Nigel is the brainchild of two hard-working Midwest industry leaders: Thrive Restaurant Group and High Touch Technologies. Combining restaurant management and technology knowledge, Thrive and High Touch engineered a modern point of sale (POS) system, filling the need for a well-serviced, maintained, and up-to-date restaurant management platform.
Hungry for Something Different
When Thrive Restaurant Group President Jon Rolph was searching for a new POS system for his Carlos O’Kelly’s chain of restaurants, he came up empty handed. The off-the-shelf platforms depended on legacy code, felt outdated, or were overpriced. Thrive would have to reinvent its Carlos O’Kelly’s operations to make any out-of-the-box platforms work.
For Rolph, scrambling operations for subpar software wasn’t on the menu. So, he found a way to turn his vision into something real.
Cooking Up a Joint Venture
Rolph and former High Touch President and CEO Wayne Chambers met through a shared interest in the Wichita, Kan. community. After serving together on many local councils and committees, Rolph understood that High Touch had the value, software, and support experience to help create a different kind of restaurant software. “Wayne and I have a lot of mutual respect for one another. He was the first call I made when I recognized the need,” stated Rolph.
Chambers was confident High Touch could bake up something special with a restaurant POS system. High Touch engineered its groundbreaking cynergi | suite software on the same principles for the rent-to-own industry over 30 years ago. “I knew we had the team to be successful,” stated Chambers. “With Jon’s restaurant knowledge and our technical knowhow, we could create a real game changer in the restaurant industry.”
Gregg Bolinger, Director of Development at High Touch, led Nigel’s software engineering efforts. In collaboration with Brian Houchin, Director of IT at Thrive, the joint venture team was able to test Nigel’s integration with standard restaurant technologies and ensure Nigel met the unique technology needs of the industry.
Engineering a Prototype
The joint venture enabled a collaborative approach to software development—High Touch was able to engineer a Nigel prototype alongside Thrive’s launch of its HomeGrown Wichita restaurant concept. This gave project stakeholders, software developers, and restaurant staff a real-time opportunity to engineer a product that solved everyday restaurant management problems. In May 2017, HomeGrown Wichita implemented the first prototype version of the software.
Building a Scalable Software Solution
As HomeGrown users beta tested the software, Nigel’s engineers perfected the code and added productivity enhancements. The next step was to make Nigel scalable.
Carlos O’Kelly’s, Thrive’s largest fully owned restaurant brand, has 18 locations across the U.S. Nigel had to work for all Carlos O’Kelly’s restaurants anytime, anywhere. In July 2018, the first Carlos O’Kelly’s successfully implemented Nigel. Through the end of 2018, four more Carlos O’Kelly’s locations transitioned to the Nigel restaurant management platform.
Establishing a Future
On January 11, 2019, the joint venture officially announced that Nigel was ready to go to market. Through ingenuity, teamwork, and real-time testing, the joint venture created a product that was ready to disrupt the business-focused restaurant POS market, and put the emphasis back on improving the customer dining experience. “Nigel creates a quality restaurant management experience, which in turn creates an awesome, enhanced experience for our guests,” states Rolph. “Most POS systems feel like you’re using a flip phone—Nigel is basically the iPhone the restaurant industry has been hungry for.”
- September 2016. The joint venture between High Touch and Thrive Restaurant Group is official. Development work on a Nigel prototype begins.
- May 2017. HomeGrown Wichita implements a prototype version of Nigel.
- July 2018. Nigel launches at the first Carlos O’Kelly’s in Wichita.
- September 2018. After a successful July launch, Nigel launches at the second Carlos O’Kelly’s.
- October 2018. Nigel launches in three more Carlos O’Kelly’s locations.
- January 2019. Nigel is officially revealed in the Wichita Business Journal.
About High Touch Technologies
High Touch delivers client-tailored software, technology and business communication solutions that solve unique challenges in any industry. With key strengths in RTO, healthcare, manufacturing, non-profit, professional services and utilities, High Touch helps businesses grow by expanding their technology and communications capabilities.
High Touch brings the human touch to technology, serving business clients with IT solutions, software solutions, security solutions, business communications, and website services. Based in Wichita, Kan., High Touch has offices in Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Corpus Christi and San Antonio.
For additional information, visit hightouchtechnologies.com.
About Thrive Restaurant Group
Thrive Restaurant Group is a Wichita, Kansas-based company that invites its team to make a positive difference in the lives of its people, guests and the communities it serves. Thrive is an Applebee’s franchisee and the parent company of restaurants Carlos O’Kelly’s and HomeGrown Wichita, employing 4,000 people in 61 restaurants across 10 states.
For additional information, visit thriverestaurantgroup.com.