You must be the change you wish to see in the world
— Mahatma Gandhi
Pune based brothers Abhay and Vijay Badhe appear to have taken this quote to heart. They got tired of the long delays in restaurants in getting tables, food and even the bills. So, instead of just whining about it, they went and built a business that sells solutions to restaurants that fixes the problem. Two years ago, they formed Wings iNet, with the intention of of providing “complete end-to-end solutions to hotel and restaurant industry through its innovative approach and use of the latest cutting edge technology”. Its first product is CaptainPad a wireless system that uses handheld devices for automating restaurant ordering systems.
In Pune restaurants like Rajwada, Green Park, who are now users of CaptainPad, gone are the days where waiter/captain takes order on a paper pad, physically takes it to billing counter and a kitchen. Now the captain carries a smart wireless touch pad device. The whole menu card is loaded in the CaptainPad device. Captain can now send the order from his device wirelessly to the kitchen and billing station. KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) and billing information will generate instantaneously. Captain need not go to anywhere.
Cooks see a printout of the order immediately after the order is taken. No delay. Also, the system automatically routes the appropriate orders to the appropriate cooks. Waiters also have devices which tell them which dishes to take where. When the customer wants the bill, the captain just clicks an icon on his screen and the bill is printed.
Sounds great in theory, but does it work in practice? I went to Green Park this weekend and to me it seemed that the processing was indeed faster. (But this could simply be a case of confirmation bias.) In any case, the owners/managers of the restaurant seem to be happy with the system. Processing is faster, customers are happier, and for those owners who have a GPRS cellphone, the complete information about the restaurant operations would be available on his mobile device, irrespective of the location. Restaurants are reporting that after the installation of the CaptainPad, the table recurrence ratio has also gone up – i.e. they serve more customers per table per day than earlier.
But what about the actual grunts who have to deal with the system – the captains and the waiters? I tried enticing one of them to complain about the system – to see if there were problems, and whether he preferred the older way of doing things. No dice. He was quite happy with the system.
For a large restaurant, this system appears to be a good investment at Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh depending on the number of captains which the restaurant has. No wonder Wings iNet is hoping to have a 100 customers by the end of the year.