A Crabby Makeover, Ziosk Expands Relationship and Proximity Tech App

The specials of the day include a beachy restaurant makeover, an expanded tech partnership and a new app  using proximity technology to relieve dining stress.  Send news items of interest to Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine’s Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com.

Crabby Bill’s Makeover

After serving 17 years as a popular local restaurant, it became apparent to the owners of Crabby’s Dockside (or Crabby Bill’s) and the City of Clearwater that the restaurant needed a fresh new look. Crabby’s provided the winning architectural proposal in a competition to the City of Clearwater to build a new restaurant and renew a 30-year lease.

The old building, a converted gas station dating back to the 1970s, was demolished to make room for the new site with plaza designed by Klar and Klar Architects.

The architectural firm and interior designers worked together with the Crabby’s team to create a modern design that includes three stories providing three separate and unique dining experiences.  Crabby’s reopened with a unique open, colorful and airy look.

 “We wanted to create a piece of architecture that was exemplary of the current trends happening on Clearwater Beach,” said Steve Klar, principal architect and co-founder of Klar and Klar Architects. “Crabby’s custom architecture creates a seamless experience for the beach crowd where they can fully enjoy all the beauty and tranquility the beach environment has to offer.”

The new Crabby Bill’s includes a third floor protected rooftop deck designed to showcase panoramic views of Clearwater Beach. An outside bar area and sidewalk seating on the first floor accommodate more casual beachgoers.  For Clearwater’s hot summer days, the second story offers air conditioning dining with floor-to-ceiling windows installed to offer the views while beating the heat.

“We’re glad we could artistically contribute to the development of the local coastal aesthetic and allow the new architecture to bring people to this tried and true family spot,” Klar added. “As the new Crabby’s is the first building you see when approaching the roundabout on Clearwater Beach, it was important to highlight both the modern nature of redesigned Clearwater Beach and the natural beauty of the gulf coast.”

Since 2001, Crabby Bill’s in Clearwater Beach has been serving seafood at its 37 Causeway Boulevard location. It is currently managed by Prime Cost Management Group, which manages two  additional Crabby’s locations: Crabby’s Bar & Grill and Crabby Bill’s St. Cloud.

Klar and Klar Architects, Inc. is a full-service architectural and interior design firm located in the Tampa Bay Area. Since the firm’s inception in 1992, the firm’s aesthetic focused on contemporary organic artistic design and integration of energy-saving technology.

Ziosk Expands Cerca Trova Partnership

Ziosk, which commands 95 percent market share in the deployed tabletop tablet space, and Cerca Trova Restaurant Concepts (formerly T-Bird Restaurant Group), the exclusive franchisee of Outback Steakhouse locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, announced a partnership expansion to bring tabletop tablets to an additional 45 Outback locations., expanding on the existing engagement, which features Ziosk table top tablets at 62 Outback locations in California. Rollout was completed in early August.

Under the partnership, Cerca Trova’s Outback Steakhouse guests will have payment security through Ziosk’s Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) and Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV). P2PE technology helps to ensure sensitive credit card data is protected from first card swipe, while in transit, all the way to payment providers. The Ziosk is also designed to improve efficiency and convenience by empowering guests to pay right at the table thereby freeing up servers to spend more time interacting with guests. Guests will have the option to use Google Android Pay and other mobile wallet solutions in addition to QR code coupon scanning at the table.

Cerca Trova locations already using Ziosk have realized benefits including:

  • Payment Speed: Ziosk has saved dining guests, on average, seven minutes during the check process.
  • Server/Guest Engagement: With time freed up from running checks and payment, servers are empowered to spend more time on the dining floor, interacting with guests.
  • E-Club Membership: Cerca Trova restaurants that feature Ziosk have experienced a 10X increase in e-club enrollments.
  • Real-time Feedback: Increased operational efficiency and greater guest satisfaction scores achieved through an unprecedented level of real-time feedback from surveys.
  • Labor Savings: Cerca Trova restaurants expect to recognize up to $3.7 million in labor savings annually while improving guest satisfaction, server tips and retention.

The Ziosk seven-inch tablet is displayed on each table in Outback Steakhouse restaurants, enabling diners to interactively explore menu items and specials as well as order appetizers, beverages and desserts at their convenience. Additionally, guests can participate in a variety of entertainment activities including trivia and games, all designed to enhance a communal experience at the table.

“We have established a very successful relationship with Ziosk to date and this strategic expansion to provide premier tabletop technology at additional Outback restaurants will further strengthen and improve our operations and payment security standards,” said CEO Steve Weigel, President and CEO of Cerca Trova. “Guest satisfaction is a top priority at Cerca Trova, and given Ziosk’s strong track record in helping other national restaurant operators enhance the guest experience, they were the clear choice from day one.” 

