Missed the Fast Casual Nation Documentary? Watch it Now on Amazon

FCN Doc Amazon Poster

This week, Foodable Network released its first documentary— Fast Casual Nation: Changing The Way America Eats, on Amazon.

The full-length documentary, narrated by the network’s CEO and Executive Producer, Paul Barron, begins by exploring the food landscape that led to the birth of fast-casual concepts across the country.

“You had casual dining, you had fast food and that pretty well defined food service. Sit-down experience: you tipped, the service, longer wait times. Restaurants doing great sales volumes and then QSR, fast food. Nothing in between,” said Firehouse Subs’ CEO, Don Fox.

Modern Market’s CEO, Anthony Pigliacampo believes fast casual could not have happened if it wasn’t for the fast food segment teaching consumers how to eat out multiple times a week over a span of 30 years.

“I think what’s really happening is consumers are finally saying: 'Wait a second, I really need to eat out all the time because of my lifestyle. I’m a busy modern person, I need to eat out'... And we think that’s how consumers view fast casual and it is the fuel that enables them to have this modern lifestyle,” explained Pigliacampo.

Millennials, of course, are a big driver of the fast casual sector and with this generation growing up in a world where technology, food customization, and social media have all collided, it created the perfect storm to drive this food sector to new heights.

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"This is a part of my life's work to explore the future of food. Fast casual is and will be a part of that future that is shifting in a big way today.  This documentary is the first step in a mission that is designed to help the restaurant business shift into what will be the next generation of food.  Fast casual is on the threshold of being a catalyst of how food and restaurant operations will flourish in the next 20 years,” said Barron, who has over 25 years of experience in the industry.

The film also touches on how some restaurants were able to survive the 2008 recession by getting creative with real estate, the changing attitudes of the consumer towards healthier options, and how traditional culinary professionals began moving into the fast casual space in order to make thoughtful food more approachable.

"It is clear that you cannot create a market, what happens is you can understand and see things in a different way. Understand how the consumers respond and then respond to it,” said Ron Shaich, founder of Panera Bread.

Fast Casual Nation: Changing The Way America Eats is not just a film for restaurant industry professionals. It’s a documentary where anyone from the business world, film world or even foodies can learn something from and enjoy!

Amazon Prime members can watch the film for free as long as they have an active account. Non-members can rent the high-definition movie for $2.99 or buy it for $9.99.

MICROS EXPOSÉ, PT. 3– The MICROS mTablet Enhances the Customer’s Dining Experience, while Evolving with the Restaurant's Operations

The food and beverage industry has been hesitant  to adapt to today’s evolving technology. However leading brands, such as MICROS are revolutionizing the industry’s technology with user-friendly, hand-held POS terminals.

Founded in 1977, which seems like the dinosaur age in the world of technology, MICROS  started developing products focused on food and beverage. Newly acquired by Oracle, today the technology mogul has more than over 6,400 employees and 90 distributors in 50 countries. With the brand’s domain knowledge in restaurant hospitality, the MICROS mTablet is an advanced product, while also being user-friendly and reliable.

The Challenge of Technology

The transition for the food and beverage industry to start using technology has not been an easy one and even though more restaurants have adapted or at least have attempted to adapt, this transition continues to create challenges. MICROS’ products are meant to simplify operations with easy-to-use software that need barely any configuration.

“MICROS has a bit of an advantage over of some other players and that advantage is we are the largest provider in our space,” said Peter A. Altabef, President and CEO of MICROS. “So we can put the resources necessary to bring the latest technology in here and do it with... A. our deep domain knowledge- we really know the business– and B. with industrial strength on a global scale.”

Multi-Purpose Aspect

Nowadays, the consumer expects his or her devices to have multiple functions. Technology that is limited to just one function is unfavorable and is quickly on its way to becoming obsolete. The mTablet exceeds expectations by offering the users a platform with a broad range of capabilities.

“Lets say you wanted to share the specials of the day with the guests and not have to bring a second device to do it and to be able to place orders on it. To be able to see who's tweeting about your restaurant in real time,” said Michael L. Russo, CTO of MICROS. “Or maybe it’s in back where the chefs are being used to see a certain food recipe.”

Customers want more convenience and they are often on the go. “The notion that people can order from absolutely anywhere is an absolute reality in the industry today and it is only going to continue to be the case in the future,” said Brandon Hull, Restaurant Technology Consultant. “The customer becomes a part of the POS–their placing orders themselves, their swiping their own card, their finishing their transaction without a server being involved at all.”

The mTablet gives some control to the customer and they become less reliant on the server.

“People can order from a mobile app, they can order from a kiosk, they are not tied to ordering at a counter or dealing with a bunky terminal or having an employee deal with that bunky terminal themselves,” said Hull.

How it Enhances Operations

So not only does the customer get a better customer experience, but these devices remove some of the responsibilities of the servers – therefore cutting down on labor costs. It also increases order accuracy and speed of service. Either customers  can directly enter their order on the tablet or they are clearly recorded by the server through the system for the kitchen staff.

Not to mention these POS systems are mobile, so concepts ( on the go can use them. The MICROS mTablet can be easily transported so food trucks, food carts, food bikes, and traditional brick and mortars can access the software from anywhere and bring the POS device directly to the customer.

This also gives the restaurant real time access to guest data. With this data, you can understand your customers better and cater to their needs. The restaurant does not only have to rely on credit cards and loyalty programs to collect their customers’ information.

