Imagine going into a popular restaurant, sitting down at an open table and controlling the entire dining experience from a smartphone.
That's food, drinks, and even dessert all ordered and paid for on a phone.
Prolific Houston-area restaurateur Ken Bridge had the vision to converge dining with technology by creating a digital solution to combat chronic wait times in restaurants.
That vision became the Roovy Technologies mobile app, a platform designed to create the ultimate convenience for gastronauts everywhere.
"Roovy was birthed out of frustration," says Bridge, the serial entrepreneur behind the Delicious Concepts restaurant group. "Years ago, we would typically have lines out the door, so I thought to myself, that with technology, there should be a way for a guest to come in and manage their experience entirely from their phone.
"I felt like guests could go in, get sat at a table and order their food from their phone and pay from their phone and call it a day. That's how the idea of Roovy was conceived."
Three years ago, after putting mock pages together, Bridge started attending South by Southwest Interactive in Austin for research and inspiration. That led to commissioning a local boutique development agency in Houston to build out Roovy's Minimum Viable Product or road map before creating a fully functional platform.
"Roovy is a platform that allows the user to order and pay entirely from their phone," says Bridge. "We will soon be the first company to have all three categories of this type of app: dine-in, take out and delivery."
Bridge deployed Roovy in his Japanese concept restaurant, Blackbird Izakaya, at 1221 W. 11th St. in The Heights several months ago to test out the app before rolling it out to several other restaurants.
"It's a work in progress like everything else," says Bridge, who hopes for Roovy to be deployed in 20 restaurants very soon, then 40. "Everyday we're going to have issues that we need to resolve. But for now, we'll build it, we'll test it, we'll learn and we'll continue to go back and work out the kinks and keep pushing forward from there."
Convenience — on both sides of the transaction
For users, the value proposition is to be able to order and pay from their phone.
"Even a really good server can be impeding at the same time, over-qualifying or checking too much on a table that it becomes a distraction," says Bridge. "With Roovy, when the user is ready to order they can. It's convenience-based technology."
For operators, it streamlines the entire process, up to and including payment.
"We built this as a native solution, so restaurants can technically operate their entire restaurant on one single iPad, while cutting out all hardware," says Bridge.
The restaurant's menu is fully interactive and constantly updated in the app.
When a user places an order, they can add notes to alert the kitchen or bar with their allergies or substitutions and the kitchen or bar receives the notice on the Kitchen Display Side.
That order is then colored and timed, depending on the restaurant's flow and the user then receives a page when the order is ready.
"When restaurant's not packed, they can prepare orders in four minutes, but when packed, it may take eight minutes," says Bridge. "So through the machine learning, they can input a flow time, but then the system intuitively will become more and more intelligent based on the number of tickets and how frequently the operator is stocking and selling a particular item."
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