Nexus 7 2013-003


One concern we’ve heard from restaurant owners and managers with using Android tablets for their point of sale is that they are worried employees would play games and text friends while working. Worry no longer. Android 4.3 (codename: Jelly Bean) came out in late July and now includes restricted profiles. What does this mean? It means that the owners and managers can now restrict access to just work applications.

Here’s what google has to say about restricted profiles. (from

About restricted profiles

As the tablet owner, you can create restricted profiles that limit the access that others have to features and content on your tablet. For example, you can create restricted profiles to prevent family members who may have access to your tablet from viewing mature content.

You can use restricted profiles for several purposes, including these:

  • Parental controls. Selectively restrict family members from accessing mature content.
  • Kiosk. Set up the tablet to demonstrate selected apps and features to customers.
  • Retail. Let customers explore tablet features, but prevent them from browsing or playing games.
  • Point of sale. Limit employees to the use of selected sales and register apps.



Photo credits: Nexus 7 2013-003 by Thomas Lok Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

Citrus Grillhouse Kitchen

Are you an Expo? Do you feel overwhelmed and constantly in the weeds?

Here’s a quick way to make yourself more effective and spend less time weed whacking.

Simply put your plates in a position by their chit/ticket order. Leave an empty space for the ones you are waiting for. This is an easy way to tell where your chits/tickets are at a glance.

For example, say you have a six top order. The simplest plate layout would be from left to right.

Window Layout

Let’s say the chit/ticket from top to bottom is Chicken Parmesan, Salmon, Steak, Lasagna, Chicken Alfredo, and Tilapia.

Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Alfredo

You are missing the Steak and Tilapia.

The window would look like this:

Plates With Empty

It’s much easier to keep track of plates and know what you are missing this way. Otherwise, you’ll be spending lots of time going through the ticket over and over again to match what’s in the window.

Only last bit, once you determine your layout, make the kitchen use it too. It will save both of you time since both can tell where an order is at a glance.



Photo credits: Citrus Grillhouse Kitchen by pvsbon Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License


Good News! Hewlett-Packard recently announced their entry in to the Android tablet market with their new HP Slate 7. Retail pricing is just $169, even cheaper than the $199 Nexus 7 or the $329 iPad mini. It’s slated for release in April 2013.

So why is this good news?

Because it lowers the cost of our system. Cloud Dine Systems uses tablets and cloud computing to power our point of sale system. The cheaper tablets makes our system even more affordable.

The best news? Tablets might get even cheaper.

In India, the government  is providing subsidized Aakash 2 tablets to university students for Rs. 1,130 (about $20 US Dollars) and commercially for Rs. 3,999 (about $75 US Dollars). They are only available in India currently, but hopefully, in the next couple of years, similarly priced tablets could be available worldwide.


Photo credits: Dollars by vovan13 ©

Google Screenshot

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get a website for your restaurant and don’t know where to start. Or you had a web designer create one for you and it’s hard to update and he/she never responds to your requests? Here’s how to make those problems go away.

We are going to go through four steps to do this. You don’t have to these in one go. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend doing it in one sitting.

One tiny bit of technical of info before we get started. We are going to be using WordPress. (That’s the name of the software package). WordPress originated as a blogging platform, but now can be used to create an entire website without having to be a website designer. It’s the #1 blogging software in the world with millions of users and it’s free. There are companies that specialize in just hosting WordPress sites, designers that sell WordPress templates to use, and others that provide plugins for extra functionality. You don’t have to remember all that, just that we are using WordPress, it doesn’t require vast technical skills, and there’s an ecosystem around it that we will leverage.

Let’s get started.

1. Pick a WordPress Theme
Theme doesn’t mean an artistic theme. Rather it’s a term for a template that your website will use. There are a number of restaurant themes available, so you don’t have to be designer. All you have to do is pick one that you would like to use. They have a one time cost of around $14 – $75.

Quick tip: Look for a theme that is “responsive”. This is techy word meaning that it works on mobile phone, tablets, and desktops. A lot of your visitors will come from mobile phones, so you want a site that is usable for them.

