For 15 years, Frank Cai's family prepared all of the orders placed at their family-owned restaurant in the same fashion, and with the same care; everything was always done by hand. As technology has changed with time, so has the Cai family's approach to business.
Long before the idea of online food ordering was even scratched on a bev-nap, the family went through the process of taking customers' orders over the telephone. For a long time, the Chinese food restaurant owners in Maryland were content with the way things were going.
About 18 months ago, the Cai family moved their restaurant to a brand new location in Hagerstown, Md. and decided to do things bigger and better. They opened Fuji Chinese Cuisine & Sushi Restaurant and expanded the menu to include authentic Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine. Yet one thing stayed the same; they kept their traditional phone-in order taking practice alive. A year later, the prospect of improving customer service and the restaurant's ordering capabilities entered the door. The Cai family learned about a turnkey online food ordering solution called MenuDrive and decided to put the technology to work.
MenuDrive is a cost-effective, online ordering software program designed for caterers and restaurants of all sizes. It was released by Cruzstar LLC, a Pennsylvania-based company that has been developing online food ordering solutions for five years. MenuDrive is an affordable, user-friendly program that gives any restaurant the power to display its menu online, and allows customers full control of ordering from it. Here's how MenuDrive works: Customers place their order online, and enter their pickup, delivery and secure credit card information. Orders are then sent to the store's fax machine, computer or e-mail address and received within seconds. Workers prepare the order as usual for customer pick-up or delivery.
"This online software is a great benefit to us," says Cai. "It is very easy to use, gives customers more options to order, and allows us to take orders more easily."
Bridging language barriers
Since MenuDrive was implemented in Cai's restaurant four months ago, overall order accuracy has greatly improved. While the Cai's "by hand" approach worked for years, language barriers have always been a challenge to some degree. Fuji touts itself as being "the only restaurant in town serving authentic Chinese cuisine and Sushi." The food is authentic because it is prepared by people who have worked in some of Hong Kong and Singapore's finest hotels.
"We all speak Chinese. Most of our customers do not. MenuDrive has definitely made communication easier for both sides," says Cai. "Plus, we have had no problems with the system. It is easy to customize the program to reflect what we want, and it's reasonably priced. It has definitely brought more business into the restaurant. Customers love our restaurant because of our food, and because we offer so many choices."