Four Must-Have Apps
Savvy restaurant owners understand apps can speed up operations, help manage back-of-the-house tasks, and even suggest wine pairings to customers. Among the thousands of apps available in the market, these four apps are worth reviewing.
Food Safety Pro
Having grown up around his family’s mom and pop Chinese restaurant in Boston, Ted Chan, CEO of Upward Mobility, the creator of Food Safety Pro, understands the importance of food safety.
“This app makes it easy to prepare employees for the required food safety certifications by providing affordable and easy-to-use study material that covers key topics,” he says. “We tried to sync the content with industry standard certifications so it’s useful for passing those exams as well.”
Food Safety Pro has 231 multiple-choice questions that cover industry standard certifications. Questions come with explanations that help the user convert theoretical knowledge to practical application.
“Restaurant workers can use the app to study the questions by section with immediate feedback or to simulate an actual timed test with randomly selected questions,” Chan says. “Employees have easy-to-use study materials that can be used during breaks or commutes. Having more employees who are knowledgeable about food safety reduces risk and enhances the customer experience.”
The app, which costs $3.99, works on all major platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows 8.
As head bartender of Portland, Oregon’s famed Multnomah Whiskey Library, Michael Lorberbaum typically spent 16 hours doing inventory at the full serve that offers distilled spirits and market-driven cuisine. Recently, that 16 hours dropped to six, thanks to Partender.
“I was used to doing inventory the old school way—using spreadsheets and weighing bottles,” he says. “I was a slightly troglodyte bartender for quite a long time and caught on to the whole smartphone and app technology a little late, but it has made my life a lot easier come inventory time.”
Partender works on a visual basis. The app has an image of a bottle, and a bar manager places a finger accordingly on the image so it corresponds to the volume of liquid left in the bottle. An algorithm then determines the dollar value in his own bottle.
“We have 1,500 bottles here and some are quite rare, so the setup was a little involved, but it’s made my life so much easier,” Lorberbaum says. “You set your pour levels and it reviews your orders for the week. It’s very accurate and on target.”
The price of Partender starts at $149 a month, which Lorberbaum says is much cheaper than other software he has seen on the market. “I’m happy to be able to put the spreadsheets down,” he adds.
Choosing a wine can be a difficult task for non-oenophiles, which is why the WineStein app, developed in the Netherlands and now available stateside, helps a customer choose the best wine for a meal based on the gastronomic properties of the dishes and wines available.
Ajay Singh, vice president of Heart of America Group, says several of its restaurants use the app, including The J Bar in Davenport, Iowa. He says in the past, bar managers were asked to create wine and food pairings, which were often driven by personal preferences and even pushy distributors. WineStein takes the bias out of their hands and ensures the wines in stock pair well with the cuisine.
“We discovered 10 to 15 bottles on our list were not matching well, so we went back and tweaked our wine list,” Singh says.
The J Bar has the app installed on two tablets. Customers can have them brought to their tables or install the app on their own phones.
“Guests can choose a wine and find the best food that pairs with it, or they can choose a food, or multiple dishes, and then find the best wine,” she explains. “WineStein operates on a scale of 0 to 100 and the higher the number, the better the match.”
Harbortouch launched a tableside-ordering component called Harbortouch Tableside this year, which is powered by the Perkwave app. It is designed to take orders directly from the customer’s table without having to go through a POS system, and it also links to Apple Pay, allowing customers to pay at the table.
The app is free and for merchants, Perkwave only works with Harbortouch POS systems and payment processors. The program was in beta testing at press time, though Nate Hirshberg, Harbortouch marketing director, says restaurants testing the app had favorable early results. The full roll-out will be completed over the first quarter of 2015.