Darden Restaurants, parent of the seafood-restaurant chain as well as the Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and Smoky Bones brands, is partnering with AT&T, IBM, and NCR to link its 1,150 outlets via a frame-relay network in time for the Christmas rush.
NCR staffers are installing hubs at Olive Garden sites, while IBM does the same at Red Lobsters. The frame-relay network has a guaranteed 64-Kbps connection speed and allows bursting up to 128 Kbps, says Will Anguish, VP of corporate systems. The network sends financial information as well as data on guest satisfaction, food quality, and employee retention back and forth from the stores to a MicroStrategy Inc. data warehouse. It also will speed up credit-card processing to just 2 seconds. "That's a lot more important than you might think," Anguish says. "During the holidays, waiting for authorization on a charge card can tie up a point-of-sale terminal time for as long as a minute."
The network is part of an $8 million technology upgrade at Darden that also includes accounts payable, fixed assets, purchase order, project management, and inventory modules from Oracle, human resources from PeopleSoft, and system integration from Andersen.