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For restaurateurs, payment security is an important topic, but still, not everyone safeguards their business the way they should. Often, the price of installing EMV is considered too expensive yet going without could prove much more costly.

In fact, a security breach could cost you your business.

What many merchants fail to recognize are the so-called “hidden” costs associated with a breach. The most significant of which is the cost of replacing cards that were used during a security episode. Card-issuing banks pass down these expenses – typically $7.50 to $22 per card – to restaurateurs.

In a recent case, for example, a major restaurant enterprise suffered a 10-month breach, during which more than 2 million cards were estimated to have been compromised. Using an average card replacement cost of $14, the restaurant could well have faced a potential charge of nearly $30 million.

Though such staggering sums are rare, that case makes an emphatic point: Card replacement costs can be crippling.

“For a small business, it’ll put them out of business,” said Duane Owens, general manager of CDITech, one of the nation’s largest resellers of Oracle Food and Beverage restaurant POS solutions, which is owned by payment security provider North American Bancard.

To help protect merchants, NAB is offering an EMV upgrade to users of Oracle’s MICROS RES 3700 solution designed for security-minded, cost-conscious potential customers.

In a nutshell, NAB’s point-to-point encrypted EMV solution protects merchants’ credit-card processing environment by making sure that sensitive card data is not transmitted through their point-of-sale environment. To date, more than 1,500 merchants are using the solution, according to NAB.

NAB’s initiative offers several advantages:

  • It’s designed to bypass all middleware, which eliminates the cost of third-party gateways. “What that means in real dollars and cents is, a 3 cents to 8 cents per transaction in savings,” Owens said.
  • There is neither a software upgrade cost nor an installation cost. “We own our own dealership, CDITech…. We’re not a credit-card company just trying to get our processing installed. We’re actually Oracle-certified technicians offering a complete system,” he said. “We do the installations for the merchant at no charge, meaning we program it, we send it out.”

In addition, from a front-of-house perspective, using NAB’s EMV solution means virtually no change in operations. “There’s no training involved from a staff perspective. They close the check out the same way.” (The one difference: Instead of swiping their cards, guests need to insert them into a payment device.)

With the ever-present threat of cyber criminals, NAB is being vigilant about exploring ways to improve what it already does best.

"Cyber criminals are growing ever smarter and sophisticated in their attempts to steal information," Owens added. "We are working just as hard to ensure that we are offering modern solutions that help minimize the chance of an incident occurring."

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If you’re looking for ideas on what the most innovative restaurant brands are doing to grow their businesses, then the FastCasual Top 100 Movers & Shakers Report is for you. For the past 15 years, FastCasual.com has been compiling a list of the top 75 fast casual restaurant brands and the top 25 fast casual restaurant executives that are leading the way in bringing fresh ideas in food, technology, and service to this dynamic sector. Oracle Food and Beverage is very proud to be sponsoring the report again in 2019.

We asked Cherryh Cansler, managing editor of FastCasual.com and editorial director of its publisher, Networld Media Group, for some insights into what fast casual brands need to do to secure a place on the list.

Cherryh, how do you decide on the top 75 brands for the Fast Casual Top 100 Movers & Shakers report?

It wasn't an easy list to compile, as hundreds of brands nominated themselves by taking part in a survey about their business practices. They also nominated executives whom they believed best represented the industry.

A panel of judges weighed each nomination carefully before deciding on the final 100, composed of 75 brands and 25 executives.

While each winner offered customers a little something extra to differentiate it from its competitors, the top performers also shared important similarities — a heavy emphasis on employee training, high-quality ingredients, technology upgrades, brand culture and a passion for giving back to their communities.

Although nearly half the brands on this year's list fell into the healthy category, a variety of cuisine types, including pizza, burgers, barbecue and Mexican cuisine, still found a place.

And what about the top 25 fast casual executives – what makes an individual stand out?

For executives, the judges look at how someone is contributing to the industry, not only at what they are doing to help their own brand. Are they sharing expertise with other brands? Have they implemented something new and innovative, whether it's a process, technology or menu enhancement that might inspire a trend? Are they contributing to sustainability efforts, for example, or leading change in some other area?

Were there any surprises as you worked through the nominations and judging process this year?

All the plant-based menus and brands. It's been really interesting to see the rise of plant-centric concepts.

