Stepping Up the Cool Factor with Integrated Restaurant Technology

Read the Honeygrow case study here

Stepping up the cool factor with integrated restaurant technology. Justin Rosenberg combines "honest eating + growing local" with technology at Honeygrow in Philadelphia. By Richard Slawsky - Contributing Writer - FastCasual.com

The players
NEXTEP SYSTEMS, based in Troy, Mich., provides a complete suite of integrated foodservice technology solutions for grocery stores, restaurants, casinos, airports and other high-volume foodservice venues. From self-order to point of sale to digital signage, NEXTEP provides and supports the complete integrated foodservice platform.

Located in downtown Philadelphia’s Center City district, fast casual eatery honeygrow focuses on wholesome, locally-sourced foods with a motto of “honest eating + growing local.” The restaurant’s offerings include salads, stir-fry, smoothies and a honey bar where patrons can drizzle local honey over various fruits, crunches and non-fat whipped cream. Founder Justin Rosenberg opened the first honeygrow location in June 2012 and plans to open a second in early 2013.

The challenge
Rosenberg spent six years in downtown Philadelphia working in real estate asset management. At the same time, he maintained a passion for healthy eating. Rosenberg realized there was an opportunity for a restaurant serving the type of foods he ate every day, and the seeds of the honeygrow concept took root.

Despite his passion, though, Rosenberg lacked the restaurant experience to bring his idea to fruition.

“A friend of mine ran a restaurant in Washington, D.C., so I would work in real estate asset management Monday through Friday, and Friday evenings I would take a bus down to D.C.,” he said. “I would work in the kitchen Friday night, do prep work Saturday morning, work in the kitchen again Saturday night and Sunday morning brunch, and Sunday afternoon I would be back on the bus to Philadelphia.”

In addition to gaining experience in the restaurant business, Rosenberg needed funding to get his idea off the ground.

“During the week I was trying to raise capital for the concept,” he said. “The first 93 people I went to said no, but No. 94 said, ‘Yes, I get it’.”

Once the funding was in place, Rosenberg secured a space on Sansom Street in the Center City district. The last piece of the puzzle, then, was the technology to tie everything together.

One major choice facing Rosenberg was deciding where to turn for an order entry and point-of-sale solution. Historically, business operators sourced each piece of hardware from a different vendor and hoped that the various components worked together.

Solving issues often meant calls to multiple vendors, who might or might not know enough about others’ products to make them work together. As the owner of a newly opened restaurant, Rosenberg knew he would be spinning a lot of plates at once, and needed a solution that would simplify rather than complicate his operation.

The solution
To meet his technology needs, Rosenberg turned to the Foundation5 turnkey solution from NEXTEP SYSTEMS. Foundation5 is the industry’s first fully integrated platform of hardware components and software.

Foundation5 is PCI compliant and is custom-tailored to the precise needs of each foodservice operation, providing the building blocks needed to build an efficient foodservice business from the front of house to the back of house. The various components, including point of sale (POS), self-order kiosks, digital signage, operations management, interfaces and online and mobile solutions, are tied together via mynextep.net, a Web-based enterprise solution.

“We had a lot on our menu and we were trying to figure out how we could speed up ordering and make the menu more focused,” Rosenberg said. “I realized a kiosk solution could do the job as long as it was cool, sleek and functional.”

Rosenberg was on the fence about which vendor to use until he saw NEXTEP kiosks in use at another foodservice operation. Foundation5 eliminates the need to seek out multiple vendors and having to purchase individual components that may or may not work together. The solution deployed at honeygrow integrates self-order kiosks and a point-of-sale system, allowing patrons to order and swipe their credit cards at self-order kiosks while remembering that customer’s previous orders.

“The fact that we have one source for everything is great,” Rosenberg said. “If there’s an issue, there is only one number we have to call. We work together with the people at NEXTEP fine-tuning a solution that really has made us happy.”

The results
Rosenberg worked with the designers at NEXTEP to make the Foundation5 solution, as he terms it, “as simple as possible.” NEXTEP customized various aspects of the system to suit Rosenberg’s vision, incorporating animation and making the process as simple to use as possible.

“I think we really took the solution a step above what others are doing, and it was a great experience working with NEXTEP,” he said. “We worked together fine-tuning a solution that really has made us happy.”

Although Rosenberg expected about 85 percent of customers to place their orders at the kiosks, usage has actually been closer to 99 percent, he said. The suggestive selling programmed into the kiosk transaction is resulting in significant add-on sales. In addition, the solution frees his staff to be dedicated entirely to production and customer service. The NEXTEP POS is still an available ordering option for diners that prefer the traditional ordering process.

Rosenberg is slated to open a second honeygrow location in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., early next year. In addition, Rosenberg is considering incorporating additional Foundation5 features into his operation, including online and mobile ordering.

When the initial restaurant opened in June 2012, Rosenberg stationed “ambassadors” near the self-order kiosks to help walk customers through the ordering process. Four months later, those ambassadors are no longer needed.

“Honestly, I was expecting more people to want to order from the traditional POS rather than the kiosks, but I’m just not seeing that,” he said. “People just come in and naturally go right to the kiosks. It’s pretty cool to watch.”

About the sponsor: NEXTEP SYSTEMS, based in Troy, Mich., provides a complete suite of integrated foodservice technology solutions for grocery stores, restaurants, casinos, airports and other high-volume foodservice venues. From self-order to point of sale to digital signage, NEXTEP provides and supports the complete integrated foodservice platform.

 

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