Welcome to the future of the food and restaurant industry: high-tech dining, courtesy of the industry’s most comprehensive point-of-table technology called TopCellar.
Imagine the next time you order a drink at your favorite bar, you can not only browse the wine list but also learn about this season’s harvests, select a bottle, read up on its industry ratings, and even view images of the vineyard where the grapes from that bottle were grown. You can also receive pairing recommendations and share the experience with your Facebook friends.
An award-winning restaurateur in the Carolinas named Rick Erwin is taking the TopCellar app–originally custom designed for and successfully tested in his restaurants–and working with the TopCellar team to release a private beta version available to select companies by invitation. The public, iPad-based app will be available on iTunes this November, timed to capitalize on the holiday season, the most critical time of year for food and beverage managers to generate revenue.
Erwin, who currently serves as chairman of the board of the South Carolina Hospitality Association (SCHA) and president of the Restaurant Division of SCHA, has been in the restaurant industry since the ripe age of 14, working for more than two decades at Ryan’s Steakhouse, and then opening his first restaurant in 2005.
Rick Erwin’s West End Grille was named among Open Table’s top 50 restaurants in the nation, is a 2012 Open Table Diner’s Choice Award winner, and has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for six consecutive years since its opening.
“At West End Grille and Nantucket Seafood we strive to give our customers the finest dining experience anywhere,” says Erwin, owner of the Greenville, South Carolina-based Rick Erwin Dining Group and co-creator of TopCellar. “Our new iPad-based TopCellar app is testament to that. It takes ordering wine to a whole new level for our guests—and it’s significantly boosted wine sales as well.”
Michael Ivey, who serves as the chief financial officer for Rick Erwin Dining Group, says, “I knew we were on to something with this TopCellar app. I thought it would be a cool new feature—something dynamic customers would really enjoy. But I had no idea how much it would bolster our wine sales, which are up 15 percent since its implementation.”
TopCellar has its sights set high and intends to be the standard-setter in the design, development, and implementation of point-of-table solutions for the restaurant and hospitality industry. Committed to providing restaurant owners and managers with a dynamic, engaging, interactive offering that immerses guests in a heightened dining experience, TopCellar helps cultivate lifelong customers and an increased bottom line. TopCellar is a proven solution, with revenue increases from wine sales alone up over 15 percent per location.
TopCellar is being designed to be made available for download through iTunes in two separate configurations: TopCellar and TopCellar PRO. The TopCellar app, to be priced at a one-time download fee of $99.00, will offer the industry’s most comprehensive point-of-table experience for the sale of beer, wine, and spirits. TopCellar PRO will extend that feature set to cover full, customized menu options for restaurants and be offered at a one-time download fee of $599.00.
The TopCellar App is designed to benefit restaurants at every level, from the top down. Owners and CFOs like it because it increases revenue; servers like it because they sell more wine and get more tips; general managers like it because it optimizes the logistical day-to-day operations (inventory, sorting, etc); and customers like it because it gives them a more dynamic and gratifying point-of-table experience.
TopCellar’s traction in Erwin’s restaurants supports recent findings on Americans’ trending tastes as they relate to their dining-out experience. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, nearly 40 percent of consumers say they’d be likely to use an electronic ordering system and menus on tablet computers at table service restaurants. About half said they would use at-table electronic payment options and a restaurant’s smart phone app to view menus and make reservations.