In 2010, an Albuquerque restaurant owner asked Andy Lim, a friend and the eatery’s website designer, to create an alternative to the expensive, unintuitive point-of-sale system he was using. The restaurant owner wanted a streamlined system for functions like order taking and checkout.
“He gave me and Corey Fiala (now my co-founder) a receipt printer and cash drawer and said ‘please make something better for me,’” recalls Lim. “That was just before the release of the iPad.”
Lim, who has a degree from the University of New Mexico in management information systems, and Fiala, an app developer, moved fast, and by the iPad’s initial release, they had Lavu, a full-featured point-of-sale system for restaurants, up and available on the Apple App Store. “Our website soon had hundreds of requests coming in from all over the world, and we knew then that we were on to something big,” says Lim, now Lavu CEO.
Built for iOS devices like iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, Lavu makes full use of Apple’s intuitive, user-friendly hardware, says Lim. Lavu allows servers and hosts to use the Apple devices to take orders, track seating, and email receipts to customers to reduce printing waste. It also offers direct credit card integration.
Orders taken on the iPad or iPod are immediately transferred via wireless technology to the kitchen staff. Lavu allows restaurant staff to keep track of all the tables and open tickets, split checks easily, and adapt quickly to changes—such as when a guest decides during a meal to move to another table. Staff easily can make modifications to the menu, to add specials or remove out of stock items, and can also upload pictures of menu items to show guests what they’re ordering. Lavu also runs order history tracking with an integrated customer database, and labor vs. sales reporting, which can be accessed remotely via the Apple device.
The system counts down as menu items are purchased and warnings are displayed when those items are close to gone. When the inventory count reaches zero for an item, it displays as unavailable for purchase, which gives the server the ability to immediately inform the customer.
Lavu iPad POS is now used in more than 3,500 service businesses in 85 countries. One such business is Pies & Pints Pizzeria, which started using Lavu more than a year ago in its Morgantown, West Virginia, location and liked it so much, expanded its use to its Dayton, Ohio, location.
Another big fan is celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, who features Lavu on his television show “Kitchen Nightmares” as a means to help troubled restaurants improve operations and their businesses’ bottom line.