Small restaurant software?
November 2, 2010 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Looking for software for small cafe/restaurant: POSS, food costs, membership, ordering

Helping a friend grow her business. Looking for open source or cheap software that can help with the following - if it is all together, even better.
1. Point of sale system 2. Recipe management, ingredient ordering, portion cost control. 3. Membership. This has been a 'one person' coffee shop type cafe for 5 years, now moving into more restaurant territory, aiming for a staff of 5-10. Simple system, small, cheap.

Your recommendations are most valued.
posted by carolekorea to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wish I could suggest one, but I can only tell you to avoid Aloha/Radiant at all costs!
posted by Raichle at 10:05 PM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my experience, which is substantial in the POS industry, you get what you pay for with systems. Also, kitchen management is best done outside the POSS with spreadsheets. There are simply too many variables in food preparation (massively varying food orders, changing menus, the size of an onion or package of ground beef, spoilage, new item creation, etc.) for a POSS to handle efficiently. Not that they can't, per se, but the work hours in making one usable in a kitchen sense can be more than massive. Data entry takes time. Even extremely expensive systems have not overcome this problem and generally ignore it.

If you can be more specific about the the exact setup, that would be helpful. Also, the preferred OS (Windows is the standard here, for what that's worth). Hardware will be the big cost. Very big cost, but not much you can do about it. Touchscreens and printers are expensive. Also, what's your lead time on this?

Were I you, I'd stop looking for one with great inventory features and concentrate on the sales, operation, and membership features. Remember - spreadsheets for kitchen inventory.
posted by converge at 3:26 AM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay - I'll start a spreadsheet for the food today. Our timeline is 'new location in a year'. I can start rolling out the smaller steps in the shorter term, aka step by step menu redesign.

Hardware doesn't have to be fancy touchscreens. An actual computer with a receipt printer, and till will be enough.

Thanks for the advice.
posted by carolekorea at 8:18 AM on November 3, 2010

Not a problem. When putting the spreadsheet together, I should clarify that you are just looking for general par levels here, not spot-on costing. Food costing should take place at a general ledger level (because of the factors I mentioned earlier). Basically, someone will have to do inventory every week (or less, depending on the setup) and punch those numbers into the spreadsheet to come out with an order.

Back to the POSS itself, scout around the local net and auctions in your area. You can pick up a used one for pretty cheap if you're lucky. Beware of licensing issues, though, with any purchase. I'd stay away from the open-source ones (hate to say that and would love to be contradicted) as the design and support systems aren't very advanced.
posted by converge at 2:55 AM on November 4, 2010

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