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The Purple Café and Wine Bar Puts Customers First with Squirrel Systems Technology

  • SQUiRREL Systems
  • 05.22.07
The Purple Café and Wine Bar has built a large fan base by welcoming guests with a combination of casual sophistication and upbeat metropolitan style.

Its atmosphere is so welcoming in fact, that Seattle Metropolitan Magazine dubbed Purple Café "The People’s Wine Bar." With three locations in the Seattle area their loyal following appreciates the classic American style menu with seasonal Northwest ingredients and Mediterranean themes, coupled with a renowned global wine selection.

The Purple Café's popularity means it often sees close to 600 guests a night. To give his many loyal customers the excellent dining experience they’ve come to expect, general manager Dan Kezner needed a POS system that was as robust as the wines he serves. Having outgrown the capabilities of its existing POS system, Purple Café also needed a solution that would be able to support its needs now and in the future.

A complex food menu and over 80 wines by the glass, flights (a set of four 2.5 oz tasting samples), or bottle allows guests a great deal of customization but makes for a challenging restaurant environment. The Purple Café needed a tailored, reliable POS solution that would make it easier for staff to deal with high customer volumes. Additionally, the ideal solution needed to enable managers to make menu or price changes easily, provide real-time access to business performance data, and integrate with its accounting system, while being easy for staff to use.

With two floors and multiple bars, the Seattle Purple Café location needed a solution flexible enough to integrate certain parameters of where requisitions for beverages and food items would surface to maximize efficiency and productivity. It also needed a system capable of processing large volumes of data with ease, to make sure service quality did not suffer during customer volume spikes.

"Our restaurant environment can be somewhat difficult to explain because it is so complex. With a big menu and an even bigger wine list getting the order right and on time every time is a challenge in itself. It becomes more of a challenge when we get very busy. We have amazing staff who make it all look easy, but we knew that we needed to provide them with a POS system that would support their work and not let them down when they needed it most," says Kezner.

After a thorough review of a number of POS systems, Purple Café decided to implement Squirrel Systems technology for their three restaurants. The company worked with POS customization and support experts Pacific Restaurant Systems Inc. who were able to leverage Squirrel Systems technology's design flexibility to deliver a solution that ideally matched Purple Café's needs. Pacific Restaurant Systems prides itself on the high level of customer service it provides clients and this implementation was no exception. At the completion of this project even the system colors were altered to match Purple Café's look and feel.

"When we compared Squirrel Systems to other solutions on the market it became clear to us that its flexibility, ease of use and reliability made it the best fit for us. Personally speaking, I also had the biggest amount of confidence in the long term viability of Squirrel technology," says Kezner. "What particularly impressed me was the level of service we received from Squirrel Systems and Pacific Restaurant Systems. By the time we made our decision to go forward with the implementation we already felt like we were partners."

One of Squirrel System's key differentiators and a feature that made the solution a good fit for Purple Café is its ability to seamlessly integrate with other restaurant management systems. In Purple Café's case this means integration with Compeat, its accounting and back-office management software. Importing transaction data from SquirrelOne on a daily basis allows The Purple Café to create financial statements with ease and to conduct business cost analysis, such as costing out of recipes, easily and accurately.

SquirrelOne's Enterprise Management modules provide The Purple Café with further management tools. They enable the organization to process functions such as payroll, sales and even tips reporting accurately and easily right from within the POS system. By using the SquirrelOne Time & Attendance module staff can clock in and out on any POS terminal. Because the module calculates pay automatically when staff punch in and out, managers are able to review payroll information on demand and create reports for pre-processing payroll information.

The Purple Café also leverages SquirrelOne's integration with Heartland Payment Systems' high speed payment processing, and Valutec Card Solutions Inc. gift card processing solutions. The integration of these solutions into its POS system means all of the tools staff needs to provide top quality service can be accessed quickly and easily any time.

Squirrel touch screen workstations also made the solution a great fit for Purple Café. The intuitive and reliable terminals make it easy for staff to process orders while maneuvering through even the most complex menu. Their rugged and streamlined design also makes the workstations ideally suited for fast paced restaurant environments like this one. SquirrelOne software also turns the workstations into business hubs - allowing restaurant managers to make changes such as menu or price alterations in real time, from any terminal in the restaurant.

"Squirrel Systems technology was also a great fit for The Purple Café because of its thin client terminal design," says Scott Fallon, President, Pacific Restaurant Systems Inc. "The organization realized that not having to manage hard drives and operating system software on the restaurant floor is a big advantage as it reduces the potential for downtime and IT troubleshooting needs."

Having used Squirrel technology since January of 2006, Purple Café continues to be impressed with the POS' performance. What sets Squirrel apart in their eyes is Squirrel Systems' ability to provide highly customizable solutions backed up by on-going support.

Since The Purple Café implemented the Corporate POS manager, one of the most important benefits has been the time savings. Menu updates can easily be made across all three restaurant locations, while giving managers the flexibility to customize both menu and pricing for their individual locations as needed. Producing reports and gaining insight into restaurant performance levels is also quicker and easier, and with customization provided by Pacific Restaurant Systems Purple Café management is able to access any information they need in precisely the format they need it. With SquirrelOne individual restaurant performance information can also be sent to the head office for real-time analysis and reporting. Response times are cut down because managers are able to see trends and prospective problem areas in real-time.

"Being successful in an industry as competitive as the restaurant business means it is critical for me to have confidence in the business intelligence information provided by our POS system," says Larry Kurofsky, owner of the Purple Café. "With SquirrelOne, and through its seamless integration with software like Compeat, I can monitor the performance of all three restaurant locations easily and know that any management decision I make is based on complete and accurate data. This makes a tremendous difference in my ability to stay ahead of the competition."

Frontline staff is also able to improve efficiency and productivity thanks to the ease of use of SquirrelOne. The intuitive design of the system makes it easy for employees to process high volume orders and payments, while maintaining the casual sophistication Purple Café is known for.

Not only does new staff find the system intuitive and easy to learn, but existing staff successfully made the transition to the new solution and appreciate its exceptional performance. Coupling the ergonomic touch screen terminals with reliable and fast POS software means that now staff can spend less time entering orders and focus on their main priority, the guests.

One advantage that was unexpected was the paperless reporting environment it created for management. Sales reports are now uploaded through SquirrelOne to Compeat and can be viewed onscreen on-demand. Payroll management has also become a paperless process. All data is exported from SquirrelOne and sent electronically to be processed. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, a paperless reporting environment cuts operational costs and saves time by decreasing errors and misplaced reports.

"We work in a fast-paced industry and our staff has high pressure demands. We needed a POS system that could keep up," says Kezner. "Squirrel's solution has renewed our staff's faith in technology and that is remarkable."

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