Meza Hospitality POS Review
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If you happen to be fluent in Swahili (and who isn’t, really?) then you already know that the word ‘meza’ translates to table — quite a fitting name for one of the most exciting new additions to the restaurant Point of Sale (POS) industry. The Meza Café and Restaurant POS app, created by former restaurant owner and Sydney resident Barry Schutte in 2012, aims itself at cafes, restaurants, and bars ranging from small to large.
Meza actually has a pretty typical origin story, at least in the POS software world. One day, while entertaining some guests, Schutte noticed that his staff was distracted and became irritated when he continually had to wave a waiter or waitress down. Instead of taking refuge in a cathartic Facebook rant, however, he actually set out to do something about the problem. Schutte contacted software developer Nick Du Preez and together they dreamed up a POS system that would address the disappearing-waiter issue. Thus, Meza was born.
Using the Meza app, customers can summon their waiter or waitress; they can also ask for their bill, order, and pay the tab, all from their iPhone. With just the touch of a button, notifications are sent to all the iPads in the venue and must be physically canceled by a staff member before disappearing, ensuring prompt attention and service. Can I get a welcome to the future of restaurant ordering, anyone?
Along with promoting this fairly revolutionary call button, Schutte’s other purpose was to create a system that restaurant owners and managers can immediately change, update, and control, with little cost and little to no effort. So far, I think he’s done an outstanding job.
Although Meza is a very recent start up, the company has recently finished several rounds of beta testing and is signing new customers everyday. The software is easy to use and offers all the features that qualify as industry standards and more — all for $60/month. Meza is new to the market and only time will tell how successful this software will really be. That said, so far I am extremely impressed. (Don’t take my word for it!. Test it out yourself with a 30 day free trial.)
Okay, so much for the overview. Come, my new rafikis (which, as we all know, mean friends in Swahili). Now that we have our introductions out of the way, gather around the meza and let’s examine this new POS system more in depth.
Don’t have time to read an entire review? Take a look at our top rated Point of Sale solutions for a few quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer support, detailed user interfaces, and easy-to-use software, all for a reasonable price.
Meza’s pricing structure is simple and extremely competitive. For $60/mo USD ($79 in Australia), you get unlimited devices, unlimited orders, and unlimited support (offered during business hours). That’s a fraction of what you will pay other Restaurant POS companies, and Meza is fully stocked with all the features you need and more. To put this into context, Lightspeed Restaurant charges $239/mo for seven registers, while Touchbistro charges $399/mo for unlimited registers.
Meza does not require a contract, so you can cancel your subscription at any time with no additional fees. If you want, there is an optional setup fee that pays for Meza employees to install your menu and make sure your store is setup correctly. Depending on the size of your menu this fee can vary, but Meza’s website says it starts at around $250 dollars.
Cloud-Based or Locally-Installed:
Meza is a hybrid system that requires only intermittent internet use. You will initially need an internet connection to download the app, but once downloaded and set up, the app works locally through your iPad. All the iPads in your restaurant are able to link through the Wi-Fi and update with each other in real time. Aside from this, the only time you will truly require an internet connection is when you need to make an update or backup your data; in the event of an internet outage you will see no effect on your operation. Like many of its competitors, Meza allows you to queue up credit card data to be processed when the internet comes back online, a helpful feature if you happen to live in an area with frequent internet disruptions.
As evidenced by the name, the Meza Café and Restaurant POS app is designed for use in the food service industry. (Shocker, I know.) Meza is appropriate for cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Honestly, if you’ve got any sort of business in the foodservice industry, there is a good chance Meza will work for you.
Specific Size of Business:
When Schutte first started Meza, his primary goal was to target small to medium business. However, over the last year he has been working to make Meza work for large businesses as well. Currently, Meza can even handle multiple location franchises.
Ease of Use:
Meza has a simple but visually pleasing user interface that makes navigation a breeze. When first setting up your account you can use any device that is able to connect to the internet. You begin by going to Meza’s website and filling out some basic information. Once you receive an email confirmation, you can download the iPad app and you’re ready to start setting up your restaurant.
Set-up is pretty simple. The menu making process, in particular, is expedited by the fact that you are able to upload menus through Excel CSV files. Any questions you run into can be quickly answered by small clarification notes in the setup interface or by linked YouTube tutorial videos.
Meza’s clean interface prevents navigation from becoming confusing. While easy to learn, mastering Meza will take some time simply because there are a lot of features and lots of buttons to press.
When it comes to the front end of the app, employees are required to log in with a unique 4 digit pin. After logging in, they can access the dashboard, table floor plan, orders, reports, configuration, events, staff, and guest information, all with just the touch of a button from a gray bar down at the bottom of the screen.
