We went looking for a super high-tech concept. We found SD26.
Thinking of a typical Italian restaurant may conjure up images of red and white checked tablecloths and leather booths. SD26 is not a typical Italian restaurant. It’s not a typical restaurant, period. Overlooking Madison Square Park in New York City, SD26 is bristling with the latest technology everywhere from the dining room to the kitchen to the ceiling. “We have been using computers in the back of the house for years. Now we are bringing that technology to the front of the house,” says Tony May, co-owner of SD26 along with his daughter, Marisa May.
The technology isn’t just for show. Every piece has a purpose, whether it’s to speed up service, improve communication among the staff or give patrons a new way of looking at wine. “We needed to build a restaurant that lives up to the new modern ideas of the world and Italy today,” says Marisa. “We have a restaurant of the future.”
Front of the house
This Enomatic self-service electronic wine dispensing machine holds 24 bottles of wine. Customers use a smart card to keep track of their 1-ounce, 2-ounce or full-glass servings. “People sometimes stay two or three hours. They are having fun with it,” says Tony.
Fiber optic ceiling lights
The 18-foot ceilings in the main dining room are covered in gold leaf. Embedded fiber optics give the impression of twinkling stars in a golden sky.
One Cisco base station and a bevy of wireless phones help keep the staff in touch over SD26’s 15,000 square feet of space. The high-tech phones act like walkie-talkies for quick communication.
POSitouch software integrates SD26’s point of sale system with touch screens, wireless technology and handheld ordering devices.
Electronic wine list
With around 1,000 wines, a traditional wine book is out of the question. Incentient SmartCellar features a touch screen tablet with information on each wine. “The customer can get more information in two minutes than a sommelier can give them in one hour,” says Tony. The devices can be wirelessly updated if a wine should run out.
“We don’t use pad and paper anymore,” says Marisa. The waitstaff uses WebDT handhelds to tap in orders and send them off wirelessly directly from the table to the kitchen without having to stop off at a POS terminal.
Back of the house
The Electrolux combi oven lets the chef choose between several cooking modes: dry convection, low temperature steam, high temperature steam or a combination. This can significantly speed up cooking times.
Center aisle cooking
SD26 does away with the up-against-the-wall kitchen concept. “When you have all the cooks around a center aisle, you get better communication,” says Tony. They use the Electrolux S90 Center Aisle Kitchen Suite.
Wireless order printing
Tying in with the POSitouch system, this printer keeps the cooking staff up-to-date as soon as orders are placed. “It’s Wi-Fi. It helps speed up the ordering process,” says Marisa.
Behind the scenes
The popular online reservation system is one of the basic tools in SD26's Web technology arsenal.
“We’ve been using Facebook as an outlet for advertising,” says Marisa. SD26 has over 800 fans on Facebook that keep up on the latest announcements and give feedback on their restaurant experiences.
Event information, award nominations and other SD26 news go out to Twitter followers in 140 characters or less.
The monthly newsletter is handled through email marketing service Vertical Response and is posted on the SD26NY.com Web site as well.
SD26 runs the desktop version of this catering and event management program. It includes scheduling, booking, calendar and print design tools.