Keeping the Tech Running and the Food Fresh

Orlando Sprockel at the headquarters of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, where he is the director of information technology.

Orlando Sprockel, 57, is director of information technology at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants in Columbus, Ohio.

What role does information technology play in this business?

We use I.T. to track sales and assess which menu items are popular and which are not. We reorder food items across 55 restaurants in 13 states under the umbrella of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants’ several brands. They include Ocean Prime Restaurants and Rusty Bucket Restaurants and Taverns.

We also handle payroll and work shifts for a total of 4,000 employees. We process credit card payments. And we make sure guests can log on to their own mobile devices via high-speed Wi-Fi. But there’s one use of I.T. we won’t incorporate.

What’s that?

Many restaurants now have enabled servers to place your order from a tablet at your table and then send the order right from table to the kitchen. We prefer to keep eye contact and place orders the old-fashioned way, by hand. And we’ve found this does not take away from our ability to process orders efficiently.

Are there any new technologies you are thinking of using for the company?

We are evaluating ways of allowing people to pay with their credit cards at their tables, without servers ever taking the card out of guests’ sight.

We don’t have the right technology quite yet but we’re working on it, as we explore something that looks like a cross between the classic leather billfold and credit card chip readers you already see a lot.

Aside from saving time and looking nicer, this is safe for the cardholder who never has to part ways with his card.

Additionally, we are getting more involved in demographic data analytics to look more closely at who our guests are.

Do guests go hungry if the system goes down?

No. When I joined this company in January 2016, I was assigned to build a solid disaster recovery plan. I designed and built out a replica of the production environment. If we experience a total outage at the home office, we can switch operation within four hours with the core functionality to run the business.

What previous experience did you have?

I’d worked in I.T. for 30 years for big companies like Lucent Technologies, Converse and Cincinnati Bell Technology Systems. But I missed working in an environment where you witness the results of your efforts passed on to guests.

Has the environment lived up to your hopes?

More than. One personal example: I am from the Caribbean island of Curaçao and in December 2017, I passed the two-hour U.S. citizenship exam and was sworn in this past January.

The next day my supervisor called me into a room where the whole home office surprised me with a big cake with sparklers on top.

The marketing department shared an 11-by-17 congratulatory poster of me with associates at all of our locations.

Given Curaçao’s reputation for developing major league baseball players, was that the sport you played when you were young?

I grew up playing soccer and was good at it.

I never really liked baseball because in my country the fields were dirt, not grass, and the pebbles would make the ball bounce unpredictably. The ball could pop up and hit you.

These days I support a local soccer team, Columbus Crew, though the owner wants to move it to Texas. But my heart belongs to the U.K. team, the Liverpool Football Club, which I’ve followed since 1995.

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