Many people may think that the tools and technology of the restaurant industry is limited to basic kitchen appliances and tools. However, one may not expect some complex equipment that is used in the restaurant industry. Many restaurants are leading the way in regards to credit card processing and point-of-sale technologies, introducing new ways to serve their customers and increase the overall convenience of the dining experience. If you have never considered how hi-tech restaurants can be, here are some of the top tools and technologies that are in use in restaurants today that you might never have expected to see.
One technology that has been rapidly adopted and pioneered by the restaurant industry is the point-of-sale or POS system. These systems use a touch-screen display to allow cashiers and servers to input orders, sending them to the kitchen for preparation without having to manually call the order back and submit a hand-written dining ticket. As they have become more common, the POS systems have also become much more complex, with modern POS technology allowing separate tickets to be sent to different food preparation stations from a single order being sent back by a server or cashier. As soon as a server types a customer’s order into a POS terminal, separate tickets can be printed out at a salad prep station, a fried foods station, and a grill station, all while the server is getting back out to check on his/her tables and make sure that all of there customers are happy.
Along with the POS system, great advances have been made in computerized stock management and time clock management as well. In a number of restaurants, these two components are integrated directly into the POS system itself, allowing employees to clock in and out from any POS terminal and having the central restaurant computer keep track of hours worked. At the same time, the computer is also tracking the amount of food and dry stock that is in the store and automatically deducting portions based upon the components of the orders that are coming back through the POS system. Not only does this make keeping track of stock and generating usage statistics much easier, but the POS system can automatically alert servers when one or more items are out of stock. This also helps to prevent them from attempting to place orders for dishes that are currently out of stock.
Printer technology has come a long way due to the integration of computerized systems into restaurants. Printers have gotten smaller, utilizing rolls of thermal or carbonless paper to be able to print out orders so that the kitchen can prepare them with ease. Some of these printers are even designed to be able to print in multiple colors to put emphasis on specific parts of the ticket, signifying whether an order is to go or if there are special preparation instructions included with the order. Some restaurants have elected to eliminate tickets altogether aside from the ones that are provided to customers; instead they use computer monitors in the kitchen to display what different food preparation stations need to make with the same touch-screen technology as the POS system allowing the cooks to interact with the tickets and clear them with a single touch.
Other advances in restaurant technology have been integrated into the kitchen itself. Some restaurants feature advanced appliances that have integrated timers and digital temperature gauges, reducing or eliminating the need for separate timers or inaccurate temperature dials.
Even tasks that were once considered menial have found themselves being influenced by technology for the sake of consistency; fryer baskets and serving portions can now be filled by machines that measure the exact amount needed every time, reducing waste and making sure that the food served by the kitchen meets the same standards for each order that is placed. This sort of consistency with cooking temperatures, cook times, and portion sizes can go a long way toward making sure that your customers know exactly what they are going to get each time that they place an order for their favorite menu item (which in turn can lead to a lot of repeat business.)
The use of technology in restaurants is only going to continue growing as restaurant owners and restaurant suppliers find new ways to reduce waste and streamline the food preparation process.
Each year technology advances more, and with these advances come new possibilities that might have seemed impossible just a few years ago. With more restaurants relying largely on computers for their ordering systems, it is only a matter of time before software advances make even the technology of today seem obsolete. This new technology is great for the restaurant business and it makes the process of placing orders and managing inventory much easier.