Technology is almost as important as the menu in a new fast casual concept launched this month in Michigan. Kitchen 67 Brann's Café, created by Johnny Brann Jr., grandson of the man behind Brann's Sizzling Steaks & Sports Grille, not only specializes in breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it also serves customers a hefty portion of technology through its partnership with Verizon Wireless. Click here for a slideshow of photos.
The phone retailer opened a new store concept in an adjacent 3,600-square-foot space accessible from inside the restaurant. A digital queue in the restaurant gives visitors waiting for service at Verizon the flexibility to grab food while keeping their place in line; they're notified via digital screen in the restaurant when it's their turn. Restaurant diners may also venture into the Verizon side to play with smartphones, tablets and other devices while they wait on their food.
"Verizon Wireless is the ideal neighbor for Kitchen 67," Brann Jr., said. "Our tech-forward concept complements Verizon's innovative products and services. The collaborative efforts we are working on will enhance the customer experience for our customers and theirs."
Other technological features of Kitchen 67 include:
- Qi wireless charging spots embedded in tables using technology invented by Amway's Fulton Innovation. The stations work with Verizon's Qi-enabled devices and accessories to wirelessly recharge batteries. Customers may leave their Qi-enabled phones on the table while eating to charge them;
- iTunes digital jukeboxes accessible from Apple iPads located at tables and throughout the restaurant;
- A Pepsi fountain with an interactive projected display;
- Digital signs featuring menu specials, Twitter feeds, stock feeds, ads, sports info, etc.;
- LED ceiling panels providing customers a 'mood ring' dining experience that will shift the ambiance by time of day, making every visit a unique experience; and
- Free high-speed wireless Internet access.
"This concept challenges the restaurant industry's status quo with a tech-forward design, but the innovative recipes and exceptional food and service will keep people coming back for more," said Brann Jr. of the $3 million restaurant.
Kitchen 67's signature item is the Sizzle Bowl, which includes a mixture of pan fried noodles, portabella mushrooms, sautéed peppers, onions and sesame seeds with an Asian ginger sauce and the choice of adding Brann's USDA Choice beef or chicken.
Other menu items (all priced under $10) include fresh USDA Choice steak burgers, Sizzle Wraps, hot-pressed sandwiches from the 67 Press, 67 Bones ribs and wings, and an array of fresh soups and salads. Pastries, scones, custom-roasted K67 Coffee, beer and wine are also available.
The 4,500-square-foot restaurant employs 45 people and is open seven days a week. It has a 20-seat outdoor patio and a drive-thru window for coffee and call-ahead orders.
If successful — and Brann said he expects nothing less — he will open other locations in the near future.
"The concept was definitely created to be the first, but not the last, of its kind," he said.
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Cherryh Butler has been a reporter for nearly 10 years, writing on a variety of topics ranging from the restaurant industry to business and health and fitness news. Before joining FastCasual.com as editor, she oversaw KioskMarketplace.com and PizzaMarketplace.com and contributed to RetailCustomerExperience.com. She's also written for several daily newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Kansas City Star and American Fitness magazine.