Evolving with your Business

Although it has taken the industry a while to catch up on the technology front, things are moving full speed ahead. So with that in mind, finding software and devices that can evolve with your business is critical now more than ever.

“You have got to have a POS partner and provider that can grow with you, be flexible with you, that can adapt with you, as your model changes over the years,” said Hull. “You’re going to have to really think through where your restaurant is gonna be in five, six, seven  years from now and factor that into how you’re going to transition to a new POS or deploy a new POS, or deploy a new add on to your POS system.”

Being ahead of the curve with technologies like the mTablet will only help you prepare for your restaurant’s future. “Where your restaurant is going to be down the road requires some advanced thinking and pretty thorough checklist so you can make sure you hit on all the right factors– security, customer experience, all of those things come into play.”

The Future of POS

So what does the future hold for the restaurant industry? Well, MPOS technologies have and will continue to enhance a restaurant’s operations and the consumer’s dining experience. Soon enough these systems will not only become the norm, but also a necessity to the customers and the restaurant staff to complete their day to day tasks.

Micros Exposé, Pt. 2 — mTablet Increases Speed of Service

It has become clear that the restaurants that are keeping up with the latest technology are the ones that are excelling in the industry today. The easier the technology is to use for the restaurant operators and consumers– then the better the restaurant can serve.

That is where companies like MICROS come in. MICROs is the global leader of hardware and software for the hospitality industry, specifically point of sale software. The acquisition of MICROS by Oracle was completed last week.

The latest solution created by MICROS is the mTablet. This cost-effective tablet is customizable for businesses in the hospitality and retail industry. This is not an ordinary tablet, it is perfectly visible in sunlight and is extremely durable. It also has a fully integrated payment processing system, and the powerful companion mStation, that acts as a mobile stand.

Businesses globally have implemented this product and already are benefiting from the mTablet capabilities. But how exactly are these restaurants using this new gadget to simplify their business processes?

Seamless Integration of mTablet at Restaurants

The Habit Burger Grill is one of the many restaurants that has adopted the use of the new mTablet. “It is important to us when we integrate technology at The Habit, to make sure we’re not overwhelming the customer,” said Mike Repetti, Vice President of IT at The Habit Burger. The Habit Burger has always had a relaxed atmosphere and they don’t plan on changing that, even when bringing in the most advanced devices on the market.

With tablets being popular personal devices, people are used to using them. So the mTablet’s interface is not foreign to restaurant diners and importantly, it is not foreign to restaurant servers. This makes staff training seamless, because they understand how to use a touchscreen and the MICROs software, already. “Literally, when I did the (mTablet) roll out- the training was ‘here’s the power button,’ then MICROS booted up right up just like they are used to seeing on the cash registers and they logged in with their same logins– the screens were all the same, so the workflow was the same,” said Repetti.

Increasing Customer Service

The mTablet allows the servers to bring the cash register directly to the restaurant guest. The Habit Burger is using the mTablet, both inside the restaurant and outside, by the drive-through. “This gives us the ability to take more orders and speed up the service at our drive-through,” said Darryl Moore, General Manager at The Habit.

During the peak rush times, the mTablet has been especially helpful. Not only does it add another resource to take more orders, but customers are reassured to stay in the long line. The wait may seem long, but a server is interacting directly with diners to take their order, so it won’t be too long. Fast casual gives the customer quality menu options, with the fast service. It is important for restaurants to be aware of their speed of service and to always be looking for options to increase the serving timeliness.

The mTablet is not only used for payment but also, food inventory. “The manager is taking the tablet and as they enter it, it is going directly into the food costing system,” said Repetti. “So they are saving about 20 minutes out of the normal food inventory process.”

At The Habit Burger, the accuracy of meal orders has increased. Previously, servers were using note pads to record orders. Not everyone has perfectly readable handwriting, so obviously, orders were not being put into the computer system correctly. With the mTablet, servers record the order directly into the system and this is increasing order accuracy significantly.

MICROS System is Now on the Go

Consumers are flocking to food trucks, so much so that traditional restaurants are starting to offer mobile kitchens. This is the case for The Habit. With the mTablet, “it allows us to do outside, the same exact thing we do in the store,” said Brian Sanders, General Manager for The Habit Food Truck.

A food truck often attracts a customer that has never visited the restaurant before. With that in mind- if the food truck experience makes a positive lasting impression, then the customer will return to one of the stores next time. A major way to impress new guests is with quick and accurate speed of service. “The mTablet absolutely helps facilitate that by getting the food orders into the kitchen quicker, by helping the cooks not lose tickets and be able to read the tickets in the same way they are used to viewing them, ” said Repetti.

With a customer-facing screen that is user-friendly and has a secure management system to back it up, MICROS mTablet may be just the device to further enhance businesses, whether it is a mobile food truck or traditional sit-down restaurant.

MICROS Exposé, Pt. 1 — A Tech Pioneer Revolutionizes the Future of Foodservice

MICROS Exposé, Pt. 1 — A Tech Pioneer Revolutionizes the Future of Foodservice

A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” — Steve Jobs

Technology in the restaurant space has progressed to a point of continuous consumer customization. A slew of startups are banking in the foodservice space with ordering apps, digital payment options, you name it. We’re even seeing a possibility of how wearable technology might play into the future of foodservice, as told by Google Glass guru Chris Dancy. But what about the big league guys? In a Millennial-centric world with a mentality constantly shifting to cater to the control of consumers, do larger corporations have the flexibility to keep up? Or are they at an advantage, considering the surface area they already control in the space?

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