If your restaurant had the #1 sandwich in America, according to The Huffington Post, you would think you would have earned the right to rest, take time off and relax. But that's not Johnny Brann Jr., Owner of Kitchen 67. Four years ago, when he started the restaurant, it was bold and daring. He worked directly with Apple and Verizon to create a concept that was one-of-a-kind. "When opening I had the desire to shakeup the restaurant industry. A lot of things were in early stages back in 2011. But I thought how great would it be to integrate technology in to the entire layout? Once Apple was on board it became easy to bring on other technology partners,"said Brann.
But technology changes rapidly. What was new and innovative in 2011, iPads and fast-ordering from a touch screen, is now common in 2016. Brann's partnership with Verizon has helped keep things fresh. You can navigate easily between Kitchen 67 and a Verizon store next door.
But it's what he said next in our interview that got me excited. "I'm in touch with another charging company, it's so new that I'm not sure of it. Set your phone on the table, anywhere and it will charge. Looking to install that in the next couple weeks. No wires, no having the right connector. Just put your phone down and it'll be ready when you leave,"said Brann.
Food obviously has to be the focus of a restaurant but how it sets itself apart is all about the customer experience. Brann has built a brand on making things more efficient, fun and new for his customers. This is something he learned growing up in the restaurant business.
"My grandpa was an entrepreneur back in the 30's and started a family-owned concept that still stands today. I'm the third generation and I still have an involvement but he inspired me to create a new concept. My grandpa created a concept. I wanted to recreate a concept,"said Brann. "Kitchen 67 emulates that tradition. We have new twists but I learned from tradition. If your customers are happy that's the most important part."
There are big interactive touch screens as you walk in to Kitchen 67 but they are not there to look cool. Every innovation, every bit of technology is designed to make waiting times shorter and have needs met faster. The first ever Pepsi Remix machine was installed here.
It's these innovations that work especially well for lunch customers with tight schedules.
"At some point the rest of the industry catches up,"said Brann. We'll continue to try and stay on the cutting edge. I've had a lot of national chains and retailers come in here and take pictures. I let them. We are happy to share. We want the overall experience to be better everywhere you go. And a lot of great things can happen through collaboration."
Collaboration isn't easy in the restaurant business but Brann still manages to seem relaxed. Maybe it's because he always has another, more innovative idea ready. Maybe it's because he trusts his concept and clientele.
"What's nice is that we get calls, from as far as Japan, asking us to try certain things. Technology partners are comfortable with us being the first to do something because we have the experience and background,"said Brann.
It's hard to strike a balance between food and technology. Kitchen 67 is still more recognized for it's food than it's innovation, which makes Brann proud.
"We're dedicated to the food and the service. It drives us and attracts certain clientele. It's an interesting place. People are comfortable here having a working lunch and getting things done. Better days and things come out of here. And we're willing to try anything to create a new experience for people,"said Brann.
There are a million trends in food from farm-to-table to things even more niche and obscure. But the most important thing in restaurants is still the customer. They are there for an experience, something they will remember, something they can't recreate at home. And if you can do all of that without any headaches or inconveniences then you really have something. What Brann's success shows is that the customer still always comes first.