As restaurant owners and operators consider the addition of catering programs to boost sales, companies such as MonkeyMedia Software are offering programs designed to handle the order-to-delivery process.
Monkey Media was showcasing its software platform for catering, bakery and commissary operations in booth No. 5759 during the 2009 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 16-19, at Chicago's McCormick Place.
The platforms include MonkeyCatering 3.0, MonkeyFoodFactory 2.5 and MonkeyMailorder 2.0.
MonkeyMedia, based out of Vancouver, British Columbia, was started by Erle Dardick 12 years ago in response to a catering sales increase at Tony's Deli & Catering, the restaurant Dardick owned for 12 years. The software program was developed by a friend and initially fed catering orders into the restaurant via e-mail. Today, the program can interface with a restaurant's call center and POS System and tracks everything from sales and production to labeling and accounting.
Catering orders are tracked through client notes (such as information about customer allergies and previous orders), order-level notes (such as where to drop off deliveries) and item-level notes (such as which name goes on which order and item modifiers).
"The biggest thing we see is fewer people going into restaurants," said Jeff Epstein, MonkeyMedia's director of sales & marketing. "If people aren't coming to you, you've got to go to them."
Clients include Boudin SF and San Francisco Soup. Einstein Noah Restaurant Group also uses the MonkeyCatering software for its catering-management program.
Einstein's director of catering, Vance Carlton, said the restaurant group started to heavily pursue its catering program about two years ago. So far, Einstein's catering program generates about 4 percent of company sales.
In addition to the catering order-management program, MonkeyMedia's bakery and commissary applications track inventory throughout the supply chain. Items can be followed as they come in from suppliers and as they are used during the production cycle.
The platform was built for multiunit concepts and items can be tracked in real-time either from a global or store-level view.
Ray Pawlikowski and David Cantu were working together at P.F. Chang's when they noticed a disconnect in the labor-scheduling and communication process. In 2000, the pair launched Austin, Texas-based HotSchedules, an online labor-management tool designed to simplify the communication process between restaurant managers and employees.
HotSchedules showcased its workforce-management solution during the 2009 NRA Show.
The software solution gives employees and managers the ability to communicate online through messaging and bulletin boards. Employees also can request to drop or add a shift using the solution while managers can input their daily shift logs or send updates via e-mail and text messages, essentially replacing spiral-bound log books. Real-time sales and labor data also can be accessed through the program, and employees can be sorted for chosen shifts based on the individuals' labor expense.
The program comes in packages: core, team, workforce and enterprise and can be integrated with an existing POS system.
For clients, the solution has eliminated labor costs by 2 percent to 3 percent, said Cantu, HotSchedules' vice president of business development.
Users of the program include Jamba Juice and McAlister's Deli franchise groups, along with Outback Steakhouse, IHOP, Kona Grill and P.F. Chang's. Overall, the company has 4,000 installations across 46 states, equating to an estimated 400,000 users.
"Managers at the store-level no longer have to field phone calls from staff," Cantu said.
During the show, HotSchedules also released iSchedule 3.0, the company's mobile application designed for the iPhone and iPhone Touch.  Future plans include the release of the manager-facing iSchedule application along with employee and manager applications for Blackberry and Windows mobile users as well.

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