Here’s a list of places to find themes:

(Disclaimer: I don’t have a reseller or affiliate relationship with any of these sites.)

If you don’t like these, just Google “premium restaurant wordpress themes” or “restaurant wordpress themes” for more options.

2. Pick a WordPress Hosting Company
Next we pick a WordPress hosting company. This company is where your website will live or in techy speak where it is hosted.

Below are companies that specialize in WordPress hosting. Generally, it’s the only thing they do, so they are really good at it and they can help you with using WordPress. They do the heavy lifting of installing WordPress and the other software needed for it. (Database & Web Server).

(Disclaimer: I don’t have a reseller or affiliate relationship with any of these sites.)

Follow the steps given by the hosting company to create your initial empty WordPress site.

Now upload the theme you picked in step 1. The WordPress hosting company will help you walk through this. Also the WordPress Documentation can help if you get stuck.

At first your site might be Don’t worry, we will fix this in step 4. (CompanyThatHostsYourSite isn’t literal. It’s one of the wordpress hosting companies from above. YourRestaurantName isn’t literal either. It’s the name of your restaurant.)

3. Fill in Your Info
Now we put in the information for your restaurant.

Login to your WordPress site (Your WordPress hosting company will have a tutorial on this & the WordPress Documentation can help too.) and fill out the information for your restaurant.

The most important pieces are hours, address with a link to google maps, specials, menu, parking information, and phone number.

The cool thing about this is that don’t need a web designer to update or change the info.

4. Pick Your Domain
So your domain is the name for your web address. e.g. “” without the quotes.

If you already have a domain, the WordPress hosting company can help walk you through how to transfer it to them.

If you don’t have a domain, first you need to find one that is available and then purchase it. They cost $5-$15 annually. I recommend using a .com address since it’s what most people expect.

Quick tip, all the companies below will try to sell you more than just domains. Resist the urge and just get the domain and not the hosting or email or rust undercoating or anything else they try to get you to buy. If there is something you need, you can always go back and buy it later.

Second quick tip. Most of the companies below have discounts. Just google “coupon code” plus the name of the company to find them. Usually you will enter these into the shopping card when buying.

All of the following sites provide tools to see if the domain is available and the ability to purchase the domain.

(Disclaimer: I use GoDaddy for domains. I don’t have a reseller or affiliate relationship with any of these sites.)

After purchasing the domain, the WordPress hosting company you picked in step 2 will help you set it up to work with their hosting service.

One last bit, make sure that all the review and local listing sites have your new web address. ie. Login to Yelp, UrbanSpoon, YellowPages, etc… and update them.

Hopefully that will help you setup your own restaurant website. Feel free to put any questions or feedback in the comments. Don’t forget about the WordPress Documentation if you get stuck. Thanks!



Photo credits: Google website screenshot by Spencer E Holtaway Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License

20 dollar money

During a recent discussion with a restaurant franchisee, the issue of profitability came up. As he put it, the restaurant business has three basic levers that the owner/management can control: food sales, food costs, and labor costs. I call these the trifecta of restaurant profitability since you simultaneously need to get all three correct. (Ok, food and labor costs are prime costs, so technically it should be called exacta or perfecta of restaurant profitability. I wouldn’t describe most restaurants as exact or perfect. So I went with trifecta.)

These are so important, but when was the last time you looked at them in your restaurant?

Here’s a simple suggestion for each to get you started.

  • Food Costs
    Create a simple sheet that tracks throwaways daily. The restaurant franchisee found $75 a day in savings here.
  • Labor Costs
    Pick a day of the week and look at the staffing verses the sales. Is there an extra hand here?
  • Food Sales
    Pick the five most popular items on your menu. Does your wait staff consistency upsell add-ons for these entrees (assuming it makes sense)?


P.S. We are working on a product to make the management of the trifecta much easier. More on that in 2013.


Photo credits: Money Shots Ver4 by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License


Q: Is bigger better?

A: Not when it comes to tablets and wait staff. Even in Texas.

Q: Why?

