Culinary Academy Gets Boost With Kiosk Deployment

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NEXTEP SYSTEMS’ self-order kiosk at the Culinary Institute of America increases ordering efficiency and shows students the future of restaurant technology. By Richard Slawsky | Contributing editor

The players
NEXTEP SYSTEMS, based in Troy, MI, is a leading provider of selfservice solutions for restaurants, casinos, airports, sporting venues, grocery stores and other high-volume food-service and entertainment venues. NEXTEP’s provides turnkey technology solutions, including self-order kiosks, online and mobile ordering and digital menu boards.

The Culinary Institute of America, founded in 1946, is widely recognized as the leader in culinary education. With a history of producing graduates who possess a broad array of skills beyond the kitchen, the CIA is not only speeding service for its students but familiarizing tomorrow’s culinary leaders with the self service technology they are most likely to encounter in a growing number of settings around the world.

The CIA’s main campus, located in Hyde Park, N.Y., hosts approximately 1,700 students each year. Notable alumni include Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle Mexican Grill, “Iron Chef” Cat Cora and Anthony Bourdain, chef and host of the Travel Channel’s culinary and cultural adventure program “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.”

The challenge
The Student Recreation Center is the hub of life on the CIA campus. The 52,000-square-foot facility includes a gymnasium, conference rooms, a game room, an outdoor deck and a newly renovated deli.

When it came to the deli, CIA staffers had to solve two issues.

The way the deli was originally designed, students would place their orders with a cashier. The deli’s point-of-sale system would route the order to the preparation area, and customers would wait for their orders to be prepared.

Because the deli served hundreds of students each day, there were frequent backlogs both at the register and the area where customers waited for their orders.

“At night it gets really crowded, and we were looking for a way to expedite the process, particularly the ordering,” said Mike Romanovsky, associate director of systems and networks at the CIA. “We were looking for a quicker way to get students through there, just to provide better service.”

And because the CIA’s mission is to prepare students for careers in the restaurant industry, the school wanted the deli to serve an educational function as well.

“We have several thousand students coming through here each year,” Romanovsky said. “It’s good for them to see what kind of technology is available for a restaurant they may be thinking about opening.”

The solution
To accomplish its goals, the CIA installed three countertop self-order kiosks from NEXTEP SYSTEMS, interfaced with the deli’s existing MICROS RES/3700 POS system.

Students can quickly and easily enter their order on one of the three kiosks as they enter the deli. The kiosk prints a receipt and routes the order to the preparation area. Students then proceed to the cashier to pay with any combination of tenders including cash, credit card and student card.

Students then listen for their order number, which is printed on both the kiosk receipt and kitchen chit. The CIA’s implementation removes the previous bottleneck of ordering at a register, and enables students to receive their orders quickly between classes.

“We are excited to educate tomorrow’s culinary leaders on the operational benefits of self-order technology,” said Tommy Woycik, president of NEXTEP SYSTEMS. “And what better way to educate than with hands-on experience.”

The results
The CIA has enjoyed steady usage of the three kiosks since they went live in late July, Romanovsky says. The deli can process as many as 3,000 orders per week thanks to the NEXTEP SYSTEMS kiosk solution.

“We have seen a pretty drastic increase in the number of students we can move through the line,” he said. “It has streamlined the whole ordering process.” NEXTEP SYSTEMS engineers stayed on site for several days to ensure the deployment went smoothly. The CIA also stationed someone near the kiosks for the first week to make sure users understood the ordering process.

“Students today are so quick to pick up technology that it wasn’t so much a matter of training as it was crowd control and showing them where to go,” Romanovsky said.

The kiosk project has been so successful that the school is looking at ways to expand the deployment.

“Everyone likes [the kiosks] and we are looking at other uses for them, but there is nothing specific yet,” Romanovsky said. “We are definitely exploring putting them into additional areas.”

And the experience of working with NEXTEP SYSTEMS?
“We had a pretty short time frame where we were able to get everything done smoothly,” Romanovsky said.

“They obviously knew what they were doing, they worked closely with us and everything was done right on time,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with it. Any opportunity we have to work with NEXTEP in the future, we will.”


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