Living/Working

October 19, 2018

Technology to the rescue of worker-starved restaurant sector

Bill payments and meal ordering via smartphone easing need for servers

Ready boss Laurent May plans to roll out technology in the coming months that would enable restaurant patrons to order food via smartphones at pubs | Chung Chow

Metro Vancouver’s severe shortage of hospitality workers has restaurant owners tweaking business plans and looking to new technology to operate efficiently with fewer servers.

Fast-food restaurants have long been adopting self-serve kiosks to enable customers to order meals without speaking with restaurant employees. Pubs and more casual restaurants are starting to test technology to allow customers to order food and pay bills from their smartphones.

Two Vancouver companies – Glance Technologies Inc. (CSE:GET) and iQmetrix-owned Ready – offer competing technologies to allow restaurant patrons to pay bills using smartphones. Both also intend to offer technology in restaurants that enables customers to order meals with smartphones and have those meals delivered to tables by servers or have counter staff call out names.

“They probably got the idea [for ordering food by smartphone] from us,” said Glance CEO Desmond Griffin, who in June staved off a boardroom coup attempt.

“We announced plans for that a long time ago.”

Glance, however, has yet to offer the food-ordering option to customers while Ready unveiled that technology at a trade show in Florida on October 1.

Glance Technologies is the bigger player of the two, as owners of more than 500 restaurants in B.C., Alberta and Ontario allow customers to use Glance’s app to pay bills via smartphone, Griffin told Business in Vancouver.

The company added 59 new locations that are using its technology in the quarter that ended May 31.

Most of its client restaurants provide paper bills to customers, who take a photo of a QR code on their bill. The app invites customers to enter credit card details or pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay. Griffin said restaurants are charged a range of fees, depending on size, volume and the kinds of credit cards that customers use.

Glance has started to provide technology to some restaurants that have advanced point-of-sale systems to allow customers to scan QR codes at tables and be taken directly to a digital bill. That way, the server need not drop a paper bill at the table, Griffin said.

desmond griffin

(Image: Glance Technologies CEO Desmond Griffin said most of his company's restaurant customers require clients who pay by phone to scan paper bills instead of QR codes | Rob Kruyt)

That approach is similar to the way that Ready’s technology works.

One difference between technologies offered by Glance and Ready is that Ready does not require customers to first download an app.

“There’s a lot of friction on the app side,” explained Laurent May, who heads the seven-employee Ready. “Downloading an app just to make a payment in a restaurant without any incentives? There’s a lot of barriers to have customers doing that.”

Restaurants such as Mahony & Sons’ convention centre location, Ceili’s Irish Pub in Richmond and Burrard Public House in Port Moody allow patrons to use Ready technology to pay bills. May said Ready charges restaurants owners a 2.9% fee plus $0.30.

No restaurant in Vancouver is currently using Ready’s new food-ordering technology. However, Tap & Barrel Restaurants owner Daniel Frankel told Business in Vancouver that his restaurant chain has been testing Ready’s bill payment and ordering technology at his Brewhall restaurant but that it is not yet available for the public.

Brewhall opened this summer and has an innovative business plan for a large pub in that customers are expected to go to a counter to order meals. Frankel said that if Ready’s technology gets the green light, likely within a month, customers will be able to order drinks and meals by smartphone so they can bypass what can sometimes be long drink lineups.

Brewhall’s counter-service business plan means that Frankel can employ about 95 staff for what he said was a 400-seat restaurant. Had he chosen to offer table service, Frankel said he would have had to find and hire more than 200 employees.

“We’re trying to stress-test the technology before we make it available to the public,” Frankel said. “We just want to make sure that the tech is not glitchy and we have no lost orders.”

Other pub chains, such as Blueprint’s Colony chain, for example, are in no hurry to implement technology to reduce the need for servers.

Blueprint director of people and culture, Hanna Jane Price told BIV that training allowances, bonuses and starting wages at $15 per hour for kitchen staff are instead its strategy to attract the necessary workforce to operate its three Colony pubs and its Charles Bar.

“Our customers haven’t really shared any desire to lean on the tools that you’ve described, like automatic ordering” Price said. “It’s more about the vibe when they walk in. It’s more of a community pub [feel.]” •

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

 
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Spending

This luxurious B.C. lodge is perfect for when you need to get away from it all

Instagram, @cathedralmountainlodge

While there is no shortage of cozy cabin accommodations in B.C., not many of them offer the pure luxury afforded at the Cathedral Mountain Lodge.

Indeed, this elegant accommodation provides guests with “every luxury you could want to make your day.”

As such, the rooms are immaculate, the service exceptional and the dining delectable. They consider the lodging a place, “where nature and luxury are one and the same,” and provide a glamorous oasis in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.

What’s more, the accommodation is located in Yoho National Park near breathtaking turquoise, glacier-fed lakes as well as soaring mountain ranges. As a result, guests are privy to some of the most awe-inspiring vistas in the world.

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Happy BC Day! Lucky to call this province home. PC:

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Long weekend ready?

