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Understanding Restaurant Equipment and Technology

restaurant equipment

You’ve picked a stellar location. You’ve got a concept in mind. It’s time to get your restaurant up and running.

When you’re opening a new dining venue or restaurant, there are many pieces of equipment to consider. From the back of house kitchen equipment to the front of house ordering tablets and kiosks, your restaurant equipment will all be working together to deliver a unique dining experience that caters to your guests. Choosing technology wisely will positively impact your bottom line.

Today, we’re diving into the restaurant technology equipment must-haves to consider to have a streamlined dining operation in today’s world. Use this checklist to ensure you have what you need to bring innovation and practicality to your restaurant – from BOH to FOH.

Let’s start with the back of house options and requirements.

1. Kitchen Display Screens

When designing your kitchen, kitchen display screens are a great option to consider. Not only do they help improve food delivery times, order accuracy, and provide a range of analytics, but they also drive a more tech-forward kitchen experience. You can have kitchens set up for each respective station – such as grill, salads, desserts – with an expeditor screen that manages the orders as they are completed and compiled for each table. Alternatively, you can have one screen that contains orders for all stations, a great option if your kitchen is smaller or more space conscious. 

Kitchen display screens come in a variety of sizes. The most common size is 15”, but there are also smaller options or larger options available to suit the needs of your staff. They can have touch screen bumping capabilities or wired bump bars should you prefer. 

2. Kitchen Printers

Kitchen printers are present in many kitchens nowadays, replacing traditionally hand-written chits with consistent, easy to read pieces of paper that indicate orders. Chits can often be customized to show different colors (i.e. red for modifiers or allergy information), and can include table number, seat number, server name, and other important information for the kitchen to know. They are cost effective, durable, and support 1-ply or 2-ply paper for multiple copies of orders should you desire. 

For both pieces of restaurant technology advised above, you’ll want secure wired connectivity for the devices. While most equipment does support Wi-fi nowadays, wired connectivity is often more reliable and helps ensure that orders being rung in do, in fact, reach the kitchen as desired. 

3. Time & Attendance Tools

Lots of POS companies can help you track time and attendance, but depending on the size of your organization, you may use an additional tool for tracking time and attendance of your employees. This will need to be accessed by every staff member on time-based payroll, so it’s a critical piece of technology to consider. 

Let’s move to the front of house and talk about technology options to consider for your restaurant or dining venue.

1. Digital Signage and Digital Menu Boards

Don’t underestimate the impact that good signage, lighting, and digital menu boards will have on your restaurant experience. Particularly in quick-service restaurants, digital menu boards have the ability to amplify the way customers browse your menu by showcasing your items, pricing, combos, and more. In addition, you can use digital menu boards in QSR to showcase items that are being prepped and when they are ready for pick-up. 

2. POS Terminals

Next up, you’ll want to choose your POS terminals. There are tons of options to choose from based on your priorities and aesthetic. A few key things to keep in mind are:

  • Counter space: where are you going to place the POS terminals? What footprint do they need to have in order to fit your requirements?
  • Service needs: table service, quick service, fine dining, buffet style – they all have different specific use cases that your software will need to meet. Be sure to select a POS partner that is able to accomplish all you need (and hopefully much more!).
  • Connectivity: while most POS devices support Wi-fi nowadays, having some devices wired is a good idea for connectivity purposes. If Wi-fi goes down, wired devices can help to act as backup points (depending on your software provider), and can ensure orders are still able to be sent through to the kitchen. 

3. Handheld Tablets

Tableside ordering is an excellent way to improve service tableside and enhance your guest experience. Tablets come in a variety of sizes to suit your staff needs, and will help get orders to the kitchen more quickly and more accurately. There are also a variety of tablet options to consider depending on your set up. For example, some tablets allow for large dock stations with printers and other peripherals, while other tablets are meant for on-the-go ordering and simply use the charging cord without a dock. There are also different cases and durability options that tablets can have. Consult with your POS partner for all the options available to find the one that is the best match for you.

4. Self-Serve Kiosks

Self-serve kiosks have transformed quick-service and cafeteria dining. While some operations fear the transformation to kiosk ordering, others have used it to maximize profitability and allow their customer service staff to focus on other areas of the business. 

With their ability to increase average check size, deliver 24/7 service, and accept a variety of payment methods, it’s a no-brainer why operators and guests alike are increasingly seeking out self-serve dining experiences. Here are some things to consider when choosing self-serve kiosks:

  • Screen size and positioning: will your kiosks be wall-mounted, freestanding, or resting on a countertop? How large is your dining space? What size of kiosk will best compliment the space without being too large or too small?
  • Payment methods and food delivery plan: are the kiosks going to be for ordering and payment, or just ordering, followed by payment at a traditional POS? Once orders are placed on the kiosk, will you use an order number, name, or table number in order to have the food delivered or called out to the customer?

5. Online Ordering

Opening up your menu to the world online is a must-do nowadays, particularly as businesses recover from the pandemic and navigate ongoing capacity restrictions. Adding online ordering also helps get your name known, enhance your reputation, and provide an additional revenue stream. Online ordering can take the form of web-based, application-based, or by putting yourself on third party ordering apps, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. Learn more about the difference between these three options here.

With so many things to consider when it comes to restaurant equipment and technology, it’s always good to ask the experts what they believe would be the best fit for your business. At Volante, we want your business to thrive and are eager to help put solutions in place that make sense for you and allow you to do so.

Shannon Moyes

Business Development Manager – Volanté Systems

Learn more about how Volanté can help your business.