Processing and Control for Professional AV Installations

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Symetrix Proves to be Reliable and Repeatable for Tavern Grill

One of the current trends for systems integrators in the US is the return of bars and restaurants as an important revenue stream. In this kind of environment, AV systems can be mission-critical meaning that there is a greater emphasis on finding the right gear.

In the fast-moving hospitality environment, AV equipment should enhance your venue without getting in the way of your operations. You need technology that you can trust to work when you need it to, while also being simple for your staff to use. Finding that combination can feel like a never-ending task, but when you do, you then want to roll it out across every outlet that you run so you can see the advantages across your whole business.

This is the path that has been followed by The Tavern Grill chain, an upscale casual full-service bar and restaurant with six locations currently open, two more under construction, and several potential locations throughout the Midwest on its radar. Owned by Hemisphere Restaurant Partners, each restaurant is distinct in design, but share a common AV backbone that is fine-tuned to the individual outlet.

Hemisphere Restaurant Partners has had a long relationship with Minnesota-based Aufderworld Corporation, and once again called upon their skills and knowledge to design and install the AV solution across each of the sites. The Aufderworld team knew that the solution had to be rock-solid with an intuitive user interface, both factors that ensured they turned to Symetrix.

“When Hemisphere came to us and said they were rolling out the new concept, Symetrix processors were an obvious choice for us,” said Brian Chelminiak, President at Aufderworld Corporation. “The reliability is great, you set them up, they work and you forget about them. To my knowledge, I don’t recall ever needing to replace a faulty Symetrix processor.”

Durability like this is a critical factor for any AV installation, as faulty equipment can be one of the biggest hidden costs in ongoing operations.

“Reliability is one of the biggest issues for systems as the cost of system ownership obviously goes up the more you have to tend to it,” Brian said. “We try to keep that cost down for our customers by using parts like Symetrix processors that are easy to program, easy to implement, and just incredibly reliable.”

The Tavern project saw a variety of different spaces with their own needs and characteristics, that each required a slightly modified solution. This meant that either Symetrix Prism or Jupiter DSPs were installed to meet the specific audio requirements of the site, while also looking after some of the simple video requirements in a ‘set and forget’ manner.

“The Symetrix processor is at the core of the audio system, and that allows them the ease of control,” explained Brian. “The system is mainly for Tavern’s management and staff to have full control of every zone–to turn on games, turn the volume up and down, and such. We put a couple of the Symetrix ARC-2es and ARC-3s in the dining areas and in a few strategic locations just so their management can deal with that–and of course, we set them up with the web GUI as well so they can use that.”

This online control feature has proven to be a popular option with the teams who use the system on a daily basis. “They’re just using the web GUI on their phones,” revealed Brian. “We offered it to all of the managers for operation, and then they have a backup controller for the zones. So if for whatever reason there’s a network issue, they still have a backup to control all the zones. We all know network and technology can have their issues, so you do have to have a contingency plan. But fortunately, Symetrix makes that really easy with the solid-state controllers that gives them a nice backup option that’s always there.”

The simplicity of this interface is another important factor that helps to overcome one of the major challenges seen in the hospitality industry–staff turnover.

“That industry traditionally does have a high turnover, so this really does assist the managers when there’s not a lot of time for training,” said Brian. “Symetrix makes it nice and simple to create a shortcut to the web GUI and then it’s very intuitive for them. In general, we don’t have a lot of issues with managers and re-training – it’s the sort of thing where the knowledge is streamlined well enough that it passes down from the general manager to other managers. That really helps, and that’s a testament to the good design of the Symetrix system.”

The other area where this helps is with familiarity for staff who move between venues. “Standardization is another important thing from an implementation and an operation standpoint,” explained Brian. “They do have a lot of managers that are regional managers and go from site to site, so that consistency helps you save time not having to re-train the staff on everything.”

Importantly, the standardized approach is something that the chain’s owners are appreciating as well.

“Having a standard solution has given us consistency for our brand as it relates to ambiance, training, and centralized control,” explained Tim Cary, Chief Operating Officer at Hemisphere Restaurant Partners. “It has been very easy to train our staff on the system. Managers pick up the system and its use very quickly. Moreover, it’s afforded us an opportunity to establish property volumes that are consistent and not dependent on individual tastes.”

Reflecting on the system and how it has been used across the chain, Tim is very satisfied with the solution. “It’s been great to use the control system. We’ve found it to be accessible, intuitive, and reliable.”

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