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Cathedral Mountain Lodge

The luxury log cabins provide a warm, cozy escape in the wilderness. While very modern, the cabins don’t offer televisions or even telephones. Instead, they furnish rooms with comfortable heritage architecture and classic Canadian décor.

Best of all, these accommodations are situated in the heart of the wilderness. As such, guests may enjoy a plethora of activities with ease. From whitewater rafting to horseback riding, fishing to glacier tours, they is no shortage of things to do.

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Home Sweet Home PC: . . . . . . .

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The Riverside Dining Room serves dishes that use fresh local ingredients and organic foods on an ever-changing selection. Some of their latest offerings include duck confit and gnochhi, charcuterie, filet of sturgeon, pheasant and many more fine dishes.

In addition, they offer an adorable s’more kits for roasting marshmellows on their outdoor fire pit by the Kicking Horse River. S’more kits include Graham Crackers, chocolates, and marshmallows – yum!

Complimentary amenities include:

  • Market Fresh Breakfast served daily from 7:00 – 10:30 AM
  • Afternoon Tea and Cookies from 3 – 5 PM
  • Canoeing on Moraine Lake from 10 AM – 6 PM daily (weather permitting)
  • Free Parking
  • Concierge Services
  • Guest Computer Access
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Good things may come in threes, but great getaways come in twos. The Deluxe Twin Cabins are called luxury log cabins for a reason. Aside from having two unbelievably comfortable places to call it a night, they also have every luxury you could want to make your day. . . . . . .

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Loft Views . . . . . . .

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Fresh. Local. Always delectable. Take your dining experience to the next level at our Riverside Dining Room

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Learn more here.

Looking for hikes to do near the city? Check out some great ones near Vancouver with epic views!

Vancouver is Awesome

 
Exploring

What are we reading? October 18, 2018

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.

 

Kirk LaPointe, editor-in-chief:

Want to know a little bit about Jeff Bezos’ secret sauce? This piece examines his rapid-fire decision-making method of the richest person in the world at the centre of Amazon. - Forbes

https://www.forbes.com/sites/eriklarson/2018/09/24/how-jeff-bezos-uses-faster-better-decisions-to-keep-amazon-innovating/#3a84c0b97a65

 

With all our local electioneering and the remaining attention on Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump, it is important not to lose track of what’s happening in Brazil and its impact on the environment. The new likely president has plans. - The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/climate/brazil-election-amazon-environment.html

 

Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Why Bill Gates likes Washington state’s carbon tax and how he is putting his money where his mouth is with a $1 billion private venture fund (Breakthrough Energy Ventures) to help entrepreneurs develop technology and other innovations to fight climate change. - Bill Gates via LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-im-washington-states-carbon-fee-bill-gates/?trk=eml-email_feed_ecosystem_digest_01-recommended_articles-6-Unknown&midToken=AQGpB80Fq-Ra7Q&fromEmail=fromEmail&ut=0yzxlbmfU-Aos1

 

U.K. scientists turning coffee industry waste into electricity - The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/oct/14/uk-scientists-turn-coffee-waste-electricity-fuel-cell-colombia?utm

 

High fuel prices sending airline industry profits south as 40% jump in oil prices over the past year drives jet fuel costs up to US$90 bbl - IATA

https://www.iata.org/publications/economics/Reports/afm/Airlines-Financial-Monitor-Sep-18.pdf

 

Emma Crawford Hampel, online editor:

The billionaire who led Sears into bankruptcy court, or how financial engineers like Eddie Lampert are wreaking havoc on American companies: “But in the end, this wasn’t simply about a struggling retailer unable to pay its bills. Sears succumbed to Mr. Lampert’s hubris”… “all because one of the smartest guys who has ever been in any room … stayed convinced of his own deeply flawed thinking.” - The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/16/opinion/sears-bankruptcy-lampert.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

 

Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Thanks to Library and Archives Canada, which has been digitizing and making available the personnel records of Canadian soldiers of the First World War, I have been able to open a little window on my grandfather’s war years. The scanned enlistment, medical and and service documents are fascinating. After I sent the link to my mom, she pointed out that among the details are some numbers that highlight just how young he was, more vividly than any calendar date can. Lloyd Staples’ attestation papers show that when he enlisted in Nova Scotia in 1916, he was five-feet-seven. When he was discharged in 1919 after serving in France, he was five-feet-nine – and still not old enough to vote. - Library and Archives Canada

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world-war/personnel-records/Pages/search.aspx

 

Archeologists used ground-penetrating radar in their recent discovery of a Viking ship grave in Norway. This online piece about the rare find effectively uses animation to help tell the story, with an image that reveals the familiar Viking-ship shape, from its gunwales down to its keel as the radar probes progressively deeper underground. - National Post

https://nationalpost.com/news/world/archaeologists-use-ground-penetrating-radar-to-discover-huge-viking-ship-burial-half-a-metre-under-norway-farmland

 

Glen Korstrom, reporter:

Lululemon founder and billionaire Chip Wilson’s just-released tell-all autobiography has insight into how he founded Westbeach and then Lululemon, and how he grew what is now a global yogawear giant. The book also has insights on how to deal with private-equity investors, about Wilson’s bid to outfit the 2010 Canadian Olympic team and his thoughts about Lululemon’s new CEO Calvin McDonald, mong other curious tidbits. - Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Little-Black-Stretchy-Pants-Wilson/dp/1732747318

