It's not that we want to pick on Aloha, but Aloha is one of the best known of the restaurant POS companies. Their main
server screen is shown below. The general format used by Aloha is typical of the industry. A portion of the order is always
on the screen (on the left) and the remainder of the screen is devoted to buttons for menu items, and various functions.
The comments about Aloha will apply to the majority of the other POS software vendors.
Judging a business application by its appearance is like buying a book because you like the cover. Fortunately for us, it is possible to judge applications by making direct comparisons between the various features of each. 1. Number of Menu-Items per screen. Aloha has 21. Foodman has 54, 33 more than Aloha. This is an IMPORTANT issue. The efficient representation of the menu is the hardest part of a POS system. If you are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and sell liquor, the odds are that you have a menu with as many as 1,000 items on it. Having as many as 54 at a time is obviously better than having 21 - Winner: Foodman. 2. Number of Category choices per screen. Aloha has 9. Foodman has 54. The Foodman system has either categories or menu-items for the chosen category on the screen at one time. To see categories, the Foodman server merely touches the "CAT" button to see up-to 54 at a time. Would you rather have 9 or 54? - Winner: Foodman. 3. Order on screen at all times. On the Aloha screen, the portion on the left is devoted to the current order (Table 22). It is not really necessary for the server to be able to see a small portion of the order at all times. Further- more, it takes away from the usable area of the screen which could have several more menu item buttons on the screen were the order not there. On the Foodman screen there is a "SEE" button which shows the server the order like this: If the server wants to enter more stuff, they just touch the 'Enter More Stuff' button. Otherwise, they can review the order and touch the 'End Order' button to send it to the kitchen. You can see MORE with Foodman and you only have to see it when you WANT to or NEED to. Winner: Foodman.
Please Note: Some screenshots are reduced in size.
This is the Aloha Server Screen. It is definitely prettier than
the Foodman screen.
But wait! This isn't a beauty contest. We are talking about
a system which you use to operate your business.
What comes first - Beauty or Efficiency? As you might guess,
we think Efficiency comes first.
This is the Foodman TouchScreen. (Resolution 1024x768)
4. Special Items. Every restaurant POS needs the ability to enter SPECIAL ITEMS i.e., things which are not on the regular menu, such as "Jelly Beans on a Roll". I can't see any button or anything on the Aloha screen for Specials. (There has to be a way but it is not apparent.) On the Foodman screen the server just touches the "SPECIAL" button and a screen pops up which lets the server enter the special. Winner: Foodman.
5. Special Instructions. There doesn't seem to be anything on the Aloha screen for Special Instructions about a regular menu item - e.g. "with Jelly Beans". Again, there must be a way but it isn't apparent. With Foodman, the server just touches the "S.I." button to enter two lines of Special Instructions applicable to the current line item. - Winner: Foodman. 6. Help. There doesn't seem to be a Help button on the Aloha Screen. With Foodman, the server just touches the "HELP" button on the top of the screen and a full-screen explanation of the various buttons is displayed. Winner: Foodman. 7. Navigation. Servers have to be able to move around in the order in order to make corrections, etc. Once more I don't see any buttons to move up and down in the line items. There must be a way to do it but it is not apparent. With Foodman, the server can use the "PAGE UP", "PAGE DOWN" and Up- and Down- buttons to find a specific line item. - Winner: Foodman. 8. Separate Checks. It looks like Aloha provides for separate checks for indiv- iduals at the same table because Table 22 has Check 1 next to it. How you decide which check you are working on cannot be seen. With Foodman, you touch the "W" (Who-For) button and then enter the name or seating position of the individual. - Winner: Foodman. 9. Modifiers. Because the Aloha screen is restricted to 21 menu items, it is necessary for them to have a 'Modifier' button. Presumably, when it is necessary to enter a modifier, the server touches 'Modifier' and then the modifiers for that category would appear. Because Foodman has up- to 54 buttons per screen, it is a rare case when all of the modifiers for a single category do not fit on the same screen as the items in the category. - Winner: Foodman. 10. But what if I don't like touchscreens?. Places with small and simple menus, can avoid the additional expense of touchscreens ($400 and up) by using either the keyboard, a touchpad or a barcode wand. Some customers, for example, already have an installed POS system which has touchpads but they don't like the software they are using and don't want to spend money on new hardware. Anyway, with Foodman, you have alternative methods and they don't cost extra. (Note that when using the keyboard there are up-to 52 menu items on the screen at a single time.) The following screen shot depicts order-entry using the keyboard. - Winner: Foodman.
Final Score: Aloha 0, Foodman 10. We could make some additional comments but you get the point. So, what do YOU prefer, beauty or efficiency? Think about it, and don't forget how expensive those fancy systems are.