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How does a 48-year-old global restaurant brand turning over $2.9b use technology?

This content item was originally published on www.restaurantonline.co.uk, a William Reed online publication.

By QSR Automations

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags QSR Automations Brinker International, Inc Chili’s Grill & Bar

The casual dining brand behind Chili’s® Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy® on how it uses technology to serve 1,000,000 guests per day without screwing up.

The US-based Brinker International, Inc. is one of the world’s leading casual dining restaurant companies and the home of Chili’s® Grill & Bar, Maggiano’s Little Italy®, together with virtual brand - It’s Just Wings®. Founded in 1975, Brinker turnover $2.9 billion in sales and owns, operates or franchises more than 1,600 restaurants across 31 countries and two territories. The business serves more than 1,000,000 guests daily and has a team of over 100,000 employees. 

The first Chili’s Grill & Bar was founded in Texas in March 1975. It was and remains today an iconic brand who pioneered a unique world of no frills, casual dining based on burgers, Margaritas and having fun. Guests were sold on the bold flavours, quality ingredients and Texas-sized portions. The brand has always been visionary, with its core focus being on not only its guests having a great experience but also its team members. Over the past 48 years, the brand has evolved naturally, focusing on its four core food items - burgers, sizzling fajitas, Chicken Crispers® and shaken Margaritas. 

“We want to serve consistent food and drink every time. We asked ourselves, how do we ensure our team members are delivering perfection, so that when dishes come to the table, they’re hot and fresh. Technology plays a critical role in stitching everything together, from how the food order goes into the kitchen, to how it comes to the table. Every aspect of that experience has a technology component weaved into it. We’re serving 1,000,000 guests daily and we can't screw it up”, says Pankaj Patra, senior vice president and chief information officer at Brinker International, Inc. 

“QSR Automations is a leading player in kitchen display systems. It was important to us that we weren’t tied to a system which would prevent us from growing the brand from a technology perspective. We were looking for a kitchen display system from a company that specialises specifically in kitchen display and QSR Automations came to the top of the list. When we looked at QSR’s ConnectSmart® Kitchen software, our goal was to look at all its capabilities and then ask, how does it align with everything we are trying to achieve.”

30% of Chili’s sales comes via its to-go business. In order to deliver this, the brand implemented initiatives which are unique to the industry in terms of managing expectations with guests. Chili’s takes the data provided by ConnectSmart® Kitchen to provide guests with accurate quote times as to when their food will be ready for pick-up or delivery. This is crucial to the brand by way of delivering on its promise to guests.  

“Prior to having ConnectSmart® Kitchen, we were paper based, which was not very user-friendly. We really wanted to focus on order accuracy and missing items, therefore setting ourselves up for success by delivering on our guest expectations. With ConnectSmart® Kitchen, the teams can look up at a screen, see the line builds and it tells them exactly what to cook and how. From an ease and execution standpoint that truly is game-changing,” says Adam Dingman, vice president of operational services at Chili’s Grill & Bar.

“From a technology perspective, what ConnectSmart® Kitchen gives us is real-time visibility into kitchen operations. So, not only does it manage what is currently happening, it also forecasts and builds a model to predict what can happen in the future. Our team members love it. The way it presents itself, the line builds, the colour scheme and vibrant nature of the touchscreens,” says Patra. 

As to the future, Chili’s is very much focused on what they need to do to ensure both the guest and team member experiences are amazing. The brand is reaping huge rewards from its all-in-one touchscreens and plans to roll the hardware out across the estate. 

“It’s huge and it’s exciting from both a business perspective and from a technology perspective. Working in a restaurant is hard and anything we can do to make it easier, I think that would be my goal,” concludes Patra.

To find out more about the QSR Automations ConnectSmart® Kitchen platform and how the technology can help to play a key role across your back-of-house visit QSR Automations​ or call (UK) 020 3870 4571 (US) 855 980-7328.

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