As a restaurant owner, TJ Vytlacil was never able to find a point of sale system that worked. So he created his own.
Brigade Society POS was formed to address what Vytlacil, the company’s managing partner, saw as a need for point of sales to focus on the server — in his words, “the most important person interacting with our system” — as well as the restaurateur.
While older legacy systems may have been created with the server in mind, they were clunky and far from user-friendly. With the advent of iPad- and Android-based systems, the user was all but disregarded in their design, which often boiled down to, as Vytlacil describes it, “the old point of sale [being] jammed [onto] some new technology.”
The Brigade system goes against that thinking, putting the server — the primary user of any restaurant POS — first.
It takes its name from the military-inspired restaurant kitchen organization system that French chef Auguste Escoffier devised in the 19th century. Explains Vytlacil of the original Brigade System: “You have your chef, and your sous chef, and it goes down the line. Everybody’s a rank, and that’s how you organize your kitchen.”
Vytlacil and his team chose to follow that model in designing their POS system, organizing individual features into one seamless flow.
“It’s the flow of the technology,” he says, “that’s the most important thing to us. So you’re using features without knowing you’re using features.”
What makes Brigade “the most user-friendly point of sale on the market,” according to Vytlacil, is essentially that “there’s not a whole lot of explanation needed to use it.”
While there is typically a “big learning curve” to point of sale systems, Vytlacil attests that is not the case with Brigade POS. “It’s intuitive,” he says. “How you serve anyway is how we have it displayed on the screen.”
While Brigade’s interface allows for a proprietor to “run a fine dining restaurant and private club like Blood & Sand (Vytlacil’s own establishment) or a quick-service restaurant,” presently the company targets smaller merchants, albeit with a caveat.
“‘Small,’” explains Vytlacil, “in the sense [of]…more chef-driven restaurants, restaurants that still care about their experience.”
“Every restaurateur wants to provide their own interpretation of what a really good meal is,” he continues. Whether that is defined, in the individual restaurant owner’s opinion, by a digitally-enhanced experience at the table or the basics of great food or great cocktails, that’s what Brigade is focused on per merchant customer.
There is not, says Vytlacil, a one-size-fits-all approach to restaurant point of sale — and that’s the niche that Brigade is filling.
Although a lot of POS systems in the space right now are cross-market (“with good reason,” Vytlacil notes), Brigade would not at present be able to facilitate that purpose even if it wanted to — and it doesn’t want to.
“The needs of a full-service restaurant are immense,” he observes, “and that’s why so many of them fail. Those needs aren’t being addressed.”
“When we catch technology up with the young restaurateurs — and it’s really, really far behind” — Vytlacil shares the statistic that currently 26 percent of restaurants don’t use a point of sale system of any kind — “and when we get them educated, then potentially [there can be] a one-size-fits-all approach.”
But restaurants have a long way to go, espouses Vytlacil, before “we try to reinvent the wheel.”
As far as Brigade’s role in the evolution of consumer-facing restaurant technology, he says it’s already underway, noting that Brigade’s check-splitting solution is “three to four touches on the screen. Makes it really fast, really simple, and able to take payments faster.”
Splitting up checks and “making sure the consumer can do anything that they want without suffering,” says Vytlacil, is part of Brigade’s larger plan. “You’ll see on a lot of menus, it’ll say, ‘we don’t split checks with parties of X [or more].’” Restaurants do that, he explains, because otherwise “it takes such a long time, and then the guest gets upset because they’re sitting there for too long.”
“We’ve already made big strides in how the splitting takes place by making it really intuitive [and] really, really fast. The faster we can make that, the better it is for the consumer.”
There again, notes Vytlacil, it’s really about the server: By improving their means of operation, the Brigade Society POS ultimately improve the end customer experience.
“Making the restaurant a smarter place, first and foremost,” he attests, “makes the consumer side better.”
One can surmise that Vytlacil — given his background as restaurateur — might know what he’s talking about. When it comes to a POS system positively affecting the overall business in a restaurant, perhaps the servers are the ones who are best served first.