Opened just 6 months ago, Courtesans Restaurant has fast become a magnet for those living South of the River Thames who enjoy authentic Dim Sum accompanied with an exciting fusion of flavours acquired from across the Capital. The diverse menu is backed with an extensive champagne, cocktail and wine list, equally rivalling those offered by their SOHO counterparts. With a renowned chef formerly of Royal China at the helm in the kitchen, subsequent reviews have been 5 star across the board for quality and variety of food, drink and ambiance of the restaurant. Behind the exciting venture is new restaurateur, Hammant Patel-Villa:- "We simply acted on a gap in the market by creating an innovative Dim Sum experience. As you would expect, with over 50 fresh dishes on order from the menu and new additions and enhancements added each day as we expand the experience, we are quite demanding from what we need from our accounting and ordering terminals."
A relative newcomer to the London restaurant trade, Hammant knew that key to the success of any new venture was to provide quality food made by experienced hands using only the freshest ingredients with the supporting tools to reflect the diversity of the menu. With a previous career in IT, Hammant knew that flexibility and future proofing would be key to both initial and ongoing success. As such, when it came to procurement of three new tills - for the bar; the private function room and the main restaurant serving area; he wanted to be sure that a platform for future innovation was incorporated:-"A lifetime in IT has meant that I strive to make sure that I source the latest technology available and thereby future proof the restaurant in the process. Searches I made on the Internet quickly revealed that the functionality I needed seemed to be the reserve for high end EPoS systems with big price tickets, but with no user interface and heavy installation and ongoing maintenance overheads."
Unhappy with having to settle for a large and cumbersome PC based EPoS system, Hammant noticed that Casio were pioneering what they termed 'alternative EPoS technology running on the Android Platform' within their brand new Casio V-R100 KC EPoS system. Reassuringly it was marketed specifically for small businesses to gain the maximum momentum out of their restaurants and catering outlets –indeed the first such hospitality designed and engineered system in the world to run on the AndroidTM SmartPhone platform. A call into Casio confirmed the marketing claims and Hammant was thrilled with the affordability. He had identified his system of choice.
The order for 3 x Casio V-R100 KC's was placed on Casio prior to Courtesan's opening and installation occurred immediately with plug and play and connection onto the Internet, straight out of the box for the three systems. Hammant notes:-
"Ordering the Casio V-R100 KC meant that we had just opened the restaurant up to fields of possibilities with all the applications of the Android Platform available at our fingertips. With new Apps being added each day, our investment was future proofed and we could grow and add Apps as fast as we liked. Suddenly, in quiet times, staff could access the Internet and social networking sites and we are able to read reviews and even respond to requests made in the social community, like requesting tables over Twitter!".
Training of restaurant staff occurred within 5 minutes, with all staff quickly getting to grips with the easy to use, large colour 10.4inch adjustable colour touch screen that allows management to quickly add specials and seamlessly flag new dishes. At the weekends, when the bar area can be busy, inevitably spills occur, but the V-R100 KC remains resilient and splash proof within its rugged casing neatly housed on the counter tops.
Printing from till to bar to kitchen is also in place and positively effecting productivity between the work spaces. Hammant comments:- "As we are in our first year, our understanding of effective workplaces and positioning areas is evolving. What we enjoy with the V-R100 KC terminals is total flexibility in changing/adding another printer available on the (wireless) network. For the V-R100 KC's low level entry price point, that's a pretty nice feature and has formalised the ordering procedure so that there can be no mistaking which customer has ordered what, and in which order."
Reviews to any new restaurant are critically important in the first few months. With every review placed on London sites, the team were able to respond accordingly and immediately, building an active community of online followers.
Undoubtedly, a key challenge to all in the restaurant trade is to also expand and increase the consumption of drinks with the meal and ongoing productivity of the bar area. Courtesan's has been developing an innovative drinks menu and Hammant can now track popularity of individual drinks at the touch of a button and monitor the flow of drinks orders between the three parts of the restaurant. The Casio V-R100 KC's intelligent order engine can not only highlight the popularity of drinks profiles but, if required, can also anticipate ordering based on previous transactional takings.
Further efficiencies to the bottom line are made when energy savings are considered into the mix. The Casio V-R100 KC demonstrates significant energy savings of typically 85% electricity savings against traditional EPoS systems. Hammant likes the fact that along with this saving, there are no noisy fans to distract from the relaxed ambiance on offer.
In terms of marketing, Hammant is keen to also expand use the V-R100 KC solution for email and SMS marketing to existing and new customers. "Restaurant marketing has changed dramatically in the past few years. We used to rely on walk-bys to attract new customers, now with the power of the Internet and platforms such as Android, we literally have the power at our fingertips on the restaurant tills to create and manage a community of customers and offer them promotions. The advances are literally revolutionary."