In the beginning of July, Tillypad UK completed the automation of The Vine, a gastropub located in historic Great Bardfield, just 30 miles away from London.
A prize-winning gastropub with fine wine and a rich history
Great Bardfield’s noted history begins in the 16th century under the reign of Henry VIII, who was known for his role in the separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church and his staggering number of marriages — in total, the king had six wives. The land and its historical buildings are still strongly associated with Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife, who received this territory as part of their divorce settlement. Now, in addition to its local places of interest — an ancient castle, gardens and a centuries-old vineyard — Great Bardfield also has perhaps the best restaurant in the area.
The Vine's aristocratic interior design is striking, but it hearkens back to an epoch much later than that of the medieval kings. The pub is decorated with heavy, carved dark wood furniture, exquisite floor lamps and beautiful mouldings, which blend with country-style floral wallpaper. Since the house was acquired and transformed by journalist and wine connoisseur Tanya Mann and her entrepreneurial spouse Steven Mann, The Vine has become known for its excellent and affordably-priced cuisine, generous portions, and wide selection of organic wines. The Vine's owners regularly organise themed evenings, such as wine tastings and presentations by wine critics and vineyard owners. On the last Saturday of the month, you can order a tasting menu, which includes small portions of the restaurant’s delicious dishes and a selection of wines to perfectly complement the samples. The restaurant often hosts musical evenings, poker nights and trivia games, and each year, The Vine takes part in the Real Ale Festival.
Steven and Tanya have earned the appreciation of the tens of thousands guests who have visited The Vine. This is confirmed by two awards: the Diners' Choice award from the OpenTable online reservation tool and the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. But these owners have no plans to rest on their laurels. Even smoother service and a more exquisite menu are now possible with the help of Tillypad XL.
Using modern technology to increase customer loyalty
With Tillypad XL, communication between waiters and kitchen staff has never been easier. Waiters take orders via Android devices and immediately send them to the kitchen. Before servers even step away from a table, their orders arrive at the kitchen printer. This line of communication plays an especially important role in the summer, when The Vine opens its courtyard terrace. Despite the fact that the courtyard and the kitchen are located at a considerable distance from one another, the waiters communicate with the chef instantaneously, which allows them to provide guests with unbelievably fast service.
At The Vine, both waiters and managers work on mobile devices. Whether the administrator is in the dining room, at the bar, on the terrace or in the wine cellar, he/she can book tables, coordinate employees, take stock, add items to the stop list and collect data about sales and staff performance.
Back office: minimal workload, maximum control
The Tillypad XL feature that has been most useful for The Vine has been the option to log staff hours on the POS terminal. When employees arrive at work, they each log in to the POS terminal to mark the start of their shift. The proprietors receive reports showing the hours worked by the cooks, waiters and barmen — with this information, running payroll is a cinch.
Payroll accounting and analysis of sales statistics are carried out on the office computer, which has a back office licence. Metrics like dish popularity and profitability are also analysed here. The menu is then modified using this information and any seasonal modifications. Changes applied to the menu from the back office appear on the POS terminal and employees’ mobile devices almost immediately.
Plans for the future
While The Vine waits for its customer loyalty cards to be issued, the restaurant is currently using only one type of card — employee cards used for logging in on the POS terminal. After the loyalty cards are issued, Steven and Tanya Mann plan to configure promotions with bonus points in Tillypad XL. The first promotions will be designed to increase the sales of menu items that incorporate bulk-purchase stock items. These loyalty programmes will be advantageous for both guests and the gastropub. In addition, the owners plan to automate their stock control.
Lee Rymell, Tillypad UK Operations Director: ‘The automation of The Vine was not what you'd call a normal implementation process — shortly before the planned installation, the restaurant flooded. The electricians had to work in short order to get the cabling in place, so electrical work was going on at the same time as the program installation and configuration. Despite the incident, the implementation only took us two days, just like we expected before the flooding. On the first day, we worked alongside the electrical subcontractors to assist them with cabling for the new Tillypad hardware. While they were changing the cabling, we upgraded the computers and moved the router so that the POS terminal handhelds had a strong enough wireless signal to operate throughout the restaurant. We added additional RAM and an SSD hard drive to ensure a smooth launch of the database and to make sure the head office computer could be used as the site server. On the second day, we trained the staff in the system. The implementation team then stayed on-site for a few days to provide support and make sure the program was running smoothly.’