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The Buzz:Install of the Month

There's nothing like cheesecake to evoke a sense of decadence. The Cheesecake Factory is committed to the quality of its namesake offering and its wide

The Buzz:
Install of the Month

Dec 1, 2004 12:00 PM,
By Trevor Boyer

The Cheesecake Factory, Virginia Beach, Va.

There’s nothing like cheesecake to evoke a sense of decadence. The Cheesecake Factory is committed to the quality of its namesake offering and its wide variety of other food. But the growing, high-end chain of restaurants also offers decadence in the customer dining experience — in which AV systems figure prominently — at its approximately 80 locations.

The Cheesecake Factory has contracted TAB Technical Services to provide Allen & Heath’s iDR DSP audio distribution and processing systems at all of its national locations, including this one in Virginia Beach, Va.

The Cheesecake Factory has contracted TAB Technical Services, an AV systems integrator working primarily in the hospitality industry, to install Allen & Heath’s iDR DSP audio distribution and processing systems at all existing locations and new locations as they are built. With offices in Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; and Orlando, Fla., TAB is able to send installers to set up standardized systems across the country for the Cheesecake Factory. Materials, ceiling height, and decor differ slightly from location to location, but the iDR installation is essentially the same.

The iDR system comprises eight inputs and 10 outputs. Outputs feed audio to separate restaurant zones such as bar, dining 1, dining 2, and patio. “It’s pretty much an eight- or 10-zone system in each,” says Todd Berman, president of TAB.

Each zone can be programmed with individual equalization and presets and controlled separately. Via a Crestron touchpanel, managers can control the volume of individual zones and choose audio sources, including satellite television audio, CD players, microphones, and the Cheesecake Factory’s satellite radio.

“From an operator point of view,” says Berman, “having a color touchpanel makes it as simple for them as possible. I set it up so they have full control over various zones, but they can also hit one button for opening at lunch or dinner, and it’ll take all the zones to a predetermined level.” Berman views the iDR system, with its user-friendly touchpanel control and presets, as more consistent and also more durable than knobs on a wall.

Microphone output goes to zones like the expo line, where kitchen requests for certain food items are typically routed. Berman says that the trend in the hospitality industry toward advanced technology affects many aspects of the restaurant industry from food preparation to customer experience — and it’s no accident that the Allen & Heath iDR system touches both of these areas.

The equipment rack that serves as the backbone to the Allen & Heath iDR systems at the Cheesecake Factory in Virginia Beach is locked so that employees can access only the controls on the Crestron touchscreen..

TAB also typically installs two Sony Wega flat-tube CRT televisions in each location, although some restaurants have flatscreen LCD monitors. Berman says the company sets up Dish satellite service as standard because local cable companies are not generally as reliable for delivering a pristine picture.

Almost all the speakers installed in Cheesecake Factory locations are JBL Control 26CT Contractor Series in-ceiling models. Berman says a primary reason that TAB chose these speakers is that JBL incorporated features into the series from recommendations by the systems integration company.

TAB subcontracts and supervises the actual equipment install, but its staff sets up the audio zones in each restaurant location via iDR’s system management software. The iDR’s Ethernet jack allows installers to connect a Windows laptop via a wireless base station. That way they can walk around to the different zones of the restaurant, cord-free, and set the equalization. Once the laptop is removed from the location, the Allen & Heath iDR functions as a standalone system.

After the system is set up at each restaurant, Berman says that TAB does not expect to field service calls, as each equipment rack is locked and service simply should not be necessary. Managers have access only to the functions available via the Crestron MP2 control system’s touchpanel — mic levels, volume control of each zone, and system power-up and shutdown for opening and closing. “We don’t want to hear back from the restaurants unless there’s a flood,” says Berman.

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