Contactless Gives Guests Control of Their Own Experience

Late in 2020, Eureka! Restaurant Group, which owns and operates 24 restaurants throughout California, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, and Washington, said it would be the first in the nation to introduce a completely contactless dining experience, while maintaining a guest-forward approach to hospitality. 

Eureka! collaborated with OneDine to curate a contactless yet personalized restaurant visit—creating a customized, platform that provides guests full control over ordering, speed of service, and payment. This includes: 

  • Self check-in, table alert, and self-seating to expedite the entry process.
  • Guests will be able to browse the menu, order, and pay from their personal mobile devices.
  • Guests can contact Eureka! team members with the push of a button.
  • Managers will wear smartwatches that provide alerts in real-time from check-in to check-out, allowing expedited service and guest response, and providing the ability to monitor the restaurant flow for a seamless guest experience.

The online dining platform is complemented by other technological advancements including Quick Response (QR) codes, smartwatches, and Near Field Communication (NFC) sensors for additional convenience and seamless service. The restaurant group launched the new dining experience in October 2020 in 13 locations with all 24 restaurants nationwide integrating the technology the following month. 

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine went behind the scenes of this transition with  Kathy Alcaras, director of IT at Eureka! Restaurant Group. 

Why go this route and what was the process of implementing a completely contactless dining experience?

We wanted to keep our staff safe and to give our guests a safe, simple and seamless experience, but still keeping the customer service experience in mind

What was critical to maintaining the personal element?

Eureka! is and will continue to be focused on giving our guests the great service that we all desire in restaurants, but we also wanted to give our guests the option to control their own experience .

What concerns did you have and have they been alleviated as the implementation has been put in place?

With all new technology, there are a lot of uncertainties, not just from our guests, but also from us as operators. We were not sure how the staff and guest would feel and if they would adapt to it. We also wanted to make sure that the technology is as seamless as possible. There is always room for enhancements and improvement with technology. We are still continuing to improve on the ordering technology, but we feel confident that the technology experience is seamless.

How does it change the guest experience?

With this experience, the guest now have the ability to better control their level of service, as well as their speed of service. However, if the guest prefers not to use the QR code, our staff will be glad to take their orders from the OneDine tablet at the store.

How does it enable you to be nimble and responsive to guests’ needs?

With our contactless ordering and pay, not only can the guest view, order and pay.. they can also “Contact a Human” for service directly from their screen. The notification from the guest will be sent to team members on the smart watch they’re wearing, which is interfaced with the ordering system.

How did the technological implementation change the role of the manager?

Technology should not add more work for the managers, nor would it replace the staff. We believe that technology should enhance efficiency for the managers – technology that will free up time for them to focus on other things in the restaurant

Did you find there was a learning curve for guests and staff?

It was not as much of huge learning curve as we thought it was going to be. This is because people have already been ordering online: for retail, hotel, airlines, etc

Our technology was more redirecting the guests to focus on more being more involved of the details in their own order: asking them their meat cooking temp, their sides, if they want to add sauces.

As for the staff, the learning curve was not too major on the technology either. We made sure that we think through Eureka!’s service model and how this would apply and is driven with Technology. Once we have this l in place, we then present this service model during training.

How did you get the word out to guests?

Eureka! utilizes social media to not only highlight our technology with followers, but more importantly highlight our enticing food and boozy beverages with great pictures and description, which just happens to be residing on our technology.

What has guest and staff response been like?

The preliminary response has been mostly positive by our guests as well as from our staff. We have yet to send out a formal survey to our guests to solicit their feedback, but we have plans to do so soon. When you share your purpose, plan, and the ultimate goals with our staff and guest, and it makes sense to them, they will be more encouraged to support your business and give your new technology a try. As we roll out this technology, we are committed to remaining nimble and responsive to our guests’ needs.

During this time of uncertainty, it is amazing to see how engaged our long-time regulars feel as they come back to their home away from home at Eureka!, reconnecting over their favorite dishes, all-American bar, and our unique, energetic and genuine hospitality.