TouchBistro is restaurant software for iPad, with some unique, innovative features. It's primarily made for counter-service, small and medium sized restaurants, although it's increasingly supporting larger restaurants. It includes features for tableservice, counter service and bar service, as well as inventory tracking, employee management and reporting. This article will go over:
- TouchBistro Pricing
- Setting Up TouchBistro
Each TouchBistro license includes free 24/7 phone and email support, as well as access to an online help portal. TouchBistro is available in four monthly packages, each which can have unlimited users. They are:
- $69 per month - first license
- $129 per month - two licenses
TouchBistro works with a number of payment processors, including: Chase Paymentech, Moneris, PayPal, Vantiv, Square, Premier Payments, and Cayan (and outside of the US, iZettle and Tyro). Your pricing for credit card processing will depend on which processor you use and the rates available to you. See TouchBistro's list of partners for more information on card processing.
TouchBistro is unique in how it's set up - instead of being cloud based, like the majority of iPad software, it's installed locally. This means that TouchBistro doesn't require WiFi for day to day software operations, although you will need an internet connection for credit card processing (and even though some payment processors allow for offline card processing, including Square and Moneris, you'll still need to process cards online). If you have more than one iPad station, you will need to set up your server on a Mac Mini (if you are only using one iPad, it will run off of that iPad). Storing all your data locally makes TouchBistro more secure than cloud-based software, but requiring a physical server also limits TouchBistro's functionality for mobile businesses such as food trucks. The only parts of TouchBistro that are available via the cloud are reports and data management.
TouchBistro is compatible with thermal and impact (kitchen) printers, as well as kitchen display systems, printer driven cash drawers, and Bluetooth barcode scanners. For more information on setting up hardware with your TouchBistro system, there is a series of videos with step by step instructions on TouchBistro's website.
Receipt Printers - TouchBistro is compatible with Star Micronics brand Ethernet interface printers, including the TSP100III, the TSP650II, and the impact (kitchen ticket) SP700. TouchBistro is also compatible with certain Epson brand Ethernet printers, but you have to contact TouchBistro directly to purchase these, as they require specific models.
Kitchen Display - If you choose to use a kitchen display system instead of a kitchen ticket printer, TouchBistro supports using an additional iPad as a KDS.
Cash Drawer - TouchBistro is compatible with printer driven cash drawers. They officially list the MMF Val-u-Line as the compatible cash drawer, but any printer driven cash drawer that is compatible with your receipt printer should work.
Barcode Scanner - TouchBistro supports using the Socket CHS 7Ci Bluetooth barcode scanner, if your business sells products with barcodes. You can also use the iPad camera to scan barcodes, although this inputs barcodes slightly differently than the Socket scanner, so if you switch from using the iPad camera to the Socket scanner, you will have to re-input your barcodes.
TouchBistro includes a huge number of features, so in this section, we're only going to highlight the ones we think make TouchBistro stand out (for a full list, see their website). The main feature that distinguishes TouchBistro from others is that it's designed to be used tableside. Although you can use TouchBistro on a single iPad (for counter service restaurants, cafes, etc), it's set up so that servers can bring the iPad to the table with them to take orders, eliminating a step in the order-taking process (see image to the right). Many of the features are specifically built to be used tableside, including credit card processing.
Other features include:
- Custom floor plan with custom tables, seats, bars, etc
- Bar tabs - can be combined, and moved from bar tabs to tables
- Seats - can be moved (at the same table or to different tables), items can be split among any combination of seats, and bills can be combined by seat
- Menu categories - can be hidden for non-active menus (like breakfast menu), or shown at set times
- Low inventory warnings, and the option to hide out of stock inventory items
- Different meal courses - items ordered can be assigned and moved to different courses
- Discounts, including discounts per item, custom discounts, and scheduled discounts (like automatic discounts at happy hour)
- Delivery and to go options, and generated delivery routes
TouchBistro allows you to add unlimited items to your inventory, but does not include the option to bulk import your inventory (like with a CSV file). Each menu item must be entered by hand, which makes entering items with many ingredients or a very large inventory time consuming and labor-intensive. Because of this, we are hesitant to recommend TouchBistro for large restaurants or restaurants with very large menus. The inventory management does include useful features though, including:
- Recipe management
- Ingredient level tracking and cost reports
- Item level tracking and cost reports
- Ingredient and menu item reports
Management and Back Office
TouchBistro includes fairly standard management and back office features. TouchBistro's employee features include a built in employee time clock, and different permissions for each employee, including time clock only permissions for kitchen staff. Reports are available remotely from the cloud, as well as from the app. Back Office features include:
- Automatic daily data backup
- Employee activity reports, including voids, discounts, and item totals
- Up to the minute sales reports
- Detailed shift reports
- Credit card and cash tip reports
TouchBistro stands out with a couple of factors: the way of taking orders and the local (and not cloud-based) set up. The tableside ordering system makes placing and sending orders quick and direct. Local storage and set up is a safer way to store your data, but also makes your business less mobile. If these two factors are appealing and seem like they suit your restaurant, we highly recommend TouchBistro. If either of these features, however, don't seem like they work for your business - if, for instance, you have a mobile restaurant like a food truck, or you won't take advantage of the tableside ordering - there are other iPad point of sale systems that may work better for your restaurant. For other iPad software options, we suggest considering Aldelo Touch restaurant software, or Square for food trucks, or ShopKeep for counter-service restaurants or cafes.
In addition to this, we feel that TouchBistro is better suited for small and medium restaurants. Larger restaurants may struggle with some aspects of TouchBistro, including the inventory management features (which also impact any restaurant with a very large menu). TouchBistro does offer an unlimited licenses option though, and there are increasingly more features available for larger restaurants.
Finally, keep in mind that TouchBistro is constantly updating and adding new features. The ingredient-level inventory management feature, for instance, was recently added, and TouchBistro emphasizes their goal to make their software as user friendly as possible. In this same vein, TouchBistro has a series of step by step videos on how to set up your system, your hardware, and your staff that are available on their website. They also offer 24/7 customer support via phone and email, as well as an online help portal. The support at every level and integration of new features help make TouchBistro a very good choice for small and medium sized restaurants.