Restaurant Podcasts

How to Build a High-Tech, High-Touch Restaurant Brand


While it seems that every restaurant brand is racing to adopt technology in order to evolve and surive, there are a few that are getting it exactly right for their brand.

I present you with Stacked of southern California. Click play to listen to an epic interview that will walk you through how they’ve done it.

I’ve talked about them many times, admittedly. In my article asking whether we’re ready for tablets in restaurants. In my post and video on how technology is changing the dining experience. During last week’s Table Touch episode on Breastaurants.

In this episode of the Table Touch podcast, you’ll learn about the Stacked restaurant concept in southern California and really get to know co-CEO Paul Motenko.

Don’t miss our extensive show notes at the Table Touch website.

Among the questions that Stacked has tackled since its launch in 2009:

  • How do you build a restaurant brand where customer choice and customization are encouraged, not just tolerated?
  • How can you incorporate technology in a game-changing way, without over-emphasizing it to the point where you alienate less-techie customers?
  • How can that technology facilitate that order customization without driving your operations team insane?

Beyond getting answers to those questions, here are three crucial takeaways from the interview, for brands struggling with how they can deploy customer-facing technology the right way.

You’ll gain a treasure chest full of valuable lessons by listening to the episode.

1. Build your restaurant brand first.

Stacked was founded under the banner of giving customers the ability to build exactly the meal they want. Of course, they build-in constraints that limit those choices so as not to paralyze customers with too many options (and to head off the risk of a terrible, Frankenstein-style meal).

Build your brand first — the food you want to serve and the level of hospitality you want to offer and the guests you want to attract — and work backwards to the technology you’ll need in order to fulfill that mission.

2. Don’t be deterred by the technology that’s available.

There’s a big lesson both from Stacked’s vision of a tablet-based service experience in 2009 (before the iPad or any other tablet) was equipped well enough to support the app they’d need to build) and from our breakdown of Donatos’ custom-built online ordering experience.

Read:  Table Touch Podcast 007 -- Nostalgic Restaurant Reflections & Erin Levzow

Be resolute about the customer experience and what you want to deliver first and foremost.Picture what that guest experience is like and how it sets you apart from the competition. Stacked isn’t alone in doing this extremely well, Buffalo Wild Wings is another brand that gets technology to do what it wants, not the other way around.

Don’t feel held back by the technology that seems to be currently available.

You’ll discover or develop the right technology partners to deploy the right technology for achieving your vision.

3. Deploy technology for the right reasons.

There will be no games on the Stacked tablet. While other brands are launching tablets built by E La Carte, Ziosk, and NTN Buzztime which feature games guests must pay for, as a revenue-generator for the brand, you will not see that at Stacked. The iPads have one primary purpose: add to the guest customization experience in an elegant way.

Paul was adamant in our interview that the dining experience is a social experience that they do not want to derail, but complement.

This isn’t to say that games on tablets are inherently evil. But Stacked has incorporated technology in order to accomplish something operationally and to give the brand a uniqueness that can’t be matched.

High-tech and high-touch aren’t an either/or proposition.

Some brands may see the increasing use of technology by staff or by guests as intrusive. They are ruining the restaurant experience.

If you read our show notes at the Table Touch website and listen to this 1-hour interview with Paul, you’ll come away with a newfound belief that technology can be woven into your brand in a clean and elegant way, adding to an incredible and unique experience.

About the author

Brandon Hull

Brandon is the original founder of He has helped thousands of restaurants implement innovative marketing strategies, campaigns, and tactics by incorporating new technology, in order to attract loyal guests.