What do you love about the fast casual restaurant sector?

What I love most about the fast casual sector is that the players are always willing to help one another. They are competitors, of course, but they understand that when a competitor succeeds, it shines a spotlight on the entire industry, which will lead to more traffic and higher sales for other brands. They're also just fun to be around. Our events are like big family reunions where attendees get to not only learn from one another but also catch up with friends!

And finally, the all-important question: how many of the top 75 brands have you actually personally eaten at?

I'd say over half but not as many as I'd like. I live in Kansas City, and a lot of the innovation happens in larger cities, so I see most of them while I'm traveling. One of my favorite things about my job is trying a Top 100 concept, especially when they open a KC location.

Our thanks to Cherryh for sharing her insights. Download the FastCasual Top 100 Movers & Shakers Report or join us at the FastCasual Executive Summit taking place 13-15 October in Austin, TX.

Cherryh Cansler is editorial director at Networld Media Group, which publishes FastCasual.com as well as Food Truck Operator, Kiosk Marketplace, Mobile Payments Today, Pizza Marketplace, QSRweb. She is also currently serving as managing editor of FastCasual.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @CherryhFastCas

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Years ago, your options were pretty limited if you wanted food delivered to your home for a cozy Friday night in.

You would never have dreamed that your favorite restaurants would one day be delivering food straight to your front door. Today, that is a reality. We have delivery apps downloaded onto our mobile devices giving us instant access to a whole variety of cusines at the touch of a button. The vast amount of choice and the ease of ordering nowadays means that delivery is a very real option after a busy day.

Oracle Food and Beverage will soon be releasing research on global restaurant delivery trends and we thought we’d share a preview of what the consumers have been telling us.

As you’ll see from the graph below, a whopping 85% of global consumers have ordered food to be delivered to their homes - the United Arab Emirates led the way with 98%, closely followed by China (97%), Mexico (96%), Brazil (96%) and Chile (94%). In fact only three countries dropped below 90%; the US, Germany and Italy.

89% of US consumers had ordered food delivery, compared with 92% of UK consumers.

Clearly with the quantity of people across the global ordering delivery it isn’t a trend to be ignored by restaurants, but how often are consumers really ordering it?

According to our research Chinese consumers are those who order delivery the most frequently, with 41% of those surveyed stating they order ‘at least once a week’.

20% of US consumers order food for delivery at least once a week, with 34% doing so several times a month. The Germans and Swedes used delivery services the least, with just 9% of Swedes ordering food once a week.

Should I Offer Delivery Services From My Restaurant?

There’s a huge demand for meals to be delivered to consumers’ homes and it’s very much a global trend. The days of limited food delivery are gone and many consumers now have a vast amount of choice, with the ability to order their favourite dishes from their favourite restaurants and have them delivered to their door. Offering delivery is fast becoming an essential part of remaining competitive.

Thanks to the restaurant management and integration capabilities offered by Oracle Food and Beverage, we can support you in managing your channels. Read more about our Simphony Cloud POS solution or contact us at oracle-foodandbev_ww@oracle.com

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Spring is finally here and with that, America’s pastime is back in full swing – the MLB 2019 season has officially begun!

A ballgame wouldn’t be a ballgame without peanuts, hot dogs and beer. In fact, according to a study that we’ll be publishing shortly:

  • 72% of US sports fans always or usually purchase food at games
  • $42 is the average amount that each fan spends per game – higher than any other country that we surveyed

Keeping fans happy is a challenge for the stadium operators. How do you feed thousands of people who want to watch the action and not stand in line? Our survey found that:

  • 59% of fans said they would spend more on concessions if their wait time were cut in half
  • Fans ranked the ability to stay in their seat as being the most important way stadiums could improve their food and beverage experience

In stadiums deploying Oracle Food and Beverage technology, fans are served at top speed with fully integrated cloud point-of-sale and state of the art hardware, like the compact and versatile Oracle MICROS Workstation 310, or mobile POS on the hearty Tablet 720, and easy to use self-service kiosks. In addition to this, Oracle leads the market in back office tools for stadiums, with options for Venue Management, Reporting & Analytics, Data Science, Inventory Management and so much more.

