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Menus Meet iPad

Often, some of the most innovative technology ventures are the direct result of strong operator-vendor partnerships. When the Columbia, Md.-based, 300-plus seat Victoria Gastro Pub first began flirting with the possibility of replacing its 60-page ‘Libations Menu’ with Apple iPads running Micros’ mymenu app, the process began with direct outreach from its vendor.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Micros,” says Randy Marriner, owner of Victoria Gastro Pub. “And they came to us and said, ‘hey we have some ideas that we would like to run by you to see if they have any merit.’”
Victoria Gastro Pub currently uses six roaming iPads in its bar, providing guests with the ability to search current offerings by a variety of qualifiers, such as flavor profile or beer style, and view detailed product information. And for those who cannot decide on a final selection, a shopping cart feature enables guests to save their top picks should they wish to consult a member of the wait staff on his or her top recommendation. “We sell at any time, every day, 250 bottles of beer and at least 24 different ones on tap, which are continually being rotated out. On top of that we have a stellar wine list and all different types of specialty cocktails. When you sit down at our bar or in our restaurant, but primarily in our bar, and you open the [Libations] binder it is just daunting,” says Marriner. “It [mymenu app running on the iPad] makes it very simple and it is not overwhelming.”
What’s more, the pub is able to reach its new target audience through the application: Millennials. “They make reservations through OpenTable, they research and Google everything, and they are really techno savvy. So we thought, how do we take our new market, our emerging market, which are kids that are between 21 and 30, and how do we take technology and have it impact us and empower our guests to make the guest experience that much more pleasurable and that much more knowledgeable,” says Marriner.
Additionally, because these devices have embedded GPS capabilities, Victoria Gastro Pub can lock them down so that if they walk out the door, no one will be able to use them. “We really haven’t had an issue [with stolen iPads] and don’t foresee one.”
Future plans
The pub, which is currently in beta, continually receives positive feedback from guests regarding the iPads and plans to expand the number of iPads should the test continue to go according to plan. “Because this has so many legs, I can’t image that we won’t implement,” says Marriner. “The next thing, once we decide to implement it, we will have the ability to tie it into our POS product.” Additionally, Victoria plans to integrate its 700-member ‘Beer Club’ customer loyalty program (managed via Micros’ iCare), enabling members to rate beers and interact with other club members via the iPads.

That same customer feedback has also lent itself to product improvements. “The response that we have gotten from our guests is very rewarding and very helpful. So we are constantly asking questions and taking notes,” says Marriner. For instance, one of the first improvements made to the solution was the addition of a type-in keyword search.
“Right now we are trying to educate our consumer so that they make knowledgeable purchasing decisions and it gives them one more reason to come back to our establishment. There is a lot of competition out there in the midst of the recession… programs and partnerships like the one we have with Micros help us every day.”

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