Facial recognition. High-capacity wireless access points. Beacon technology. Augmented reality.
Forthcoming Pacific Heights restaurant Noosh is planning to open soon — maybe as soon as next week — within a local wave of ambitious Middle East-influenced restaurants, but it stands alone in its planned use of technology.
Noosh is the the brick-and-mortar iteration of Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz’s successful Istanbul Modern pop-up, and one of 2019’s most anticipated projects. They’re joined in the venture by John Litz, a co-founder and partner of the Mission District’s Michelin-starred Lazy Bear.
Litz is also the architect of Noosh’s tech-focused approach to dining.
“The vision for this is to start bringing in tech solutions to restaurant problems, which is where the whole direction of casual dining is going,” Litz said.
Noosh’s 120 seats are scattered across a 3,000-square-feet space, which is full of multiple lounge areas — every inch of which is watched by the business’ 18 security cameras.
The tech-first approach at Noosh will be evident from the time folks step into the restaurant.
“It’s going to function like an Apple store,” Litz explained, with an “ambassador” greeting people who walk in, explaining to them the menu and then taking their order. All of this happens long before they’ve even set foot in the dining room.
Since the restaurant will implement a cashless system, the card for the table gets swiped at the door when the order is made. From there, the cameras track where a diner sits to ensure the orders are delivered accurately and in a timely way.
“So, you’re sat at a table, your order is already being fired and now instead of having one server, you have multiple servers. Anyone in an apron in the restaurant can serve you or close you out because you’ve already done most of that when you came in,” Litz said.
Then there’s the high-powered wireless access points, four in total, to handle internet demands. Each can handle 500 devices concurrently, according to the Noosh team.
“If 2,000 cell phones fire at the same second, there will be zero impedance on service,” Litz said.
Communication won’t just be limited to the inside of the restaurant. The Noosh team is building an app people can download to learn about various deals and events at the restaurant. Through that app, Litz said, they may be use beacon technology to interact with people within specific vicinities of the restaurant.
For example: once the app is released, the team could issue a message to app users within 450 yards of the restaurant on a slow Monday or Tuesday, telling them if they come in and tell the bartender “the owl flies over Paris on Tuesday,” they may get a Moscow Mule for free, Litz explained. That said, it’s all still very much hypothetical, he added.
“It makes people feel like they’re part of something,” he said.
There may be even more on the way. Litz said there’s a chance the restaurant may use a facial recognition software “on the ordering side” to aid in customer service. Ultimately, it’s meant to eliminate “pain points” in the traditional flow of a meal service.
The Bay Area is no stranger to blending technology into dining experiences. Places like Eatsa and the burger operation Creator are built around automation and robotics. More restaurants are going cashless while others are using table-side iPads for immediate bill transactions at the end of a dinner.
Every place is different. It all comes down to balance, Litz said, when thinking of the implementation of technology into a restaurant. Places like Eatsa and Creator lean into it “like the Jetsons,” according to Litz, which works for them, but might not work for a more traditional restaurant model like Noosh.
This is part of the reason he’s holding off on one last tech-related idea for Noosh — augmented reality.
“We’re not going to come out the gates with all of these ideas. The important critical part is finding the threshold where the experience is human and you don’t see the technology,” he said. “We have some amazing ideas that are subtle, but when they see it, they’ll know we did it right. I just can’t say what it is yet.”