Launching a restaurant is often a sink-or-swim moment. It’s stressful, exciting and demanding, so any help keeping things organized and flowing smoothly is essential. Just ask Rebekah Gelvin, the proud owner and operator of the new Mandeville Beer Garden in Sarasota, Florida. With 30 draught beers, 150 bottles and a classic beer garden-style food menu, the last thing the staff wants is to have to remember tricky procedures for operating TVs, stereos and other utilities on site.
As the city’s first-ever beer garden, Gelvin knew it might be popular, but was pleasantly surprised at the community’s overwhelming response. Luckily, she thought ahead and outfitted the establishment with advanced technologies designed to lighten the load for her and the staff, centered around an ELAN control system that automates the audio, video, lighting, surveillance cameras and HVAC.
“It’s nice not to worry about turning things on and off,” Gelvin said. “It might seem like a little detail, but there are hundreds of little details that we need to nail every day, so anything that checks a couple items off the list is a big help. As far as grand openings go, ours has been wildly successful, but that does mean that the staff can sometimes be racing around to keep every customer happy. In that environment, giving the bartenders the ability to change TV channels or turn up the music from their personal smartphones is a big help. It saves time and frustration, and even attracts the customers’ attention when they ask how we did that.”
Automating the utilities of the beer garden was a core consideration during construction, according to Mark van den Broek, owner of the Sarasota-based electronics integration firm Smarthouse Integration.
“Technology is basically a given for a modern bar or restaurant, and Rebekah knew that going in,” van den Broek said. “But where legacy owners might see TVs and speakers as the end-all be-all, she recognized that more could be done to simplify operations and free up staff to attend to customers quicker and more effectively. In addition, the energy savings can be considerable. For instance, the beer garden’s lights, TVs, and speakers all automatically turn on 30 minutes before opening and off 30 minutes and after closing. This eliminates the need for a worker to be responsible for these duties, and ensures that it always happens. Even if someone did turn on a light after closing, Rebekah can see that and turn it off using the ELAN g! mobile app on her smartphone or tablet.”
In addition to the automated on/off settings, van den Broek worked closely with Gelvin to create a smart lighting timeline that self-adjusts the lighting levels throughout the day to match ambient light. Combine that with an intelligent HVAC schedule, an integrated security system, 10 IP surveillance cameras and three separate zones of audio and video, and it’s clear the ELAN control system plays an essential role in the beer garden’s operations. It even gives the staff instant control over the beer garden’s functions through their mobile phones.
“Another thing we knew going in is that every customer wants WiFi. They want to take pictures, upload them, search for our beers on apps and be as connected as they are at home,” Gelvin added.
To satisfy this insatiable desire to be connected at all times, van den Broek installed Luxul networking equipment to provide a private network for the staff and a public network for customers. To keep customers informed of specials and restaurant info, two commercial LG display panels show special info and menus as well as TV programming through digital signage software.
The installation includes a variety of indoor and outdoor speakers from JBL and SpeakerCraft with Niles and Crown amplification, all distributed through the ELAN system. Each audio and video zone can be controlled independently from the ELAN mobile app or a 7-inch ELAN touchscreen mounted behind the bar. To keep all the equipment running smoothly and reliably, van den Broek utilized the Panamax MB4315-Pro Power Manager to deliver clean, consistent and protected power.