The Oracle team has had a busy week helping teams prepare for one of the most important days of the year, and are ready to enjoy the rest of the season. Check out just a few of the amazing venues powered by Oracle Food & Beverage:

Oracle Pride at Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO.

Enjoying the game at Petco Park, San Diego, CA.

Getting ready for the big game at Marlins Park, Miami, FL.

Enjoying the great American past time at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, OH.

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Oracle Food & Beverage is excited to announce that we will be attending the 10th annual Stadium Business Summit trade show and event in Manchester, UK from June 4th-5th. Join us at the legendary Emirates Old Trafford, home to Lancashire County Cricket Club, for two days of exclusive networking, an exciting speaker series, and a vendor trade show.

View the full agenda to see everything that the Stadium Business Summit has to offer!

Oracle Food & Beverage will be displaying a variety of our best of breed hardware and software solutions at Booth #129, as well as discussing how to improve fan experience with data from our newly released Stadium of the Future research report. Stop by to learn more about what fans want in a game day experience, including:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Interested in learning more about what fans want on game day? Download our report, Stadium of the Future: The Next Generation of Game Day Technology to learn more about the findings and how Oracle Food & Beverage stadium point of sale can improve the fan experience.

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When Fast Casual.com publishes its annual Top 100 Movers & Shakers annual list, it’s pretty much mandatory reading for folks in the business.

After all, who’s not at least a little bit intrigued to see where they rank?

But the true value of the publication – which was just released – lies in gaining from it a better understanding of market-changing trends and the best practices employed by the industry’s top brands and pioneering executives.

This year’s edition, sponsored by Oracle Food and Beverage, is no exception. And what becomes apparent as you read the summaries for each of the top 75 restaurants and top 25 executives is their big appetite for innovative technology – anchored by point of sale systems – that drives growth by catering to customer needs.

Let’s take a look at three top topics that have the undivided attention of leading brands and executives:

1.Restaurant online ordering is a big focus

It’s a focal point for many of the top brands. In fact, in its profiles of 6 of the top 10 brands, Fast Casual specifically highlights their online ordering initiatives – most of which involve the use of mobile apps. These apps typically offer the convenience of easy payment and sometimes include digital rewards. Others are even experimenting with online ordering portals for individual meals and catering. Mobile apps also are the gateway to third-party ordering services such as Uber Eats and Doordash. Though some restaurateurs begrudge revenue sharing with third-party ordering services, the best recognize their growing presence in the marketplace and are exploring ways to better work with them.

2. Making restaurant loyalty simple, relevant and bonding

Like many of his peers, Chris Fuqua is focusing on loyalty apps. But the CEO of B.Good, which features burgers, bowls, salads and smoothies, is making loyalty an extension of his brand’s identity. B.Good grows its own food on a farm and donates some of its yield to various partners, including a Boston-based, non-profit camp that serves at-risk youth. Fuqua told Fast Casual: “With the launch of B.Good rewards and our new app, we’re delivering a frictionless guest experience that fits into customers’ busy lives, while also offering them rewards they can feel good about.”

3. Healthy eating – and transparency – continue to gain momentum

Fast Casual points out that restaurant concepts featuring healthy cuisine fared well in this year’s Top 100 list: 17 of the top 25 fall in this category. Such a showing supports a 2018 Technomic research report, which documented how health factors are influencing consumers’ ordering decisions. According to the Technomic study, 66% of consumers looked for calorie counts on restaurant menus at least some of the time, and 34% said they’d be likely to order dishes made with vegetables.

That’s why many top brands cite transparency as a key to success and turn to technology to achieve it: Equipping restaurant staff with tablets, for example, is a way to deliver nutrition information and other important details about menu items to guests – enhancing and expanding service to new levels.

Gaining such an advantage will be important, according to Maia Change, a senior research analyst at Technomic, who told Fast Casual: “The foodservice landscape will become more competitive when it comes to tastier, more innovative healthy menu offerings. This means that more brands will face additional pressure to differentiate through transparency and preparation techniques, as well as brand and sourcing stories.”

What else should restaurateurs focus on for tomorrow?

Keeping tabs on Geoff Alexander, CEO of Wow Bao, might be a good idea. He was a pioneer in altering the way diners experience the restaurant environment by being an early adopter of self-ordering kiosks. Recently, Alexander fully automated the front-of-house experience at Wow Bao. He cites his restaurant’s rapid growth as validation of his technology-first strategy and told Fast Casual: “Was the world ready for Facebook? Shopping on Amazon? It’s the same thing in restaurants. Hospitality is evolving.”