The customer app is easy to navigate as well. Users sign in and are prompted to select the appropriate restaurant; they then select how many guests they have, designate whether they will be dining in or ordering take out, and can even choose a table. Once seated, users can use the app to look at the menu, order, call the waiter or waitress, ask for their bill, and even look at the current daily specials.
Hardware and Operating System Requirements:
The only things required to run Meza are an iPad 2 + (or a mini iPad), an email account, the Meza iPad controller app, a Wi-Fi router, a cash drawer, and a receipt printer.
Meza, like many other POS apps, only deals directly in software. Users must purchase their own iPads. When it comes to the other hardware, customers can either source it themselves or reach out to Schutte and request a quote (he will arrange for delivery anywhere in the world). If you’re in the market for a bundle deal, Meza integrates with the Star Micronics mPOP Bluetooth combined 58mm printer and cash drawer.
You can reach out to Meza with any hardware questions that you have, but the app is compatible with the following brands and models:
- Any Star Printers
- Most of the popular Epson printers
- Meza is also able to support Bluetooth printing
- Cash Drawers:
- Any cash drawer with a kick out function
Meza offers all the basic features that are considered to be industry standard and then some. Here are some of the many tools Meza has to offer:
- Dashboard: Meza has a handy dashboard that allows staff to see if there are any requests for assistance, how many orders there are, and if there are any messages; this is great for a quick overview of what is going on in the restaurant. In the requests column, a small white iPhone will appear when a customer uses their app to ask for help. No phone means another staff member has used the Check Table button (I’ll explain that further at the end of the features section).
- Taking Orders: With the Meza register, employees can take orders tableside, add modifiers, send tickets to the kitchen screens, take payments, and split checks, among other things. Waitstaff can easily search through menu categories (kids, breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, etc. — the list is limited only to how many categories you select when setting up your restaurant). Waitstaff can add the customer’s name (helping provide a more personal dining experience), add an open item, hold an order, add modifiers and special requests or comments, send to the kitchen, and take payments. Waitstaff can also move customers from one table to another with just the touch of a button.
- Kitchen Staff: Waitstaff is able to send their orders directly to the kitchen, eliminating possible mistakes and saving the time they would have had to spend running their orders back to the prep area. Instead of relying on kitchen printers, Meza allows chefs to utilize their own kitchen iPads. (An added bonus regarding kitchen iPads is that they can save you money on receipt paper and printer ink refills, and are much better for the environment.) Orders will show up in separate columns marked Takeaway or Dine in. Yellow columns represent takeaway orders, blue columns represent orders placed on the customer app, and white orders are those taken by staff members. Kitchen staff can further filter this by showing New, Hold, Ready, Completed, Beverage, Food, and Bar orders. One of my favorite aspects is the button that marks the order as ready and alerts the staff that their order is ready to be picked up and delivered to the customers.
- Employee Management: You can manage and track your employees by giving each of them a unique 4 digit pin. When you set up your venue, you can assign each staff member as a waiter, a chef, a manager, or even a guest. (It would be nice to see a more inclusive employee list, including options for bartenders, hosts and hostesses, busboys, dishwashing staff, baristas etc., especially for larger restaurants.) Meza also allows you to select whether staff are active or not, which can be useful for seasonal employees. There are currently two security levels for staff members: Waiter or Manager. Waiters are unable to void orders, make changes in settings, or look at reports. For more detailed information, you can track your staff’s performances (as shown in the report below) or open detailed reports about each category.
- Floor Planner: Meza allows you to design an interactive floor plan with movable tables and take-away stations. When laying out your floor plan, you can move the tables and take-out kiosks around. All the tables are circular and have 4 seats, which is kind of a bummer; it would be nice if the floor plan was a bit more adjustable in terms of table shape, size, and number of seats.
- Reporting: Meza’s in-depth reporting covers everything from sales summaries to staff performances. You can see a report from any given date or time by moving adjustable dials.
- Inventory Management: The company just released an inventory management system that allows you to track raw ingredients and work out the cost of each item based on how much you pay your chefs, how much time it takes to make, etc. Another great thing about the inventory feature is that you can set up stock safety levels, giving Meza the ability to place orders with your suppliers automatically so you never run out of stock.
- Front Facing Display: Meza offers a useful customer facing display which, when not in use, can feature specials and a QR for the Meza app (seen below). While having their order rung up, customers can see everything that they are being charged for. Additionally, Meza integrates with AllReceipts, meaning that customers can choose to scan the displayed QR code with their smart phone (no email or phone number required) and are able to store a digital copy of their receipt. This can help reduce the amount of printer paper and ink used and can also be great for the environment. (Something that customers are beginning to care more and more about.) It is also worth mentioning that Meza does not charge anything extra for using the front facing feature.
