Article first appeared in Louisville Business First on May, 9 2022.
A Louisville-based technology company is offering a self-serve ordering kiosk meant to help ease the staffing issues facing many area quick service and fast casual restaurants.
The EZ-Chow Self-Ordering Kiosk processes onsite orders through a restaurant’s existing point-of-sale and merchant technology.
Mo Sloan, founder and CEO of EZ-Chow said his company had been working on the kiosk system for a while, but decided to release it early because of the demand from existing restaurant clients.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 1.5 million unfulfilled positions in the hospitality industry. Louisville Business First reported last week the Louisville chain Moby Dick closed its St. Matthews location due to lack of staff, for instance.
National fast-food brands like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have been adding self-service kiosks to their restaurants for years. EZ-Chow’s system is aimed at smaller brands.
Sloan said utilizing kiosks allows restaurant operators to repurpose existing labor to do other jobs like packaging and cooking rather than taking orders.
“There is a lot of similarity between self-ordering kiosks and where online ordering was in 2013 or 14 in the restaurant space,” Sloan said. “Not everyone had online ordering in 2013 or 14, which is the reason I started EZ-Chow. Not everyone has self-serve kiosks integrated with their POS system, but we believe it is coming because the labor challenges are not going away.”
The self-serve kiosks come in 15 and 21-inch floor or counter models. Sloan said EZ-Chow is offering the device and programming starting at $3,000. There is also a service fee for device support that start around $400 a month.
The device is integrated with EZ-Chow’s existing POS technology.
“What we’re looking at, from a value comparison, if you have a $15 an hour employee that is working full-time you’re talking about $2400 a month,” Sloan said. “So for one-sixth the cost of an employee you can have a self-serve kiosk that never calls in sick and doesn’t require health insurance.”
Sloan said EZ-Chow’s first kiosk will be installed at Sicilian Pizza on Fourth Street in the next month. He added that a number of the company’s existing customers have also put in orders for kiosks, including the Island Grill in Jamaica.
Sloan did not give an exact cost for research and development of the kiosk, but he did say the cost was minimal because 85% of the kiosk system runs a modified version of the company’s existing technology architecture.
“Research and development was more on the hardware side and enclosure side,” Sloan explained. “Technically you can make a kiosk out of anything, you can take an iPad and take orders. For our purposes, it was important to have a kiosk with a sturdy enclosure that would fit a variety of restaurant use cases.”
Sloan started EZ-Chow in 2015 to help small restaurants in need of an online ordering platform that would integrate with its point-of-sale (POS) system. EZ-Chow has five full-time employees and several independent contractors who work for the company.