Recipe For Success

Brought to market in January 2005, the IBM Anyplace Kiosk incorporates an infrared flat-panel touchscreen and has the ability to create custom solutions like those for national restaurant chains The Cheesecake Factory and Fuddruckers, which are being created by Custom Business Solutions, an Irvine, Calif.-based POS solution provider.

While many kiosks are used in self-service applications, the kiosks at The Cheesecake Factory and Fuddruckers are being used by kitchen staff to prepare food and check recipes. Fuddruckers has purchased 120 kiosks and The Cheesecake Factory about 75, said Jeremy Julian, vice president of support services at Custom Business Solutions.

The kiosks at The Cheesecake Factory integrate Custom Business Solutions’ custom Recipe Viewer software and POS software from POSitouch, Warwick, R.I.

“They’re using it in the kitchen to do online viewing of recipes from a central server location. They can update a recipe at the corporate office, and every location gets hit with the recipe that day,” Julian said. “They look at [the kiosks] for preparation—to prep sauces, how to cut onions, how many tomatoes do you need to cut—as well as on the line where they also look at the recipe. They have one at the expo station and they can turn it [to be visible to both cooks and other preparation staff members],” he said.

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The system also can run video, which Julian said would be useful for training new hires.

The Anyplace Kiosk is available with a 12- or 15-inch screen, and Julian said its small size is what makes it more amenable for installations in smaller areas—such as busy restaurant kitchens—than traditional kiosks.

“The look is amazingly elegant. The size is phenomenal. Also, the fact that it can be mounted in multiple configurations makes it easier to use than other POS products. It can be mounted on a stand on pre-existing kitchen equipment,” he said.

The equipment also is durable, something necessary in a restaurant environment. The Anyplace Kiosk was tested in a restaurant for 45 days to check for durability before it was incorporated into Custom Business Solutions’ solutions.

“It’s been working very well for us. [In the next generation, I’d like to see] maybe more peripheral support—POS-type peripherals like customer displays, cash drawer kick-outs. That, and I’d like to have it native with a flash drive, not a hard drive,” Julian said.

Custom Business Solutions is looking at other potential restaurant integration projects for the IBM Anyplace Kiosk, including time clocks and take-out stations. The Cheesecake Factory already has implemented the kiosk at curbside take-out locations in several restaurants.

The solution provider’s value-added distributor, ScanSource, Greenville, S.C., did more than just provide the solution provider with parts. Scan Source assembled and delivered 109 kiosks to Fuddruckers in five weeks.

“We helped them in this rollout through our systems integration capabilities. We helped with staging, custom configurations and delivered [the units] to each end-user site location,” said Mark Morgan, vice president of sales at ScanSource.

In addition to Custom Business Solutions, ScanSource also has been experiencing success with the Anyplace Kiosk.

“The IBM kiosk actually is one of the best products they’ve come out with in quite some time. The product in itself goes well beyond what people normally look to a kiosk to do,” said David Hertwig, sales team leader at ScanSource.

“If you think about a regular point-of-sale system; and you see how much space that POS system takes up, and you look at your LCD monitor on your computer and you see how little space that takes, that’s why this thing is gaining a lot of traction,” Hertwig said.

“The IBM kiosk is such a small, slim item that it’s found so many different uses in the marketplace. A lot of companies are finding other uses for it just like [Custom Business Solutions] did with the food service market where they’re using it as a kitchen display system,” he said.