With engaging technology, complete customizability, and full service, the deck seems to be stacked in Stacked’s favor. The California-based restaurant is focused on providing popular American comfort foods with an unprecedented level of customization—something full-service restaurants often struggle to provide without a cumbersome ordering process. The founders of Stacked—Paul Motenko and Jerry Hennessy—are two industry veterans from BJ's Restaurants who wanted to do something new to bring more opportunity for customer choice into the full-service market.
“Our philosophy in the restaurant business has always been to give the guests a great experience, and the type of experience they personally like,” says co-founder Paul Motenko. “Incorporating the iPad ordering system was the only way we could do it so that guests could comfortably and in an uninhibited manner make all these choices.”
Guests at Stacked are able to select their desired ingredients to visually build their meal on the iPad at each table before sending their order off to the kitchen. With hundreds of toppings and variations—there are more than 60 topping options for salads alone—each order can be a completely unique formulation of the menu’s classic American options. While the technology was initially introduced to facilitate the complete customization of orders, Motenko says it comes with a hefty list of side benefits, including giving the customer total control over when they order and when they pay.
“Literally, every table can be having their very own personalized experience: it can be as quick as fast casual or it can be a very leisurely process,” he says.
In other words, the iPad takes the guesswork out of timing for the wait-staff. Motenko balks at the traditionally held idea that technology can get in the way of creating a personalized, positive service environment. He says technology doesn’t inhibit the guest experience; it simply provides more options for customers to create their ideal experience.
“It’s not about the technology, it’s about customer preference,” he adds. “It’s not the intention to use it to replace caring, attentive service. The first reaction is often to think that technology is less personal, whereas if you use technology appropriately, you can make the experience much more personal.”
As another perk, electronic comment cards on the store’s tablets provide instant feedback on the process, generating usable data for Motenko and the rest of the Stacked team. What they’ve found is promising: About 78 percent of guests say that the tablet ordering system makes their dining experience more enjoyable. With the introduction of its iPad ordering system, Stacked has been able to streamline the ordering process and provide diners with their favorite comfort food, perfectly tailored to their preferences.
“Technology can be used for good or evil,” Motenko says. “If you use it well, it can really enhance the experience.”
Stacked is looking forward to bringing customization to other traditional dishes and dayparts and will soon provide breakfast options at its Huntington Beach location.
By Emily Byrd