Story by Arina Kharlamova
TORONTO, ONTARIO — Tech-savvy restaurateurs all over North America are starting to peer into the world of Interactive Restaurant Technology (IRT). IRT is a touch-screen, web-friendly, restaurant (and café, bar and club) technology created by Kodisoft, a Ukraine-based company that is now going global.
“The last revolution in the restaurant field was fast food about 15 years ago,” says founder of Kodisoft, Dmitry Kostyk. “We thought about how we could change this industry once again.”
Kodisoft employs some of Ukraine’s best engineers and designers, who apparently created the software because they “were bored” with their other projects, which include Bluetooth marketing, outsourcing and 3D technology, among other innovations.
Their initial partnership with Oshi, a restaurant in Cyprus, has reaped many rewards, among which is collected data about their target market that has allowed them to pursue further partnerships in the world’s major cities. Kodisoft’s intensive studies of their flagship restaurant has reassured them of the current use and continued marketability of their product: high usability by all ages, interested regulars and tourists, and its novelty in the industry.
Last month, Kostyk flew through the dregs of Hurricane Sandy to meet with potential partners in Toronto and Vancouver in search of his company’s next IRT collaborators. He looks to create restaurants from scratch with partners that have a history of fantastic food and respectable restaurant ownership. “People don’t just come to the restaurant to eat,” Kostyk says. “They come for the environment, which is what we provide.”
It is clear that these interactive restaurants are not focused on the mass-market, but rather on the niche; these restaurants are the Lexus to the general Toyota. Luxury and excellence will be a trademark of the interactive restaurants.
The main thrust of these restaurants is a highly advanced technology, KoLight, which works on the surfaces of tables, bars, walls and dividers. It is a touch-screen surface from which orders can be placed, taxis can be ordered, games can be played and environments decided. The idea of IRT is to let the customer fully control their environment, whether that means connecting to Facebook, adjusting the opaqueness of the divider, or finding wine pairings for their meal.
The LCD screens with LED lighting react to gesture and touch, as opposed to the competitor’s projection-based systems. Photos from the flagship restaurant in Cyprus look like every idea of “futuristic” that you could imagine: walls that react to music, floors that react to dance, bars that react to mobile devices and, most importantly, a system that reacts to its customers. For many frequent restaurant visitors, this will be a divine experience in service, mainly because the contact with the human business element (namely: servers) will be hugely removed. In Canada, a main advantage could be the programmed language options for the menu.
What this means for customers is a more technologically advanced dining experience. For partners and restaurant owners, the result is lower costs, higher customer retainment and feedback, and a highly-publicized landmark. Oshi managed to earn back the initial investment in six months, where a typical restaurant on Cyprus would take three years, Kostyk says. “Technology lures them, but the food keeps them here,” he says.
Canadians can hope to see a technological addition to the dining scenes in Toronto and Vancouver by the summer of 2013.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of Kodisoft