- Taking Payments: Once the order is ready to be paid for, staff can select the type of payment, add free items, split the bill, split the payment, add credits or discounts, and select the guest loyalty program as well. Staff can also void the order, edit, and reprint with just the touch of a button.
- Assistance Button: Another pretty unique feature that Meza has to offer is the Check Table button. Staff members can press this button when they are personally bogged down but notice a table that needs assistance. As you can see in the photo below, an alert will pop up on all the restaurant iPads, along with a ‘Time Passed’ timer that helps staff track how long a table has been waiting. This notification will also pop up if a customer uses the customer app to call a waiter or waitress.
- Customer VIP Application: The free customer app is my favorite feature, though I do wish that it worked for Android devices (being a stubborn Android user myself). When a customer needs assistance, they click a button to call a waiter or waitress over. Like I mentioned above, once a customer clicks the call button, an alert will pop up on all the restaurant iPads with a timer that shows how long ago the request was made. This alert has to be physically canceled by someone in order for it to go away, helping ensure that customers get the service they need. Customers can also use the app to look at the menu, order, and pay for their meal, all from their iPhone. Take-out customers can even order on the way to your store, pay, and then pick up their food when they get there. The other great thing about this app is that it helps build customer loyalty. Once a VIP app user checks into your establishment, a notification will appear in the dashboard under messages. Staff will instantly be equipped with information such as the customer’s name, birthday, email, and, for Facebook users, a photo. Previous orders and even seating preferences will also pop up for returning customers. All this information can equip your waitstaff to help make your customers experience feel more personal.
Integrations and Add-Ons:
Meza currently integrates with the following:
The company is currently working on an integration with Doshii. This new integration will provide time clock, staff management, delivery, reservations, and other features useful to the hospitality industry.
Meza also offers an open API; contact them personally if you’d like more information.
Compatible Credit Card Processors:
Customer Service and Support:
Meza offers live support from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm AEDT; this support is provided by Schutte himself. I had the pleasure of speaking to him on the phone, and not only was he extremely helpful, he genuinely seemed to want the best for his customers. All of my questions were answered promptly and extensively.
If you need help, call +61 2 8294 5070 or email email@example.com and Schutte will strive to get back to you within 12 hours. (In the app, there is a practical screen share feature that can cut down on frustration when trying to explain a problem.) And if you are anything like me and like to troubleshoot on your own, Meza has a YouTube channel with helpful tutorial videos, a FAQ’s page, and a help center.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Because Meza is so new to the market, there are no negative user reviews to speak of. (The company simply hasn’t been around long and doesn’t have the user base yet.) Personally, I don’t have many qualms when it comes to Meza, but time will tell. Here are some things that stand out to me as potential issues:
- New – While this is not necessarily a bad thing, Meza doesn’t have an established reputation yet and it remains to be seen how the company actually works out.
- No Android Compatibility – This is a very small complaint, and one that isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but as an Android user I find it personally disappointing that I would be excluded from the customer app. Hopefully this won’t be an issue in the future; I was assured that once there is enough demand, Meza will make the customer app work with for Android as well.
- Limited Floor Plan – This is more of an aesthetic complaint, but also has some functional merit. When laying out your floor plan, you can move the tables and take-out kiosks around, but all the tables are circular and have 4 seats. It would be nice if the floor plan were able to be a bit more accurate in terms of table shape, size, and number of seats.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
Again, because Meza has only just entered the POS market, it has made no discernible footprint online in terms of customer (or even professional) reviews. That said, here are some of my own positive thoughts about the software:
- Innovative – One of the things I really like about Meza is the fact that it offers industry standards and then some. The customer app, in particular, is a nice bonus.
- Competitive Pricing – As I previously stated, Meza is currently being offered at a price that blows the other competition out of the water.
- Easy to Use – One of the nice things about iPad POS systems is that they tend to have a smaller learning curve, particularly for training employees. The app is easy to navigate and it’s simple, clean interface isn’t bad on the eyes either.
The Meza Café and Restaurant POS app is something the wider POS market should keep its eyes on. It is an exciting and capable new product, though the next few months will show us how well the company handles updates, integrations, and increased demands on support.
My own opinion of it is pretty clear, so let me lay out all my cards on the meza. This is a truly great POS app with potential to go very far in the industry. The company’s newness and relatively small customer base are causes for caution (if not quite for concern), but I highly recommend that you take it for a spin with the free 30 day trial. What do you have to lose?