Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Panera rolls out table tracking, rapid pick-up systems

The new Panera Bread table tracking system.
Panera Bread is adding table service without the tips at its Bradenton area restaurants.

Panera recently rolled out the company's Table Tracker and Rapid Pick-up systems at the 1520 Cortez Road location.

Instead of staff yelling out names and order numbers or trying to squeeze past a line of people waiting for their pager to buzz, customers are handed a coaster-like device at their tables. Each table has a tag with a sensor inside that communicates to the pager and the ordering system where you decided to sit down and where staff should bring the food.

It definitely helps eliminate the congestion at the pick-up counter and makes claiming a table easier, too.

So far, the Cortez Road location is the only one in the Bradenton area to have the Table Tracker feature, said David Ivey, district manager for Panera's franchisee Harmony Food Partners. More locations have plans to roll out the feature, including the new location on North Cattlemen Road scheduled to open in October, he said. Harmony operates the Panera cafes on Cortez Road, Tuttle Avenue/University Parkway and Gulf Gate's Sarasota Pavilion.

Panera also has cafes off of Bahia Vista and U.S. 41 in Sarasota plus on the corner of Bee Ridge and Cattlemen roads.

The five Bradenton-Sarasota area locations do offer the Rapid Pick-Up ordering system that allows for online orders to be placed and picked up on a shelf by the entrance.

Certain Panera locations also offer delivery and a feature with the smartphone app to order from your table, but the local restaurants do not have that feature yet. The individual delivery is unlikely here, but the ordering system is a possibility.

Panera is also opening a new restaurant on North Cattlemen Road in October across from the Mall at University Town Center. The restaurant plans to hire 40-50 people and conduct interviews Aug. 8 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Aug. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Center for Culinary Arts, Keiser University, 6151 Lake Osprey Drive, Sarasota.

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