A kitchen window, lined with handwritten paper order tickets, might be one of the first images that comes to mind when asked to visualize a restaurant, but—like virtually every other industry—the food service business is going increasingly paperless. Slim and agile touchscreen tablets have replaced clunky countertop computers as the point-of-service (POS) system of choice, and many are relying on technology for other aspects of service, from reservation management to food delivery.
Nowhere in Cleveland may this embrace of technology be more evident than Saucy Brew Works. The Ohio City brewery and pizzeria was recently named one of three national "Toasty Award" winners by Toast, the mobile, cloud-based POS system it uses to manage its day-to-day operations. Saucy Brew Works took home top honors in the "Masters of Technology" category.
Saucy Brew Works employs a check sheet for food orders (much like the ones guests use to customize their hot dogs at The Happy Dog), but that’s about where the paper trail ends. When the brewery is busy and the buzz in the room is too high for guests to hear their orders called over loudspeaker, kitchen personnel alert them through text messages, sent directly by the POS.
Online orders on Saucy’s web site automatically integrate with UberEATS for delivery, whether customers want a pizza now or next week. The brewery also uses Toast to coordinate bicycle delivery of both food and beer within Ohio City and Tremont, as well as parts of Downtown and Detroit Shoreway. Currently, they are the only local brewing operation to offer such a service.
On the brewing side, technology is everywhere as well. A stickler for quality, brewmaster Eric Anderson crafts beers on a state-of-the-art brewing system from Braukon, a German firm known for innovation. Instead of hurrying in early to fire up the kettles on a brew day, Anderson can start them from home or the road using his phone. Many steps of the brewing process are automated as well, saving much of the physical labor typical in start-up brewpubs.
Anderson, who brewed previously at Butcher & the Brewer and Buckeye Brewing Company, says the system enables him to make, “the best beer of my life” and “the cleanest beer in town.”
Even the bar’s draft lines are stainless steel (as opposed to the standard PVC,) which makes them much more durable, easier to clean, and far less prone to bacterial infection or absorption of unwanted flavors. The brewery, which opened on July 5, is already canning and distributing its flagship beers. The cans are filled using a Pro Brew machine capable of pumping out 200 cans a minute—one of the first of its kind in the country.
Anderson and his business partner Brent Zimmerman plan to continue to add further innovations to better serve their customers. Next on their radar is the possibility of introducing an app with Amazon-style dash buttons, so customers can automatically order a fresh growler for delivery when they find theirs empty.
There may be no bar meal more traditional than pizza and beer, but for Saucy Brew Works, using modern technology is the best way to get those staples into the hands and stomachs of their guests.