What do the Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Cincinatti Reds, Marriott Hotels and the California Pizza Kitchen have in common? The Smartender automated bartending system!
Believe it or not, automated bartending technology is here and if you own a bar or nightclub, this product can be designed into your facility today. Design Buzz went on the road to visit Smart Bar USA to see its Smartender automated bar technology first-hand. As I mentioned in a previous edition (refer below), you need to automate your facilities if you are serious about making money in the nightclub and bar business today, and I'm here to tell you that this is a product you'll want to know about. Here's my exclusive audio interview with the CEO of Smart Bar USA:
What is Smartender AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
I recently met with William Metropulos, inventor and CEO of Smart Bar USA. It was an enlighteningopportunity to witness what I consider to be one of the most exciting and impactful products ready to hit the nightclub and bar industry, rooted in ingenious, creative design. Metropulos was a DJ 20 years ago when he had a vision for dispensing liquor with the push of a button. He formed smartbarUSA in 2009 and developed the Smartender prototype in 2010. The product was formally released in 2013. Coupled with state-of-the-art touch-screen programming and a joint venture with respected bar equipment manufacturer Glastender, William’s idea and fledgling company are poised for the stratosphere by offering the only product of its kind in the world! Considering the names of those who are lining-up to purchase a Smartender, it's apparent that Smartender is not creating a need – it's fullfilling a need, one that is long overdue.
Smartender can best be described as an automated bartender on wheels – a smart bartender – one who will help increase profits, not a “silent partner!” Smartender is a self-contained, attractively-styled cart that holds 16 bottles of liquor and 12 mixers, controlled by a computer-driven POS and dispense-head. Here are some of Smartender’s features (you can download the Smartender product brochure below) –
· Ensures impeccable quality control, as each drink recipe is poured the same way, within 1/20th of an ounce.
· Customizable 16 liquor bottle drawer and 12 unit mixer bay.
· The onboard POS touch-screen enables quick and easy access to hundreds of pre-programmed drinks and shots; see the Smartender POS screens below.
· Downloadable accounting reports to external devices or networks.
· Customizable controls allows for quick changes to pricing, cup size and liquor portion.
· Lockout features and magnetic-strip card reader.
· New drinks can be added via the “Create-a-Drink” on-the-fly feature.
· 5 gallons of water.
· Insulated ice bin with 20 pound capacity.
· Insulated built-in garnish tray.
· Industry-grade hardware and assembly by renowned bar equipment manufacturer Glastender.
· The attractive cabinet is offered in stainless steel or a variety of laminates, along with your choice of countertop materials.
· 110V power cord.
· Average retail price: $25,000.
How Can the Smartender Help a Bar or Nightclub?
Honestly, after what I saw, I can tell you that the possibilities are seemingly endless. Let me begin by telling you that the limited-service hotels, such as those in the Springhill Suites and Marriott chains are already using the Smartender in lieu of the expense and space required for an on-premise bar; they can now offer drinks without the expense of a bartender. The concept also works extremely well in a waiter / bartender atmosphere common in the restaurant industry. For instance, the California Pizza Kitchen at the Mirage in Las Vegas uses this as their only bartender. Waiters and waitresses enter their drinks from any POS in the restaurant and fulfill the order at the terminal by confirming their identity and then automatically dispensing their own drinks. For the nightclubs and bars, the first application for Smartender I think of is as an overflow bar – one that is rolled into position on a busy night or event. Hundreds of drink combinations are possible with the liquor and mixer capacity, but this can be tailored to each owner’s needs. In other words, every nightclub and bar has its own demographic for its respective drink menu and the Smartender will enable each owner that flexibility. Using the Smartender as an overflow bar eliminates the need for the design and space and fixture allocation for some service bars. I’m not suggesting that every service bar could be eliminated by a Smartender, but in some instances, a Smartender could be a logical choice in addition to or a service bar. For gentlemen's clubs, Smartender would be great for a VIP room, because it doesn't require a dedicated bartender nor does it require plumbing.
Another concept I discussed with William Metropulos was to use the tower as a component of bar hardware. In this instance, the tower (the POS and dispenser head) would be mounted directly to the bar. At this time, I don’t see this as a front bar or back bar solution, because of space and logistical issues. However, this could be an excellent concept for a waitress station at a bar. If we could incorporate the tower to the bar top at a waitress station an owner would have a “win-win” situation. For example, the wait staff could make time-consuming drinks such as long island ice teas or margaritas, thereby freeing-up the bartender for production work. Metropulos also mentioned that plans are underway to streamline the design of the tower, as it is a bit bulky.
The POS Mode: Smartender As an Efficiency Tool
As I mentioned earlier, another feature of the Smartender is its POS mode. In this instance, an owner could eliminate the bartender and enable all orders to be entered through POS terminals throughout the nightclub or bar. The Smartender screen becomes a computer which stores orders which remains locked until the respective server approaches the terminal and verifies his/her identity and then proceeds to dispense their drinks. A cash drawer would be necessary (added by the owner), added to the counter. However, in the POS mode, many times a guest check is not necessarily tendered.
In conclusion, I think the possiblities for Smartender are virtually endless. Smartender will be a significant addition to any nightclub or bar. Anyone who reads Design Buzz knows how highly I think of Glastender bar equipment. Their involvement as the manufacturer of Smartender is a significant endorsement in its own regard.
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