CULINTRO A Community for Restaurant Professionals

Mark Buonagurio

In 1988, Mark founded Dataworks, a technology-centric business designed to assist small businesses with their general computing needs. The story changed in 1991, when a request for hospitality technology was made, and subsequently became the catalyst by which Retail Automation Products (RAP PoS) was created. At the time, most hospitality related technology companies had their roots in cash register sales, but Mark quickly realized that his robust experience in MIS and Finance was an excellent foundation on which to build a business in an industry that was quickly transforming from a commodity based industry, to a more sophisticated, consultative based industry. The focus of the business has always stayed on the customer, and today RAP PoS is a trusted name in hospitality technology, currently supplying the Aloha POS solution to a wide variety of concepts for over 1,200 customers in more than 8 states.


How long have you been in the Point of Sales Business?

18 years

How have new technologies affected your services?

We’ve seen a convergence of new technologies into our core competency. For example: Online ordering platforms, Wireless, Loyalty programs, Integrated security systems, and above store reporting and alerts tools all integrate and work in conjunction with the base POS solution. Many of the solutions are moving “above store” and are going to reside “in the cloud”. This has been the trend not just in our industry, but in just about every vertical.

What are key questions new restaurant owner/operators should ask point of sales companies to determine what is the best fit for their needs?

Potential purchasers of a POS system need to consider and evaluate two things: The Solution and The Dealer Selling Them The Solution. Regarding the solution itself, there are some basic questions that should be asked:

  • a. How long has the solution been around? Look to something at least 5 years in the market.
  • b. How many similar users currently use the solution? Look to something with at least 5,000 installations
  • c. Is the solution fully PCI compliant?
  • d. Can the solution grow with my concept? If I open 5 locations, does the solution have tools to manage multiple venues?
  • e. Is the solution redundant? What happens if the system crashes?
  • f. What kind of hardware does the solution employ?

Regarding the dealer:

  • a. How long have they been in business? Look for 3 years or more
  • b. Do they specialize in hospitality? Steer clear from dealers that work in many verticals (jack of all trades, master of none)
  • c. How many technical staff do they have for support?
  • d. Do they offer 24/7 support?
  • e. What makes them knowledgeable about the hospitality industry?
  • f. Do they have strong financials? You don’t want to drop down $15K or more to find out the dealer goes out of business 10 months later
  • g. Visit their office. Salespeople can create an image they want you to believe about the company, but a simple trip to their office will tell volumes about the business.

What changes should we expect from Rap/Aloha in the next year?

RAP will continue to expand into areas that complement our core competency. We are excited about some new developments in the online and mobile ordering arena, including phone apps for both the consumer and operator. We will also continue to seek out and partner with other companies that can add value to our clients (Culintro as an example) It’s a wonderful industry to be involved with, and watching a customer take a concept from vision to success is truly the most exciting part. I hope I can do it for another 18 years.

You have recently developed a new Event Planning Software for the Restaurant Industry called Tripleseat ( Can you tell me about it and how it helps restaurant event planners?

JONATHAN: Tripleseat is a Sales and Event Management web application designed specifically for restaurants to help increase event sales and streamline the planning process. With Tripleseat restaurant event managers can capture, book, and plan more private party business quickly and easily.

How did you think to create this software?

Jonathan: I spent 15 years in the hospitality business before I left to work in software. In late 2008 I had a what could be described as a failed event at a restaurant in Chicago. When I inquired to why things went so bad after spending weeks planning the event I was informed that the restaurant event manager lost all the paperwork a few days before the event. I was shocked to find out that restaurant was still using a manual process. I did some researched and what I learned that most restaurants use some type of manual process with e-mail, Word, Excel, notebooks, folders, post it notes, and wall calendars. When I asked why, the response was that there was no cost effective, easy to use, software built for the restaurant business. I decided to fix that problem with Tripleseat.

How does Tripleseat help the restaurant industry, particularly the private dining sector?

Jonathan: Tripleseat fixes two very big problems. The first problem Tripleseat fixes is capturing leads and developing new business. With Tripleseat restaurants can capture leads directly from their website with our SmartLead landing page and from their Facebook page with our Facebook Lead App, finally we have our own lead generation site The second problem we fix is the booking and planning process. Because most restaurant event planners "reap what they sow" we make booking and planning the events a snap. Tripleseat is a web application that can be used anywhere, even on an iPad, and we help the streamline a multi step, complicated process to just a few clicks. This increase in productivity means restaurants can book more events, grow the business and never fall behind because of a broken tedious process.

What are common mistakes you see in this part of restaurants?

Technologies constantly need to be updated to stay in the forefront, how do you see Tripleseat adapting to changes in the future? The most common mistake I see is Restaurant event managers taking to long to get back to the prospect after receiving a lead. The "first one in, wins" and if you don't respond to a lead quickly someone else will. We deliver leads via e-mail and directly into Tripleseat. We want to make sure our customers are the "first ones in". As far as keeping Tripleseat fresh we are constantly updating the application. We recently added the Facebook app and have developed integration to popular applications like ConstantContact, Google, Oulook, and iCal.