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Enterprise POS Brews up Success for Miller's Ale House

The recipe for success at Miller's Ale House, a 50-unit casual dining chain with locations in Florida, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois, is the way it balances consistent, centralized management with restaurant-level creativity and customization. Centralized control allows all Miller's Ale Houses to offer the chain's popular proprietary items, including Zingers (boneless chicken wings coated in a choice of sauces) and a homemade ice cream dessert known as Captain Jack's. Yet each restaurant also features its own "specials" menu, so that every Ale House can cater to local tastes. Achieving this balance means that for its guests who travel from city to city where its units are located, Miller's Ale Houses can offer both the familiarity of favorite items and the chance to try a wide range of appetizers and entrees.

For its information technology needs, Miller's Ale House needs a similar combination: strong centralized administration balanced with flexibility and unit-level customization capabilities. In addition, any solution Miller's uses must be able to handle its high-volume operations. Miller's found that balance, plus the stability and performance it required, with PAR's EverServ POS TSR Edition.

PAR's EverServ POS TSR Edition is a simple yet powerful POS solution built on next-generation internet technologies that provide chain operators with an integrated approach to every aspect of guest service.

The Miller's Ale House transition to EverServ POS TSR Edition, which took place three years ago, was smoothed by the solution's easy-to-use interface for restaurant-level employees. "It's very intuitive for the employees," says Glenn Brown, information technology director for the Jupiter, Fla.-based chain. "PAR EverServ POS TSR Edition makes it easy for employees to do the main functions we need from a POS, as well as things like split checks and discounts."

Java use boosts reliability & flexibility
In addition to meeting the needs of restaurant-level employees, the EverServ POS TSR Edition solution also offered benefits for Miller's above-store executives and its IT staff. Brown explains that prior to adopting the EverServ POS TSR Edition, the company used a software solution that "had a lot of legacy code and features that came along with it as baggage; essentially it had a lot of moving parts to it," he says. "It didn't have above-store reporting or centralized management integrated into it, and then when we were looking at PCI compliance it would have forced us to do another upgrade to include that." At that point the company decided to look for alternatives, and the EverServ POS TSR Edition made the short list of possible solutions.

According to Brown, the first point in EverServ POS TSR Edition favor was its ability to provide Miller's with access to its own data via a SQL database. Another was the solution's architecture, a single server stack that would allow the company to use the same software from the store level up through the entire enterprise.

"We also liked that it was all written in Java and was therefore platform-independent," says Brown. "For example, if some day we decided to push hard on using Linux, we would not be locked in in terms of either hardware or software. EverServ POS TSR Editionis flexible."

Another benefit from the EverServ POS TSR Edition is its use of Java was improved memory management. "We had had issues of 'memory leaks' with other POS systems, where some small part of the code was using up a lot of memory," Brown explains. "If the system wasn't rebooted over X number of days and we didn't do a restart of the entire system, it would crash. But because EverServ POS TSR Edition is written in Java, that takes care of our memory management issues."

Centralized management & improved reporting functions
For the IT department specifically, "The biggest plus has been the solution's centralized management," says Brown. "EverServ POS TSR Edition gave us the ability to standardize and re-use menu items and rules across the enterprise. Also, we can now put all of the chain's employees, from all our locations, into one single set. The ability to program centrally and then push things down to the unit level has been a big win for us."

Miller's has already integrated the EverServ POS TSR Edition solution with its accounting system and above-store food costing programs, and is looking to tie it to a QSR Automations kitchen display system as well. The EverServ POS TSR Edition has also improved the company's ability to move information up the corporate chain of command and to make it available to those who need it. "The ability to see reports through a Web interface is good for us," says Brown. "More visibility into store-level reporting by our regional managers and the corporate offices has been a big help."

The reports themselves can be quite granular, thanks to customization work that Brown did in conjunction with PAR. "I can get per-employee information on things as specific as the cost of discounts or the menu mix," says Brown. EverServ POS TSR Edition's ability to be customized also makes the store managers' jobs easier: "The store-level managers only see the tabs and functions that they need for their role," says Brown. "That simplifies the interface, and the business process, for them."

While Brown and his staff are experienced enough to do the vast majority of IT work themselves, he does appreciate the interactions he has with PAR's people. "They've been responsive in terms of creating a partnership going forward," he reports.

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