Cheers September

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 38 of 51 39 Cheers September 2014 • and many of them require monthly or annual subscription fees in addition to initial start-up costs. Buzztime's initial fee depends upon the size of the operation. Going forward, operators are charged a monthly fee of about $500 for the free entertainment packages, along with a monthly charge to lease the tablets themselves. Proceeds from all premium entertainment purchases made by customers are split between the operator and Buzztime. The system digital menu option, which will launch at Arooga's and at Buffalo Wild Wings this fall, also incurs an additional cost. EYE ON UPSELLING Digital menus are generally more engaging and eye-catching than print menus, fans say, and they can showcase more information. Operators are often limited by the space of a traditional paper menu, and many choose not to showcase photos of every drink and entree. Many digital platforms allow you to include multiple photos of each item, and some menus support animated video as well. By showcasing visually compelling images and using other selling techniques, operators hope that digital menus will ultimately translate into higher sales. Arooga's president/cofounder Gary Huether Jr. says the games on Buzztime's tablets encourage customers to spend more time at his restaurants, and therefore order an extra beer or two as well. Huether expects to have similar successes with the digital menus. "Upselling is one main benefit," he says. "Our new menu will have pop-ups of suggested add-on items, such as appetizers and desserts, incentivizing the customer to order more." Casual dining chain Applebee's plans to roll out Presto digital menu tablets from E la Carte at 100,000 locations nationwide. Several other restaurants now use the tablets, including Charbar Co., a gourmet burger concept in Hilton Head Island, SC. Charbar owner Nick Bergelt has found that digital menu technology is a great way to increase sales. After selecting E la Carte for his business, Bergelt analyzed the same server waiting on some tables using the Presto tablet menus, and on other tables using paper menus. The results were clear: The tables using the tablets generated 10% to 20% higher sales than the tables that used the paper menus. "The Presto tablets let us showcase our menu offerings in a two-dimensional format, which just blows people's minds," Bergelt says. What's more, Bergelt attributes high sales of Charbar's specialty handcrafted cocktails, such as the Bacon Bloody and the Li Hi Mui Margarita, to the visual depictions presented on the tablets. "We have a 70-30 food-to-alcohol ratio, which in my experience is higher than normal for a gourmet burger bar." Previously, guests would see someone else order a fancy drink, and they'd want to know more about it and try it for themselves, Bergelt says. "Now because of the tablet, everyone has access to the drink photography, and they can browse through it at their leisure. It definitely translates to higher sales." As a result of the Presto tablets, Bergelt says Charbar customers are more likely to order a cocktail that costs $6 to $11 instead of something more basic, like a Vodka and Soda that would only cost $5. He credits the tablets with increasing sales of premium wines as well. E la Carte no up-front costs; pricing depends on the number of devices used and the company offers payment plans. GETTING ON BOARD Many restaurants and bars also use larger digital menu boards that are displayed prominently at the point-of-sale area as an alternative to individual menus. Visual Graphic Systems recently launched a system designed especially with bar operators in mind. The Simplicity Mobile Digital menu board provider Visual Graphic Systems has a Simplicity Mobile platform that lets operators make menu changes from their mobile devices.

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