Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus, Massachusetts has been a regional staple for decades. Founded as a Chinese restaurant in the 1950s, the family-owned eatery has added cuisines and themes over the years to keep up with changing trends, from Thai, to sushi, to an outdoor tiki bar.
So it’s no surprise that now, in the midst of a global pandemic, Kowloon is shapeshifting again. On Thursday, the restaurant will host the grand opening of its car hop and “drive-in” movie theater, located on-premise in the business’ massive parking lot.
Bob Wong, who owns and operates the restaurant with his siblings – the third generation of the family to do so – said that when he hatched the idea, he knew he needed a smart solution for taking orders.
“Just looking at the site, I was like, there’s no way I can put POS computers out there,” he said. He decided to put the ordering power directly in the guests’ hands. “I thought, why reinvent the wheel?”
What Wong envisioned was an early version of the new Paytronix Contactless Dining platform: a digital menu that would enable guests to place orders from their outdoor table and sync those orders seamlessly with the POS system. Wong was already using Paytronix Online Ordering to keep the business running during the shutdown, so he simply adapted the system to the new drive-in setup.
“Without technology, it’s a lot harder. Everybody knows that. [Technology] makes things easier, and makes you maybe a better operator,” Wong said. “Online ordering was always an important part of our business, but now it’s even more important, and I’m looking at it and wondering how we went without it before.”
The new system will be put to the test during the grand opening Thursday. Already familiar with the system, Wong was confident it would be a good fit for his new concept.
“It’s aged well, with Covid,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll be talking about this next year and saying, ‘Gee, that was a tough time, but now we’re back to normal.’ … For now, it’s a great system to have because there’s less social interaction.”