Park City company’s software makes managing restaurants a breeze
May 29, 2015
Jim Ngo and Donna Shillinger want to bring restaurants into the 21st century.
They claim restaurants should no longer be using outdated point-of-sale systems and servers should no longer be fumbling with a pad of paper and a pen. That’s why their company, Cirra Systems — Ngo is the company’s president, while Shillinger serves as vice president — has developed a cloud-based restaurant management system.
Ngo, who said he used to be a software developer for Apple and whose family used to own a restaurant, said he developed the system, dubbed Tavlo, after noticing a technology shift is overdue for many restaurants.
"I looked at the technology that restaurants are using today," Ngo said. "From my point of view, that technology is just stuck in a previous decade. The types of systems a lot of restaurants are using were designed decades ago — 10, 15, 20 years ago — and they’re still using them today. Meanwhile, technology has moved far beyond that."
Enter Tavlo. Ngo said the system allows a restaurant to build its own website, accept online ordering and reservations, create customer loyalty programs, track employee hours, and outfit its servers with tablets to simplify tableside ordering, among other services.
"It’s an entire technological suite that we’re bringing to restaurants," he said. "It helps them become more efficient and increase customer satisfaction. Restaurants that don’t adapt to that changing market are finding themselves really struggling to bring in customers and to keep them satisfied."
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Where customers will most notice a change in the dining experience is with servers using tablets to take their orders. Being able to add orders to the system right as servers take them helps eliminate mistakes, as servers will no longer forget the details of an order on their way back to the kitchen. Nor will kitchen staff have to read servers’ often-sloppy handwriting.
"That’s one thing our restaurants have noticed," Ngo said. "That increases customer satisfaction, but restaurant owners love that because every time you make a mistake, that’s money that’s going in the garbage."
Shillinger added that it also means new servers don’t have to be as familiar with the details of the menu, because they’ll have that information at their fingertips.
"No longer does anyone have to walk up to your table and do things by memory or understand what the specials are," she said. "It is very smooth. The servers can see the specials on their (tablet). They can click on that order as it’s brought up. And if food is out of stock, it’s automatically not going to show up on the menu."
Another benefit of the system, Shillinger said, is its ease-of-use. That takes the pressure off restaurateurs to ensure things are running smoothly.
"The proprietor doesn’t have to worry anymore about the system in their back office or what to do when it crashes," she said. "We do all that for you. It’s in the cloud, so all you have to do is log into the web page."
Tavlo has been in development for about 18 months, with restaurants testing it for about a year, Ngo said. With the software ready, the company is now beginning to expand sales.
"It’s been growing," he said. "Every week we’ve been getting customers referred to us, calling us. It’s been a great response."
While the plan is to eventually go national, the company hopes to catch the attention of local restaurants, for which Tavlo is a perfect fit, Shillinger said.
"I think the expectations of customers we get (in Park City) are high," she said. "They travel. They’ve been to a lot of the higher-tech cities, and the restaurants they go to are now using these devices. They expect our restaurants to use them as well and to offer that experience here."
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