A: Imagine you are waiter or waitress using a wireless tablet to take guest orders. Your choices are a ten inch, seven inch, or four inch device. More specifically visualize your choices as an iPad, iPad mini, iTouch, if prefer Apple products, or a Nexus 10, Nexus 7, Nexus 4, if you prefer Google Android products.
Which would you rather carry around all shift? A heavier one or a lighter one? Which is easier to drop? Which is more expensive? Which fits in your apron?

Q: Sounds like smaller is better!

A: Not quite. It turns out the larger the screen real estate, the easier it is create an order since there is less scrolling and hunting.

Q: So bigger is better! I knew it.

A: Again not quite.  Smaller screens are less taxing physically over a long shift due to their smaller weight.

Q: So which is it?

A: As big as possible to make it easier to perform tasks, but not so big as to be physically taxing. The Goldilocks size for wait staff is right in the middle, a seven inch tablet. It’s about the same size as a check presenter and fits in the apron when not in use.

Q: That makes sense. I was rooting for bigger though.

A: If it makes you feel better, for host stands and other fixed locations we recommend ten inch tablets since they are not carried and it’s not physically taxing. So bigger is better there. But for table side guest ordering seven inch tablets is the way to go.



Photo credits: Ruler by Sterlic Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

looking through

In simplest terms, our vision is to create the definitive restaurant operating system that will make restaurants more profitable, more efficient, and ultimately create a better dining experience.

So what does this mean?

We want to provide restaurateurs a comprehensive and integrated set of tools to clearly see, manage, and optimize their restaurant from soup to nuts. If it’s affecting the restaurant, we want it to be part of the restaurant operating system. It’s a fairly ambitious vision that will take time to completely realize.

Right now, we are working on the core set of services for the restaurant operating system. We will be making it available soon. Over time, we’ll be adding additional services (35 identified to date) to complete the vision. It will include the features of a traditional point of sale (A POS with the functionality restaurants have been hoping for), plus a whole lot more.

Yes, it’s ambitious. Yes, it’s going to be a lot of work. But it’s time we brought the restaurants of the world into the information age. Restaurants deserve better information technology than they have been forced to cope with and we are going to bring it to them.

Our dream is to reduce the restaurant failure rate, reduce burnout, and give restaurateurs and staff a better life. Our vision of the restaurant operating system is a vital tool to help do that.


Photo credits: Looking Through by ultracuerpo Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

org chart

Following up from last month’s post, here’s the other half of why I founded Cloud Dine Systems.

I did it to create the change I want to see in the world and to make a place I would love working at.

Most business organizations today are hierarchical. I call them Taylor organizations since Frederick Winslow Taylor pioneered their workings around the turn of the century in “The Principles of Scientific Management”. They focus on specialization, top down communication, and foremost, efficiency. Unfortunately, they are characterized by slow reactions, turf wars, unempowered employees, and poor communication. It’s very difficult for these types of organizations to innovate.

The world is changing more quickly than ever and Industrial Age, Taylor organizations cannot keep up. The Information Age requires a new type of organization.

I believe this new type of organization will be:

  • Networked and flat instead of hierarchical. (Like this).
  • Directed by data driven self-organizing teams instead of top down commands.
  • A learning enterprise employing the feedback loops of Lean Startup and Innovation Accounting instead of the rigid, fear-based, command by fiat.
  • An innovative powerhouse operated by cross-functional agile teams without department silos.
  • Financially transparent through open book accounting with every partner sharing in the profits and held accountable by their peers.

This type of organization is much more nimble, empowering, and ultimately, I believe, more profitable than traditional Taylor organizations. Part of the reason I founded Cloud Dine Systems is to prove this and create a place I love to work at.


Photo credits: IBM/Tabulating Machine Co. organization chart by Marcin Wichary Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

red start

Why did I start Cloud Dine Systems?

Here’s half the answer. The other half will come next month.

Short version:

A wave of enabling technologies recently came into existence that will allow restaurants to be run in radically more profitable and customer focused way. Cloud Dine was created to bring the potential of these technologies into reality.