Download a copy of The Top 100 Movers & Shakers today! And learn more about Oracle Food and Beverage and Oracle Simphony Restaurant POS on our website!

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Imagine you're a restaurant owner. One day you get a 1-star review on Yelp or OpenTable from a guest complaining that he waited at the host stand for a long time and nobody came to seat him so he gave up and left.

What would you do? In this particular (true) story, the restaurant owner decided to investigate. He looked through the CCTV and saw that the guest had entered the restaurant, waited about 20 seconds, and then walked out.

Understandably the owner was unhappy with this, so he did what many of us would have done: he posted a reply to the guest’s review explaining that 20 seconds is not a lengthy wait and that it wasn’t a fair review of the restaurant.

Sound like a reasonable thing to do? It did to me (the restaurant owner above is a friend of mine). But according to Darnell Holloway and his colleagues at Yelp it’s the worst thing a restaurant owner can do.

In a really insightful session at the National Restaurant Show today, Darnell was joined by Sam Elbandak, owner of New Spot On Polk in San Francisco, who told us:

  • He used to drink three tequila shots before he looked through his reviews.
  • If a customer complained about his gravy, he would write a lengthy reply defending the gravy and explaining why it was great.
  • But this was the wrong approach: if you reply publicly to a review you are not replying to the complainant, you’re actually talking to 10 other potential customers. And they don’t see an unreasonable guest; they see a restaurant owner that argues with his or her customers.

Craig Richardson from Batter and Berries was also on the panel and he talked about how he once received a complaint about a delivered order that was late and had gone cold. He offered a meal in the restaurant and ended up with three 5 star reviews instead of one poor one.

Shelby Forsythia from the Tortoise Supper Club also offered her advice: say thank you for a 5 star review and never take the 1-2 star reviews personally. A complaint is about an expectation that hasn’t been met, so what was the guest expecting and why was there a gap? You can often find useful information in answering that question.

Stay tuned for more highlights from NRA 2019!

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Learn more about Oracle Food and Beverage and Oracle Simphony Restaurant POS on our website!

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Kitchen layout. Handicap accessibility. Carry out and mobile order pick up. All essential components when designing a restaurant concept in today’s connected world.

The National ProStart Invitational features an exciting management competition, where participants demonstrate their knowledge of the restaurant and foodservice industry by developing a new restaurant concept and presenting to a panel of judges. The teams are judged on concept, menu and costing, marketing, critical thinking, and operations.

This year I had the privilege to judge the management competition, looking closely at restaurant operations like organizational chart, interior and décor, floorplan – among other things.  Overall, I was extremely impressed by the unique ideas presented, but here are the 5 topics that stood out to me:

1. Takeout: an intrinsic part of food service rather than a secondary addition. The rise in popularity in takeout for pickup was evident in various components of the restaurant concepts we saw at NPSI.  From an operational standpoint, the teams often dedicated a section of the floorplan and org chart specifically to preparing takeout orders. It is clear that takeout for pickup is a huge component in the future (and present) of restaurant profitability.

2. Takeout with third-party delivery: keeping customers happy.Almost every concept included some sort of 3rd party delivery component which is a testament to how significantly companies like Uber Eats and DoorDash have changed the restaurant world. The trick here, and what some teams needed to explore further, is how to leverage 3rd party delivery while maintaining control of food quality. It’s a doubled-edged sword: avoid 3rd party delivery and lose out on a huge chunk of potential revenue; deliver sub-par dishes, and possibly lose customers (who might also leave you negative reviews).  A few teams did present solutions however, such as separating hot food from cold, and venting containers so food is always enjoyed fresh. 

3. Self-Service Kiosks. As expected, kiosks appeared as secondary ordering components in many of the concepts we saw. But one team took this concept even further, eliminating all other forms of in-store ordering. While this concept is definitely worth exploring, there are a few issues that needed to be addressed. Guests want convenience which can mean the ability to order what they want without staff interaction – a great point. But what is the course of action if your customer has questions or makes a mistake when ordering? What about customers who do not like technology – maybe older generations or those who are less open to technology? An additional plan needs to be put in place for these types of scenarios, to ensure the customer is being served efficiently and in a way that suits their needs and preferences.

