Investing in the right restaurant technologies can be the key to success for many restaurants, especially multi-location chains. In fact, 71% of food service companies surveyed in North America believe digital transformation is the most important factor towards agility.
But one area that is often overlooked is kitchen technology. And it shouldn’t be.
If you want to run an efficient and profitable operation, your kitchen needs tools in place to help you keep up with the high volume of orders coming in. Getting the right tech in place will make your chefs’ and line cooks’ lives a whole lot easier.
Every piece of your tech stack needs to speak the same language and integrate seamlessly for efficient operations and a consistent customer experience. These five essential pieces of kitchen technology will help you build that consistency and improve every area of your restaurant.
5 Pieces of Must-Have Kitchen Technology
The kitchen is the beating heart of any restaurant. It’s where the magic happens and it produces the product your customers have come for. As a result, your kitchen needs the latest restaurant technology solutions to make operations more efficient and to connect this area with the rest of the restaurant.
Here are the vital pieces of kitchen technology to get in place to keep the life-blood pumping around your restaurant.
1. Point-of-Sale System (POS)
A point-of-sale system is the hub of your restaurant’s data and operations. It processes orders, transactions, and other restaurant data and often serves as the liaison between your front- and back-of-house restaurant technology solutions.
Having the right POS in place is vital to keep communication between the front-of-house and your kitchen smooth and efficient, with minimal errors. When it comes to technology for restaurants, the POS serves as your central data hub.
What is a POS?
A restaurant POS is traditionally the system of networked hardware and software that takes orders and processes payments. But a modern POS can do a whole lot more, including managing inventory, accepting orders from third-party platforms, generating reports from analytics, and pretty much any other restaurant management task you can think of.
These days a POS stores data in the cloud and can encompass ordering tablets, self-service kiosks, traditional tills with touchscreens, contactless payment terminals, and other restaurant POS hardware.
Benefits of a POS
- Streamline restaurant operations – the POS links your systems together, making operations more efficient in every department, from ordering, to payments, to production in the kitchen.
- Stores all your data in one place – your POS acts as the data hub for your restaurant, ensuring all your data is accurate, consistent, and accessible.
- Reduces ordering errors – a smart POS with the latest ordering hardware and key integrations will greatly reduce the risk of costly ordering errors occurring.
2. Kitchen Display System (KDS)
Kitchen display systems are becoming essential pieces of technology for restaurants, especially in high-volume settings like fast-casual and quick-service restaurants, ghost kitchens, and other takeout joints where efficiency is the name of the game.
The KDS keeps all your orders flowing through the kitchen and makes sure all the cooks are on the same page, making it one of the most vital restaurant technology solutions on the market.
What is a KDS?
A KDS uses one or more screens in the kitchen to give the cooks a clear view of orders being processed. Typically, a screen at each station helps the cooks keep track of orders and even tells them when to fire different parts of an order for maximum efficiency.
Traditionally, cooks keep track of orders with printed tickets that are spiked when the order is complete. A KDS can be used instead of, or in addition to, printed tickets. The real-time information provided by the system can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of costly mistakes.
Benefits of a KDS
- Streamline kitchen operations – a KDS keeps your kitchen production line organized and streamlined by making sure everyone knows what they need to do and when.
- Speed up service – more efficient production helps your kitchen produce orders faster, meaning you can serve more customers at peak times.
- Minimize errors – with a clearer picture of the orders in preparation, cooks are less likely to make mistakes that lead to food having to be remade.
- Reduce food waste – a more efficient kitchen making fewer mistakes helps reduce wasted food from sloppy portioning, over-production, and re-fires.
Although the trend is moving toward digital solutions, printers still play a vital role in the modern restaurant in the front and back-of-house. And they are getting just as smart as the rest of the tech in the restaurant.
Many customers want a physical receipt, whether it’s just a preference or for record-keeping, and many kitchens still use printed receipts whether or not they also use a KDS to organize orders.
Let’s take a look at the different types of restaurant printers.
What are Restaurant Printers?
