The CPO talks about growing up around the restaurant industry and how becoming a father influences his product strategy.

In my role as CPO of SpotOn, so much of my day is centered around thinking about the future. Roadmaps, Industry Reports, how to leverage new technologies like AI require investment today to be successful in months, quarters, and years to come. As soon as I get home to my 3 young kids though, those roadmaps and launch plans fall away, replaced with superfluous bandaids, jokes told on repeat, and the inevitable “why → why → why” which have become the soundtrack to our happy and chaotic home. 

Both as CPO and as dad, my job is to invest in the present so that we can be stewards of the future, including all the chaos and unpredictability that comes with it. 

It’s a special moment when the SpotOn team’s roles as parents and as advocates for the future of restaurants merge. Earlier this week, we launched a new feature that does just that. It’s called Seat & Send. Here’s what it does. 

My son and I love going out for breakfast pancakes. It’s kind of our thing, but he’s yet to perfect the art of “patiently waiting.” Add in a short-staffed restaurant or an unexpected rush, and trying to squeeze in that special pancake breakfast went from happy thought to fear inducing. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With SpotOn’s Seat & Send feature, the host sends you a text message from their waitlist app so you can order ahead of time, minimizing wait times (and hangry kids) and maximizing table turns for restaurants.

It’s the kind of win-win that the restaurant industry needs. Restaurants get in additional table turns, likely during the coveted brunch rush, and parents get a smoother dining experience completed before tiny smiles turn into big tears. Every parent has done the calculation of cooking at home vs. going out to eat. Weighing the cooking and clean-up against the expenditure of going out—as well as the potential for chaos. What I love about Seat & Send is the way it makes dining out with kids easier, tipping my calculation towards going to a restaurant and making the memories (& saving myself the clean-up.)

I’m not alone in my excitement for this feature—the National Restaurant Association State of the Industry Report 2023 found 85 percent of adults with children in their household would take advantage of the option to order in advance if it was offered by a sit-down table-service restaurant. When you’re not crossing your fingers for a server to take your order before your kids get antsy, going to a restaurant becomes more enjoyable for parents, kids, and other guests too. Though it doesn’t hurt to have some coloring placemats and emergency goldfish at the ready, just in case. 

Long before I was a dad, I was a kid raised in a large family of small business and restaurant owners. I’ve seen the grit and tenacity it takes to run a small business. Passion is as inherent to the restaurant industry as walk-ins and deep fryers. It’s what inspired me to build a career developing technology that supports the growth and success of small businesses. SpotOn creates technology for hardworking, passionate people who care deeply about creating a great experience for their guests. And sometimes that guest might just be someone’s happy kid. 

As SpotOn’s Chief Product Officer, Bryan Solar defines the company’s product vision, strategy, and execution, overseeing one of the strongest product and technology teams in the combined software & payments industry. He is also a member of SpotOn’s Executive Leadership Team. Previously, he led Product Management, Engineering, Data Science, Marketing, and Creative teams as the GM for Square for Restaurants. Bryan grew up surrounded by those in the restaurant industry, with multiple grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all owning restaurants. 

Expert Takes, Feature, Technology