 

Nelson Bennett, reporter:

EPA reports a 2.7% decrease in GHGs in U.S.; acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler lavishes praise on Trump for something he didn’t do. As Bloomberg points out, a 2.7% GHG degrease between 2016 and 2017 is part of a trend that started under the Obama administration. The greatest decrease in GHGs was from the power sector – a 19.7% decrease since 2011, thanks largely to power plants switching from coal to natural gas. - Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-17/trump-touts-lower-greenhouse-gas-levels-as-u-s-is-on-defensive

 

The clean energy transition: 20-20 by 2035. A new study by Wood Mackenzie predicts 2035 will mark a tipping point for global energy transition, with 20% of the world’s power coming from wind and solar by then, and 20% of transportation met with electricity. - Wood Mackenzie

https://www.woodmac.com/news/feature/global-energy-transition

 

Carbon taxes won’t save the planet. Resource Works executive director Stewart Muir takes a deep dive on carbon taxes, and concludes they are not an effective tool for changing consumer behaviour. Muir points out that, after the carbon tax was imposed, many British Columbians actually bought larger, but more fuel efficient, SUVs. Muir says more effective measures for reducing GHGs globally should include nuclear power, LNG and incentives to replace inefficient natural gas furnaces and cars with more fuel efficient models. - Resource Works https://www.resourceworks.com/carbon-tax

 

Carrie Schmidt, editorial researcher:

A short poem by Leonard Cohen: “Kanye West is Not Picasso.”- via CBC

https://www.cbcmusic.ca/posts/20497/read-leonard-cohen-poem-about-kanye-west

 
Leading

Referendum on electoral reform is bound to end badly for B.C.

The municipal campaign was truly draining and frustrating to watch: too many choices, too many new people to assess, too little time to sort it through.

Now, with a dozen rookie mayors and hundreds of new councillors, what will it be? Chaos or paralysis?

But the ballot box is nothing – nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing – next to what will hit us next in the mailbox.

We are lurching, wobbling, staggering, somewhat blindly and quite deafly, into the fog of conscious confusion and – to be uncharitable, if I may – deliberate under-information that calls itself the 2018 Referendum on Electoral Reform.

I cannot see this running or ending well. The campaign has the reflective depth of Twitter on a drunk Friday night.

The real campaign starts this week, when households start receiving their ballots to mail back by the end of November. But it’s an absurd and insulting process: too soon, too short, too vague, leaving too many open questions and too many important answers to legislators who will be given the political equivalent of a blank cheque.

Sadly, cynically, it is not textbook political reform as much as it is playbook NDP-Green politics. This isn’t an enlightened political class seeking a wiser way but an expedient stunt to keep the Andrew Weaver Trio from pulling out of the NDP Ensemble. On the basis of current standings and polls, it appears to perpetuate the status quo of a left-of-centre coalition.

I suspect there might be tweaks on the first past the post system that would improve upon our too-polarized legislature, but I see nothing in the referendum proposals to assist credibly in that goal.

I see mainly negatives.

It will create supersized ridings that will lose even more connection with communities.

It will confer power on people not directly elected but appointed by their parties, who might not live in and thus understand ridings they purportedly represent.

It will create more expensive government as coalitions are built upon pet issues and projects that must be economically pieced and held together.

It will engender regular post-election periods of political stasis as these coalitions are assembled to then generate legislation.

It will permit the populous Lower Mainland to essentially determine the composition of the provincial legislature.

I could go on.

The ballots are themselves ridiculous. Even if you vote against the prospect of proportional representation (PR), you are then asked to choose among the three options you turned down.

This is somewhat like saying: OK, you say you don’t like hockey, but which seats in the arena are you buying? Or, more bluntly, if you’re going to lose, how would you like us to win?

I have academic friends who are PR supporters, but I think they’re being used by the political professionals. This is little more than pumping the tires of a three-person caucus to keep the government afloat. Indeed, it represents the most crass feature of any minority government: the political payoff to be propped. Do we really want this?

Let’s be honest: everyone is pursuing self-interest. The powerful don’t want to relinquish; the non-powerful sense the opportunity to get in the driver’s seat. But this hasty, hazy process is not the way to reflect upon a system that has served us, even if we considered it flawed.

If we as a society wish to think about redistributing power, then let’s get a good, hard look at doing so. Let’s require a certain turnout and support for the initiative in every region so there is something approaching concurrence, if not consensus. Let’s have a question on a clear concept, not three options upon which we would trade our political system for future considerations by a legislative committee and cabinet.

And, if coalition governments are so great, how about if we see if the one we’ve newly received is durable, functional and competent, perhaps even through an economic cycle? It’s been ages since we’ve had one, so let’s test drive it awhile before deciding if it’s the model we wish to keep.

In the end, I’m uneasy with the idea of rewarding runners-up with the same prize as the winners. I think you should outright earn the gold, not be awarded equal-value participation medals.

I think we are better than this, B.C. •

Kirk LaPointe is the editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.