The co-located NAFEM Show and FS/TEC expo opened yesterday to smaller crowds than in previous years, several exhibitors said. Still, a number of booths were seeing plenty of foot traffic thanks to new, innovative product debuts.
XPIENT Solutions was drawing plenty of FS/TEC attendees interested in checking out the debut of its kiosk management point-of-sale system.
XPIENT's kiosk is designed to not only provide the benefits of self-service to restaurant operators but also offer a customer service element, said Tracy Gallimore, vice president of account management for XPIENT.
Gallimore said XPIENT wanted to offer a solution to operators who were concerned about the cash management aspect of self-service kiosks so it modeled the solution after supermarket self-service checkout lanes that are managed by a cashier attendant.
"It solves the expense of doing cash handling," he said.
A cashier mans the XPIENT kiosk manager POS terminal to oversee the self-service terminals and provide help as needed. Customers paying by credit card pay at the self-service terminal, but only those paying with cash print out a receipt and take it and their payment to the cashier.
Wood Stone ovens tout flexibility
Wood Stone Corp.'s booth may be located in the far corner of The NAFEM Show floor, but the crowd around its display of ovens created plenty of buzz.
Many attendees were checking out the company's new Designer Series Stone Hearth Oven that offers customization from the size and number of chambers, doors and viewing windows as well as the cooking components, such as a wood stone oven or rotisserie.
"It still cooks like Wood Stone, but the fabrication technology is different to allow us flexibility," said Kurt Eickmeyer, vice president of sales and marketing for Wood Stone. "It allows it to fit into more potential spaces."
The company was also showing its new enclosed Charcoal Broiler Oven, a grill inspired by a popular oven used in Spain. The oven offers operators the advantages of cooking over high heat for greater searing and a hint of wood smoke flavor. The design also includes a highly effective ventilation solution.
"Because it's closed, operators don't have the challenge of capturing grease and smoke vapors off of it," Eickmeyer said.
Innovation a sign of success
Attendee Joe Strathman, a manufacturer's representative with E. Ruff & Associates Inc., was impressed with the innovative products pavilion and Maximicer's Maximicer for ice machines. The Maximicer cools water before it reaches the ice machine, reducing energy by 15 percent to 20 percent, according to the product display.
Strathman said he asked show organizers last year to offer a gallery for new products to
showcase the latest offerings and was pleased they followed on the suggestion.
"All the new products and new concepts are in one place, and they have a nice story about each one so you can understand what they do," he said. "Then you can see the booth number and go see the manufacturer."
Strathman said the proliferation of new products and technology was also proof that the industry is thriving despite the economic recession.
"They wouldn't have all this innovation if something good wasn't going on," he said.