When Chef Mimmo Alboumeh opened his latest venture, the Buckhead Atlanta restaurant Botica, he quickly gained a loyal following of customers and restaurant critics/journalists alike. Botica features fare based on two of Mimmo’s favorite national cuisines—Spain and Mexico. But delectable and delicious food is only part of the recipe that makes up Botica. Featuring a warm and engaging atmosphere, Botica occupies 5,000 square feet of open indoor and outdoor seating, a private dining room and an audiovisual system with 41 high-definition flat-screen TVs fed and controlled by components from Key Digital. When it came to designing and installing the AV system, Chef Mimmo looked for expertise in audio/video and system integration along with proficiency in all aspects of the restaurant business. Based on those criteria, he hired Daniel “Dano” Kirk of Kirkyard A/V.
Kirkyard A/V has a rich history in both the restaurant and A/V industries. Dano Kirk began his career working in restaurants and hospitality in the mid-1980s. After several hospitality jobs, owning his own restaurant and consulting for many of his former co-workers and associates about both restaurant operations and existing and emerging technologies, he formed Kirkyard A/V, a specialized system integration firm that understands restaurant operations and the technologies that help restaurateurs function efficiently.
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“I’ve been involved in the restaurant industry since I was about 14 years old,” stated Kirk. “In the late 90s, after I had moved to Atlanta, the owner of the restaurant where I was working kept saying ‘Man, the service from this technology is terrible.’ I knew how to solve those problems and offered my services. Since then, I have been a go-to resource for restaurants looking to install AV systems that provide the best possible experience for themselves and their customers. The level of knowledge and service Kirkyard A/V provides to our clients is based on my understanding of restaurant operations, which sets us apart from other technology consultants. If you’re going to do things right, it helps to really be immersed in that world from the start.”
When Kirk was designing the AV system for Botica, he chose to employ components from Key Digital for several reasons: “I definitely appreciate Key Digital products, because at the end of the day, they just work. I also appreciate their customer support. Whenever there’s a complication or something that needs to be looked at or addressed, they’re right on top of it. They’re very easy to work with, and I always feel comfortable installing their products. I’m based here in Atlanta, and I recently did a franchise restaurant in Washington, D.C., for another client, but I never hear from them for follow-up service because the KD system just works. I’ve also got a couple clients down in Florida, which would be a little more convenient for me geographically to visit, but it’s not necessary. I know that if there’s going to be a problem with something, it won’t be the Key Digital piece. And that level of reliability is super-important because it lets my clients concentrate on their food and their customers, not the technology.”
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One of Botica’s needs was the ability to support vendors doing product launches (a new brand of tequila, for example) in the restaurant for the Buckhead Atlanta market. That meant, in part, being able to show dedicated content on their TV displays for each new brand being launched, while being able to instantly switch to a baseball or football game (or even split up the content to show eight games on eight displays or combine displays to make larger screens). “They wanted to have a higher-end control system for the managers and the staff that was very easy to operate,” states Kirk. He recalls a recent product launch: “With just three or four button presses, all the TVs were changed to what people wanted to watch after the product presentation without having to walk around the restaurant with a handful of remotes and trying to figure out which one controlled what. We just stepped up to the iPad and it was done. We actually added a second iPad for the bar because at night, they were regularly wanting to change the music and instead of having to leave the bar to go around and manually change the program, or leave the iPad off the charger and have it die, we just added another one at the bar to simplify that process.”
“I spec’d the Key Digital KD-IP822ENC 4K AV over IP System Encoder and the KD-IP822DEC 4K AV over IP System Decoder," said Kirk. "Every display has a decoder, and every source, satellite receiver, streaming service or other auxiliary input device has an encoder. Those all plug into a network switch, which then connects to the iPad. You just open up their KD app, and it allows you to change the source to display, pair a display and source, or pick the video wall and select the source and swipe across the video wall to very simply stretch that image across the video wall screens. It’s all very intuitive and user-friendly.
“We used the KD-MAX8x8 Audio Matrix Switcher with built-in Audio Pre-Amp. This allows the client to control up to eight sources in up to eight different zones. For example, they can adjust the volume of the music in the bar area, and in the private dining room, they can have a satellite receiver game on (for instance if there are a bunch of Tennessee Titan fans in there that want to watch their team’s game). And then in the patio have a completely different music source to suit that atmosphere. And when there is a live band performing, they can play it over the sound system if they choose. The MZX8x8 is a great little device.”
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Another advantage Kirk pointed out is how little custom programming he has to do. “Once the devices are configured, the Key Digital app that runs on the iPad finds the devices, does the work, and is rock solid. I have a 20-plus year history with Key Digital and I’ve definitely appreciated their ability to stay ahead of the curve with reliable, intuitive products. The only time I need to return to a client’s restaurant is for their grand opening or a good dinner. Key Digital is a big part of that.”