4. Restaurant Technology. While restaurant technology was included in most of the presentations, one team dove in head first with their semi-truck-sized food truck that featured digital menu screens, free WIFI, a social media command center, hand-held ordering tablets, and solar power panels.  As someone who works in the field of technology, it is exciting to see these kids (the future of the restaurant industry) thinking about what a smart-restaurant might look like, even if all of these components combined might not necessarily be conducive to a profitable food truck.

5. Restaurant POS: the heart of the operation.  While every team included the location of the point of sale in the layout, a few teams tied the restaurant POS to back to other components within their presentation.  Since the restaurant POS is the heart of a restaurant, these teams were able to tie it back to other important things like cost control, labor and inventory management, loss prevention, menu management, mobility, delivery, loyalty, and interactive digital displays. The point of sale can be a huge part of managing a successful restaurant business – and make managing that business much easier.  I am hoping that our relationship with the NRAEF and NPSI will help these future restaurateurs see that choosing the right restaurant POS can make or break a restaurant business.

Judging the management competition at NPSI was a great privilege for me.  I left the event inspired and thankful for the opportunity. Congratulations to all the participants, teachers, and mentors – you guys are all winners. I look forward to dining at your 5-star restaurants in the near future!

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What will Generation Z bring to the restaurant industry?

Picture the scene: You’re competing in a national culinary competition. You’re representing your state. You’ve practiced 3 times a week for 5 months.

You travel to the competition and the airline loses one of your bags. You scramble to replace your missing uniform and ingredients to avoid getting disqualified. You make it with 15 minutes to spare.

Now imagine dealing with all of this if you were a teenager 2,600 miles from home.

This is what happened to high school students Luis, Sofia, Odin, and Cassandra who were representing California at the National ProStart Invitational 2019 culinary competition in Washington DC last week, along with their teacher, Chef Kimberly Coelho, and their mentor, Chef Andrew.

And things got even worse on the day of competition. Everything that had worked in practice seemed to go wrong in the set-up: food containers wouldn’t open; items weren’t in the expected location. But the team held it together when it mattered most.

“You have to think on your feet,” Cassandra told me, with a calmness that she presumably wasn’t feeling at the time.

I spoke to the team the day after their competition, and I was fascinated by their story. Everything they shared sat in marked contrast to the rap that millennials and Generation Z get for lacking initiative and expecting parents and teachers to do everything for them. 

In fact, as I chatted with the Californian team, five things became apparent:

1) The restaurant industry suits a broad range of personalities.

I asked Chef Coelho how she recruits her four team members from the 150-180 students that she teaches each year. For starters, she gives out a set of ingredients and watches to see what the students do with them: “The students that show attention to detail do better garnishes, for example, while others stand out as having potential for sugar work or chocolate.”

And as the students’ preferences and skills reveal themselves, so too, do their personalities.

“We’re so different,” Luis said. “Two of us are definitely more chilled. Sofia and I get labelled as the divas.” Sofia clarified, “I’m the nice diva.”

“This competition is not for the faint-hearted,” added Luis, emphasizing the commitment to ProStart they all shared. “It’s not something you want to do,” Odin said, “it’s something you need to do.”

Ultimately, Chef Coelho looks for a certain attitude, rather than existing skills, in her students. “I look for the ones that are trainable – the ones that are willing to learn and can take critique,” she said.

2) Young people need to be encouraged into the restaurant industry.

“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it” – it’s a cliché but it’s true. If young people aren’t shown that the hospitality industry offers a variety of different career paths – and that they are accessible – then they’ll likely go elsewhere, their talents never discovered.

Luis, Sofia, Odin, and Cassandra all chose to study Food Preparation and learn about the restaurant industry for different reasons.

For Odin, it all started with mac and cheese. “I was getting into trouble, and I wasn’t very productive. One day, I was making mac and cheese and decided to substitute the powdered stuff with bechamel that I made myself. That idea of deconstructing food and making it your own – it’s therapeutic and has helped with anxieties and other issues. It has honestly changed my life.”

“I wasn’t motivated at all in high school,” Luis also shared. But when he joined Chef Coehlo’s program “it was like a fire had ignited in me.”