Restaurant printers are found at the front desk, at wait stations, behind the bar, and in the kitchen – perhaps at each production station. Front-of-house printers print checks and customer receipts. Bar and kitchen printers print order tickets, so bartenders and chefs know what to prepare.
There are two types of printers commonly used: impact printers and thermal printers. Each has its own features making each one suitable for different environments.
Impact printers, or dot-matrix printers, physically impact the paper with ink. They can typically print in black and red, have more moving parts, and are noisier than thermal printers.
The SP742 Impact Printer is built specifically to work in hot and humid environments, connects via Bluetooth, and can print 13 tickets per minute.
Thermal printers directly mark heat-sensitive paper using a heated element. Thermal printers tend to be more expensive, but they could save you money over time as you don’t have to buy more ink. They are sensitive to temperature, so they would only work in a climate-controlled kitchen but can print much faster than impact printers.
The TSP654II Thermal Printer can print 60 receipts per minute, comes with easy drop-in paper loading, and connects to a number of peripheral devices.
Benefits of Printers
- Offer a physical receipt – many customers want to keep a physical credit card receipt or check for their records and for tax purposes.
- Redundancy in the kitchen – a printer receipt in addition to the KDS allows cooks to double-check orders and some chefs prefer to have a physical order ticket as well as the KDS.
4. Cash Drawers
Even with a modern POS, you still need a way to process cash payments. Today, most modern cash drawers can be synced with your POS terminals via USB or Bluetooth, offering the ultimate convenience without compromising security.
Look for cash drawers with physical and electronic locking functions that are robust and technologically enabled.
What is a Cash Drawer?
A cash drawer is a secured box with a sliding drawer that protects your cash. It is linked to your POS, so it opens when a cash payment is made and change is required.
Cash drawers typically have multiple locking functions for security, including a manual lock when not in use and automatic locking when in use during service.
The mPOP® Multifunction System is a cash drawer and printer in one smart device. Compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS, it offers direct iOS connectivity, which allows your iOS device to be charged while data is transferring. There is also the optional handheld 2D USB barcode scanner included with some models. The mPOP® is truly an ideal device for mobile POS (mPOS) systems.
5. Contactless Payment Terminals
Contactless payments are becoming the norm as customers increasingly appreciate the convenience of not having to enter a PIN or even remove their card from their wallet. It’s worth upgrading to terminals equipped with near-field communication (NFC), so you can accept payments with a phone or card tap.
What are Contactless Payment Terminals?
Contactless payment terminals allow guests to pay with the tap of a card anywhere in the restaurant. They are connected to the WiFi network to communicate with the POS, so they allow customers to pay at the table, at the curb, or at the drive-thru window.
The terminals use NFC to take contactless payments from smartphones or credit cards and have keypads and card slots if the customer needs to insert the card and enter their PIN.
Benefits of Contactless Payment Terminals
- Faster and more convenient – contactless wireless terminals make it quicker and easier to make payments, leading to a better customer experience and more efficient service.
- More secure – Contactless payments eliminate the need for the customer to hand over the card or reveal their signature. Card information is sent via a secure cryptographic method to ensure information can’t be stolen.
Boost efficiency, customer satisfaction, and revenue with better kitchen tech.
From the POS flawlessly processing orders and contactless terminals taking payments anywhere to kitchen display systems and printers keeping your service organized, kitchen technology is vital to the success of your restaurant.
As we’ve seen, there are exciting products on the market that help to make transactions easier and more secure, make kitchen operations more efficient, and improve the customer experience, among many other benefits.
It’s not just software that counts–getting the proper hardware in place, like smarter cash drawers and the right kind of kitchen printers, can help offer better service and make your kitchen more efficient.
Overall, investing in the latest kitchen tech will streamline your operations, improve customer satisfaction and increase restaurant profits.
Guest Post Written By Sam Sinha
Sam is a restaurant tech content writer building authority for food industry pioneers like TouchBistro. After cooking and writing his way around London and Hong Kong, he now writes and grows vegetables in the Cambridgeshire countryside.