Restaurant technology uses iPads


A Coeur d’Alene startup is developing software to let customers place their own restaurant or bar orders and pay their bills using Apple iPads.

Hubworks Interactive LLC, started in 2009 by three North Idaho friends, has begun testing its DrinkHub software with Buffalo Wild Wings, the national food chain that has several hundred North American dining locations.

Customers can order a meal or drink by using a touchscreen menu on the restaurant-owned iPad. Once they’re finished, they use the device to pay the bill.

Restaurants buy and attach the iPads to walls or dining tables. Hubworks has designed the software so it delivers orders directly from the customer to a cook’s station or to the bar. At the point of payment, the software allows an option to split the payment among more than one credit card.

During the meal customers can use the iPads to access Facebook, Twitter or other sites.

“The core of this is the billing and payment option,” said Aaron Gabriel, Hubworks’ vice president of sales and marketing. “But as the whole platform evolves, this will become more a customer entertainment experience.”

Gabriel’s partners are Rob Berger, president, and Sam Winter, technology vice president. Berger’s father, Paul Berger, is an investor in Hubworks and co-founded Coeur d’Alene-based tech firm NightHawk Radiology.

Last year the partners beta-tested the DrinkHub application at a Coeur d’Alene bar. This year, after visiting a number of trade shows, they realized they had a product ideally timed to help businesses searching for ways to help their staffs work more efficiently.

At the Chicago National Restaurant Association show in the spring, they met a Buffalo Wild Wings rep who expressed interest in the system. When the three partners heard Buffalo was preparing to select a self-order, self-pay system, they hatched a plan.

Winter and Gabriel flew to Minneapolis just as Buffalo officials said they were preparing to make a final selection for a test project. The pair approached Buffalo and said they’d like to give a demo of the product.

Buffalo Wild Wing executives liked what they saw. For the past four weeks, the restaurant company has operated a full test of Hubworks in a Toronto location.

Gabriel said Hubworks has a second major food retailer potentially interested in the product.

Another project in the works is a Hubworks app for smartphones. A customer could load an app that works for a specific chain or business. The network would let the customer order and pay for services in any of its stores or locations, Gabriel said.

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