Sofia had focused on sports, but cooking always was central to her life. “I grew up on a farm and was used to making my own milk and cheese. I really love TV shows about cooking. So I decided that Food Prep might be for me and when I saw the other students competing, I just knew I had to do it.”

“I took the class by accident,” Cassandra conceded, but within a couple of months she knew she’d found her path, and her passion and talent secured her a place on the team.

3) Teachers deserve medals.

Chef Kimberly Coelho assembles her competition team from the 150-180 students that she teaches each year at Madison High School in San Diego. The school follows the ProStart curriculum that is managed by the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

Having worked in restaurants in several countries, Chef Coelho is living proof to her students that the hospitality industry offers fantastic opportunities to young people – travel, continual learning, cooking skills and life skills. The fact that she does so much work for ProStart in her own time (as do many of the ProStart educators) makes her my hero.

4) The restaurant industry is good at giving back.

The team was also supported this year by a mentor, Chef Andrew. He also is an alumni of ProStart: “14 years ago I was here doing this competition. I’d gotten to a good spot in my career and it was important to give back, so I got involved.” The team practices at his restaurant and interns with him. “I really wanted to work on the line and Chef Andrew let me do it,” Luis said.

I asked Chef Andrew how he’d describe ProStart in one word. “Pride,” he said. Luis divulged that Chef Andrew even cried when the team won the State competition and did an impression of his mentor: “He was like, ‘I’m so proud of you guys.’ But he had his sunglasses on.”

5) Generation Y is ready to rock the restaurant industry.

The team developed their menu with the help of both chefs, who asked them questions about what inspires them to draw out ideas. Luis loves working with fish, Oden loves seafood, and they all wanted to include Californian themes. They were also keen to show off kitchen techniques that they learned, including deconstructing a live crab and advanced knife techniques.

So where will their Food Prep studies lead them? Odin wants to go to college and learn the business side. “I’d love to work in a kitchen or own a food stand,” he said, “but college is important, too. I don’t want to get taken advantage of when it comes to hiring and taxes.”

Cassandra also wants to run her own place and agrees that covering the business side with a love for a kitchen is critical. Sofia also has her eyes on college and then travel – learning about new cultures through food.

If the team from Madison High is anything to go by, the restaurant industry is in good hands as Generation Z takes the reins. Thanks to Odin, Cassandra, Luis, Sofia, Chef Coelho and Chef Andrew for sharing their stories with me.

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Learn more about Oracle Food and Beverage and Oracle Simphony Restaurant POS on our website!

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We’re here in Washington, D.C. this week for the 2019 National ProStart Invitational, a premier secondary school competition focused on restaurant management and culinary arts.  This event is the grand culmination of intense work, practice, and competition on the part of over 400 students – making it, in essence, the “Superbowl” of high school hospitality education.

The event is comprised of a culinary competition and a management competition, with peripheral activities including entrepreneurship panels featuring industry experts, a cupcake decorating challenge, a pretzel making demo, and a business expo where we ran a “fastest order entry into the restaurant POS” competition.

The students' excitement is palpable, and I have really enjoyed getting to interact with this high-spirited bunch. Over the course of the event I have heard some pretty cool stuff from them: some impressive; some surprising; and some funny. Here are the highlights:

  1. “This point of sale is really cool.” During our “fastest order entry” competition, the students were able to explore Simphony POS.  I was excited to see the wheels turning in one student’s head as he came to understand the relationship between front of the house order entry and back of the house kitchen display systems.
  2. “You can’t have a successful quick service restaurant these days without a mobile ordering app.” This student makes a great point. Giving customers multiple ways of ordering as well as added convenience is key to staying competitive in the restaurant industry today.
  3. “If I had to describe the restaurant industry in one word I would choose ‘passion’. This industry is my dream, and what I love to do.” This is a great example of the type of students at this competition. They are driven. They are hardworking. And they are passionate – and it shows.

With such extraordinary people learning (and perfecting) the restaurant industry ropes through the ProStart Program, the future of hospitality is bright. Oracle Food and Beverage is proud to be a part of such an awesome organization and event, and honestly, so am I.

Learn more about Oracle Food and Beverage and Oracle Simphony Restaurant POS on our website!

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