“We’re thrilled to be growing our partnership with Cerca Trova by placing control, convenience and security right into the hands of guests at the table,” added Austen Mulinder, CEO of Ziosk. “We look forward to continuing to improve guest satisfaction while accelerating speed of service and overall operational efficiency at these new Outback locations.”

Ziosk tablets are currently in more than 3,000 restaurants across all 50 states. Ziosk has over 170,000 tablets interacting with more than 50 million guests per month.

Chubby’s Food Truck Comes to Downtown JC

Chubby’s Sandwiches food truck launched in New Jersey in Jersey City’s downtown Exchange Place serving a variety of hot butcher-style sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, along with an assortment of munchies. Chubby’s Sandwiches is a labor of love for best friends Nick Daniele and Joseph Buonsante of Buon Amici Hospitality Group, LLC. Friends since childhood, they are fulfilling their foodie and entrepreneurial dreams by launching a menu of “chubby” butcher-style sandwiches based on the beloved butcher-style sandwiches that they grew up eating in Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Chef Daniele has an established Italian restaurant in Park Slope Brooklyn, Bella Gioia, and the Chubby’s truck features a custom built, state-of-the-art kitchen, modeled after the restaurant kitchen. The 18-foot truck  also has an external video monitor and sound system,

“With our Chubby’s Sandwiches food truck we wanted to embrace the fast-casual trend and do something different than a restaurant,” said Daniele. “We chose to launch in Jersey City because we noticed the up-and-coming vibe happening there and thought it would be an ideal location for our concept.” 

Joe Buonsante and Nick Daniele

Sandwiches will rotate daily and new sandwiches will continue to be added to the initial signature options. A few of the colorfully named signature lunch sandwiches ($10-14) include The Chris Christie chicken tenders, provolone, yellow American, mozzarella sticks, lettuce, fried egg and chipotle mayo.

Proximity Technology to Reduce Restaurant Stress

A new Swedish app makes stressful situations in restaurants more pleasant by allowing you to skip the queue and order peacefully at the table or right outside the restaurant. The technology is based on a context driven proximity solution and holds features from the mobile wallet where additional customer value is added on top of the payment function.

The fintech app eliminates steps in the process of ordering and paying, providing customers with a situation where they can peacefully sit at the table and make all decisions while having a conversation with friends.

“The attractiveness of pej is how it digitizes numerous steps in the purchase process and gather valuable customer data, as well as handle transactions,” said Victor Sandberg, CEO of Luckan and developer of the pej app.

Added Paul Cronholm, CTO and founder of Crunchfish, “The pej app solves problems that neither traditional restaurant or payment apps are addressing. We are very proud that the pej app holds our unique proximity technology. We see great opportunities to improve the ordering and purchase experience for people.” 

Pej is especially suited for crowded establishments, with many items on the menu and where time is a crucial factor, according to the developers.

“You could say the app creates a bubble of peacefulness in a stressful situation where you have many choices. You skip the queue and go straight to the table, place your order, pay, and enjoy the company of your friends while waiting for the food to arrive,” Sandberg continued.

A first evaluation of the app concludes customers using the app order 10 percent more on average than traditional guests. Luckan, the company behind pej, is currently introducing the app to restaurants in Malmö and Stockholm. Next step will focus on the London area.

Crunchfish’s proximity technology makes it possible. The proximity solution in pej is part of the Connected AR technology from Crunchfish. The software provides applications with an intelligent proximity layer that adds awareness for a user of what is present here and now, making it possible to discover and connect with everyone and everything nearby in real time. It also makes seamless money transfers real between POS and customers – even when the smartphone is in the pocket using low power Bluetooth as the carrier. By digitizing numerous steps in the purchase process, pej gather valuable and important customer data, as well as handle transactions.

NECI Expands Menu for Students

New England Culinary Institute (NECI) announced approval for a unique delivery model that will allow the school to expand its menu of offerings to all students.

Challenging the status quo, NECI developed a series of programs that will allow students to attend classes from afar.  

NECI Graduation, June 20, 2015. Montpelier, Vermont. Photography by Caleb Kenna

How can NECI teach technical, hands-on classes online?  The use of today’s technology allows the school to gauge many variables; everything from the consistency of the knife cuts, to the texture of the proper braise, to the depth in a sauce to the silkiness of the buttercream. 

Primary activities for courses will be project based and utilize a variety of technologies and application platforms. Students will be asked to virtually present many aspects of their course work utilizing Web 2.0 presentation software. To hone the skills, students will schedule short, but intense time on campus to work with our faculty in hands-on sessions.

New offerings include Online Associates of Occupational Studies in Food and Beverage Business Management, Online Associates of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts and Online Associates of Occupational Studies in Baking & Pastry.  These programs will complement the fully online BA completion programs as well as the industry approved full-service residential programs. For additional information, click here. Courses begin October 2. To review the online education, click here.