A Chicago-area fast casual chain Buona will install Palmer Digital Group's turnkey outdoor digital menu board systems at most locations, beginning with two dual-concept locations with Rainbow Cone. Founded in 1981, Buona brings Chicago flavors—including its signature Italian beef sandwich—to 26 restaurants in surrounding communities. In 2018, Buona joined forces with regional institution Rainbow Cone, which in 1926 opened its original Chicago location and today operates in 10 stores, with two more opening this summer in Orland Park, IL and Bradenton, FL. One of these locations, in Valparaiso, IN represents a Buona/Rainbow Cone dual-concept.
The dual-concept franchise initiative, along with changing consumer habits, inspired Buona to re-evaluate it drive-thru operations. The marketing team was equally invested in the idea, given the challenge of updating multiple, differently sized static message boards in a timely manner.
“It’s not easy to roll out signage when every location has uniquely sized boards, varying between single, double and triple-panel configurations,” said Mark Kearins, IT director, Buona. “That leaves the marketing team scrambling to create signage for a variety of dimensions, many of which are unique to one site.”
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The Buona team found their answer upon entering Palmer Digital Group’s booth at the 2022 National Restaurant Association Show. The company soon ordered two triple-panel canopy systems for its Valparaiso location—one for each drive-thru lane—and soon-after committed to a larger order for their Bolingbrook Buona location, which adds single-panel preview boards. PDG will also customize the Orland Park Rainbow Cone canopy menu board structure with the brand’s enduring pink polka dots famous to its customers.
Palmer Digital Group also supplied Spectrio PingHD digital signage software licenses for each location, which allow the marketing team to quickly populate pricing changes, limited time offers, and other dynamic content to customers as they journey through the new dual-lane drive-thru configurations. Buona cut the ribbon on its modernized Valparaiso drive-thru experience on April 12, with staff and customers already reporting improvements in business management operations and the customer ordering experience.
“Palmer Digital Group provides a solution that talks to our point-of-sale system, which makes it easy for us to change menu layouts, link items and adjustment prices,” said Kearins. “New content can be on the screen within minutes and at no tangible expense. There is no more scrambling to create content, and no chance of an expensive mistake such as a static board misprint that costs about $1500 per location.”
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Kearins said that while Buona managed the Valparaiso installation in-house, they are outsourcing the Bolingbrook and Orland Park installation work to Palmer Digital Group. “They have an installation team with experts that understand the electrical and network infrastructure, and we don’t need to bring in a lift to put the canopy systems in place,” said Kearins. “And as we start rolling out menu board systems to other more locations, which we intend to do, we won’t really have the bandwidth to carry the load ourselves.”
Kearins expects to use PDG’s QSRDSMB346-CANOPY systems at most locations, which have three integrated 46-inch Samsung displays and offer overhead shade and protection from wet weather as customers place their orders. Preview systems will favor single-panel pedestal designs that can be lifted into place and securely mounted by two technicians. They are also in talks to install indoor digital menu board systems at several locations, along with “marketing TVs” for promotional digital signage inside Rainbow Cone locations.