Imagine a restaurant with a capacity for anything up to 1,000 diners. Imagine it’s served by more than one kitchen. Now imagine how you are going to keep track of where any dinner is at any given moment, what they have ordered, which kitchen is handling what order, how many courses have been served or are still waiting to be served and when a table has been vacated, to be made ready for the next customer.

But that’s not all. At the same time as working out the logistics of getting the right order to the right place with minimum delays, behind the scenes an efficient method of table reservations must be in place, not to mention the basic business of controlling cost while increasing sales.

It’s all a matter of balancing performance against critical objectives, and in today’s electronic, computer-controlled world that means selecting the right technology solution could be the most important investment decision a restaurateur will ever make.

The solution to which so many are turning today is the Aloha epos system from NFS Hospitality.

The Aloha suite of epos software helps to build efficient operations, provide the experience that guests expect and achieve healthy growth. It consists of seamlessly integrated components that maximise existing assets and minimise costly new integration projects, while increasing operational capabilities over time.

The restaurant quoted above is a mythical one. But it’s not so far removed from Shaka Zulu, London’s largest South African restaurant and nightclub. Set over a ground-breaking 27,000 square feet in The Stables Market at Camden, it is the largest venue of its kind in Europe. Shaka Zulu opened for business in August 2010. Since then, Aloha has been the central financial hub of the business.

The restaurant is gigantic, set over two floors with a capacity of 850 and boasting two fully-equipped kitchens which allow service from both levels.

“Aloha handles all our transactions, including client data and customer loyalty schemes,” said Shaka Zulu’s founder Roger Payne. “It is also linked with the table reservation system in our Braai Restaurant. In such circumstances, it is important to know when a table becomes vacant and to understand where any customer is at any time.”

“For example, a customer might start with a drink in the bar before moving on to a table to eat. Aloha tells us remotely when the customer has moved from bar to table and when each course has been served, as waiters call away food orders from table to kitchen, using Aloha-linked, hand-held terminals.”

What Roger, like others, understands is that a key component in delivering service which cements a restaurateur’s reputation and keeps guests coming back for more is having a point of sale software solution that is fast, reliable, flexible and easily managed.

Aloha is all that and more. It has evolved into a powerful solution that optimises restaurant or bar management and actively increases revenues. The software suite offers seamless integration between stock control, labour management, loyalty and gift cards, head office management, table reservations and guest management, tableside ordering and mobile payment systems – all in one complete solution.

When Roger was planning Shaka Zulu, he looked at the technology he would need to run such an ambitious project. Aware of the success of Aloha in several large-scale American restaurants, he came to the conclusion that the NFS system was the best and most cost-effective solution for his needs.

Plans are in hand to open further restaurants, but with each one being a multi-million pound development Roger is thinking only one step at a time. A second Shaka Zulu is due to be opened in London during 2012 – and in that venue, Roger has already decided that Aloha will also play a pivotal role.

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