guests were happy,” Holroyd adds.
Kona Grill tried some temporary fixes with Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, but these solutions were not robust enough and didn’t have the features the company required. To begin to exit the data center world, the IT team began consulting with colleagues about possible market solutions that would allow for a smooth transition. Kona Grill looked at options from Box, Dropbox and Citrix ShareFile, but Egnyte was ultimately chosen.
The company piloted Egnyte Connect first with its development and IT teams for a couple months to test the solution and to see how best to rollout Egnyte across the rest of the company. Once the entire company began to use it, Kona Grill quickly saw some specific benefits:
Collaboration and Sharing: Employees at the home office and in the field can upload files to Egnyte quickly to share with both internal and external groups. Instead of now sending files via email or FTP, a link can be sent to access a particular Egnyte folder. Many teams are collaborating with outside consultants and agencies as new properties are acquired and developed and Egnyte has streamlined processes for launching new restaurants, rolling out new menu concepts, or analyzing financial reports.
Greater Efficiency and Speed: Restaurant managers spent a lot of time in the past generating and sending daily reports. The IT team estimates a time savings of 30 percent for many employees, including the IT team itself, which is now fielding far fewer support calls. Egnyte features such as Web Edit have also enabled employees to work on files locally much faster, while saving changes in the cloud.
Data Security: Many reports and documents shared within the company at Kona Grill contain sensitive financial or proprietary information. Having a secure way to not only share and collaborate with external groups, but also a way to securely send daily reports gives great peace of mind. Sharing data with an Egnyte link that will expire after a set time also ensures greater monitoring and control.
Kona Grill has realized numerous benefits since deploying Egnyte. Employees are now able to share an Egnyte to share files, with the option for the link to expire. Users can use any device, including iPads to access a variety of files, such as videos, training materials and menus. Financial information is more secure, and reports like SOC audits can be accessed through a link to a particular folder. Instead of sending a file with a password for gift card numbers, this information lives in a secure Egnyte file and can be shared with outside distributors securely and easily.
Collaboration and file sharing have been made much simpler, especially for teams such as development who often share files with outside contractors and consultants. Files are no longer lost due to Egnyte’s snapshot and versioning technology. While employees in the past sometimes lost hours of work, the Egnyte solution enables staff to easily retrieve accidentally deleted files or to locate misplaced files seamlessly and quickly. The culinary teams can now upload menus and training instructions to use on site at new locations or to introduce new menu items.
While restaurant general managers had to upload payroll, sales reports, and inventory counts, now these reports are easily saved in shared folders and accessed by the home office more readily. Managers are saving hours in the office and are able to enhance guest experiences and spend more time in the front of house.