Hospitality Technology’s Top Women in Restaurant Technology Awards, now in their fifth year, recognize women who are making their mark in a male-dominated industry. In the coming weeks we will be profiling each of the 10 honorees in-depth on hospitalitytech.com/topwomen21.
Kathy Alcaras, Director of IT, Eureka Restaurant Group
Kathy Alcaras, Director of IT, Eureka Restaurant Group, worked in restaurant operations for more than 14 years before moving over to technology.
“I had often wished that there were solutions in technology that could possibly make my job as a restaurant manager more efficient, but it was not until I had started working on the technology side of the business that I had discovered the possibilities,” said Alcaras.
What she likes most about technology is working towards continual improvement. Alcaras is passionate about technology’s ability to ramp up efficiency and productivity. She is particularly interested in solutions that can help restaurants increase sales.
Early last year, Alcaras joined Eureka and spearheaded the launch of the restaurant’s first online ordering platform and a new contactless ordering service model – as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.
“2020 was definitely the year of transformation, innovation, and creativity for the restaurant industry,” said Alacaras.
Eureka! Restaurant Group was among the hundred of restaurants that added OneDine’s web-based ordering system that is accessible to guests by either scanning a QR code or tapping an NFC sensor. OneDine was presented with Hospitality Technology’s Industry Hero Award for its efforts to assist restaurants in doing business during the pandemic.
“We wanted to provide a ‘commerce everywhere’ approach,” writes Alcaras, in this HT exclusive. “This meant every customer would have a consistent experience, whether they were ordering online for pickup, delivery or dine-in. And we also wanted this technology to offer customers the ability to pay directly from the comfort of their own phone.”
Safety and necessity drove consumers to embrace online ordering from everything to groceries, clothes and their restaurant meals. It’s a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future - driven by consumer demands for convenience. “What this pandemic taught a lot of people is how convenient it is when they can future-order things online,” she explained, adding that restaurant online ordering will continue to be improved.
The importance of cultivating customer loyalty and using data to improve guest experiences will increase in importance, Alacaras adds. “How can we enhance our guests’ experiences and turn them in to long-term customers after their very first visit? How do we make them fans of our food, service and business? How do we motivate our guests to come back and bring their friends and family? A lot of restaurant companies are thinking of how to answer these questions about the best way for using the available guests’ data today. How we choose to use these data depends on what your business model is, and how it represents what is important to your guests,” she says.
VIDEO: Watch Kathy Alcaras' acceptance speech. (30 seconds.)
When it comes to the future of restaurant technology, Alacaras said, “I am looking forward to the technologies that will help us analyze the data and give us the answers to how we can customize the guest experience for our restaurants.”
While Alcaras is proud of her 33-year career in restaurants – including 19 in technology, she’s most proud of her volunteer work in the restaurant industry: volunteering for fundraisers and promoting the CRAF and Restaurants Care.
As the SoCal Chapter Chair and Board Member of the International Food & Beverage Technology Association, she promotes restaurant technology knowledge and experiences from peer to peer through meetings and networking events.
“I learned a very important lesson from a CEO that I had worked with. He taught me to always give back to the industry that has been good to you: the restaurant industry,” she says. “I will always do what I can to promote and support the restaurant community.”