Longer version:

Recent innovations in technology have created sweeping changes in the possibilities for how restaurants operate. The list of changes coming together is amazing. Just to name a few: commodity hardware in the form of consumer off the shelf tablets, ubiquitous wi-fi wireless networks, cloud technologies, internet enabled smartphones, inexpensive internet connectivity, remote management technologies. These changes and others combine to create the foundation for a revolution.

Cloud Dine Systems was founded to utilize these enabling technologies and revolutionize the restaurant business.

So why should you care as a restaurateur? Because these coming changes will increase your profitability and efficiency. The last significant technology adopted by restaurants was the change from paper based systems to computer based point of sale systems. This increased the net profitability of restaurants by 1 to 3 percent. The upcoming revolution will have a similar impact and then some.

I believe these changes will reduce the horrible restaurant failure rate (by some counts 70% fail within ten years), reduce the need for 80-100 hour weeks with the associated burnout, and give restaurant owners and staff some of their life back. The potential to make a positive impact on millions of lives is a lot of the reason why this is worth doing and why I’m doing it.


Photo credits: Big Red Button by stephenhanafin Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Last month I explained how TripAdvisor and similar review sites dramatically changed the travel and restaurant business. The power of information has shifted from producers to consumers. The take away for restaurants is that every sale becomes a relationship sale since potential customers will draw on the experience of other customers.

So how do you manage TripAdvisor and other review sites?

My thanks to Marco, the owner of the fantastic Marco G in Rome, Italy for sharing his experiences and providing some of these tips. His amazing restaurant has been ranked #1 in Rome on TripAdvisor and is frequently in the top 25 for Rome. Here’s the Marco G TripAdvisor Listing. TripAdvisor drives new traffic to his restaurant in part because of his high rankings.

Basic Tips

  1. Claim your restaurant
    Go to the websites for TripAdvisor, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, CitySearch, Zagat, Google Local Reviews, Yellow Pages, Super Pages and your local alternative paper review page and claim ownership of your restaurant. How do you know which sites to go to? The same way consumers will. Go to and search on your restaurant name and city name and “reviews”. e.g. Marco G Rome Reviews.
  2. Join the conversation
    Check your reviews and respond. Starting out, just pick a day of a week to do reviews and add it to your weekly schedule. Yes, you are already busy, but these are customers who are talking directly to the rest of the world. About your restaurant! In other words, a customer is telling another potential customer about your restaurant and you get to add your two cents to that conversation. Shouldn’t you make the time for that?
  3. Be authentic
    Be yourself and human. Respond as if you are the manager/owner working the floor and a customer flagged you to tell you about your restaurant.
  4. Use the feedback
    Reviews are a free way to get feedback on your restaurant. They are like comment cards, but instead they are public. Use the feedback from them in the same way.

Advanced Tips

  1. Rankings
    Don’t chase your ranking/stars. Some days you will be up and some days you will be down. Obsessing about why you went up a notch or went down will drive you nuts.
  2. Top rating and reservations
    If do you become a top twenty-five rated restaurant in a market, don’t take reservations six months out. This one didn’t originally make sense to me, but according to Marco if you become highly ranked, people will reserve a spot at your restaurant for a few months out when they “plan” to visit. Often their travel plans fall through or your rankings dip, so they don’t show.
  3. Respond to negative reviews
    Respond to every review, especially negative ones. If a potential consumer sees a negative review that isn’t responded to, it is implied that it’s true.
  4. It depends
    How do you respond to negative reviews? Imagine you are on the floor and a customer tells you the food, service, decor, or something else is horrible. How do you respond? It depends. You have to use your judgment. In the same way that some customers try to get free meals by putting hair in their food, there is the SOB around the corner that wants to bash your restaurant. Fortunately, most consumers aren’t stupid and will read between the lines of what a reviewer is saying. If the reviewer has an agenda it often shows through. Moreover, potential consumers will take into consideration the sum of all the positive and negative reviews, so don’t take any one review personally.

This list should be enough to get you started with managing your review site listings. If you have other great suggestions please share them in the comments.


Photo credits: TripAdvisor Logo & TripAdvisor name © 2012 TripAdvisor LLC. Screenshot of TripAdvisor website used under Fair Use commentary and education.